DATE=9/16/2000 TYPE=ON THE LINE TITLE=ON THE LINE: INSIDE PUTIN'S RUSSIA NUMBER=1-00884 SHORT # 1 EDITOR=OFFICE OF POLICY - 619-0037 CONTENT= INSERTS AVAILABLE IN AUDIO SERVICES THEME: UP, HOLD UNDER AND FADE Anncr: On the Line - a discussion of United States policy and contemporary issues. This week, "Inside Putin's Russia." Here is your host, ------ --. Host: Hello and welcome to On the Line. Despite the continuing war in Chechnya and a crackdown on the press, Russian President Vladimir Putin remains popular with the Russian people. But the accidental sinking of the Kursk nuclear submarine and the shocking deaths of some one- hundred Russian sailors have raised serious doubts about Russia's competence. Some took the incident as evidence that Russia's infrastructure continues to decline and its government is not fully in control. Observers wonder whether President Putin can carry out further economic reform, fight corruption, and make more progress toward a genuinely democratic system. Jonas Bernstein is a senior Russia analyst with the Jamestown Foundation. He says that the recent troubles in Russia, including the fire in Moscow's main T-V transmission tower, indicate how some things have not changed much since the Soviet era. Bernstein: I think you have a combination of two things. A: the crumbling infrastructure that's been inherited from the Soviet period. The other problem is that there are still elements of a centralized command and control system. In the case of the Ostankino Tower fire, the head of the Moscow fire brigade said that they couldn't, they wouldn't cut off the power to the television tower because it's what state television is broadcast over, until they got Putin's permission. Again, I think it's an emblem of the degree to which, in fact, there has been much less change over the last ten years than a lot of people think. Michael McFaul is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He says that President Putin has actually been seeking to concentrate power in a way that his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, never did. McFaul: What is striking to me is how it's not the continuation of the status quo, that in every single front he has punched first against the oligarchs, against the regional authorities, against the Duma. We forget that. There has been a fundamental redistribution of power between the president and the Duma, and against the press. Many people believe that there were no countervailing powers under Yeltsin. We now see that, at least, there was something. Helmut Sonnenfeldt is a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution. He says that Putin's attempt to concentrate power is dangerous. Sonnenfeldt: Putin and his people think that they can go out and negate something that's done in the regions by an elected governor, or by an elected legislature in the regions, that they say is contrary to federal law. Now in more or less normal places, that's a judicial issue, not an executive issue. So I think that this accumulation of power in different dimensions is very much on his mind. The question will ultimately be whether, in fact, he can impose it and how far he has to go to use methods that go back to czarist times, and even Communist times, in order to impose it. What happens then? Host: Helmut Sonnenfeldt from the Brookings Institution says that President Putin wants Russia to become part of the industrialized West, but it is not clear whether he understands how to achieve that goal. For On the Line, this is -------. Anncr: You've been listening to "On the Line" - a discussion of United States policies and contemporary issues. This is ----. 15-Sep-2000 14:06 PM EDT (15-Sep-2000 1806 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .