masses yearning to speak Russian?
chose to address issues of immigration at the March 17 Security Council
session; citing, in general terms, demographic data regarding Russia's
population decline, including emigration figures, the president noted that
"more than 100,000 scientists working intraditionally strong sectors in
Russia, such as mathematics, chemistry, physics and biology left the country
between 1989 and 2001. (1)
solution is to encourage "regulated" immigration and to relieve some
of the "chronic bureaucratic ailments" that take a particularly heavy
toll on immigrants. (2) Putin's immigration recommendations were couched
carefully in rhetoric meant to assuage concerns over illegal immigration, which
is viewed as a fundamental cause for increases in violent crimes. Unfortunately, violence, war and
terrorism in the Caucasus have reinforced the dim general view of immigration,
particularly from Russia's southern neighbors. Putin however, used his Security Council remarks to suggest
a reconsideration of the issue.
declining population and the "brain drain" of the post-Soviet years,
encouraging some forms of immigration could help to counter some of the effects
of Russia's so-called 'demographic disaster' (Putin acknowledged his measures
could not provide a true counterweight to declining population numbers). What Putin presented to the Security
Council was a recommendation that immigration to Russia be encouraged from the
states of the former Soviet Union, where "practically all these people
speak Russian and know Russian culture." (3) Putin raised the intriguing point that citizens of CIS
states had little trouble "adapting to Russian life" (presumably
because of the years of Soviet rule) and that Russia therefore was in a unique
position to benefit from immigration (as opposed to Europe, where immigrants
might take generations to adjust to European life). Perhaps most interesting about Putin's remarks was the
underlying theme that this was a realistic, perhaps even formidable, means of
countering the centrifugal forces currently at work in the CIS; succinctly put,
Putin proposed that Russia use its Soviet legacy to lure citizens of former
SSRs in order to bind the NIS in a more tightly integrated union.
several problems with this approach, but the two most glaring involve the
internal contradiction that Russia is losing some of the most valuable members
of its work force, but could convince workers from neighboring countries to
immigrate (and face the daunting prejudices and bureaucratic hurdles). That circle could only be squared by
extreme economic distress in other CIS states (or perhaps civil strife), on
which Russia would be positioned to capitalize. But what occurs most remarkable in this presidential
proposal to the Security Council is the "policy wonk" nature of
Putin's proposition; this doesn't
appear to be the type of proposal that would occur instinctively to Putin,
rather it sounds more like the result of a long, pessimistic conversation about
the long term effects of democratic revolution in Georgia, Ukraine and perhaps
other post-Soviet states.
Somewhere deep in the Kremlin, some adviser to Putin found an elegant
way to suggest that they just try making lemonade.
At the risk of
sounding callous, the only mystery surrounding the attack on RAO/UES Chief
Anatoli Chubais is why such an attack was not attempted years ago. Which is just another was of asking,
why now? What has Chubais done
lately, (I mean other than suggest that Mikhail Kasianov might be a viable appropriate successor to Vladimir
Putin), that could possible make him vulnerable to an assassination attack?
of motive, means and conspiratorial planning will overshadow any investigation
of the attack, authorities do already have a suspect in custody. Vladimir Kvachkov, a 57 year old GRU spetsnaz veteran of Afghanistan and Chechnya (who
reputedly set the snare that cost Shamil Basayev his leg) was detained based on
an eyewitness description of a car seen speeding from the area. A search of his automobile and home
revealed some explosives (a stick of TNT or two grenades?) and a hunting
rifle. (4) Initial reports claimed that
Kvachkov rented a dacha near the Chubais dacha, and suggested the retired GRU
officer was displeased about either the monetization of military officers'
benefits or a minor traffic incident he had with Chubais some time
denied any involvement in the attack on Chubais and tried to correct some early
media speculation (he is not a neighbor of Chubais, his car was in the area
because he and his son had stopped at a local market, etc.), but he has stopped
cooperating with authorities since learning that his son is now the
"real" target of their investigation. (5) Apparently, it didn't take much for this former General
Staff official to understand that if he didn't want the honor of being made the
scapegoat in this case, his son would be just as effective in the role.
announced that he knows who masterminded the attack, but, in truth, there is no
upside to his naming the suspect.
As for Kvachkov, perhaps he and/or his son really were involved, perhaps
he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, or perhaps he was targeted
intentionally to take the heat for an amateurish attack (why were he and his
son sitting for so long near the scene?) in some obscure FSB/GRU battle. There was one thing Chubais made
clear: this was a political attack. And that speaks volumes about the state
of Russia's democracy.
(1) Introductory Remarks at the Security
Council Meeting, 17 Mar 05 via (www.kremlin.ru).
(4) Izvestiya, 21 Mar 05; What the Papers Say (WPS),
23 Mar 05 via Lexis-Nexis; Vremya novostei, 21 Mar 05; WPS, 23 Mar 05 via Lexis-Nexis. Reports of Kvachkov's career take him
from Afghanistan to Germany to Chechnya and finally retiring from the General
Staff, where he worked for a time in the civilian service. Accounts differ on just what
explosives/armaments might have been found during the search of Kvachkov's
(5) Interfax, 22 Mar 05 via Lexis-Nexis.
By Susan J.
remarks on the evening of 8 March, Federal Security Services (FSB) Director
Nikolai Patrushev told President Vladimir Putin that FSB forces had killed
Chechnya¹s rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov in the Chechen village of
Tolstoy-Yurt. (1) Although reports of the event are not
completely clear, it appears Maskhadov was killed in a ³bunker² in the basement
of a house. Initial reports
claimed he was killed when FSB commandos threw a grenade into the bunker; later
reports claimed he was shot. (2) The survival and capture of three of
his aides, two notebook computers, and videotapes in the bunker appear to
confirm the latter claim. The
customary conspiracy theories germinated within days as experts debated the
presence or absence of wounds apparent in pictures of Maskhadov¹s body;
government personnel refused to return Maskhadov¹s body to his family for
burial, citing Russian laws regarding the disposition of terrorists; the house
where he was reportedly killed was itself demolished by government agents some
days a later; and a Moskovsky komsomolets reporter, who inspected the house before it was demolished, proclaimed the ventilation
in the bunker inadequate for Maskhadov, much less his three-person entourage,
to survive for any length of time.
(3) What was not debated,
however, was the fact that, circumstances notwithstanding, Aslan Maskhadov is
death was met with predictable reactions.
President Putin praised the operation, and many officials in the
pro-Moscow Chechen government and in Moscow saw the operation as a clear
victory for Russian forces, having removed a very visible, if politically
irrelevant, terrorist leader, and weakening the separatist movement. (4) They also took pride in the fact that Russia would pay the
promised $10 million reward, a promise made following the Beslan siege for
information that led to the capture or death of Maskhadov or Shamil Basayev,
the more militant leader of the separatist Chechen forces who claimed credit
for the Beslan take-over. The
reward recipients, however, were unnamed.
Stating gratuitously, "We know how to keep secrets," FSB
spokesman Sergei Ignatchenko emphasized that anyone, from anywhere, who could
provide Russian authorities with information that might lead to the capture or
death of Basayev would also be paid and protected, by means ranging from physical
relocation to plastic surgery.
(5) Others, mostly outside
the administration and the country, criticized the killing as having removed
the one remaining legitimate Chechen political leader with whom some negotiated
settlement with Moscow might be reached, despite Putin's repeated proclamations
that Russia would never consider such negotiations. Many of these same critics also saw this as clearing the way
for Basayev to take control of the movement, further radicalizing the
Some two weeks
having passed since the assassination, the dearth of official commentary from
the Kremlin, after the initial announcement, is curious. There is some debate as to whether
official guidance was to take Maskhadov dead or alive, and whether FSB forces
followed this guidance. Had Moscow
wanted Maskhadov taken captive for questioning and imprisonment, as Chechen
deputy prime minister and de-facto head of state security Ramzan Kadyrov seems
to have been told, and as Putin's regional envoy Dmitri Kozak understood (7),
FSB forces clearly erred, but they appear to have done so precisely, without
the use of overwhelming force that has become so typical of recent
counter-terrorist operations in the region. Indeed, such an operation involving tanks and flamethrowers
would have provided easy cover for the FSB forces and would not have seemed
unusual, given similar operations in Nalchik and Makhachkala. (See previous NIS Observed.) Perhaps, then, it was not surprising
that government forces later demolished the building where Maskhadov was
killed. Were Maskhadov's death not
the Kremlin's preferred outcome, one might have expected some official
criticism regarding a botched operation, either leaked or in a
government-influenced newspaper, or even from the Interior Ministry, itself
evidently at odds with the FSB over control of counter-terror activities in the
Caucasus. Such internal criticism
yet has to surface.
