Spinning Boris, directed by Roger Spottiswoode

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Re: Spinning Boris, directed by Roger Spottiswoode

Postby admin » Mon Aug 27, 2018 6:37 am

Revolt in Moscow: How Yeltsin Turned the Tide, Hour by Hour
by Serge Schmemann
The New York Times
October 11, 1993

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As Russia's fate hung in the balance one week ago, President Boris N. Yeltsin's Government seemed almost paralyzed.

While bands of Communist and nationalist gunmen broke through to the Parliament building, the headquarters of President Yeltsin's foes, and battled for the state television center, the large force of special police around the building disintegrated, presidential aides were in disarray, the President dallied at his dacha and soldiers from elite units were out picking potatoes.

When the state television flickered off shortly after 7:30 P.M., exultant opposition leaders at the Parliament building, known as the White House, seemed convinced that the Government was buckling. The Speaker of the Parliament, Ruslan I. Khasbulatov, was talking about the mercy he would show to Mr. Yeltsin's lieutenants.

Momentum Shifts at TV Center

Then the tide changed. A small force of Government troops managed to fight off the attack on the Ostankino state television center. Losing their momentum, the anti-Yeltsin crowds retreated to the darkened Parliament building, while Mr. Yeltsin and his generals began preparing for the counterattack. After the first tank shell burst inside the building on the morning of Oct. 4, it was only a question of time.

But even before the shooting died down and the fires in the building were extinguished, the questions were raging. Why was the Government so ill prepared for a confrontation that had been building for two weeks? What happened at the television center? Why the delays in the Kremlin and at the Defense Ministry?

The Showdown Begins

Sept. 21 After months of political struggle and deadlock between the President and the Legislature, Mr. Yeltsin issues Decree No. 1400, suspending the Congress of People's Deputies and ordering elections for a new Parliament for Dec. 11-12. The army pledges "strict neutrality."

At midnight, the Parliament deposes Mr. Yeltsin and declares Vice President Aleksandr V. Rutskoi acting president. Their supporters set up barricades around the Parliament building. The Constitutional Court rules Mr. Yeltsin's decree unconstitutional.

Sept. 22 The Congress convenes without a quorum and names its own ministers of interior, defense and security. The Government's Ministers of Interior, Defense and Security pledge support for Mr. Yeltsin. Telephone lines at the Parliament building are cut.

Sept. 23 Mr. Yeltsin sets presidential elections for June 12, 1994. Gunmen attack the headquarters of the armed forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the organization of former Soviet republics. A policeman and a bystander are killed. Gunmen also mount an unsuccessful attack on headquarters of military intelligence.

Sept. 24 The Congress votes for simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections by March 1994, and this idea begins to gain support among centrist and regional leaders. At 10 P.M., electricity and hot water to the Parliament building are cut off.

Sept. 27 Mr. Yeltsin rejects simultaneous elections.

Sept. 28 The Interior Ministry seals off the building with concertina wire, trucks and thousands of troops, ordering defenders to surrender their arms.

Sept. 29 Police officers using nightsticks battle with several hundred protesters trying to breach the cordon. The Government sets a deadline of Oct. 4 for those inside the building to surrender their weapons and leave.

Sept. 30 The Russian Orthodox Church offers to mediate. Riot police officers and protesters clash again.

Oct. 1 An agreement to surrender arms, signed in the early morning by leaders of the Government and the Parliament, is rejected by opposition leaders in the building. The Interior Ministry says there are about 600 fighting men in the Parliament building, with 1,600 assault rifles, more than 2,000 pistols, 18 machine guns, 12 grenade launchers and perhaps a ground-to-air missile. (The existence of such an arsenal is never confirmed.)

Oct. 2 The first serious street violence breaks out. Several hundred demonstrators close off the Garden Ring Road by the Foreign Ministry, building barricades and pelting police with rocks and firebombs. Mr. Rutskoi issues an appeal to people to take to the streets: "Everyone rise up for the struggle against the dictatorship!"


The Battle Begins

Oct. 3 at 2 P.M. On a sunny autumn day, several thousand anti-Yeltsin protesters gather in October Square for a demonstration. Speakers denounce the Government and its economic reforms.

2:30 P.M. Acting on calls by Viktor I. Anpilov, head of the militantly Communist Working Moscow movement, demonstrators begin marching on the Parliament building, three miles away. They smash easily through several thin lines of police officers, ripping away their batons and shields.

The officers try to regroup at several points on the route, firing of tear gas and rubber bullets, but the crowd moves on, beating fallen officers, smashing trucks and buses and firing bursts from automatic weapons.

3:35 P.M. The crowd, rapidly swelling, breaks through the cordon at the building, using a commandeered truck as a battering ram. Government forces fall back. There is wild exultation at the Parliament building. Parliamentary deputies and their defenders are convinced that they have seized the initiative and that it is only a matter of time before Mr. Yeltsin is out.

The Kremlin is silent. Mr. Yeltsin is at his dacha. His chief of staff, Sergei A. Filatov, is still negotiating with Parliament leaders at the Danilov Monastery about a surrender of arms. A reporter inside the Kremlin, Sergei Parkhomenko, reports that the offices of the President are almost empty, "as on an ordinary weekend."

4 P.M. Mr. Yeltsin declares a state of emergency in Moscow. All public meetings and demonstrations are banned.

4:20 P.M. The Government's special police forces around the Parliament building begin to crumble and flee before the fury of the demonstrators, many dropping their shields and sticks in panic. Armored personnel carriers withdraw, but some are seized by the crowd. Automatic fire clatters; people are wounded and killed.


(The collapse of the security cordon, which included 5,000 police officers and units of the special Dzerzhinsky Regiment of the Interior Ministry, later becomes one of the mysteries of the day. Interior Minister Viktor F. Yerin says the troops were withdrawn just before the storming because there was no perceived need for them.)

4:35 P.M. Mr. Khasbulatov appears on the balcony of the Parliament building, but his words are lost in the din. Mr. Rutskoi comes out, and, bellowing into a microphone from behind shields held by bodyguards, urges the crowd to form regiments and seize the Mayor's offices and the television center, six miles north. Addressing Government forces ringing the building, he shouts, "You have only seconds to change sides and defect to the people!"

From the building, the crowd lurches toward the Mayor's office, a high-rise across the street where Government troops have been billeted. Automatic fire clatters repeatedly, and lines of police officers and workers are soon seen marching out under rebel guard.


An unidentified officer, quoted in Izvestia, says orders changed constantly in the last days: arm, disarm, send men here, send them there. The officer, who was on duty at the building, recalled: "When that drunk, drugged mob moved at the Mayor's office, suddenly there was an order: 'Don't shoot. Retreat from the object.' I understood that the leadership was simply waiting to see who'll win."

5 P.M. The Defense Ministry orders several elite units to Moscow. But they are shorthanded because 21,000 soldiers have been sent to help with the potato harvest, in part to convince skeptics that the Government was not planning to storm the building.

(Defense Minister Pavel S. Grachev subsequently says that the troops were to reach Moscow between 8 and 9 P.M., and that the timetable was met.)

Bands of cheering rebels, waving red Soviet flags and the czarist flags used by nationalists, are roaring toward the television station in commandeered buses, armored personnel carriers and trucks. Some carry arms. Thousands follow on foot. Interior Ministry units race them to the station and arrive just before the rebels.

5:45 P.M. The first groups of fighters from the Parliament building reach the Ostankino television station.

6 P.M. The rump Congress of People's Deputies convenes, and is told by Mr. Khasbulatov, "We need to take the Kremlin today, too."


6:10 P.M. A television broadcast shows Mr. Yeltsin arriving in the Kremlin by helicopter and walking slowly to his office. (Reports are circulated in subsequent days that he returned earlier, or that he never left.)

6:40 P.M. A reporter for Moscow News talks to Mr. Rutskoi in the Parliament building. "We will defend the Constitution to the last bullet," he says.

7 P.M. Hundreds of rebels and scores of onlookers and reporters are massed at the television complex, along with the most militant leaders from the Parliament building, including Albert M. Makashov, a former general; Mr. Anpilov of Working Moscow; Illya Konstantinov, head of the neo-fascist National Salvation Front, and Viktor P. Barannikov, former Minister of Security. Mr. Konstantinov declares television to be the "key to success."

Mayor Yuri M. Luzhkov of Moscow makes a televised appeal: "In these anxious hours, we turn to you, Muscovites. Take a civic stand against the illegal activity of the provocateurs."

7:20 P.M. At the television station, Mr. Makashov warns defenders of one building at the broadcasting center that they have three minutes to surrender. When they refuse, a grenade is fired at the doors and a trucks rams through. A firefight breaks out, killing or wounding many. (The final toll will be 62 dead, about 400 wounded.)

7:38 P.M. One by one, the four television programs broadcast from the site go off the air.
(In subsequent days, a debate will erupt over why the television was not better defended, and who pulled the plug. By most accounts, Vyacheslav Bragin, director of state television, ordered the transmissions to be broken to prevent rebels from making any broadcasts.)

An announcer on the Moscow channel is concluding a report on the day's events, saying: "This has been a heavy day. It's hard to talk, because the conflict between Russians has reached its limits -- " The telecast breaks.

8 P.M. Broadcasts resume from another television center in Moscow. (Television officials later say they had the option of an even more secure center outside Moscow, which was built under Leonid I. Brezhnev to withstand any attack.) Tass reports that its Moscow headquarters are under attack, but its reports are not stopped.

Fighting continues at the Ostankino television site, and the first floor of one building is reported in rebel hands.

At the Parliament building, euphoria continues to reign. Mr. Khasbulatov tells deputies that Ostankino has been taken. But electricity is cut off, and deputies have no direct information. Only when a deputy turns on a portable radio, one of three inside the building, does the reality become known.

9 P.M. Yegor T. Gaidar, a former Prime Minister recently returned to the Government as a First Deputy Prime Minister, goes on the radio and appeals to all Muscovites who support Yeltsin to gather outside the Moscow City Council building on Tverskaya Street, near the Kremlin.


(In subsequent days, the broadcast will be widely discussed. There will be speculation that the army was wavering, and that Mr. Gaidar believed a pro-Yeltsin demonstration was crucial to convincing the military that there was not an anti-Yeltsin rout.)

(Deputy Premier Anatoly B. Chubais later tells Interfax that Mr. Gaidar made the appeal after the Ministry of Communications advised the Government that all communications centers had been seized by the opposition.)

Yeltsin supporters soon begin converging on the City Council and start to build barricades.

Television commentators note that Mr. Yeltsin has not personally appeared on radio or television. (In the aftermath, aides will say that the President had a speech prepared, but decided not to make it until Oct. 4.)

9:30 P.M. Prime Minister Viktor S. Chernomyrdin meets with his ministers, and a task force to suppress the uprising is formed under Gen. Konstantin I. Kobets, Chief Inspector of the Russian Armed Forces.

Mr. Parkhomenko, the reporter inside the Kremlin, reports that the arrival of two of Mr. Yeltsin's closest advisers, Mikhail N. Poltoranin and Gennadi E. Burbulis, restores order to the President's staff.

9:50 P.M. Mr. Gaidar's appeal is repeated over television, and other officials also make televised appeals for calm and support.

10 P.M. Dozens of dead and wounded are being brought to the Sklifosovsky Institute in Moscow, and the hospital issues pleas for blood. Almost all the casualties are from the television site.

10:30 P.M. Interior Ministry troops gain control there, and many rebels return to the Parliament building.

10:40 P.M. About 30 armored personnel carriers and 40 trucks carrying soldiers of the 27th Brigade are reported on the Leninsky Prospekt moving toward the center. A convoy is also spotted moving toward the capital from Vladimir to the east.

10:51 P.M. Tass issues a bulletin, saying, "Tass freed by Interior special force, resumes work."

11 P.M. A meeting of senior commanders begins at the Ministry of Defense. According to some reports, Mr. Yeltsin attends; other reports indicate that the generals are split over the use of troops. General Grachev tells an Izvestia correspondent that storming the Parliament building posed no military difficulty, but that from the beginning he had been demanding political neutrality from his commanders.

11:45 P.M. Mr. Gaidar announces at a rally at the City Council that the Government is gaining the upper hand.

Midnight The Defense Ministry Collegium decides to storm the Parliament building, but not until daybreak to minimize casualties.


(The Izvestia correspondent later reports that at this moment the ministry lacked not only a plan for storming the building but also a map of the streets around the building.)

Inside, splits among the factions become apparent.

The Revolt Is Crushed

Oct. 4 at 2 A.M. The plan for storming the Parliament building is completed. The attack is set for 7 A.M. Thousands of Yeltsin supporters stay at the City Council. At the Parliament building, armed men stand guard outside, while most defenders and deputies heed the curfew ordered by Mr. Rutskoi and stay inside.

4:10 A.M. Mr. Rutskoi emerges and inspects the forces around the building from his Mercedes sedan.

5 A.M. In the Kremlin, Mr. Yeltsin signs a decree directing the Ministers of Interior, Security and Defense to create a joint task force for carrying out the state of emergency.

6:45 A.M. Army armored personnel carriers begin taking up positions around the Parliament building. One vehicle, moving toward the square in front of the building, fires extended bursts to scatter defenders.

7 A.M. The Government issues a final appeal to those inside the Parliament building to surrender: "This is your last chance, and the only possibility to save Russia and her citizens."

Shooting breaks out.
(General Grachev subsequently declares that no order was given to open fire, that it began only when armored personnel carriers commanded by the the building's defenders opened fire.)

8 A.M. The building echoes with gunfire. Reporters caught inside find Mr. Rutskoi agitated, shouting into his field telephone for bombers or for foreign diplomats to monitor his surrender.

Mr. Khasbulatov seems utterly distracted. Veronika Kutsyllo, a reporter for Kommersant, finds the Parliament Speaker calmly smoking his pipe during the attack. "I know Yeltsin a long time," Mr. Khasbulatov says, shrugging his shoulders, "but I never expected this of him."

9 A.M. Mr. Yeltsin makes a televised address to the nation, vowing, "The armed fascist putsch in Moscow will be crushed."

10 A.M. After another order to surrender goes unheeded, T-72 and T-80 tanks open fire from the Novoarbatsky Bridge, spanning the Moskva River in front of the Parliament building. Shells burst in Mr. Khasbulatov's office and in the building's command center on the 16th floor, setting fires.

11 A.M. Defenders in the building ask for a cease-fire to let women and children out. Armored personnel carriers form a corridor outside an entrance to the building, but no sooner than the people begin to leave, someone from inside resumes shooting.

11:30 A.M. Special troops from the Alpha Group, formerly a K.G.B. anti-terrorist group now under direct control of President Yeltsin, report that they control four floors. More than 20 rounds of tank fire have hit the building. Fires rage in the upper floors.

12:14 P.M. A cease-fire is called, and continues to 1 P.M.
(General Grachev later mentions three separate cease-fires, one for a half hour, one for an hour and one for two hours.)

2:30 P.M. Three men carrying white flags come out of the Parliament building. General Grachev arrives on the bridge leading to it and opens negotiations on surrender. At the same time, unarmed officers of the anti-terrorist Alpha Group meet with deputies inside and persuade them to leave.

3 P.M. The shooting at the Parliament building gives way to a battle of snipers. Isolated gunmen fire at troops and civilians from the top of buildings near the Parliament building. Several people are killed. (The shooting continues late into the night.)


3:35 P.M. Mr. Yeltsin imposes a curfew of 11 P.M. to 5 A.M. in Moscow.

4:50 P.M. People start leaving the Parliament building, some with their hands over their heads, and enter buses under guard.

6 P.M. The ministers of defense, interior and security appointed by the defiant lawmakers surrender.

6:05 P.M. Mr. Rutskoi and Mr. Khasbulatov march out and board buses that take them to Lefortovo Prison.

Some sniping and isolated clashes continue into the night, and die-hards remain in the building's basement. The top of the building is engulfed in flames. But the battle is over.
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Re: Spinning Boris, directed by Roger Spottiswoode

Postby admin » Mon Aug 27, 2018 6:58 am

Yeltsin Under Siege — The October 1993 Constitutional Crisis
by Association for Diplomatic Studies & Training
October, 2014

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


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For Russians, it was yet another dramatic confrontation which played out in the streets of Moscow, one which marked the growing frustration many people had with their elected President. The constitutional crisis of 1993 was a political stand-off between Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the Russian Parliament that was resolved by military force. The relations between the President and the Parliament had been deteriorating for some time.

The constitutional crisis reached a tipping point on September 21, 1993, when Yeltsin aimed to dissolve the country’s legislature (the Congress of People’s Deputies and its Supreme Soviet), although the president did not have the constitutional authority to do so. Yeltsin used the results of the referendum of April 1993 to justify his actions.

In response, the Parliament declared that the President’s decision was null and void, impeached Yeltsin and proclaimed Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoy to be acting President. The situation deteriorated further on October 3, when demonstrators removed police cordons around the Parliament and took over the Mayor’s offices and tried to storm the Ostankino television center.

The army, which had initially declared its neutrality, under Yeltsin’s orders stormed the Supreme Soviet building in the early morning hours of October 4, and arrested the leaders of the resistance. The ten-day conflict became the deadliest single event of street fighting in Moscow’s history since the Revolutions of 1917. According to government estimates, 187 people were killed and 437 wounded, while estimates from non-governmental sources put the death toll at as high as 2,000.

Wayne Merry, who was assigned to Embassy Moscow during the crisis, discusses the nature and role of this crucial moment for post-Soviet Russia. He recounts his frustrations with the condescending tone of the Clinton Administration toward Russia, the shooting of an American Marine, the surprising lack of attention Washington paid to the crisis, and criticizes leadership in Washington for not understanding the lack of popular support for Yeltsin and reform. He was interviewed by Charles Stuart Kennedy starting in February 2010. Read also about the August 1991 coup against Mikhail Gorbachev, the fire at Embassy Moscow and when it was microwaved.

“Yeltsin was always a great fighter, but not a patient political in-fighter”

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MERRY: I was in Moscow, and my job was to inform Washington through reporting and talking to visitors from Washington, whether they be official visitors or journalists or anything else.…

My problem as head of Political/Internal was to communicate that Yeltsin was only part of a broader political dynamic in Russia, which was, curiously enough, still a democratic political dynamic. The legislature may have been a holdover from Soviet times, but it was an elected legislature, just as Yeltsin himself had been democratically elected.

This political dynamic reflected pluralism and the many conflicting interests within Russian society, often not committed to Yeltsin either as a leader or to his policies.

The new Clinton Administration engaged in unthinking, uncritical support for “Boris”—not even Yeltsin, it just became “good old Boris.” Washington wanted Russia to be democratic but for its leader to rule by decree. This was not, I thought, a very sophisticated or nuanced approach to dealing with a Russia that was going to have very serious internal political difficulties.
One thing I found curious and off-putting about the Clinton approach was this use of first names, to refer to the president of Russia by his first name.

In Russian terms you could refer to him as Boris Nikolayevich, which is perfectly respectable. You could refer to him as President Yeltsin or just as Yeltsin. But to refer to him just as “Boris,” and to do that quite openly and publicly, had a distinctly condescending quality. Clinton tended to condescend to Russia in ways Bush had not. The public speeches Clinton made in Moscow made me wince.

He also conveyed that people in Washington didn’t understand that Yeltsin was not Russia. The United States needed to maintain relationships with a broader spectrum of Russian political figures than just those associated with Yeltsin. I became increasingly concerned about this. Keep in mind that the new U.S. administration had many other things to deal with, so they tended to be reactive to events in Russia.…

At the start of the year, Yeltsin was in a depressive funk. Yeltsin as a personality was definitely manic-depressive and had occasional depressive periods, but he tended to come out of them with bouts of manic energy. This happened in the late winter when his opponents in the Supreme Soviet attempted to impeach him. This was an interesting concept. There isn’t even a word in Russian for “impeachment.” They used the English word and concept, impeachment, because such a thing had no precedent in Russian history. The notion that a chief of state could be removed from office through legal means obviously is not very Russian.

This standoff between president and parliament progressed into March and could very easily have become violent – indeed, I expected it would – but did not for two reasons. First, the opposition retreated in real fear from an open and direct confrontation with Yeltsin, which they knew they would lose. A vote to impeach the president failed; though it is impossible to say what would have happened had it passed.

Second, Yeltsin came up with an alternative. On television he proposed a national referendum on four questions. This referendum in April was about the direction of national policy and the authority of the president, and was pushed by the government under the slogan “Da, Da, Nyet, Da,” meaning they wanted people to vote “Yes, yes, no, yes” on the four questions. The idea behind the four-part referendum was to create public pressure and momentum for a constitutional convention, to rewrite the Russian Federation constitution from the relic of the Soviet period which was still the legal framework of the country.

This was, I thought, a brilliant stroke by Yeltsin. It avoided what might otherwise have been a very destructive confrontation; whether an effort at impeachment by the Supreme Soviet or direct rule by Yeltsin himself. It had the advantage of going back to the people, of transcending the existing constitutional structure through direct democracy in a national referendum. Initially, the scheme worked pretty well. The opposition was flustered and could not unite on a tactical response.

The government won the vote with sufficient majorities to achieve credibility for a constitutional drafting convention, which began in the early summer. Then, characteristically with Yeltsin after a fight, the momentum slowed and his leadership lost dynamism. Whenever Yeltsin was in an overt confrontation, whether in late 1992 or earlier in ’91, or later in ’93, or in this particular confrontation in February and March of 1993, when Yeltsin was in a battle, he was in his element. But in the follow-through — the detailed political effort required for a constitutional convention to create a new basic law and get it put into place — his attention wandered and the whole thing lost momentum in the summer. Yeltsin was always a great fighter, but not a patient and detailed political in-fighter.

“People didn’t know if their money was going to be worth anything”

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This concerned me because I had said to Washington, in my cable of November of the previous year that the underlying Russian political crisis would have to be resolved, either with the reformulation of constitutional structures by peaceful means or by violent confrontation. The dilemma could not go on for an extended period.

The dissipation of focus in the middle of ’93 was worrisome. It was compounded, at the end of the summer, by a terribly ill-advised currency reform, when the Russian government withdrew a massive amount of currency from circulation. This created public panic during the height of the summer vacation season, when people didn’t know if their money was going to be worth anything, if they could pay their holiday bills.

