and Yavlinsky, long hampered by a policy-wonk image, appearsrnto be gaining some ground as well. Moscow is rife with rumorsrnof a Lebed-Yavlinsky alliance, and Nemtsov’s long associationrnwith Yavlinsky appears to make him a possible coalition partner,rnthough the trio’s personal ambitions make the formation ofrnsuch an alliance problematic. A populist alliance, of course,rnwould be the oligarchy’s worst nightmare: Berezovsky’s mediarnoutlets have attacked Nemtsov and Lebed with abandon in recentrnmonths, and efforts by the Kremlin Svengali to co-opt thernoligarchy’s most dangerous opponents have so far failed.rnNemtsov advisor iksyuchits has called Berezovsky “a source ofrnevil in Russia,” and Nemtsov, Lebed, and Yavlinsky continue tornrail against “robber capitalism” and the “semi-criminal oligarchy,”rnmuch to the delight of a jaded and long-suffering electorate.rnBut the possible rise of a populist coalition is only part of thernrain that is already steadily falling on Berezovsky’s parade. InrnJanuary, signs that the Russian social-economic crisis might bernapproaching criHcal mass began to appear: miners in Vorkutarnheld enterprise managers hostage for a time, demanding paymentrnof back wages (protests appear to be intensifying over unpaidrnstate wages and pensions—about 40 percent of the countn’srnindustrial base is still state-owned); state foreign currencyrnand gold reserves, used liberally in recent months to prop uprnthe faltering ruble and finance government expenses, are rapidlyrndwindling, creating fear of a devaluation of the ruble and possiblernrampant inflation; foreign investors—a vital source of incomernfor an all-but-bankrupt state treasury —appear to bernpulling out of Russian securities markets, despite the temporaryrnraising of interest rates on short-term goverrrment paper fromrn28 to 42 percent (the short-term nature of the securities is drainingrnthe Russian treasury almost as fast as investors can fill it);rncapital flight continues; oil prices on world markets have beenrnon the decline recentiy, hurting one of the few profitable Russianrnindustries (a devaluation of the ruble would do Russia littlerngood because Russia depends on raw material exports, not finishedrngoods, as a source of trade-generated income); the economyrncontinues to stagnate; and the Kremlin appears headed forrnyet another round of intra-oligarchy infighting, further delayingrncritical economic reforms as the various interests maneuver tornsnatch up more property scheduled for privatization at fire-salernprices. Despite all of this, the clans still appear to be more concernedrnwith seizing wealth than creating it.rnBerezovsky has taken the recent spate of bold attacks on himrnin Moskovsky Komsomolets (controlled by Moscow Mayor YurirnLuzhkov, the Richard Daley of Russia) and in Potanin-controlledrnmedia quite seriously, seeing them as part and parcel ofrna Potanin-Chubays-Luzhkov plan to blame any financial collapsernon a cabal of Jewish bankers headed by a latter-dayrnRasputin (in a March press interview, Chubavs actuallv comparedrnBerezovsky with the Siberian shaman). In fact, Berezovsky’srnmedia outlets appear to have taken a page from thernPotanin-Chubays notebook: one Berezovsky-financed newspaperrnrecently claimed that the financial crisis is being engineeredrnby Chubays and George Soros as part of a plan to finishrnoff Berezovsky and friends once and for all. Moreover, there arernsigns that law enforcement agencies—long influenced by Berezovsky-rnmay be interested in finding out just who ordered therncontract murder of Russian TV executive Vlad Listev in 1995rn(most savvy Muscovites know that Berezovsky was behind this).rnBerezovsky and his cronies do appear quite vulnerable. InrnMarch, Moskovskaya Pravda, another paper tied to Luzhkov,rnupped the ante even further: a former KGB officer accusedrnBerezovsky of being a Mossad agent. If a collapse does occur,rnthen Berezovsky’s head could very well wind up decorating thernKremlin wall — if his Israeli passport is not in order, that is, andrnif the West does not come through with more IMF and WorldrnBank cash to keep the whole bloody mess running. (I am remindedrnof a Gorbachev-era political cartoon depicting the haplessrnGorby at a bank teller’s window marked “IMF,” his gunrnpointed at his own temple. He warns, “Give me the money, orrnI’ll shoot!”)rnAmericans would do well to think of Russia not as some sortrnof political freak show but as a distant mirror. American workersrnwhose jobs have been shipped to Mexico or Asia as a resultrnof “free trade” deals made between monopolists and bureaucratsrnmight believe that the Russian oligarchy is hardly in thernsame league with our own. Those of us vho have followed thernClinton saga might think the Yeltsins to be less corrupt than thernClintons. How can a government in hock to China via thernLippo Group, or one that kowtows to the interests of Israel andrnSaudi Arabia, a government headed by a chief executive neckrndeep in vice and scandal, have the nerve to preach to the Russiansrnabout good government and reform? To paraphrasernGeorge McGovern, come home America. We may find thatrnwe have our own Rasputins to root out. srnLong Branch Watchtowerrnby Emanuel di PasqualernOn Assumption DayrnI swam in the high-tide watersrnwhile my wife and daughterrnsat on the lifeguard towers.rnAnd my child made sand angels,rnand my wife led us in a dancernof ring around the landrna pocketful of sand.rnThe waters were clearrnas my child was fair.rnThe waters were bluernas my wife was true.rnAnd the wavesrnwouldn’t standrnstill.rnlUNE 1998/29rnrnrn