If, on the other
hand, the Kremlin was pleased with the manner in which events unfolded, one
might have expected somewhat more official enthusiasm and a possible mention of
specific units involved (especially the elite Alfa unit, had it been involved,
given the losses it had received in counter-terror operations over the past few
months), or even awards for bravery and an official statement broadcasting
another victory against terror. However, given President Putin's visit to
Europe, during which he spoke with French, German and Spanish leaders, he may
have intended to mute the spectacle to avoid further criticism from E.U. member
states, typically vocal critics of Russia's Chechnya policies. (8) If this was the case, and it appears the more likely
possibility, look for more official praise in the weeks following Putin's
return from Europe. Also
look for continued support for Kozak's planned federal guidance that the FSB
will lead future counter-terror operations in and around Chechnya. (See previous NIS Observed.)
From the Russian
perspective, a couple of notable lessons are to be drawn from this event. The first involves the use of Russian
FSB forces in such a situation, without the assistance of regional Interior
Ministry troops. This fits with
the previously discussed policy of de-Chechenization, whereby Kadyrov's troops
and pro-Moscow Chechen government forces are slowly being removed from their
security roles. (9) Ruslan Alkhanov, the Chechen Interior
Minister, confirmed somewhat wryly that his forces were not involved: "This was a unique operation, and
we can only regret that Maskhadov was not killed by Interior Ministry
staff." (10) Such a policy
can leverage tips from the local population to locate individual
Conceivably, by removing the fear of retribution associated with
divulging such information to other Chechens (even though they are putatively
pro-Moscow forces), the use by the Kremlin of genuinely Russian special forces,
along with a financial inducement of up to $10 million, can produce more public
relations coups. For these
reasons, one may expect other such "FSB-only" operations to be
stressed in the future.
On the other
hand, the Kremlin may also have taken note of the swift adaptation Chechen
separatist forces have shown following Maskhadov's death. Within days, and with unanimity by such
disparate voices as former Maskhadov envoy, Akhmed Zakayev (on the Chechen
Press website) and Shamil Basayev (on the Kavkaz Center website), the
separatist movement hailed the previously little-known Chechen Muslim cleric
Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev as Maskhadov's successor. (11) According to Zakayev, the decision to appoint him the heir
apparently was made as early as 2002. (12) This should be cause for concern for Russian counter-terrorist
forces. That the rebel force was
able to announce the new leader so quickly and with no observable disagreement
reflects a well-ordered and well-led structure. Far from sending the separatists into disarray, Maskhadov's
death showed the Chechen movement, thought by some to have fractured into
radical Basayev-led elements and less radical Maskhadov-led groups (13), to be
speaking with a single voice, promoting a replacement leader without a ripple.
Additionally, that this organization can select and promote a virtual unknown
into this post apparently without drawing any attention from the intelligence
elements within the FSB or the Interior Ministry is even more noteworthy.
Basayev himself was expected to lead the rebellion after Maskhadov's death, or
possibly the "radical warlord" Doku Umarov (14), but expectations by
outsiders were clearly off the mark. That no one saw Sadulayev's rise to
leadership, a decision apparently made nearly three years ago, not to mention
the fact that it apparently took Russian forces this long to locate Maskhadov
(and still they cannot locate Basayev, essentially public enemy number one),
means that Russia's counter-guerrilla forces, the FSB and MVD, have significant
work to do to build an intelligence network with any hope of keeping up with
(1) Catherine Belton and Valeria Korchagina,
"Maskhadov Declared Dead in FSB Sweep," The Moscow Times, 9 Mar 05,
(2) "What Happened in the Maskhadov
Raid," BBC News, 15 Mar 05 via (http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/europe/4330393.stm).
(3) Musa Sadulayev "Maskhadov House
Is Demolished," The Moscow Times, 15 Mar 05, p. 2; "Russia Pays 10
Million Dollars For Info On Slain Chechen Leader, " Agence France
Presse, 15 Mar 05 via
Johnson's Russia List (JRL) #9091, 15 Mar 05; and Vadim Rechkalov and Irina
Kuksenkova "Ramzan Kadyrov's Slip of The Tongue," Moskovsky
Komsomolets, 15 Mar 05; What
the Papers Say – Defense and Security, 16 Mar 05, via ISI Emerging Markets.
(4) Simon Saradzhyan, "Kremlin's
Victory May Be Short-lived," The Moscow Times, 10 Mar 05, p. 1.
(5) "Plastic Surgery To Those Who
Give Up Hardline Chechen Rebel: FSB," Agence France Presse, 16 Mar 05 via Lexis-Nexis.
(6) Saradzhyan, ibid, and "Officials
Deny Chechen Leader Was Eliminated In Cold Blood," Radio Free Europe/Radio
Vol. 9, No. 48, Part I, 14 Mar 05.
(7) Belton and Korchagina, ibid.
(8) Anatoly Medetsky, "Rebels
Promise to Carry on Fighting," The Moscow Times, 10 Mar 05, p. 1.
(10) Belton and Korchagina, ibid.
(11) Carl Schreck, "Cleric Is Picked
As Rebel Leader," The Moscow Times, 11 Mar 05, p. 1.
(12) Olga Allenova, "'We Were
Idealists Rather Than Realists':
An Interview with Akhmed Zakayev, Ex-Emissary of Aslan Maskhadov," Kommersant-VLAST, No. 10, Mar 05, via JRL #9091, 15 Mar
(13) Pavel Felgenhauer, "Rebel Will
Not Rest In Peace," The Moscow Times, 15 Mar 05, p. 13.
(14) Saradzhyan, ibid.
By Eric Beene (email@example.com)
that Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi would not be attending the
VE-Day celebrations to be held in Moscow in May, which coincided with President
Putin's apparent decision not to visit Japan this spring, has made evident the
strain in Russo-Japanese relations. Although efforts have been made in recent
months to secure a stronger strategic relationship, including the December
agreement on an oil pipeline running from Russia to the Pacific port of
Nakhodka to assist Japan¹s energy needs (December), Moscow waits for Japan to
make concessions on their main point of contention: the four southernmost Kuril
Islands (the ³Northern Territories²) and Japan awaits Russian concession on the
2004, Putin returned to the 1956 joint Soviet-Japanese declaration, offering
Japan two of the disputed four islands; there was speculation that Putin might
compromise over the other two islands, but no further progress has been made.
(1) February marked the 150th anniversary of the establishment of
diplomatic relations between Russia and Japan and a resolution was made in the
upper and lower houses of the Japanese Diet calling for the return of the
³Northern Territories,² vague wording that has caused Moscow concern. (2) Until
1956, the Japanese government claimed the entire Kuril Archipelago, as well as
the southern half of Sakhalin Island; these claims have been rescinded by the
government but remain an issue for the Japanese Communist Party. Members of the
Japanese Diet have told Moscow that the resolution¹s wording was purposefully
vague to appease the Communist Party and get their vote.
remains conflicted on issues pertaining to World War II, with territorial
disputes taking center stage (China, South Korea, as well as Russia). Russian
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is scheduled to visit Japan in late May to
³coordinate arrangements for a Russian-Japanese summit and step up efforts to
produce tangible results,² but should these issues not be resolved and remain
in the forefront of Russian-Japanese interactions, their growing bilateral
strategic and energy relations will surely suffer. (3) The misunderstandings of
the past might continue to plague the future.
A burst of
to increase economic ties with China, specifically in the energy sphere. This
year, Russia plans to double its electric power deliveries to China to about
500 million kWt/hrs. This is an increase from the 300 million delivered in
2004, and it is set to grow further in 2006 (to 800 million kWt/hrs). Oil exports by rail are also set to
rise to 10 million tons in 2005 and 15 million tons in 2006. (4)
clearly will suit China's growing energy needs. China also needs Russia as a
market for the goods produced by its rapidly increasing economy. Bilateral
trade could surge to $60-80 billion by 2010. In turn, this economic
relationship could benefit Russia politically, giving it a possible edge over
the United States and the EU. (5)
Bratislava summit with President Bush, President Putin signed a deal with Iran
to provide nuclear fuel for Iran¹s Bushehr nuclear power plant. This generated
widespread concern internationally, especially in Washington, where Senators
John McCain and Joseph Lieberman went so far as to call for Russia¹s exclusion
from this year¹s G-8 summit. (6) Putin's response to critics is to insist that
this deal with Iran has no military significance and simply represents an
alternative energy source, but explanation strains credulity. (7) Britain,
France and Germany continue to put together incentives in an attempt to
persuade Iran to abandon its uranium enrichment project, but Moscow insists on
following through with the deal. Igor Ivanov, Secretary of the Russian Security
Council, perhaps hoping to comfort critics (stated that in Russia), there are
no ³such crazy people to help anyone to create nuclear weapons² that might end
up in the hands of terrorists. (8)
Even if Bushehr
could be entirely transparent, its very existence provides valuable expertise
concerning nuclear technology and gives Iran ³an entry ticket to a nuclear
club.¹² (9) Such assistance to Iran gives Russia a troublesome wedge in a
troubled region. Though some have suggested that this recent deal benefits
Russia more in economic than in political terms, the public price tag on
Bushehr is just about $900 million, ³barely one-third of the money the
Nunn-Lugar program spent over ten years on securing Russia¹s own nuclear
arsenal.² (10) Though money talks, it seems that in this situation, power and
influence have the upper hand.
