The NIS Observed: An Analytical Review
Volume X Number 6 (28 April 2005)

Russian Federation

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

Newly Independent States

Western Region by Elena Selyuk

Caucasus Report by Tammy Lynch

Central Asia by Fabian Adami

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Russia's path

President Vladimir Putin addressed the Federal Assembly this week in a speech that delineated this stage in Russia's development as founded upon Russian history – recent and far distant – but likewise shaped by post-Soviet developments in the economic, judicial, and security climates.


Most remarkably, Putin fully distanced himself from the last vestiges of linkage with the Yel'tsin regime, calling the disintegration of the Soviet Union "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century." (1) What was once the most-vaunted achievement of the Russian presidency, the destruction of the CPSU-ruled Soviet empire, has now been redefined as a tragedy from which Russia can but hope one day to recover. 


Note the list of ailments Putin identifies as emanating from the poison post-Soviet tree:  "tens of millions" of Russians left "outside the Russian Federation" in now independent states; "citizens' savings lost their value; "old ideals were destroyed;" institutions were disbanded;" the "country's integrity was disturbed by terrorist intervention and the ensuing capitulation of Khasavyurt;" "groups of oligarchs served exclusively their own corporate interests; "mass poverty" became "accepted as the norm;" all occurring within the context of a "severe economic repression, unstable finances and paralysis in the social sphere."  (2) 


Democracy appeared not as a saving grace following years of CPSU stagnation and misrule, but rather as another step toward the Russian state's "final collapse."  It is within this context that Putin identified the necessity and resolve of Russia "to find its own path toward building a democratic, free and just society and state."  (3)


To dwell on the repudiation of the Yel'tsin legacy for a moment:  It occurs that Putin would have to be extremely comfortable in his presidency to move so openly and so far afield from the first Russian President, by whose influence Putin was himself installed as successor.  The flaws of the Yel'tsin presidency are manifold, public and yet insidious.  Nonetheless, Putin's assurance that he is no longer beholden to the "Family" is notable. 


Interestingly, one element of Putin's address that has garnered a great deal of attention:  the critique of his team, the government and general bureaucratic corruption, well could have been lain at the feet of the previous regime, and yet was not.  While changes to the nature of the Kremlin and governmental apparat have been obvious during Putin's presidency, most notably the influx of siloviki and the presence of advisers from St. Petersburg.  On the whole, siloviki appointments have been directed toward the security, defense and advisory sectors.  The St. Petersburgers are a mixed group with ties as strong to Chubais and the first Yel'tsin economic team as to the current president.    The economic, financial, foreign affairs, social, judicial and legislative sectors are populated as much by those with ties to the Yel'tsin Family as to the current President.


[Chubais played up the image of the St. Petersburg advisors in a recent interview: 

Chubais:  The St. Petersburg mafia is forever, and we can reach anywhere.  That's true.

Anchor:  I hope the pope will not be from St. Petersburg at least.

Chubais:  I will have to think it over. (4)]


When Putin castigates the bureaucracy as "a closed and sometimes simply arrogant caste, which sees state service as a kind of business," he is speaking as much to vestiges of previous administrations (including Soviet, of course) as to a creature of his own presidency.  (5)  Interestingly, many drew from Putin's words the need to reshape the government team.  Following the benefits monetization fiascoes, a personnel shake up in the government indeed may be overdue.


Ideologically, Putin's address covered the highlights of liberal philosophy – he even condemned overly aggressive police actions (specifically regarding tax collection).  The thrust of his  address however, aimed at asserting a uniquely Russian road:  "Russia is a country that, by the will of its own people, chose democracy for itself.  (Š)  As a sovereign country, Russia can and will independently determine the timing and conditions of its progress along this path. (6)



Der Spiegel has a fascinating story about the final days of the East German government, and how a little known Russian KGB officer sold a wealth of information to the CIA.  The incident, dubbed "Rosewood," continues to have repercussions.  Although the informant, who asked a mere $75,000 for the file cards, remains unidentified, two CIA officers are now describing the fortunate circumstances that saved the records of all the East German agents from being destroyed as ordered by the Stasi's HVA (Main Administration for Intelligence Collection). (7)


The files, which included annual reports by individual HVA departments, were offered up by the Russian KGB officer stationed in East Germany, at a U.S. Embassy.  His motivation was thought to be simply monetary.  Although arrests for espionage did result from the information provided in these files, the information leading to the arrests was reported to have come from inside the crumbling Soviet establishment, in order to protect the Rosewood files.  (8)


So, does anyone know a Russian KGB officer, stationed in East Germany in the late 1980's to early 1990's who might be able to shed some light on this situation?




Source Notes:


(1)  RTR TV, 0800 GMT, 25 Apr 05; BBC Monitoring via Johnson's Russia List (JRL), #9130, 25 Apr 05.

(2)  Ibid.

(3)  Ibid.

(4)  Interview with Anatoli Chubais, NTV Sunday Program, 17 Apr 05; The Federal News Service via Lexis-Nexis.

(5)  RTR TV, Ibid.

(6)  Ibid.

(7)  Der Spiegel website in German, 18 Apr 05; BBC Monitoring, 19 Apr 05 via Lexis-Nexis.

(8)  Ibid.


By Susan Cavan (






In an investigative report published in Novaya gazeta, reporter Yelena Milashina, using leaked transcripts, demonstrates that federal authorities from Moscow Center were in command of the forces that responded to the Beslan Middle School Number 1 siege last September, and not Aleksandr Dzasokhov, the North Ossetian President, or Valeri Andreyev, head of the North Ossetian branch of the Federal Security Service (FSB), as many had assumed.  Instead, according to Dzasokhov, Colonel-General Vladimir Pronichev and Lieutenant-General Vladimir Anisimov, two of FSB Director Nikolai Patrushev's four deputies, along with other Moscow-based personnel, were dispatched to the local command center to monitor and direct efforts. (1)  Andreyev, possibly the most visible public official during the standoff with the hostage-takers (and who reported officially-sanctioned, though incredibly low, hostage numbers to on-scene media early in the siege when, it appears, more accurate numbers were available) retained his post following the bloody end to the siege; Dzasokhov remained in place as well, vowing instead to dismiss the entire regional government.  The only local official to resign was North Ossetian Interior Minister Kazbek Dzantiyev, but there was no word on his testimony in Milishina's report, nor on that of Pronichev or Anisimov.  Furthermore, there was no indication in this report that FSB director Patrushev or MVD (Interior) Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev were involved directly, even though initial reports on the Kremlin's actions during the siege indicated that Putin sent them both to Beslan quite early in the course of events. (2) 


If true (despite what appear to be gaps thus far), and many analysts believe the report to be credible, it provides more evidence of the Kremlin's desire to centralize control over counter-terror efforts in the region, especially high-visibility efforts like Beslan and the assassination of Maskhadov.  (See previous NIS Observed.)  It also emphasizes that the FSB leadership is (or was at the time) the top choice to lead such efforts, despite the fact that Putin gave the MVD the lead in Caucasus counter-terrorism efforts following last summer's raids into Ingushetia by Chechen rebels.  (3)  Without the context of the complete report, however, further conclusions are difficult to draw.  But unofficial analyses may be useful, as is the fact that someone or some organization felt strongly enough about this information to leak it for publication.


