"We're really not that kind of people"
With multi-colored revolutions bursting out all over the former
Soviet Union, it would seem natural to consider the possibility of Russia
having its own colorful revolution.
While the election of Boris Yel'tsin, the failure of the pushchists and
the assertion of Russian statehood seemed like revolutionary acts, Russia's
independence was won not by raucous crowds demanding that their voices, and
votes, be counted, but rather by three older gentlemen of questionable sobriety
meeting for the weekend at a hunting lodge in the woods west of Minsk.
The institutions supporting Russian democracy, such as they are,
were weakened, perhaps corrupted, almost from the moment of their
creation. Whether the Kremlin was
the stalwart of democratic values, as in the early Yel'tsin years, or the Duma
had the authority to check a powerful president (Putin's first year?), all such
structures have been overrun: either by bureaucratic infighting (could anything
be more grotesque than the scramble between apparatchik factions over Gazprom's
and Rosneft's oil revenues?); or hyperextension in the executive branch's grasp
President Putin has done little to instill confidence that his
regime is capable of fulfilling even its most basic promises to the Russian
population: security, stability,
economic growth and, well, derzhavnost', seem set far aside while the Kremlin
determines who will rule what region, power organ, or board of directors. With the military forces cinched in by
low morale and lower expenditures, and Putin's forays on the world stage
appearing as defensive efforts in anger management, Russia's great power status
totters, just like the regimes of former Soviet neighbors.
However, revolution requires passion, and Russia has been too
torrid throughout the 1990s, over privatization, ideology, land reform,
economics and corruption to spare any ardor for state politics. Putin landed in power with the promise
to strengthen the authority of the state – to make those who would steal,
or terrorize – fear the reprisal of a renewed Russian state. He failed. Western fears that the President usurps regional authority
could not have the same impact in this context: why should one worry about central control over the regions,
when it appears just as ineffective as true regional authority?
Still, the population is uncertain. Jitters remain from terrorist attacks in the air and at
concerts and schools. The country,
led by a President who is younger, more robust, but ultimately just as
constrained as was Yel'tsin, is moving forward, but in what direction? According to one of Russia's leading
pollsters, Yuri Levada, "People aren't certain about anything. Not certain about tomorrow, about their
jobs, not certain they can earn enough, or what will happen to their
The political array is again (still?) rife with clannish
infighting: hardliners and
reformers; economists and Petersburgers; westerners and siloviki. And while this crop of solons and
bureaucrats tussle in a state-sponsored tug-o-war, opportunities for change
Will concern for the future bloom into full-colored revolutionary
fervor? Levada thinks not,
"We don't have the leaders, and we're really not that kind of
It is, nonetheless, disconcerting that the most cohesive political
opposition in Russia currently falls along the red-brown end of the
spectrum. The usual democratic
suspects have reappeared in the news of late, but there does seem to be a
recognition that relying on the Yavlinsky-Nemtsov- Khakamada factions to find
common ground, or a single common candidate is asking for too much. New blood might be needed to
reinvigorate the democratic corps.
If the democratic opposition really could unify behind one candidate,
then that would be revolutionary – perhaps it would even be a revolution
of a different color.
CIS Affairs have a new advocate: a "political technologist" to consult on issues of
foreign and cultural affairs, Modest Kolerov. (3) Kolerov has been tapped to head the newly-founded Kremlin
Presidential Directorate for Interregional and Cultural Relations with Foreign
Countries and the CIS, which is structurally under Dmitri Medvedev's
purview. The new Directorate will
deal primarily with contacts among states in the post-Soviet space. (4)
Kolerov, who until this appointment ran the Regnum news agency,
previously was an adviser for Uneximbank and is co-chair of a committee of
political analysts for the Kremlin, along with Gleb Pavlovsky. (5)
Gleb Pavlovsky described his co-chair as an individual with
"liberal, anti-fascist, and counter-revolutionary views." (6)
The timing of the creation of this Directorate, along with the
appointment of Kolerov, suggests a "soft power" approach to CIS
relations, as was discussed at a recent Security Council meeting (See previous
NIS Observed). Kolerov described
the aims of the Directorate to "promote Russian language, education, and
culture abroad." In response
to questions about the Directorate's political agenda, Kolerov replied,
"Social problems evolve into political problems when they go
unsolved. We will try to resolve
social issues to avoid political problems." (7)
1) The Financial Times, 5 Apr 05 via Lexis-Nexis.
3) Kommersant, 25 Mar 05; What the Papers Say (WPS) via ISI Emerging Markets
4) The Moscow Times, 24 Mar 05 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
6) Kommersant, 23 Mar 05; WPS via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
7) The Moscow Times, Ibid.
Susan J. Cavan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Pity the poor
Russian security services these days.
Tasked with the thankless job of "mopping-up" operations in
and around Chechnya (operations that began in 1999, on the heels of the second
Russian military intervention in the region) (1), they are being attacked,
literally and figuratively, from all directions. March has been a particularly
brutal month for them.
after the Federal Security Service (FSB) scored a "victory" with its
reported assassination of former Chechen leader Maskhadov, well-traveled
reporter Nabi Abdullaev's exposé in the Moscow Times documented how "the
heavy-handed tactics by police and security forces in Dagestan have helped
Islamic extremists recruit young fighters to their cause." (2) This "cause"
has coalesced fighters into a group known by the police as Jenet (Arabic for
"paradise") led by known radical Rasul Makhasharipov. This group has identified itself on the
Kavkaz Center website as Sharia Jamaat, or the Organization for Muslim Justice, and it has
described its attacks on security forces as retribution against those who are
"severely torturing people, humiliating their human dignity and mocking
their religious principles." (3)
The group is said to have killed dozens of law enforcement personnel
since hostilities began in the region nearly six years ago. (4) Abduallaev's lengthy article
cited several specific cases of abuse by police and other security forces in
the region and described the resulting backlash, casting the security services
in a decidedly poor light.
government forces charged with abuse, Dagestani government officials have
proclaimed their methods completely legal. "This harshness is forced upon those who want to
counter the growth of extremism. In fact, it was the Dagestani authorities that
created the legal basis to fight religious extremism," said Dagestan's
Minister of Information. (5) This "legal basis" is a
controversial 1999 law that allows "law enforcement agencies to prosecute
people for possessing religious literature that the Spiritual Board of
Dagestani Muslims viewed as Wahhabi in nature." (6)
It would seem,
then, that the Kremlin's cure for regional violence has become worse than the
underlying disease itself, or so claims Human Rights Watch, which issued its
own critique of Russian methods in the region in March. Releasing a report titled Worse Than
a War: "Disappearances² in Chechnya—a Crime Against Humanity, the organization chastised the Russian
government for allowing the violence in and around Chechnya. "Chechen
fighters have committed unspeakable acts of terrorism in Chechnya and in other
parts of Russia. In addition to enforced disappearances, Russiaıs federal
forces, together with pro-Moscow Chechen forces, also have committed numerous
other crimes against civilians, including extrajudicial executions, torture,
arbitrary detention and looting." (7) The report made the following observation: "While in previous years, Russian
forces were the main perpetrators of 'disappearances,' over the last year they
seem to have been replaced largely by Chechen security forces . . . most of
which are effectively under the command of Ramzan Kadyrov." (8) Even with
a plan of Chechenization, whereby the Kremlin allows pro-Moscow Chechen forces
to take control of the region's defense, Russian security services cannot
escape critique from abroad.
Indeed, with the son of the slain pro-Moscow Chechen leader and the
current head of internal security in Chechnya, Kadyrov in the role of Moscow's
"friend" in the region, who needs enemies?
gazeta appeared to ask a
similar question when Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov reported that the
total number of Russian troops in the region had increased to 80,000, up from
75,000 reported in October 2003, when only 33,000 of that number were
military. This, again, during a
phase of "mopping-up" operations, not war. The 5,000 additional troops appear to be mainly special
forces and police. Nezavisimaya
gazeta speculates that
federal forces in the region were strengthened not because of the need to
increase pressure on the rebels, but because of a need to check the power of
Kadyrov's indigenous forces.
Adding to the
condemnation of the rampant violence in the region, the U.S. State Department
released its own review of human rights across the globe in March. That report paints a similarly bleak
picture of Russian efforts in the region.
[Russian] Governmentıs record [on human rights] remained poor in Chechnya,
where there were credible reports of serious violations, including numerous
reports of unlawful killings and abuses of civilians by both federal security
forces and Chechen government security forces. . . . Law enforcement personnel
reportedly engaged in torture, violence, and other brutal or humiliating
behavior, often with impunity." (9)
With a bit more
balance than the Human Rights Watch report, however, the State Department
report recognized the fact that rebel forces bore some responsibility for the
violence in the region as well:
"The United States also called on Chechen fighters to end terrorist
acts and violence against civilians, repudiate terrorism, and cut all ties to
Chechen and international terrorists." Extending a diplomatic olive branch to Moscow, the report
reaffirmed the official U.S. stance on Chechnya: "The United States recognizes the territorial integrity
of the Russian Federation." (10) This, even though it may disagree with
the methods employed in protecting that territorial integrity.