On 18 March,
President Putin joined the leaders of France, Germany and Spain to discuss ways
to bolster EU-Russia ties. The primary aim of this informal summit was to
restore ³a climate of confidence and also for the three Western leaders to
extend a friendly hand to Putin² and to ³encourage him down the road of
political and economic reforms.² (11) The European leaders clearly believe it
is in their best interest to attempt a greater integration with Russia, and the
EU wants to conclude talks with Russia regarding the four ³common spaces² by
2007. A matter on Putin¹s agenda was to win commitments from the three leaders
to attend the World War Two victory day celebrations in Moscow on 9 May.
Putin¹s arrival in Paris marked the first time a foreign leader has ever
visited the Air Force operative center located just outside of the city; he
also went with President Chirac to the Elysee Palace where Russian writers
participated in the Paris Book Fair. (13)
To the moon!
It looks as
though the European space exploration plan will eclipse national programs;
France and Russia signed an agreement on the joint development of new launch
vehicles and manned space missions. Russian-European cooperation on space
launch options could generate an array of new ideas and approaches to space
exploration. (14) Europe is considering phasing out its Arianne-5 workhorse and
a new rocket is set to be developed with Russia; the first Russian-European
launch vehicle should take off in 2020. (15)
Ministers from the Group of Seven (G-7) have said they will reject Russia¹s bid
to become a full member of the G-7, saying that as the world¹s 16th
largest economy ($533 billion), Russia is not big enough to justify membership.
(16) Russia is supposed to chair the Group of Eight (G-8) most politically
powerful governments in 2006 and traditionally, the country chairing the G-8
also chairs the G-7. Vito Tanzi, Undersecretary of Finance for Italy from
2001-2003 said, ³The G-7 will work hard to keep others out.² (17) These ³others² would include China,
which is already larger than Canada (a G-7 member). Germany has supported
Russia¹s membership in the G-7 and Jim O¹Neill of Goldman Sachs Group in London
believes that, ³At a financial level, it is quite ridiculous not to include
China at a minimum, and there is a very good case to consider having Russia,
India and Brazil, too.² (18) But perhaps there are reasons beyond economics why
Russia¹s bid might be rejected. Stuart Eizenstat, who served under President
Clinton, stated, ³Pushing for G-7 status is a great stretch for Russia, as it
simply doesn¹t deserve itRussia¹s economy is too small and isn¹t free enough to
merit membership, and it has drifted on democracy and reform.² (19) Russia¹s
democratic failures seem to strike again.
(1) Eurasia Daily Monitor, vol 2, issue
49, 11 Mar 05; www.euraisadaily.org
(3) RIA novosti, 18 Mar 05, 12:05 via (http://en.rian.ru/rian/index.cfm).
(4) Moscow News via CDI Russia Weekly, 18
Mar 05, #21.
(6) Moscow Times via CDI Russia Weekly,
11 Mar 05, #12.
(7) Eurasia Daily Monitor via CDI Russia
Weekly, vol 2, issue 43, 3 Mar 05, #25.
(8) RIA novosti, 18 Mar 05, 15:59 via (http://en.rian.ru/rian/index.cfm).
(9) Eurasia Daily Monitor via CDI Russia
Weekly, vol 2, issue 43 3 Mar 05, #25.
(11) EurActiv.com, 18 Mar 05; (www.euractiv.com/Article?tcmuri=tcm:29-136912-16&type=News).
(13) RIA novosti, 18 Mar 05, 13:13 via (http://en.rian.ru/rian/index.cfm).
(14) RIA novosti, 18 Mar 05, 16:31 via (http://en.rian.ru/rian/index.cfm)..
(16) Moscow Times via CDI Russia Weekly,
11 Mar 05, #12.
By Rebecca Mulder (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ISSUES AND LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
On March 9,
President Vladimir Putin removed the governor of the Koryak Autonomous Area,
Vladimir Loginov, from his post, and appointed Boris Zolotarev as the new
regional leader. Ostensibly, Loginov was fired for failing to provide an
adequate fuel supply for his region in the midst of winter. Loginov¹s deputy
Mikhail Sokolovsky is facing criminal charges for mishandling the fuel
elected to his second term in April 2004. This is the first time that Putin has
used his newly legislated power to remove a governor, and it helps clarify a
point of ambiguity in the new law: Putin has demonstrated that he can (and
will) fire governors who were popularly elected, not just regional leaders
appointed under the new system.
Putin does not
appear to be picking fights haphazardly, however. On March 15, he reappointed
Mintimer Shaymiyev as president of the republic of Tatarstan. This decision
reflects an unwillingness to engage in action that could prove politically
damaging for Putin. Tatarstan has struggled vigorously and doggedly for its
autonomy since the early 1990s, and Shaymiyev has been one of the most vocal
critics of Putin's move to appoint regional leaders.
appointed a different candidate, he faced the possibility that Tatarstan's
regional legislature would reject his appointment. Failure to confirm a
presidential appointment, after three votes, can result in the dissolution of
the legislature and new parliamentary elections. If Putin had appointed a
candidate and dissolved the legislature in the face of continued resistance, he
would have run the risk that the Tartar voters would return the same
legislators. This scenario would have proven a great political embarrassment
for Putin and would cast doubt on his ability to select viable candidates.
As it is,
Putin¹s appointments and removals have some governors taking defensive
measures. Konstantin Titov, head of the Samara region since 1991, found himself
in a precarious position in mid-March. He expected demonstrations to protest
Samara¹s economic conditions to occur on March 12-14. Anticipating these
rallies (and probably mindful of Liginov¹s fate), Titov issued a statement on
the protests, claiming that their intent was to ³turn the governor into 'their
own man' who will protect the interests of financial-industrial groups
preemptive attempts to divert blame from himself may be emulated by regional
leaders as they adjust to the president¹s new powers. Although Putin seems
hesitant to tangle with powerful ethnic leaders such as Shaymiyev, the
dismissal of Loginov has established a clear precedent for other governors.
It is possible
that Putin would be more hesitant to fire someone that he has appointed
personally because it might reflect on his ability to choose competent
governors. However, the removal of a popularly elected governor by presidential
decision makes the current position of regional leaders very precarious. While
it might be prudent to request presidential reappointment early in order to
secure presidential favor, a governor's request for early appointment also
might be seen as a timely opportunity for the president to replace him.
acknowledging limits of sovereignty
rejected a bill, proposed by the Rodina faction, which would facilitate the
incorporation of autonomous regions of former Soviet republics within the
Russian Federation. The bill¹s authors said, ³in view of the lately increasing
attempts of some states, namely the former Soviet republics of Georgia,
Azerbaijan and Moldova, to extend their sovereignty to the territories of the
unrecognized republics of Abkhazia, Adjaria, South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh
and the Dniestr Moldovan Republic, it is particularly timely today to assess
the legality and juridical validity of such claims." (2)
several objections to the bill¹s reasoning. First, Russia acknowledged the
borders of the other former union republics during the disintegration of the
Soviet Union. Second, since Russia has recognized these republics, followed by
the international community, allowing the autonomies to join Russia would be a
clear infringement on the sovereignty of those states (i.e. Georgia, Azerbaijan
and Moldova) and a violation of international law. Russia already is
politically and militarily involved in areas such as the breakaway region of
Abkhazia in Georgia, and while these actions themselves may be construed as
violating Georgian territorial sovereignty, the passage of this proposed law
would leave no doubt.
received only 91 of the 300 votes it needed to pass, signaling that, however
willing the Duma might be to enlarge Russia's territory; it is hesitant, at
this stage, to issue an open challenge to the international community.
the Duma hasn¹t grasped the concept of sovereignty
The State Duma
is preparing a communication to the Georgian parliament to challenge Georgia¹s
objections to the continued presence of Russian military bases on Georgian
soil. Russia Defense Committee chief Viktor Zavarzin denounced the
"categorical tone for the Georgian president that sanctions will be used
against Russia if concrete dates of the withdrawal of the Russian bases from
the Georgian territories are not set." (3) The Russian bases already have exceeded the initial terms of
the agreement between Russia and Georgia; thus, Georgia has a sovereign right
to demand the removal of the bases. Although the Duma still hesitates to accept
other countries' autonomous regions into the Russian Federation, perhaps it has
not learned the true definition of sovereignty after all.
