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Darkness at Dawn

Darkness at Dawn: The Rise of the Russian Criminal State

Copyright Date: 2003
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Darkness at Dawn
    Book Description:

    Anticipating a new dawn of freedom and democracy after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Russians could hardly have foreseen the reality of their future a decade later: a country desperately impoverished and controlled at every level by criminals. This compelling book tells the story of the 1990s reform period in Russia through the experiences of individual citizens. Recounting in detail the development of a new era of oppression, journalist David Satter conveys the staggering nature of the changes that have swept Russian life, society, and ways of thinking.Through the stories of people at all levels of Russian society, Satter describes fraudulent investment schemes, massive corruption, and the intrusion of organized crime everywhere. With insights derived from more than twenty years of writing and reporting on Russia, Satter considers why the individual human being there has historically counted for so little. And he offers an illuminating analysis of how Russia's post-Soviet fate was decided when a new morality failed to fill the vast moral vacuum that communism left in its wake.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-12909-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. List of Abbreviations and Administrative Delineations
    (pp. x-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    In 1991 Russia experienced a new dawn of freedom. The Communist party was dissolved, and Russia appeared ready to build a democratic future. The literary critic Yuri Karyakin spoke for many when he said, “For the first time in this century, God has smiled on Russia.”¹

    Few at that time could have foreseen the outlines of what exists today. In the years that followed, many former Communist countries experienced a rebirth of freedom, but Russia came to be dominated by poverty, intimidation, and crime. The reason is that during the reform period, which witnessed a massive effort to remake Russian...

  6. 1 The Kursk
    (pp. 5-23)

    In the dim afternoon light of the Arctic summer, with pennants flying and amid the deafening roar of exploding missiles and torpedoes, the nuclear submarineKurskmoved into position to take part in the largest naval exercises in the history of the Russian Northern Fleet. The area where the exercises were taking place, 130 miles northeast of Murmansk in the Barents Sea, was a region of immense strategic significance for Russia. The Northern Fleet, the most battle-ready section of Russia’s armed forces, operated in the Barents Sea and was the key to Russia’s ability to challenge the West and to...

  7. 2 Ryazan
    (pp. 24-33)

    As darkness fell, traffic picked up in the circle in front of 14/16 Novosyelov Street, a twelve-story building on the outskirts of the city of Ryazan. Shoppers crowded into the new “Day and Night” grocery store on the first floor of the building, and residents returning home from work punched in the codes of their apartments and opened the new heavy metal door in the entrance.

    Little about the scene suggested that on September 22, 1999, there might have been a gaping hole where the building now stood and that many of the people now hurrying about their business might...

  8. 3 The Young Reformers
    (pp. 34-44)

    “Alfred Reinholdovich, is there a book or isn’t there?”

    The interviewer, Vasily Ustyuzhanin ofKomsomolskaya Pravda,was speaking to Alfred Kokh, the former head of the State Property Committee (GKI). Kokh had resigned in the wake of a scandal over a book on privatization for which he had been paid $100,000 by a Swiss accounting firm with ties to Oneximbank, the victor in several of the most important—and bitterly contested—privatization auctions. Kokh and four other “young reformers,” Anatoly Chubais, Maxim Boiko, Pyotr Mostovoi, and Alexander Kazakov, had also been paid $90,000 each for chapters in another history of...

  9. 4 The History of Reform
    (pp. 45-71)

    At noon on December 31, 1999, the pale, puffy visage of Boris Yeltsin appeared unexpectedly on Russian television screens. For weeks, rumors had swirled around Yeltsin and his daughters in connection with possible corruption charges, and these reports gave rise to speculation that Yeltsin could not afford to surrender power.

    It was this speculation that Yeltsin was about to dispel.

    “Dear friends!” he said, speaking from behind his desk in the Kremlin in front of a decorated New Year’s tree and the tricolor flag of the Russian Federation.

    Today, I am turning to you for the last time with New...

  10. 5 The Gold Seekers
    (pp. 72-92)

    On a hot day in April 1995, a long queue formed on a busy St. Petersburg street outside the firm Russian Real Estate. Shabbily dressed people waited patiently for the office to open its doors.

    Vera Mozzhilina, the first person in line, had lost 5 million rubles when Russian Real Estate went out of business and had been waiting for seven hours, since 7:00 A.M., with her son, Vasily, to meet with a representative of the firm. Mozzhilina and her husband lived with Vasily and his wife, their daughter, and her daughter in a small, three-room apartment, and they wanted...

  11. 6 The Workers
    (pp. 93-111)

    “One of our women has been diagnosed with leukemia,” said Lyudmilla Tikhonova, the leader of the free trade union in the Golubaya Oka Textile Factory, to Viktor Buryakov, the director, as they spoke in his office. “She needs money for food and medicine. I implore you to give her her back pay.”

    Outside, in the dying light, the snow was turning into dirty slush as it accumulated on the street. Buses and trucks poured exhaust into the frigid night air, and pedestrians who had just got work crowded the sidewalks where women from the factory were selling the shirts produced...

