The plot—as described by the manyrnKremlin deep throats looking to distancernthemselves from the family as the end ofrnYeltsin’s term approaches—goes like this:rnDisappointed by Sergei Stepashin’s unwillingnessrnto do their dirty work, Yeltsinrnand the family needed a suitable replacement.rnPutin is an old KGB hand withrngreat experience in collecting—and effectivelyrnusing—kompromat (“compromisingrnmaterial”), and his connections inrnthe “power ministries” (Defense, InternalrnAffairs, Intelligence, Security) couldrnprove usefid. To undermine the popularrnPrimakov, the Kremlin had to stage anrnevent which would place the spodight onrntheir man, showing him to be as adept atrngeopolitics as the wily “Primo,” distractingrnvoters from the Kremlin’s involvementrnin the Bank of New York-Mabatexrnscandals, and, finally, uniting Russiansrnbehind their government. The Kremlin’srnsplendid little war in the Caucasusrnwas made to order.rnChronicles readers are already familiarrnwith a related plan involving Kremlinrncourtier Boris A. Berezovsky (BAB), whornprobably made use of his ties withrnChechen warlords to encourage—and,rnalong with Osama bin Laden and assortedrnMuslim states, help pay for—the Islamistsrnto launch their invasion of Dagestanrnlast summer. BAB may also havernbeen involved in planning the series ofrnterrorist bombings that left some 300rnRussians dead this fall. The idea seems tornhave been to push the Kremlin to declarerna state of emergency and then call off thernupcoming elections, but somewherernalong the line the plot took an unexpectedrnturn, as the Russian General Staffrnpushed events in a new direction.rnThe genemlitet has been thirsting forrnrevenge since the 1994-96 Chechen debacle,rnwhich left the Russian army humiliatedrnand transformed the mountainousrnrepublic into a criminal wonderlandrnwhere the chief growth industry is kidnappingrnand the oil refineries arernmanned by Russian techno-slaves. Therncombat in Dagestan and NATO’s bombingrnof Kosovo deeply impressed Moscow’srngenerals, who are neither as stupidrnnor as clumsy as they appeared duringrnthe Chechen fiasco. The fighting inrnDagestan turned the tables on thernChechens. With the Islamists now castrnin the role of the aggressor, the Russianrnpublic supported efforts to turn back thernIslamic hordes. Then came the bombings.rnThe terrorists, according to sourcesrnin the Federal Security Service, employedrna very rare ingredient called hexogen,rnwhich is used b’ the Russian militaryrnin its latest generation of munitionsrnand is stored in a few high-securit)’ defensernplants. The fear ignited by the terroristsrnbombings and the momentumrngained by the military during the Dagestanrnfight gave the genemlitet the openingrnit wanted, first invading Chechnya (ostensiblyrnto set up a “security zone” in thernthird of Chechen territory north of thernTerek River), then expanding the operation,rnblasting the Chechen “infrastructure”rnto bits, and setting off a mass exodusrnfrom the rebel republic. Putin and therngenemlitet closely followed NATO’srnblueprint, setting up a “Russian InformationrnCenter” to carefully ration —andrnmanipulate —information from the Caucasusrnbattleground. In the meantime,rnPutin has talked back to the NATO andrnE.U. busybodies, telling them that if NATOrncan act as it has, so can Russia. ThernRussian public is eating this up, andrnPutin’s poll numbers are now nudgingrnPrimakov’s.rnStill, the Kremlin probably looks atrnPutin as a stopgap who can put the brakesrnon the Luzhkov-Primakov alliance, shiftingrnsupport from their Fatherland-rnAll Russia political block to the Putinapprovedrn(and BAB-organized) Unityrnmovement before the December parliamentar)’rnelections. After tiiat, much dependsrnon how things go in Chechnya.rnLeaks about the “RosInformCenter” falsifyingrnofficial casualty reports may alreadyrnbe undermining public backing ofrnthe Kremlin’s police action. In any case,rnbombing villages and storming Grozny,rnthe Chechen capital, which the Russiansrnwill have to do if they wish to force thernrebel republic back into the fold, are twornvery different animals, and Putin’s pollrnnumbers could take a nose dive as quicklyrnas they took off If so, the Kremlinrncould dump Putin and back the “hiddenrnsuccessor,” Unih”s Sergei Shoygu, who,rnas minister of Emergency Situations, hasrnbeen slowly cultivating public good willrnby aiding the growing number of displaced,rnhungry, and just plain exhaustedrnpeople in this suffering land. The “family”rndoes, after all, take care of its own.rn— Denis PetrovrnP A R T I A L – B I R T H ABORTION isrnback in the news, and for the first time,rnthere appears to be some hope for thernpro-life side. Of all the extraordinaryrnthings that the United States SupremernCourt has done in the past few decades,rnnone matches its 1973 decision in Roe v.rnWade. Justice Blackmun’s majority opinionrnarticulated a rule pulled, if not fromrnone of his bodily orifices, then out of thinrnair. The states could not prohibit abortionsrnduring the first trimester of a pregnancy;rnthey could regulate them to preservernthe health of the mother during thernsecond trimester; and they could regulaternand even prohibit them during the thirdrntrimester, in order to protect the fetus’srninterest in its “potential life.”rnThe arbitrariness of Roe, which nornconstitutional scholar could plausibly defend,rnput the “right to abortion” in somernjeopardy. During the late 80’s and earlyrn90’s, the Supreme Court appeared to bernedging toward admitting its mistake andrnoverruling the case. Then, in PlannedrnParenthood v. Casey (1992), a decisionrnwhich rivals Roe for sheer judicial audacity,rnthe Court, in an unsigned pluralit)’rnopinion (in which Justices Souter,rnKennedy, and O’Connor joined, nonernhaving the courage to claim it as his orrnher own), abandoned Roe’s trimesterrnstandard, though not the “right to abortion.”rnThe Casey pluralit}’ declared thatrnstates could prohibit “nontherapeutic”rnabortions performed on fetuses who hadrnreached the point of viability outside thernwomb, but henceforward no other abortionrnrestrictions would be tolerated if theyrnimposed an “undue burden” on thernmother’s “right” to terminate her pregnancy.rnNo one knows what an “unduernburden” is, other than a license for judicialrnlawmaking, although the Casey pluralityrndid suggest (rather unhelpfully)rnthat “A finding of an undue burden is arnshorthand for the conclusion that a staternregulation has the purpose or effect ofrnplacing a substantial obstacle in the pathrnof a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviablernfetus.”rnYou now know almost enough constitutionalrnlaw to decide that pesky partialbirthrnabortion question. This unspeakablyrngrisly procedure, known in medicalrnparlance as an “intact dilation and extraction”rnor “D&X,” has been prohibited byrnthe legislatures of 30 states. Does a state’srnprohibition of this practice impose anrn”undue burden” on a woman’s right tornabortion?rnTwo-thirds of the 30 state laws havernbeen found unconstitutional by courtsrnapplying the “undue burden” standard,rnor on the grounds that they were so vaguernthat they interfered with procedures otherrnthan partial-birth abortion. But somern8/CHRONICLESrnrnrn