It was done in a way that conveyed to the Russian people that the officials who made policy were indifferent to the impact of their actions on everyday life for the people, that this was still a top-down, authoritarian state. This action stood in terrible contrast with the national referenda in the spring, which had said, “The people rule here.” In the late summer, the utterly heavy-handed and unnecessary currency reform showed people how little they really mattered.…

By the middle of 1993, Russians were beginning to feel they were over the worst that they were over the hump that things were beginning to improve, and people were beginning to see what you might call a light at the end of the tunnel. Then came these macroeconomic stabilization measures that just knocked the support out from under the basic livelihood of much of the urban, blue-collar labor force. In my view, this was unnecessary and certainly politically very foolish. Yeltsin was already looking toward another national referendum on a new constitution and to elections for a new legislature.

To manufacture a major deterioration in working class living standards in preparation for such elections showed the arrogance and political blindness of many of the so-called Westernizers and economic reformers.

I dwell on this because many people think the confrontation between Yeltsin and his parliamentary opposition in late September and early October was about personalities and came out of nowhere. Washington saw the confrontation as a morality play, of good guys versus bad guys. This is false.

The confrontation had a long and deep context. Yeltsin was always a controversial figure, even during his greatest days in 1991, but this confrontation involved a chain of events including the expiration of his emergency powers at the end of November ’92; his capitulation on large elements of policy to the Supreme Soviet in December of ’92; the replacement of much of his government; his decision, in February of ’93, to challenge the legislature again; the failed effort at impeachment that followed; the spring confrontation that resulted in the four-part national referendum; the constitutional drafting process and its loss of momentum; the currency reform, and the fiscal tightening measures.

These all created an environment in which the underlying dilemma of Russia’s constitutional structure came to a head in the second half of September of 1993.

“Violence could have been avoided, but the basic political confrontation could not”

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The world remembers the images on CNN of the violent confrontation in Moscow in early October, but that was the culmination, if you will, of something that had been in process for over a year, and had been more or less unavoidable for months. I think violence could have been avoided, but the basic political confrontation could not.

There was a lot of history — including personal history among the participants, of course — so that at the end of September, Yeltsin’s own vice president, Alexander Rutskoy, was on the other side of the barricade.

The parliamentary speaker, Ruslan Khasbulatov, was on the other side of the barricade. The head of the constitutional court, Zorkin, was on the other side of the barricade. People who had been working very diligently in the summer on constitutional revision, like Oleg Rumyantsev, ended up on the other side of the barricade. These had all been Yeltsin’s allies earlier.

The step which provoked the ultimate confrontation was Yeltsin’s. He became frustrated, impatient, fed-up with what he saw as the lack of progress on constitutional reform. After a series of political maneuvers, Yeltsin decided to prorogue the legislature. He lacked the legal authority to do so, but did it anyway. He went on television and dismissed the legislature with a call for new elections, plus the writing of a new constitution and a referendum on it, which in theory was what they were working toward anyway. But he decided, on September 21, to short-circuit a process he saw not going where he wanted or as quickly as he wanted.

To Yeltsin’s surprise, I am sure, the opposition, if I can use that broad term, decided to take a leaf from Boris Yeltsin’s own book from August 1991 by rallying their forces to the same place he had rallied his forces then, which was the Russian White House, the seat of the Russian Parliament. The Supreme Soviet voted to declare Yeltsin a traitor and Rutskoy as acting president.

Rutskoy, Khasbulatov and others, under the banner of constitutional legitimacy and legality, summoned everyone who was in opposition to what Yeltsin was trying to do. This included a very wide spectrum of people who ranged from the most ultra-nationalist, anti-Semitic, vicious people you could imagine to many of the most, I would say, liberal, progressive, pro-Western, democratizing individuals in the country.…

The ability of the opposition to rally large numbers of people to the Russian White House, with its important symbolism from August 1991, very much caught Yeltsin by surprise. The crowds around the White House in 1993 were not the youth of 1991, but they were more or less on the same scale.

He held off using riot police or troops, hoping his opponents would lose heart or lose face or at least seek a compromise with him. None of those things happened. The anti-Yeltsin forces remained steadfast and even grew in numbers and determination. They saw this moment as their opportunity either to reject the Western-oriented policy of the government or to establish genuine constitutional legitimacy, depending on their point of view. Compromise was not in the air. There was plenty of political rhetoric, none of it very productive, which extended from September 21 into early October….

“We were much less activist this time”

We were much less activist this time and certainly not seen as friends within the White House. Indeed, there came a point when even our normal contacts became difficult to maintain due to the general hostility we faced. The embassy was in a very insecure location because it faced directly toward the Russian White House with only the low compound wall for protection.

In contrast to August 1991, there were a lot of people in the crowd with guns of various kinds.…Our access to knowledgeable contacts during this Russian crisis was a fraction of what we had had in 1991, on both sides. The Kremlin was not saying very much, in part because they really did not know how things might develop. We had people covering the crowd outside the White House and talking with contacts inside, but this got to be dicey.

Talking to Americans was not popular in the White House, as it was clear the United States supported Yeltsin. The mood of the crowd sometimes was pretty ugly and potentially threatening toward embassy staff. At one point, I pulled some people back for their own safety. I often had little to report other than rumors, but that reflected the fact there was little real news from either side. The adversaries were talking past each other and both were trying to wait the other out. The Moscow public was sitting on the sidelines, just hoping for a peaceful outcome.

At the end of ten days, we were into the first weekend in October, and things at least appeared to be moving toward a resolution. Russian Patriarch [of the Orthodox Church] Alexy had been on a trip to the United States when the crisis occurred and had cut it short to return to Moscow. He then started mediating high-level political talks at the Danilov Monastery.

This mediation process was really the first ray of hope for a peaceful end of the crisis, as both sides were at least willing to take part given the prestige and stature of the patriarch. I had considerable respect for Alexy and knew that neither side would want to appear to rebuff his peacemaking efforts. So, it looked like things might yet sort out or at least remain calm during the mediation talks, but as there was little news emanating from the Danilov Monastery, there was little for the embassy or for me to do but wait….

The October 3 Riot

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We had gotten to the 3rd of October 1993, a very dramatic day in modern Russia. In fact, this was the one of the few events in the post-Soviet period in Russia that I think can legitimately qualify for that much-overused term, historic. This was the date when the country really faced a crunch point.…

This being a Sunday and a day when the confrontation was supposedly in abeyance because of the mediation effort, it looked to me to be a good day to go home and get some change of clothing and take care of a few personal things. It also happened to be my birthday. I thought, “I’ve been working 18 hours a day for the past 10 days; maybe I can take this Sunday off and go home.” Well, it didn’t work out that way.

My apartment was in a high-rise building which overlooked October Square, one of the main traffic interchanges in Moscow and also, at its center, site of the largest statue of Lenin in Moscow. Representatives of both sides were engaged in the mediation effort, while Yeltsin and other senior members of the government had decided to do what I did, which was to take this Sunday off, as they were mostly at their dachas.

With nobody in charge locally on either side, people on the street took events into their own hands. There was a demonstration scheduled for October Square in front of the Lenin statue to rally people opposed to Yeltsin. In principle, this should have been a normal peaceful manifestation of political opposition to the government, and it could have been.

The problem was two-fold: first, many of the people who showed up for this demonstration were in a very foul mood after 10 days of confrontation. Many of them had been camping out around the Russian White House for days, if not a week or more, and some were looking for a fight. Unfortunately, they got it because of the second factor. The Ministry of Interior behaved stupidly. Rather than let this demonstration take place and let people vent their anger, they decided to send in riot cops to break it up. What they sent were a bunch of young, inexperienced, semi-trained riot cops who really didn’t know what they were doing.

As it happened, my kitchen looked right down on the square and on the demonstration. I had a panoramic view of the collapse of peace. The riot police, instead of standing to the side to let the demonstration take place or keeping it where it wouldn’t interfere with traffic, closed in on it from all sides. They compressed the demonstrators, which was foolish beyond belief. They didn’t try to push them off in one direction. They actually pushed in from various directions.

A lot of the demonstrators were older people, and older Russians have fairly thin skins about being pushed by young people in the best of times. At some point, the compression caused a human explosion and the demonstrators surged out and just stormed right through the riot cops, who were mostly kids and didn’t know what they were doing. There was no effective leadership and the demonstrators trampled these symbols of government authority pretty much underfoot. Then it was, “Katie, bar the door.”

I had not the faintest notion that this relatively local event I had witnessed spelled the collapse of political peace in general. If I had, I would have returned to the embassy immediately, rather than just reporting what I had seen by phone. It did not occur to me that this event would spark others and lead to a loss of government control in much of the central part of the city, but that is just what happened.

The demonstration – now a full bore riot, in my view – started moving up the street, what’s called the Garden Ring, in groups to the area in front of Gorky Park, across a bridge over the Moscow River, and then on toward where they had come from, which was the Russian White House. On the way they engaged in increasing levels of violence, particularly when they got to the square in front of the Foreign Ministry.

By the time they got back to the Russian White House, and of course to the American Embassy, the police forces on the street had disintegrated, and, for the most part, simply fled for their own safety. There obviously was a lack of leadership and organization on the police side on this Sunday afternoon. Most of the senior people were at their dachas. Some of the Russian police who provided security at the entrances to our embassy actually had to take refuge inside to keep from getting beaten up by the crowds.

“Russian society is either strictly controlled or it’s anarchy”

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At this point much of central Moscow on this Sunday afternoon belonged to the opposition. It was really messy. It illustrated one of those things Russians are always telling you, that Russian society is either strictly controlled or it’s anarchy.

Russians, particularly elite Russians, often justify the authoritarian nature of Russian government on the argument that, without a strong hand, Russians will just descend into chaos.

In this instance, the analysis was valid. I saw it happen, though I do not assert this was uniquely Russian behavior. During the course of the afternoon any kind of organized government control disappeared. The demonstrators took over the part of the city centered on the Russian White House. They had most of the major streets in that district in their hands.

They decided to commandeer vehicles and go north to Ostankino, where the main television broadcast tower and production studios are located. There was a violent confrontation with police at Ostankino, but the government never lost control of the airwaves, which was very important. By that time, the government started to get its act together and sent forces to the television complex.

I reported to the embassy by phone what was happening – because my kitchen was a prime vantage point – and learned that things were much worse than I had thought. The embassy faced a real security problem, because the embassy complex, which included something like 155 residences of families with kids, was right in the middle of this urban battle zone.

The exterior perimeter wall had been deliberately built not very high so as not to be intimidating. It was only about eight feet high, or nine feet high at the most, and energetic, athletic demonstrators could get over that wall. If, as seemed almost certain, a large-scale battle between government forces and opposition forces was impending, the embassy would be right smack in the middle of it, much more so than in August 1991.

In 1991, nobody would target the Americans, whereas in 1993, most of the opposition forces regarded the United States as being deeply in bed with Yeltsin, as being Yeltsin’s principal foreign support.

The hostility towards the United States among some opposition figures was quite extreme. So there was a real chance the embassy could be in danger, or even physically overrun, which would not have been difficult.

Ambassador Pickering had previous experience with comparable situations—this was his seventh ambassadorship, and he had, in previous assignments, seen political violence on a large scale — and was in his element. He got everybody hunkered down. Everyone in the embassy not in essential duties was moved into the large underground gymnasium, which was the safest place in the compound. Nobody was allowed to be in their residences.…

We watched Russian television during the evening and into the night. The two defense attachés, who had a vehicle, knew where to look for the units with heavy weapons the government would bring into the city. They found them on the outskirts of Moscow camping down for the evening, bivouacking for the night. It was quite clear the government was not going to confront the opposition in a major way until daylight.…

The very worst moment of this period, for me, was when word came over our radio net that one of the Marines had been shot. We did not know how bad he was, but the fact one of our Marines was hurt sent a chill through me. I recall vividly the sick feeling I had at that moment. However, we had done our job, reporting that significant armed forces were on the outskirts of Moscow and would come in pretty much at first light.

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Once we had properly communicated to Ambassador Pickering and Washington, it seemed to me the rational thing to do was get some sleep. I tried to encourage all the members of the team to do the same. I couldn’t get them to go to bed because they were just glued to the television in these events.

For me, I decided it had been a long week and a half already and God knew what tomorrow would be like and the days after that. So, I went to one of the guest bedrooms and went to bed, went right to sleep. I suspect I may have been the only adult in the embassy who got a good sleep that night.

What woke me was the reverberation from the first 120-millimeter tank cannon round being fired into the upper floors of the Russian White House.…This was a long-barreled tank gun. In any case, the reverberation from a 120-millimeter tank gun, fired from almost two miles away, shook the windows of Spaso House [the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence, at right]. That’s what woke me up. I found out what was going on, had enough sense to take a shower before I got dressed, knowing this was going to be a long day, and then we had little else to do than watch on television what the world was watching on CNN.

Remember, our job in Spaso was to be a reserve embassy, not to be out covering the events and reporting on them. Ambassador Pickering’s instructions about our role kept us in Spaso House, even though our inclinations were to be out on the streets. CNN’s cameras were on the other side of a major bridge on which the army’s tanks were deployed as they were firing at the Russian White House from the south.…

The world saw only a very limited part of what was going on. While the visual imagery of that day is of tanks firing into the upper floors of the Russian parliament building, the real fighting was out of sight of the cameras. There was a large-scale battle underway on the streets between government forces and opposition. This battle zone was fairly extensive, about two and a half miles wide and maybe a mile and a half deep.

The center of the battle was on the north side of the Russian White House, in an area partly between the Russian White House and the perimeter wall of the American Embassy compound. There’s a large park and a soccer field north of the White House and across the main street from our compound. That’s where the biggest battle was going on. The government forces used the soccer field as a staging area for an assault on the building.

U.S. Embassy in danger

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The tanks were firing from the south into the upper floors of the White House to suppress sniper and automatic weapons fire from windows on the north side. The tanks were maybe a quarter of a mile away on the other side, and were firing high-explosive rounds into the upper floors of the tower of the Russian White House to suppress that fire.

The tower of the Russian White House is wide east-west but is quite shallow north-south. It’s only maybe 80 or 100 feet deep. If they had used armor-piercing rounds, the shells would have gone all the way through the building and out the other side.

The tanks fired into the building as their part of the larger battle on the other side that the world did not see because CNN’s cameras couldn’t show it. That battle was taking place literally right in front of the American embassy.…

As the government forces closed in on the Russian White House, various opposition elements moved off in other directions. By establishing the alternate embassy at the Ambassador’s residence, we had made ourselves, if anything, potentially more vulnerable than the people in the embassy compound, because the Ambassador’s residence was a wide-open piece of property with no security at all. We had no Marines. The gate was open.

Soon, armed figures were moving around in the garden. It was hard to tell who was who, because when you see a guy dressed all in black with a ski mask and an automatic weapon you have no idea who the hell he is. The American flag was flying on the flagpole from the front of the building. I wished I’d had enough sense to take that down during the night but I hadn’t thought to do so, and it made us rather conspicuous. There were also snipers operating from balconies on high-rise buildings in the area.

At one point, we were gathered in refuge in a basement room when several guys in black ski masks started looking through the window into this basement room. We quickly shifted our refuge to the attic of this 1912-era building. I doubt more than a handful of people have ever been in the attic of the Ambassador’s residence in Moscow. But it seemed to be the safest place to go for a while.

Shredding Classified Materials as Marine Corporal Bell is Shot

By 1993 the opposition had plenty of weapons. There was no lack of small arms firepower on either side. At this point, we in the Ambassador’s residence were actually in greater physical peril than the people in the main embassy. This was a nasty irony. The lesson was that we should have established the alternate embassy at what’s called the “near dacha,” a little weekend place we have that’s inside the city of Moscow but far enough away that we wouldn’t have been at any risk.

Once the battle had moved away from the White House, the embassy had to evacuate us, as if they did not have more than enough to worry about. The Ambassador’s vehicle was an armored limousine, and our Regional Security Officer came to rescue us. This was a superb guy who had come to Moscow from an assignment in Beirut and knew difficult security situations very well. The vehicle had to make three trips to get us all out.

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Pickering (pictured) came over on the first run to get some things, but soon returned to the embassy. I forget exactly how many of us there were, but it took three trips to get us all out. After the first trip, the opposition forces in the area understood what was going on, that an evacuation was underway. For the second run, the one I was in with the Ambassador, there was a lot of automatic weapons fire at the gate. Initially, we couldn’t get out the gate to the street.

After communications by walkie-talkie with the embassy and then with the authorities, the Russian security forces nearby used automatic weapons to suppress hostile fire at the gate. We went out the gate pedal to the metal, across the plaza, and down the street, and finally into the embassy, which was surrounded by what looked like a battle zone. There were burning buildings and burning automobiles and burning debris, the detritus of an urban battle.

We all got safely out of the Ambassador’s residence, which I’m happy to say was not damaged. I then learned the embassy the previous evening had started something which we had never really thought about for Moscow: emergency destruction of classified material. Most vulnerable embassies are supposed to maintain a relatively small amount of classified materials, so an emergency destruction can be done within a certain specified period of time.

The embassy in Moscow, to put it mildly, had never been in compliance with those standards because during the Cold War the joke had always been that, if the American Embassy in Moscow had to destroy classified material, a U.S. thermonuclear warhead would do the job. We had years and years of back files. When they started the destruction process, it quickly became a shambles. The paper shredders jammed.…

Something much more serious was the injury to one of our Marines by gunfire. Corporal [McClain] Bell, a young Marine, was a very popular guy, much loved by embassy kids who regarded him as a collective big brother.

He was in an observation post on top of the new office building, which was still unoccupied. He was shot through the neck, perhaps by one of the government forces who had no idea what they were shooting at. There was nothing on the compound to identify it as the American embassy. We didn’t have the flag out. Most of the troops brought in by the government didn’t know the city of Moscow.

This was just another building, and they saw a guy in a helmet and uniform on top of a building and somebody shot at him. He was nearly killed. Our embassy doctor took care of him, and we received, I’m happy to say, good cooperation from the Russian authorities in evacuating him to a Russian hospital and saving his life. Despite the hugely important political events taking place around us, I suspect that for many of the Americans involved, the shooting of Corporal Bell is the most painful memory of those days.

The embassy didn’t really do much in terms of reporting that day because Ambassador Pickering had given orders the previous day that everybody who was not in the embassy compound — and most embassy personnel lived somewhere else — were to stay at their residences. People were not to go out and observe what was going on. They were not to engage in reporting activity. People were to stay away from the battle zones.

A number of the staff disobeyed that order, feeling this was a major political crisis and we were there as reporters and that was what we should be doing. I myself felt uncomfortable with the limitations on our reporting activities. In retrospect, I understand why Ambassador Pickering did what he did. He was a man, who had seen this kind of violence before, several times in his career. He made the judgment that no reporting message is worth somebody getting killed. Ultimately, of course, it was his authority, it was his decision.…

As the hours passed, I maintained communications to Washington, which mostly meant telling people things they should already have known, answering obvious questions repeatedly. The one thing of value I contributed — other than that somebody had to be on duty that night — was my concern about Corporal Bell. After it was clear he was out of danger, I tried to get somebody in Washington at a senior level to call his widowed mother. This proved difficult because these events in Moscow were simultaneous with the so-called “Black Hawk Down” events in Mogadishu, when a number of U.S. Army Rangers were killed. Washington’s immediate focus was not on Russia, it was on Somalia.

The White House and the State Department and the Defense Department treated the crisis in Moscow as a second-tier issue that was overshadowed in American public interest by the fight in Mogadishu, the famous or infamous “Black Hawk Down” incident. The President, the Vice President, the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense were making phone calls to the families of the troops who were killed or wounded in Mogadishu. I tried for, I forget how long, for several hours, to get somebody to call the mother of our casualty. Finally, Strobe Talbott as Deputy Secretary of State did, which I much appreciated.

I was quite struck how the attention of senior figures in Washington was not on the crisis in Russia, which we naturally considered the most important event going on anywhere in the world, but on events which attracted more American domestic interest—and of course, American media attention—which was the fighting in Mogadishu. That place was nowhere near as important as Russia, but it involved American fatalities….

A Pyrrhic Victory — A Disaster for Reform in Russia

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In the immediate aftermath of these events, most of the leaders of the opposition were arrested and taken to Lefortovo Prison (at left). The Russian government began cleanup operations, including the rebuilding of the White House. The view in Washington was that Yeltsin had won and that’s good.

This was a view with which I strongly disagreed. I acknowledged that, once it came down to a real shootout between Yeltsin and the opposition, it was necessary that Yeltsin win. However, the Clinton Administration saw a victory by Boris Yeltsin as a victory for reform in Russia, that the economic shock therapy we had been advocating would now be carried out and everything would be wonderful.

I believed the confrontation had been a disaster for reform in Russia and for Yeltsin’s ability to maintain genuine political legitimacy. People in Russia had felt pride until then that there had been no political violence of the kind they saw in Tbilisi or in Tajikistan. Russia had not been like Romania, but now it was. Russians, regardless of which side they had been on or whether they were on a side at all, felt real shame and disappointment that their country had been reduced to kind of Third World status, with a shootout involving tanks and troops in the middle of the capital. I felt very strongly the episode represented a huge failure for Yeltsin’s leadership and was a huge setback for the development rule of law in Russia.

In contrast, Washington was almost ebullient that Yeltsin’s opponents were now in prison while people we liked were the winners; therefore, the policies we favored would be carried out. I can tell you, my view that this victory was Pyrrhic was not welcome in Washington, nor really even within parts of the embassy. People visiting Moscow who heard this view from me were not pleased. They also did not like to hear that Yeltsin’s image among his fellow countrymen, among Russians, had been irredeemably tarnished by his choice of overt confrontation.

There was no question the underlying problems of Russian constitutional government needed resolution, but it was Yeltsin’s choice in mid – September to violate the law, to use extraconstitutional means, which placed the burden of the crisis on him rather than on his opponents. Having chosen to abandon the slow process of political compromise, he bore the responsibility for what would come afterwards. That people in the opposition actually initiated the violence and the looting did not, in my view, obviate the fact that Yeltsin set the stage for it.

In addition, during the crisis, Yeltsin’s government had been pretty ineffectual in dealing with it. They just waited for the opposition to get tired and go home, to either give up or compromise. They were caught completely flatfooted on the Sunday and had no better response than battle tanks. That the confrontation could challenge the integrity of Yeltsin’s government was not, I think, well understood in the Kremlin. The ineffectualness of Yeltsin’s approach was demonstrated by the fact it took an initiative by the Patriarch to even begin a process of discussion which could have led to a peaceful resolution. Whether or not Patriarch Alexy could have succeeded in that we’ll never know, but he alone had the prestige and popular legitimacy even to try; Yeltsin did not.…

The Yeltsin Constitution and Growing Popular Frustration

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In the aftermath of the very dramatic events of early October, the Russian government scheduled national elections for mid-December to include a referendum on a new constitution, which would be written entirely by Yeltsin’s people rather than reflecting a wide spectrum of viewpoints and political forces.