(1) ³Samara governor's concerns over
impending demonstrations, reappointment prospects examined,² Izvestiya, 14 Mar 05 via World News Connection
(2) ³Duma rejects bill on new autonomies
joining Russian Federation,² Itar-Tass, 11 Mar 05 via WNC.
(3) ³Russia[n] Duma preparing address to
Georgian parliament about bases,² Itar-Tass, 15 Mar 05 via WNC.
By Robyn Angley (email@example.com)
Forces and the war on terror
Unlike the U.S.,
Russia has not published a single document outlining their strategy for
combating terrorism. However, with
only a cursory survey of official statements made by high-level government
officials and by reviewing policies taken in the name of the war against
terrorism, a reasonably clear picture emerges as the basic Russian
strategy. Defense Minster Sergei
Ivanov stated in December 2004 that "I have many times stated that a war
has been declared to us, and when at war behave like it is a war."
(1) In September 2004, Chief of
the Russian General Staff, Col-Gen Yuri Baluyevsky said that Moscow is prepared
to deliver preemptive strikes at terrorist bases no matter where they are
located. Confirmed on numerous
occasions later by Ivanov, the Russian's declared preemptive strike posture has
generated debate not only in regards to the legality of such a policy, but also
as to the targets that might be struck and the means with which Russia would
strike them. Leaving the issues of
legality and targets aside, a question rises as to the capability of the
Russian armed forces to project power outside of the Russian borders in a
strike supporting national objectives in the battle against terrorism.
the vice-president of the Academy for Geopolitical Problems, thinks that the
threat of pre-emptive strikes is, "A highly dangerous statement! Dangerous because it is a complete
bluff, out of touch with the realities and utterly presumptuous. Knowing the
situation in the armed forces, I can make the claim that we have no means of
applying either strategic or operational pressure on terrorists." (2) Ivashov blames the General Staff for
not properly equipping the army.
"To investigate, for example, why a mobile infantry regiment did
not go to the aid of the lawful authorities and the populace when gunmen
attached Nazran. The story is that
it was because of the shortage of batteries for its armored vehicles."
(3) This statement is in line with
most observers' general assessment of the Russian armed forces and supports the
idea that the Chief of the General Staff and Defense Minister are
bluffing. However, when directly
confronted with the question as to the credibility of the threat, Ivanov
responded, "These are not political declarations. We really will carry out preventive
strikes.We have high-precision weapons, we have spetsnaz troops." (4)
and touching terrorists
simply being dismissive, one should examine the facts. Ivanov mentioned "high-precision
weapons." High precision
weapons capable of striking targets outside of Russia most likely would have to
be launched/released from an aircraft.
According to the Russian Air Force Chief of Staff, Col-Gen Boris
Cheltsov, "Today our long-range aviation has high-precision long-range
weapons which enables it to find terrorists anywhere in the world and inflict
on them the damage they deserve." (5) Notwithstanding the unlikelihood that the weapons he spoke
of actually could assist in "finding" the terrorists (one should know
where the terrorists are before employing the weapon), Cheltsov's claim that
some of Russia's Soviet-era cruise missiles have been modified to carry a
conventional warhead is widely accepted.
The Kh‑555 cruise missile (modified version of the nuclear-armed
Kh-55) can be carried by the 1950's vintage, turbo prop, Tu-95 Bear as well as
the 1980's vintage, supersonic Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers. Test firing of these weapons/platform
mixes were accomplished most recently in Spring 2004. (6) The Air Force is scheduled to receive two
additional (one new and one refurbished) Blackjacks in 2005 to bring their
total to 15, in addition to an unspecified number of modified cruise
missiles. The Air Force also
should begin receiving the new Kh‑101 conventional cruise missile in
early 2005. The Kh‑101 is
said to have a 600kg conventional warhead, an intercept-defeating radar cross
section of 0.01m2, a range of approximately 5,000 km ,
and a predicted accuracy of between 6 and 20 meters. The missile, however, still relies on a terrain reference
system for en route navigation and a televisual system for terminal
guidance. This means that it has
limited capability at night or in poor weather. (7) The other platform capable of delivering precision weapons
over a substantial distance is the Tu-22M3 Backfire bomber. The Russian Air Force has 66 updated
Backfires still in their inventory.
The Backfire, with a nominal combat radius of 1,300 miles, is said to
have enjoyed more success than the older frontal aviation aircraft in the
second Chechnya campaign thanks to its updated fire control system, flexibility
in weapons load, and all weather capability. (8)
of heavy bombers with cruise missiles, and medium range bombers with precision
guided munitions (PGM), sound like a formidable strike force. The reality is, however, that Russia's
inventory of PGMs is woefully lacking.
Similar to the cruise missile mentioned above, Russia's PGMs are not GPS
guided but rather they rely on laser or electro-optical guidance, which reduces
their utility in bad weather. In
addition to hardware shortfalls, the chronic funding shortages over the past 15
years have resulted in a fairly low level of readiness of pilots and
maintenance crews in nearly all flying units. It is this reality that accounts for the fact that 10 out of
the 11 Russian Air Force combat aircraft lost in mishaps in 2003 crashed due to
"human factors"—violations of regulations either intentionally
or due to a lack of training.
Although averages don't tell the whole story, Russian bomber pilots
averaged less than 40 hours per year (compared with more than 200 hours per
year for their U.S. counterparts). (9)
The complexity of a mission employing precision weapons requires
significantly more training than would be available to the average pilot. The long range aviation of the Air
Force is obviously not in any position to carry out sustained combat
operations. However, a handful of
bomber pilots undoubtedly receive more training than average and are more
capable of executing operational strikes.
Considering that one Tu-160 can carry up to 12 of the modern Kh-101
(more than is likely in the inventory at present), it wouldn't take more than a
couple planes to do real damage to point targets in a terrorist haven.
mentioned the possibility that Russia would use spetsnaz to conduct preemptive strikes. While several of Russia's power
structures have special force units attached to them, what Ivanov likely was
referring to was the special designation forces assigned to the General Staff's
Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), known as spetsnaz.
brigades, 2,000 men strong, are assigned to the intelligence directorates of
each of the 7 military districts and each of the 4 fleets. Within each brigade, there are several
200-man commando units that actually do the work. (10) Specializing in small team operations,
these commando units were trained to carry out local missions like
reconnaissance or sabotage in the enemy's rear area, or capturing key
infrastructure (like NATO tactical nuclear weapons sites) or beachheads in
advance of the main forces.
However, it became apparent during the first Chechen campaign that the spetsnaz units were the only truly battle worthy
units left in the army. For this
reason, they were used for any number of missions outside of their designed
specialty, including storming cities and conducting defensive actions. Today, although most units are still
manned primarily with conscripts, the spetsnaz retain considerable capability. To maximize their capacity, there is
current discussion about combining all the spetsnaz units under a single command with the
creation of a new "Special Purpose Forces" segment of the armed
forces. Under the current force
configuration, attempting to combine the efforts of multiple units requires
overcoming significant bureaucratic obstacles that exist between the Defense
Ministry and the military districts.
By creating a separate command for special purpose forces, training and
operational planning and employment become much more standardized and
Should this new
branch of the armed forces be created by the Security Council, it will be very
important to distinguish the roles and missions of the new arm from that of the
Airborne Troops. The Airborne
Troops represent one of the few truly capable elements of the Russian armed
forces. With more than 30,000
troops organized into 5 airborne divisions, eight airmobile assault landing
brigades, and other special units including a spetsnaz unit, the airborne troops are the best
equipped, best trained troops in the Russian army. The premier airborne division is the 76th Pskov
Guards division. Nearly a third of
this elite division, now manned completely by contract soldiers, have just
returned from deployment to Chechnya during which they were responsible for
closing up rebel transit routes and safe havens in the mountainous region of
southern Chechnya, doing so with some acknowledged success. (12) Having returned home, the 76th
is readying itself for a fast-paced exercise schedule. In 2005, Russia will conduct joint
military exercises with the forces of India, Uzbekistan, China and
Germany. The 76th will
participate in all these exercises, not only putting Russia's best side forward
in the international arena, but also providing that unit invaluable experience
operating in various terrain and combat environments. (13)
As capable as
the airborne troops might be, they still suffer from some serious
deficiencies. The professionalization
of the 76th has proved that this process alone will not fix the
discipline and crime problems that plague nearly all of the armed forces. (See
previous NIS observed.) Equipment
modernization, while picking up speed as defense budgets soar and procurement
increases, still lags even in these elite units. The limits placed on training and operational deployments by
the lack of funding for fuel, aircraft maintenance, and aircrew training, has
the biggest impact on the total capability represented in the form of the
Airborne Troops. (14) Execution of
last summer's major anti-terrorism exercise, Mobility-2004, which required the
movement of 800 airborne troops
from Pskov to the Far East, took the combined effort of the military's airlift
capability as well as civilian airliners to accomplish. The Defense Ministry started saving
fuel for this exercise months in advance.