While the Beslan tragedy came without warning, there is much to anticipate on 9 May.  That date marks the one-year anniversary of the assassination of the "popularly elected" Chechen leader Akhmad Kadyrov, father of current Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov, who is the de facto head of pro-Moscow Chechen security forces in the region.  It also marks the 60th anniversary of Russia's Victory Day holiday, marking the end of World War II in Europe, and U.S. President George W. Bush will be in Moscow to celebrate the event with President Putin. (4)  Recent press reports indicate that Chechen terrorist Shamil Basayev plans to launch attacks in and around Chechnya to coincide with celebrations and begin what has been called the "Summer of Fire," a season of stepped up terrorist attacks.  (5) It is not known, however, whether the attacks are to be confined to Chechnya or will target other areas of Russia as well, but previous attacks, not just in Beslan but in Moscow itself, indicate that he and his rebel forces probably have the ability to strike in a variety of sectors across Russia.


In anticipation of such attacks, Russian forces recently conducted a five-day counter-terrorism exercise in the Southern Federal District.  The command-staff exercise involved units from the Ministry of Defense, the federal MVD, North Caucasus District Internal Troops, the FSB, and other associated departments.  A Nezavisimaya gazeta report said the theme of the exercise would be, "Actions to be taken by federal executive-branch agencies and their territorial subdivisions in the event of sudden escalation of the situation," but no mention was made specifically regarding the participation of Ramzan Kadyrov and his forces, so called kadyrovtsy. (6)  A Stratfor report also claims that in February President Putin directed a stepped-up effort to eliminate all major Chechen terrorist commanders, an effort that the FSB continues to date. (7)  This is presumably the effort that resulted in the death of Maskhadov.  Interestingly, there continues to be a relative lull in rebel terrorist acts in the region.  In the month before his death, Maskhadov had called for a unilateral ceasefire, ostensibly as a goodwill gesture but also perhaps to show that he still retained control over rebel forces and was in a position to negotiate, should Putin ever change his mind.  (8) After Maskhadov's death, announced on 8 March, Chechen rebel forces were obligated to observe 40 days of mourning.  There some anxiety as the region braces for what appears increasingly to be the inevitable rebel retaliation, and the anticipation is heightened by not knowing exactly when these attacks might begin. Nevertheless, federal FSB forces have continued publicized attacks on Chechen rebel leaders in recent weeks. These raids, it should be noted, have not involved kadyrovtsy. (9)


Offering his own brand of security and peace of mind, Ramzan Kadyrov has vowed that by 9 May he will find the name of his father's killer and that he will kill Basayev.  (Ever the braggart, one wonders why he has not done so sooner.)  Kadyrov professes to be conducting his own investigation and, indeed, claims already to have a name, though he's awaiting confirmation.  The office of Chechnya's prosecutor had no comment.  (10)   Kadyrov also claims to be "close on the heels" of Basayev, having reportedly captured the latter's artificial leg!  His forces have stepped up efforts in the region, but their efforts do not seem to be coordinated with those of other security forces. (11)  It should be recalled that federal FSB personnel was given credit for killing Maskhadov, although there was some question on that account, but Kadyrov admittedly was not involved.


Kadyrov has become a larger-than-life figure in the region, but, from Moscow's point of view, at least he's ostensibly the Kremlin's larger-than-life figure.  And as Maskhadov is no longer in a position to reclaim the leadership of the republic, Kadyrov is seen by some as becoming an increasingly attractive figure for the Kremlin to install following elections in the region later this year.  But he comes with baggage, to put it mildly.  Clearly a more visible and brash leadership figure than the current Chechen President Alu Alkhanov, Kadyrov and his forces come under regular criticism for violence against fellow Chechens, most recently in a Human Rights Watch report (see previous NIS Observed).  His voice can be heard providing an opinion, perspective, or rebuttal to most events in the region, and his comments certainly appear to be unscripted by the Kremlin.


Which brings up the question, what precisely is the relationship between Ramzan Kadyrov and the Kremlin?  As reported previously, the Kremlin has begun what appears to be a de-Chechenization policy in the region, apparently believing that local forces are untrustworthy and riddled with security leaks.  But whereas Alkhanov provides the Kremlin with a stereotypical sycophant in charge in Chechnya, Kadyrov provides a much more charismatic character, after a Chechen type, with command of forces and plenty of latitude in their conduct.  So when he works beyond the control of Kremlin forces in the region, is he acting simply as vigilante, or has he become Putin's version of a useful idiot?


A recent article in Novoe vremya suggests that Kadyrov and Basayev represent two competing powers in Chechnya, competing for the allegiance of the Chechen people.  Over time they have created a feud in the region, but this feud provides its own form of stability.  At this point, most Chechens have made up their minds, even as different allegiances may divide villages.  This situation, the article suggests, has forced Basayev to look for new recruits from outside Chechnya, evidenced by the increasing numbers of non-Chechens captured in government raids.  This means a relative calm in the countryside, as recruiting efforts appear to have been ended effectively. (12)  This Russian-style stability, bearing resemblance to other so-called frozen conflicts in Russia's near abroad, suits Moscow well:  A simmering feud that does not boil over, does not call undue outside attention to itself, and does not hinder other state activities.


This constitutes an interesting theory, to be sure, but having seen the ability of Basayev's forces to wreak havoc outside of Chechnya, whether at a school in Beslan or with a suicide bomber in Moscow, Chechnya can hardly yet be called a frozen conflict.  And Russian security services' intervention in the region over the past few months indicates the status of the conflict is still by no means acceptable.   However, the operational wall Moscow has built between federal forces and kadyrovtsy does lend support to the theory—perhaps a simmering feud is a longer range goal in the region.  And, certainly, since Basayev's support in the region does not appear to be increasing, this assumption, if true, makes Kadyrov somewhat more useful to the Kremlin.


From Moscow's perspective, however, such a long-range plan simply will not work, at least not with the current cast of characters.  Basayev's survival is a liability to Russia, far more detrimental than was Maskhadov's.  His demonstrated capabilities constitute a direct threat to the state, so it is understandable that he should be targeted for elimination, and no doubt federal forces in the region are attempting to do just that.  But assume for the moment that Kadyrov actually has the capability of which he boasts—to kill Basayev himself.  If he could, is it in the Kremlin's interest to have him do it?


Probably not.  For such an act (assuming most lower-level Chechen rebel commanders were eliminated as well, as appears to be the Kremlin's plan) probably would propel Kadyrov (and his ego) into a new level of leadership in the region—drawing his supporters even closer (and those Chechens who do not support him into his camp out of fear), realizing there is no counterbalancing force in the region.  Then, even with President Putin's new authority to select regional leaders, installing anyone but Kadyrov at that point would prove popularly untenable.  Kadyrov, by most accounts a politician much less politically savvy politician than his father, may very well create an even bigger mess in the region, making the Kremlin long for the Chechen experiment of the late 1990s with Maskhadov at the helm.