What became known as the “Yeltsin Constitution” was an amalgam of Russian and Western models, but in its essence was patterned on the constitution of the Fifth French Republic written for de Gaulle. There would also be elections for the new parliament, both upper and lower chambers, to be created by the constitution.

The lower chamber, the State Duma, was patterned on the German Bundestag, with half the seats elected in districts and half from national party lists. The elections presumed that the constitutional referendum would both pass and attain the 50 percent participation needed to be valid.

So, Russians on one day were going to vote for two members of the upper chamber, two members of the lower chamber and the constitutional referendum. In some cases, there would be regional and local elections as well. This was going to be a very big election.

Washington assumed the election would be a great triumph for Yeltsin, reflecting his victory in early October, and would set the stage for a vast new wave of reforms favored by the United States.

My job during November and early December was to try to convince Washington that such expectations were wrong. It became obvious to me rather early, both from anecdotal evidence and from polling data, that the party led by Gaidar, called “Russia’s Choice” and essentially Yeltsin’s party, was not going to have an easy walk to victory in the election. In part this reflected the popular revulsion against what had taken place in early October, but, even more so, it was due to public unhappiness with government economic policy.

Simultaneous with the political confrontation, the finance minister, Boris Fyodorov, had instituted a very stringent program of macroeconomic stabilization, which had produced a severe tightening of the domestic Russian economy. While the outside world focused on the very visible political events, most Russians were more keenly aware of the sharp deterioration of their economic situation, and particularly that the macroeconomic stabilization program was leading to massive loss of livelihood for urban blue-collar workers.

This economic tightening was instituted just as Russians thought things were starting to improve a bit. Russian families had endured a series of economic traumas in the late Gorbachev era, during the breakup of the Soviet Union, and afterwards. By mid-1993, people had a sense the worst was over and now things would slowly get better. Indeed, they had been promised by the Yeltsin government that things were going to get better.

Then with the autumn of 1993 government policies threw many people back into economic crisis again. This was particularly true for urban blue-collar males. The level of frustration Russians felt with their government over economic policy was largely invisible to the outside world. In conversations with visitors from Washington, I was struck that they didn’t even make a connection with the political process. They assumed Russians would vote in favor of Yeltsin’s constitution and Yeltsin’s party, because Yeltsin had won the political confrontation on the streets of Moscow — had won it with firepower but had won it.

After his victory in the October confrontation, Yeltsin presented the country with a new draft constitution that gave the president near-dictatorial powers. Under the proposed constitution, the Supreme Soviet would be replaced with a smaller body, the State Duma, which would have virtually no control over the executive branch. The president would have the power to appoint without interference all ministers except the prime minister, who would have to be confirmed by the Duma. If the Duma rejected three of his candidates for prime minister, the president would be able to dissolve the Duma. The president would have control over the budget and appoint the director of the Central Bank and the justices of the Constitutional Court. Removing the president would require a two-thirds majority of the parliament as well as approval by the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court. Laws would be passed by the Duma, but they could be vetoed by the president, and the veto could be overridden only by a two-thirds vote of the Duma, a near impossibility in a parliament expected to contain numerous factions.

The draft constitution was put to a vote simultaneously with elections to the new parliament on December 12, 1993, only a month after the publication of the text. In the referendum, 54.4 percent of eligible voters were said to have participated, with 58.4 percent voting for and 41.6 percent against the new constitution. [44] The constitution was thus supported by about 30 percent of the electorate. Technically this was enough: Yeltsin had established a rule whereby only 25 percent of eligible voters had to vote yes for the constitution to become law. [45] There were immediate suspicions, however, that the approval was fraudulent. Particular concern was focused on the appearance of nearly nine million unexplained ballots. [46] An independent analysis by Alexander Sobyanin of the pro-government Russia’s Choice Party showed that only 46.1 percent of the electorate had voted, not the 54.4 percent the government claimed, in which case the turnout was 3.9 percent short of the required minimum. The presidential team never explained the origin of the extra ballots and ignored all demands for an investigation. It is highly likely that the 1993 Constitution was never approved by the population. [47]

-- The Less You know, the Better You Sleep: Russia’s Road to Terror and Dictatorship Under Yeltsin and Putin, by David Satter


They completely missed the fact that what most Russians, not just in Moscow but across the length and breadth of this vast country, were concerned about were their livelihoods, and the fear they were going into yet another period of economic stringency. As the weeks went by, the more palpable was this sense of fear, real fear. This was something I had not seen in 1991 or 1992, but did in late 1993.

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Re: Spinning Boris, directed by Roger Spottiswoode

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Chapter 2: The Soviet Union and Russia: The Collapse of 1991 and the Initial Transition to Democracy in 1993 (Excerpt)
Transitions to Democracy: A Comparative Perspective
by Kathryn Stoner, with Michael McFaul [former US ambassador to Russia]
edited by Kathryn Stoner, Michael McFaul

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Although Bush did not develop a close relationship with Yeltsin, his successor as president of the United States, Bill Clinton did. Wilsonian ideals infused President Clinton’s thinking about Russia. In an address devoted to U.S.-Russia relations on the eve of his first trip abroad as president to meet Yeltsin in Vancouver in April 1993, Clinton argued:

Think of it – land wars in Europe cost hundreds of thousands of American lives in the twentieth century. The rise of a democratic Russia, satisfied within its own boundaries, bordered by other peaceful democracies, could ensure that our nation never needs to pay that kind of price again. I know and you know that, ultimately, the history of Russia will be written by Russians and the future of Russia must be charted by Russians. But I would argue that we must do what we can and we must act now. Not out of charity, but because it is a wise investment … While our efforts will entail new costs, we can reap even larger dividends for our safety and our prosperity if we act now. [93]


During his first meeting with Yeltsin as president at the Vancouver summit, Clinton not only pledged financial support for the Yeltsin government in Russia but openly endorsed the Russian president as America’s horse in the show-down between the president and parliament, saying to Yeltsin in front of the press, “Mr. President, our nation will not stand on the sidelines when it comes to democracy in Russia. We know where we stand…. We actively support reform and reformers and you in Russia.” [94] When the conflict with parliament escalated into violence in October 1993, Clinton yet again defended Yeltsin’s use of military force and demonized the parliament as antireformist communists. In his first public reaction to Yeltsin’s dissolution of parliament, Clinton affirmed, “I support him fully.” [95] Clinton officials said Yeltsin’s precarious hold on power was a reason for the U.S. Congress to support with even greater speed the administration’s $2.5 billion aid package for the region. U.S. officials subsequently praised the new constitution ratified by popular referendum in December 1993.

After his victory in the October confrontation, Yeltsin presented the country with a new draft constitution that gave the president near-dictatorial powers. Under the proposed constitution, the Supreme Soviet would be replaced with a smaller body, the State Duma, which would have virtually no control over the executive branch. The president would have the power to appoint without interference all ministers except the prime minister, who would have to be confirmed by the Duma. If the Duma rejected three of his candidates for prime minister, the president would be able to dissolve the Duma. The president would have control over the budget and appoint the director of the Central Bank and the justices of the Constitutional Court. Removing the president would require a two-thirds majority of the parliament as well as approval by the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court. Laws would be passed by the Duma, but they could be vetoed by the president, and the veto could be overridden only by a two-thirds vote of the Duma, a near impossibility in a parliament expected to contain numerous factions.

The draft constitution was put to a vote simultaneously with elections to the new parliament on December 12, 1993, only a month after the publication of the text. In the referendum, 54.4 percent of eligible voters were said to have participated, with 58.4 percent voting for and 41.6 percent against the new constitution. [44] The constitution was thus supported by about 30 percent of the electorate. Technically this was enough: Yeltsin had established a rule whereby only 25 percent of eligible voters had to vote yes for the constitution to become law. [45] There were immediate suspicions, however, that the approval was fraudulent. Particular concern was focused on the appearance of nearly nine million unexplained ballots. [46] An independent analysis by Alexander Sobyanin of the pro-government Russia’s Choice Party showed that only 46.1 percent of the electorate had voted, not the 54.4 percent the government claimed, in which case the turnout was 3.9 percent short of the required minimum. The presidential team never explained the origin of the extra ballots and ignored all demands for an investigation. It is highly likely that the 1993 Constitution was never approved by the population. [47]

-- The Less You know, the Better You Sleep: Russia’s Road to Terror and Dictatorship Under Yeltsin and Putin, by David Satter


Democracy, Financial and Technical Assistance

The rhetorical devotion to democracy’s advance especially during the Clinton administration was not matched by actual deeds, however. Facilitating economic reform, not democratic transition, became the real focus of Clinton’s aid to Russia after the Soviet collapse. Beginning with a first meeting on February 6, 1993, a senior group in the new administration met for three months to devise an overall strategy toward Russia and the other newly independent states. [96]

At this early stage, officials at the Treasury Department (including Larry Summers and David Lipton) and on the National Security Council (NSC) staff had different priorities, and despite the lead of Clinton’s special ambassador at large to the former Soviet states Strobe Talbott in these talks, the State Department was relatively less important in this area, primarily because Talbott by all accounts (including his own) had little expertise in economic matters. During his tenure, he focused primarily on traditionally defined strategic issues in the U.S.-Russian relationship, which had been the subject of many of the books he had written earlier in his career. Many former Clinton officials reported that Talbott was not engaged in the technical issues of privatization, stabilization, or social policy reform. [97]

In retrospect, the former acting prime minister of Russia in 1992, Yegor Gaidar, believed that the absence of a major political figure behind the aid effort had negative consequences. “I don’t think that the leaders of the major Western powers were unaware of the magnitude of the choices they faced. The trouble, in my view, was that there was no leader capable of filling the sort of organizing and coordinating role that Harry Truman and George C. Marshall played in the post war restoration of Europe.” [98]

In the early years, Summers and Lipton provided the intellectual guiding principles for assistance to Russia in the Clinton administration. They prevailed in large part because they had a plan for reform, a theory behind it, and a clear idea of the tools needed to implement it. These two Treasury officials believed in the imperative of sequencing economic reform ahead of political reform. As Lipton recalls, “Our view was that America should make clear its support for reform in Russia. We thought that U.S. support for reform in Russia with Yeltsin, with the elites, with the public would be helpful to people who wanted to carry out reform.” [99] The thinking was that if Russia could not stabilize its economy, then democracy would have no chance.

After the failed putsch in August 1991 and the dissolution of the USSR in December of that year, there was a consensus within the Russian government that Yeltsin had a popular mandate to initiate radical economic reform. It is not surprising that Yeltsin’s supporters within the United States endorsed this idea as well. Finally, Russian economic reformers believed that they had a finite reserve of time before trust in Yeltsin and support for reform would wane. Driven by this perceived time constraint, Russia’s reformers wanted to transform the economy as fast as possible to make reforms irreversible before they were forced out of office. Their American counterparts, particularly in the Treasury Department, shared their view.

The budgets to support economic versus political reform reflected these priorities. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), which focused almost exclusively on economic reform, played the central role in aiding Russia in the beginning of the 1990s and throughout the decade. [100] U.S. bilateral assistance – the package of aid handled directly by the U.S. government and not by the multilateral financial institutions – also reflected the “economics first” strategy. Of the $5.45 billion in direct U.S. assistance to Russia between 1992 and 1998, only $130 million or 2.3 percent was devoted to programs involved directly in democratic reform. [101] When U.S. government expenditures channeled through the Department of Commerce, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the U.S. Export-Import Bank, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency are added to the equation, the primacy of economic reform becomes even more clear.

There were no officials working on democratization to serve as counterparts to the Clinton officials in the Treasury engaged in assisting with Russian economic reform. Instead, the job of promoting democracy was delegated to lower-level officials working primarily at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Clinton never made democracy a top issue in U.S.-Russian relations. The United States and Russia had established joint commissions on defense conversion, the environment, and trade at the 1993 Vancouver summit but did not create a similar working group for political reform.

Given the strong rhetoric from senior U.S. officials about the importance of Russian democracy, the relatively small amount of aid for democracy and rule of law assistance is curious. It may be that democracy promotion was deemed too politically sensitive and might imperil progress in the area of economic reform. Another argument is that democracy assistance did not need as much money because this kind of aid was cheaper to provide than economic assistance. As Brian Atwood explains, “Democracy programs don’t cost that much money. Even if it’s a case of running a successful election, you may spend 15-20 million dollars on the mechanical equipment and ballots: that’s not a lot of money.” [102]

USAID did joint with the National Endowment for Democracy to fund the operations of the International Republic Institute, the National Democratic Institute, and the Free Trade Union Institute (funded by the AFL-CIO) in Russia. USAID also supported democratic assistance programs run by ABA-CEELI, ARDO-Checchi, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), Internews, the Eurasia Foundation, and a host of other nongovernmental organizations (NGOsd). [103] These groups focused on fostering the development of political parties, business associations, trade unions, and civic organizations, as well as promoting electoral reform, the rule of law, and an independent press. Their budgets were only shadows of the amounts spent on economic and technical assistance. NGOs, though, did help introduce Russian politicians to the effects of different types of voting systems. For instance, in 1992 NDI convened a series of working-group meetings on the relationship between electoral systems and parties, which included electoral experts on the American single-mandate system as well as the Portuguese, German, and Hungarian electoral regimes. [104] NDI also translated into Russian electoral laws from several countries. All of Russia’s key decision makers on the electoral law at the time and senior officials from Yeltsin’s presidential administration participated in these meetings. Facilitated by Western actors, the Western idea of proportional representation was brought to Russia and incorporated into law.
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Re: Spinning Boris, directed by Roger Spottiswoode

Postby admin » Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:00 am

The Less You know, the Better You Sleep: Russia’s Road to Terror and Dictatorship Under Yeltsin and Putin - EXCERPT
by David Satter

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After his victory in the October confrontation, Yeltsin presented the country with a new draft constitution that gave the president near-dictatorial powers. Under the proposed constitution, the Supreme Soviet would be replaced with a smaller body, the State Duma, which would have virtually no control over the executive branch. The president would have the power to appoint without interference all ministers except the prime minister, who would have to be confirmed by the Duma. If the Duma rejected three of his candidates for prime minister, the president would be able to dissolve the Duma. The president would have control over the budget and appoint the director of the Central Bank and the justices of the Constitutional Court. Removing the president would require a two-thirds majority of the parliament as well as approval by the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court. Laws would be passed by the Duma, but they could be vetoed by the president, and the veto could be overridden only by a two-thirds vote of the Duma, a near impossibility in a parliament expected to contain numerous factions.

The draft constitution was put to a vote simultaneously with elections to the new parliament on December 12, 1993, only a month after the publication of the text. In the referendum, 54.4 percent of eligible voters were said to have participated, with 58.4 percent voting for and 41.6 percent against the new constitution. [44] The constitution was thus supported by about 30 percent of the electorate. Technically this was enough: Yeltsin had established a rule whereby only 25 percent of eligible voters had to vote yes for the constitution to become law. [45] There were immediate suspicions, however, that the approval was fraudulent. Particular concern was focused on the appearance of nearly nine million unexplained ballots. [46] An independent analysis by Alexander Sobyanin of the pro-government Russia’s Choice Party showed that only 46.1 percent of the electorate had voted, not the 54.4 percent the government claimed, in which case the turnout was 3.9 percent short of the required minimum. The presidential team never explained the origin of the extra ballots and ignored all demands for an investigation. It is highly likely that the 1993 Constitution was never approved by the population. [47]

Yeltsin’s destruction of the Supreme Soviet and the creation of a superpresidency destroyed any possibility in Russia of a genuine separation of powers. The first serious consequence was the war in Chechnya. Yeltsin needed a war because since the events of October 1993, he could no longer blame the parliament for his failures. Oleg Lobov, the secretary of Yeltsin’s Security Council, told Sergei Yushenkov, the chairman of the Duma Defense Committee, that a war in Chechnya was coming. “On the telephone,” Yushenkov told the journalists Carlotta Gall and Thomas de Walla, “Lobov used the phrase that: ‘It is not only a question of the integrity of Russia. We need a small, victorious war to raise the President’s ratings.’” [48] A force of volunteers opposed to the separatist regime in Chechnya was assembled by the Russian security services to seize Grozny, the Chechen capital, and set up a puppet government that would request the introduction of Russian troops. But on November 26, 1994, the volunteers were routed by Chechen troops loyal to Djofar Dudayev, the Chechen leader. Yeltsin ordered the Chechens to lay down their arms by December 15. Despite the deadline, the Russian military began air strikes on December 2, and on the 11th, three columns of Russian army units moved into Chechnya.

Democrats, including Gaidar, who had supported Yeltsin’s suppression of the parliament, now found that giving unchecked power to Yeltsin came at a price. He had unilaterally committed the army to a war against Russian citizens on Russia’s own territory.

The destruction of the Supreme Soviet also assured Yeltsin an apparently undeserved second term in office. After the parliament was disbanded by force, the communists were apparently too intimidated to seriously contest an election. Yeltsin was believed to have won the 1996 presidential election, albeit with the help of massive violations of the campaign financing rules. But in February 2012, at a meeting with four members of the opposition, President Dmitri Medvedev said that this was not the case. When the four protested the falsification of the results of the previous December’s parliamentary elections, Medvedev indicated that falsification is not unusual: “There is hardly any doubt who won [the 1996 presidential election]. It was not Boris Nikolaevich Yeltsin.” [49]

Victor Ilyukhin, a communist who in 1996 was the head of the Duma Security Committee, said in an interview with the site Gazeta.ru that Zyuganov did not protest the theft of the election because in light of the events in October 1993, he was afraid of triggering a civil war. “The Yeltsin entourage was ready to use force in the event of a victory by Zyuganov,” Ilyukhin said. “They did not hesitate to say to us, ‘We will not simply hand over power.’” There were fifty thousand armed guards in Moscow, many of them Afghan veterans who were on Yeltsin’s side, and “This force could have been used and that was more terrible than an open confrontation. When tanks move, they are visible but this could be used to attack from behind. At the same time, besides the Alpha unit, Yeltsin was creating more specialized military units.” [50] According to Ilyukhin, declaring the elections falsified would have meant calling people into the streets, and this could have caused the communist leaders to be arrested or killed. [51]

Anatoly Chubais, who was Yeltsin’s campaign manager at the time, said that “of course” there were violations in the campaign, but if the 1996 vote were to be dismissed as a fraud, “then we automatically have to deem both of President Putin’s terms illegitimate along with the presidency of Medvedev…. There would be nothing left of Russia’s post-Soviet history.” [52]

By July 1996, when Yeltsin began his second term as president, parliament’s role was so reduced that Yeltsin was able to rule effectively alone. Ironically, it was then that his health began to fail, making him unable to wield the power he had taken such pains to accumulate. He surrendered authority to his daughter, Tatyana Dyachenko, and Valentin Yumashev, the journalist who in the 1980s had helped his write his first volume of memoirs.
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Re: Spinning Boris, directed by Roger Spottiswoode

Postby admin » Mon Aug 27, 2018 11:07 pm

FIMACO - Russia's Missing Billions
Financial Crime and Corruption
3rd Edition
by Sam Vaknin, Ph.D.
© 2002-9 Copyright Lidija Rangelovska.

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Russia's Audit Chamber - with the help of the Swiss authorities and their host of dedicated investigators - may be about to solve a long standing mystery. An announcement by the Prosecutor's General Office is said to be imminent. The highest echelons of the Yeltsin entourage - perhaps even Yeltsin himself - may be implicated - or exonerated. A Russian team has been spending the better part of the last two months poring over documents and interviewing witnesses in Switzerland, France, Italy, and other European countries.

About $4.8 billion of IMF funds are alleged to have gone amiss during the implosion of the Russian financial markets in August 1998. They were supposed to prop up the banking system (especially SBS -Agro) and the ailing and sharply devalued ruble. Instead, they ended up in the bank accounts of obscure corporations - and, then, incredibly, vanished into thin air.

The person in charge of the funds in 1998 was none other than Mikhail Kasyanov, Russia's current Prime Minister - at the time, Deputy Minister of Finance for External Debt. His signature on all foreign exchange transactions - even those handled by the central bank - was mandatory. In July 2000, he was flatly accused by the Italian daily, La Reppublica, of authorizing the diversion of the disputed funds.
Following public charges made by US Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin as early as March 1999, both Russian and American media delved deeply over the years into the affair. Communist Duma Deputy Viktor Ilyukhin jumped on the bandwagon citing an obscure "trustworthy foreign source" to substantiate his indictment of Kremlin cronies and oligarchs contained in an open letter to the Prosecutor General, Yuri Skuratov.

The money trail from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to Swiss and German subsidiaries of the Russian central Bank was comprehensively reconstructed. Still, the former Chairman of the central bank, Sergei Dubinin, called Ilyukhin's allegations and the ensuing Swiss investigations - "a black PR campaign ... a lie".

Others pointed to an outlandish coincidence: the ruble collapsed twice in Russia's post-Communist annals. Once, in 1994, when Dubinin was Minister of Finance and was forced to resign. The second time was in 1998, when Dubinin was governor of the central bank and was, again, ousted. Dubinin himself seems to be unable to make up his mind. In one interview he says that IMF funds were used to prop up the ruble - in others, that they went into "the national pot" (i.e., the Ministry of Finance, to cover a budgetary shortfall).

The Chairman of the Federation Council at the time, Yegor Stroev, appointed an investigative committee in 1999. Its report remains classified but Stroev confirmed that IMF funds were embezzled in the wake of the 1998 forced devaluation of the ruble.


This conclusion was weakly disowned by Eleonora Mitrofanova, an auditor within the Duma's Audit Chamber who said that they discovered nothing "strictly illegal" - though, incongruously, she accused the central bank of suppressing the Chamber's damning report. The Chairman of the Chamber of Accounts, Khachim Karmokov, quoted by PwC, said that "the audits performed by the Chamber revealed no serious procedural breaches in the bank's performance".

But Nikolai Gonchar, a Duma Deputy and member of its Budget Committee, came close to branding both as liars when he said that he read a copy of the Audit Chamber report and that it found that central bank funds were siphoned off to commercial accounts in foreign banks.

The Moscow Times cited a second Audit Chamber report which revealed that the central bank was simultaneously selling dollars for rubles and extending ruble loans to a few well-connected commercial banks, thus subsidizing their dollar purchases. The central bank went as far as printing rubles to fuel this lucrative arbitrage. The dollars came from IMF disbursements.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, based on its own sources and an article in the Russian weekly "Novaya Gazeta", claims that half the money was almost instantly diverted to shell companies in Sydney and London. The other half was mostly transferred to the Bank of New York and to Credit Suisse.