According to then-chief of combat training for the armed forces, Col-Gen
Alexander Skorodumov, "At present the Russian army needs over a month to
transport 800 servicemen to the Far East.
We had to use civil jetliners.Our troopers could not return to the base
for two months because we did not have enough fuel." (15) The Russian military surely would
struggle to move and sustain a force of significant size any distance to
accomplish even a modest objective.
armed forces are not without some capability to accomplish an international
strike, thanks to outdated weapon systems and low rates of total force
readiness, the Russian armed forces are really only capable of achieving
limited objectives over a short period of time. A strike would most likely take the form of a cruise missile
attack from a 4-ship of bombers, a limited assault across border from a
formation of airborne troops, or a covert spetsnaz mission abroad against a very small
objective. In all cases, there
would be huge political risks associated, varying greatly with target selection
and perceived legitimacy of the strike, which would result in little operational
gain given the sum total of forces that could be brought to bear.
More to the
There are some
who think that the government's tough military talk with reference to the war
on terror has objectives beyond threatening terrorists. According to one analyst, "the
Russians are seeking to rationalize their continued commitment to maintaining
an arsenal of nuclear and conventional weapons fit for a superpower by rolling
them into the global war on terrorism," and that "the Russians
continue to use the language of the global war on terrorism to justify their
wider program of rearmament." (16)
The validity of this analysis becomes clearer when you consider the
views of Ivanov with regards to the role of the armed forces in the war on
terror and foreign relations in general.
Back in June of 2004, the Russian newspaper Rossiyskaya gazeta made the observation of Mobility-2004
that it was a "somewhat strange" way to exercise a counter-terror
operation. The paper quoted Ivanov
agreeing that launching a large-scale operation against terrorist was like
"beating off mosquitoes with a hammer." (17) Clearly, Ivanov was not a big supporter
of fashioning a military to do simple anti-terrorist missions. Subsequently Ivanov has had to back
pedal, claiming that he didn't mean that the armed forces shouldn't be used in
the war on terror. It is very
unclear what he did mean then. The
reality is that the Defense Ministry is still very focused on the military's
role in great power politics, not its role in law enforcement activities
domestically. Ivanov sees the
world like this: "Nobody has put it better that (Tsar) Aleksandr III. As before, we have two allies, the army
and the navy.the reliable defense of our sovereignty can be ensured only by a
strong army and navy and an effective economy." (18) Ivanov believes that although Russia
prefers to use political, diplomatic and other non-military means to protect
its interests, Russia must possess a sufficient military to make this
protection effective. (19) Ivanov's
understanding of the need for a strong military is slightly different from
those within the defense establishment who still see the U.S. as the real
threat to Russia. Subtle words
uttered by high ranking general officers, think tank specialists, and journalists
make this very clear: While
discussing the test of newly modified air-launched cruise missiles,
Major-General Anatoly Zhikharev, commander of the 22nd Air Division,
comments that "A Tu-95MS carries six missiles. It takes six to eight missiles to destroy an aircraft
carrier;" (20); Leonid Ivashov says that "Russia is surrounded by a
network of military bases, and NATO aircraft patrol the length of Russia's
borders.Yet the defense minister and the General Staff never tire of reiterating
that they see no threat to Russia's security;" (21) Explaining his perception of the
Defense Ministry's thinking regarding Russian military exercises with Germany, Nezavisimaya
gazeta author Vladimir
Mukhin states "Ten years ago, Russian troops withdrew from East
Germany. Now there is a training
war again. Germany is the main
opponent of the United States within NATO, so it is necessary to be friends
with Germany as well." (22)
Clearly reforming and reequipping the Russian military will increase its
capability to combat the terrorist threat at home and possibly accomplish
strikes abroad. Just as clearly,
however, the Russian perception of the role of military power and the nature of
its enemies doesn't stop with international terrorism. Russia seems to understand that
cooperating with the West is vital to the growth of its economy and that the
economy is central to achieving some level of greatness. Its current strategy of using the cover
of the war on terror to build its military capability allows Russia to continue
its drive for re-attaining great power military status, focused on balancing
the U.S., while at the same time, appearing to be an ally in the war on
(1) "Remarks by Russian Defense
Minister Sergei Ivanov, Discussing the State of the Russian Military, 10 Dec
2004," Federal News Service, 13 Dec 04 via Lexis-Nexis.
(2) "Russia's Threat of Pre-Emptive
Strikes Exposes it to Greater Danger," Nezavisimaya gazeta, Moscow, 21 Sep 04; BBC Monitoring via
ISI Emerging Markets.
(4) "Russian Defense Minister Gives
Views on Army, Terrorism," Komsomolskaya pravda, Moscow, 26 Oct 04; BBC Monitoring via
Financial Times Information.
(5) "Russian Air Force Commander
Boasts New Defense, Capability to Hit Terrorists," RIA News Agency, Moscow,
8 Dec 04; BBC Monitoring via JRL.
(6) "Long Flights, High
Precision," Yuri Tretyakov, Trud, 21 Feb 04; WPS – Defense and Security via ISI
(7) "Procurement, Russian
Federation," Jane's Sentinel Security Assessment, 3 Mar 05.
(8) "Air Force – Russian
Federation," Jane's Sentinel Security Assessment, 14 Mar 05.
(9) "The Air Force Loses More
Warplanes than it Receives," Alexander Babakin, Victor Myasnikov, Nezavisimoe
voennoe obozrenie, No.
16, April 30-May 13, 04 via ISI Emerging Markets.
(10) "Security and Foreign Forces
– Russian Federation," Jane's Sentinel Security Assessment, 3 Mar 05.
(11) "The Special Purpose
Army," Dmitri Safronov, gazeta.ru website, 11 Mar 05; BBC Monitoring via
ISI Emerging Markets.
(12) "Amphibious Warfare Capabilities
– Russian Federation," Jane's Amphibious and Special Forces, 23 Apr 04.
(13) "The Armed Forces as an Eternal
Port Arthur," Vladimir Mukhin, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 22 Feb 05; WPS – Defense and
Security via ISI Emerging Markets.
(14) "Russia Paratroops to Transfer
to Contract Basis in 2007," Alexander Konovalov, Sergei Ostanin, ITAR-TASS
New Agency, Moscow, 17 Feb 05 via Lexis-Nexis.
(15) "The Main Soldier of the
Country," Olga Bozhyeva, Moskovskii komsomolets, 23 Dec 04; WPS – Defense and
Security via ISI Emerging Markets.
(16) "Putin Puts Confidence in New
Generation of Missiles," Mark Galeotti, Jane's Intelligence Review, 1 Feb 05.
(17) "At Notional Targets,"
Vladislav Vorobyev, Rossiyskaya gazeta, 24 Jun 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets.
(18) "Russian Defense Minister Gives
Views on Army, Terrorism," Komsomolskaya pravda, Moscow, 26 Oct 04; BBC Monitoring via
Financial Times Information.
(19) "Sergei Ivanov Outlined Defense
Construction Priorities As He Met with Defense Officials and Diplomats," Krasnaya
zvezda, 11 Dec 04; WPS-
Defense and Security via ISI Emerging Markets.
(20) "Long Flights, High
Precision," Yuri Tretyakov, Trud, 21 Feb 04; WPS – Defense and Security via ISI
(21) "Russia's Threat of Pre-Emptive
Strikes Exposes it to Greater Danger," Nezavisimaya gazeta, Moscow, 21 Sep 04; BBC Monitoring via
ISI Emerging Markets.
(22) "The Armed Forces as an Eternal
Port Arthur," Vladimir Mukhin, Nezavisimaya gazeta, 22 Feb 05; WPS – Defense and
Security via ISI Emerging Markets.
