|INTRIGUE IN THE KREMLIN|
The Shake-Up in the Russian Cabinet
December 5, 1997
Questions answered in this forum:
Will corruption and crime dismantle reform? Will Chubais' reform programs be maintained by the next administrator ? How did Russia move from state owned business to independent business? Should we invest in Russia? What can the West expect from this cabinet shuffle ? Viewer comments
September 29, 1997:
A new Russian law limits all religions outside the Orthodox Church.
July 22, 1997:
Elizabeth Farnsworth speaks with David Hoffman, The Washington Post's Moscow Correspondent.
May 27, 1997:
Russia agrees to the expansion of NATO.
Browse the NewsHour's coverage of Europe and the Conference of Independent States.
Penny Ruff of Lansing, MI, asks:
With the breakup of Russia into many small countries, leads me to believe what we are hearing now is the internal bickering of a new nation. Yes, we should be concerned, but should we intervene? Should we fund? Should we invest? I'm not so sure we should do anything at this point. What we could be seeing is nothing more than growing pains. If we were to do anything, it should only be by the United Nations. The U.S. does not need to stand alone on every issue of world concern.
Clifford Gaddy of the Brookings Institution responds:
You are right. Most of the problems we see in Russia today are growing pains. The relatively well-functioning economic, social, and political systems we have in the West today evolved, with many ups and downs, over many decades, even centuries. We shouldn't realistically expect Russia to make the leap into this new world in just a few years.
The problem is, as unrealistic as our expectations may be, we are to some extent compelled to demand that Russia fulfill them. Why? Because Russia is not some small, struggling, new nation on the outskirts of the mainstream whose trials and tribulations we have the luxury to ignore. Russian remains the only nation on Earth with the undisputed capability of destroying the United States. We worry about Saddam Hussein developing a single effective nuclear weapon. Russia still has 12,000-15,000 operational nuclear weapons. We have to care about what happens in Russia.
David McGuffin, Moscow correspondent for Feature Story, Inc., responds:
Penny, The break up of the Soviet Union did create a whole new country in Russia.
A country covering an area much larger than the United States and compromising many different ethnic groups and languages. There are many regional tensions pulling the country in different directions. The worst case scenario being Chechnya, which led to a very bloody and largely inconclusive war, a better scenario being Tatarstan, in southern Russia, which has a degree of regional autonomy and works quite well within the larger Russian Federation.
That Russia is a functioning federation is also significant. In Soviet times all decision making was made out of Moscow. Today that is slowly changing. As the change takes place from a central to a decentralized system, there are bound to be cases of internal bickering, while agreements on who gets to control what, are devised and become rule of law. This is really a natural progression for a federal state, and one that the United States still experiences in its ongoing states rights versus federal rights battle.
Next: What can the West expect from this cabinet shuffle?