Why were additional IMF funds transferred to a chaotic Russia, despite warnings by many and a testimony by a Russian official that previous tranches were squandered? Moreover, why was the money sent to the Central Bank, then embroiled in a growing scandal over the manipulation of treasury bills, known as GKO's and other debt instruments, the OFZ's - and not to the Ministry of Finance, the beneficiary of all prior transfers? The central bank did act as MinFin's agent - but circumstances were unusual, to say the least.

There isn't enough to connect the IMF funds with the money laundering affair that engulfed the Bank of New York a year later to the day, in August 1999 - though several of the personalities straddled the divide between the bank and its clients. Swiss efforts to establish a firm linkage failed as did their attempt to implicate several banks in the Italian canton of Ticino. The Swiss - in collaboration with half a dozen national investigation bureaus, including the FBI - were more successful in Italy proper, where they were able to apprehend a few dozen suspects in an elaborate undercover operation.

FIMACO's name emerged rather early in the swirl of rumors and denials. At the IMF's behest, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was commissioned by Russia's central bank to investigate the relationship between the Russian central bank and its Channel Islands offshoot, Financial Management Company Limited, immediately when the accusations surfaced.

Skuratov unearthed $50 billion in transfers of the nation's hard currency reserves from the central bank to FIMACO, which was majority-owned by Eurobank, the central bank's Paris-based daughter company. According to PwC, Eurobank was 23 percent owned by "Russian companies and private individuals".

Dubinin and his successor, Gerashchenko, admit that FIMACO was used to conceal Russia's assets from its unrelenting creditors, notably the Geneva-based Mr. Nessim Gaon, whose companies sued Russia for $600 million. Gaon succeeded to freeze Russian accounts in Switzerland and Luxemburg in 1993.
PwC alerted the IMF to this pernicious practice, but to no avail.

Moreover, FIMACO paid exorbitant management fees to self-liquidating entities, used funds to fuel the speculative GKO market, disbursed non-reported profits from its activities, through "trust companies", to Russian subjects, such as schools, hospitals, and charities - and, in general, transformed itself into a mammoth slush fund and source of patronage. Russia admitted to lying to the IMF in 1996. It misstated its reserves by $1 billion.

Some of the money probably financed the fantastic salaries of Dubinin and his senior functionaries. He earned $240,000 in 1997 - when the average annual salary in Russia was less than $2000 and when Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve of the USA, earned barely half as much.

Former Minister of Finance, Boris Fedorov, asked the governor of the central bank and the prime minister in 1993 to disclose how were the country's foreign exchange reserves being invested. He was told to mind his own business. To Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty he said, six years later, that various central bank schemes were set up to "allow friends to earn handsome profits ... They allowed friends to make profits because when companies are created without any risk, and billions of dollars are transferred, somebody takes a (quite big) commission ... a minimum of tens of millions of dollars. The question is: Who received these commissions? Was this money repatriated to the country in the form of dividends?"

Dubinin's vehement denials of FIMACO's involvement in the GKO market are disingenuous. Close to half of all foreign investment in the money-spinning market for Russian domestic bonds were placed through FIMACO's nominal parent company, Eurobank and, possibly, through its subsidiary, co-owned with FIMACO, Eurofinance Bank.

Nor is Dubinin more credible when he denies that profits and commissions were accrued in FIMACO and then drained off. FIMACO's investment management agreement with Eurobank, signed in 1993, entitled it to 0.06 percent of the managed funds per quarter.

Even accepting the central banker's ludicrous insistence that the balance never exceeded $1.4 billion - FIMACO would have earned $3.5 million per annum from management fees alone - investment profits and brokerage fees notwithstanding. Even Eurobank's president at the time, Andrei Movchan, conceded that FIMACO earned $1.7 million in management fees.

The IMF insisted that the PwC reports exonerated all the participants. It is, therefore, surprising and alarming to find that the online copies of these documents, previously made available on the IMF's Web site, were "Removed September 30, 1999 at the request of PricewaterhouseCoopers" . The cover of the main report carried a disclaimer that it was based on procedures dictated by the central bank and "...consequently, we (PwC) make no representation regarding the sufficiency of the procedures described below ... The report is based solely on financial and other information provided by, and discussions with, the persons set out in the report. The accuracy and completeness of the information on which the report is based is the sole responsibility of those persons. ... PricewaterhouseCoopers have not carried out any verification work which may be construed to represent audit procedures ... We have not been provided access to Ost West Handelsbank (the recipient of a large part of the $4.8 IMF tranche)."

The scandal may have hastened the untimely departure of the IMF's Managing Director at the time, Michel Camdessus, though this was never officially acknowledged. The US Congress was reluctant to augment the Fund's resources in view of its controversial handling of the Asian and Russian crises and contagion.


This reluctance persisted well into the new millennium. A congressional delegation, headed by James Leach (R, Iowa), Chairman of the Banking and Financial Services Committee, visited Russia in April 2000, accompanied by the FBI, to investigate the persistent contentions about the misappropriation of IMF funds.  

Camdessus himself went out of his way to defend his record and reacted in an unprecedented manner to the allegations. In a letter to Le Mond, dated August 18, 1999 - and still posted on the IMF's Web site, three years later - he wrote, inadvertently admitting to serious mismanagement:

"I wish to express my indignation at the false statements, allegations, and insinuations contained in the articles and editorial commentary appearing in Le Monde on August 6, 8, and 9 on the content of the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) audit report relating to the operations of the Central Bank of Russia and its subsidiary, FIMACO.

Your readers will be shocked to learn that the report in question, requested and made public at the initiative of the IMF ... (concludes that) no misuse of funds has been proven, and the report does not criticize the IMF's behavior ... I would also point out that your representation of the IMF's knowledge and actions is misleading. We did know that part of the reserves of the Central Bank of Russia was held in foreign subsidiaries, which is not an illegal practice; however, we did not learn of FIMACO's activities until this year— because the audit reports for 1993 and 1994 were not provided to us by the Central Bank of Russia.

The IMF, when apprised of the possible range of FIMACO activities, informed the Russian authorities that it would not resume lending to Russia until a report on these activities was available for review by the IMF and corrective actions had been agreed as needed ... I would add that what the IMF objected to in FIMACO's operations extends well beyond the misrepresentation of Russia's international reserves in mid-1996 and includes several other instances where transactions through it had resulted in a misleading representation of the reserves and of monetary and exchange policies. These include loans to Russian commercial banks and investments in the GKO market."

No one accepted - or accepts - the IMF's convoluted post-facto "clarifications" at face value. Nor was Dubinin's tortured sophistry - IMF funds cease to be IMF funds when they are transferred from the Ministry of Finance to the central bank - countenanced.

Even the compromised office of the Russian Prosecutor-General urged Russian officials, as late as July 2000, to re-open the investigation regarding the diversion of the funds. The IMF dismissed this sudden burst of rectitude as the rehashing of old stories. But Western officials - interviews by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty - begged to differ.

Yuri Skuratov, the former Prosecutor-General, ousted for undue diligence, wrote in a book he published two years ago, that only c. $500 million of the $4.8 were ever used to stabilize the ruble.
Even George Bush Jr., when still a presidential candidate accused Russia's former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin of complicity in embezzling IMF funds. Chernomyrdin threatened to sue.

The rot may run even deeper. The Geneva daily "Le Temps", which has been following the affair relentlessly, accused, two years ago, Roman Abramovich, a Yeltsin-era oligarch and a member of the board of directors of Sibneft, of colluding with Runicom, Sibneft's trading arm, to misappropriate IMF funds. Swiss prosecutors raided Runicom's offices just one day after Russian Tax Police raided Sibneft's Moscow headquarters.

Absconding with IMF funds seemed to have been a pattern of behavior during Yeltsin's venal regime. The columnist Bradley Cook recounts how Aldrich Ames, the mole within the CIA, "was told by his Russian control officer during their last meeting, in November 1993, that the $130,000 in fresh $100 bills that he was being bribed with had come directly from IMF loans." Venyamin Sokolov, who headed the Audit Chamber prior to Sergei Stepashin, informed the US Senate of $2 billion that evaporated from the coffers of the central bank in 1995.


Even the IMF reluctantly admits:

"Capital transferred abroad from Russia may represent such legal activities as exports, or illegal sources. But it is impossible to determine whether specific capital flows from Russia -- legal or illegal -- come from a particular inflow, such as IMF loans or export earnings. To put the scale of IMF lending to Russia into perspective, Russia's exports of goods and services averaged about $80 billion a year in recent years, which is over 25 times the average annual disbursement from the IMF since 1992."

DISCLAIMER

Sam Vaknin served in various senior capacities in Mr. Gaon 's firms and advises governments in their negotiations with the IMF.
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Re: Spinning Boris, directed by Roger Spottiswoode

Postby admin » Tue Aug 28, 2018 2:30 am

How to rig an election: In the digital age, democracy is becoming a delusion
by Nic Cheeseman and Brian Klaas
The Spectator.co.uk
31 March 2018, 9:00 AM

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Andrés Sepúlveda sleeps behind bombproof doors in a maximum-security prison in central Bogota, Colombia. When travelling to judicial hearings or to meet prosecutors, he is accompanied by a caravan of armed guards with serious firepower. As they move at high speed through the capital, the motorcade uses sophisticated equipment to jam mobile phones to lower the risk of a coordinated assassination attempt.

Sepúlveda is one of the world’s most notorious election-rigging specialists. Now that he has been caught and put in jail, he is helping atone for his crimes by explaining how he fixed elections — and the people he used to work with want him dead.

But Sepúlveda isn’t the only specialist in this field. The tools he was using are deployed around the world. They’re costly, sometimes scandalous, but often legal. The disruption of democracy has become a great global game, and it’s one that British companies are playing too.

The recent Cambridge Analytica scandal raised an obvious question: did its role in mining Facebook data help send Donald Trump to the White House? But there is another angle that is just as important: what did Alexander Nix, its (now suspended) chief executive, mean when he said that his company is ‘used to operating through different vehicles, in the shadows’? That question was buried under the deluge of headlines about Facebook. This is a shame because it appears that there is an even bigger scandal than data-mining waiting to be exposed.

We’re academics, not investigative journalists. But between the two of us, we have crisscrossed the globe from Thailand to Tunisia, from Belarus to Zimbabwe, learning the tricks of the election-rigging trade. We’ve interviewed more than 500 top figures, from prime ministers and presidents downwards.

We have seen first-hand how digital tools can help complete a dictator’s toolbox of tricks. And we’ve put everything we’ve learned into a forthcoming book, How to Rig an Election, which might sound like a joke. But for those living in these countries, it could not be more serious.

You might think that elections weaken autocrats. Think again. Elections can actually help despots shore up their grip on power. Holding flawed polls can enable embattled governments to secure access to valuable economic resources like foreign aid, while reinvigorating the ruling party and — in many cases — dividing the opposition. Consequently, a number of authoritarian regimes that appeared to be in their death throes have used the ballot box to re-establish their political dominance.

The facade of democracy is being turned into a tool of oppression because an increasing number of leaders have worked out how to rig an election — or hire someone to do it for them. In many parts of the world, election rigging is now not the exception but the norm. It’s a multi-billion-dollar industry in which government contracts flow to those who deliver the ‘right’ result.
In Kenya, Cambridge Analytica is said to have been paid $6 million to support the campaign of President Uhuru Kenyatta. There are many more such contracts, and many more companies in pursuit of them, constantly coming up with innovative ways to subvert democracy, from spreading fake news about opponents to adopting new technologies. The digital age has, alas, multiplied the potential for dirty tricks.

Take Azerbaijan’s 2013 elections, when President Ilham Aliyev sought to boost his democratic credentials by launching an iPhone app that enabled citizens to keep up to speed with the vote tallies as ballot counting took place. Touting its commitment to transparency, the regime said that the new technology would allow anyone to watch the results in real time. But those who were keen to try out the new technology were surprised to find that the results were posted on the app the day before the polls opened. Technology was being used to fix the process, not make it more robust.

Sometimes, though, old-school tactics get the job done. In the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election, voters in opposition areas were given pens filled with disappearing ink. When officials went to count the ballots, they just found a bunch of blanks. In the 1998 mayoral election in St Petersburg, the authorities sought to neutralise a rising opposition figure named Oleg Sergeyev. To do this, they found a pensioner and a tram driver who were also named Oleg Sergeyev and stuck them both on the ballot next to the ‘real’ Oleg. Because no photographs appeared on the ballot papers, voters didn’t know which of the three to pick, so the vote got divided three ways, and all the Olegs lost.

The digital frontier has opened up new possibilities that the political consultants of the 1980s could have only dreamed of. Elections can now be manipulated from anywhere in the world, so long as you can get online. Take Sepúlveda, who was somewhat of a pioneer in the business of election hacking. In 2005, he began breaking into the files of opponents’ campaigns, stealing their databases of voters and donors, and even defacing websites with digital graffiti. Within a few years, he was charging $20,000 a month to hack smartphones, or send mass texts or emails laced with perfectly timed misinformation. He promoted right-wing candidates and knocked down their left-wing rivals from Mexico to Venezuela (and most places in-between). As he put it from prison: ‘When I realised that people believe what the internet says more than reality, I discovered that I had the power to make people believe almost anything.’ This is a discovery that western firms — with bigger budgets — have also made.

Cambridge Analytica is now the best-known company using these tactics. It promises to ‘use data to change audience behaviour’. In the electoral context, it does this by getting data about voters through online sites such as Facebook and using it to encourage its clients’ supporters to vote and their opponents to stay at home. Its platform is bespoke: it targets messages specific to each individual according to a sophisticated profile of their likely attitudes and beliefs based on their internet activity. Breaking rules to access personal data — as Cambridge Analytica is alleged to have done by Facebook — may lead to prosecutions. But the method itself is not illegal.

Such strategies aren’t magical: they can’t turn lifelong Democrats into Republicans overnight, nor could they turn a dedicated Remainer into a fervent Brexiteer after a few pitch-perfect Facebook ads. ‘Big data’ is scarce and the number of people online much lower in parts of Africa and Asia. But even then, companies like Cambridge Analytica can have a negative effect by advocating and implementing irresponsible campaigns in more traditional ways, such as spreading misinformation about opponents. Another British firm, Bell Pottinger, recently went out of business after it was revealed that some of those working for the company had advised allies of the former South African president Jacob Zuma to manipulate racial tensions in order to shore up their own support base.

When big data is available, its effect can be significant. For people who don’t typically tune into politics, and those who have not yet made up their minds, being suddenly bombarded with carefully tailored messages aimed at playing to their deepest desires and fears can be a powerful push into political action.

The greatest challenge to 21st–century democracy is that uninformed voters are being replaced by misinformed ones. Alexander Nix put it well, during that Channel 4 sting operation, when he said of propaganda that: ‘Things don’t necessarily need to be true, as long as they’re believed.’ Uninformed voters often stay home. Misinformed voters turn out
— and they often want to blow up the system or see a political rival permanently excluded from power. This can lead to anti-establishment politics, as in the UK and US; and in less politically stable parts of the world, to political violence and the discrediting of democracy itself.

Through using these strategies, autocrats have learned a simple but sad truth: it is easier to stay in power by rigging elections than by not holding them at all. So often we hear it said that the number of democracies in the world is rising — and we imagine that must mean world government is improving. Perhaps we want to believe it, and a willingness to be fooled — or, at least, a reluctance to ask too many questions — is part of the problem. But it is now time to wake up. Many of those who rig elections are outfoxing both their own people and western observers. Sometimes that is because autocrats (or their advisers) are smart, flexible and stealthy. But let’s not forget that Cambridge Analytica was used by the supposed leader of the free world, Donald Trump, and even by the UK Ministry of Defence.

As a result, a lot of powerful people might not want to look too deeply into all of this. Even in the West, few governments consistently live up to their rhetorical commitment to promote democracy in reality. The imperative of striking arms or oil deals and staying in power is simply more compelling than dealing with the messy and murky reality of widespread election rigging

This has to change — and pro-democracy governments must do more to turn the tide. Firms such as Cambridge Analytica need to be subject to tighter regulation and scrutiny, not just for what they do at home but also for what they do abroad. We must make foreign aid dependent on genuine democratic progress, not a box-ticking exercise. And we must end our own practices of regularly flouting rules like campaign spending limits.
.

Me, a gangster? Berezovsky is quick to take the moral high ground. "The Western press portrays Russia unfairly," he says. "Russian business is not synonymous with the Mafia."; But isn't the government powerless to bring any of the thousands of mobsters to justice? Oh, yes, says Berezovsky, but don't blame him. "In the government," he says, "there are many people who are criminals themselves."

Berezovsky should know. He stands close to political power. He organized Russia's most powerful bankers in support of President Yeltsin's presidential campaign earlier this year. "It is no secret that Russian businessmen played the decisive role in President Yeltsin's victory," says Berezovsky. "It was a battle for our blood interests."

Berezovsky and friends did whatever was necessary to prevent the Communists from gaining a victory. The Yeltsin campaign is facing allegations of massive financing violations. Legally, each party's campaign was limited to $3 million. The Yeltsin campaign is estimated to have spent at least $140 million.

As in the U.S., most people in Russia who give big money to political campaigns hope for favors. The difference is that in Russia the payoff is often very direct. After Yeltsin's reelection Berezovsky was appointed deputy secretary of the National Security Council, the body responsible for coordinating military and law enforcement policy.

-- Godfather of the Kremlin? The Decline of Russia in the Age of Gangster Capitalism and Boris Berezovsky and the looting of Russia, by Paul Klebnikov


Around the world, democracy is being hijacked. And unless the western democracies start to care, election quality will continue to decline. This threatens to undermine the very idea of democracy, turning these elections into an empty ritual that the government always wins. The Cambridge Analytica revelations are the tip of the iceberg. This isn’t about one company or a handful of elections, it is about a concerted attack on democracy by a powerful alliance of authoritarian leaders and multinational companies. It has gone unnoticed and unanswered for too long. A parliamentary inquiry into what such companies are doing around the world would reveal, fairly quickly, how much has gone wrong. And why, for those who care about democracy, it is time to fight back.

Nic Cheeseman and Brian Klaas on election rigging. Their book How to Rig an Election (Yale, £18.99) is published on 24 April.
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Re: Spinning Boris, directed by Roger Spottiswoode

Postby admin » Tue Aug 28, 2018 4:51 am

Elvis Scene in Moscow! Russian Fans Teary-Eyed for the King, but Haven't Met Him Lately
by Lee Hockstader
Washington Post
August 17, 1993

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MOSCOW, AUG. 16 -- They toasted The King with cold vodka and Happy Cola tonight and sang "Love Me Tender" and "Shotgun Boogie" -- in an accent more Moscow than Memphis. Today, on the 16th anniversary of his death, Elvis was still dead. But the founders of Moscow's all-Russian Elvis Presley fan club were feeling no pain.

"In memory of Elvis," they murmured, and everyone raised a glass.

The scene was the dining room of Nadezhda Sevnitskaya's Moscow apartment, a modest affair with immodest decor. On every wall, on every shelf, in every drawer and cranny, the King and his paraphernalia smiled and mugged and crooned for what must be one of the world's most appreciative audiences.

"Elvis was a singer beyond compare," Sevnitskaya said simply, as the tape deck played. ("Wise men say, only fools rush in . . . ")

Take it from an authority. Sevnitskaya, an editor at Moscow's Museum of Musical History, was hooked from the moment she heard "Love Me Tender" as a kid in the '50s. Since then, she's amassed so many Elvis records, posters, slides, buttons and artifacts of every description that her apartment seems more shrine than dwelling.

She has written five lectures about Presley, delivered as a series starting each Jan. 8, The King's birthday. The shortest runs 2 1/2 hours; the longest lasts four. And like the other members of her group, she seems to know The King's lyrics by heart -- even untranslatable snippets like "good rockin' tonight."

Her No. 2 in the fan club, graphic artist Victor Plotnov, was hooked by "Blue Suede Shoes." "I was 13 or 14, and I almost dropped dead {the first time I heard it.} The purity and the energy of it impressed me. It was like electricity."

Tonight, they reminisced for a visitor about the old days when Elvis could be heard in Communist Russia only by way of copies of smuggled tapes and technological hocus-pocus. For a ruble a song, bootleggers would copy the King's croonings onto a flimsy sheet of X-ray film (known as "records on bones") that could actually be played on a phonograph. Its lifespan was limited, but Elvis's popularity wasn't.

At parties, on shortwave radio and in private, they listened in thrall. Yet none imagined that his devotion was shared. They finally found each other -- "through Elvis," said Plotnov -- through Sevnitskaya and her lectures on Presley at Moscow's Museum of Musical History.

Now, with Vladimir Vorobtsov, an equipment importer, Alexei Prokhorov, a private detective and Grigory Kuzmin, a young sound engineer at the Museum of Musical History (whose personal collection of Elvis records exceeds 300), Sevnitskaya and Plotnov have formed an executive committee for a club they hope will grow but remain exclusive.

Not for this group the indignities of America's Elvis impersonators or the light-hearted mocking of Lewis Grizzard, the American humorist who titled one of his books "Elvis Is Dead & I Don't Feel So Good Myself."

For these Russians, Elvis is serious stuff -- much more serious than most Americans realize, they say. It's like the French and Jerry Lewis: Americans, they say with a little scorn, are too trivial-minded, too caught up in myth making and celebrity worshiping and Hollywood and glitz to appreciate real talent for its own sake.

By making Elvis into a cult idol, they say, America has degraded his true significance as an incomparable vocal artist and unsurpassed performer.

"For some, Elvis can be about his great success and glamor and fame," Plotnov said disdainfully. "We are among those, less numerous, who are interested in his great talent. . . . Our understanding of Elvis is very different from Americans'. We go deeper.

"America is about today and tomorrow. Nobody in America is about the past. Elvis is the exception," he adds. "More Elvis admirers emerged after his death than in his lifetime."

When it comes to The King's reputation, the Russian group insists it is loath to embellish. Asked if she believed a Russia newspaper report that had Boris Yeltsin unwinding to the tune of "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" after the failed hard-line putsch in 1991, Sevnitskaya said, "Not quite."

However, they all said it is a fact that Yeltsin dropped in on a troupe of American Elvis impersonators who were touring in Moscow last year.


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[Boris Yeltsin] Don't you be steppin' on these blue suede shoes, Comrade!, by Tara Carreon


Inside Parliament, deputies wasted no time in convening an emergency all-night session.