As if such
attacks from human rights groups and its greatest ally in the war on terror
were not enough, Russia's own human rights ombudsman piled onto the
charge. In what was described as a
wide-ranging annual report, Vladimir Lukin criticized both the government
forces and the rebels for human rights abuses in the region, "including
killings, abductions and unauthorized arrests." Although the report was published in Rossiiskaya gazeta, it does not appear to be influential,
despite the fact that it has been presented to the Russian president and prime
minister on its way to the Duma.
(11) Still, it could be
seen as part of a disheartening trend, especially considering charges from
Presidential Envoy Dmitri Kozak, who earlier this year criticized the whole
anti-terror structure in the Caucasus and recommended federal forces be given
the lead in anti-terror operations. (See previous NIS Observed.)
As evidence of a
countervailing trend, or perhaps just to stem the tide of indignant press,
Sergei Lapin, Interior Ministry OMON (special forces) officer was tried and
convicted in a Groznyy courthouse "of power abuse and forgery" while
working with the police in Chechnya.
These charges rose from the detention, beating, and the subsequent
disappearance of a 22-year old Groznyy man by Lapin in 2001. The victim's remains have yet to be
located. Lapin's sentence was 11 years of detention in a hard labor camp. Ramzan Kadyrov hailed the verdict as a success
of the rule of law in Chechnya, adding that "the republic's population
enjoys the protection of the Russian constitution." Somewhat surprisingly, Itar-TASS reported that "Lapin is the first
law enforcer to have been tried for abuse inside Chechnya over the years of the
Chechen conflict." (12)
So, is there
anything to be made of these events, or are they simply the annual lob and
volley between vocal anti-Russian groups and the Kremlin's defenders? First, Human Rights Watch has made a
relevant observation, one that the Kremlin probably had made already, that
atrocities in the region appear to be on the rise, especially atrocities
attributable to pro-Moscow Chechen forces, those led by Kadyrov. While it is conceivable that Moscow
should favor Chechens killing Chechens over Russians killing Chechens, or vice
versa, Kadyrov's forces operating with the imprimatur of the Kremlin
increasingly reflect poorly on Russia.
Moscow cannot continue to distance itself from the pro-Moscow Chechen
forces yet still claim territorial integrity as the reason for maintaining an
armed presence in the region. So,
President Putin and his administration are still accountable for the
ever-widening arc of violence in the region. The Human Rights Watch report, along with the others, adds
impetus to the case for the de-Chechenization (to which this column has referred
in the past), if not a wholesale de-militarization.
polemicists on both sides of the debate are quick to point out U.S. criticism
of the actions of government forces in Chechnya and surrounding regions, the
State Department report presents the position the U.S. has consistently taken:
While the U.S. recognizes Russia's territorial integrity, some solution needs
to be found to stem the violence (coming from both sides), preferably a
the conviction of Sergei Lapin, there does not yet appear to be any dramatic
turnaround in Moscow's perception of abuses in the region or its complicity in
them. Moscow has taken note of
such abuses in the past and even condemned them vigorously, but, apparently,
they still occur regularly. Unless
and until Moscow's security services are held to account for actions in the
region, expect more bleak days in the Caucasus. And for that maybe we should pity the Chechens too.
(1) Goble, Paul, "Analysis From Washington
- Deadlines Military And Journalistic," Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 29 Dec 99 via
(2) Abdullaev, Nabi, "A Murderous
Cycle of Revenge in Dagestan," The Moscow Times, 15 Mar 05, p. 1 via
(3) Ibid; and "Leaflets, Weapons of
Mujahideen," 25 May 04, from Kavkaz Center via (http://www.kavkazcenter.com/eng/content/2004/05/25/2820.shtml).
(4) Abdullaev, and Getmanskiy,
Konstantin, "Special Services Warn of Further Terrorist Acts and Try to
Avert Them," Izvestiya,
18 Jan 05; FBIS-SOV-2005-0119 via World News Connection.
(7) Press Conference announcing the
release of Worse Than a War:
³Disappearances² in Chechnya—a Crime Against Humanity, Geneva, Switzerland, 21 Mar 05 via (http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2005/03/21/russia10342.htm).
(8) Worse Than a War: ³Disappearances² in Chechnya—a
Crime Against Humanity,
Human Rights Watch, Mar 05, p. 10.
(9) Supporting Human Rights and
Democracy: The U.S. Record 2004 – 2005, U.S. Department of State, 28 May 20, p. 143.
(10) Ibid, p. 145.
(11) Henry Meyer, "Russia's
Ombudsman Denounces 'Large-Scale' Abuses In Chechnya," The Associated
Press, 31 Mar 05 via
Lexis-Nexis. (For more on Lukin's remarks, please see "Domestic
(12) "Russian Officer Gets Jail Time
for Abuses in Chechnya," Chechnya Weekly, Vol VI, Issue 13, The Jamestown
Foundation, 30 Mar 05, and "Police Officer's Trial Shows Laws Effective in
Chechnya – Kadyrov," Itar-TASS, 29 Mar 05, via Lexis-Nexis.
By Eric Beene (email@example.com)
Moscow appears resigned to Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev's
fall from power, claiming that it will not cause deterioration in
Russian-Kyrgyz relations. Akayev and his family are in Moscow and will remain
there indefinitely, though a representative of the Kyrgyz opposition commented
that Akayevıs return is only a matter of time. (1) The Kremlinıs handling of
the Kyrgyz revolution indicates that it has learned from the events in Georgia
and Ukraine and is attempting to avoid repetition of previous diplomatic
mistakes. President Putin has reassured the new Kyrgyz leadership of continuing
bilateral relations, received assurances regarding the future of the Russian
airbase at Kant, and has at least shown a veneer of support and acceptance of
the new Kyrgyz government. (2) Stabilization of the country is of primary
importance, as the implications of the Kyrgyz revolution, and the potential for
other revolutions in post-Soviet Central Asia, are certainly a concern to the
Kremlin. Moscowıs influence wanes each time a revolution occurs and Russia
appears powerless to stop the forces of political.
Support for Lukashenko
President Putin recently met with Belarusian President
Alexander Lukashenko at the Black Sea Resort of Sochi, in what has been
described as a ³sign of military and strategically motivated thaw in
relations.² (3) The question of the Belarus switch to the Russian ruble,
agreement upon transit of natural gas, future WTO accession and joint air
defense policies, were among the ³household² issues the two leaders discussed.
Of equal importance were putative Putin support for Lukashenko in the 2006
election and Moscowıs desire to keep Belarus in its sphere of influence. Belarus currently is the only
neighboring European country primarily subject to Russian influence and not
looking to NATO, though there is some domestic opposition to these positions.
Russia would not welcom a ³velvet² revolution occurring in Belarus, further
undermining Russian control in the post-Soviet space, but with Belarus as a
major trading partner, Moscow has no choice but to support Lukashenko, at least
economically, if not militarily. (4)
The fate of the CIS
At a recent session of the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy
(SVOP), several leading officials, including Russian Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov, discussed strategies designed to reverse the process of Russiaıs
geopolitical retreat in its ³backyard.² (5) Council members stressed the crisis
faced by Moscow, as reflected in the recent colored revolutions in the CIS, and
the general loss of leadership and influence Russia is viewed as ceding to the
West. Although some CIS countries have chosen economic partnership with Russia,
Russia has ceased to be politically ³interesting in the long-term.² (6)
Predictably, the states of the former Soviet Union will continue to turn away
from Russia in coming years if these trends continue, Council members feared,
and the United States, China, the European Union and other major players will
gain greater influence in the CIS.
Three scenarios of CIS development were discussed at the
SVOP gathering. One argued that the status quo would be maintained, with the
CIS as ³a convenient platform for informal dialogue amongst the leaders of the
former Soviet republics.² (7) The second proposal sought to bolster a smaller
CIS, concentrating efforts on one or two countries or groups; this could make
the CIS a more manageable space, and could further Russian partnership with
China. The merging of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the
Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization
(SCO) into one entity could allow for the creation of a new integrated
territory from Belarus to China, providing competition with the West. (8) The
third approach advocated the complete disbandment of the CIS. Some members of
the group commented that ³The CIS has fulfilled its mission [which was]
designed specifically for the transition period² and that ³after last yearıs
Ukrainian election fiasco, the CIS ceased to exist as a more or less coherent
geopolitical space.² (9) Complete disintegration of the CIS, however, whether
already in process or not, would be a worst-case scenario for Russian authority
and security, and, at least according to the members of the SVOP, it would
leave an even larger vacuum of influence that the West could exploit.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs chief spokesman, Aleksander
Yakovenko, qualified some of the pessimism stemming from the recent discussion,
saying that the CIS is by no means at the end of its life and remains
necessary. (10) Moscow has asserted the idea of ³humanitarian cooperation²
amongst CIS countries which includes a range of social issues to promote the
rights of Russian-speaking populations, ³cultural space,² ³education space,²
all of which would attempt to preserve the Russian language, mass media and
influence in the region. Economic cooperation and financial ties, as seen in
Moscowıs relations with Belarus, remain the most likely interaction for the
time being. Citing economic cooperation as a top priority, Aleksander Lebedev
remarked, ³Speculative inter-state constructions based on political
declarations and reminiscences of former state unity have demonstrated their
uselessness.² (11) The future of the CIS and the strategic confusion it has
caused Russia, will no doubt remain in the forefront of Moscowıs political,
strategic and economic consciousness. Its ³backyard² seems to be shrinking.