So, look for an even greater increase in scope, scale, and intensity from federal security services' operations in the region prior to 9 May, without help from the kadyrovtsy.  Despite being foreigners in the region, they will make every effort, short of aligning with Kadyrov, to kill or capture (and then kill) Basayev.  If terrorist attacks should take place before he's captured, expect federal forces to respond rapidly, with FSB forces in charge, to end the situation with a better outcome than Beslan or the Moscow theater siege, and at least a few captured terrorists (although that fact might not be released publicly).  From the evidence thus gained, federal forces will tighten the noose around Basayev and his lieutenants until they have nowhere else to run.


Once Basayev is eliminated (no matter who is responsible), perhaps by the end of summer, Kadyrov's usefulness to the Kremlin, such as it has been, will have ended.  Do not look for his name among the candidates for Chechen elections in the fall.


Source Notes

(1) Nabi Abdullaev, "Report: Beslan HQ Was Run By Others," The Moscow Times, 15 Apr 05, p. 3 via (; Lawrence A. Uzzell, "Documents Suggest The Feds Were In Charge During Beslan," Chechnya Weekly, 20 Apr 05 (Volume VI, Issue 15), The Jamestown Foundation.

(2) The NIS Observed: An Analytical Review, Volume IX Number 14, 15 Sep 04.

(3) Nabi Abdullaev, "Police Role May Pass Back To FSB," The Moscow Times, 25 Feb 05 via ISI Emerging Markets.

(4) "President to travel to Latvia, the Netherlands, Russia, and Georgia in May 2005," Press Release, Office of the Press Secretary, Mar 24, 05 via (

(5) Lawrence A. Uzzell, "Newspaper: Basaev is planning A Victory Day Attack," Chechnya Weekly, 6 Apr 05 - Volume VI, Issue 14, The Jamestown Foundation; and Andrei Riskin, "Law Enforcement Agencies Treat Chechen Terror Threats 'Seriously'," Nezavisimaya gazeta, 15 Apr 05 via World News Connection.

(6) Andrei Riskin, "Law Enforcement Agencies Treat Chechen Terror Threats 'Seriously'," Nezavisimaya gazeta, 15 Apr 05, via World News Connection.

(7) Liz Fuller, "Who Will Strike First Following Maskhadov's Death?" Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Newsline, Vol. 9, No. 76, Part I, 22 Apr 05.

(8) Nabi Abdullaev, "Maskhadov Raises Stakes In Chechnya," The Moscow Times, 8 Feb 05 via (

(9) Fuller, Ibid.

(10) Alexandra Larintseva, Musa Muradov, "Akhmad Kadyrov's Murderers To Be Named On The Victory Day," Kommersant, No 67, 15 Apr 05, p.6 via Lexis-Nexis.

(11) Lawrence A. Uzzell, "Ramzan Vows to kill Basaev by May 9," Chechnya Weekly, 20 Apr 05 , Volume VI, Issue 15, The Jamestown Foundation.

(12) Vadim Dubnov, "A Leader Who Knows He is Doomed," Novoe vremya, No. 13, 4 Apr 05, p. 8; What the Papers Say, 11 Apr 05 via Lexis-Nexis.


By Eric Beene (





Whose will shall be done?

Following terse remarks from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who stated that Belarus is "the last true dictatorship in the heart of Europe," adding that it is time for change in that country, (1) President Putin met with Belarusian President Lukashenko in Moscow for the second time this month. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responded indirectly to Dr. Rice, emphasizing Moscowšs desire to increase relations with Belarus in the economic and social spheres. Stating that "democratic processes cannot be imposed from the outside," Lavrov added, "We are opposed to anyone dictating their will to sovereign states." (2)


Moscow continues to denounce what it calls U.S. attempts to "export democracy" and impose regime change, especially in former Soviet territory.  The perception that the U.S. is trying to change the geo-strategic balance of forces in Eurasia has prompted Russia to value relations with countries like Belarus more than ever.  Aleksei Makarkin of the Center for Political Technologies remarked, "Belarus is Russiašs only military and political ally in Europe because it is a member of the union state and the Collective Security Treaty Organization. In the near future, the two countries plan to create a united air defense system." (3) With Ukraine and the U.S. planning to cooperate on missile defense, and Ukrainešs push to join NATO following its "orange revolution," Russia is focusing attention on Belarus.


A time to laugh, a time to mournŠ

Complicating relations with Israel, President Putin recently made a "joke" during an Israeli television interview regarding his confirmation that Russia indeed will complete a deal with Syria for advanced Igla (SA-18) antiaircraft missiles, despite objections from Jerusalem and Washington. When asked if the deal will cause Israel concern over security, Putin remarked, "It will, of course, make it difficult to fly over the residence of the Syrian president." (4) Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon disagreed with Putinšs assessment that the missiles pose no threat to Israel; his concern is that the missiles could fall into the hands of a terrorist organization like Hezbollah. Does Russia, indeed, "fight terrorism with one hand but with the other [it] help[s] a state that supports terrorists" as Israelšs daily "Hašaretz" commented? (5)


With a recent visit to Moscow from Israeli parliamentarians, who focused attention on the Iranian nuclear program (6), and given Russiašs continued collaboration with Egypt regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (7), it would seem that Russia is not helping to solve but complicating disputes in the Middle East.  Israel feels threatened both by Iran and Syria, and although Russia attempts to assure Israel that its efforts to keep Iran from developing nuclear weaponry are genuine, Israel remains unconvinced, despite a relationship with Russia that seemed to reflect increasing warmth in the past two years. (8) If Russia wants to keep Israel as a "key partner" with "friendly contact," perhaps it should at least consider that an arms deal is no joke.


EU prospects

As the 10 May EU-Russia summit in Moscow approaches, President Putin awaits the opportunity to further the extent of relations with the E.U..  How this will be done—whether with mere declarations or agreements on specific projects—remains to be seen. (9) Russiašs stagnant democratic development makes it politically unwelcome in the EU, but geopolitical, demographic and cultural realties for Russia make a choice in favor of closer relations with the EU obvious.  With an increasingly unstable situation in the Caucasus, a questionable relationship with China, and the growing number of countries in the post-Soviet space turning to the West, Russia must enhance relations the EU to impede what seems to be inevitable isolation.


Currently, the EU accounts for 48.6% of Russiašs foreign trade and Russia is the EUšs fifth largest trade partner. (10) Traditionally seen as a source of raw materials and an exporter of gas and oil, one way for Russia to make itself a more attractive trade partner is to broaden its range of goods and services. Other issues that limit Russiašs current relations with the EU include the Kaliningrad problem – namely, Russia's push for unlimited transit through Lithuania.


