The NIS Observed: An Analytical Review
Volume X Number 1 (31 January 2005)

Russian Federation

Executive Branch by Susan J. Cavan
Security Services by Eric Beene
Foreign Relations by Rebecca Mulder
Domestic Issues & Legislative Branch by Robyn Angley
Armed Forces by Jeff Kubiak and Kyle Colton

Newly Independent States

Western Region by Elena Selyuk

Central Asia by Fabian Adami

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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 discontents

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 past:


"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 WarŠonly 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. (Š) [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 revolution?

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 collide

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 concernsŠ." (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) 


Source Notes

(1) "A New Year address to citizens of Russia," President Vladimir Putin, 31 Dec 04 via (

(2) Ibid.

(3) Ibid.

(4) "Speech at a Meeting with the Government," President Vladimir Putin, 17 Jan 05 via (

(5) Ibid.

(6) Ibid.

(7) Ibid.

(8) "A Presidential Envoy in Every Building," Novaya gazeta, 20 Jan 05 via JRL#9026, 20 Jan 05.

(9) Ibid.

(10) "Chubais Blasts State for Climate of Fear," Guy Faulconbridge in Moscow Times, 24 Jan 05 via JRL #9031, 24 Jan 05.

(11) RIA Novosti, 20 Jan 05 via JRL #9031.

(12) Christian Science Monitor, 1 Nov 96 via Lexis-Nexis.


By Susan J. Cavan (







Beslan fallout continues

As 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 against terrorists.


Perhaps 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 Œsiloviki.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 terrorist incidents.


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.  ³ŒThe 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 Makhachkala.  (6)


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 relations capability.


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 services.


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.


Source Notes

(1) ³48 Hours,² CBS News, 21 Jan 05, available online at and ³Beslan Parents Lift Road Blockade,² BBC News, 23 Jan 05 available online at via Johnson¹s Russia List # 9030, 23 Jan 05.

(2) Vladimirov, 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.

(3) Ibid.

(4) ³Security Official Says 'Beslan-Like Terrorist Act' Prevented In Southern Russia,² Interfax, 15 Jan 05, FBIS-SOV-2005-0119 via World News Connection.

(5) Getmanskiy, 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.

(6) Ibid

(7) Borisov, Ibid.

(8) Safronov, 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,", 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.

(11) Maksimov, 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.


By Eric Beene (





A multi-directional policy for the New Year

In 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

Lavrov 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)


Lavrov 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)


Sergei 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.


Other 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.



In 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.


Georgia and the OSCE

Foreign 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

Russia 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: External" below.]



Concerning 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.



Lavrov 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

As 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 worldŠThe world needs a strong Russia because it is in everybody¹s interestsŠand 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) 


Source Notes

(1) Federal News Service ( via Johnson¹s Russia List (JRL) , 19 Jan 2005, #2-JRL9028; (

(2) Ibid.

(3) Ibid.

(4) Ibid.

(5) Ibid.

(6) Interfax via CDI Russia Weekly, 24 Dec 2004, #3-RW 12-24-05; (

(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; (

(9) RIA Novosti via CDI Russia Weekly, 21 Jan 2005, #5-RW 1-21-05; (

(10) Ibid.

(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.

(14) Ibid.

(15) Ibid.

(16) Ibid.

(17) Ibid.

(18) Ibid.

(19) Ibid.

(20) Ibid.

(21) Ibid.


By Rebecca Mulder (






Gray alienation

The 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.


The 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 central authorities. 


While 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.


The 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.


The ³Power² of the press

The 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.


First, 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.


A 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.


Third, 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.


It 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.


In 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 accountability.


Admittedly, 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 participation.


The 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.


Source Notes

(1) ³Computer faults leave pensioners penniless, fuming in Russia's St Petersburg,² BBC Monitoring, 30 Dec 04 via ISI Emerging Markets.

(2) Ibid.


By Robyn Angley (






A quick look back at 2004

Observers 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. (2) 


The road ahead

With 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. 


Mildly "good news"

The 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) 


The 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.


The bad news – getting worse

The 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 line. (12)


On 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.  


Since 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 compensation.  Although 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.


Even 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) 


Ivanov 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.


Problem with power

It 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)


Source Notes

(1) ³Army Col-General Skorodumov Resigns, Citing Influx of Non-Professionals,² Moskovskiy komsomolets, 23 Dec 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

(2) Russian Defense Ministry Ups Scale of Combat Training – Expert,² Web Site, 28 Dec 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

(3) ³Russian Defence Minister Outlines tasks for 2005,² RIA News Agency, 31 Dec 2004; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

(4) ³Wasteful Arms Spending Under Fire,² by Lyuba Pronina, Moscow Times, 20 Jan 05, via CDI Russia Weekly.