"We are talking about the beginning of a civil war now," said a breathless Ilya Konstantinov, leader of the ultra-nationalist National Salvation Front.

Rutskoi, a hero of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan who split with Yeltsin last spring, immediately seized the chair on the dais reserved for the president, then took an oath of office and swore to uphold the Soviet-era constitution that Yeltsin wants to replace with a democratic, Western-type model....

Russia's constitutional court, which sided with Yeltsin's foes in earlier confrontations, ruled early Wednesday that the president could be impeached because he had violated the constitution. Specifically, the court said Yeltsin had violated a constitutional amendment passed by the Congress last December which specified that the president would forfeit his office the moment he tried to dissolve Parliament.

In his televised address, Yeltsin said the current cumbersome parliament would be replaced in the December elections by a two-chambered body that would more closely resemble Western legislatures.


-- Power Crisis Rocks Russia: Yeltsin Wins Vital Support Of Military, by James P. Gallagher and Howard Witt


As Presley fanatics, the Russians are in the major leagues. But they acknowledge a little abashedly that they are woefully deficient when it comes to the acid test of true Elvis-mania. Have they visited Graceland?

"No, no," said Plotnov, shaking his head with eyes downcast and lips pursed in apologetic sincerity. "We know. You've touched a weak spot." Such a trip would cost thousands of dollars from Moscow -- well beyond the reach of any of the club's members.

As for the pressing Elvis question of our day -- whether the handsome young Elvis or the fleshy older version should have graced a 29-cent American postal stamp, the Russian fans are unequivocal: The Mature King, hands down.

"He wasn't fat," said Sevnitskaya, testily. "He was sick." She produced from a drawer a photographic slide showing the young Elvis's mug side-by-side with a stone-chiseled Greek god.

Elvis, said Plotnov, could only have been born -- or invented -- in America. "But he belongs to the world."
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Re: Spinning Boris, directed by Roger Spottiswoode

Postby admin » Tue Aug 28, 2018 5:45 am

Elvis impersonator
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 8/27/18

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

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Image
Members of The Association of Professional Elvis Presley Tribute Artists setting the world record for the most Elvis impersonators in one location, in 2005

An Elvis impersonator is someone who impersonates or copies the look and sound of musician Elvis Presley. Professional Elvis impersonators, commonly known as Elvis tribute artists (ETAs), work all over the world as entertainers, and such tribute acts remain in great demand due to the unique iconic status of Elvis. There are even a number of radio stations[1][2] that exclusively feature Elvis impersonator material.

Many impersonators sing Presley's songs. "While some of the impersonators perform a whole range of Presley music, the raw 1950s Elvis and the later 1970s Elvis are the favorites."[3]

Origins

Contrary to popular belief, Elvis impersonators have existed since the mid-1950s, just after Elvis began his career. The first Elvis impersonator was a young man named Carl 'Cheesie' Nelson from Texarkana, Arkansas, who in 1954 built up a local following on WLAC radio with his renditions of "That's All Right, Mama" and "Blue Moon of Kentucky." Nelson even performed alongside Presley when they first met, also in 1954. The friendship between Nelson and Presley is documented in the book "Elvis in Texas".[4]

The second known impersonator was a 16-year-old boy named Jim Smith. In 1956, shortly after Elvis began to rise in popularity, Smith began jumping on stage and imitating Presley. Smith's physical resemblance to Elvis and his mannerisms happened to catch the attention of DJ Norm Pringle of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, who had been playing "That's All Right, Mama" and "Heartbreak Hotel" on the radio. Smith was featured several times on Pringle's regular TV show, though it should be noted that Smith only pretended to sing and play along with the music since he actually could neither sing nor play the guitar at that time.[5]

Many other Elvis impersonators appeared while Elvis was still alive, evolving mainly out of small town talent competitions which took their influences from major music artists of that time. Dave Ehlert from Waukegan, IL began performing as Elvis in 1967 a full 10 years before Elvis died. Some of his contemporaries included Rick Saucedo of Chicago and Johnny Harra, a Kansas City native who moved his show to Texas in 1977. Ehlert performed throughout the Chicago Metro Area until Elvis died, then traveled the country with his act. He was on hand for the 1 year anniversary of Elvis' death at the Prince William County Fair in Manassas, VA on August 16, 1978. He has continuously performed his Elvis Tribute for almost 50 years including performances in Las Vegas and headlining an Elvis Tribute Show in Branson, MO for almost 20 years beginning in 1993. Only after Elvis' untimely death on August 16, 1977 that impersonating Elvis started to become popular in the mainstream. The large growth in Elvis impersonators seems tightly linked with his ever-growing iconic status.

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American protest singer Phil Ochs appeared in concert in March 1970 at Carnegie Hall wearing a 1950s Elvis-style gold lamé suit, made for him by Presley's costumer Nudie Cohn. His performance may be considered the first significant Elvis impersonation.[6] Jeremy Spencer of British blues-rock band Fleetwood Mac became known for his high-energy Elvis tribute performances during his tenure with the band. Spencer would perform as Elvis (often in a gold lamé suit) as the main part of a mini-set in which he also did other impersonations of figures such as Buddy Holly and slide guitarist Elmore James.

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In the mid-1970s, Andy Kaufman made an Elvis impersonation part of his act. He is considered to be one of the first notable Elvis impersonators and even Elvis himself supposedly said that Kaufman was his favorite impersonator.[7] In his act, Kaufman would precede with several failed impersonations before unexpectedly launching into a skilled impersonation of Elvis Presley.[8] As Kaufman gained fame, the impersonation was used less and less.

According to a popular myth, Elvis himself entered an Elvis lookalike contest at a local restaurant shortly before his death, and came in third place. This fabricated myth was featured as a news item in the Weekly World News, and has been misunderstood to be factual by people who do not realize that the Weekly World News is well known to publish outlandish and often unbelievable articles.[9] This joke may have its origins in Charlie Chaplin, who once did enter a lookalike contest and is often reported to have also placed third, although Chaplin's actual ranking in the contest is not known.[10]

Types of Elvis impersonators

There are many different types of Elvis impersonators or Elvis Tribute Artist. Most fall under the following categories:

Image
An impersonator performing as Elvis

• Look-alikes who concentrate more on visual elements of Elvis fashion and style using accessories such as wigs and fake sideburns (if necessary), costumes and jewelry.
• Sound-alikes who concentrate on changing their voice to sing or talk like Elvis. Notable examples of this type include country artist Ronnie McDowell and rock 'n' roll artist Ral Donner. Kurt Russell did this type of Elvis impersonation in his 1994 film, Forrest Gump, even though he was uncredited for his voice role of Elvis.
• Combination who use a combination of both the visual and auralmethods listed above. Country singer Billy "Crash" Craddock was an example of this in the 1970s and actor Kurt Russell was an example of this type in his 1979 film, Elvis and in his 2001 film, 3000 Miles to Graceland.
• Pastiche who look like, sound like, and write songs in the style of Elvis. David Daniel, called the Great Pretender, performs dozens of originals in the style of Elvis.

There are different levels of impersonation, which depends largely on who is doing the impersonation and for what purpose. They mainly fall under three main levels of impersonation, which are:

• Professional (Elvis Tribute Artist/ETA) Full-time and part-time, serious Elvis impersonators who are in the business of performing for a living. Reenactments of a typical 70s Elvis concert is a preferred choice of most ETAs; however, some ETAs may portray various phases of Elvis' career in a single show. For example, an ETA may open his show with a 50s set dressed in appropriate attire (such as a gold lame jacket), reenactments of musical scenes from Elvis' movies, and/or reenactments of segments from the '68 Comeback Special; and after an intermission closes his show with a full-blown 70s concert dressed in an appropriate jumpsuit. Some ETAs perform with a live band in the style of the TCB Band, complete with a brass ensemble and background singers, while others rely solely on karaoke for their performances. However, some ETAs may utilize both a live band and karaoke (either one or the other, in most cases depending on the type and size of the venue). Some ETAs record CDs to sell at their shows, which of course contain many of the Elvis standards, but could also include some of their own songs as well as songs of other artists.
• Amateur Enthusiasts who impersonate Elvis in contests, for a hobby, or at social gatherings (such as parties, reunions, etc.). Most of this type of impersonator aspire to become professional ETAs.
Fun / Comedy Usually done as part of a parody.

Image
[Boris Yeltsin] Don't you be steppin' on these blue suede shoes, Comrade!, by Tara Carreon


Inside Parliament, deputies wasted no time in convening an emergency all-night session.

"We are talking about the beginning of a civil war now," said a breathless Ilya Konstantinov, leader of the ultra-nationalist National Salvation Front.

Rutskoi, a hero of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan who split with Yeltsin last spring, immediately seized the chair on the dais reserved for the president, then took an oath of office and swore to uphold the Soviet-era constitution that Yeltsin wants to replace with a democratic, Western-type model....

Russia's constitutional court, which sided with Yeltsin's foes in earlier confrontations, ruled early Wednesday that the president could be impeached because he had violated the constitution. Specifically, the court said Yeltsin had violated a constitutional amendment passed by the Congress last December which specified that the president would forfeit his office the moment he tried to dissolve Parliament.

In his televised address, Yeltsin said the current cumbersome parliament would be replaced in the December elections by a two-chambered body that would more closely resemble Western legislatures.


-- Power Crisis Rocks Russia: Yeltsin Wins Vital Support Of Military, by James P. Gallagher and Howard Witt


"There are heavily-bearded Elvii, four-year-old Elvii, and Elvis duos; Italian Elvii, Greek Elvii, Fat Elvii, a Lady Elvis, even a Black Elvis. Impersonator impresario Ed Franklin boasts, 'We've had every type of Elvis there is in the world.'"[11] Professional Elvis impersonation can be called a special branch of the entertainment industry. "Michael Chapa, an Elvis impersonator who works in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, helped entertain more than 2500 of his relatives at what is believed to be the country's largest Hispanic family reunion ..."[12]

There are also some Elvis impersonators who specialize in experimenting with gender, sexuality, race, taste and decency. According to social historian Eric Lott, "the widespread embarrassment and innuendo surrounding Elvis impersonation points more directly to the homoerotic implications built into such acts."[13] There are even some performers who satirize other Elvis impersonators.[14]

According to Gael Sweeney, Elvis impersonation offers a spectacle of the grotesque, the display of the fetishized Elvis body by impersonators who use a combination of Christian and New Age imagery and language to describe their devotion to The King. 'True' impersonators believe that they are 'chosen' by The King to continue His work and judge themselves and each other by their 'Authenticity' and ability to 'Channel' Elvis' true essence. True impersonators don't 'do Elvis' for monetary gain, but as missionaries to spread the message of The King. Especially interesting are those who do not perform, per se, that is, they don't do an Elvis act, they just 'live Elvis,' dressing as The King and spreading His Word by their example."[15]

However, the Elvis industry includes "professional Elvis impersonator registries." The international guide I am Elvis, for instance, contains "photos, repertoire, and personal testimonies that serve to materialize the phenomenon of Elvis impersonation and further institutionalize it, including female Elvii, child Elvii, Black Elvii, El Vez the Mexican Elvis, and scores of British, German, Greek and Indian Elvii."[16] According to George Plasketes, there are "legions of impersonators. Airlines have offered discount fares for look-alikes on Elvis holidays... His omnipresence hauntingly hovers..."[17]

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In August 1996, Elvis Herselvis, a transsexual Elvis impersonator, who had been invited to take part in the Second International Elvis Presley Conference held at the University of Mississippi in order "to test the limits of race, class, sexuality and property...," was banned from this event by the conservative sponsors of Elvis Presley Enterprises.[18]

Contests, festivals and events

There are many Elvis contests for amateurs, festivals and other events held across the world celebrating Elvis and his many impersonators. Events tend to attract large numbers of amateur Elvis impersonators and Elvis fans.

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A Chihuahua impersonating Elvis in San Francisco's Pet Pride Day, 2002.

CKX, INC, which now owns Elvis Presley's estate, has full control including the grave of Elvis Presley and his family members along with his home Graceland in early 2008. This has seen some impact on what Elvis impersonators and contests have on the media and marketing industry. They began using the contest along with their Elvis brand, licensing anyone wanting to charge a fee to hold an Elvis contest.

The small western New South Wales town of Parkes in Australia has been hosting an Elvis Festival since 1993, which includes a special "Elvis Express" train from Sydney to Parkes.[19]

Blackpool in the UK, features a busy Elvis Wedding Chapel[20] based at the Norbreck Castle Hotel, Queens promenade, where couples can have their wedding vows renewed by Martin Fox.[21]

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The largest gathering of Elvis impersonators occurred on 12 July 2014 when 895 impersonators gathered in the Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee, North Carolina.[22]

In the media

Literature


A number of books are available on the topic of Elvis tribute artists. One of the first books to document the phenomenon was, I Am Elvis: A Guide to Elvis Impersonators released by American Graphic Systems in 1991. More recent titles include photo essays, Living the Life by Patty Carroll and The King and I: A little Gallery of Elvis Impersonators by Kent Baker and Karen Pritkin.

Novelist William McCranor Henderson wrote about his attempts to learn the Elvis trade in, I, Elvis: Confessions of a Counterfeit King.

A more scholarly examination of Elvis impersonation is, Impersonating Elvis by Leslie Rubinowski released in 1997. On "the thriving phenomenon of Elvis impersonators", see also Gilbert B. Rodman, Elvis After Elvis: The Posthumous Career of a Living Legend (1996). In the Summer 1997 issue of The Oxford American magazine author Tom Graves wrote an acclaimed article, Natural Born Elvis, about the first Elvis impersonator, Bill Haney, the only tribute artist Elvis himself ever went to see perform. The article has been published in the anthology The Oxford American Book of Great Music Writing and the anthology Louise Brooks, Frank Zappa, & Other Charmers & Dreamers by Tom Graves.

There are also three "how to" guides, Be Elvis! by Rick Marino, a well-known tribute artist, released in 2000 by Sourcebooks and the more recent, The Elvis Impersonation Kit by Laura Lee, released in 2006 by Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers. Also recently[when?] released "Just Pretending" by Kurt Burrows is full of tips on how to talk, sing and dress like Elvis. It contains interviews with many famous Elvis impersonators, and also gives you five free Sunfly Karaoke backing tracks, allowing you to download your favorite Elvis tracks to perform to.

There are also several university studies, for instance, Eric Lott's critical essay, "All the King's Men: Elvis Impersonators and White Working-Class Masculinity," published in Harry Stecopoulos and Michael Uebel, eds., Race and the Subject of Masculinities (Duke University Press, 1997). The author, professor of American Studies at the University of Virginia, has also written a long piece on Elvis impersonators and the EPIIA (Elvis Presley Impersonators International Association) to be published in his next book. For this paper, he interviewed many impersonators and draws parallels with minstrelsy. "It is indeed one place minstrelsy ends up; where 19th-century white guys imitated what they thought of as slave culture and Elvis took from R & B performers, the impersonators copy the copy, if you will—it's minstrelsy once-removed."[23] In her paper, "Women Who 'Do Elvis'", Case Western Reserve University researcher Francesca Brittan deals with female Elvis Presley impersonators and finds them to be "campy, cheeky, and often disturbingly convincing."[24] According to Marjorie Garber's academic study, Vested Interests: Cross-dressing and Cultural Anxiety (1992), Elvis impersonation is so insistently connected with femininity that it is "almost as if the word 'impersonator', in contemporary popular culture, can be modified either by 'female' or by 'Elvis.'"[25]

In the 2011 novel Donations to Clarity by Noah Baird, one of the main characters — the town's sheriff — is an Elvis impersonator.[26]

Films

3000 Miles to Graceland is a 2001 thriller film, starring Kurt Russell, Kevin Costner, Courteney Cox Arquette, David Arquette, Bokeem Woodbine, Christian Slater, and Kevin Pollak. It is a story of theft and betrayal, revolving around a plot to rob the Riviera Casino during a convention of Elvis impersonators in Las Vegas. The films also featured many real Elvis Tribute Artist from Las Vegas as background players, dancers and extras.

Bubba Ho-tep is the title of a novella by Joe R. Lansdale which originally appeared in the anthology The King Is Dead: Tales of Elvis Post-Mortem (edited by Paul M. Sammon, Delta 1994) and was adapted as a 2002 horror-black comedy film starring Bruce Campbell as Elvis Presley—who escaped the pressures of his fame long ago by impersonating an Elvis impersonator and is now a resident in a nursing home. The film version also stars Ossie Davis as Jack, a black man who claims to be John F. Kennedy. He says he was patched up after the assassination in Dallas, dyed black, and abandoned by Lyndon B. Johnson. The film was directed by Don Coscarelli.

Honeymoon in Vegas is a 1992 comedic movie which was directed by Andrew Bergman. Jack Singer, played by Nicolas Cage, encounters a group of "Flying Elvises" (skydiving Elvis impersonators) while trying to reunite with his fiancee. Pop singer Bruno Mars, only six years old at the time, has a small role as a young Elvis impersonator. It also featured Clearance Giddens, a black Elvis.

Almost Elvis[27] is a 75-minute 2001 documentary film that follows a variety of professional Elvis impersonators such as they prepare for a large annual contest in Memphis, Tennessee.

Elvis Extravaganza is a 60-minute 2009 Elvis impersonator documentary featuring amateur Elvis impersonators and their quest for the title of the "World's Finest Elvis Impersonator."

Television

The plot of the Father Ted episode "Competition Time" revolves around the three main characters Father Ted Crilly, Father Dougal McGuire and Father Jack Hackett entering the "All Priests Stars in Their Eyes Lookalike Competition". Due to confusion about who is going as Elvis all three do it, appearing in sequence as Elvis at different stages of his career, winning the competition.

Jeff Yagher played an Elvis impersonator (as well as Elvis himself) in an episode of The Twilight Zone called "The Once and Future King". The man who played Elvis' boss at the Crown Electric company was Red West, a real life schoolmate and best friend of Elvis.

In the Sledge Hammer! episode "All Shook Up", Hammer (David Rasche) investigates a string of Elvis impersonator murders by participating in a contest as one.

In the Digimon Adventure anime, one of the main villains, Etemon has the character of an Elvis impersonator.

• In an episode of Married... with Children, the character Peggy Bundy claims to have seen Elvis at a mall, prompting a large number of Elvis impersonators to come to her home so she can share her "experience."

In an episode of How I Met Your Mother Marshall and Lily are serenaded by a Korean Elvis.

In "Meltdown," an episode of the British TV series Red Dwarf, Clayton Mark portrays a 'wax droid' version of Elvis who, under the command of Arnold Rimmer along with other 'wax world' historical figures, is engaged in battle with the evil historical figures.

• In an episode of the American sitcom The Golden Girls, the characters of Blanche and Rose are considering hiring an Elvis impersonator for their "Hunka Hunka Burnin' Love Fan Club," yet Rose mixes up the Elvis list with the guest list for the wedding of the character of Sophia. As a result, Sophia's wedding reception is filled with Elvis impersonators (one played by a young Quentin Tarantino)[28] instead of members of her own family, and Rose exclaims, "Either I got the Elvis list mixed with the guest list for the wedding or everyone in Sophia's family appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show!"

In "Wedding Card," an episode of the Canadian sitcom Corner Gas, Oscar and Emma Leroy admit to having no photos of their wedding because "it was an Elvis wedding". Their fellow townspeople understand this sentiment, but in the final scene they are shown burning those selfsame photographs, which display both Oscar and Emma dressed as Elvis.

The Disney Channel sitcoms Hannah Montana and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody both featured main characters dressing up and acting like Elvis. The Martin twins dressed-up as twin-Elvises in an episode of The Suite Life where they were appearing on a gameshow called "Risk It All!", and Miley's brother Jackson, in Hannah Montana, impersonated Elvis twice: The first time was to fool a gossip reporter, as a coverup, after Miley accidentally blabbed the Hannah-secret to her; and the second time was when Miley and Lily impersonated Dolly Parton and Miley's "Mamaw" Ruthie, respectively, after it came out that Ruthie and Dolly (portrayed by Parton herself) had a fight over Elvis Presley.

In an episode of Due South, Season one, episode 10, "The Gift of the Wheelman", It's Christmas time and the police station is filled with Santas, elves and Elvises.

A season one episode of Full House had the character Uncle Jesse (John Stamos) play Elvis in a concert.

Talent shows focused on imitating already famous singers will often have Elvis impersonators. i.e., the Chilean version of the European show My name is... featured at least three of them.

An advertisement for State Farm Insurance featured four Elvis impersonators, each of which performed the company's "magic jingle" in succession, causing representatives from the company to appear out of thin air. The final Elvis impersonator made a splash by parachuting in on top of a car.

Plays

One of the most popular modern plays dealing with Elvis impersonation is Lee Hall's Cooking with Elvis (1999). The comedy centers on the family life of Dad, an Elvis impersonator who was paralyzed in a car crash and is forced to spend the rest of his life in a wheel chair. Climaxes of the play are surreal fantasy scenes in which Dad's hallucinatory Elvis dreams are bursting into popular Presley songs as a reminiscence of his one-time persona of Elvis impersonator.

Playwright Charlotte Jones' award-winning play "Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis" [29] opened 15 April 1999 at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton. The play features a Chinese Elvis impersonator called Timothy Wong, who transforms the lives of the characters in the play.

Another popular theater event has been the "Elvis Story" over the last five years. Different Elvis artists have been in the main role with very detailed outfits, wigs and props. This has prompted other impersonators, like Mark Lee Pringle of Ohio, to include these details in their shows. Mark portrays the 1950s rock-a-billy era complete with exact replicas of all of Elvis' performance guitars and stage clothes from 1954 to 1958, as well as old 1950s RCA microphones and even a full-size Nipper dog statue on-stage (Mark is the only impersonator that uses RCA's Nipper).