President Putin recently received European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to discuss cooperation with Brussels, ahead of the upcoming summit. The possibility of a Russian-Latvian border treaty, the Russian chairmanship of the 2006 G-8, and the issue of the status of Russian-speaking populations in the Baltic states were matters for discussion between the two leaders and will be on the agenda of the Moscow summit. (11)


Ricešs mixed signals

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Moscow last week and met with President Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, keeping the focus mainly on security cooperation and muting U.S. criticism of the Kremlinšs "managed democracy."  Her strong words on the plane traveling to Moscow contrasted with the cautious terminology during her interview on Ekho Moskvy radio, one of Russiašs largest relatively independent media sources. The major U.S. oil companies who want closer ties with Russia to enhance investment prospects, democratically-minded activists in Russia, and the Russian hawks who want the U.S. kept out of internal matters, for different reasons disliked these mixed messages. (12) Lavrov responded to Dr. Rice by preaching that the U.S. should act multilaterally and observe international law – an attack on American action in Iraq. (13)

Source Notes

(1) Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Newsline, 22 Apr 05, vol 9, no 76 via (

(2) Ibid.

(3) RIA Novosti, 22 Apr 05 15:58 GMT via (

(4) Ibid., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Newsline, 22 Apr 05, vol 9, no 76.

(5) Ibid.

(6) RIA Novosti, 19 Apr 05, 22:47 GMT via (

(7) RIA Novosti, 24 Apr 05, 14:03 GMT via (

(8) Ibid., RIA Novosti, 19 Apr 05, 22:47 GMT.

(9) RIA Novosti via Johnsonšs Russia List, 11 Apr 05, #28-JRL 9118 via (

(10) Ibid.

(11) Ibid, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Newsline.

(12) RIA Novosti, 21 Apr 05, 19:25 GMT via (

(13) Ibid.


By Rebecca Mulder (





Electoral Reform

There are more changes in the offing for Russiašs electoral system. The law establishing the transition to completely proportional representation in the Duma passed its third reading on 22 April (339 in favor; 84 against). (1)  The law raises the entry hurdle into the Duma for party lists from five to seven percent; it does not mention a minimum number of parties who must be represented in the Duma, as had been speculated. The law includes a clause making it impossible for a Duma member to switch party affiliation without losing his/her legislative seat, presumably because now legislators will be elected entirely on party lists (whereas, previously, one-half of Duma members were elected in single-member constituencies, after as Independents. Moreover, the new law hinders separate parties from forming blocs.


Several days before it passed the bill was criticized by Central Election Commission chief Aleksandr Veshnyakov (recently named Putinšs representative for electoral reform) for its omission of a clause punishing any of the first three persons on a party list who run are elected and then decline to take their seats (effectively bequeathing these seats to other nominees of the party). United Russia experienced multiple cases of this phenomenon in the last elections when more than 30 regional leaders ran on the United Russia list and were elected without ever assuming their seats. (2)  Veshnyakovšs degree of influence in his role as presidential representative appears questionable however, given the lack of impact his criticism had.


Prior to the lawšs passage, half of the members of the Duma were elected by the first-past-the-post concept in single-member constituencies. Although the law purportedly aims at strengthening the party system, at the moment most of the advantage appears to lie with a single party, the Kremlin's favorite United Russia, the party favored by the Kremlin, since the increased percentage hurdle for lists and the abolition of single-member constituencies will make it difficult for opposition parties to enter the Duma. 


United Russia may be facing changes of its own, however, with the party splitting into factions following public criticism of its platform by Vladimir Pligin, chairman of the Duma Constitutional Legislation and State Organizational Development Committee, and other United Russia members, including Aleksandr Lebedev and Andrei Makarov. The right leaning group composed an open letter criticizing the partyšs dependence on Putinšs popularity for its support and declaring that United Russia is ill-prepared for the 2007 elections. (3) The factionalizing of United Russia might be a conscious effort to allow the party to distance itself from Putin in the 2007 elections, should his popularity decline, or it could reveal a true schism in a party that lacked a cohesive platform from its inception.



The number of people living with AIDS in Russia has reached somewhere between 260,000 and 300,000, with eighty percent of that population falling in the 15-19 year old age range. (4)  A recent World Bank study projects that, in the best case scenario, if the infection rate hits 2.3 percent of the Russian population by 2010 (2.3 million people), the GDP could be 4.5 percent lower than in AIDS-absent conditions. More pessimistic estimates conclude that if no effective measures are taken to curtail the spread of AIDS, investment could drop by 14-20 percent by 2020. (5)  UNAIDS, the United Nations society that deals with the AIDS problem, convened a meeting with more than 150 government and civil society representatives on 18 April in an attempt to work together on this threat. (6) Youth usually suffer the greatest impact from AIDS, raising the possibility of a serious constriction in Russiašs work force if not properly addressed.


Drug abuse also is on the rise. The official data estimate 350,000 drug abusers, with analysts such as first deputy chairman of the Duma's Health Committee, Aleksandr Chukhrayev, speculating that the actual numbers are nine or ten times higher than the official statistics. (7)  (Estimates vary considerably, as evidenced by Vladimir Yakovlevšs comments below.) The number of drug related crimes was more than 380,000 in 2004, a 22.5 percent increase from 2003. A significant factor in the drug use figures has been the rapid influx of narcotics to Russia from Afghanistan. The situation has prompted statements and hearings by Russian legislators, but whether effective action can or will be taken remains to be seen.


Drugs and other factors may be affecting the quality of Russiašs work force, according to Regional Development Minister Vladimir Yakovlev. In a recent meeting of the Demography and Labor Resources Committee of the Competitiveness and Enterprise Council, Yakovlev concluded, "We have 10 million working women. But out of 20 million men who are capable of working, one million are in prison, four million in the army, five million are unemployed, four million are chronic alcoholics and one million are drug addicts." (8)  Males are not the only population affected by drug use; women apparently are keeping pace with their male counterparts. (9) 


Like AIDS, the population most frequently affected by drug abuse is young persons, with, on average, 483 out of every 100,000 juveniles taking drugs in 2003, as compared with 241 in 100,000 for the general population. Russiašs population is decreasing due to a declining birth rate, which already raises the likelihood of a reduced work force. Trends such as increased incidence of AIDS and drug abuse, therefore, are all the more important to monitor and control because of their potential impact on Russiašs economic growth and viability.


In March, Russia reiterated its willingness to work with NATO in addressing narcotics activity, presumably reaffirming the place of drug-trafficking and other related issues as a national security concern. (10)  However, the claim that drugs are a threat to national security may take on new meaning if drug activity is providing a valuable source of funding for radical Chechen separatists, as Major-General Ilya Shabalkin of the regional operational headquarters for the counter-terrorist operations in the North Caucasus has recently stated. (11)  The state is more likely to act on drug-trafficking issues if it is found to be linked with Chechen separatist activity.


Source Notes

(1) "Russian Duma passes election law granting proportional representation," ITAR-TASS, 22 Apr 05 via World News Connection (WNC).

