Putin addresses 2005 goals
Putting behind him a year that
brought terror home to Russia's school children in Beslan, President Putin
chose to focus his New Year's address on Russia's social aims for 2005:
"All our priorities are
focused on people's intellectual and spiritual development. The main task, the principle internal
force of Russia's development is to realize each person's capabilities and
improve the life of the nation."
(1) When did the Russian
President become the spiritual adviser/motivational speaker-in-chief?
In fairness, Putin did allude to
the Beslan tragedy, I think.
"I have to say that the outgoing year also witnessed dramatic
events in the life of our nation.
Even today, on New Year's night, we must remember this." (2) I suppose that calling attention,
in any greater detail, to the fact that the leadership has not managed to
address any of the security concerns arising from the Beslan hostage crisis,
and thus Russia's citizens (and their children) have been given no reassurance
that it won't happen again, is reason enough not to name the "dramatic events"
of the past year.
Looking forward however, Putin
cites his administration's intention to invest in education, housing, and
health care as priorities for 2005.
He also highlighted the coming 60th anniversary of victory in
the Great Patriotic War as a "great holiday for us."(3) Ironic, isn't it given the government's
first moves of 2005 – monetizing benefits in a "reform" that
sends veterans and pensioners out onto the streets in protest.
Economic realism and its
In an address to the government in
mid-January, President Putin made his case for changes to the social benefits
sector of the economy, presenting a solid, albeit brief, history on the
realities of the state's social entitlements in both the Soviet and post-Soviet
"A system of benefits existed
in the Soviet Union and worked effectively overall for that time and within
that system. At the same time, I
think we all recall very well that only a relatively small overall share of the
Soviet population was entitled to these benefits." (4) Lest one wonder who Putin considered
the main beneficiaries of Soviet largesse: "For the most part, this included veterans and disabled
people, that is to say, people who took part in the Great Patriotic Waronly a
relatively small share of the Soviet Union's population." (5) I guess the anniversary celebrations of
the WWII victory won't include an increase in veteran's pensions.
As for post-Soviet Russia, Putin
accurately identifies the progress of the rhetorical benefits balloon: "Economic and social problems
began emerging following the breakup of the Soviet Union. We all know the scale these problems
took. Unfortunately, at the very
moment the country began facing these problems, decisions were taken to
increase the number of various benefits. () [T]he government should have been
prepared today for criticism from parties on both the right and left, because
it was precisely these parties that, at that time, on the one hand created the
oligarchic system of capitalism in Russia and let the country's national wealth
be pillaged, and , on the other hand, took or encouraged the adoption of these
decisions that were popular but completely unable to be fulfilled."
(6) Putin goes on to note that
under the laws written at the time, "more than half of the total Russian
population was entitled to benefits." (7)
Reserving the right to dispute his
account of the facts on the enlargement of entitlements, wouldn't that scenario
fall into the category of inexperienced politicians emulating the appearance of
political horse-trading practiced by "mature" democracies? The first post-Soviet waves of
politicians over-promised their electorates in order to get elected, then
over-legislated (slathering pork into the budget), and then left the economic
deficits to the next waves of politicians. A sound, tightly regulated economic policy might have been
able to lessen the impact of this experience, but the hurly-burly of economic
transition during the Yel'tsin regime (and the West's insistence that economic
transition should "trump" political reform) allowed gross
incompetence to rule in various political and economic sectors. Putin, and his staff, clearly have
managed to identify a major problem, both with the early transition years and
the current situation, but his solution is what remains perplexing.
Will grey be the next
The decision to monetize state
benefits may be backed by reasonable fiscal arguments, but the clear losers in
this state reform were going to be Russia's veterans, disabled and pensioners. Their presence on the streets (see
"Domestic Issues" for more on the grey revolution), and their
protests, were easily foreseeable.
Why then, did Putin emphasize the anniversary of the Great Patriotic War
and the veterans during his New Year's speech? Perhaps to acknowledge their suffering and hard-work before
asking for more sacrifice from them?
Perhaps in the hopes that his rhetoric would mask the realities of his
reforms? Whatever his intentions,
it is obvious, once again, that Russia's transition from Soviet/authoritarian
rule will require yet more sacrifice from its older population –
veterans, disabled, vulnerable.
Perhaps this time the regime will be willing to provide a stronger
safety net. It would seem to be
the least they could do.
Political and economic reform
With the appearance of protestors
on the street, Sergei Mitrokhin, Deputy Chair of Yabloko, made a rather
coherent argument against increased central control of the regions. Mitrokhin used the President's
December press conference, during which the prospect of the Kremlin's
appointment of Russia's mayors was raised, as a jumping off point to discuss
the relative benefits of strict central control over regional governments. Mitrokhin suggests that modernization,
particularly state-controlled authoritarian modernization, benefits from local
government, which "relieves the state bureaucracy of the intolerable
burden of local concerns." (8)
Putin's decision to appoint
regional governors, and perhaps even city mayors, would be particularly
ill-prepared to handle popular protests like that of the pensioners, who, at
least for now, direct their anger at local leaders whom they have elected
directly. (9) Absent those local elections and their
handy regional political elites, public protest would have only the central
authorities as their focus. Food
for thought Vladimir Vladimirovich.
Did he really say that?
The first award in the
"chutzpah" category for 2005 has to go, once again, to Anatoli
Chubais. Chubais was quite vocal
in his criticism of Prime Minister Fradkov's government at a meeting with top
government and business authorities at the Council on Competitiveness and
Entrepreneurship's first meeting of the year. Chubais complained to Fradkov that, "There has not been
such a difficult situation for 15 years." (10) Among the
targets of Chubais' ire, was the state's tax policy. Noting that nearly one third of the businessmen present had
trouble with tax authorities, Chubais complained, "A remarkable Tax
Code approved earlier turned out
quite the opposite in reality." (11)
Let's rewind to 1996: Who was it that named the then
newly-created tax police the "VChK" in a threatening nod to the
Soviet secret police? Wasn't that
Chubais who claimed that business had to be strong-armed into paying
taxes? Come to think of it, wasn't
it Chubais, who, upon ascending to power in the wake of Yel'tsin's colossal
fatigue/heart bypass/pneumonia, set himself the task of reasserting the
"power vertical"? What
was the quote he was fond of then?
Ah yes: "To establish
democracy in society requires a dictatorship within the state." (12)
(1) "A New
Year address to citizens of Russia," President Vladimir Putin, 31 Dec 04
"Speech at a Meeting with the Government," President Vladimir Putin,
17 Jan 05 via (www.kremlin.ru/speeches).
Presidential Envoy in Every Building," Novaya gazeta, 20 Jan 05 via JRL#9026, 20 Jan 05.
"Chubais Blasts State for Climate of Fear," Guy Faulconbridge in
Moscow Times, 24 Jan 05 via JRL #9031, 24 Jan 05.
Novosti, 20 Jan 05 via JRL #9031.
Science Monitor, 1 Nov 96 via Lexis-Nexis.
By Susan J. Cavan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Russia embarks on a new year, it appears the events of the past year still
haunt the nation at large and the security services in particular. Specifically, the hostage-taking event
at Beslan last September still makes news in January. Not only did the U.S. television network CBS recently air
new footage of Ruslan Aushev negotiating with the hostage-takers during the siege,
but relatives of some of the victims blocked the major road into Beslan for
three days, protesting the fact that those they hold accountable for the
attack, including the North Ossetian President Alexander Dzasokhov, have not
themselves been held at all accountable.
The protestors agreed to open the road when promised an audience with
Putin¹s envoy to the North Caucasus' Dimitri Kozak. (1) This, however, is unlikely to provide
the closure the Beslan victims¹ families seek, and it is likely instead to
renew the focus on the special services and their failings in the battle
some closure will be found in a report on the Beslan siege being prepared by
parliamentary commission, and due to be released in the spring. As reported in Rossiyskaya
gazeta (a government run newspaper),
³[o]ne of the commission's conclusions, which is already well known, is that
the law enforcement agencies were unable to set up coordinated actions in an
emergency situation.² (2) Parliamentarians hope to publish some necessary
recommendations, and they also believe that, following the report¹s release,
³there should be a series of dismissals of high-ranking siloviki.¹" As important as the MPs seem to believe
their findings will be, bereaved Beslan
residents still feel this committee¹s investigation is dragging on
unnecessarily, perhaps to protect high-ranking but culpable authorities. No doubt such concerns prompted this
report on the commission¹s progress in the government daily publication. Such concerns also appear to have
prompted Federation Council member Erik Bugulov, the only representative from
North Ossetia on the commission, to speak out in support of the commission¹s
work. He did mention that leaders
from the Federal Security Service (FSB), the Interior Ministry (MVD), and the
Federal Prosecutor¹s Office have participated in the commission¹s fact-finding
sessions, and he also noted that ³it is very important that the commission name
those to blame for the Beslan tragedy.²
He also made the point that the terrorists who participated in this
event (and were not killed in the shootout) should not be tried in their home
republics as strong clan and family ties in the regions can hinder the pursuit
of justice. (2) All of these comments seemed focused on calming the concerns of
the living victims of the Beslan siege and ensuring that the security services,
which have been the target of much criticism but little reform since Beslan,
will be held accountable. Not
mentioned, however, was the impact of the operational reforms to the security
services approved last fall, giving the FSB the primary role in responding to
Perhaps by way of response, three days after the story on the
Beslan commission appeared, the head of the FSB directorate in Dagestan,
Nikolai Gryaznov, announced publicly that his forces had just prevented a
Beslan-like siege. ³The gunmen
who were killed in Kaspiysk and Makhachkala today had been preparing a major
terrorist act, similar to the one in Beslan,¹ Gryaznov said.² (3) Following public warnings in early
January from the FSB and MVD about possible terrorist attacks in Russia,
security services intensified unspecified counter-terrorist measures in most
North Caucasus republics.