Influences in academia

In paleontology, researchers D.H. Erwin and M.L. Droser in a 1993 paper derived from the Elvis impersonators the term Elvis taxon (plural Elvis taxa), which denotes a taxon that has been misidentified as having re-emerged in the fossil record after a period of presumed extinction, but is not actually a descendant of the original taxon, instead having developed a similar morphology through convergent evolution.[30]

Other

• The Elvis Extravaganza Show band is considered to be the top Elvis Tribute band worldwide. They have performed over 1500 songs and have toured with every major musician that Elvis Presley used in his bands over his entire career.
• Elvii is a registered trade name that belongs to the Elvis Extravaganza Fan Club. It is not a plural for the form Elvi in Elvis impersonators (this, however, is not grammatically correct, as the name "Elvis" derives from Old English. Even if it somehow were a third-declension Latin noun, the plural form would be Elvēs). This term was popularized by a Saturday Night Live sketch where Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi respectively impersonated the younger and older versions of Elvis. The term Elvira (plural, Elviras) has been used to refer to female Elvis impersonators.
• Billionaire Robert Sillerman, owner of the TV show American Idol, bought an 85% stake in Elvis Presley Enterprises in 2005. Among other things, this gives him control of Elvis Presley's name and likeness in the US; this however does not include Britain (where the Elvis image is in the public domain), Europe and most other countries in the world.[31]
• The UK radio presenter Steve Wright includes a comedy feature on his show entitled "Ask Elvis". An Elvis impersonator (Mitch Benn) provides answers to listeners' questions—particularly those of a scientific or technical nature.[32]
• An Elvis impersonator won the summer 2007 reality show The Next Best Thing on ABC. A second impersonator finished in the top five. Many other Elvis Impersonators who were on the show were also known as Elvis Entertainers.
• Jack Womack's Dryco quartet, Elvissey (1993) depicts a future world wracked by climate change, where Elvis Presley has become the central messianic figure in an alternative religion, and where Elvis impersonation has become a sacred rite of spiritual possession. Therefore, the central protagonists are tasked with retrieving an alternate history Elvis, who turns out to suffer from psychosis, has murdered his mother Gladys Presley and who is also a Valentinean gnostic, who reacts adversely to his perceived messiah role.
• The video game Fallout: New Vegas features a faction of Elvis impersonators, 'The Kings', that live in an abandoned school of Elvis impersonation. They and their leader, The King, dress as Elvis in various forms, such as the 'Jailhouse Rocker' and 'Memphis Kid,' and reference Elvis songs often in their speech. They don't know Elvis' name, since all the material they could find referred to him as 'The King'.
• The video game Grand Theft Auto 2 features groups of Elvis impersonators who walk the streets of the city. If the player can kill them simultaneously in a short amount of time (usual method would be to run them all down in a row with a car), the player is given a large cash bonus and the words "ELVIS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING" appear onscreen and is announced by the in-game narrator. It should also be noted that the members of the Rednecks gang (who appear in the Residential Area of the city) are devout Elvis fans and their in-game sprite is based on Elvis (slicked quiff, sideburns, sunglasses).
• The video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas features pedestrians dressed as Elvis in Las Venturas, a city based on Las Vegas.
• Dread Zeppelin is a tribute/parody band that performs the songs of Led Zeppelin in a reggae style with an Elvis impersonator, (Tortelvis), as lead singer.
• In 1990 the band Living Colour released the song Elvis Is Dead, whose lyrics criticised Elvis impersonation.
• Professional Wrestler Wayne Farris better known by his ring name The Honky Tonk Man is known for portraying an Elvis Impersonator Gimmick.

New Zealand Elvises

Steve Fitter


Image

Steve Fitter is an Elvis impersonator from Waikato. On the 15th of May, 2011, he entered the Elvis Down Under competition in Upper Hutt. The three songs he sang were, "If I Can Dream", "Kentucky Rain" and "Polk Salad Annie". He was the winner of the competition. In the following month, he was off to compete at the Wntersun Festival in New South Wales.[33] In February 2013, he was set to appear at the annual fourth tribute to Elvis Presley event, held at the Auckland Botanic Gardens in Manurewa, Auckland. Elvis impersonators set to appear besides Fitter were, Brendon Chase, Melissa Perkins and Kerryn Winn. Dean Vegas and Paul Fenech from Australia were also booked for the event.[34]

Des Perenara aka Elvis Desley

Image

Des Perenara, a Maori Elvis comes from Auckland but is now based in Cardigan, Wales. He has taken part in the Porthcawl Elvis Festival.[35] His day job is at BGT Labratorites in Ffostrasol, which makes antidote products including snake anti-venom. He once sang some songs on Karaoke at a 30th birthday party which his mother in law loved. It was her motivation that helped him become an Elvis tribute artist. He appeared in episode 3 of the BBC Two Wales documentary, Cardigan Bay Coastal Lives.[36][37]

Andy Stankovich

Image

Andy Stankovich is a well known Elvis impersonator from Auckland, New Zealand. He has been performing as Elvis since around 2000. Besides performing throughout New Zealand, he has performed in Australia, Hawaii, Fiji and the United States.[38]

Elvis from the Pacific Islands

Samoan Elvises


There have been at least three prominent Elvis impersonators of Samoan descent.

Mr. Fatu

Image

During the 1970s, a star attraction at the Aloha Lounge in Florida's Hawaiian Inn was Mr. Fatu. At the time, he was referred to as the greatest Elvis impressionist around.[39][40] Following a break, he was back December 1976.[41]The following year in August 1977, he was appearing at the Colonial Inn, fronting a nine-piece band called Coastal Connection.[42] Among the LP albums he recorded were his 1976 album, Mr. Fatu Sings Elvis, which was recorded live at The Hawaiian Inn,[43] and Manatua Mai A'u (Remember Me), released on the Tam-Bay label.[44] His single "Love's Not Made Of Time" bw "God Will Rule" was produced by John Centinaro,[45] who would work with another Elvis impersonator Johnny Charro.[46][47] Another single of his, released on the Fire Mountain label in 1980, "Just One Look" bw "Darling" is a sought after collectors item.[48]

Sam Leilani

During the early 1990s, Sam Leilani from Reseda, L.A. made the news briefly. He was a former dancer with a Polynesian troupe. Leilani, who had referred to himself as a "rock 'n' roll-singing Polynesian guy", had formed a rockabilly band in the early 90s and had performed in Hawaii. He would be in the traditional Elvis dress from the waist up, but from below the waist was in Bermuda shorts and bare feet.[49]

Alphonso Keil

Image

Alphonso Keil was an Elvis impersonator and professional musician.[50] He was born in Samoa in 1944, came to New Zealand as a boy. He was from the same family that made up the Keil Isles.[51] During the 1960s, he played drums with Sonny Day and The Sundowners.[52] Also during the 1960s, he played rhythm guitar with The Zodiacs and then The Kavaliers, a group fronted by his brother Freddie.[53] Keil was influenced by Elvis impersonator Andy Stankovich who he saw live. In the late 90s he started up a group called Alphonso Keil and the Kavaliers. He performed regularly at the Elvis in the Park concerts at Cranwell Park in Henderson, Auckland, New Zealand, New Zealand. He died at age 64 in July 2008, after battling cancer.[54]

Johnny Angel

Image

Another Elvis of Samoan descent is Johnny Angel. He is a published author and has appeared on New Zealand television in ads, Like Minds, Like Mine.[55][56] Like Alphonso Keil before him,[57] Angel regularly performs at the Parkes Elvis Festival, an event that now attracts 20,000. He was there in 2016 for the event,[58] and in there in 2018.[59]

Others

Other Samoan Elvis's include Elvis of Samoa,[60] and Nifae Fepuleai.

Asian Elvis

Malaysia


Image

Malaysia has Tony Warren who is known as "the Tom Jones of Malaysia". He also has an Elvis tribute act. He has been performing since the late 1960s and in the 1980s was performing at the Copper Grill in The Weld on Jalan Raja Chulan, Kuala Lumpur, and in later years at the Royal Selangor Club in Dataran Merdeka.[61][62]

See also

• Madonna wannabe
• Michael Jackson impersonator
• Impersonator
• Look-alike
• Tribute band
• Dorian Baxter
• Eilert Pilarm
• El Vez
• Elvis Herselvis
• Kjell Elvis
• The Flying Elvises
• Cooking with Elvis
• The Honky Tonk Man
• Graceland Wedding Chapel

References

1. "LadyLuck Music Tribute Artist Radio Station". LadyLuck Music. 2006. Retrieved 2007-03-15.
2. "Elvii.com Radio Station". Kitty Coyne. 2006. Retrieved 2007-03-15.
3. Eric Lott, "All the King's Men: Elvis Impersonators and White Working-Class Masculinity." In Harry Stecopoulos and Michael Uebel, eds., Race and the Subject of Masculinities (Duke University Press, 1997), p.198.
4. Oberst, Stanley; Torrance, Lori (2001-11-19). Elvis In Texas: The Undiscovered King 1954-1958. Taylor Trade Publishing. p. 17. ISBN 1461732824. Retrieved 2017-07-13.
5. Victoria Daily Times, December 9, 1957
6. Wolf, Buck (2001-08-16). "The Sad End of the First Elvis Impersonator". ABC News. Retrieved 2017-07-13.
7. Waking Andy Kaufman, The Village Voice
8. Steven Connor, The Cambridge Companion to Postmodernism (Cambridge University Press, 2004), p.108.
9. Weekly World News, July 11, 2005
10. "The Pedant's Return: Why the Things You Think Are Wrong Are Right" By Andrea Barham
11. Eric Lott, p.194.
12. Kristine L. Blair and Libby Allison, Cultural Attractions/Cultural Distractions: Critical Literacy in Contemporary Contexts(2000), p.88.
13. Eric Lott, "All the King's Men: Elvis Impersonators and White Working-Class Masculinity," in Harry Stecopoulos and Michael Uebel, eds., Race and the Subject of Masculinities (Duke University Press, 1997), p.202.
14. See Lois Tyson, Critical Theory Today: A User-Friendly Guide (1999), p.332.
15. See Gael Sweeney, "The King of White Trash Culture: Elvis Presley and the Aesthetics of Excess." In Annalee Newitz and Matt Wray, eds., White Trash: Race and Class in America (1996), p.262.
16. Sweeney, "The King of White Trash Culture," p.262.
17. George Plasketes, Images of Elvis Presley in American Culture, 1977–1997: The Mystery Terrain (1997), p.3.
18. For more details, see David S. Wall, "Policing Elvis: Legal Action and the Shaping of Post-Mortem Celebrity Culture as Contested Space." Archived 2007-06-16 at the Wayback Machine.
19. "Festival History". Parkes Elvis Festival. 2016. Retrieved 2016-01-31.
20. "Elvis Weddings". Elvis Weddings. 2014. Retrieved 2014-02-09.
21. "Elvis Impersonator". Martin Fox. 2014. Retrieved 2014-02-09.
22. "Guinness book of records - Largest gathering of Elvis impersonators". http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com.
23. Gadfly Online: David McNair and Jayson Whitehead, "Love and Theft."
24. Francesca Brittan, "Women Who 'Do Elvis': Authenticity, Masculinity and Masquerade", published in the Journal of Popular Music Studies, Vol. 18, No. 2. (August 2006), pp.167–190.
25. Marjorie Garber, Vested Interests: Cross-dressing and Cultural Anxiety (1992), p.372. See also Matt Hills, Fan Cultures (2002), p.164.
26. "Donations to Clarity". Second Wind Publishing LLC. 2011. Archived from the original on 2013-11-01. Retrieved 2014-02-09.
27. "Almost Elvis". John Paget (PAGET FILMS). Retrieved 2014-02-09.
28. "Watch: Quentin Tarantino makes a GOLDEN GIRLS cameo… as Elvis". Miramax. 2012-10-16. Archived from the original on 2013-10-12.
29. Samuel French page for the play Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis
30. Erwin, D.H. and Droser, M.L., 1993. Elvis taxa. Palaios, v.8, pp.623–624.
31. "Robert Sillerman comments about likeness rights". NME.com. 2006. Retrieved 2014-02-09.
32. "Steve Wright — Ask Elvis". BBC. 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-02-20. Retrieved 2007-05-30.
33. NewsHub, Tuesday 17 May 2011 Kiwi Elvis impersonator to take on the Aussies
34. Manukau Courier, 18-01-2013 Elvis to shake up gardens
35. BBC Des Perenara – AKA Elvis Desley
36. Wales Online, 3 Nov 2015 This man makes snake anti-venom by day and is Ceredigion’s only Maori Elvis tribute artist by night By Rachael Misstear
37. BBC Two Caredigan Bay Coastal Lives, Episode 3
38. Western Leader, July 16, 2015 Andy Stankovich is Elvis for six New Zealand shows - Courtney Martin
39. Theorizing Self in Samoa: Emotions, Genders, and Sexualities By Jeannette Marie Mageo Page 40
40. The Ledger Tuesday Nov 18, 1975 To Dining and Entertainment, Hawaiian Inn: Exciting Resort in St. Pete Beach
41. The evening Independent Dec 1, 1976 8-B Entertainment
42. The Evening Independent August 19, 1977 5-B Mr. Fatu And The Coastal Connection At Colonial Inn
43. Discogs Mr. Fatu* – Mr. Fatu Sings Elvis
44. Discogs Fatu* – Manatua Mai A'u (Remember Me)
45. Discogs Fatu* – Love's Not Made Of Time
46. Johnny Charro Website Page 14/LA GACETA/Friday, June 9, 2006 . . ., Silhouettes by Paul Guzzo ArchivedAugust 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
47. The Ledger Friday, September 2, 1977 1B Nightly Tribute To The King, Entertainer Inspired By Elvis Deeply Affected By His Death By Susan Barbosa
48. 45cat Record Details, Catalogue: 3829 / M15-3829
49. Los Angeles Times, August 16, 1993 Elvis Lives! In Many Shapes and Colors : King's Spirit Infuses Multicultural 'Elvi' - Trin Yarborough
50. Western Leader, 11 November 2003 Page 1 Elvis devotee ready to perform - Stephen Forbes
51. Western Leader 23-07-2008 Samoan Elvis sings his last, Alphonso Keil dies
52. Rate Your Music Sonny Day and The Sundowners, Members
53. Sergent.com.au Freddie Keil and the Kavaliers
54. Western Leader 23/07/2008 Samoan Elvis sings his last, Alphonso Keil dies
55. Like Minds, Issue 46, December 2011 Talking with an Angel, Page 1 - 4, By Ruth Jackson
56. Spark Foundation Johnny-Angel wheels for an Angel
57. Western Leader 23-07-2008 Samoan Elvis sings his last, Alphonso Keil dies
58. Parkes CHampion Post, 8 Apr 2016 20,000 for one day Elvis Festival in New Zealand by Gail Bartley
59. '"Eastern Courier, March 4 2018 - Thousands 'all shook up' at Auckland's Elvis in the Gardens - TARANNUM SHAIKH
60. ATEED Pasifika programme Sunday 13 March, Sunday programme, > Samoa, 2.10pm Elvis of Samoa
61. The Star, Saturday, 7 Jul 2007 - Warren makes time for grandson by Stuart Michael
62. The Star, Saturday, 23 Apr 2011 - LIFESTYLE, Tony Warren still rocking by Sonja Mustaffa

External links

• Elvis impersonators at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
• Elvis Is In The Browser Open database of worldwide Elvis' with forum and blog.
• Poll of how Elvis fans feel about Elvis impersonators
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Re: Spinning Boris, directed by Roger Spottiswoode

Postby admin » Fri Sep 07, 2018 3:49 am

'Smart' Putin & election loans: 5 must-read Clinton-Yeltsin exchanges released
by Russia Today (rt.com)
Published time: 31 Aug, 2018 00:36

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

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Image
US President Bill Clinton holds a meeting with Russian President Boris Yeltsin in Istanbul, November 18, 1999 / Reuters

Election influence, NATO expansion and Vladimir Putin were just some of the hot button topics discussed twenty years ago by US President Bill Clinton and Russian leader Boris Yeltsin, newly released transcripts reveal.

Nearly 600 pages of memos and transcripts, documenting dozens of personal exchanges and telephone conversations between Clinton and Yeltsin, were made public by the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas last month.

Although dating from January 1993 to December 1999, many of the documents touch upon issues that now dominate the news cycle, providing often overlooked historical perspective and context to the current state of US-Russia relations.

Clinton sends 'his people' to get Yeltsin elected

Amid unceasing allegations of nefarious Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election, the Clinton-Yeltsin exchanges reveal how the US government threw its full weight behind Boris – in Russian parliamentary elections as well as for the 1996 reelection campaign, which he approached with 1-digit ratings.

For example, a transcript from 1993 details how Clinton offered to help Yeltsin in upcoming parliamentary elections by selectively using US foreign aid to shore up support for the Russian leader's political allies.


"What is the prevailing attitude among the regional leaders? Can we do something through our aid package to send support out to the regions?" a concerned Clinton asked.

[President Bill Clinton] What is the prevailing attitude among the regional leaders? Can we do something through our aid package to send support out to the regions?

[President Boris Yeltsin] That would be good. Those regional leaders who were supporting the opposition are now changing their support to us. But nonetheless, this kind of regional support would be very useful.

[President Bill Clinton] I will have my people follow up with yours on that issue.


Kevin Rothrock
@KevinRothrock
Here's Bill Clinton in 1993 offering to help Boris Yeltsin in upcoming parliamentary elections by earmarking some foreign aid for opposition-leaning regions.
10:52 AM - Aug 30, 2018


Yeltsin liked the idea, replying that "this kind of regional support would be very useful." Clinton then promised to have "his people" follow up on the plan.

In another exchange, Yeltsin asks his US counterpart for a bit of financial help ahead of the 1996 presidential election: "Bill, for my election campaign, I urgently need for Russia a loan of $2.5 billion," he said. Yeltsin added that he needed the money in order to pay pensions and government wages – obligations which, if left unfulfilled, would have likely led to his political ruin. Yeltsin also asks Clinton if he could "use his influence" to increase the size of an IMF loan to assist him during his re-election campaign.

[President Boris Yeltsin] Thank you, Bill. I intend to take a risk and fly down to Chechnya. I will try to have all three parties at the negotiating table. When I say all three parties, the troika, I mean the Chechen government, the field commanders -- since there is no Dudayev and no successor now -- and the Federal government, that is, the Chernomyrdin state commission. I hope they'll be sitting at the table by the time I leave. Hassan might be of great help.

[President Bill Clinton] That is a very courageous decision. Everyone will see you are trying to bring about peace and restrain the military action. That's good. If there is anything else I can do, let me know. I'm ready.

[President Boris Yeltsin] Okay. Thank you for your help with the Hassan II, and if anything else can be done, I'll tell you.

And I have another question, Bill. Please understand me correctly. Bill, for my election campaign, I urgently need for Russia a loan of $2.5 billion.


Emily Tamkin
@emilyctamkin
Replying to @emilyctamkin
To think that, while I was getting ready to graduate kindergarten, Yeltsin was asking Clinton for a 2.5 billion loan for his election.
8:49 AM - Aug 30, 2018


[President Boris Yeltsin] Bill, thank you. Thank you very much for your comments. One thing I wanted to ask has to do with the IMF loan in the amount of nine billion dollars [$9 billion]. I will be meeting Camdessus here and would like to ask you to use your influence to perhaps add a little, from nine to 13 billion dollars -- to deal with social problems in this very important pre-election situation and help the people.

[President Bill Clinton] I support concluding a new agreement. I'll see what can be possible; I will do some work on it.


Kevin Rothrock
@KevinRothrock
Here's Boris Yeltsin in February 1996 asking Bill Clinton to “use his influence” to add a few billion dollars to an IMF loan to help Yeltsin during his reelection campaign.
11:12 AM - Aug 30, 2018


Yeltsin questions NATO expansion

The future of NATO was still an open question in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and conversations between Clinton and Yeltsin provide an illuminating backdrop to the current state of the curiously offensive 'defensive alliance' (spoiler alert: it expanded right up to Russia's border).

In 1995, Yeltsin told Clinton that NATO expansion would lead to "humiliation" for Russia, noting that many Russians were fearful of the possibility that the alliance could encircle their country.

"It's a new form of encirclement if the one surviving Cold War bloc expands right up to the borders of Russia. Many Russians have a sense of fear. What do you want to achieve with this if Russia is your partner? They ask. I ask it too: Why do you want to do this?" Yeltsin asked Clinton.

[President Boris Yeltsin] We've got a deal. [Offers his hand and they shake on it.]

Now to the issue of European security -- a question no less important than the one we've been discussion. In fact, it's more important! I want to get a clear understanding of your idea of NATO expansion because now I see nothing but humiliation for Russia if you proceed. How do you think it looks to us if one bloc continues to exist while the Warsaw Pact has been abolished? It's a new form of encirclement if the one surviving Cold War bloc expands right up to the borders of Russia. Many Russians have a sense of fear. What do you want to achieve with this if Russia is your partner? they ask. I ask it too: Why do you want to do this? We need a new structure for Pan-European security, not old ones!


Mike Eckel
@Mike_Eckel
this is a noteworthy tidbit from the "Boris-and-Bill" memos that were released last month (getting attention today). In 1995, Yeltsin explicitly tells Clinton about Russian "humiliation" of NATO continues to expand eastward @andrewsweiss
1:22 PM - Aug 30, 2018


As the documents show, Yeltsin insisted that Russia had "no claims on other countries," adding that it was "unacceptable" that the US was conducting naval drills near Crimea.

"It is as if we were training people in Cuba. How would you feel?" Yeltsin asked. The Russian leader then proposed a "gentleman's agreement" that no former Soviet republics would join NATO.

Clinton refused the offer, saying: "I can't make the specific commitment you are asking for. It would violate the whole spirit of NATO. I've always tried to build you up and never undermine you."

NATO bombing of Yugoslavia turns Russia against the West

Although Clinton and Yeltsin enjoyed friendly relations, NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia tempered Moscow's enthusiastic partnership with the West.

"Our people will certainly from now have a bad attitude with regard to America and with NATO," the Russian president told Clinton in March 1999. "I remember how difficult it was for me to try and turn the heads of our people, the heads of the politicians towards the West, towards the United States, but I succeeded in doing that, and now to lose all that."

Yeltsin urged Clinton to renounce the strikes, for the sake of "our relationship" and "peace in Europe."

[President Boris Yeltsin] In the name of our future, in the name of you and me, in the name of the future of our countries, in the name of security in Europe, I ask you to renounce that strike, and I suggest that we should meet somewhere and develop a tactical line of fighting against Milosevic, against him personally. And we are wiser, we are more experienced, we can come up with a solution. That should be done for the sake of our relationship. That should be done for the sake of peace in Europe. It is not known who will come after us and it is not known what will be the road of future developments in strategic nuclear weapons. It is known, however, what will be when we are in power because we have taken the decision to decrease them, decrease them, decrease them.


Leonid Ragozin
@leonidragozin
The declassified White House Yeltsin files reveal the drama at the turning point in US-Russia relations, when Yeltsin pleaded, threatened and despaired trying to make Clinton call off the bombing of Yugoslavia. The road to where we are starts right there. Dug out by @vassgatov
5:44 PM - Aug 30, 2018


"It is not known who will come after us and it is not known what will be the road of future developments in strategic nuclear weapons," Yeltsin reminded his US counterpart.