By Jeff Kubiak (firstname.lastname@example.org)
NEWLY INDEPENDENT STATES
results of the Moldovan parliamentary elections were validated by the
Constitutional Court last week. Almost sixty-five percent of eligible voters
cast ballots. According to the final results, the Communist Party won 46
percent of the vote, the centrist Democratic Moldova Bloc (BDM) 28.5 percent,
and the right-wing Christian Democratic Popular Party (PPCD) obtained 9.07
percent of the vote. None of the other parties managed to poll above the 6
percent threshold. As a result, in
the new parliament, the Communist party will hold 56 out of 101 seats, the BDM
34 and the PPCD 11 seats. (1)
number of seats gained by the Communists will allow them to form the government
and parliamentary bodies on their own (for which a simple majority of 52 seats
is required), but they will not have enough votes (61) to elect the president.
This suggests at least two possible scenarios: First, the opposition parties
can boycott all three attempts to elect the president, thus forcing new
parliamentary elections to take place earlier than scheduled; second, several
parliamentary members from the opposition parties might defect and vote for the
Communist president. Since the voting will be secret, the only way to stop the
³deserters² will be to boycott the parliamentary meetings. It is doubtful,
however, that either of the opposition parties will resort to this step. The
chances are also extremely slim that the opposition will unite to force new
parliamentary elections, which leaves a (temporary) alliance with the
Communists the only realistic scenario for opposition members.
did the Communists win?
these parliamentary elections, President Vladimir Voronin managed to play both
domestic and foreign relations cards well, thus appealing to the needs and
interests of a wide audience and assuring his party¹s parliamentary victory.
electoral strategy apparently involved solidifying the Communist's base
support, while launching a moderate non-threatening political platform. The
pro-communist electorate consists mainly of middle-aged and elderly people, and
many voters appreciated the fact that the current authorities paid attention to
their needs and increased their pensions and salaries. This, apparently, was
enough for people to close their eyes to the Communists¹ numerous abuses of
power during the last four years, to forget the opposition protests,
journalists¹ hunger strikes, and attempts to block democratic development in
the cardinal change in the Communists¹ political direction appealed both to the
domestic electorate and Western politicians. Even though almost all parties
running for this election had similar political programs (emphasizing
pro-Western, pro-EU direction), the Communist Party was the most persuasive. In
addition, Voronin¹s post-election visit to Kiev, as well as the unexpected
appearance in Moldova of Georgian¹s Rose revolution leader, Mikhail
Saakashvilli, reinforced Voronin¹s image as a reformed pro-European leader.
that the electoral campaign is over and the Communist party won the majority of
the parliamentary seats, it is yet to be seen if Voronin will stay faithful to
his campaign promises.
by-election in the No. 52 Hrodna Tsentralny election district to fill the only
vacant seat in the House of Representatives took place this week. President
Lukashenko, as expected, was not planning to give up this last parliamentary
seat to the opposition, even to provide the appearance of democracy. The government-backed candidate,
Syarhey Maskevich, rector of Hrodna State University, was not too embarrassed
to state that he was absolutely certain of his future victory: ³I believe I
stand a 100 percent chance of winning the vote.² (2) The two opposition candidates were certain from the
start that they had no chance of winning these elections: ³How can one comment
on the elections when the electoral legislation is being amended on the go and
deputies of local councils are expelled form polling stations in accordance
with these amendments?² said Syarhey Antusevich of the Belarusian People¹s
Front. (3) Polish journalists attempting to cover provincial elections were
detained and thrown into jail.
visit to Kiev
second official visit of the Russian President to Kiev (19 March), following
Yushschenko¹s election was more amiable than the first. Despite unpleasant memories of Putin¹s
support for Yushschenko¹s opponent, the visit proceeded smoothly, and Putin
concluded that problems between Ukraine and Russia ³simply do not exist.² (4)
Nonetheless, the Russian president had many reasons to be apprehensive about
the ambiance of this visit. Russia¹s possible involvement in Yushchenko¹s
poisoning, the issue of potential re-privatization of Russian assets in
Ukraine, as well as Boris Nemtsov¹s connection with the new Ukrainian
government already have caused tension between the leaders.
was remarkably open to Ukraine¹s rapprochement with the E.U. At his meeting with the leaders of
France, Germany and Spain, Putin said that ³Russia welcomes Ukraine¹s
broadening cooperation with the E.U., as it corresponds to our interests. (5)
Russia may well have been left with little choice but to support Ukraine's
course following Putin's failed attempts to influence the Ukrainian elections;
a pro-E.U., supportive approach to Ukraine was the only road to follow that would
those in Ukraine who do not want to see their country join the Common Economic
Space with Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, Yushchenko spoke in favor of
creating a free trade zone, which would be a step towards joining the CES.
Yushchenko¹s outlook was a clear indication that alienating his neighbor was
not in his plans.
Ukrainian-Russian border was another sensitive issue. If Yushchenko is serious
about Ukraine joining the European Union, the borders in the Azov Sea, Black
Sea and Kertch Strait should be settled before the negotiations can start.
Putin reassured Yushchenko by saying that ³the necessary agreement will be
achieved given the will on both sides.² (6)
Putin¹s visit proceeded in a friendly atmosphere, it did not result in any
breakthroughs. One can say, however, that the fact that both presidents had
enough wisdom at least publicly, to put the ordeal of the past Ukrainian
presidential elections behind them and adapt to the realities left in their
Interfax-Ukraine news agency, 17 Mar 05; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
Belapan new agency, 19 Mar 05; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
Interfax news agency, 21 Mar 05; Diplomatic Panorama via Lexis-Nexis.
(5) RIA novosti, 21 Mar 05 via
Elena Selyuk (email@example.com)
³I thought they were taking my son
away. I ran and shouted, Where
are you taking him?¹ I couldn¹t really see. But the children started crying,
They are taking mommy away!¹ I ran up with her passport, but they did not
take it. They just dragged her away.² (1)
above statement is from the mother of 37-year-old Chechen, Khalimat
Sadulaeva. The mother of four was
taken from her home in Argun on September 12, 2004 by forces believed to
represent either local pro-Moscow Chechen authorities or Russian Internal
Affairs or Defense units.
Sadulaeva has not been seen since.
It is unknown why she may have been targeted; security forces in the
republic claim they are not holding her and her family can find no information
on her case. She simply has
become one of the Chechen ³disappeareds.²
March 21, Human Rights Watch released a 57-page report examining the continuing
level of unexplained disappearances in Chechnya. The case of Sadulaeva and several dozen others are examined
in the document. The authors,
while condemning Chechen rebels for ³unspeakable acts of terrorism,² suggest
that, ³Russia¹s federal forces, together with pro-Moscow Chechen forces, have
also committed numerous crimes against civilians, including extrajudicial
executions, torture, arbitrary detention and looting.² (2) In all, monitoring organizations
estimate that since 1999 between 3,000 and 5,000 Chechens have been taken away
and never heard from again.
In 2004, both pro-Moscow Chechen forces and Human Rights Watch say that
the number of abductions has not decreased, and may have actually gone up in
more, Human Rights Watch suggests that the latest round of extensive field
interviews by the organization¹s local representatives uncovered an increasing
atmosphere of pervasive and crippling fear. ³It¹s worse than a war,² said a father who watched his son
summarily executed. ³During the
war, we weren¹t so scared We knew, of course, that we might be hit by a bullet
– no one was safe from that. But now, how can one sleep through the
night? They wake people, take them away, shoot them I¹m terrified
to talk, the prosecutor¹s office is terrified – we¹re all scared!
At any moment [the security forces] might come after anyone of us.² (3)
fact, Human Rights Watch representatives found that, for the first time in four
years of field visits, many Chechen civilians were too fearful to speak to
them. ³People who have survived
the chaos of two wars and actively protested the abuses perpetrated in their
villages are now too terrified to open the door even to their neighbors, let
alone to complain,² the authors of the report wrote. A woman searching for her son explained, ³I searched [for
him] everywhere, but did not write a petition [to the prosecutor] Here, many
who write petitions [themselves] ³disappear² I was afraid... I have two other
sons at home. If I were to tell someone, [they] might take them away as well.²
and similar evidence has led Human Rights Watch to call on the international
community to recognize the situation in Chechnya as a ³crime against humanity,²
as delineated in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court as well
as the UN Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced
Disappearance. (5) Both documents recognize the ³systematic² practice of
abduction to be a ³crime against humanity.² In particular, the Rome Statute notes that, in order to fit
within this category, the disappearances must be ³committed as a part of a
widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with
knowledge of the attack.² (6) This
definition, say HRW and other human rights groups, fits the situation within
organization is also calling on the UN Commission for Human Rights to pass a
strong resolution ³to send the message that Russia¹s continuing practice of
disappearances will have consequences.²
(7) However, reaction to this report by the international community has
been muted at best. In fact,
contrary to HRW¹s request, for the first time since 1999, the Chechen conflict
is not on the agenda of the UN Commission for Human Rights annual meeting. HRW¹s Executive Director Rachel Denber
calls the decision by the EU not to pursue the case at the Commission
is likely that the EU understands it cannot succeed at the Commission. For three years, resolutions condemning
the practice of abduction in Chechnya have failed in the face of massive
lobbying by Russia. This lobbying
reportedly has included threats to increase trade restrictions on European
agricultural products and possibly increase the cost of the oil and gas Russia
provides to the continent. There
is no reason to believe the result of a resolution battle this year would be
put, world leaders repeatedly have chosen to side with Russia on the issue, or
at least to calm their consciences by accepting Russia¹s claims that the
situation within the republic is improving. It would appear that Russia¹s trade, military
and economic position within Europe may outweigh concerns about the continuing
disappearances in Chechnya. It
would also appear that the international community is hesitant to criticize any
country for its fight against terrorism.