Novosti, 4 April 2005; 15:49 GMT via (http://en.rian.ru).
Novosti, 5 April 2005; 12:40 GMT via (http://en.rian.ru).
Daily Monitor, 1 Apr 05, Vol 2, issue 64, ³Russiaıs Political Class is Split
Over How to Proceed With Integration of Post-Soviet Space² via (www.jamestown.org).
Novosti, 1 Apr 05, 13:33 GMT via (http://en.rian.ru).
Eurasia Daily Monitor, 1 Apr 05, Vol 2 issue 64.
Daily Monitor, 31 Mar 05, Vol 2, issue 63, ³Putin Obituary for CIS.²
Eurasia Daily Monitor, 1 Apr 05, Vol 2, issue 64.
By Rebecca Mulder (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ISSUES AND LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
proposals for the North Caucasus
As a means of
weighing in on the Beslan crisis and larger Caucasus affairs, the Duma, in the
wake of the September hostage-taking, created its own Commission on the
Problems of the North Caucasus. The commissionıs recommendations, announced on
31 March, appear less than helpful, although they fall into line with the hopes
of the president's plenipotentiary representative to the Southern Federal
District, Dmitri Kozak. Kozak recently convened a meeting of the districtıs
governors as part of an attempt to promote economic development in the region.
proposals ranged from reviving the practice of sheep-farming and other
traditional agricultural employments in the region to the suggestion of
eliminating police checkpoints and guard posts on highways. It also recommended
migration to the region by Russian-speaking Commonwealth of Independent States
(CIS) citizens supposedly as a means of easing the areaıs difficult interethnic
relationships. However, an influx of ethnic Russians hardly seems likely to
soothe ethnic tensions. The commission also proposed an information and
propaganda center, which would work on brushing up the regionıs negative image.
The report by
the Beslan parliamentary investigation committee, headed up by the Federation
Council, is expected to be ready around the end of April. Hopefully, its
findings and proposals will prove more conclusive than the Duma commission's.
The 2004 human
rights report by ombudsman Vladimir Lukin has been published finally. The
report was ready on 31 January but has been withheld for the last two months.
Lukin found that the state of human rights in Russia was unsatisfactory, with
"the right of an individual to life and limbnot guaranteed
effectively." (3) Lukin, who
is a founding member of Yabloko, reported that the abuse and violation of the
rights of migrants and refugees by police and other law-enforcement agencies is
increasing. He also assigned responsibility for the human rights violations in
Chechnya to both sides of the conflict. (4)
continues to circulate about a possible merger between the Union of Right
Forces (SPS) and Yabloko parties as well as the potential teaming up of SPS,
Yabloko, and another party, Committee 2008, headed by Vladimir Ryzhkov, Garry
Kasparov, and Irina Khakamada. SPS announced its intentions on March 24 to
continue negotiations with Yabloko and other parties about the formation of an
integrated democratic party. Joining together would help these smaller parties
pass the requisite threshold to take those mandates in parliament that are
distributed according to proportional representation.
One issue of
debate regarding a putatively united democratic party revolved around whether
to build a united front on the basis of already existing parties or whether to
dissolve these parties and start afresh. The emerging consensus seems to be
that building on the structure of previously existing parties will constitute
the more effective approach. (5)
announced recently that it is forming a panel to develop a common policy for
the putative party. Agreement between SPS, Yabloko and Committee 2008 has been
difficult to achieve. Yabloko and Committee 2008 hold differing positions about
the prospective partyıs base. Yabloko staunchly opposes the inclusion of
"oligarchs" in the partyıs structure; Committee 2008 advocates a
party that derives most of its support from a strong grassroots base in the
regions. (6) Clashes between the leading personalities of each party also
appear likely reemerge. Given these areas of disagreement, it will be
interesting to see what Committee 2008 can create as a common democratic
The third and
final reading of the public chamber bill was passed in the Duma on 16 March and
in the Federation Council on 23 March. The chamber, to be composed of members
of regional and national NGOs and charged with providing recommendations about
legislation to the Duma and Federation Council, will also be responsible for
producing an annual report on the state of Russian civil society. The chamber
will have its own 60-minute state television program, printed publication, and
website. (7) None of its actions will have the force of law.
chamber will operate under a code of conduct drafted, according to Federation
Council speaker Sergei Mironovıs speculations, by the members of the chamber.
In this aspect, it is worth noting that the public chamber will be subject to
such a code while the bodies it is assigned to monitor operate under no such
requirement. (8) The new chamber
could hold its first meeting by 4 November.
(1) ³New organization to promote regional
investment projects,² Itar-Tass,
28 Mar 05 via Lexis-Nexis.
(2) ³Russian Duma's wide-ranging North
Caucasus recommendations 'naive' report,² Izvestiya, 1 Apr 05 via World News Connection
(3) ³Human rights and media situation in
Russia unsatisfactory, says ombudsman,² BBC Monitoring, 24 Mar 05 via ISI
(4) ³Russian official paper publishes
long-awaited ombudsman's report,² BBC Monitoring, 31 Mar 05 via ISI Emerging
(5) ³SPS to go on talks on united
democratic party with Yabloko,² Ria novosti, 24 Mar 05 via ISI Emerging Markets.
(6) ³The Union of Right Forces wouldnıt
mind Mikhail Kasianov,² Gazeta,
28 Mar 05 via Lexis-Nexis.
(7) ³Daily comments on expected Kremlin
control of new public chamber,² Financial Times Information, 20 Mar 05 via
(8) ³TV remarks
by Federation Council speaker Sergei Mironov,² Podrobnosti Program, 23 Mar 05 via Lexis-Nexis.
By Robyn Angley
the Russian arms forces, exacerbated by "benefit reforms," appears to
be fertile soil for groups looking to bring a political challenge to the
Kremlin and it seems that a group has stepped up to do just that. (See previous NIS Observed 31 Jan and
10 Dec 04) Led by the former head of the Defense Ministryıs department for
international cooperation, Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov, the Russian Military
Union is working with other security-oriented private organizations to garner
political support. In February,
several demonstrations were held in conjunction with the gathering of more than
1,000 delegates for the Pan-Russian Officers Congress, organized by Ivashov and
his groups. (1) Building on
concerns over low morale, caused by the degeneration of the socio-economic
status of the armed forces and the recent monetization of benefits, the
Congress built the foundation and filled the ranks of its own militia. ³The Volunteer Troops,² estimated to be
more than 3,000,000 strong, now has appointed leadership (nearly all of whom
are/were generals or admirals), formalized an organizational structure, and
detailed its strategy. (2) They
represent the combination of several different professional military groups
including the Russian Military Union, the Union of Officers, and the Union of
Cossacks. Some very right-wing
nationalist groups, such as the Russian National Unity movement may join in.
(3) The government harassed the
group during its convention by locking it out of its planned venue (a large
hall in the Academy of State Service), leaving them essentially to meet in the
street. While viewed by some as an
outlet for civil confrontation without violence, the FSB regards it as an anti-state
has been likened by General Lev Rokhlin's group, to the Movement for Support of
the Army, in the late 1990ıs. (5)
After his murder in 1998, Rokhlinıs aides disclosed his plans for a
general uprising in the summer and fall of 1998, with the aim of bringing down
the Yel'tsin government. (6) The
movement evaporated after Rokhlinıs murder, in part because of the loss of such
a well-respected leader (and the murder of one leader has a deterrent effect on
prospective leaders) but the discontent remained and simmered. (7)
The leaders of
the current movement also include former Defense Minister Igor Rodionov
(responsible for the 1989 Tbilisi Massacre), and former head of the Armed
Forces Main Combat Training Directorate, Colonel-General Alexander Skorodumov.