Evidently, these measures turned up information on the Jennet group,
which ³had been hunting down staffers of the Dagestani MVD anti-terrorist
department: In two years 29 policemen had died at the hands of group members.²
(5) Up to 50 members of the group,
led by well-known terrorist Rasul Makasharipov, had planned to seize two
schools, one in Makhachkala, the other in Kaspiysk. Security service agents reportedly blockaded five of the
terrorists inside a house that had been turned into an arms storage facility
for the group, but these five escaped, fleeing into a private home in
A 15-hour stand-off followed between the holed-up terrorists and
members of the MVD and FSB, including members of the FSB¹s elite Alfa
unit. The terrorists fired on
agents from the house, despite reported attempts to negotiate. Government forces responded by torching
the house with a flame thrower, then rolling a tank over the building. By the end of the stand-off, all five
holed-up gunmen were killed, one reportedly wearing a suicide-bomber¹s
explosive belt and another reported to be Makasharipov himself (although
further identification is required); three policemen and one officer from the
Alfa unit were killed; neighboring buildings were destroyed or damaged, and
several families lost their homes.
(7) Many members of the
Jennet group remain at large, however. (8)
Government representatives were quick to label this operation a
success against terrorism in Russia, but many others were not so
convinced. The claim that
government forces prevented a ³Beslan-like² tragedy seems convenient given the
renewed interest in the September event, but even allowing for that
possibility, the cost in property and lives, coupled with the tactics used, do
not indicate any significant improvement in counter-terrorist operations
compared with previous such operations.
A 15-hour siege by government forces who were forced to use a flame
thrower and a tank to bring a mere five gunmen to justice seems excessive,
especially considering the five gunmen escaped from the original location. (9)
However, there may be reasons for optimism in the
Kremlin—intelligence-gathering does appear to have prevented some sort of
event, although the methods used were not specifically described. Also, even though an unspecified but
clearly significantly large force, comprised of members of multiple
organizations (FSB, including the Alfa unit, MVD, and local police at a
minimum) took 15 hours to subdue five gunmen, there were no reported collateral
(civilian) deaths, and the fact that a flame thrower and a tank were available
in a relatively short amount of time indicates some elements of command and
control worked with some degree of success. No details were reported on who precisely was in charge on
the scene and whether that person had the necessary authority, to act (in
keeping with changes in counter-terrorism response procedures that were
approved by the Duma last fall). (10)
This event, the way it was handled, and, particularly, the reports of it
that followed in many media sources do seem to represent improvements in the
government¹s counter-terrorism response program, even if only in its public
Finally, two follow-up items from the last edition of NIS Observed
are in order. First, the last
article discussed the current leadership of the FSB and highlighted FSB senior
deputy Lieutenant-General Sergei Smirnov as a likely replacement for
Colonel-General Nikolai Patrushev, who took over the post when previous leader,
Vladimir Putin, was appointed Russia¹s Prime Minister. More recently, ³a reliable source at
the St. Petersburg branch of the FSB² claims that among still more upcoming
changes in the FSB, Colonel-General Viktor Cherkesov, formerly the Presidential
Envoy in the North-Western Federal District and currently the head of Federal
Narcotics Control Service, is the likely candidate to succeed Patrushev.
(11) Clearly Cherkesov has the
credentials—he entered the KGB in 1975, as did Putin, and spent much of
his service in St. Petersburg/Leningrad.
(12) The source also
suggested Patrushev will be reappointed as deputy prime minister for security
While this article highlights a potential candidate to succeed
Patrushev, the more interesting point is the fact that change in such a
significant leadership position is being discussed so openly in the Russian
press. This fact alone signifies
that more changes are likely soon, possibly as part of a major shuffle
following (or even pre-empting) the release of the parliamentary commission¹s
report on the Beslan siege. The
fact that multiple names have been mentioned probably means we are witnessing
an informal vetting process, during which the relative popularity (or
unpopularity) of each candidate within political party leadership will be
gauged. It is probably too early
to say which is the front-runner for the job, but we are likely to know soon if
either of these candidates is politically unacceptable, or if there are other
possible candidates for the post.
Finally, the previous edition described the Federal Border Guard
Service (BGS) as having been resubordinated from the MVD to the FSB. In fact, the BGS was never subordinate
to the MVD; prior to the 2003 security service reform, the BGS was directly
under the control of the Russian president, although it did maintain ties with
both agencies. My thanks to M.
Hackard for bringing this to my attention.
(1) ³48 Hours,² CBS News, 21
Jan 05, available online at http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/01/20/48hours/main668127.shtml
and ³Beslan Parents Lift Road Blockade,² BBC News, 23 Jan 05 available online
via Johnson¹s Russia List # 9030, 23 Jan 05.
Dmitri, "Parliamentarians Conduct Investigation; Beslan Commission Will
Most Likely Recommend Dismissal of Number of High-Ranking Siloviki," Rossiyskaya
gazeta, 12 Jan 05; FBIS-SOV-2005-0112 via
World News Connection.
Official Says 'Beslan-Like Terrorist Act' Prevented In Southern Russia,² Interfax, 15 Jan 05,
FBIS-SOV-2005-0119 via World News Connection.
Konstantin, "Special Services Warn of Further Terrorist Acts and Try To
Avert Them," Izvestiya, 18 Jan 05, FBIS-SOV-2005-0119, and Timofey Borisov, "Bandits
Planned 'Second Beslan.' Results of Special Operation Being Assessed in
Dagestan," Rossiyskaya gazeta, 18 Jan 05; FBIS-SOV-2005-0119 via World News Connection.
Yuri, ³Russia's FSB Says Several Jennet Gang Members Still At Large,²
ITAR-Tass, 18 Jan 05; FBIS-SOV-2005-0119 via World News Connection.
(9) Borisov and
"Beslan Game," Gazeta.ru, 19 Jan 05; FBIS-SOV-2005-0119 via World News Connection.
(10) The NIS
Observed: An Analytical Review, Volume IX, Number 19, 10 Dec 04.
Vladlev and Sergei Tkachuck, ³Who Will Head The FSB?² Novye izvestia, 17 Jan 05, pp. 1-2, from WPS: Defense and Security via Lexis-Nexis.
(12) Bennett, Gordon, Vladimir
Putin & Russia¹s Special Services,
Conflict Studies Research Centre, August 2002, p. 9.
Eric Beene (email@example.com)
A multi-directional policy for the New
a recent international press conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei
Viktorovich Lavrov described the past year as difficult for Russia, but, on the
whole, productive. Outlining the goals of Russian foreign policy, past and
present, Lavrov summarily stated, ³We have sought to relate our foreign policy
as closely as possible to the solution of the issues of the social and economic
development of Russia and to bring everything we do in the world arena closer
to the interests and needs of our people.² (1) He described Russian foreign
policy as being ³multi-directional² with a line ³based on pragmatism and on
ensuring national interests, above all, the country¹s security,² as well as
relying on ³real opportunities of Russia, the interests of Russia and
reciprocal interests of our partners in practically all the regions of the
world.² (2) He believes that a majority of countries want to see Russia play an
integral role in international affairs in spite of his assertion that certain
other countries ³regard Russia with suspicion and are even calling for almost a
confrontation with Russia.² (3) However, Lavrov affirmed that the principles of
Russian foreign policy will remain unchanged and unprovoked, with adherence to
these principles executed ³firmly and consistently, in a constructive and
responsible manner.² (4) It is from this platform that Lavrov plans to approach
coming events, such as the Russian-American summit in Bratislava, Slovakia, the
European Union-Russia summit, the G-8 summit, as well as the celebration of the
60th anniversary of the victory over fascism.
Russia and the West
expressed hope that Russia and the E.U. will be able to implement the accords
reached during the summit meeting in the Hague last November. Echoing remarks
made by the Dutch Prime Minister, Lavrov agreed that the E.U. and Russia can
unite in plans for the near future, with hope that work will be completed
before the next summit meeting on 10 May in Moscow, which is also an occasion
for long-awaited border treaties with Latvia and Estonia to be signed. Lavrov
drew an analogy, using the Russia-NATO framework, to suggest that cooperation
with the E.U. should follow the same ³no bloc² fashion, with the aim of
³singling out common problems where all countries are interested in interaction.²
(5) He reiterated the Russian concern that it work with the E.U. as an equal
partner, not one that is simply invited to go along with initiatives that E.U.
members first decide upon among themselves. Concerning Russian-U.S. relations,
Lavrov cited the two countries¹ cooperation in the fight against terrorism,
participation in the initiative related on the nonproliferation of weapons of
mass destruction, a developing dialogue in the strategic stability sphere and
further plans to ensure security and promote economic and other bilateral
interactions. Last month, President Putin himself stated that the U.S. and
Russia are not only partners but allies in the fight against terrorism, bearing
special responsibility for arms control in the world. (6) The upcoming
Bratislava summit will be a forum for President Putin and President Bush to
discuss the progress of agreements previously reached and international issues
like drug trafficking and organized crime. Lavrov also expects that the two
leaders will exchange opinions regarding regional conflicts in various parts of
the world; Lavrov stated, in response to the newly-confirmed U.S. Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice¹s stated intentions to pay more attention to the
internal political situation in Russia, particularly human rights, ³of course,
our internal political situation is our internal concern.² (7)
firmly rejected parallels to the Cold War or assertions that Russian-U.S.
relations have ³cooled² under the leadership of Putin and Bush. Declaring the two men to have
³relations of mutual respect,² Lavrov also stated, ³Even in the hardest times
when the Cold War started after World War II, we did not regard the United
States as an enemy. There was such a term—potential enemy. But this was
due to the fact that the United States and the Soviet Union had huge missile
potentials. Still, I do not think that the bulk of Russians see the United
States as an enemy.² (8)
Karaganov, political expert on Moscow-Washington relations, believes that
relations between Russia and the U.S. will be ³somewhat cool due to the U.S.
administration¹s mounting criticisms of the change in Russia¹s domestic policy²
and foresees a persistent rivalry between the two countries throughout the
former Soviet republics: ³Such rivalry has to be taken in stride; it is simply
unavoidable in the current situation. This game will be won by he who pursues
more skillful policies and becomes more attractive to the countries in the
region.² (9) Karaganov, like Lavrov, sees the Bratislava summit as a way to
underline differences and reconfirm areas of political cooperation, especially
ways to improve bilateral relations following the Ukrainian election.
Russian and U.S. political scientists have determined it ³necessary to
institutionalize the communication channel between the U.S. Security Council
[sic] and the Russian Security Council, which has become of late the main
instrument in cooperation on an operational level.² (10) They also proposed the
revival of the 'group of strategic stability,' the creation of a Joint
Intelligence Committee, and the institution of a civil forum that would deal
with cooperation between non-governmental organizations, all of which would aid
in cooperation between the two countries.
response to the recent election disputes, Lavrov stressed that President Putin
respects the choice of the Ukrainian people and that Russia will approach the
development of relations with President Viktor Yushchenko and the Ukrainian
people as a ³partner² in a ³neighborly, friendly manner² stating that
³relations between our two countries are immeasurably deeper and broader than
the situation that prevailed during the prolonged election campaign.² (11) Some
Russian political analysts have had a measured response to the election
outcome, as opposed to hawkish commentators who accused the West of carrying
out sinister operations to get desired results. The moderate analysts contend
that Western influence is a modern, effective form of projecting more
ideological, soft power in the region and that Moscow simply needs to learn a
lesson and rethink its tactics concerning Western competition in the CIS. (12) Whether Moscow will respond with a
similar ideological initiative or use strong-arm tactics remains to be seen.
and the OSCE
Minister Lavrov has planned a visit to Georgia on 18 February that is meant to
help jump-start negotiations on a bilateral agreement that had recently
stalled. Russia has suggested the creation of "anti-terror centers"
using existing Russian military bases as infrastructure. (13) Prolonging the
flurry of accusations by Russia that Georgia backs terrorists and allows them
to reside in the Pankisi Gorge, particularly following the abandonment of
border-monitoring by the OSCE, Lavrov stated that Russia is prepared to control
the border on the Russian side using Russian border guards and this should not
be seen as ³political sabotage² given that ³our OSCE colleagues admit, at least
privately, that the mission is no longer needed and is not worth spending the
money on.² (14) Regarding terrorism, Lavrov said that he has seen increased
cooperation between the border and law-enforcement services of both Russia and
Georgia, which have produced positive results, but that problems remain and the
two states need to unite ³to prevent terrorists from using the Pankisi Gorge as
a staging post and as a rest area, etc.² (15) Lavrov admitted that the quick
phase out of the OSCE¹s Border Monitoring Operation was Russia¹s initiative;
until now, the BMO had rejected, implicitly or explicitly, Moscow¹s allegations
that there were ³terrorists² in Georgia and ha found itself functioning as a
political deterrent to possible Russian military action in the area (under the
guise of anti-terrorism).
Syria and the Middle East
has declared Syria to be one its most important partners in the Middle East.
According to Lavrov, ³Russia, like Syria, is coming out consistently for a
comprehensive approach to Middle East settlement so that its various aspects
are not ignored because a solution can only be comprehensive.² (16) Bilateral
cooperation in the spheres of trade and economics are valued by both countries
and Lavrov expressed enthusiasm in the upcoming visit to Moscow by the Syrian
president. Russia believes that Syria is a key state in the settlement of the
Middle East situation, which covers not only Palestinian-Israeli relations, but
also Syrian-Israeli and Lebanese-Israeli relations. Lavrov denied recent
reports that Moscow is planning to sell missiles to Syria, as did Russian
Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov. Lavrov stated, ³We have never supplied weapons
that are either banned under our international commitments or weapons that
would in certain quantities destabilize the situation in conflict regions.² (17)
[For more on the putative Russian-Syrian arms deal, see "Armed Forces:
Iraq, Lavrov expressed the need for elections to occur in order to allow a
starting process in the restoration of Iraqi sovereignty. If elections are
held, he said, it is important for the Iraqi people and not outsiders, to
determine the legitimacy of those elections. He then offered Russian assistance
in assessing their legitimacy, if so requested.
again affirmed that Russia is engaged with Iran in the energy sphere and other
forms of economic cooperation; The construction of the Bushehr reactor lies
within the sphere of nuclear energy cooperation, one that Lavrov says is ³fully
transparent and under IAEA control.² (18) Russia has maintained close contacts
with the Iranian leadership and European partners in helping to develop
cooperation with Iran, especially regarding nuclear activity. However, Lavrov
made it clear that ³we [Russia] will not tolerate attempts to use developments
around the Iranian nuclear program in order to undermine Russia¹s position in
the Iranian energy market by non-market and wrongful methods. We have no
grounds for fearing such attempts.² (19)
A strong Russia
Russian foreign policy enters another year, Russia continues to position itself
in a manner that will give the country the most influence possible given its
relative strengths and weaknesses. Internal reforms and Putin's consolidation
of power have caused many in the West and elsewhere to believe that Russia is
moving towards a highly authoritarian form of government, one that threatens
democracy internally and in its near abroad. This image does not appear to
concern Lavrov who stated, ³Reforms are conducted in order to strengthen our
country and to answer the challenges that we are tangibly aware of to the unity
of our country and to its place in the worldThe world needs a strong Russia
because it is in everybody¹s interestsand if those who understand this and see
these reforms as being positive for our country and for the destinies of the
world, then we believe that their assessment is correct.² (20) To all those who see a strong
Russia as not being in the world¹s best interest, Lavrov declared, ³this is not
our problem.² (21)
(1) Federal News Service (www.fednews.ru/) via Johnson¹s Russia List
(JRL) , 19 Jan 2005, #2-JRL9028; (www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/9028-2.cfm).
(6) Interfax via CDI Russia Weekly, 24 Dec 2004,
#3-RW 12-24-05; (www.cdi.org/Russia/336-3.cfm).
(7) Ibid; Federal News Service via JRL,
#2-JRL9028, 19 Jan 05.
(8) RIA Novosti via CDI Russia Weekly, 21 Jan
05, #3-RW 1-21-05; (www.cdi.org/russia/339-3.cfm).
(9) RIA Novosti via CDI Russia Weekly, 21 Jan
2005, #5-RW 1-21-05; (www.cdi.org/russia/339-5.cfm).
(11) Federal News Service via JRL, #2-JRL9028,
19 Jan 2005.
(12) The Eurasia Daily Monitor, 14 Jan 05, vol.
2, issue 10, ³Wanted: Competitive Ideology and Attractive Social Model to Help
Russia Retain Its Crumbling Sphere of Influence² by Igor Torbakov.
(13) Ibid; Federal News Service via JRL,
#2-JRL9028, 19 Jan 05.
Rebecca Mulder (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ISSUES & LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
first spontaneous protests of Putin¹s regime started this month in Saint
Petersburg, and have lead already to concessions in the newly implemented
policy that monetized pensions. The so-called ³Gray Revolution² taking place
among Russia¹s pensioners is not so much a revolution as it is a reflection of
the growing distance of the elderly population from Putin. The protesters
blocking the streets of Saint Petersburg and other cities bring to light some
interesting developments in Russian political affairs, not least of which is
Putin¹s unthinking willingness to alienate a segment of the population that had
provided some of his most constant support.
majority of government representatives responding to this self-induced crisis
are regional and local officials. Putin¹s governmental restructuring following
Beslan sought to replace the current system of elections with a new system that
essentially reduces the role of governors and regional leaders to that of
presidential appointees. (The appointments will receive the Duma¹s rubber stamp
in order to keep things official.) The revival of centrally-appointed regional
leaders suggests a return to a familiar type of hierarchical (or vertical)
leadership, which fosters the alienation of the population from their local
authorities. Officials selected by the center are more likely to cater to the
interests of those who appointed them rather than to the needs of the
population they were appointed to serve. Putin's regional "reforms"
are more likely to exacerbate the gray alienation and other examples of social
unrest rather than deflect or absorb discontent. The street protests of
Russia's elderly pensioners illustrates the necessity of having local officials
with the power and motivation to assess, monitor, and defuse crises as they
develop rather than defer to the center (which then becomes the focus of
protest). Some local officials, including the mayors of several cities, diluted
the proposed benefits "reforms" and quelled opposition by allowing
pensioners to continue to receive free public transportation (the primary
complaint of the protesters). These elected local leaders may have responded
out of a sense of obligation to constituents and neighbors. Putin's "reforms"
will destroy that element of political motivation and compound pressure on the
the regional and local leaders worked to contain the crises in their streets,
Putin was silent. Some critics have posited that the demonstrations of the
pensioners highlight the notion that Putin is increasingly out of touch with
reality. If nothing else, the fact that the central government's monetization
of pensions did not even provide enough money to cover the cost of the
transportation privileges lost by pensioners may confirm this view.
pensioners of Saint Petersburg have had an especially difficult time in the
last month. In December, because of the government¹s eagerness to make a smooth
transition to the newly monetized system, many pensioners failed to receive
their regular checks. In effect, operations stopped in late December while the
government prepared for the switch to monetized benefits, leaving many
pensioners without an income. (1) One can only assume that this fueled their
frustration, especially once the newly adjusted checks were distributed and
found seriously lacking.
³Power² of the press
protests raise several issues about the ³power² of the press in Russia. In a
brief search for articles related to pensions in the last year, the results
showed that many of the articles, at least in the last three months, reported
that pensions were set to increase in 2005. While this is true (pensions are
scheduled to increase to account for inflation at periodic intervals throughout
the year and include increases to cover part of the benefits that were
scheduled to be revoked), references to monetization were matter-of-fact and
very poorly detailed. The lack of spontaneous protest before the checks were
sent out – even though monetization was mentioned in the media –
allows several possible interpretations.
the favorable headlines concerning pension increases failed to mention the
potential drawbacks of monetization, so pensioners did not realize that it
could affect them adversely. The self-imposed censorship of the Russian press
did not lend itself to a watchdog function in the interest of the people. In
this case, the willingness of the media to paint Putin¹s actions in favorable
colors masked the effects of his policies.
second option is that pensioners knew about the prospects of monetization, but
decided to adopt a ³wait and see² attitude, given the central authorities track
record with implementing reforms.
pensioners may not have realized fully what was happening until their pension
checks arrived, or until they were denied free access to public transit. This
scenario seriously devalues the power of the press, assuming that it played
virtually no role in providing information to Russian citizens about issues
that have a direct effect on their lives.
now appears that pensioners were aware of the coming monetization –
pensioners in Saint Petersburg were looking forward to receiving extra cash
(2) – but failed to realize
the implications of losing some benefits they had taken for granted, such as
free public transportation. This indicates a lapse in the informative function
of the media in addressing issues that have a major impact on the lives of
their readers and viewers.
the west, the power of the press is something that is constantly debated in a
variety of venues. Here, the conclusion is that the media does have, at the
very least, an informative role and, at the opposite extreme, the power to
influence elections, policy, etc. by the nature of their coverage and the
topics they choose to include in their publications and broadcasts. In the
West, the media is considered an essential component of democracy, another
check or balance to the actions of the government, one which provides public
Russia does not have the strong democratic tradition of its western
counterparts, but the public¹s response to the press, as seen through the riots
of the pensioners, is revealing. Even when the press covers an issue, such as monetization
or the reduction of pensioners¹ benefits, a response from the public awaits
proof, in this case, pensioners waited to see their checks. In an ideal
democracy, citizens participate in the political process not only by voting,
but by writing to their elected officials, forming organizations to make sure
their voices are heard, or contributing to the public debate of an issue,
perhaps through media sources. This does not seem to be happening in Russia,
but perhaps the pensioners will mark the beginning of an era of civic
media¹s reluctance to criticize Putin creates a lack of awareness about thorny
issues on which, theoretically, an average citizen could have an impact. An
alternate or contingent explanation holds that individuals are aware of the
issues but, for reasons of apathy, hesitancy, powerlessness, or pessimism, they
fail to become engaged. The role of the citizen in the Russian political
process thus far seems to have been one of passive acceptance. The protests
over monetization reveal a potential shift in the role of at least a portion of
the Russian population. This time, rather than passively accepting the
government¹s actions, pensioners are reacting. It is not active involvement in
the sense of attempting to influence legislation and decrees before they are
passed or handed down, but it does demonstrate an unwillingness to simply
tolerate government decisions.
Russians may not be starting an orange revolution, but at least this
time, with the gray-haired and aged to lead the way, they are reacting.
(1) ³Computer faults leave
pensioners penniless, fuming in Russia's St Petersburg,² BBC Monitoring, 30 Dec
04 via ISI Emerging Markets.
By Robyn Angley (email@example.com)
quick look back at 2004
of the Russian military must be impressed with what Defense Minister, Sergei
Ivanov, has been able to accomplish.
The Russian Federation armed forces are still in crisis, but the
landscape has changed dramatically over the past 12 months. The single biggest change is the
complete domination of the Defense Ministry by the ³outside² forces led and
directed by Ivanov. Historical ³reform² in the defense
ministry has resulted in the emasculation of high powered armed forces generals
and their replacement with former Ivanov colleagues from the FSB. This transition included the eviction
of Ivanov¹s primary adversary, former Chief of the General Staff, General
Kvashnin, and several of his cronies, most notably General Kormiltsev, former
Commander of the Ground Forces and just last month, Col-General Skorodumov, the
former head of the Armed Forces Main Combat Training Directorate. (1) The once-powerful General Staff was
also largely cut out of the military power structure, having been relegated by
reform legislation to ³think tank² status. In its place is a 10,000-person strong central apparatus
staff that reports directly to Ivanov.
Finally, Ivanov has succeeded in the consolidation of numerous other
functions under the direction of the Defense Ministry, including the Railroad
Troops, the Special Construction Troops, technical cooperation and weapons
export control, as well as portions of the Federal Agency for Atomic Energy.
power centralized within the Defense Ministry, Ivanov and his crowd should be
more effective in completing those tasks that are essential to rebuilding the
Russian armed forces. How does one
go about fixing all that is wrong in the Russian military given that, although
defense budgets are on the rise, the funding is finite and inadequate to the
task? Ivanov outlined his
priorities for 2005 this way:
³Organizing closer coordination between all components of national defense,
maintaining nuclear forces as a level that ensures guaranteed deterrence of the
aggression against the Russian Federation and its allies, increasing the combat
potential and improving the state of general-purpose troops, first of all,
formations and units of permanent readiness.² (3) The top priority, making better use of current capabilities
through better coordination, is an ongoing restructuring exercise that picked
up momentum in the wake of the Beslan tragedy. Modernization of the nuclear forces continues, although at a
rate slower than the current inventory reaches retirement. The qualitative improvement in the
weapons being deployed, however, should go a long way in allowing Russia to
maintain a viable nuclear deterrent without fear of generating a renewed
³security dilemma² arms race with the U.S.
third priority for 2005, increasing combat potential, has two major objectives;
1) weapons modernization and 2) improving the quality of the force. For the first time since the
dissolution of the Soviet Union, government spending on armaments will exceed
Russia¹s weapons exports. (4) An
aggressive re-armament program gathers steam in 2005, fueled by a 26% increase
in budget over 2004 as well as another reform that was concluded last year.
(5) In 2005, the Russian military
will buy armaments through one central agency reporting directly to the MOD,
compared to 52 different agencies distributed throughout the services back in
2001. This new process aims to
reduce corruption by increasing transparency and civilian control of the nearly
R220bn arms procurement enterprise, reduce inefficiencies caused by duplication
of effort, and gain economies of scale. (6)
Russian military plans to add the following weapons to their inventory in
2005: four strategic missiles
(TOPOL-M mobile version), nine military satellites, five booster rockets, three
battalions of the new T-90 tanks (17 units), three battalions of the BTR-80
armored personnel carriers (92 units), one battery of the Iskander-M tactical
missiles (two complexes), two new naval warships, two Tu-160 supersonic
strategic bombers (one new and one refurbished), and seven Su-27SM modernized
fighters and new air-to-ground missiles (nuclear and conventional). (7) Improved long-range conventional
airpower, new ground launched and air launched missile systems give Russia
medium range capability with some reasonable degree of accuracy. The new
acquisition process and increased funding provide expectations that things have
bottomed out and will begin (perhaps slowly) to improve with regards to
revitalizing the capability of Russian military hardware.
bad news – getting worse
new armaments being purchased for the Russian military, however, will fall to
undermanned units made up of low quality troops that are grossly under-funded
and whose lack of training has left them in a poor state of readiness. The quality of the conscripted force is
abysmal. Draft deferments have
resulted in less than 10% of the draft age population being available actually
to be called to duty. This left
the military more than 30,000 conscripts short of their requirements during the
Fall 2004 call up. (8) With the
negative demographic and health trends in Russian society, this problem will
get worse. Transition of the
permanent readiness forces from draftees to contract soldiers has had mixed
results. Despite Ivanov¹s claims
of success, he knows there isn¹t sufficient money to fix the problems of crime,
retention, and recruitment that dramatically reduce the overall effectiveness
of the professional units. There
is a limit to the ability of contract soldiers to solve the military¹s
personnel problems. In general,
the social state of the armed forces continues to worsen. According to Victor Ozerov, Head of the
Federation Council Committee for Defense and Security, ³the current social
state of the Russian servicemen poses a threat to stability in society and
combat readiness of our armed forces.² (9) Despite all of the talk, little has been done to improve the
conditions of the average serviceman.
In fact, as of the end of 2004, the servicemen were not scheduled to see
any pay raises, not even to keep pace with inflation. (10) There were increases planned in some
allowances, and a new mortgage savings account program was inaugurated on 1
January 2005 that created savings account into which the government would put
money each year for officers and contract servicemen to purchase a house upon
separation or retirement. (11) This program would not solve the immediate
problems of housing facing the officers and contract servicemen, but serves as
a recruitment and retention incentive.
Predictions at the end of 2004 were that if the government failed to
act, by the end of 2005 nearly 60% of servicemen will live below the poverty
the objective of improving the quality of the force, it seems that all forces
are working against Ivanov. For
2005, Ivanov¹s plan did not include improving the financial condition of the
troops. Knowing that a modern
military requires highly capable soldiers, Ivanov was more interested in
improving the overall quality of the persons serving in the military. So instead of proposals to fix
conditions for the existing troops, he pursued a different approach. By removing all deferments, especially
those for students, the military would be able to call up even Russia¹s best
and brightest. With his
leadership, the Cabinet approved an amendment to the law on conscription removing
all deferments on 30 December 2004. (13) Ivanov has been threatening to take this politically
unpopular step for some time, lamenting that: ³We are the world champions in
deferments.² (14) Knowing that he has
already promised to reduce conscription from two years to one by 2008 (the next
presidential election), and knowing that the conversion to a professional force
would miss recruiting goals, removing deferments was the only way to address an
ever decreasing quality of force and ease manning shortages.
the first of the year, Ivanov has been able to do nothing but back pedal. The economic situation of the troops
was made all the worse by the government reform of social benefits that came
into effect 1 January, replacing government provided benefits with monetary
demonstrations protesting the implementation of this reform have consisted
largely of pensioners, the military, especially the officers, have been hit the
hardest by the new reforms. Having
lost transportation benefits, housing and tax benefits, and others, conditions
for the servicemen stand to worsen dramatically. In the wake of mounting political pressure brought on by the
national demonstrations and other forces focused on the plight of servicemen,
Ivanov announced a new plan for 2005.
Now it appears that he supports pay raises for the military to keep pace
with inflation, and will support the increase in benefit payments for those in
high cost of living areas by between 120%
to 200%. ³In general,
servicemen¹s pay will definitely be raised significantly,² said Ivanov.
(15) The source of this additional
funding is not clear, but was obviously not part of the plan.
worse for Ivanov, he has had to back off his attempt to remove all draft
deferments. The bill to remove all
deferments never made it to the Duma.
Instead, Ivanov now claims that he had no intention of sending all
students to the army, and that there is no definite recipe for elimination of
deferments. He promised to study
the issue, with the Duma, and revisit it by the end of the year. (16) All indications are that this reversal
was based upon the fear that students may join the disgruntled pensioners in
public protest. (17)
has bought himself some time, but no real improvement, in his quality of force
problems. The situation will
worsen before it gets better, and getting better is not yet on the
horizon. As previously noted,
without an educated, motivated, and well-trained force, the strides being made
to modernize the armed forces¹ weapon systems will have zero net effect on
Russian military capability.
appears that Ivanov is gaining a deeper appreciation for the fact that
consolidation of power is a double-edged sword. The opportunity he now enjoys to generate reform within the
armed forces, free from the numerous obstacles that have plagued him in years
gone by, carries with it direct responsibility for the success of his
initiatives. His reforms have
succeeded in marginalizing the armed forces¹ generals, giving them fewer
resources with which to take care of their troops. As the socio-economic decline of the armed forces
progresses, it will be far easier for the disgruntled to take aim at Ivanov and
his ³boys in short pants,² to quote Col-General Skorodumov, than it was
previously to take on the entire Defense Ministry complex. (18)
Col-General Skorodumov Resigns, Citing Influx of Non-Professionals,² Moskovskiy
komsomolets, 23 Dec 04;
BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
Defense Ministry Ups Scale of Combat Training – Expert,² Strana.ru Web
Site, 28 Dec 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
Defence Minister Outlines tasks for 2005,² RIA News Agency, 31 Dec 2004; BBC
Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
³Wasteful Arms Spending Under Fire,² by Lyuba Pronina, Moscow Times, 20 Jan 05, via CDI Russia Weekly.
Defense and Political Order,² by Vera Kuznetsove and Nikolai Poroskov, Moscow
Vremya novostey, 30 Dec
2004; FBIS-SOV-2004-1230 via World News Connection.
Defense Minister Changes Defense Order Procurement System,² RIA-Novosti, 30 Dec
04; FBIS-SOV-2004-1230 via World News Connection.
Defense and Political Order,² by Vera Kuznetsove and Nikolai Poroskov, Moscow
Vremya novostey, 30 Dec
04; FBIS-SOV-2004-1230 via World News Connection; and ³Hi, Weapons!² Russkii
kuryer, 31 Dec 04; WPS
Defense and Security via Lexis-Nexis.
Is Calling,² Gazeta,
10 Jan 05; WPS Defense and Security via Lexis-Nexis.
of the Year: Servicemen Have Become Poorer,² by Igor Plugatarev, Nezavisimoe
No.49, 24-30 Dec 04, p.1; WPS Defense and Security via ISI Emerging Markets.
Army and Navy as The Main Outcasts in Russia,² WPS – Defense and
Security, 29 Nov 04 via ISI Emerging Markets.
Defense Ministry Ups Scale of Combat Training – Expert,² Strana.ru Web
Site, 28 Dec 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
³Results of the Year: Servicemen Have Become Poorer,² by Igor Plugatarev, Nezavisimoe
No.49, 24-30 Dec 04, p.1; WPS Defense and Security via ISI Emerging Markets.
³Pensioners Frightened Sergey Ivanov,² Russika izvestia, 19 Jan 05; Izvestia Press Digest via
ISI Emerging Markets.
Is Calling,² Gazeta,
10 Jan 05; WPS Defense and Security via Lexis-Nexis.
³Russian Defense Minister Promises Rise in Army Pay in 2005,² Radio Mayak,
Moscow, 1200 GMT 19 Jan 05; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets.
³Pensioners Frightened Sergey Ivanov,² Russika izvestia, 19 Jan 05; Izvestia Press Digest via
ISI Emerging Markets.
Col-General Skorodumov Resigns, Citing Influx of Non-Professionals,² Moskovskiy
komsomolets, 23 Dec 04;
BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
Jeff Kubiak (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Russian arms deal for Syria
January 12, Kommersant
first reported unconfirmed Russian plans to sell a number of advanced missile
systems to Syria, a U.S. State Department designated state sponsor of
terrorism. (1) While reporting has
varied, the potential sale likely would include 200 shoulder-fired SA-18 Igla
(NATO designation Grouse) anti-aircraft missiles, eighteen of Russia¹s new and
made-for-export SS-26 Iskander-E missile (NATO Designation Stone), and a small
number of S-300PMU-2 (NATO designation SA-10 Grumble) air and missile defense
systems. Kommersant cited unnamed sources that claimed Russia was planning the
major weapons sale to Syria. (2)
has not been able to keep pace with Western, Israeli, or even neighboring Arab
countries¹ military advances since the collapse of its main military supporter,
the Soviet Union. This deal would
be Syria's largest arms procurement in years, and more importantly, it would
mark a generational leap in Syria's air defense and all weather strike
weapon systems in question
three systems involved in the putative arms deal represent some of Russian
highest level of military export technology. The SA-18 Igla is one of the best
portable surface to air missiles available. The current missile is not an enhancement of a previous
design, but an entirely new design.
Its improved seeker and enhanced aerodynamic design provide increased
range and speed, enabling the missile to be used against faster, more maneuverable
targets. The missile¹s high effectiveness
against countermeasures, specifically electro-optical and IRCM jammers that are
installed on most military aircraft and Israeli commercial aircraft, make it
very troubling to some countries and very appealing to others. (3)
The short-range, road mobile, ballistic missile system involved in
the arms deal is the SS-26. It is a tactical, conventional missile
system, originally developed as a replacement for the ³Scud B.² The export version has a significantly
shorter range than the Russian Military version. The 280 km range is purposefully short of the 300 km (186
miles) export range limit from the Missile Technology Control Regime
(MTCR). The SS-26 was designed to
fill Russia¹s capability gap in the area of air-dropped precision
munitions. It is capable against
stationary or moving, hard or soft targets. While marketing the SS-26, Russians have claimed that it can
evade air-defenses, possibly even the U.S. Patriot interceptors. (4) Even with its reduced export range, the
SS-26 potentially would allow Syria to strike any
part of Israel, including the Dimona nuclear center in the Negev desert.
S-300PMU-2 (SA-10) system is one of Moscow¹s most exported air and missile
defense systems. The current
export version, unveiled in 1997, has larger missiles
with a longer range (200 kilometers), and better guidance system than previous
S-300 systems. Russia claims that the system has a kill ratio between 0.8 and
0.98 against Tomahawk-class cruise missiles and from 0.8 to 0.93 against
aircraft. (5) The United States¹
extensive use of air power in both Gulf Wars and the Global War on Terror
campaign in Afghanistan has only increased the system¹s market value and
desirability, and already significant demand has resulted in sales throughout
Asia, Europe, and the parts of the Middle East.
concerns and response
Syria has some mid and short-range ballistic missiles
such as the Soviet-made Scud-Bs and the North Korean-made Scud-C and Scud-D
modifications; the Scuds' accuracy can be measured in hundreds or thousands of
meters, while the Iskander is reported to have an accuracy of several
meters. If the Syrians got the
Iskander, they could hit sensitive Israeli targets with great precision in any
weather condition, any time of day or night.
analysts consider the Igla to be one of the most sophisticated portable
missiles and an ideal weapon for militants. The Igla could be used effectively
by Hezbollah fighters in south Lebanon against Israeli aircraft or in Iraq
against the United States. There
are currently thousands of older Russian Igla-1 and Strela missiles in the
Middle East. The deployment of
this decoy-defeating weapon could make a deadly difference in the region.
The positioning of an SA-10 system in southern Syria certainly
would have an adverse impact on Israeli regional air supremacy. Additionally, this weapon system's
deployment would, at least partially, limit Israel¹s strike capability against
terrorist training facilities in southern Syria.
January 2, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon held a secret cabinet meeting to
discuss intelligence and attempt to develop responses to the possible
Russian-Syrian arms deal. The
meeting reportedly was attended by Foreign Affairs Minister Silvan Shalom,
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, head of the National Security Council Gior
Eyland, and the heads of all Israeli special services. After the meeting, negotiations began between Israel and Russia, aimed at
heading off any deal prior to Syrian President Bashar Assad's visit to Russia
later this month. "We had
consultations over the past few days, and we hope to reach the necessary
agreement," AP quoted Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom as saying.
(6) Additionally, Shalom said that
the sale of advanced missiles to Syria would disrupt regional stability and
Moscow should call off the deal.
Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres summed up the Israeli
position, telling reporters, "We have enough problems on the ground with
Syria and we don't need more problems from the sky." (7)
The European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, warned
that the sale could derail the Middle East peace process and could have
implications throughout the entire region. "I trust that President Putin will not do anything that
will go against the stability of the region, which is as much an interest for
him as it is an interest for us," Solana said. (8)
U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher addressed the
issue: "We have reports of the sale. The U.S. policy on this is very clear:
We're against the sale of weaponry to Syria, against the sale of lethal
military equipment to Syria, which is a state sponsor of terrorism, and we
think those kinds of sales are not appropriate. The Russians know about this policy." (9) Boucher also said Washington would
consider wide sanctions against Moscow if the reported sale went through. The U.S. State Department has
previously sanctioned companies in Russia over arms deals with Syria. The most recent case was in 1998, when
Russia agreed to sell Metis-E and Kornet-E anti-tank missile systems to
Syria. This deal resulted in
economic sanctions against the missile system producer, the Tula-based
Instrument-Building Design Bureau.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov was forced to answer
questions about the possible arms deal during his official visit to Washington.
"We do not have any negotiations with Syria on the possible shipment of
such missiles," Ivanov told reporters at the Russian Embassy in Washington.
(10) Ironically, Defense Minister
Ivanov was in Washington to discuss ways to stop the spread of portable
missiles with his U.S. counterpart, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
The Russian foreign ministries also downplayed the initial media
reports and denied any strain in the relationship between Russia and
Israel. "In our export policy
we give special attention to prevention of sensitive arms getting into the
hands of international terrorists, and the Israeli leadership knows this,"
Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement. (11)
One problem with Russian denials is that the current Russian
Defense acquisition plan includes only two SS-26 mobile launch complexes for
the Russian army in 2005. The
Votkinsk missile plant most likely requires a higher production run to keep the
manufacturing line open. With a
limited Russian defense budget, the SS-26¹s relatively simple weapons systems,
and the system¹s small training requirement, it would appear that the entire
missile complex was designed primarily as an export weapon. The choice of Iskander, the Arabic
moniker for Alexander the Great, seems to confirm Russia¹s export intentions.
share of the international arms market
Russia experienced a dramatic reduction of arms exports to the
Middle East in the early 1990s.
This reduction resulted in several countries choosing to replace Russian
arms with European and American munitions. The Russian military-industrial complex certainly would like
to regain its once dominant position in the Middle East arms market.
President of the Russian Academy for Geopolitical Problems Vladimir Anokhin
said, ³The expansion of arms trade with Syria
is beneficial for Russia and does not violate international norms.² (13) "We have
virtually lost the market in the Middle East. The expansion of
military-technical cooperation with Syria is in fact our comeback to the Middle
East market," he said. (14)
He also noted, "Talks are under way on the resumption of deliveries
of spare parts for weapons in Iraq which seems controversial in the present
conditions," he said. "Why shouldn't we be delivering arms to a
stable country such as Syria?" (15)
Russian attempts to recapture some of the Middle Eastern arms
trade may be more urgent due to the effects of the December 26 tsunami. Indonesia is set to cancel an $890
million jet fighter deal with Russia because the money has been diverted to the
relief effort. ³It¹s all about the
tsunami basically. It has already
affected Indonesia¹s previously announced plans to buy Sukhoi planes and combat
helicopters. It¹s a serious situation for us,² Reuters quoted the official as
saying. (16) The total losses to
Russian arms sales due to the tsunami could reach $1.5 billion. (17)
The diversion of the Middle Eastern arms market in the early
1990¹s left Asia as the key market for Russian arms sales. The cancellation of Indonesia's planned
purchase will only add to Russian problems; Moscow¹s arms exports in the region
already suffered a setback with Thailand¹s decision to go with an Anglo-Swedish
consortium over Sukhoi to replace its F-5 fleet.
Other problems could be looming on the horizon. Indonesia has conducted apparently free
and fair elections and may push for the U.S. and E.U. to lift their arms
embargoes. Before the U.S.
embargo, Indonesia¹s military imported about 70 percent of its weapons from the
Russia may be in a similar position with regard to China. Since 1989 arms embargoes, both the
United States and members of the European Union have continued to engage in
military transfers to China.
According to a 1998 General Accounting Office report, presidential
waivers of the U.S. ban between 1989 and 1998 resulted in defense transactions
to China worth approximately $350 million. (18) France, Italy, and the United Kingdom also have delivered
military items to China since 1989 and many E.U. members view the embargo as
symbolic. Russia is currently
China¹s leading supplier, providing as much as $2.1 billion worth of arms
annually. If European defense companies
gain access to China¹s market, Russian companies potentially could lose a
significant amount of money.
The arms trade is a competitive business, but unlike most
businesses the complexity of international politics play a large part. Russia traditionally chooses to sell
its weapons where its competitors cannot or will not due to political
considerations or pressures. The
Russian tolerance for international condemnation of its arms sales has been an
advantage to Russian arms companies and has provided Russian leaders with an
international bargaining chip. If
the current arms deal with Syria has been approved at the highest levels of the
Kremlin, it is doubtful that Moscow will heed or cave to U.S. or Israeli
threats. Just as in the Iran
nuclear power deal, Moscow is not going to give up a very lucrative contract or
its perceived power due to international pressure.
Putin certainly has weathered negative international publicity before and more
bad press is unlikely to back Russia out of the missile deal. The one area where criticism of Putin
could have some effect involves his stance on terrorism. Since the hostage-taking at Beslan, President Putin did his best to consolidate his power and highlight
the West's alleged double standard on terrorism. Moscow does not identify
rogue-states or build lists of countries that support international terrorism,
so it feels free to sell weapons to almost anyone. Weapons proliferation and an
apparent lack of concern for the repercussions likely will cause Russia major
problems, certainly in the long run. Putin's insensitivity to fragile
relationships within the Middle East could result in Russia's loss of stature
in brokering a Middle East peace plan.
Russian proliferation may result in its removal from the Global War on
Terror (GWOT) coalition, or perhaps more importantly from the G-8. No matter how great the financial
pressures, President Putin should take a long view of this arms deal and its
a Pogrom from the Blue, 12 Jan 05 via (www.kommersant.com/page.asp?id=537947).
Missiles Put Israel on Alert, 13 Jan 05 via (www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2005/01/13/001.html);
Denies Arms Talks With Syria, 14 Jan 05 via (www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2005/01/14/012.html).
Missiles Put Israel on Alert, 13 Jan 05 via (www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2005/01/13/001.html).
(13) Interfax, 12
Jan 05 via (www.countrywatch.com/@school/as_wire.asp?vCOUNTRY=167&UID=1346301).
forces Indonesia to Ditch $890M Warplane Deal with Russia, 12 Jan 05 via (www.mosnews.com/money/2005/01/12/tsunamiarms.shtml).