field researcher who spent two weeks in Chechnya interviewing witnesses for the
HRW report says the response of the international community shows that ³Russia
has been extremely successful in exploiting the global war on terrorism.² However, Anna Neistat suggests, ³Our
research shows that the majority of people who disappear are civilians.² She
says, ³Of course, nobody is challenging Russia¹s right to fight against
terrorists.² But, ³I spent two
weeks in Chechnya interviewing witnesses and I can tell you that most of the
people who disappear cannot be terrorists.² She notes that one man who disappeared had been severely
disabled in a mining accident and had limited mobility. Further, she said Human Rights Watch
documented numerous cases of the abduction of women – many of whom were
mothers with up to eight children and no known connections to terrorist
activity. Even more, Neistat notes
that under international law, no country has the right to ³make people
disappear,² particularly with no trial and no records. (9)
it seems unlikely that the international community will come to the defense of
Chechen civilians. And this year,
that decision likely will resonate much further with the segment of Chechen
society looking for a way out that does not include bombs and abductions. For the first time, this population is
without former Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov. To the majority of moderate Chechen civilians, Maskhadov was
their voice, and their one chance at a negotiated settlement. His death, coupled with the rejection
of their complaints by the international community, has the potential to
further alienate this population – feeding into a sense of hopelessness
and hostility, while perpetrators of violence are emboldened by apparent
impunity. For some, terrorist
acts, including the targeting of Russian civilians, become more acceptable in
it is more important than ever that the international community be the voice of
civilians caught up in a cycle of violence. While continuing to condemn the acts of those Chechens who
see Russian civilians as acceptable targets, the world should also condemn
those Russian and pro-Moscow security services who use attacks on civilians to
create a climate of fear, submissiveness and hopelessness. At this pivotal point in the Chechen
conflict, these civilians must be provided a voice that is an alternative to violence. Otherwise, the only sounds the international
community may hear from them in the future are explosions.
March 16, Russia made what appeared to be a large concession on the issue of
the closure of its bases in Georgia.
Speaking to the ITAR-TASS news agency, General Alexander Rukshin, the
Deputy Chief of Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, said Russia would eliminate
its bases within four years. He
said, ³This is the limit, which we are ready to accept, in order to be able to
withdraw from Georgia, in a civilized way, all our servicemen, weapons and
military hardware.² (10)
statement, which has not been refuted by other Russian officials, came less
than one week after the Georgian parliament passed a toughly worded resolution
that could lead to the outlawing of Russia¹s military bases. The resolution states, ³In case of
failure to reach a bilateral agreement on withdrawal of the military bases by
May 15, 2005, the Russian side shall be demanded to put an end to the existence
of Russian military bases on the territory of Georgia by January 1, 2006.² Further, ³In case of failure to reach,
by May 15, 2005, an agreement with the Russian side on the concrete, acceptable
for Georgia and reasonable time frame for withdrawal of RF's military bases
from the territory of Georgia, the Executive Authorities of Georgia shall carry
out, in accordance with the law, adequate measures with regard to these
military bases.² These listed
measures include the denial of visas to Russian servicemen, assessment of
charges to Russia for the costs incurred while supporting the bases, creation
of ³special regime movements² for Russian troops, and a determination of
ecological damage done as a result of activities at the bases. (11)
attempted to portray his statement not as the concession it was, but as a
demand. ³The Georgian
parliament may indicate any time limit it wishes, but our stand on this problem
will be immutable,² he said. (12)
Rukshin did not mention that just weeks before, Russian authorities had said it
would be impossible to withdraw their troops in less than 12 years.
Georgian officials now express optimism that this issue finally may be
solved. Foreign Minister Salome
Zurabishvili confirmed that Russian negotiators have suggested a three-four
year timeframe for withdrawal of Russian troops and armament, and called this
solution ³optimal.² (13)
remains to be seen, of course, whether a concrete negotiated settlement can be
developed. This is largely because
the price Russia may attempt to exact for the military base agreement is
unclear; Gazprom has stated its
desire to own Georgia¹s trunk pipeline system, and the country continues to
battle with Russia over the state of joint border patrols. Still, Georgia¹s success at moving
Russia¹s position on this issue should stand as an example to other states or
organizations currently in negotiations with the country. Georgia¹s decision to take a loud and
public stand and not move, even in the face of military, economic and political
threats, resulted in at least limited success. It is an important lesson that deserves attention.
(1) ³Worse Than
a War: Disappearances in Chechnya Constitute a Crime Against Humanity,² Human
Rights Watch Briefing Paper, Appendix, 12 Mar 05 via www.hrw.org.
(2) Ibid. Executive Summary.
Background: The Current Situation in Chechnya.
on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, General Assembly
Resolution, 47/133, 18 Dec 92, Preamble.
See http://www.unhchr.ch/huridoca.nsf/. The declaration is non-binding.
(6) Rome Statute
of the International Criminal Court, Part 2, Article 7, 17 July 1998. See http://www.un.org/law/icc/statute/romefra.htm. Russia has not ratified the Rome
Executive Director Rachel Denber.
Press Release, Human Rights Watch, 21 Mar 05.
with author, 22 Mar 05.
News Agency, 16 Mar 05 via Lexis-Nexis.
(11)Resolution of the
Parliament of Georgia on the Military Bases of the Russian Federation Located
on the Territory of Georgia. See www.civil.ge for the English
translation of the entire text.
News Agency, 16 Mar 05 via Lexis-Nexis.
RosBusinessConsulting, 18 Mar 05 via www.rbcnews.com.
By Tammy Lynch (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The end of Akaev's rule?
27 February and 13 March, Parliamentary elections were held in Kyrgyzstan. In
the weeks leading up to the polls, it became clear that the ballot would not
proceed as smoothly as the Kyrgyz government would wish. The events in Ukraine of last winter
have caused reverberations around Central Asia, but governmental disquiet has
been most visible in Kyrgyzstan. At the international level, Akaev directly
accused the United States of funding Otunbaeva¹s candidacy, and warned the OSCE
that interference in the elections would not be brooked. But the Kyrgyz
government did not help its own cause in seeking to forestall unrest. Five days
before the election, the printing house of an opposition newspaper, Moya
experienced a 48 hour power outage.
protests were reported in three of Kyrgyzstan's seven oblasts over the
exclusion of other, less well known opposition candidates. Significant numbers
were involved in some cases: in Issyk-Kul for example, 2500 people blocked a
major highway for five days, demanding that former Prime Minister Arslanbek
Maliev be restored to the ballot. These protests continued to occur in various
districts until Election Day. Voting on 27 February proved inconclusive: only
30 of 75 seats were decided, meaning that a second round, scheduled for 13
March, would be required. (1)
the Kyrgyz government must have breathed a sigh of relief: only one small
protest in Bishkek (led by Otunbaeva) was reported on Election Day, while the
remainder of the country apparently remained quiet. On 4 March, a series of
major protests erupted, and the governments' hopes for a quiet inter-round
period were shattered.
the Southern city of Jalal-Abad crowds numbering up to 3,000 gathered in the
main square to protest against election fraud and support the candidacy of
local opposition figure Jusupbek Bakiev, whose brother Kurmanbek leads the
People's Movement of Kyrgyzstan—the country's biggest opposition bloc.
(2) Protesters did not confine themselves to the streets for long; hours after
the demonstration began crowds occupied the provincial administration building
and began to call for the resignation of several senior local
officials—as well as that of President Akaev himself. (3)
Jalal-Abad protest seems to have been the catalyst opposition protesters
needed. Similar actions involving thousands of people began to occur across the
country, including in Osh, Uzgen, Aravan and Naryn, where, although
demonstrators were unable to occupy the region's administrative building, they
were able to surround the edifice and prevent access by blockading surrounding
emergence of multiple protests resulted in a concerted attack by opposition
leaders and deputies, who on 10 March issued a resolution outside the
Parliament building in Bishkek, calling for early Presidential elections.
Forced to meet outside the building (allegedly because of repair work being
done) the deputies stated that the "president who has publicly spoken in
favor of fair elections but at the same time has helped disrupt the
electionsshould no longer be the leader of the country." (5)
with the pre-election protests, the government's reaction has been to both
dismiss and threaten the demonstrators, with President Akaev claiming that
unrest had been launched by disenchanted, failed candidates, and Prime Minister
Nikolai Tanayev stating that agitators would be "brought to account."
was in this atmosphere of heightened tension, that second round voting took
place on 13 March. As was to be expected, Bermet Akaeva won her seat by a
comfortable margin, while preliminary Central Election Commission reports
showed Pro-Presidential parties winning a two thirds majority (50 of 75 seats)
in the Parliament. (7) Opposition candidates secured only 5 seats in the new
legislature. Although the OSCE has yet to publish a full report into the
elections, the organization noted that many of the violations observed in the
first round (publicly acknowledged "vote buying" and
"administrative interference") were also prevalent in the second
protests continued during the second round, and they have intensified in the
week since. Many of the cities which witnessed inter-round protests reported
that demonstrators had occupied additional buildings. (9) But the protests have
also spread to other areas. Demonstrations were reported in Batken and Talas,
(10) while in Bazar-Kurgan, protestors stormed government offices, and for six
hours held hostage Maramarsul Torayev, the district's chief administrator. (11)
it is not Otunbayeva who has emerged as the opposition's rallying figure, but
Kurmanbek Bakiev, the former Prime Minister and leader of the People's Movement of Kyrgyzstan which is
headquartered in Jalal-Abad, who has been calling loudest for Akaev's
resignation and early Presidential polls. Bakiev has insisted that only
top-level negotiations between Akaev and the opposition leadership will suffice
to resolve the situation. (12)
weekend, the situation escalated even farther. On Sunday, 10,000 people armed
with sticks and petrol bombs, stormed Jalal-Abad's main police station. Police
officers reportedly fired on the protestors (a spokesman insisted that only
blanks were used), but none were injured. Hours later, the protestors burned
down the building. No fatalities were reported, although several police
officers were wounded. (13)
on Sunday morning, the government made good on its threats to use violence:
OMON troops from the Kyrgyz Interior Ministry in Osh and Jalal-Abad stormed
several buildings controlled by the protestors. The attempt to quell the
demonstrators was unsuccessful: reports from the region indicate that the
crowds simply "redeployed" to other areas of the cities, including
the suburbs and the airport. (14)
22 March, President Akaev made an announcement, first stating that election
results which had "sparked strong public reaction" would be reviewed,
(15) and then offering to hold top level negotiations with opposition leaders.
(16) Later the same day, it emerged that Prime Minister Tanayev had traveled to
Jalal-Abad as Akaev's personal representative to begin discussions with protest
leaders. (17) During the speech in which he offered negotiations, President
Akaev also categorically ruled out his own resignation, stating that only an
election or action by the Parliament could legally force his departure. (18)
seems clear that this position is not viable. A central part of the
opposition's demands is Akaev's resignation. Although he may be able to remain
in his post until October, it is difficult, given the scale of protests and the
ferocity of anti-Presidential sentiment, to believe that the opposition will
countenance another term for the incumbent. It is likely that demonstrations
would erupt on a huge scale if Akaev were to seek another term. One possible
solution for Akaev may be to withdraw from the contest himself, and to place
all his political and financial resources behind a presidential bid for his
daughter, who has not
been attacked directly by the opposition. At this point however, it is too
early to predict an outcome, and negotiations between the two parties are
likely to last some time.
Akaev's rhetoric seems to have been
anchored in the fact that the protests had been confined to the southern
regions of the country—by Wednesday no protests had occurred in Bishkek,
and no clear opposition leader had emerged. It is now clear that Akaev grossly
miscalculated the situation. On Thursday morning, mass protests erupted in
Bishkek. Within a matter of hours, protestors had stormed the Presidential
compound, taking over the White House (Akaev's residence), as well as the
country's main government run television station, KyrgyzTV, (19) where members
of the opposition announced that the government had fallen. With the state's
protective forces evaporating, President Akaev and his family apparently fled
the country. (20)
While leadership of the disparate
opposition forces thus far has been lacking, Felix Kulov, the former
vice-President, was released from prison, on Thursday and began was beginning
to coordinate between the various opposition factions. (21) Protestors in Bishkek,
Osh and Jalal-Abad generally have represented a "rainbow" of
opposition forces, yet Kulov may prove vital in uniting and stabilizing
Kyrgyzstan's various opposition voices.
opposition candidate for presidency?
weeks ago, Kazakhstan's major opposition group, Ak Zhol began to undergo a major crisis, which
came about largely due to the party's election failure. (22) Last month,
Alikhan Baimenov, co-chairman of the party, called a special plenary meeting
during which a vote of no confidence was passed against Altynbek
Sarsenbayev-another of the party's co-chairman. At the heart of Baimenov's
complaints against Sarsenbayev was Sarsenbayev's betrayal of the opposition's
cause by serving in President Nursultan Nazarbaev's government prior to
September's elections and his participation in "coalition talks" with
other opposition groups, (aimed at agreement on a joint candidate) for next
January's presidential election.
(23) After the plenum, Baimenov and Sarsenbayev continued their war of
words, and it seemed likely that Baimenov—who holds the Party's sole seat
in the Majlis, might be tempted to split from the party. This has proven to be
the case: during Ak Zhol's
5th Congress, held in Astana, Baimenov announced his intention to resign
from the party. Interestingly, several delegates of the party, including
Sarsenbayev, refused to accept Baimenov's resignation. (24)
days before Baimenov attempted to resign, news emerged which may explain the
Party's refusal to countenance Baimenov's decision: the Coordinating Council
of Democratic Forces
(the group at the center of Sarsenbayev's 'coalition talks') announced that a
new movement called For a Just Kazakhstan had been formed. Although not a political party in its own
right, this group aims to elect a single, unified candidate for next year's
Presidential polls. (25) Ak
Zhol is the strongest of
Kazakhstan's opposition groups. It is possible that the party is now attempting
to maintain unity, in the hopes that the single candidate will be selected from
within its own ranks.
(1) For details, please see
NIS Observed: An Analytical Review, Volume X, Number 3 (4 March 2005).
(2) AKIpress News, 7 Mar 05;
AKIpress News Agency via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(4) Weekday Magazine
Kyrgyzstan, 9 Mar 05; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty via ISI Emerging Markets
(5) Weekday Magazine
Kyrgyzstan, 10 Mar 05; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty via ISI Emerging Markets
(6) Weekday Magazine
Kyrgyzstan, 8 Mar 05; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty via ISI Emerging Markets
(7) TCA-Kyrgyzstan, 16 Mar
05; The Times of Central Asia via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
Elections, Kyrgyz Republic 27 Feb 2005," via (www.osce.org/documents/odihr/2005/02/4334_en.pdf).
(9) "Kyrgyz Election
Protests Spread," RFE/RL Newsline-Transcaucasus & Central Asia Volume
9 Number 50, 16 Mar 05.
(10) TCA-Kyrgyzstan, 16 Mar
05; The Times of Central Asia via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(11) AKIpress News Agency
Website in Russian, 16 Mar 05; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets
(12) "Kyrgyz Protestors
Torch Police HQ," 20 Mar 05 via (www.news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4365945.stm).
(14) Eurasia Daily Monitor,
Jamestown Foundation, Mar 21, 2005 --
Volume 2, Issue 55.
"Protests Force Kyrgyz Poll Review," BBC News, 22 Mar 05 via (www.news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4369065.stm).
Kyrgyz Television First Channel, Bishkek, in Russian, 22 Mar 05; BBC Monitoring
via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
TCA-Kyrgyzstan, 22 Mar 05; The Times of Central Asia via ISI Emerging Markets
Kyrgyz Television First Channel, Bishkek, in Russian, 22 Mar 05; BBC Monitoring
via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(19) "Kyrgyz President's Palace
Overrun", 24 March 05 via
Sources: fleeing Kyrgyzstan leader arrives in Kazakhstan," 24 March 05 via
(21) "Kyrgyzstan Uprising Forces
President to Flee," 24 March 05 via www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7257340/ .
(22) See NIS Observed: An
Analytical Review, Volume X, Number 3 (4 Mar 05).
(24) TCA-Kazakhstan, 14 March
05; The Times of Central Asia via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(25) TCA-Kazakhstan, 11 Mar
05; The Times of Central Asia via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
Fabian Adami (email@example.com)