(2) "Proposed changes in election law strongly favor United Russia,", 18 Apr 05 via WNC.

(3) "Moscow website predicts changes in United Russia leadership,", 21 Apr 05 via WNC.

(4) "Number of AIDS cases reaches 260,000," RIA-Novosti, 25 Mar 05 via WNC.

(5) "Spread of AIDS seen affecting potential economic growth," ITAR-TASS, 30 Mar 05 via WNC.

(6) "UN, Russia pool efforts in struggle against HIV/AIDS," ITAR-TASS, 18 Apr 05 via WNC.

(7) "Over 350,000 drug addicts officially registered in Russia," ITAR-TASS, 14 Apr 05 via WNC.

(8) "Russian minister says majority of working-age men incapable," RIA-Novosti, 21 Apr 05 via WNC.

(9) "Over 350,000 drug addicts officially registered in Russia," ITAR-TASS, 14 Apr 05 via WNC.

(10) "Russia confirms commitment to further counter-drug activities with NATO," ITAR-TASS, 30 Mar 05 via WNC.

(11) "Terrorist activities in North Caucasus financed by drug trafficking," ITAR-TASS, 22 Apr 05 via WNC.


By Robyn Angley (






Pressure continues to build

There is considerable evidence that political pressure on the Russian government continues to build.  Should this pressure turn into unrest, to whom will the government turn for support?  The loyalty of the average armed forces soldier certainly has to be questioned.  The image of angry pensioners and reserve officers lining up at the post office to mail their pension supplements and benefits compensation checks back to President Putin helps to keep alive the widespread discontent that exploded over the monetization of benefits.  Putin will receive checks this month from indignant servicemen in both Ulyanovsk and Primorskii Krai. (1) 


Secret opinion polls taken by the Defense Ministry and leaked to the press show that 80% of the officers in the Russian Armed Forces do not support the policies of the Russian leadership. (2)  When asked for his response to the results of the poll, Major-General Nikolai Bezborodov, a member of the Duma's defense committee, was anything but surprised: "When we meet with officers to discuss monetization of benefits, they look lawmakers straight in the eye and say: 'we hate you!'" (3)  Military journalist Aleksandr Golts commented that "This poll highlighted a very interesting point linked to the military's extremely low respect for the country's current leadership...Officers are infuriated by the authorities' hypocrisy, shouting on every corner that they are the glorious defenders of the fatherland while at the same time doing nothing to improve their social standing." (4)  Although most analysts don't think the unhappy soldiers represent a threat to the administration in terms of a coup, they agree that the soldiers loyalty (or lack there of) will surface should the government come under physical threat. 


Another private organization was recently formed of military men pushed to the "outside" by the current administration.  The Military Commander's Club, led by another former defense minister, Igor Sergeyev, differs in two major ways, however, from the Volunteer Troops and other organizations led by other military "outsiders" like Rodionov and Ivashov.  First, when discussing the purpose and objectives of the club with the press, Marshall Sergeyev did not come across as bitter or angry, but rather he was elusive, vague, and concluded that the Military Commanders Club was just interested in ensuring that the military experience represented by the group is available to assist officials in developing and implementing policies that make sense for the nation. (5)  But an even more important difference between Sergeyev's Commander's Club and Ivashov's organizations is that, whereas Ivashov and his crew were locked out of their planned venue by government officials, the Military Commander Club's inaugural ceremony was attended by the Russian Federation Foreign Minster, Sergei Lavrov.  Lavrov spoke at the meeting, claiming that he and the club both wanted to prevent "manifestations of ideological and political extremism, in Russia, in particular." (6)  Although the club is made up of those who have been placed on the "outside" by the current regime, obviously the leadership still sees this club as a possible ally and perhaps counterweight, should unrest bubble over in Russia.


Another move that suggests the Kremlin is looking to solidify some reliable allies is President Putin's request for the Duma to pass a law that would institutionalize and broaden the practice of recruiting Cossacks to serve in various army and police units. (7)  Already, Cossack vigilante patrols assist police as well as work with border troops to guard Russian borders.  With more than 230,000 adult members willing to enter state service, the Cossacks represent a significant potential to assist in "maintaining order" across Russia.


Ivanov presses ahead

The demonstrable dissatisfaction with Ivanov's directional military reforms appears to be growing.  In addition to the monetization of benefits, many blame Ivanov for the general deterioration of the socio-economic standing of the military (he has not requested military pay raises for soldiers for two years running), and the near-complete destruction of the combat capability of what was once the heart of the Red Army – its tank and motorized rifle divisions and combat air forces.  Despite this unhappiness, the Defense Minister continues to implement his plan for reform, using the same strategy over and over.  First, he probes the political environment with a strategic leak of an upcoming reform, lets the "heat" build and pass, and then creates, or is presented with, an appropriate political environment in which to make his move.  He fired Kvashnin this way in the wake of the invasion of Dagestan in June 2004; he neutered the General Staff in the fall out of the Kvashnin firing, and made significant troop cuts all in this same fashion.  None of these moves were popular with anyone.  Yet Ivanov continues to press ahead. 


Ivanov replayed this pattern with his recent statement decrying media reports, which claimed that the Defense Ministry is planning to reorganize the 6 military districts into 4 regional commands, form a separate special forces arm of the military, and cut another 250,000-300,000 troops from the armed forces over the next 5 years.  Ivanov denied these rumors on at least two separate occasions in words that seemed very explicit. (8)  The leaks about the reforms were reported in late March and caused some stir in the press (see previous NIS Observed).  Ivanov's denials were very straightforward and brief, likely meant to relieve political pressure from segments of the security community who think the reforms are taking the army in the wrong direction, and from those who are likely to be at the losing end of the reforms. 


The rumors are, however, most assuredly true and very likely part of the Armed Forces Development Plan to 2010.  This claim is supported by several facts.  First of all, the initial reports about the proposed reforms came from normally reliable segments of Russian media (RIA novosti,, and Ruskii kurrier).  The reporters got their information from "a ranking source in the Defense Ministry" or "a source in the Kremlin administration."  The leaks were also fairly specific in nature and referenced the Development Plan for 2006-2010, a plan that has been in the works for some time and is very likely complete, as the reports mentioned. (9)  In a report released subsequent to Ivanov's denials, Gen Smirnov, deputy chief of the General Staff, started claiming that only 133,000 contract soldiers will be needed to fill the ranks of the permanent readiness forces by 2008. (10)  No reason was given for his departure from the 144,000 number used by everyone in the Defense Ministry until this point.  One explanation could be that General Smirnov knows that by 2008, only 133,000 contract soldiers would be required once the planned drawdown is completed.  Also, subsequent to Ivanov's denials, a source in the General Staff leaked to Vremya novostey that Ivanov already has picked the commander for the new Special Forces Command.  Lt-General Valeri Yevtukhovich, currently the Chief of Staff of the Airborne Troops, likely will command this new unit of the armed forces which is to be based upon units from the airborne troops and GRU spetsnaz. (11) Yevtukhovich led the Russian peacekeeping forces in Kosovo and oversaw the transition of the 76th Airborne Division to contract servicemen.  With wide experience in current combat operations and still a young man (only 51), Yevtukhovich seems an excellent choice. Despite Ivanov's claims that the rumors about a new military branch for the special purpose forces don't reflect reality, there seems to be an awful lot of detail already known about its structure.