(8) These are not poor soldiers,
for whom it is a hardship now to have to pay to take the bus. They are embittered nationalists who
long for the glory of the Soviet Union, a large strong army, and the greatness
of Russia. They blame the Russian
government's weak mismanagement for the current state of ³illness² in their
great nation. Ivashov and Skorodumov are strident in their criticism of
government policies and personalities; slightly more blunt, Rodionov displays
the same ill feelings towards the current and past administrations. He also explicitly states what others
only suggest: ³It is also obvious that this war (in Chechnya) benefits America,
which has long since implanted plenty of its agents and 'advisors' in the
Kremlin, the government, the Defense Ministry, and the special services. The
United States has a direct interest in keeping the embers of war in the
Caucasus constantly smoldering, sapping the strength of an already-drained
Russia still further: aren't the recent events in Georgia sufficient evidence
of that?² (9) The leadership of
this group has been individually ousted from the Kremlin for impeding efforts
at reform, not only military but foreign policy as well. Although Yel'tsin and Putin have had
different approaches to dealing with the West, at one time or another both
administrations have claimed that Russia faces no ³great power² threat and
that, while not yet an ally, the West is not the enemy either. Putin believes that the path to
greatness must start with a strong economy that will eventually give Russia the
capability to project hard and soft power globally. The ³rogue generals,² on the other hand, clearly only
perceive the "threat" posed to Russia by NATO and the U.S., and therefore
believe that the only possible path to security and great power status is to
re-build the Red Army. Their
concern is not with the servicemen, but rather with their perception of Russian
greatness. The servicemen and
pensioners are simply an available political resource to mobilize.
Thus far, Ivanov
seems to have ignored reform and rearmament of the core of the Red Army. The tank divisions (there were 50,000
battle tanks in the Red Army in 1988) are all below 50% in manning and in the
lowest state of readiness of any army units. (10) The powerful Air Forces of the Red Army rot on the ramp,
while the pilots get a miserable 40 hours of flying time per year. Fewer than 84 of the Soviet Navyıs 196
submarines remain in service and the majority of these are not combat ready.
(11) Statistics like these are
what upsets the rogue generals.
Defense Minister Ivanov does seem to understand the connection between
military power and international influence. The governmentıs defense budget has nearly doubled in real
dollars since 1999. (12) Ivanovıs
strategy for expenditure has focused primarily on two areas: the Russian
strategic nuclear forces; and the development of conventional capability with
mobile forces, through professionalism and reequipment the airborne and
peacekeeping units of the armed forces.
These are the two areas where defense spending has increased most
claiming that the West poses no threat to Russia, there is nearly incessant
official discussion about some aspect of Russiaıs nuclear force. Recent weeks have been exceptionally
rich with discussions about investments, improvements and capabilities of
nuclear missile-launching submarines, strategic bombers, and, of course, there
is the unique missile capability that President Putin mentioned back in
November and that continues to stir up comments from observers. Itıs obvious that all of this strategic
nuclear talk is not meant to influence the behavior of terrorists, but rather
of foreign powers. The most recent
attempt by Ivanov to increase the visibility of Russiaıs claim to "great
power" status is the Defense Ministryıs decision to resurrect two
dinosaurs from the past: Ivanov
has indicated that Russia will invest new money into its own missile defense
system. The Soviet Union developed
a missile system, created back in 1968, to protect Moscow and the industrial
areas surrounding it. Although
there is no plan to rebuild the whole system, it appears Russia will upgrade
portions of this network of radars and high-speed missiles designed to shoot
down incoming ballistic warheads with a one megaton nuclear weapon. (13)
The other relics
entering discussions are the intermediate range nuclear forces (INF). In his recent visit to Washington,
Ivanov reportedly told U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that Russia
might back out of the INF Treaty, signed in 1987, that outlawed nuclear
missiles with range capabilities between 500-5,500 km. (14) Of course, Ivanov may be planning to
outfit these missiles with conventional warheads for use against terrorists in
the south. This seems unlikely
considering that without GPS guidance, these missiles are not likely to have
the accuracy required to make an operational difference with a conventional
warhead. It is possible that
Russiaıs reconstitution of intermediate range missiles is not meant as a threat
to NATO or China. (15) However, if
it is not meant as a threat, then it is most certainly a cautionary signal
meant to ensure NATO and China are still paying attention to Russia.
It should have
been obvious that another troop-cut was in the works late last year, when
Ivanov was insisting that Russia needed a million man army and that troop cuts
were over. This is the same
scenario enacted for the last troop cuts, which, apparently is what is being
planned for later in 2005. (16) According to a report in Russkii kurier, the Russian Security Council has tabled
temporarily discussions regarding another major overhaul of the defense
ministry which would include such reforms as moving from six military districts
to four regional commands, forming a new arm that would include all special
operation forces centered on the Airborne troops and, most significantly,
include a cut of 250,000-300,000 troops from the armed forces. (17) These personnel cuts are apparently a
part of the already approved Armed Forces Development Plan for 2010 but they
have been tabled, reportedly because they represent a bigger restructuring of
all security and emergency ministries than that for which the ministers can
It is obvious
that Ivanov confronts a broad range of pressures and political realities in his
efforts to transform the Russian military. Although the proposed downsizing is not altogether
surprising, the timing apparently is not yet right to announce the change. And
while Putin bought off some political pressure from the soldiers and pensioners
when he raised their salaries 20% earlier this spring, the situation is clearly
not stable enough to tell a quarter of a million military personnel that they
are out of work.
(1) ³Russian Officers Join Social
Protests,² RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 9, No. 34, Part I, 22 Feb 05.
(2) ³Rogue Generals,² Julia Kalinina, Moskovskii
komsomolets, 24 Mar 05;
WPS-Defense and Security via ISI Emerging Markets.
(3) ³Is the Russian Army Combat Ready?²
WPS, 28 Feb 05; WPS-Defense and Security via ISI Emerging Markets.
(4) ³Russian Officers Join Social
Protests,² RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 9, No. 34, Part I, 22 Feb 05.
(5) ³Is the Russian Army Combat Ready?²
WPS, 28 Feb 05; WPS-Defense and Security via ISI Emerging Markets.
(6) ³General Rokhlin Was Preparing A
Legal Uprising Against the Oppressors',² Viktor Khamrayev, Vremya MN, 7 Jul 1998; WPS-Defense and Security
via ISI Emerging Markets.
(7) Gen Rokhlin was shot in the head
while he slept on 3 July 1998, with his own gun. His wife, Tamara, was the only suspect and was eventually
convicted of the murder in Nov 2000 and sentenced to 8 years in prison. After her lawyer made an appeal to the
Court of Europe, the Russian Supreme Court agreed to hear Mrs. Rokhlinıs appeal
and eventually overturned her conviction in June of 2001.
(8) ³Rogue Generals,² Julia Kalinina, Moskovskii
(9) ³This Is War,² Igor
Rodionov, Rodnaya gazeta,
No. 34, 3 Sep 2004; WPS - What the Papers Say via ISI Emerging Markets.
(10) ³Russian Army – Overview,²
(11) ³New Subs Will Surmount Crisis' in
Nuclear Deterrence,² Dmitri Safonov, Gazeta.ru, 22 Mar 05 via JRL.
(12) ³Experts Comment on CSG
Baluyevskiyıs Strategic Situation Forecast,² Gazeta.ru, 9 Mar 05 via JRL.
(13) ³The Defense Ministry Reanimates
Anti-Missile Dinosaurs,² Vladimir Ivanov, Nezavisimoe voennoe obozrenie, No. 47, 04; WPS-Defense and Security
via ISI Emerging Markets.
(14) ³Russia Will Use Missiles to Screen
Itself from Neighbors,² Alexei Nikolsky and Vasili Kashin, Vedomosti, 10 Mar 05 via JRL.
(16) See NIS Observed, 29 Sep 04.
(17) ³Special Reduction Forces,²
Alexander Mikhailov, Russkii kurier,
30 Mar 05; WPS-Defense and Security via ISI Emerging Markets.
By Jeff Kubiak (email@example.com)
unauthorized amphibious exercise
the morning of 23 March the NIKOLAI FILCHENKOV, a thirty year-old Russian Alligator
type IV large landing ship commenced an unauthorized amphibious landing at the
Ukrainian Mount Opuk military training area on the southeast coast of Crimea.
The landing was supposed to be the main component of an annual Russian exercise
normally conducted during April, but in this case the exercise never received
Ukrainian approval. Whether viewed
as a simple military blunder or a deliberate political test, this incident
highlights the still contentious issue of the prolonged stationing of Russia's
Black Sea Fleet in Ukrainian territory, and the lack of coordination between
the Ukrainian and Russian militaries and governments with respect to the Black
Sea Fleet's activities.
Russian amphibious ship, based in Sevastopol, picked up the Russian based
landing party in Novorossiysk, Russia on 22 March. She was underway the same day and crossed into Ukrainian
territorial waters outside of Feodosiya later that night. The Russian ship
appropriately notified the Ukrainian authorities prior to entering Ukrainian
territorial waters, but did not provide any information regarding the landing
party or military exercise. (1) The NIKOLAI FILCHENKOV then proceeded to the
exercise area and began landing the personnel and hardware of the Black Sea
Fleet's 382nd marine battalion based in Temryuk, Krasnodar
Krai. In all, 142 persons and 28
pieces of military equipment, mainly armored personnel carriers, were offloaded
at the amphibious training range.
the 382nd marine personnel had essentially completed its amphibious landing,
Ukrainian border guards, who had not received prior notification of the
exercise, confronted them. The
border guards informed the Russian landing party that they were using the
training range illegally. On the
morning of 24 March, the 382nd and the NIKOLAI FILCHENKOV left the training
area and returned to Novorossiysk.
Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesperson claimed that the unauthorized landing
violated the May 28, 1997 bilateral treaty on the status and conditions of the
Black Sea Fleet's presence on Ukrainian territory, the associated agreement on
the Russian Fleet's use of training grounds on Ukraine's territory, the
Ukrainian law on the procedures regarding access of foreign military units on
Ukraine's territory, as well as Ukrainian national sovereignty. (2) The basics
of the 1997 Black Sea Fleet Agreements and its associated agreements include:
Russia and Ukraine split the Black Sea fleet 50-50 with Russia then buying 62
percent of Ukraine's 50 percent back with cash;
leased the ports and training areas in and around Sevastopol for 20 years at
$97.75 million per year, but the Russian Black Sea Fleet's land forces based in
Russia can not use Ukraine's territory for military exercises without Ukrainian
parliamentary approval (the issue in this case);
Russia would credit Ukraine with $526 million for the use of part of the fleet,
as well as $200 million for the 1992 transfer of Ukraineıs nuclear arsenal to
Russia. The payments would be applied toward Ukraineıs $3 billion debt to
Russia recognized that Crimea (and the city of Sevastopol) is legally and
territorially a sovereign part of Ukraine. (4)
The official Ukrainian reaction to the
unauthorized military exercise was expressed via letter on 24 March to the charge
of the Russian Federation in Ukraine, Yevgeni Panteleev. The letter explained the Ukrainian
position and demanded a Russian explanation for the uncoordinated military
unofficial political reaction has been varied. The head of the Ukrainian
Security Service (SBU) Alexander Turchinov took a hard line stance. He commented to Ukrainian television
that "the lodgment of Russian naval forces is contrary to the national
interests of Ukraine."(5)
While the Head
of the Our Ukraine parliamentary faction, Yuri Karmazin, condemned the military
exercise as an "unfriendly act of Russia with regard to Ukraine." (6)
Victor Mironenko, head
of the communist faction in the Ukrainian Parliament, took a more conciliatory
note saying "We have to live and work together with Russia and I'd like
not to fuel passions between our fraternal nations on this insignificant
Ukraine Parliamentary deputy Ihor Ostash verbalized his concern over the number
of "the so-called technical mistakes and inaccuracies connected with the
deployment and activity of Black Sea Fleet in Crimea."(8) He called for a parliamentary
inquiry into the unauthorized maneuvers of the Russian maritime infantry. The deputy also said "We have to
provide an efficient control of all aspects of the Russian fleetıs activity on
our territory in order to avoid any misunderstandings that may worsen our
bilateral relations in the future. These events remind us about the importance of
national interests and the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity
of our state."(9)
President and Prime Minister took a diplomatic approach. Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko said
that the Ukrainian government was committed to complying with the Black Sea
Fleet accords and that no old bilateral accords were going to be revisited.
"I want Russia to take us as reliable partners," Timoshenko said,
responding to the question of whether Ukraine would look to modify the existing
Black Sea Fleet agreement. (10)
President Viktor Yushchenko called the incident a "military
oversight." He also said that
the incident was not a political provocation by Russia, "We have accepted the Russians'
apologies and believe that the political agreement that regulates the presence
of the fleet was, in fact, violated, but, considering the statement that the
Russians issued, I regard this incident as settled." (11) At the same time, President Yushchenko
announced that Ukraine would conduct a review of the Russian fleet's activities
in recent years. (12)
Russian Black Sea Fleet command issued a press release that stated, "The
incident occurred because of uncoordinated actions by the Ukrainian authorities
and the BSF command." (13)
Andrei Krylov, the officer in charge of the Black Sea Fleet press
office, said that the amphibious landing was carried out strictly in accordance
with the plans of combat training of the Russian Navy coordinated ahead of time
with the Ukrainian Naval Command. (14)
The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman,
Aleksandr Yakovenko, said that a Black Sea Fleet representative responded to
Ukraine's letter and that the incident resulted from some technical
misapprehension. He claimed that
the Ukrainian side was notified beforehand about the ship's voyage to Feodosia
but that notice failed to reach all Ukrainian parties. Additionally, he said
that the incident should not be over-dramatized. (15) An unnamed source at the Russian
Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Izvestiya that Moscow had made no "apologies," and the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs assumed that the Ukrainians had taken the press statement by
the Black Sea Fleet as an apology. (16)
to an unnamed Izvestiya source at Russia's Defense Ministry, both parties are to blame:
The Russians, for only notifying the Ukrainian Naval Staff and the Ministry of
Defense; and the Ukrainians, for not notifying their border guards. (17)
the most interesting reaction was from Russian Channel 3 TV Commentator Andrei
Dobrov. While agreeing with
President Yushchenko's evaluation of the event as a military blunder, he
thought that the strong Ukrainian reaction was meant to remove attention from
President Yushchenko's alleged indecisiveness in regard to his attendance at
the Russian victory day celebrations.
Additionally he said, "The story of the marines' landing was
immediately blown up. They started saying again that the presence of a foreign
fleet in Ukraine violates the country's sovereignty. Ukrainian Foreign Minister
Borys Tarasyuk said today [28 March] that Ukraine considered the incident to be
an attempt to violate the 1997 treaty on the Black Sea Fleet. Moreover,
Tarasyuk stressed that there were two possible theories behind the incident:
either the Russian authorities had no control over the actions of its Black Sea
Fleet or they wanted to test the readiness of the new Ukrainian
issue of Russia's Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine was settled almost a decade ago
after five years of high tensions and negotiations. That agreement will remain in force for 12 more years. The fact that both the Ukrainian Navy
and the Russian Black Sea Fleet operate in such propinquity, in geographic
terms, requires close coordination to ensure ship safety and minimize incidents
that could cause political tensions.
As Ukraine continues to push toward closer ties with Europe and NATO,
the coordination between the Ukrainian and Russian militaries could
deteriorate. If treaty violations,
such as the 23 March landing, continue the Ukrainian leadership will be less
likely to accept lack of coordination, incompetence or blundering as reasonable
excuses for violating national sovereignty.
Navy Says Russia Did Not Warn About Marine Landing, KIEV INTERFAX-UKRAINE, 24
Mar 05; FBIS-SOV-2005-0324 via World News Connection.
(2) Ukrainian Leader
Considers Russian Marine Landing Incident Settled, Agentstvo voyennykh
Mar 05; FBIS-SOV-2005-0328 via World News Connection.
(3) Russian Friendship Treaty
Signed; Other Developments, Facts on File World News Digest, (6/5/97), p. 400
G3 via WWS Case Study 2/99,
Ukraine, Russia, and the Black Sea Fleet Accords - www.wws.princeton.edu/~cases/papers/ukraine.pdf.
Rapprochement?: The Black Sea Accords, Survival, vol. 39, no. 3. (Autumn 1997),
p. 40 via WWS Case Study
2/99, Ukraine, Russia, and the Black Sea Fleet Accords - www.wws.princeton.edu/~cases/papers/ukraine.pdf.
(5) Mosnews, Moscow, 25 Mar 05, Ukraine
Outraged After Russian Marines Make Landing in Crimea, via www.ukrnow.com/content/view/3847/2/.
(6) RIA Novosti, Moscow, 25 Mar 05, Ukrainian
Parliament Overlooks Russian Landing Party Near Feodosiya, via www.ukrnow.com/content/view/3848/2/.
(8) Our Ukraine, Kiev, 25 Mar 05, Ihor Ostash
insists on legal registration of Black Sea Fleet in Crimea, via www.ukrnow.com/content/view/3849/2/.
(10) RIA Novosti, Moscow, 25 Mar 05, New
Leadership of Ukraine Say Itıs Committed to Complying with Black Sea Fleet
Agreements, via www.ukrnow.com/content/view/3850/2/.
(11) Ukraine Seen Using Any
Pretext To Make Life Difficult for Russian Military in Crimea Dmitri Litovkin
report: "The Russian Assault Landing Force in Crimea Has Sustained a
Political Defeat"; Izvestiya, 28 Mar 05; FBIS-SOV-2005-0328 via World News Connection.
(12) Ukrainian TV Channel
Five, 26 Mar 05 via Eurasia Daily Monitor, 29 Mar 05, Volume 2 issue 61.
(13) Itar-Tass, March 25 via
Eurasia Daily Monitor, Tuesday March 29, 2005, Volume 2 issue 61.
(14) Ukraine Seen Using Any
Pretext To Make Life Difficult for Russian Military in Crimea Dmitri Litovkin
report: "The Russian Assault Landing Force in Crimea Has Sustained a
Political Defeat"; Izvestiya, 28 Mar 05; FBIS-SOV-2005-0328 via World News Connection.
Russian party explains March 23 incident, when Russian assault landing ship
Mikhail Filchenkov crossed Ukraine's borderline near Feodosia (Crimea), as
Seen Using Any Pretext To Make Life Difficult for Russian Military in Crimea
Dmitri Litovkin report: "The Russian Assault Landing Force in Crimea Has
Sustained a Political Defeat"; Izvestiya, 28 Mar 05; FBIS-SOV-2005-0328 via World News Connection.
Monitoring, Russian TV slams Ukrainian leader for indecision on Victory Day
visit to Moscow, Channel 3 TV, Moscow, in Russian 1530 GMT 28 Mar 05 via
Johnson's Russia List, #9107, 30 Mar 05.
By Kyle Colton
puts Belarus "close to" dictatorship
A United Nations
report, which came out last week, described Belarus as a country close to
becoming a dictatorship. Adrian Severin, UN special rapporteur for Belarus,
stated that ³a deep reform of the political system² is needed and that
³continuous deterioration of human rights² must be halted. (1) Severinıs report
also claimed that Belarus posed a high threat to regional security and
stability. He emphasized the
necessity of creating special international funds which would establish
independent TV and radio stations that could broadcast to Belarus from abroad
and suggested strengthening human rights education as a possible solution to
the deteriorating human rights situation in the country.
The reaction of
the Belarusian authorities to the report was predictably harsh. The report also
evoked angry criticism from Belarusian representatives to the UN human rights
commission, who demanded an apology from Mr. Severin for
"misrepresenting" the situation in Belarus and called Severinıs
report ³a rough and unambiguous insult of our country and its people.² (2)
Belarusian representatives were backed by Russia, some African countries, Cuba
and China. (3)
The report is
said to be patterned on the U.S. State Department's ³Support of Human Rights
and Democracy 2004-2005² document. Some Belarusian representatives to the UN
office in Geneva even expressed ironic indignation about the State Department
not filing a complaint for plagiarism and copy right infringement. (4) The
State Departmentıs and Severinıs opinions were supported by a U.S.
non-governmental organization, Freedom House, which placed Belarus number one
in its list of the most repressive societies in the world (³The Worst of the
Worst. The Worldıs Most Repressive Societies 2005²). (5)
While the UN
report correctly points out the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus,
even some of Belarusian opposition supporters found Severinıs statements
bizarre. Andrei Sannikov, the International Coordinator of the civic initiative
³Khartiyaı97,² said that Severin repeated much of what he had talked about in
1999. At that time, he put a lot of effort into mending the relationship
between the Belarusian government and the opposition. Since then, the regime
turned into an outright dictatorship, but Severin still keeps emphasizing the
dialogue between Lukashenko and the opposition and insists on educating
Belarusians about human rights. ³On the one hand, he talks about the
deterioration of the human rights situation in Belarus, and on the other hand,
he suggests extremely ineffective ways to improve the situation,² says
Sannikov. (6) Indeed, it makes no sense to create and sponsor human rights
education programs in Belarus, if there are no conditions to enforce human
rights observance. Despite the
imperfect nature of the report, it is still to be hoped that Severinıs account
of the situation in Belarus would force UN Human Rights Commission to take
measures towards stopping massive human rights abuses in the country.
Yushchenko recently confirmed his support for political reform in Ukraine, which
would shift some powers from the president to the parliament and the
prime-minister either on 1 September 2005 or 1 January 2006, depending on when
the changes to the constitution regarding local self-government are adopted.
While Yushchenko supports the idea of reform, he expressed concerns about the
way in which the constitutional changes were approved: ³Unfortunately, the
changes to the constitutionwere botched somewhat, they were adopted with a lot
of provisos, including where it concerned the various powers of the government,
president and parliamentEven so, I think that political reform should follow
its path.² (7)
Tymoshenko, prior to being elected prime-minister, held a drastically different
opinion about constitutional reform. At a news conference on 15 January,
Tymoshenko threatened to initiate cancellation of the constitutional reform
since, according to her, it was bound to bring ³chaos into politics.² (8)
Tymoshenko believed that letting the reform happen would mean usurpation of power
by the owners of parliamentary factions. ³I am opposed to this. This is not the
right way for Ukraineıs development,² she stated. (9)
The day of
adopting the necessary constitutional amendments is getting closer, but
Tymoshenko has kept surprisingly quiet about the issue since January. She
neither made any attempts to initiate the cancellation of the reform, not did
she comment on Yushchenkoıs recent statement. There have been no more emotional
outbursts about her disagreement with constitutional reform since she was
elected Prime-Minster. It might be, of course, that Mrs. Tymoshenkoıs desire to
give up recently acquired power is not as strong as she previously thought.
mourn Popeıs death
thousands of Ukrainians went to churches to honor the memory of the late John
Paul II. Many Ukrainians consider the Pope to be the reviver of the Ukrainian
Greco-Catholic (Uniate) Church (established in 1596) after years of Soviet
repressions. He often inspired the Uniate faithful during Soviet times, when
followers had to practice in secret.
following the incorporation of West Ukrainian lands into the Soviet Union, the
Uniates were forced to join Russian Orthodox Church. Now, the Church accepts
the authority of the Vatican, but also retains traditions of the Eastern
Orthodox religion. Hundreds of priests and their families, together with
thousands of church followers were arrested and deported into Soviet labor
camps. Between 1946 and 1989, the Uniate church was the largest banned church
in the world. It was also the largest social group in the former Soviet Union
that opposed Soviet rule. During the ban and persecutions, the Church lived an
underground life: A clandestine system of seminaries, monasteries and parishes
existed up until the Churchıs legalization in the late 1980s. (10)
collapse of the Soviet Union, approximately 2500 Orthodox parishes in Ukraine
have become Greco-Catholic parishes. The Orthodox leadership in Moscow blamed
John Paul II for encouraging this development and accused him of fostering
Catholic influence in traditionally Orthodox lands. This was the main reason
why Patriarch Aleksei II refused to welcome the Pope to Moscow in 2001, after
his visit to Ukraine. (11)
acknowledged the Popeıs achievements last Sunday by saying that: ³In John Paul
II, we have lost a manwho had devoted his whole life to the service of
humanity and the Church. The Ukrainian people bow before his majestical
was reelected the President of the Republic of Moldova by the new parliament
with 75 votes. His reelection was uncertain since the Communist party had only
56 mandates, with 61 needed to elect the president. Two parties, besides his own,
made Voroninıs victory possible–the Christian Democratic Popular Party
and the Democratic Party. (13) The Christian Democrats stated earlier that they
would not take part in the voting (hoping to force early elections), but
apparently changed their mind. The Democratic Party – a new faction that
split form the Democratic Moldova Bloc (BDM) just several days before the
elections – did exactly what others predicted it would do – gave
its eight votes to Voronin.
According to the
Moldovan Constitution, at least two nominations for the president are needed in
order for elections to take place. Vladimir Voronin was the only presidential
candidate until, at the last minute, the Communist Party nominated its second
candidate – George Duca, who received one vote during the 4 April
In his speech to
the parliament, Voronin stated that this was his ³second and last mandate.² He
added that he would work even harder for the good of the country in the next
four years. (14)
(1) Agence France Press, 30 Mar 05 via
(2) ITAR-TASS New Agency, 29 Mar 05 via
(3) Belarusian television, 29 Mar 05; BBC
Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
(5) Khartiyaı97 website, 1 Apr 05 via (http://www.charter97.org/rus/news/2005/04/01/free).
(6) Khartiyaı97 website, 30 Mar 05 via (http://www.charter97.org/rus/news/).
(7) Global News Wire, 29 Mar 05; BBC
Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
(8) UNIAN news agency, 15 Jan 05 via
(10) UGCC in
Underground² via (http://www.ugcc.org.ua).
(11) Agence France Press, 3 April 05 via
(12) Agence France Press, 3 April 05 via
(13) RIA Novosti, 4
Apr 05 via (www.rian.ru/politics/cis/20050404/39617133.html).
By Elena Selyuk
to the status quo
the last several years, observers have come to call the Karabakh conflict
³frozen,³ as negotiators have made no progress toward a peace settlement and
both sides have remained dug in at the ceasefire line of 1994.
for fourteen families in Azerbaijan and Armenia, the conflict is far from
static – each of these families lost sons in front-line ceasefire
breaches during the last month. (1) These breaches have become steadily more
frequent, with both sides suggesting the other is responsible. Whatever the
reason, less than four months into 2005, ceasefire violations have killed more
than double those lost in front-line clashes throughout all of 2004. (2) This
violence has been matched by increasing anger, appeals to international
organizations for assistance, and militaristic rhetoric.
mid-February, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev warned that ³the patience of the
Azerbaijani people is not inexhaustible,² and that the countryıs leaders are
³strengthening our armed forces.² He continued, ³The funds we spent on
defense exceed those spent by Armenia two times, and we will further expand
this potential. Armenia will not last long compared to Azerbaijan in terms of
armament tempo.² (3) Armeniaıs Defense Minister responded by suggesting that
³if hostilities resume, we will win.² (4) Similarly, Karabakhıs former defense
minister said, ³Is Azerbaijan really ready for a war? Simply, they seem to be
ready. Armeniaıs and Karabakhıs task is to have an army and economy that would
discourage the enemy from taking such steps.² (5)
escalation of activity led both Armenia and Azerbaijan to appeal to the United
Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) for
assistance. In response, the OSCE sent an ³emergency monitoring mission² to the
contact line in Terter District. The observers noted no ceasefire violations
during their one day of monitoring. But the mission was only one of several
international activities focusing on Nagorno-Karabakh in recent months.