But Clinton wouldn't cede ground.

Julian Borger
@julianborger
Clinton to Yeltsin on Milosevic: "It will be your decision if you decide to let this bully destroy the relationship we worked hard for over six and a half years to build up... I’m sorry he is a Serb. I wish he were Irish or something else, but he is not.”https://tnsr.org/2018/08/bill-and-boris-a-window-into-a-most-important-post-cold-war-relationship/ …
9:39 AM - Aug 30, 2018


Image
Bill and Boris: A Window Into a Most Important Post-Cold War Relationship - Texas National Security...
Against the backdrop of an enormous power differential between their two countries, Clinton and Yeltsin established a close personal rapport. They used those positive feelings to interact effectively...
tnsr.org


"Milosevic is still a communist dictator and he would like to destroy the alliance that Russia has built up with the US and Europe and essentially destroy the whole movement of your region toward democracy and go back to ethnic alliances. We cannot allow him to dictate our future," Clinton told Yeltsin.

Yeltsin asks US to 'give Europe to Russia'

One exchange that has been making the rounds on Twitter appears to show Yeltsin requesting that Europe be "given" to Russia during a meeting in Istanbul in 1999. However, it's not quite what it seems.

"I ask you one thing," Yeltsin says, addressing Clinton. "Just give Europe to Russia. The US is not in Europe. Europe should be in the business of Europeans."

[President Boris Yeltsin] Bill, Bill. I got your note. I went into all these things in incredible detail. I read it and I was satisfied. I've not yet ceased to believe in you.

I ask you one thing. Just give Europe to Russia. The U.S. is not in Europe. Europe should be the business of Europeans. Russia is half European and half Asian.

[President Bill Clinton] So you want Asia too?

[[President Boris Yeltsin] Sure, sure, Bill. Eventually, we will have to agree on all of this.

[President Boris Yeltsin] I don't think the Europeans would like this very much.

[President Boris Yeltsin] Not all. But I am a European. I live in Moscow. Moscow is in Europe and I like it. You can take all ...[/quote]

Oscar Jonsson
@OAJonsson
Yeltsin to Clinton “I ask you one thing. Just give Europe to Russia.”
10:51 AM - Aug 30, 2018


However, the request is slightly less sinister than it sounds when put into context: The two leaders were discussing missile defense, and Yeltsin was arguing that Russia – not the US – would be a more suitable guarantor of Europe's security.

"We have the power in Russia to protect all of Europe, including those with missiles," Yeltsin told Clinton.


Clinton on Putin: 'He's very smart'

Perhaps one of the most interesting exchanges takes place when Yeltsin announces to Clinton his successor, Vladimir Putin.

In a conversation with Clinton from September 1999, Yeltsin describes Putin as "a solid man," adding: "I am sure you will find him to be a highly qualified partner."

Bryan MacDonald
@27khv
Here's how Boris Yeltsin introduced Bill Clinton to Vladimir Putin, back in 1999: "(Putin) is thorough and strong, very sociable. And he can easily have good relations and contact with people who are his partners. I'm sure you will find him to be a highly qualified partner."

Andrew S. Weiss
@andrewsweiss
Replying to @andrewsweiss
A few items are missing, but readers can see how Yeltsin secretly told Clinton how Putin became his handpicked successor--and just how concerned U.S. officials were about Putin’s ascendancy, the rollback of post-1991 reforms and the recentralization of power in the Kremlin. 6/

[President Boris Yeltsin] Shortly, in the next few days, you will have a meeting with Mr. Putin. Briefly at this time, I would like to tell you about him so you will know what kind of man he is. It took me a lot of time to think who might be the next Russian president in the year 2000. Unfortunately, at that time, I could not find any sitting candidate. Finally, I came across him, that is, Putin, and I explored his bio, his interests, his acquaintances, and so on and so forth. I found out he is a solid man who is kept well abreast of various subjects under his purview. At the same time, he is thorough and strong, very sociable. And he can easily have good relations and contact with people who are his partners. I am sure you will find him to be a highly qualified partner. I am very much convinced that he will be supported as a candidate in the year 2000. We are working on it accordingly.


8:05 AM - 30 Aug 2018


12:51 PM - Aug 30, 2018


A month later, Clinton asks Yeltsin who will win the Russian presidential election.

"Putin, of course. He will be the successor to Boris Yeltsin. He's a democrat, and he knows the West."

"He's very smart,"
Clinton remarks.
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Re: Spinning Boris, directed by Roger Spottiswoode

Postby admin » Fri Sep 07, 2018 4:21 am

Bill and Boris: A Window Into a Most Important Post-Cold War Relationship
by James Goldgeier
Texas National Security Review
Vol 1, Iss 4
August 28, 2018

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Against the backdrop of an enormous power differential between their two countries, Clinton and Yeltsin established a close personal rapport. They used those positive feelings to interact effectively even when they were being frank in their disagreements, the most serious of which were over NATO enlargement — a major sore spot for Yeltsin — and the Kosovo War, the greatest test of the two leaders' personal relationship.

Editorial Note: In light of the public interest in U.S.-Russian relations, especially in the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Helskinki this summer, the Texas National Security Review will be publishing a series of essays in our “Strategist” section on past U.S. presidents and their engagements with Soviet and Russian leaders.

As many were decrying the lack of any formal record of the one-on-one meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, the Clinton Presidential Library in July posted online nearly all of the declassified memoranda of conversation (“memcons”) from the in-person meetings and telephone conversations (“telcons”) between President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin from Jan. 23, 1993, to Dec. 31, 1999, when Yeltsin abruptly resigned from office and made way for Putin. With 18 memcons and 56 telcons available through the library’s website, it is possible to view directly the key discussions between these two leaders over time, from the early days when Clinton publicly backed Yeltsin in his bloody political standoff with the Russian parliament to their later disagreements over NATO enlargement and Kosovo, along with numerous conversations about arms control, Chechnya, Iran, and other global issues.1

As someone who worked in the Clinton administration and has written about U.S.-Russian relations in this period,2 I found that the documents allow a much deeper and broader understanding of three core features of the Clinton-Yeltsin interactions. First, the two leaders established a close personal rapport and used those positive feelings to interact effectively even when they were being frank in their disagreements, the most serious of which were over NATO enlargement and the Kosovo War. Throughout, from the 1993 political turmoil in Russia through the 1998 Russian financial crisis and beyond, Clinton offered Yeltsin his full personal support.

Second, the two men used their meetings and phone calls to build trust in one another by explicitly referring to delivering on promises made in their prior conversations. This proved particularly important in their discussions of NATO enlargement. Clinton was trying to thread a needle: He sought to keep the issue from harming Yeltsin’s reelection bid in the summer of 1996 while ensuring that the United States responded to Central and Eastern European desires to join the Western alliance. Because Clinton believed the issue would affect his own reelection bid, he wanted to make clear to voters of Central and Eastern European descent in the Midwest before November 1996 that he was moving forward with enlargement. From 1994 to 1996, Clinton reminded Yeltsin often of his assurances about the timing.

Third, and perhaps most important when their interactions are compared with those of other U.S. and Soviet (and later Russian) heads of state during the Cold War and after, an enormous power differential existed between the two countries in this period and was the backdrop to their conversations. Yeltsin’s Russia was extremely weak, a country in economic free-fall and strategic decline. Clinton’s America was enjoying its unipolar moment.3 In no other era before or since has the Russian president been in such a weak position when meeting with his American counterpart, and the declassified memcons and telcons from this period show how that imbalance of power permeates the discussions. The meetings largely consist of Yeltsin agreeing to Clinton’s requests after some back and forth. But also clear is Yeltsin’s desire for Russia to be seen as an equal to the United States, something that was important for his predecessors and successors alike and a factor in U.S.-Russian relations often underappreciated by many in the West.


Clinton’s Support for Yeltsin and the Building of a Personal Rapport

In his first term, Boris Yeltsin needed Bill Clinton’s support as he battled domestic Russian opposition to his policies. It was not just financial support for Russia that was critical, although that assistance was important, including when Clinton publicly endorsed what became a $10.2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund announced in the midst of the 1996 Russian presidential campaign.4 Clinton also offered Yeltsin complete public support when the latter used military force in a standoff with the Russian parliament in the fall of 1993. Clinton did so because he believed he needed Yeltsin — a Russian president committed to good relations with the West who could thereby enable the American president to shrink the U.S. defense budget to pay for cherished domestic programs.

One of the first big moments in their relationship came in April 1993, when Yeltsin held a referendum that asked voters whether they trusted him, approved of his socioeconomic policies, and believed new presidential and parliamentary elections should be conducted ahead of schedule. Russia experts in the U.S. government thought that Yeltsin would lose overwhelmingly, and
Clinton’s top Russia adviser, Strobe Talbott, wrote later that the president “followed the referendum as though it were an American election.” Remarkably, given the state of the Russian economy, 58.7 percent of voters affirmed their trust in Yeltsin and 53 percent approved his socioeconomic policies. Clinton happily threw his support behind the Russian president.5 In a call the next day, Clinton told Yeltsin, “I’m about to issue a statement in support of your policies. I want you to know that we’re in this with you for the long haul.” Yeltsin closed the call by saying, “I hug you from the bottom of my heart.”6

By September, however, parliamentary opposition to Yeltsin grew stronger. Clinton called Yeltsin early that month to convey his continued support amid the standoff in Moscow. In a follow-up call on Sept. 21, Yeltsin told him, “Bill, the Supreme Soviet [the Russian parliament] has totally gone out of control. It no longer supports the reform process. They have become communist. We can no longer put up with that.” He added, “I think there will be no bloodshed,”7 which turned out to be mistaken.

The battle between Yeltsin and the opposition legislators came to a head on Oct. 3, when Yeltsin ordered his military to shell the parliament building. A bloody clash between the executive and legislative branches was not exactly a sign of a healthy democracy, but Clinton phoned two days later to tell Yeltsin, “I wanted to call you and express my support.” Yeltsin responded, “Now that these events are over, we have no more obstacles to Russia’s democratic elections and our transition to democracy and market economy.” Yeltsin even mused that he might hold elections for president at the same time as parliamentary elections in December and told Clinton that he “might end up in the Guinness Book of World Records for standing for election three times in three years.” (He did not carry out this plan.) Yeltsin closed by telling Clinton once again, “I embrace you with all my heart.”8


In no other era before or since has the Russian president been in such a weak position when meeting with his American counterpart.


Clinton continued to emphasize his personal support for Yeltsin over the course of their terms in office. In late 1994, Russia invaded the breakaway province of Chechnya. Clinton expressed concern about the impact of this war on Yeltsin’s image. Referring to an upcoming speech by the Russian president to parliament, Clinton told him, referring to Yeltsin’s pivotal role during the August 1991 coup against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, “It is also an opportunity to remind the world of why you are the best hope for continued reform in Russia. I want everyone to see you as the person who stood on the tank and stood up for freedom.”9

In the run-up to the first round of the Russian presidential election in June 1996, Yeltsin was growing desperate for financial assistance. He told the U.S. president, “Bill, for my election campaign, I urgently need for Russia a loan of $2.5 billion.” Yeltsin explained that he was not seeing results yet from the rescheduling of Russia’s debt by the group of major creditor countries known as the Paris Club, and the bulk of the recently announced IMF loan would not arrive until later in the year. “But the problem,” said Yeltsin, “is I need money to pay pensions and wages.” Clinton assured him, “I’ll check on this with the IMF and some of our friends and see what can be done.”10

No matter what challenges they faced, domestically or in their relationship, they maintained a strong personal bond. In a telephone exchange in late October 1997, months after the two had met in Denver in June, Yeltsin told Clinton, “You know, I started missing your voice.” Clinton replied, “I miss you too.” (They had a similar exchange in February 1998 only three weeks after their previous call!)11

Clinton saw Yeltsin as a significant figure in Russian history, and he tried to convey that at various points. At a meeting in May 1998, Clinton said, “You know, Boris, we really are working with the stuff of history here. I’m convinced that 20 years from now, when the Russian economy is booming, people will look back and say we were right; we did the right things. I just hope you get all the credit you deserve while you’re still around, because you’ve done a terrific job of leading your country during one of the two or three most important moments in Russian history.”12

The greatest test of their personal relationship came during the Kosovo bombing campaign in March 1999. Clinton and his European counterparts believed that NATO needed to carry out airstrikes against Serbia to bring its leader, Slobodan Milosevic, to the bargaining table. Yeltsin was stridently opposed to any use of force, not just because of the close ties between Russia and Serbia but partly because, unlike the situation in Bosnia a few years earlier, this would mean military intervention in the internal affairs of a sovereign country. Russia’s ability to wield a veto in the U.N. Security Council meant that authorization for the war from that body would not be forthcoming.13

In a phone conversation between the two men as NATO was about to launch airstrikes, Clinton, after rehashing all that Milosevic had done, told Yeltsin bluntly, “Basically, it will be your decision if you decide to let this bully destroy the relationship we worked hard for over six and a half years to build up.” He reminded Yeltsin of all his public and private support over the years, including providing economic assistance to Russia and his multiple visits to Moscow. “You may decide to let this get in the way of our relationship, but I’m not going to because I do not think he’s that important. I’m sorry he is a Serb. I wish he were Irish or something else, but he is not.”
Clinton tried telling Yeltsin that maybe after a few strikes, Milosevic would seek diplomacy; after all, he had come to the table in 1995 to end the earlier Balkan war.

Yeltsin would have none of it: “[O]ur people will certainly from now have a bad attitude with regard to America and with NATO. I remember how difficult it was for me to try and turn the heads of our people, the heads of the politicians towards the West, towards the United States, but I succeeded in doing that, and now to lose all that. Well, since I failed to convince the President, that means there is in store for us a very difficult, difficult road of contacts, if they prove to be possible.” He signed off with “Goodbye,” with no added embrace.14

The latter part of the war led to quite an up-and-down in their conversations. In early May 1999, as they were coming to agreement on what needed to be done, Yeltsin told Clinton, “I owe you a bear hug.” Clinton replied, “Yes, I want a bear hug.”15 Clinton called Yeltsin on June 10, after discussions between Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, and Milosevic appeared to end the conflict, and Yeltsin told him, “I would like to hug and kiss you, and I am sincerely glad that in such a difficult situation our friendship wasn’t broken.”16

No matter what challenges they faced, domestically or in their relationship, they maintained a strong personal bond.


Alas, in the next few days, Russian forces occupied the airport in Pristina, and it looked like NATO and Russian forces might come into conflict. Clinton and Yeltsin spoke multiple times by phone. Clinton made clear that a failure to resolve the conflict would harm the upcoming Group of Eight meeting in Germany: “We were about to have in Cologne a celebration of Russia in the peace operation,” an angry Clinton remarked. “Instead, we face day after day, international embarrassment that Kosovo will be wrecked.”17

Russia’s weakness and Yeltsin’s desire to be feted by his G-8 colleagues in Cologne were key factors in the ultimate resolution of the conflict but so, too, was the importance of the relationship the two presidents had built, a relationship that was tested over the years by the U.S. decision to expand NATO eastward.

Clinton’s Promises on Enlargement

Perhaps no issue provides a greater window into the nature of the relationship between the two presidents than their lengthy discussions from 1994 to 1997 about NATO enlargement. An undercurrent of their exchanges involved Clinton’s efforts to ensure that he did not harm Yeltsin politically while giving him a very bitter pill to swallow. Another recurrence was Yeltsin’s explanation of the damage this issue was doing to him while ultimately going along with Clinton’s various proposals. There was a brief moment in the fall of 1994 when Yeltsin believed that Clinton was reneging on a commitment not to rush the process and exploded at a Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) summit. The huge power imbalance between the two countries hung over the relationship and punctuated the presidents’ interactions.18

In their meetings and phone calls, Clinton drove the agenda, as he did for nearly all of the issues they discussed over seven years. The two men genuinely got along, partly because they were similar political animals. But at the end of the day, the United States called the shots in the relationship.
Clinton was always trying to make sure that Yeltsin knew he was giving him what he could, and Clinton expected Yeltsin to go along with his proposals. Generally, Yeltsin did. Throughout their conversations on enlargement, Clinton was eager for Yeltsin to know that the United States was keeping a promise Clinton made in September 1994 in one of their discussions in Washington (the declassified memcon of this exchange is not among the cache of documents recently released): namely, that he and his NATO colleagues would go slowly on expanding the alliance given Clinton’s (publicly unstated but understood) desire to see Yeltsin safely reelected in 1996. Meanwhile, Yeltsin focused Clinton’s attention on the domestic political ramifications of NATO enlargement. Interestingly, he did not raise the issue (as others later would) that the United States and its Western European allies had assured Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev during the 1990 negotiations over German unification that NATO would not expand eastward.19

In October 1993, when discussions first began in earnest about NATO’s future, the possibility of enlargement seemed quite distant. Secretary of State Warren Christopher explained to Yeltsin at the latter’s country dacha that the United States planned to pursue the “Partnership for Peace,” which would include all members of the former Warsaw Pact, and NATO enlargement would be considered only as a “longer-term eventuality.”20

Christopher told Yeltsin, “There could be no recommendation to ignore or exclude Russia from full participation in the future security of Europe. As a result of our study, a ‘Partnership for Peace’ would be recommended to the [January 1994] NATO summit which would be open to all members of the [North Atlantic Cooperation Council] including all European and [former Soviet] states. There would be no effort to exclude anyone and there would be no step taken at this time to push anyone ahead of others.” Yeltsin was obviously relieved. “This is a brilliant idea, it is a stroke of genius,” he said. “It is important that there is an idea of partnership for all and not new membership for some.” Yeltsin exclaimed, “It really is a great idea, really great,” adding, “Tell Bill I am thrilled by this brilliant stroke.”21

In late December, a few weeks before Clinton was to meet Yeltsin in Moscow after the NATO summit, the two men spoke by phone. The primary purpose was to discuss the recent Russian parliamentary elections and for Clinton to remind Yeltsin of how the United States had delivered on the economic assistance announced at their first meeting, in Vancouver, the previous April. Clinton stated simply, “I will be in Brussels for the NATO summit and in Prague before I see you and will want to discuss Russian participation in NATO’s Partnership for Peace proposal.” Yeltsin responded that he had recently met with NATO Secretary General Manfred Woerner: “We discussed a plan of action for the countries of Eastern Europe to cooperate with NATO in a way that would not be at the expense of Russia and also a plan of action for Russia to join NATO.” While Clinton did not respond to Yeltsin’s comment, their discussion was quite cordial; after all, as far as Yeltsin understood, NATO enlargement was not on the table in a serious way.22

While the Clinton Library collection does not contain the declassified memcon from the presidents’ January 1994 summit in Moscow, nor the specific discussion they had regarding NATO that September in Washington, Clinton’s top Russia adviser, Strobe Talbott, has written that in the latter meeting Clinton told Yeltsin that NATO was going to expand but tried to reassure him that he had no timetable yet. “We’re going to move forward on this, but I’d never spring it on you.” Clinton said there would be “no surprises, no rush, and no exclusion.” He then added, “As I see it, NATO expansion is not anti-Russia. … I don’t want you to believe that I wake up every morning thinking only about how to make the Warsaw Pact countries a part of NATO — that’s not the way I look at it. What I do think about is how to use NATO expansion to advance the broader, higher goal of European security, unity and integration — a goal I know you share.”23

Clinton knew Yeltsin was not going to be happy, so he kept emphasizing that he was promising not to spring anything on Yeltsin and that “no exclusion” meant that Russia would be eligible to join someday. In reality, it was no exclusion in theory but not in practice. Russia was not going to become a NATO member. Even so, Clinton had reason to believe he was managing the process well; after all, Yeltsin told him in a phone call on Oct. 5, 1994, that “the Washington Summit proved a success.”24

At their September meeting, Yeltsin asked Clinton to come to the CSCE summit in Budapest that December. The CSCE was being upgraded to the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe), and Yeltsin wanted to signal that perhaps there could be alternatives to NATO in addressing European security. Clinton agreed to go. He kept that promise even after the 1994 midterm elections resulted in a Republican takeover of both houses of Congress for the first time in four decades. His White House team scheduled a congressional reception the night of the Budapest summit precisely to try to keep the president from leaving town. But Clinton’s foreign policy team said he had to go, and he did.25 It turned out to be the most disastrous public encounter the two presidents would have.

On Dec. 1, the NATO foreign ministers announced that they would complete a study by the end of 1995 (i.e., a half-year before the 1996 Russian presidential election) on how NATO would enlarge. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, who had gone to Brussels to sign Russia’s Partnership for Peace program document and a document on a NATO-Russia dialogue, was ordered by a furious Yeltsin not to sign.

At the Budapest summit a few days later, Clinton gave what his deputy secretary of state, Talbott, described later as the “most in your face” manifestation of the U.S. position on NATO enlargement. In remarks Talbott said were drafted not in his office but within the National Security Council (where National Security Adviser Anthony Lake had been pushing NATO enlargement for more than a year), Clinton declared, “We must not allow the Iron Curtain to be replaced by a veil of indifference. We must not consign new democracies to a gray zone.” He added that “no country outside will be allowed to veto expansion.”26

Yeltsin publicly responded, “Europe, not having yet freed itself from the heritage of the Cold War, is in danger of plunging into a cold peace.”27 Clinton was stunned and angered by the tone of Yeltsin’s remarks. Talbott, who was not on the trip, thought he might be fired for not having adequately prepared his boss for what would occur.28

Soon, however, Clinton had things seemingly back on track thanks in part to visits by others in his administration, including Vice President Al Gore, to see Yeltsin. In advance of his own trip to Moscow in May 1995, Clinton called Yeltsin to discuss NATO. “We recognize how sensitive this issue is for you. That is why I want to assure you that this process is proceeding along a path that is consistent with what you and I agreed upon last September and that Vice President Gore reiterated to you when he saw you in December.” Yeltsin responded, “I fully agree with you on that.” Clinton added, “For the future stability of Europe, it is important that Russia is a vital part of the new security structures that are emerging. That means OSCE, the post-COCOM [the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls established by the West after World War II] regime, the new NATO—all of them. None of this can develop normally unless Russia is involved in the process.” Yeltsin stated, “We’ll both have difficult discussions with regards to NATO, but I’m confident we’ll be able to find an acceptable solution for this issue.” Clinton then reported that Secretary of State Christopher and Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev had just described to him a proposal for the upcoming NATO foreign ministers’ meeting that would again affirm that there would be no acceleration of the enlargement process, announce a strengthening of the Partnership for Peace, and begin discussions about a NATO-Russia special relationship.29

Perhaps no issue provides a greater window into the nature of the relationship between the two presidents than their lengthy discussions from 1994 to 1997 about NATO enlargement.


Nevertheless, the issue remained an enormous sore spot for Yeltsin and a domestic political problem. In a three-hour meeting at the Kremlin on May 10, 1995, Yeltsin asked for a better understanding of what Clinton was doing on NATO enlargement “because now I see nothing but humiliation for Russia if you proceed. How do you think it looks to us if one bloc continues to exist while the Warsaw Pact has been abolished?” He called it a “new form of encirclement” and repeated his plea to develop a new pan-European security architecture.

“You and I are heading for elections,” Yeltsin said. “The extremists and hardliners are exploiting this issue for their own purposes — on both sides. I am being attacked from both the right and the left on this. We need a common European space that provides for overall security. So let’s postpone any change in NATO until 1999 or 2000. … But for me to agree to the borders of NATO expanding toward those of Russia — that would constitute a betrayal on my part of the Russian people.” Instead, Yeltsin said in desperation, “Let’s say that Russia will give every state that wants to join NATO a guarantee that we won’t infringe on its security.”

When Clinton asked rhetorically whether the United States still needed to maintain a security relationship with Europe, Yeltsin fired back, “I’m not so sure you do.” Clinton tied his approach to the Victory Day ceremony for which he had come to Moscow and the lessons of history. “Our goal is for the U.S. to stay in Europe and promote a unified, integrated Europe.” He was doing that, he said, by trying to make the Partnership for Peace important, keeping open the door to Russian NATO membership, creating a special NATO-Russia relationship, and ensuring that the NATO membership review process was a deliberate one. Clinton reminded Yeltsin of how this process had unfolded, that he had told Yeltsin in January 1994 that NATO was open to taking in new members, and that in December NATO had agreed to study how to do it. Responding to that study would take the first half of 1996, said Clinton. For Yeltsin, this time frame was vital, because, the Russian leader noted, “my position heading into the 1996 elections is not exactly brilliant.”

Clinton, however, had his own political concerns. He explained to Yeltsin that the Republicans were using NATO expansion in their effort to win over voters of Central European descent in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Ohio. He suggested to Yeltsin that they accept what each other needed to do politically. Yeltsin would not have to embrace expansion. Clinton would not say he was slowing down the process. And meanwhile Yeltsin should sign the documents for Russia to join the Partnership for Peace and to establish a NATO-Russian dialogue:

So here is what I want to do. I’ve made it clear I’ll do nothing to accelerate NATO. I’m trying to give you now, in this conversation, the reassurance you need. But we need to be careful that neither of us appears to capitulate. For you, that means you’re not going to embrace expansion; for me, it means no talk about slowing the process down or putting it on hold or anything like that.


Then Clinton told Yeltsin to sign the two documents. Yeltsin asked again that NATO move forward only after his election. Clinton reiterated the timetable, trying to reassure Yeltsin that nothing concrete would happen until after the summer of 1996. Yeltsin said they should publicly say they discussed the issue, understood each other, and would discuss the issue further at their next meeting. Clinton responded, “Good. So join PFP.” Yeltsin agreed.30

A few months before the NATO leaders’ 1997 announcement in Madrid that the alliance was inviting Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic to join, Yeltsin made one last effort to shape the future at a small meeting with Clinton in Helsinki on March 21. He opened by acknowledging the inevitable. “Our position has not changed,” Yeltsin said. “It remains a mistake for NATO to move eastward. But I need to take steps to alleviate the negative consequences of this for Russia. I am prepared to enter into an agreement with NATO not because I want to but because it is a forced step. There is no other solution for today.”

Yeltsin sought a legally binding accord, signed by all 16 NATO members, that would make clear that NATO decisions would not be made “without taking into account the concerns or opinions of Russia.” He also wanted assurance that no nuclear or conventional arms would move into the new members’ territory, “thus creating a new cordon sanitaire aimed at Russia.”

Then he put on the table what he most wanted. “[O]ne thing is very important: enlargement should also not embrace the former Soviet republics. I cannot sign any agreement without such language. Especially Ukraine.” Recognizing he was unlikely to receive this, he changed tack slightly,

I propose that in the statement we could accept the fact that Russia has no claims on other countries. In fact, regarding the countries of the former Soviet Union, let us have a verbal, gentlemen’s agreement — we would not write it down in the statement — that no former Soviet republics would enter NATO. This gentlemen’s agreement would not be made public.


Clinton responded that he was “trying to change NATO.” He had language in the proposed agreement between NATO and Russia on nuclear and conventional forces. And he wanted to make sure they signed something before the NATO summit “so we can say to the world that there is a new NATO and a new Russia and that’s the right spirit,” to which Yeltsin agreed. But Clinton added that he couldn’t make an agreement on former Soviet republics: “it would be a bad thing for our attempt to build a new NATO, but it would also be a bad thing for your attempt to build a new Russia.” NATO was assisting the process of building an “integrated, undivided Europe,” Clinton argued what Yeltsin was proposing would mean “Russia would be saying, ‘we have still got an empire, but it just can’t reach as far West.’” Clinton didn’t want to come out of the meeting having discussed new lines being drawn in Europe, and he wouldn’t be able to go forward with a treaty because of Senate opposition.

Yeltsin tried again, saying that the Duma would likely make this a condition of its ratification of a NATO-Russia charter. He asked Clinton to tell him what he wanted to hear “one-on-one — without even our closest aides present — that you won’t take new republics in the near future; I need to hear that. I understand that maybe in ten years or something, the situation might change, but not now.” Clinton shot back,

If I went into a closet with you and told you that, the Congress would find out and pass a resolution invalidating the NATO-Russia charter. I’d rather frankly that the Duma pass a resolution conditioning its adherence on this point. I just can’t do it. A private commitment would be the same as a public one. … I know what a terrible problem this is for you, but I can’t make the specific commitment you are asking for. It would violate the whole spirit of NATO.


Yeltsin tried one last time to get what he wanted, but to no avail, and so they moved on to other items. 31

At their last meeting, in Istanbul in November 1999, Yeltsin said to Clinton, “I ask you one thing. Just give Europe to Russia. The U.S. is not in Europe. Europe should be the business of Europeans. Russia is half European and half Asian. … Bill, I’m serious. Give Europe to Europe itself. We have the power in Russia to protect all of Europe, including those with missiles.”32 This was, of course, not a statement the United States would take seriously, and it was hard enough for Russia to be taken seriously by the United States as an equal.

The Imbalance of Power and Russia’s Drive for Equal Status

Yeltsin’s desire to be seen as an equal, and Clinton’s efforts to provide window dressing to help with appearances, permeated their conversations throughout the two presidents’ time in office, and not only during their conversations over NATO enlargement. During the September 1994 Washington summit, Yeltsin said, “[T]here are some people in the White House and Congress who believe that Russia has lost its superpower status. Of course, not you personally, Bill.” Clinton responded, “I have tried in every way to relate to Russia and to you as a great power and to enhance your role, whether in the G-7 or bilaterally.”33

Still, neither could escape the fact that the two countries occupied completely different status levels in the international system. At their May 1995 meeting in Moscow, Clinton said to Yeltsin, “You have to walk through the doors that we open for you.”34 The Russians wanted to be treated as equals, and the idea of walking through doors the United States was opening for them made clear that they were not.

The dynamic was such, however, that when Yeltsin got spun up on these issues, Clinton would soothe him. In a one-on-one meeting (with Talbott and Yeltsin’s assistant Dmitry Ryurikov as notetakers) in Moscow in April 1996, Yeltsin came into the meeting clearly angry because Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov had told him that the United States was trying to sideline Russia in the Middle East. Clinton said, “That’s not correct. No one’s sidelining anybody.” When Yeltsin said he was not convinced, Clinton reminded him of all they had done together since their first meeting three years earlier: “We’ve done a remarkable job in getting a lot done and also in being honest about our differences. My objectives are first, an integrated, undivided Europe; and second, a cooperative equal partnership with a democratic, economically successful Russia which is influential in the world.” He added, “I want historians fifty years from now to look back on this period and say you and I took full advantage of the opportunity we had. We made maximum use of the extraordinary moment that came with the end of the Cold War.”

Yeltsin zeroed in on the one word that mattered to him: “The key word you just used was ‘equal’ partnership. This will restore trust and confidence.” Clinton explained how Russia could play an important role in the Middle East due to its influence with Syria and Hezbollah. Yeltsin appeared mollified.35

One of the major issues in their relationship was Russia’s ascension to the group of advanced industrialized democracies. The G-7 was to become the G-8. Clinton faced significant opposition to this move from his own Treasury Department, which was concerned about diluting a body of the world’s leading market economies with membership for a country that did not yet have a market economy and whose gross domestic product was quite small.36 At a larger meeting of the two leaders and their teams in April 1996 at the Kremlin, Clinton explained that the G-7’s work coordinating fiscal policy “among the world’s richest countries” was important and that if Russia were included, countries such as Mexico, South Korea, and Brazil would ask to join as well.

Yeltsin argued, “Russia will be on the rise. I cannot agree to the ‘7 plus 1’ formula; I also understand that we cannot reach the level of a full G-8. You have to keep in mind that we are a great power, which affects how people think about this.”37

A year later, at their March 1997 meeting in Helsinki, Clinton publicly stated:

We will work with Russia to advance its membership in key international economic institutions like the W.T.O., the Paris Club, and the O.E.C.D. And I am pleased to announce, with the approval of the other G-7 nations, that we will substantially increase Russia’s role in our annual meeting, now to be called the Summit of the Eight, in Denver this June.38


At a bilateral meeting of the two presidents and a small group of advisers in Paris in advance of the “Summit of the Eight,” Yeltsin raised the issue of how Russia’s economy was labeled. National Security Adviser Samuel R. Berger explained that by law, Russia would be far worse off in terms of trade preferences being labeled a market economy than if it were designated a non-market economy or a transition economy. Yeltsin did not care for the designation, seeing it as an insult: “Russia is not a transition economy. We have transformed. It is a market economy.” Labels mattered to him; Yeltsin wanted Russia to be seen as a great power on par with the other leading world powers.39

Conclusions

These records are an important reminder that notes of presidential meetings and phone calls are not simply documents for scholars trying to make sense of history. They are critical in real time for officials who need to follow up on what their bosses have discussed. The recently released Clinton White House records show the distribution of these conversations, typically to the secretary of state, Deputy Secretary of State Talbott (who often was with the president for the meetings and phone calls), and the U.S. ambassador to Moscow. The role these documents play in developing policy is a major reason why there was so much concern when Donald Trump met with Vladimir Putin one-on-one for more than two hours in Helsinki in July 2018 with no notetakers present.40

[N]otes of presidential meetings and phone calls are not simply documents for scholars trying to make sense of history. They are critical in real time for officials who need to follow up on what their bosses have discussed.


Reading these memcons and telcons as a narrative record of the seven years of interactions between Clinton and Yeltsin left me feeling rather sad. The two leaders certainly accomplished a great deal: Yeltsin ensured that Russian troops left the Baltic countries, worked to keep Russian entities from transferring missile technologies to Iran, and participated in the Implementation Force in Bosnia alongside NATO and under American command. The two presidents worked with their counterparts in Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine to transfer to Russia the strategic nuclear weapons those countries inherited upon the collapse of the Soviet Union.

It is notable that many of their accomplishments occurred during their first terms and were largely issues related to the collapse of the Soviet Union such as the removal of Russian troops from the Baltics and the stationing of strategic nuclear weapons. They had big plans throughout their two terms for new arms-control agreements, but domestic political constraints got in the way. Ultimately, neither the United States nor Russia found a place for Russia in the basic architecture of European security. Meanwhile, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine ended up in a zone of insecurity, not able to join NATO and each with Russian military forces on its territory.

A conversation at the end of their time together regarding Yeltsin’s successor was more hopeful than was warranted. In September 1999, Yeltsin informed Clinton by phone,

It took me a lot of time to think who might be the next Russian president in the year 2000. Unfortunately, at that time, I could not find any sitting candidate. Finally, I came across him, that is, Putin, and I explored his bio, his interests, his acquaintances, and so on and so forth. I found out he is a solid man who is kept well abreast of various subjects under his purview. At the same time, he is thorough and strong, very sociable. And he can easily have good relations and contact with people who are his partners. I am sure you will find him to be a highly qualified partner. I am very much convinced that he will be supported as a candidate in the year 2000.41


In their in-person conversation in Istanbul in November 1999, Clinton asked who was going to win the Russian presidential election the next year, and Yeltsin did not hesitate: “Putin, of course. He will be the successor to Boris Yeltsin. He’s a democrat, and he knows the West.” He added, “He’s tough. He has an internal ramrod. He’s tough internally, and I will do everything possible for him to win — legally, of course. And he will win. You’ll do business together. He will continue the Yeltsin line on democracy and economics and widen Russia’s contacts. He has the energy and the brains to succeed.”42

On Dec. 31, 1999, Clinton called Yeltsin just after Yeltin’s announcement that he was stepping down in favor of Putin, who of course went on to win the presidential election a few months later. In that final call, Clinton said, “You have guided your country through a historic time and you are leaving a legacy that will leave Russians better off for years to come. … Boris, I believe that historians will say you were the father of Russian democracy…”

After telling Clinton once again that Putin would win and that he was a strong, intelligent democrat, Yeltsin ended their call as he had done so often over the previous seven years: “I would like from the bottom of my heart to embrace you.”43

James Goldgeier is a professor of international relations at American University, visiting senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and the 2018-19 Library of Congress chair in U.S.-Russia relations at the John W. Kluge Center. You can follow him on Twitter: @JimGoldgeier.


_______________

Notes:

1 The documents are in two files labeled “Declassified Documents Concerning Russian President Boris Yeltsin.” The first covers the period from Jan. 23, 1993, to April 21, 1996, and can be found at https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.u ... show/57568. The second covers the period from April 21, 1996, to Dec. 31, 1999, and can be found at https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.u ... show/57569. The letters they sent one another have not been declassified.

2 James M. Goldgeier and Michael McFaul, Power and Purpose: U.S. Policy Toward Russia After the Cold War (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2003).

3 Charles Krauthammer, “The Unipolar Moment,” Foreign Affairs 70, no. 1 (1990/1991), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles ... lar-moment.

4 Paul Quinn-Judge, “Clinton Gives Yeltsin a Vote of Confidence; Declares Support for $9 Billion Loan,” Boston Globe, Jan. 31, 1996. The agreed-upon loan amount ended up being $10.2 billion. See Michael Gordon, “Russia and I.M.F. Agree on a Loan for $10.2 Billion,” New York Times, Feb. 23, 1996, https://www.nytimes.com/1996/02/23/worl ... llion.html. See also the Clinton-Yeltsin discussion of the loan in Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, “The President’s Discussion with President Yeltsin on the Russian Election, Bilateral Relations, START II Ratification and NATO,” Feb. 21, 1996, https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.u ... show/57568, 357.

5 Goldgeier and McFaul, Power and Purpose, 125; Strobe Talbott, The Russia Hand: A Memoir of Presidential Diplomacy (New York: Random House, 2002), 70.

6 Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, “Telcon with President Yeltsin of Russia,” April 26, 1993, https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.u ... show/57568, 51–52.

7 Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, “Telcon with President Boris Yeltsin of the Russian Federation,” Sept. 7, 1993; Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, “Telcon with President Boris Yeltsin of Russian Federation,” Sept. 21, 1993, https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.u ... show/57568, 95, 107.

8 Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, “Telcon with President Boris Yeltsin of Russian Federation,” Oct. 5, 1993, https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.u ... show/57568, 119–21.

9 Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, “Telephone Conversation with Russian President Yeltsin: Chechnya, START II,” Feb. 13, 1995, https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.u ... show/57568, 269.

10 Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, “Telephone Conversation with Russian President Yeltsin on CTBT, Chechnya, Economics, CFE and Russian Election,” May 7, 1996, https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.u ... show/57569, 26–27.

11 Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, “Telephone Conversation with Russian President Yeltsin,” Oct. 30, 1997; Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, “Telephone Conversation with Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Feb. 23, 1998, https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.u ... show/57569, 183, 253.

12 Memorandum of Conversation, “President Boris Yeltsin of Russia,” Birmingham, England, May 17, 1998, https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.u ... show/57569, 316.

13 John Norris, Collision Course: NATO, Russia, and Kosovo (New York: Praeger, 2005).

14 Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, “Telephone Conversation with Russian President Yeltsin,” March 24, 1999, https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.u ... show/57569, 432–36. Note that the document is dated 1998, but given the content and the placement in the records, it is clear the call was from 1999.

15 Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, “Telephone Conversation with Russian President Yeltsin,” May 2, 1999, https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.u ... show/57569, 472.

16 Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, “Telcon with President Yeltsin of Russia,” June 10, 1999, https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.u ... show/57569, 488.

17 Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, “Telephone Conversation with Russian President Yeltsin,” June 13, 1999, https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.u ... show/57569, 535.

18 For more on the impact of NATO enlargement on their relationship, see Goldgeier and McFaul, Power and Purpose.

19 See Mary Elise Sarotte, “Perpetuating U.S. Preeminence: The 1990 Deals to ‘Bribe the Soviets Out’ and Move NATO In,” International Security 35, no. 1 (Summer 2010): 110–37, https://doi.org/10.1162/ISEC_a_00005; Mary Elise Sarotte, “Not One Inch Eastward? Bush, Baker, Kohl, Genscher, Gorbachev, and the Origin of Russian Resentment toward NATO Enlargement in February 1990,” Diplomatic History 34, no. 1 (January 2010): 119–40, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-7709.2009.00835.x; Joshua R. Itzkowitz Shifrinson, “Deal or No Deal? The End of the Cold War and the U.S. Offer to Limit NATO Expansion,” International Security 40, no. 4 (Spring 2016): 7–44, https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pd ... EC_a_00236. For arguments that the notion of promises or assurances are mistaken, see, for example, Mark Kramer, “The Myth of a No-NATO-Enlargement Pledge to Russia,” Washington Quarterly 32, no. 2 (2009): 39–61, https://doi.org/10.1080/01636600902773248; James M. Goldgeier, Not Whether But When: The U.S. Decision to Enlarge NATO (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 1999); Steven Pifer, “Did NATO Promise Not to Enlarge? Gorbachev Says ‘No,’” Brookings Institution, Nov. 6, 2014, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front ... v-says-no/.

20 “Secretary Christopher’s Meeting with President Yeltsin,” Moscow, Oct. 22, 1993, https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/dc.html?doc= ... eting-with. This document was posted by the National Security Archive at George Washington University earlier this year and was declassified through a Freedom of Information Act request I made many years ago.

21 For a discussion of this meeting’s importance for future developments, see James Goldgeier, “Promises Made, Promises Broken? What Yeltsin Was Told About NATO in 1993 and Why It Matters,” War on the Rocks, July 12, 2016, https://warontherocks.com/2016/07/promi ... t-matters/.

22 Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, “Telcon with President Boris Yeltsin of the Russian Federation,” Dec. 22, 1993, https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.u ... show/57568, 144–45. Unfortunately, the declassified memcon from their meeting in Moscow in January 1994 is not included in the cache of documents recently made available by the Clinton Library.

23 Talbott, The Russia Hand, 136; Ronald D. Asmus, Opening NATO’s Door: How the Alliance Remade Itself for a New Era (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), 90. For an explanation of how U.S. policy developed from January to September 1994, see Goldgeier, Not Whether But When.

24 Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, “Telephone Conversation with Russian President Yeltsin,” Oct. 5, 1994, https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.u ... show/57568, 227. Note that the document itself is dated 1993, but the content and the date on the transmittal memorandum make clear that it is from 1994.

25 Goldgeier and McFaul, Power and Purpose, 189–90.

26 Talbott, The Russia Hand, 141; “Remarks by the President at Plenary Session of 1994 Summit of the Council on Security and Cooperation in Europe,” White House Office of the Press Secretary, Dec. 5, 1994, https://clintonwhitehouse6.archives.gov ... apest.html.

27 Daniel Williams, “Yeltsin, Clinton Clash over NATO’s Role,” Washington Post, Dec. 6, 1994, https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/ ... f1a236ce9/.

28 Goldgeier and McFaul, Power and Purpose, 192.

29 Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, “Presidential Telephone Call,” April 27, 1995, https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.u ... show/57568, 281–82.

30 “Summary report on One-On-One Meeting Between Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin,” St. Catherine’s Hall, The Kremlin, May 10, 1995, https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.u ... show/57568, 290–96.

31 Memorandum of Conversation, “Morning Meeting with Russian President Yeltsin: NATO-Russia, START, ABM/TMD,” Helsinki, March 21, 1997, https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.u ... show/57569, 106–10.

32 Memorandum of Conversation, “Meeting with Russian President Yeltsin,” Istanbul, Nov. 19, 1999, https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.u ... show/57569, 562–63.

33 Memorandum of Conversation, “Meeting with President Boris Yeltsin,” Sept. 27, 1994, https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.u ... show/57568, 214–15.

34 “Summary report on One-On-One Meeting Between Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin,” St. Catherine’s Hall, The Kremlin, May 10, 1995, https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.u ... show/57568, 293.

35 “POTUS-Yeltsin One-on-One,” Presidential Ceremonial Office, The Kremlin, April 21, 1996, https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.u ... show/57568, 381–85.

36 Goldgeier and McFaul, Power and Purpose, 207.

37 Memorandum of Conversation, “Luncheon Meeting with Russian President Boris Yeltsin,” The Kremlin, April 21, 1996, https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.u ... show/57569, 11–12.

38 “The President’s News Conference with President Boris Yeltsin of Russia in Helsinki,” March 21, 1997, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=53904.

39 Memorandum of Conversation, “Meeting with Russian President Yeltsin: NATO-Russia, Arms Control, Economics, Denver Summit of the Eight, Afghanistan, Iran,” Paris, May 27, 1997, https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.u ... show/57569, 148–49.

40 James Goldgeier, "Trump and Putin one-on-one is not a good idea. Here’s why." Monkey Cage blog, July 19, 2017 (revised and republished July 13, 2018), https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/mon ... -big-deal/.

41 Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, “Telephone Conversation with Russian President Yeltsin,” Sept. 8, 1999, https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.u ... show/57569, 548.

42 Memorandum of Conversation, “Meeting with Russian President Yeltsin,” Istanbul, Nov. 19, 1999, https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.u ... show/57569, 565–66.

43 Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, “Telcon with Russian President Boris Yeltsin,” Dec. 31, 1999, https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.u ... show/57569, 582–84.
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