Perhaps the strongest evidence to suggest that the rumored reforms, despite Ivanov's denials, are included in the military's Development Plan, is the consonance between the reforms and Ivanov's world view.  Ivanov believes that in order for Russia to maintain its great power status and a global balance, it must continue to upgrade its strategic nuclear forces.  The Defense Ministry is executing a plan to do that, and Ivanov has stated recently that he is comfortable that "Russia and U.S. are on par as far as strategic nuclear forces are concerned." (12)  Ivanov has also claimed repeatedly that Russian armed forces must be highly mobile and leverage the latest technology.  Thus, the most relevant components of the Russian military will be those with combat potential in a mobile environment.  Clearly these are the airborne troops and Special Forces, units that can operate in fairly large contingents under conditions short of war.  These types of units are the first to transition to contract service and the first to receive the latest equipment.  The efficient organization of these forces under the Defense Minister will be vital to his ability to respond with effective force when needed.


Budget realities are not lost on Ivanov either.  His defense budget is smaller than that of any other nuclear power and even smaller than at least one non-nuclear country, Saudi Arabia. (13)  In order to free up more of his budget to invest in modernization of these forces, Ivanov will have to continue to cut the cost of caring for and feeding the army.  Demographic trends, conscription shortfalls and low morale anyway already have reduced the readiness of many units to virtually zero.  It is clear that Ivanov plans to cut the cost of supporting this deadweight and continue to build those things he deems necessary.  This means more rounds of troop cuts.


Finally, having essentially dismantled the power structure that once was the General Staff, Ivanov will next set upon another bureaucracy that he fights for control of the armed forces – the bureaucracies of the military districts.  In typical fashion, Ivanov plans to confront this bureaucratic roadblock by reorganizing.  By eliminating the military districts in favor of larger regional commands, Ivanov will be able to reshuffle his commanders, leaving him with fewer total commanders with which he will have to deal in order to control the army.  It also falls neatly in line with rumors of political restructuring towards super-regions within the Russian Federation.


Not much cynicism required

For those with a little more cynicism, the rumor that Ivanov plans to combine the special purpose forces of the GRU with those from the MVD and FSB, (a move that he claims is not being enacted but is being discussed) can have only one purpose. (14)  In combination with the recent law to allow defense ministry troops to fight terrorism (broadly defined to include political extremism and separatism), the purpose of a combined special forces command will be to provide the Kremlin with the capability to combat any revolutionary unrest that might develop within Russian society.  As the "botanical" revolutions encircle Russia, Ivanov, with the help of the Cossacks, will have the tools to apply force (that was so clearly missing in the revolutions of the CIS states) to put down such a domestic threat should the need arise.  Ivanov is preparing for the threat environment of the future where the threats to the Kremlin are as likely to come from within as they are from without.


Source Notes

(1) "More Retired Officers Send Compensation Checks Back to Putin," RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 9, No. 73, Part I, 19 Apr 05 and "ŠAs Outraged Reserve Officers Send Their Cash Compensation Back to Moscow," RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 9, No. 70, 14 Apr 05.

(2) "Russian Officers Have Fairly Substantial Reasons for Being Dissatisfied," Vladimir Ivanov and Igor Plugatarev, Nezavisimaya gazeta, 13 Apr 05; WPS – Defense and Security via ISI Emerging Markets.

(3) Ibid.

(4) "Expert Says Army Fed Up with the Government," RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 9, No. 70, 14 Apr 05.

(5) "Former Defense Minister of Russia Speaks of New 'Club of Military Commanders in the Russian Federation,'" Alexander Babakin, Nezavisimaya gazeta, 15 Apr 05; WPS – Defense and Security via ISI Emerging Markets.

(6) "Russian Foreign Minister Says Force in Modern Relations Not Diminishing," RIA-Novosti, 19 Apr 05 via World News Connection (WNC).

(7) "Cossacks to Be Recruited," Simon Saradzyan, St Petersburg Times, 19 Apr 05 via ISI Emerging Markets.

(8) "Russian Defense Minister: No Plans to Put Spetsnaz Forces Under Single Command," ITAR-TASS, 12 Apr 05 via WNC and "Russian Defense Minister Ivanov Denies Forming National 'Special Purpose Forces'," Agentstvo voyennykh novostey WWW-Text, 5 Apr 2005 via WNC.

(9) "Russian Army Could Have New Arm," RIAN – Events in Russia, 15 Mar 2005; RIA-Novosti via ISI Emerging Markets and "Military Restructuring Plan Calls for Drastic Personnel Cuts," Alexander Mikhailov, Russkii Kurrier, 30 Mar 05; WPS – Defense and Security via ISI Emerging Markets.

(10) "Everything Linked to Attempts of Transiting the Russian Army to Contract Service Bears the Imprint of Extreme Approximate-ness and Irresponsibility," Alexander Golts, Novaya gazeta, 4-6 Apr 05; WPS – Defense and Security via ISI Emerging Markets.

(11) "New VDV Chief of Staff Likely to Head Startup of Special Forces Command," Nikolai Poroskov, Moscow vremya novostey, 16 Apr 05 via WNC.

(12) "Defense Minister Says Russia on Par with U.S. Regarding Strategic Nuclear Forces," Agentstvo voyennykh novostey WWW-Text, 12 Apr 05 via World New Connection.

(13) Ibid.

(14) "Russian Defense Minister: No Plans to Put Spetsnaz Forces Under Single Command," ITAR-TASS, 12 Apr 05 via WNC and "Russian Defense Minister Ivanov Denies Forming National 'Special Purpose Forces'," Agentstvo voyennykh novostey WWW-Text, 5 Apr 05 via WNC.


By Jeff Kubiak (



Ukraine's missile production future

Ukraine, specifically the Yuzhnoye and Yuzhmash companies, have played primary roles in the design and production of Russian strategic missiles and space launch vehicles since Soviet times.  But, much like the Ukrainian arms industry, the Ukrainian aerospace industry, specifically the rocket and missile design and production portion, is now at a crossroads.  President Viktor Yushchenko's pursuit of European integration may have a significant impact on Ukraine's aerospace industry and its current primary partner, Russia.