The majority of these activities were
initiated at Azerbaijanıs request and seemed to be an attempt to generate
international support for the countryıs peace plan. This plan envisions a
multi-step process that would begin with the withdrawal of ³foreign² troops
from Azeri soil and end with negotiations on the official status of the
To begin this process, Azerbaijan would
like the international community to force the removal of Armenian and Karabakh
troops from the occupied districts bordering Karabakh. The country also would
like support for its attempts to have ethnic Armenian ³settlers² removed from
those same districts. But negotiators for Armenia and Karabakh are insisting
that Karabakhıs status be determined before any troops or settlers can be
withdrawn. Armenian officials suggest that the withdrawal of bordering troops
would remove the buffer around Karabakh, thus allowing Azerbaijan better access
for military operations. Armenia also suggests that the individuals settled in
the occupied zones are not there at the request of either itself or Karabakh.
subject of the ³settlers² has been a hot one of late in Azerbaijan, as the
country has accused Armenia of forcibly settling Armenian citizens in Karabakh
and its bordering districts while hampering the return of Azeri refugees to
these same areas.
In January, the Parliamentary Assembly
of the Council of Europe (PACE) passed a resolution expressing concern over the
refugee issue. A report attached to the resolution decried ³the creation of
mono-ethnic areas which resemble the terrible concept of ethnic cleansing.³
While the resolution does not suggest that either Armenia or Azerbaijan engaged
in ethnic cleansing, the document criticizes Armenia and Karabakh for their
occupation of the districts around Karabakh and calls for troops to be removed.
The report also calls for the return of all displaced refugees to their homes
– in particular the hundreds of thousands of Azeris displaced from Karabakh
during fighting in the early 1990s.
During the debate over the resolution,
the point of view of the delegates was clear, and there was little doubt that
the majority of support was on Azerbaijanıs ³side.² Bulgarian parliamentarian
Evgeni Kirilov said, ³We should be clear once and for all, and I think we are
all behind this idea – there cannot be territories occupied by force, or
there cannot be any prospect of joining any territories by force to any
responded quickly by suggesting that Azerbaijan would attempt to use the PACE
report and resolution as a pretext to reinitiate military action in the
districts surrounding Karabakh. However, because the report also urged
Azerbaijan to avoid the use of force to retake territory, as well as to
initiate talks with Karabakh representatives – a step the country has
fiercely resisted as a matter of national pride – Azerbaijanıs reaction
to the resolution has been surprisingly muted.
the country has intensified its attempts to find support for a U.N. General
Assembly resolution expressing concern over Armenian settlements in its
occupied territories. Before entertaining this request, UN representatives
asked the OSCE Minsk Group – representatives from Russia, the United
States and France who have been tasked by the OSCE with mediation of the
conflict – to organize a fact-finding mission to the territories in
question. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan supported the missionıs work.
February, ten OSCE representatives from Finland, Italy, Sweden and Germany
spent a week examining Azerbaijanıs claims, concentrating on the districts
surrounding Karabakh. In mid-March, the fact-finding mission released its
report. This time, Armenian representatives had reason to celebrate – the
mission did not substantiate the majority of Azerbaijanıs claims. Although the
presence of ethnic Armenia settlers was found in the seven districts visited,
³The Fact-Finding Mission concluded that the overwhelming majority of settlers
are displaced persons from various parts of Azerbaijan, notably, from Subhuman
(Goranboy), Get ashen (Chaikent) – now under Azerbaijani control –
and Sumgait and Baku.² The mission also stated, ³There is no clear organized
resettlement, no non-voluntary resettlement, no recruitment,² although the
Karabakh authorities did admit to assisting some of the settlers. The mission
placed the number of settlers at approximately 16,000 as opposed to the 25,000-35,000 currently claimed by
Azerbaijan. And, most important, ³most settlers interviewed by the Fact-Finding
mission expressed a desire to return to areas from which they fled .² (7) The
mission also noted the difficult humanitarian conditions of all refugees from
the conflict – many of whom continue to live in tents, abandoned rail cars
and dilapidated buildings. This issue, as well as a prevalence of malnutrition
among refugees, was also noted in the PACE report.
So where does this leave Azerbaijan and
Armenia? Exactly where they were six months ago, which is exactly where they
were 10 years ago. Despite the attempts by Azerbaijan to generate interest in
the Karabakh conflict, and to receive support for its desire to retake control
of at least some districts surrounding Karabakh, the OSCE Minsk Group
Fact-Finding Report will help Armenia claim legitimacy for its control of seven
districts bordering Karabakh. This claimed legitimacy then will contribute to a
continued political stalemate, and the seeming belief of some – perhaps
even within the Minsk Group – that the status quo is the best option
currently available .
Azerbaijan has not helped its case with
regular suggestions of increased military spending and the possible use of
force. Azeri leaders must understand that this rhetoric can only strengthen the
resolve of Armenia and Karabakh to maintain as much territory as possible. But
perhaps that is part of the point. While the countryıs leaders would have been
pleased to have the international community force Armenia to back down in some
way, and while they favor the appearance of action, they are not prepared to
move a millimeter toward compromise themselves. In a year that will see
difficult parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan, and the possibility of a
strong challenge from the opposition, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is the one
real unifying factor available to the government.
Azeri leaders undoubtedly would have
loved to see Armenia condemned for illegal settlements in occupied territories,
but the alternative – their continued ability to demonstrate ³strength²
by loudly threatening a hated enemy – may be just as welcome. It is
questionable, however, whether the fourteen families mourning their sons this
month, and the future families who may have to do the same, would agree.
Jamestown Foundationıs Eurasia Daily Monitor, 16 Mar 05 via
Agence France Press (AFP) reported that six people were killed in ceasefire
breaches in 2004. AFP, 12:23 GMT, 18 Mar 05 via (www.bakutoday.net).
14 Feb 05; Global News Wire - Asia Africa Intelligence Wire, via Lexis-Nexis.
RFE/RL, 31 Mar 05 via (www.bakutoday.net).
Arovot, 29 Mar 05 BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
RFE/RL, 25 Jan 05 via (www.rferl.org).
Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia on the
Results of the OSCE Minsk Group Fact-Finding Mission, 17 Mar 05 via
(www.armeniaemb.org); and Azerbaijani Space TV, 18 Mar 05 BBC Monitoring via
By Tammy Lynch (firstname.lastname@example.org)
revolution: what next?
Two weeks ago,
second-round voting took place in Kyrgyzstan's parliamentary elections.
Protests had been occurring throughout the electoral process, but in the wake
of a heavy defeat for the opposition in the second round, they intensified.
Although the numbers involved were significant, the demonstrations were largely
centered in the southern part of the country, specifically the cities of Osh
and Jalalabad. Bishkek and the northern part of the country remained largely
Akaev and his government had been threatening to use force to ensure
'stability' since the start of the election period, and on 20 March, that
threat was made good when OMON troops stormed several buildings in the
aforementioned cities. The crackdown did not have the desired effect as the
protests simply moved onto other locations, including airports and city
On March 22,
President Akaev announced his willingness to negotiate with the opposition. It
seemed evident that the offer was rooted in two beliefs: first, that dialogue
could prevent the northward spread of protests; and secondly, that he could
capitalize on the disconnected structure of the various opposition factions in
If this was
indeed the President's calculation, then it was in part mistaken. On March 24,
huge protests erupted in Bishkek. Demonstrators, meeting almost no resistance
from Security Forces, stormed the government compound, taking over the White
House (President Akaev's residence), as well as one of the country's major
state-run media outlets, KyrgyzTV. (3) President Akaev's location was unclear
at the time, although it was later confirmed that he had fled to Moscow. (4)
immediately clear was that the protests in Bishkek were not organized, but
rather were a spontaneous outburst of anger at the regime. There was no
evidence of centralized leadership, and the protests were not peaceful. Pitched
battles occurred between pro-and anti-presidential mobs on the streets of
Bishkek, and there was widespread looting in the city for several days. (5)
Hours after the
White House was stormed, Kyrgyzstan's outgoing Parliament met in Bishkek to
appoint an interim leadership. After several hours of voting, Kurmanbek Bakiev,
former Prime Minister and leader of the People's Movement of Kyrgyzstan was
appointed interim Prime Minister and President, while Feliks Kulov, the former
vice-President (released from prison the same day), was appointed to head the
country's law enforcement and security bodies. Roza Otunbayeva was made interim
Foreign Minister. (6)
The first order
of business for the new government was to attempt to restore order. To that
end, Kulov and Bakiev made television appearances requesting calm, and insisting
that vandals and looters would be prosecuted if arrested. (7) On the 25th, the
government apparently announced a curfew designed to clear the streets, and
there were reports that a large police presence was visible again in the city.
(8) The curfew was apparently a successful tactic, since by the end of the
weekend the capital reportedly was calm again. (9)
order, the Interim government was faced with the question of legitimacy.
According to the Kyrgyz Constitution, new Presidential or Parliamentary
elections cannot be held or viewed as legitimate until the incumbent President
resigns officially. (10) Akaev, residing as a "guest" of President
Vladimir Putin in Moscow, stated that the protests in Bishkek amounted to little
more than an "anticonstitutional coup," and insisted that that he
remained the country's sole legitimate leader. (11) Akaev's statement was
clearly little more than bravado—realistically, there is no chance that
his return to office would be countenanced in Kyrgyzstan. But Akaev's statement
presented the Interim government with a problem, since Presidential elections
had already been scheduled by Bakiev and the legislature for 26 June. (12) If
new elections were to be legitimate, a resolution would have to be reached
A few days
later, Akaev changed his position. Speaking in an interview on Ort TV in Russia, the ousted President
announced that he was prepared to resign, if given "appropriate
guarantees," (13) including "my personal safety and compliance with
the law on guarantees of presidential activity." (14) During the same interview, Akaev made
clear that he would not negotiate with Bakiev or Kulov, but only with delegates
from the newly elected Parliament, led by Speaker Omurbek Tekebayev. (15)
A delegation led
by Tekebayev departed for Moscow to negotiate with Akaev; after three hours of
talks at the Kyrgyz Embassy in Moscow, Akaev announced that he and Tekebayev
had agreed upon a formal, "good and historic" document for his
resignation, which became effective on April 4. (16) Officially at least, Akaev
is now able to return to Kyrgyzstan as a private citizen, but it seems unlikely
that he will do so given the likelihood of "mass unrest" should he
the Presidential election to be held in June has already begun. The race is
widely believed to come down to two candidates: Bakiev and Kulov. While Bakiev
already has announced his candidacy (18), Kulov must wait for a Supreme Court
judgment before he can announce his candidacy. In 2001, Kulov, in what was
viewed as a political case, was convicted and imprisoned for economic crimes.
Under Kyrgyz law, he cannot run for office until cleared. His lawyers have
appealed the Supreme Court. As yet, no ruling has been given. (19)
If his name is
cleared and he decides to run, a presidential campaign between Kulov and Bakiev
is likely to be unpleasant and fractious, since Kulov draws most of his support
from the North, while Bakiev's power center is the South. (20) Additionally,
there are professional differences between the two opposition leaders: on 30
March Kulov, stating that stability had been restored, resigned from his post
at the head of law enforcement agencies. (21) The real reason behind Kulov's
resignation apparently lies in serious disagreements with Bakiev over
appointments in the interim government. (22)
In spite of
these professional differences, Bakiev is striving to ensure that presidential
elections are as democratic as possible. Two days after Kulov's resignation,
Roza Otunbayeva announced that Bakiev had signed into effect the creation of a
State Commission for the "political rehabilitation of Feliks Kulov,"
because he had been widely viewed as a political prisoner of the Akaev
The situation in
Kyrgyzstan remains extremely tenuous. If a two-horse race between Kulov and
Bakiev does emerge, there is the potential of a serious North-South split in
the country. But the potential for a more serious "resolution" to
Kyrgyzstan's leadership battle is also open: During Akaev's Presidency, Kulov
served as Interior Minister (1991-1992), and Head of the National Security
Service (1997-1998), successor agency to the KGB, (24) and he reportedly
commands their loyalty. (25) At this point in time, the possibility that these
agencies could intervene on Kulov's behalf cannot be discounted, but it must be
stated that such an intervention would probably open the country to civil
unlikely that Bakiev or Kulov are willing to risk a divided country. It is possible
therefore that some form of power-sharing agreement between the two candidates
will be negotiated, whereby the loser in an election receives the Prime
Ministerial post, while the other receives the Presidency.
opposition takes heart from Kyrgyz events.
after parliamentary elections in which no opposition candidates or parties were
allowed to participate, (26) a leading opposition figure has spoken out about
conditions in Uzbekistan, and the lessons being drawn from Kyrgyzstan's "Tulip
revolution." Speaking at an undisclosed location in Tashkent, Nigora
Hidoyatova, leader of Ozod Dehqonlar (Free Peasants Party) stated that she believed that
revolutions would have a ripple effect, spreading to other Central Asian
countries. (27) Hidoyatova's party is viewed as a serious threat by President
Islam Karimov's government because it represents a sector of the population
which is extremely critical of Karimov, namely the farmers. Hidoyatova recently
claimed that agriculture in the country represented little more than
"feudal slavery." (28) In recent weeks, the government has cracked
down on farmers, because they were planning to meet near Tashkent to form a
National Association of Farmers to operate in conjunction with the Free Peasants
Party. (29) What is bound to give
the regime more food for thought is the revelation that Ozod Dehqonlar apparently received a delegation from
Vitkor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine
Party last November, which provided them with "training" and
"technical support" designed to help with future campaigns. (30)
It has been
suggested by some sources that there is to be a serious crackdown in Uzbekistan
for the next year in advance of Presidential election slated for 2007. (31) If
this is true, Ozod Dehqonlar's
leadership is likely to be one of the first groups targeted for arrest by the
National Security Service.
(1) See NIS Observed: An Analytical
Review, Volume X, Number 4 (25 Mar 05).
(4) "Ousted Kyrgyz Leader Would
Quit;" BBC News 29 Mar 05 via (www.news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/4391139.stm).
(5) "After the Triumph, the Looting;
Its not a Revolution, it's chaos," The Times of London, 26 March 05 via (www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-1542416_1,00.html).
(6) "Kyrgyz Opposition Strives to
Boost Legitimacy," Central Asia Report, 26 Mar 05; Radio Free Europe/Radio
Liberty via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(7) "Akaev Administration Collapses
in Kyrgyzstan, Sending Tremors across Central Asia," Eurasianet Civil
Society, 29 Mar 05 via (www.eurasianet.org/departments/civilsociety/articles/eav032405.shtml).
(8) "Anxious Times in Bishkek,"
BBC News, 25 Mar 05 via (www.news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/4382035.stm).
(10) "Kyrgyz Ex-President Agrees to
Resign-Speaker," Reuters, 2 Apr 05 via (www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=8067470).
(11) "Kyrgyz Legislators Set New
Date for Elections," Eurasianet Civil Society, 26 Mar 05 via (www.eurasianet.org/departments/civilsociety/articles/pp032605.shtml).
(13)," AKIpress News, 30 Mar 05;
AKIpress News Agency via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(14) "Kyrgyzstan's Ousted President
Sets Conditions for Formal Resignation," RIA, 1 Apr 05; FBIS-SOV-2004-0401
via World News Connection.
(15) AKIpress News, 30 Mar 05; AKIpress
News Agency via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(16) "Former Kyrgyz President to
Resign," BBC News, 3 Apr 05 via (www.news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific.4403591.stml).
(17) "Kyrgyz Group to Visit
Ex-Leader," BBC News, 2 Apr 05 via (www.news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/4303591.stml).
(18) TCA-Kyrgyzstan, 1 Apr 05; The Times
of Central Asia via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(19) AKIpress News, 30 Mar 05; AKIpress
News Agency via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(20) TCA-Kyrgyzstan, 1 Apr 05; The Times
of Central Asia via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(21) AKIpress News, 30 Mar 05; AKIpress
News Agency via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(22) "Personal Animosity Seen Behind
Kyrgyz Opposition Leader's Resignation," Ekho Moskvy Radio in Russian, 30
Mar 05; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(23) "Kyrgyz Interim Leader Set to
Rehabilitate Opposition Party Leader," Kabar News Agency Bishkek in
Russian, 1 Apr 05; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(24) Feliks Kulov biography, via RFE/RL;
(25) "Two Leaders of 'Tulip
Revolution' Cannot Share Power in Kyrgyzstan", Izvestiya, 30 Mar 05,
FBIS-SOV-2005-0330 via World News Connection.
(26) See NIS Observed; An Analytical
Review, Volume X, Number 1 (31 Jan 05)
(27) TCA-Uzbekistan, 28 Mar 05, The Times
of Central Asia via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(28) Delovaya nedelya Website, Almaty in
Russian, 25 Mar 05; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(30) Weekday Magazine-Uzbekistan, 17 Mar
05; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(31) Voice of the Islamic Republic of
Iran, in Uzbek, 18 Mar 05; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
By Fabian Adami