  12. 7 Law Enforcement
    (pp. 112-126)

    A light wind lifted the cellophane wrappers and papers in front of the Kuznetsky Most metro station. In front of the double glass doors of the metro, a man was kicking a prone figure repeatedly in the face. The victim, whose face was covered with blood, moaned and shuddered each time he was struck.

    Jonas Bernstein, an analyst for the Jamestown FoundationMonitor,and I entered the metro and went to the police station, where a police officer was sitting at his desk going through some papers. “There’s a man being beaten outside on the sidewalk,” I said. “He needs...

  13. 8 Organized Crime
    (pp. 127-155)

    Shortly after 5:00 P.M. in the Samara police headquarters, several employees on the third floor noticed the smell of smoke. At first they assumed it was coming from a garbage fire in the courtyard. As the smell became stronger, however, they left their offices and went into the corridor. At that moment, fire flashed along the wall, the corridor filled with smoke, and the lights went out in the entire building.

    By the time the first firefighters arrived, the fire was burning out of control on the third and fourth floors, and the main stairway, the most likely escape route,...

  14. 9 Ulyanovsk
    (pp. 156-164)

    An icy wind blew in off the steppes as the first mourners filed into the entryway of the building where, until a few days before, Yuri Motorin had lived with his family in an apartment on the fourth floor. Soon the entire stairwell was full.

    Inside Motorin’s apartment, the mirrors and television were covered with linen, and a candle burned in front of an icon with a silver frame. Bread, a glass of vodka, and a dish of salt were arranged on a small table. They had been placed there for Motorin’s soul, which, according to Orthodox tradition, remains with...

  15. 10 Vladivostok
    (pp. 165-181)

    An icy wind blew in the Sea of Japan, and as temperatures fell to –4 degrees, a driving snow dusted the roofs of apartment buildings. People and cars slipped on the ice that coated Vladivostok’s sidewalks and streets.

    In an apartment at 13 Chasovitina Street, Faina Kobzar, an elderly pensioner, sat down on the bed where her invalid husband, Ivan Ivanovich, was lying under a blanket, shivering in the cold. A few feet away, the reddishorange bars of a space heater gave a small amount of heat. “If there is electricity, the space heater is always on,” Faina explained. “With...

  16. 11 Krasnoyarsk
    (pp. 182-197)

    A crowd of reporters and cameramen jostled each other in the arrival hall of Sheremetevo-2 airport as they waited for Anatoly Bykov, the former chairman of the board of the Krasnoyarsk Aluminum Factory (KRAZ), who was being returned to Russia from Hungary to face charges of conspiracy to commit murder.

    Suddenly, from the service entrance, three special forces soldiers in black face masks and camouflage appeared, pulling a fourth person who had a bag over his head. ‘‘Bykov!’’ shouted the reporters. ‘‘Everyone to the side!’’ said one of the soldiers.

    The soldiers and their charge hurried past the cordon of...

  17. 12 The Value of Human Life
    (pp. 198-221)

    Floodlights illumined the operating room as Galina Suvernyeva, the thirtyone-year-old wife of a Russian army major, gave birth to a baby girl by caesarean section. Dr. Valentina Lysenko handed the newborn to a pediatrician, relieved that the operation had gone well.

    Ever since power began to be cut in the Far East, Lysenko had tried to avoid operating at night. In this case, however, a night operation had been unavoidable. Suvernyeva’s pregnancy had been cult, and once she started to have contractions, a caesarean needed to be performed immediately.

    Lysenko started to sew up the incision. At that moment, Suvernyeva...

  18. 13 The Criminalization of Consciousness
    (pp. 222-247)

    Sergei Mikhailov rose from his desk to greet his visitor, Laurent Nicolet, the Moscow correspondent for the Geneva newspaperLe Temps.“I’m preparing for an important meeting,” he said, “but for a newspaper such as yours, I can always find time for an interview.”

    Nicolet was taken by surprise by Mikhailov’s remark. Either Mikhailov had not read whatLe Tempswrote about him during the two years when he was an inmate in Geneva’s Champ-Dollon prison, or he was extremely forgiving.¹ A group of men in business suits looked on. They were waiting to take their places around a conference...

  19. Conclusion: Does Russia Have a Future?
    (pp. 248-256)

    In 1999–2001, after a decade of steady decline, Russia experienced its first years of economic growth, spurred by a tripling in the price of oil and the effects of the devaluation following the August 1998 financial crisis.

    Michael Binyon, the correspondent of the LondonTimes,reported: “Many Russians have never had it so good . . . Putin has reaped a reward from his determination to change Russia. Once again, he has been voted Russia’s man of the year.”¹

    Leon Aron, a biographer of Yeltsin, wrote in theWeekly Standard, “The revolution Yeltsin led has become irreversible . ....

  20. Notes
    (pp. 257-288)
  21. Bibliography
    (pp. 289-302)
  22. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 303-304)
  23. Index
    (pp. 305-314)