A 25 January report from Interfax news agency stated that, despite the election of pro-western Viktor Yushchenko, ballistic missile cooperation between Russia and Ukraine would continue.  Aleksandr Ryazhskikh, former deputy command of the Strategic Missile Troops of Russia said that this cooperation was necessary to extend the service life of SS-18 and SS-19 missiles.  Ryazhskikh stated, "Up to 40 percent of the companies involved in Russia's ballistic missile production remain in Ukraine." (1)  Vladimir Dvorkin, the former head of the 4th research and development institute of the Russian Defense Ministry, involved research on strategic missiles, said "I believe that Kyiv will go on implementing the agreement on keeping Moscow's missiles, made in Ukraine, operational, and first of all the heavy class." (2)


After President Yushchenko's early April 2005 visit to the U.S., he and President Bush signed a joint statement calling for their countries "to work together on missile defense, including beginning negotiations on a framework to facilitate such cooperation and closer industry-to-industry collaboration." (3)  It is not likely that Ukraine will be able to achieve the delicate balance needed to pursue both partnerships, so will the Ukrainian missile and rocket industry continue to have one dominant partner in Russia or will it, like Ukraine in general under Yushchenko's plan, turn toward the West?


Russian-Ukrainian cooperation

Russian-Ukrainian cooperation in the area of missile and rocket design started at the earliest stages of Soviet ballistic missile development in the 1950's.  Ukraine's design bureaus played a significant role as both a primary designer and subcontractor on numerous Soviet ICBM's and even the Soviet unmanned space program.


At the height of the Cold War's arms race, Ukraine's involvement was as robust as ever.  The design bureau at Yuzhnoye designed the two-stage heavy liquid propellant ICBM SS-18 in the 1960's.  They were also heavily involved in the development of the two stage, tandem, storable liquid propellant ICBM SS-19, although this missile was designed and produced in Russia.  Ukrainian design bureaus devised the three-stage solid propellant ICBM SS-24 in the late 1970's as a replacement for the SS-19.  While the Russian design bureau created the SS-25 in the early 1980's, the missile still used significant Ukrainian parts and designs.  More than 90 percent of its guidance system was drawn up and produced in Ukraine. (4) The SS-27 Topol-M was the first strategic missile to be built by Russia without the participation of Ukraine.


The Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms Treaty (START II) signed by Russia in May 2000, would have obliged Russia to dismantle all ground based ICBMs with multiple warheads.  During the February 2001 visit by President Putin to a Ukrainian missile plant and design bureau, Ukrainian officials acknowledged they were already assisting Russia in maintaining both SS-18 and SS-24 ICBMs in service. (5)

On 13 June 2002, this cooperation would become more extensive; that is when the United States officially withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, in order to develop and deploy a ballistic missile defense system.  After the U.S. withdrawal, Russia decided not to ratify the START II treaty.  The death of START II meant that Russia could pursue a Strategic Rocket Force (SRF) that is much more dependent on its older multi-warhead ICBM; as opposed to the more recently designed and deployed single warhead versions.


Russia appears to be interested in maintaining much of its older, heavy ICBM force (SS-18, SS-19, and SS-24). As previously discussed, the SS-18 and SS-24 are multi-warhead configured, but were designed and produced primarily in Ukraine which, depending on Ukraine's political environment, could complicate or even eliminate cooperation in modernization efforts.  Russia can still modernize the SS-19 component of its SRF; it is the only ICBM in inventory that is both already multi-warhead configured and produced mainly by Russian enterprises. The TOPOL missile (SS-25 and SS-27) while primarily designed and manufactured in Russia is single warhead configured.  The slow development of the SS-27, the consequent slow deployment rate, and the elimination of the START II requirements present Russia with both problems and options.


U.S.-Ukrainian cooperation

While direct military to military cooperation has been strong, especially in the NATO Partnership for Peace (PfP) program, the missile and rocket industry, again much like the defense industry, has remained almost exclusively a Russian area of cooperation.  In 2003, Ukrainian officials expressed a desire to participate with the United States in the possible development of a European theater missile defense system, but little cooperation developed. (6)  The one notable area of cooperation is in the international Sea Launch Project with Yuzhnoye and Boeing working with other partners to launch successfully 15 commercial payloads since 1999.  With a change in Ukraine's political situation, it looks like the stagnated level of cooperation could change.  Earlier this year, there were meetings between Pentagon officials and executives of the Ukrainian missile and rocket industry to discuss increased cooperation. 


Two specific issues seem to be driving the increased desire for cooperation.  First, is the testing of the U.S. missile defense systems.  Second, is a U.S. desire to increase rapidly the transparency of Ukrainian defense and missile industry in order to limit potentially destabilizing proliferation of sensitive information and materials.


The United States wants to conduct more robust testing of the national and theater ballistic missile defense systems.  Ukrainian rockets could provide the vehicles for further testing, specifically the Cyclone 3 rocket.  The Cyclone 3 is a three-stage liquid fuel vehicle that better represents future "Rogue Nation" threats than current U.S. test drones.  It is a 1970's design that has proven to be highly reliable with more than 27 successful operational launches since 1991. (7)  In addition to the missile defense benefits, increased cooperation will help to engrain U.S. procedures with respect to information and material control limiting potentially dangerous proliferation of these technologies. 


Ukraine's industry position

While Ukraine and the United States have more than a decade of military cooperation, most economic cooperation in the defense and aerospace field is fairly new.  Russia and Ukraine have a long history of successful cooperation and changing the Ukrainian aerospace industry's orientation may prove to be difficult.  As late as 2003, former Khartron General Director Yakov Ayzenberg said that he believed Ukraine ought to aim for closer economic relations with Russia.  He even advocated selling large amounts of shares in Ukraine's aerospace companies to Russian companies. (8)



The pursuit of ballistic missile defense by the U.S. led to our abrogation of the ABM treaty, and the Russian decision not to ratify the START II treaty.  The cash-strapped Russians have decided to extend the SS-18, SS-19 and SS-24 missile life, something that would have been significantly limited under START II.


Both of these endeavors would be enhanced by Ukrainian cooperation. Russia had the upper hand in this battle, until President Yushchenko's remarkable rise to power.  Now, as his pro-Western policy starts to trickle down and the U.S. starts to embrace Ukrainian aerospace with actual contracts, it appears that the possibility exists for far closer integration between the U.S. and Ukraine. 


Source Notes

(1) Moscow Interfax, 26 Jan 05, Ukraine-Russia Missile Cooperation to Continue via (

(2) Moscow Agentstvo Voyennykh Novostey, 25 Jan 05, Expert Says Ukraine To Continue Maintaining Russian Missiles Built in Ukraine, FBIS-SOV-2005-0125 via World News Connection (WNC).

(3) (, Bush, Yushchenko Issue Statement on Strategic Partnership.

(4) (, Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) Monterey Institute of International Studies, Russian-Ukrainian Missile Cooperation.

(5) ITAR-TASS, 12 Feb 01, Russia: Putin tour of Yuzhmash said to have no bearing on U.S. missile defense system, FBIS-SOV-2001-0212 via WNC.

(6) (, Missile Defense Grounds Ukraine in West.

(7) (

(8), CNS, Monterey Institute of International Studies, Russian-Ukrainian Missile Cooperation.


By Kyle Colton (








Can a democratic revolution succeed in Belarus?