(17) Tsunami may
sink Jet Deal with Jakarta, 13 Jan 05 via (www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2005/01/13/046.html).
(18) E.U. eyes
lifting China Arms Embargo, Sep 04 via (www.armscontrol.org/act/2004_09/EU.asp).
Kyle J. Colton (email@example.com)
main forces for the Parliament
elections are taking place in Moldova in March. Given that the president is
elected by the parliament in Moldova, these elections are, in principle,
parliamentary-presidential. This March vote therefore, will prove significant
in determining the medium-range prospects for the country. There are four main
forces in Moldova that have a realistic chance of surpassing the six percent
threshold and getting into the parliament: (the ruling) Communist Party,
(centrist) Democratic Moldova voting bloc, (right-wing) Christian Democratic
Popular Party and the Social Democratic Party.
choice that Moldovan citizens face this year is much more difficult than four
years ago, when a former Soviet republic, finding itself on the brink of
poverty and despair brought on by ten years of uncertain independence, was
longing to re-experience ³happy Soviet days.² At that time, the Communist Party
successfully played on people¹s nostalgic feelings, adding a portion of
promises about restoring social justice, joining the Russia-Belarusian Union
and making Russian a state language, which, undoubtedly, appealed to Russian
speakers. The Communist Party easily managed to obtain power in the country in
time around, the choice is more complicated. And while the chances are high
that the Communists will win the majority of seats in the parliament again, it
might not be with as significant a margin as four years ago. According to a recent
Gallup poll, the Communist Party¹s current approval rating is 39%. (1) The drop
in their popularity is attributed to the dissatisfaction of Russian speaking
voters, who are unhappy with the Communist¹s change of focus from strengthening
relations with Russia to taking a pro-Western course. European integration is
one of the main sections of the party¹s electoral program called ³From
Stabilization to Modernization.² (2) According to its platform, some of the
other issues the Communist Party hopes to tackle in the next four years are the
creation of 300,000 new jobs, increasing the average monthly salary from $100
to $300, and fighting corruption and bureaucratic red tape.
current Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin heads the Communist party¹s electoral
ticket. The speaker of the Parliament, Eugenia Ostapciuc, Prime Minister Vasil
Tarlev, and other members of Voronin¹s circle, who contributed to Moldova¹s
relative stability in the past four years round out the party's leadership. (3)
The party added several young members to their ranks this year, such as Marian
Lupu and Oleg Reidman, thus demonstrating their appeal to a new generation of
second political organization, which has a good chance of obtaining
parliamentary seats is the Democratic Moldova voting bloc. Its current
popularity rating is hovering around 13 percent. (5) The member parties of this
opposition bloc, Our Moldova Alliance, the Democratic Party and the Social
Liberal Party, are essentially those parties which were thrown out of the
Parliament in 2001 by frustrated voters angered by a decade of failed reforms.
The bloc¹s electoral program has many similarities to both the Communist Party
and the Christian Democratic Party programs: taking a pro-European course;
increasing average salary; and offering broad autonomy to local authorities.
leader of the bloc – Chisinau Mayor Serafim Urechean – was once
thought to be a serious candidate for the Moldovan presidency, and his bloc
appeared to be a real contender to the Communists, but given several strategic
errors that he has made in the course of the pre-election campaign, his chances
are dwindling by the minute. He neglected to include representatives of
localities into the top list of names on the electoral ticket, thus discouraging
voters in the provinces supporting the bloc, since they refused to accept
³all-Chisinau² representatives as their own. Another major error of the
leadership was its failure to reach out to voters in Gagauzia, where many
seemed ready to vote for the bloc, but for the inclusion of Mikhail Formuzal,
the leader of United Gagauzia movement, in the top list of names on the
electoral ticket. Finally, Urechean was accused of corruption, and could not
overcome voter suspicion, which certainly contributed to the significant drop
in Democratic Moldova's rating. (6) In addition, several members have recently
left the bloc, one of them being Sergiu Corobceanu, who voiced dissatisfaction
with the alliance leadership as the main reason for this step, thus suggesting
a possible split within the bloc. (7)
third real contender for parliamentary seats is the Christian Democratic
Popular party, with its leader Iurie Rosca. It is a radical right-wing party,
which clearly plans to follow the path of the Orange (Ukraine) and Rose
(Georgia) revolutions if electoral fraud and violations occur. The party
adopted orange as its election campaign color and is reaching out to people,
who would be prepared to go out in the streets the day after the elections, if
the results appear falsified. CDPP¹s rating continues to grow, and the party is
already several percentage points ahead of the Democratic Moldova voting bloc.
Unlike its two main competitors, who give general promises such as European
integration and salary increases, the CDPP launched a targeted campaign and are
appealing to specific segments of the populations, such as farmers, private
business owners, and VAT payers, thus securing a more loyal following. (8)
final party that has a realistic chance to surpass the parliamentary threshold
is the Social Democratic Party (PSDM), which currently holds approximately 8%
of the approval rating. Its election slogan, ³Spring is Coming,² is a symbol of
and call for change (to the current Communist government). PSDM¹s main
objectives are to build a law-governed state, support small business and create
strategic partnerships with both the European Union and Russia. (9)
the Communist Party leading the polls, it may well win the most seats in
Parliament. The crucial question for the outcome of these elections is whether
President Voronin will try to pad the Communist victory in order to control
parliament, or allow for the presence of a significant opposition. Concerns run
strong that Voronin might be tempted to assure himself another solid term and
ensure the stability of Communist control rather than democratic consolidation
in Moldova. Will he use the "administrative resources" at his
disposal to accomplish this goal?
within the KGB
Lukashenko signed a presidential edict on a KGB reshuffle. Of the 250 KGB
officers currently past retirement age, but who want to extend their service
with the KGB, only 50 (each hand-picked by the government) were allowed to do
so. Instead, younger personnel are being encouraged to join the KGB force.
Suhorenko, whose nickname is ³palach² (³executioner²) in KGB circles, has been
named head of the Belarusian KGB. ³It was clear right after the presidential
elections two years ago that Suhorenko will occupy the place of the main
chekist in the country,² writes Narodnaya Volya. ³Lukashenko definitely liked the
percentage of the ³for² votes that he had received from Minsk oblast¹, which
Suhorenko was supervising.² (10)
Lukashenko commented that the reshuffle within the KGB was caused by his
dissatisfaction with the work of the organization in such areas as
intelligence, counterintelligence, fighting organized crime and terrorism, and
protecting the constitutional order in Belarus. (11)
months of political turmoil in the country and personal health problems, Viktor
Yushchenko was inaugurated as the third president of Ukraine on 23 January. ³It
is a great honor to address a free people who not only hold Ukrainian flags in
their hands, but also the fate of their country,² said Yushchenko in his
national address. ³Today¹s event proves, yet again, that the Ukrainian nation
and Ukrainian state are real. We managed to conduct fair elections, the
transfer of power was legitimate – this is a big national victory!²(12)
the romanticism of the Orange revolution fades, however, Yushchenko will be
faced with the difficult task of fulfilling the hopes of those who voted for
him, and at the same time, trying to win the trust of those who have not
(especially given his latest appointment of Yulia Timoshenko as Prime
Minister). Yushchenko has significant work to do in uniting the clear divisions
that have become sharper during the electoral battle. He must also attempt to
move Ukraine along the path of integration with a reluctant Europe, find
compromise with those Ukrainian businessmen who supported his opponent,
Yanukovich, and still contend with serious health issues.
does appear, however, to have something which neither of the two previous
Ukrainian presidents seemed to have – a sincere, almost idealistic desire
to serve his country and his people, and to make personal sacrifices for the
good of the nation. He also has added a strong and determined ally to his team
– the new Prime Minister, the so-called ³Princess of the Orange
Revolution,² Yulia Timoshenko.
(1) Infotag, Daily news
bulletin, 17 Jan 05 via ISI Emerging Markets database.
(2) RFE/RL Newsline Vol 9.,
No. 9, Part II, 14 Jan 05.
(3) Infotag New Agency, 13
Jan 05; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
(4) Infotag, Daily news
bulletin, 17 Jan 05 via ISI Emerging Markets database.
(6) Igor Volnitchi, ³Parties
on the Eve of Elections in Moldova,² 17 Jan 05 via ISI Emerging Markets
(7) Basapress news agency, 19
Jan 05; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
(8) Igor Volnitchi, ³Parties
on the Eve of Elections in Moldova,² 17 Jan 05 via ISI Emerging Markets
(9) Infotag news agency, 13
Jan 05; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
(10) Charter 97 website, 20
Jan 05 via (www.charter97.org/rus/news/2005/01/20/kgb).
(12) Ukrainskaya Pravda website, 23 Jan 05 via (www.pravda.com.ua).
Elena Selyuk (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Uzbek elections: business as
month, parliamentary elections were held in Uzbekistan. Unlike the polls held
in neighboring Kazakhstan months earlier, the Uzbek ballot was held without any
democratic façade or pretense of fairness. Six weeks before the vote was due to
occur, Uzbekistan¹s major opposition parties, Erk, Birlik, and Ozod Dehqonla announced that they planned to boycott
the elections. At a press conference held in Tashkent, spokesmen for the
parties explained that they were taking action in order to draw attention to
wide-scale fraud and harassment by election officials, as well as the open
police intimidation of opposition candidates. (1) As a result of the opposition¹s decision to withdraw from
the polls, voters were faced with choosing from five pro-presidential parties.