(5) ³The 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.

(6) ³Russian Defense Minister Changes Defense Order Procurement System,² RIA-Novosti, 30 Dec 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-1230 via World News Connection.

(7) ³The 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.

(8) ³Ivanov Is Calling,² Gazeta, 10 Jan 05; WPS Defense and Security via Lexis-Nexis.

(9) ³Results of the Year: Servicemen Have Become Poorer,² by Igor Plugatarev, Nezavisimoe voennoe obozrenie, No.49, 24-30 Dec 04, p.1; WPS Defense and Security via ISI Emerging Markets.

(10) ³The Army and Navy as The Main Outcasts in Russia,² WPS – Defense and Security, 29 Nov 04 via ISI Emerging Markets.

(11) Russian Defense Ministry Ups Scale of Combat Training – Expert,² Web Site, 28 Dec 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

(12) ³Results of the Year: Servicemen Have Become Poorer,² by Igor Plugatarev, Nezavisimoe voennoe obozrenie, No.49, 24-30 Dec 04, p.1; WPS Defense and Security via ISI Emerging Markets.

(13) ³Pensioners Frightened Sergey Ivanov,² Russika izvestia, 19 Jan 05; Izvestia Press Digest via ISI Emerging Markets.

(14) ³Ivanov Is Calling,² Gazeta, 10 Jan 05; WPS Defense and Security via Lexis-Nexis.

(15) 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.

(16) Ibid.

(17) ³Pensioners Frightened Sergey Ivanov,² Russika izvestia, 19 Jan 05; Izvestia Press Digest via ISI Emerging Markets.

(18) ³Army Col-General Skorodumov Resigns, Citing Influx of Non-Professionals,² Moskovskiy komsomolets, 23 Dec 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.


By Jeff Kubiak (





New Russian arms deal for Syria

On 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)


Syria 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 capabilities.


The weapon systems in question

The 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.


The 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.


International concerns and response

While 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.


Military 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.


On 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 diplomatic response

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.


Russia's 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. 


The Vice 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 basicallyŠ.  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 United States.


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.  


President 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 consequences.


Source Notes

(1) Like a Pogrom from the Blue, 12 Jan 05 via (

(2) Ibid.

(3) (

(4) (

(5) (

(6) Russian Missiles Put Israel on Alert, 13 Jan 05 via (; (

(7) Ibid.

(8) Ivanov Denies Arms Talks With Syria, 14 Jan 05 via (

(9) Ibid.

(10) Ibid.

(11) Russian Missiles Put Israel on Alert, 13 Jan 05 via (

(12) Ibid.

(13) Interfax, 12 Jan 05 via (

(14) Ibid.

(15) Ibid.

(16) Tsunami forces Indonesia to Ditch $890M Warplane Deal with Russia, 12 Jan 05 via (

(17) Tsunami may sink Jet Deal with Jakarta, 13 Jan 05 via (

(18) E.U. eyes lifting China Arms Embargo, Sep 04 via (


By Kyle J. Colton (







Four main forces for the Parliament

Parliamentary 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.


The 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 2001.


This 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.


The 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 voters. (4)


The 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.


The 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)


The 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)


The 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)


With 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?



Reorganization within the KGB

Recently, 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.


Stepan 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)



Yushchenko¹s inauguration

After 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)


When 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.


Yushchenko 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.


Source Notes

(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.

(5) Ibid.

(6) Igor Volnitchi, ³Parties on the Eve of Elections in Moldova,² 17 Jan 05 via ISI Emerging Markets database.

(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 database.

(9) Infotag news agency, 13 Jan 05; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

(10) Charter 97 website, 20 Jan 05 via (

(11) Ibid.

(12) Ukrainskaya Pravda website, 23 Jan 05 via (


By Elena Selyuk (






Uzbek elections: business as usual. 

Last 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.


First, 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)


The 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 seats. (5)

While 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 norms. (6)  


President 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 his authority.


In 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 Uzbekistan.


There 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.


As 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 the family?

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.


Those 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 ŒAlga 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.


The 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 Kiev. (16)


President 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.


On 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.


It 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.


Source Notes

(1) See NIS Observed: An Analytical Review, Vol. IX, No. 19 (10 Dec 04).

 (2) Ibid.

(3) Ibid

(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, (

(8) Ibid.

(9) Ibid.

(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).

(12) Ibid.

(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, (

(15) Ibid.

(16) Eurasia Net Civil Society, 13 Jan 05, (

(17) AKIpress News Agency Bishkek, 11 Jan 05; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(18) RFE/RL Newsline Transcaucasus & Central Asia, Volume 9 Number 13, 21 Jan 05.


By Fabian Adami (

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