Despite this advantage, President Islam Karimov nonetheless orchestrated a
concerted campaign to present a benign, even populist and benign image during
the pre-election period.
he announced that in celebration of the 12th anniversary of the
creation of the country¹s constitution, there would be a broad criminal
amnesty, affecting some 11.05% of Uzbekistan¹s prison population. The largest
demographic affected by the amnesty were juveniles (aged 18 or younger at the
time of conviction), males over the age of 60, and female first offenders. (2)
Second, Karimov, in his pre-election Parliamentary address, paid considerable
lip-service to democratic ideals. He insisted that elections would be carried
out in a free and fair manner and that legitimate criticism from the OSCE and
other observers—who would receive full government cooperation during the
process—would not be scorned. (3)
Uzbek elections took place on December 26. According to Central Election
Commission spokesman Sherzod Kudrathodzhaev, the election was ³open and
honest,² with voter turnout reaching 85%. (4) Final results released by the CEC
showed that the Liberal Democratic Party obtained 41 of 120 available seats in
the legislature, while the People¹s Democratic Party came in second with 33
Kudrathodzhaev¹s assertions regarding the honesty of the elections were
supported by the CIS Executive Secretary and Chief Observer (as well as former
Russian Security Council and MUD chief) Vladimir Rushailo, they were flatly
contradicted by the Head of the OSCE observer mission in Uzbekistan, Lubomir
Kopaj, who told the press that Uzbek authorities had ³failed to ensure a
pluralistic, competitive and transparent election² in line with international
Karimov¹s tone towards Western observers and the OSCE, which was conciliatory
prior to Election Day soon returned to his more familiar defiant note. On 27 January, Karimov stated that the
OSCE had little right to pass judgment, since Uzbekistan was not truly in
Europe, having only joined the OSCE along with other Central Asian countries,
because ³we were post –Soviet Republics.² (7) Addressing the OSCE¹s
concerns regarding opposition parties, Karimov claimed that they had been
discouraged from participating in the election because they were not ³serious²
(8), and lacked popular support, (9) not because they represented a threat to
an usual move, Karimov is attempting to justify his political actions and
motivations to a broader public. In early January, he granted an exclusive
interview to the Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya gazeta, in which he argued that there would be no
³colour² revolution in Uzbekistan. Karimov stated that Ukraine¹s revolution had
occurred in large part due to two factors: outside machinations and funds, and
what he termed ³protest potential,² (10) neither of which are, according to Karimov,
yet present in sufficient quantity to cause serious societal changes in
are several possible reasons for this lack of ³protest potential.² The
first—if the CEC¹s 85% turnout figures are correct, is that Karimov¹s
government is popular. The second is that the Uzbek public has simply accepted
that Karimov¹s government cannot be removed, and have resigned themselves to
the status quo. Third, and most likely, it is possible that ³protest potential²
has disappeared from broader Uzbek society due to a combination of societal
resignation, and the repressive nature of the regime.
for the question of Karimov¹s motivation to remain in power, since there is no
indication of an emerging dynastic succession, unlike in Kazakhstan, it would
seem that Karimov¹s goal is purely the maintenance of his personal power.
Kyrgyz election update: Keeping it in
Three months ago, President Askar Akaev
gave his annual address to the Kyrgyz people. During the speech, Akaev promised
that the forthcoming elections would be held in complete conformity with the
Constitution and Elections code. (11) At the time of his speech, Akaev¹s
intentions regarding the Presidency were unclear—a movement had emerged
in southern Kyrgyzstan that was agitating for a constitutional amendment, which
would allow Akaev another term in office. (12) At the same time however,
Kygryzstan¹s opposition groups were also stepping up their activities, with one
group, the Popular Patriotic Party collecting
signatures for Akaev¹s impeachment. It was clear at the time, that opposition
groups in the country did not trust Akaev¹s intentions.
who cast a wary eye on the President might be prescient: First, although it
remains unclear whether Akaev himself will stand for re-election later this
year, both his son and daughter have been nominated to run in the Parliamentary
elections, scheduled for 27 February. Of the two, Akaev¹s daughter, Bermet
Akaeva, is the more politically experienced: she is one of the co-founders of Alga
Kyrgyzstan!¹ (Forward Kyrgyzstan!), a center-right, pro-presidential party, and
has worked for the United Nations in Geneva, as well as a political consultant
in Kyrgyzstan. (13) Akaev¹s son is currently serving as President of the
National Olympic Committee of the Kyrgyz Republic. Secondly, in an event
apparently directly related to Akaeva¹s candidacy, one of Kyrgyzstan¹s foremost
opposition leaders has been banned from participating in the elections. Roza
Otunbaeva currently is the co-leader of one of the country¹s main opposition
groups, Ata-Jurt, and
served as Kyrgyzstan¹s Foreign Minister between 1994 and 1997. On January 6, Otunbaeva received her
registration certificate for February elections. Hours later, her registration
was revoked by the Central Election Commission, with the official explanation
that Otunbaeva was in fact not eligible to stand as a candidate. Under Kyrgyz
election law, a candidate must be a permanent resident of the country for at
least five years before being permitted to run for office. (14) Otunbaeva has
served as Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United
Nations Observer Mission in Georgia for the last two years, and as such
technically does not fulfill the residency requirements. Although the same
reason was used to refuse registration to several other former Kyrgyz diplomats
wishing to participate in the election as opposition candidates, it has been
Otunbaeva¹s exclusion that has caused the most controversy. The electoral
district in which she planned to run is the same district where Akaeva is
competing. (15) Naturally this coincidence has led to suspicions that Otunbaeva
has been excluded to ensure Akaeva¹s election.
revocation of Otunbaeva¹s registration sparked small opposition protests in
front of the Parliament in Bishkek, lasting several days. At first, only a few
dozen people participated in the demonstration, but by January 10, their
numbers had grown to approximately 200 people. President Akaev was quick to
dismiss the protestors, describing them as ³home grown instigators² who
effectively wished to create a revolution similar to that which occurred in
Akaev is not the only senior Kyrgyz politician who has attacked the
demonstrators. Prime Minister Nikolai Tanayev announced that he had held
meetings in several cities and towns, designed to ensure that elections were
free and fair, but Tanayev also issued what could be viewed as a thinly veiled
threat to demonstrators: on January 11, he announced that a special
³anti-terror commission² had been created to monitor events and that a ³group²
had been brought in by the government to prevent ³all kinds of political
developments² and ensure ³political stability.² (17) This statement must surely
be taken as an indication that the Kyrgyz government is prepared to use force
to prevent revolution if necessary.
January 20, Kyrgyzstan¹s Parliament passed an amendment to the electoral law,
allowing former diplomats to run for office even if they failed to meet the
residency requirements. (18) Although the change must still be approved by
President Akaev, the vote is a sign that events in Georgia and more recently
Ukraine, have made Kyrgyzstan¹s leaders and legislators increasingly nervous.
This nervousness may result in a compromise being reached whereby Otunbaeva is
reinstated in order to stop the protests, but is forced to run in a different
district, so that Akaeva¹s race is not impeded.
is difficult to conclude that the concerns of revolution aired by the
leadership in Kyrgyzstan are justified, or that the situation in the country
even vaguely resembles that witnessed in Ukraine during the last few months.
Public protests approaching the scale of those in Kiev have not materialized.
Akaeva¹s emergence may be an indication that President Akaev is starting to
plan for his succession. As his daughter is only 32 years of age, it is
possible that Akaeva seek a third term, and then nominate his daughter as his
eventual successor. Akaeva, with some claim of political support from these
elections would then be posed to take the reigns of power whenever her father
decides to step down.
(1) See NIS Observed: An
Analytical Review, Vol. IX, No. 19 (10 Dec 04).
(4) TCA-Uzbekistan, 17 Jan
05; Times of Central Asia via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(5) Weekday News
Magazine-Uzbekistan, 17 Jan 05; RFE/RL via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(6) New Europe, 3 Jan 05;
News Corporation S.A via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(7) Eurasia Net Partner Post
from RFE/RL, 26 Dec 04, (www.eurasianet.org/departments/civilsociety/articles/pp122604_pr.shtml).
(10) BVV Business Report, 18
Jan 05; UzReport via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(11) See NIS Observed: An
Analytical Review; Vol. IX, No. 18 (10 Nov 04).
(13) Moscow Nezavisimaya
gazeta, 20 Jan 04;
FBIS-SOV-20050120 via WNC.
(14) Kyrgyzstan: Opposition
Leader Claims Political Motivation Behind Rejection of her Election
Registration; RFE/RL Feature Article, 7 Jan 05, (www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2005/01/11d879d4-d093-4cd0-b522-8102649ee601.html).
(16) Eurasia Net Civil
Society, 13 Jan 05, (www.eurasianet.org/departments/civilsociety/articles/eav011305.shtml).
(17) AKIpress News Agency
Bishkek, 11 Jan 05; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
RFE/RL Newsline Transcaucasus & Central Asia, Volume 9 Number 13, 21 Jan
Fabian Adami (email@example.com)