Much has been said recently about a possibility of the next revolution happening in Belarus. Observersš opinions vary from "absolutely" to "never" to anything in between. Those who say that a revolution is likely often fail to look beyond the possible uprisings and protests to see the potential outcome. Recent revolutions in the former Soviet republics (Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan) led to changes, desired by the population, which nurtured beliefs that similar scenarios would unfold in other countries.


The situation in Belarus is drastically different from any of the above republics, however. Lukashenkošs iron grip on the country, coupled with his large, loyal entourage both in Minsk and in the regions make the success of a democratic revolution in Belarus unlikely. The low likelihood for success does not suggest however, that organizers will abandon efforts to bring people to the streets after Lukashenkošs third presidential "victory" in 2006.


Condoleezza Ricešs recent meeting with two Belarusian opposition members in Vilnus, where she said that the "time for change is to come to Belarus," (1) and the U.S. Senate's decision to allocate an additional $5 million for programs supporting establishment of democracy in Belarus have reassured the opposition. (2) There is still more than a year for the Belarusian opposition to learn the art of organized protests with the help of international NGOs. Growing popular dissatisfaction with the lack of political and economic freedom in the country, as well as the inspiration from successful democratic revolutions in the former Soviet republics may prompt Belarusians to show their discontent with the current regime next year. Approximately 5,000 people came out to the streets of Minsk the day after the referendum – a number that might not appear large, but only 1,000 demonstrators in Bishkek were enough to launch a successful assault on the government palace. Belarusian opposition leaders are optimistic. Vladimyr Kalyakin, the Communist leader, when asked whether he believed in a Belarusian revolution, answered: "Remember 1989. In the Soviet Union, there had never been free elections, but the repressive apparat was just as vicious as it is today under Lukashenko. Nevertheless, the regime collapsed because the people got fed up with it." (3)


The biggest indication that a revolution is indeed possible is Lukashenkošs behavior. A week does not pass by without the Belarusian President condemning revolutions in the post-Soviet states and threatening alleged conspirators against the state, thus exposing his own fears: "Šall those colored revolutions are not revolutions at all. They are plain banditry disguised by democracy," (4) "The joint actions of the state and society against any attempt to destabilize the situation will be harsh and adequate," (5) etc.


Lukashenko recently held the biggest military exercise in Belarus since independence in 1991. "We must be prepared to fight every day," said the President. (6) The President has not hesitated to use force to disperse any resistance on the streets of Minsk throughout recent years. Thousands of protesters have been arrested and often are abused, and many opposition leaders have disappeared without a trace over the course of the past several years.


Lukashenko has no intentions of leaving his post and is prepared to use force to suppress any resistance. Therefore, should a revolution take place, it is likely to be bloody and violent, and democracy will have little chance of triumphing. Daily life for an average Belarusian, already difficult, likely will become even more difficult, and a new regime might well impose more rigid Stalinesque repressions, which would plague opposition members and the uninvolved alike.



Rinat Akhmetov flees

Rinat Akhmetov, the richest man in Ukraine and ex-oligarch, who is worth $2.4 billion, is said to have left the country. (7) It is likely that his decision to leave reflects his concern at becoming Ukrainešs Khodorkovsky. Thus far, no criminal charges have been raised against Mr. Akhmetov. The government only wants a statement from him regarding the privatization of the Donetsk-region coal mines, steel mills and other privatized Soviet industries. Akhmetov is not taking any chances, however. His closest associate – Boris Kolesnikov was arrested recently, which gave Mr. Akhmetov an even stronger incentive to flee. Akhmetov and a small group of Ukrainian oligarchs made fortunes in the 1990s by collaborating with corrupt government officials.


The new Ukrainian government has been aggressive about pursuing violations from the privatizations when former President Leonid Kuchma was in power – theoretically, it is an effort to reduce corruption and attract foreign direct investment. However, many Ukrainian industrial barons have left the country since February in order to avoid persecution. Rinat Akhmetov is said to be in Spain at the moment.



Government-Opposition rapprochement

Throughout the pre-election campaign, Moldovan opposition parties publicly demonstrated their strong disagreement with Communist Party policies and attempted to highlight differences between their political programs and that of the ruling party. There was speculation that the opposition was organizing mass protests and threatening to block the presidential vote in order to force early parliamentary elections. And yet, Vladimir Voronin comfortably won reelection and the opposition suddenly seems more willing to cooperate with the winning party and president.  Why did the opposition have such a sudden (at least on the surface) change of heart?


There are many reasons for such a sharp turn towards collaboration with the government: Firstly, the Moldovan opposition failed to unite before the elections, failing to show Voronin any realistic resistance. Even if opposition parties did manage to get together, the chance of them winning the majority of parliamentary seats was minuscule, due in part to lack of media exposure and the population's general satisfaction with Voroninšs rule. Consequently, each party's failure to garner sufficient electoral support drove their decisions to line up behind the winner, the Communist Party, after the election.


Secondly, Voroninšs sharp turn towards the West, his apparent devotion to the goal of bringing Moldova to the European Union, his determination to eliminate the Russian presence in Transdniestr, his meetings with Yushchenko and Saakashvili close to the elections, all deprived the opposition of any strong argument against the Communists. These developments proved once more that the goals of the Communist and opposition parties were very similar indeed, bringing the opposition to the final realization that much more could be accomplished by working together with Voroninšs party.


The Communist Party also showed its desire to collaborate with the opposition by making the unprecedented move of nominating Marian Lupu (a young politician, not a KPRM member) for the post of Parliamentary Speaker. Lupu was approved unanimously by the newly-elected parliament. It seems that Voronin recognizes the fact that his old Communist party colleagues alone could not help him realize his ambitious plans for Moldova.


Finally, there are speculations that the Opposition-Government "joint venture" was created with the assistance of some Western intermediaries, which helps minimize the risk of breaching this unwritten partnership agreement.


This new rapprochement seems to benefit everyone involved. Voronin and his party enjoy political stability in the country; the opposition benefits from its opinion being taken into consideration when political decisions are made, and society as a whole has more hope for positive changes when the strongest political forces in the country work together for the common goal.


It is to be hoped that this new political partnership will bring the desired results.  Since there is no more justification for the opposing sides to be carping at one another, they will be obliged to engage in meaningful discussion and show the population concrete actions – a task much more challenging than exchanging caustic remarks.


Source notes

(1) Rice Calls for Change in Belarus, BBC new, 21 Apr 05 via (

(2) Khartiya 97 website, 22 Apr 05 via (

(3) The Moscow News, "Who is Against Lukashenko?" by Anna Rudnitskaya, 3 Nov 04 via Lexis Nexis.

(4) China Daily, 20 Apr 05 via Lexis-Nexis.

(5) Vremya novostey, 20 Apr 05 via Lexis-Nexis.

(6) Agence France Press, 2 Apr 05 via Lexis-Nexis.

(7) Ukrainskaya pravda website, 21 Apr 05 via (


By Elena Selyuk (







Remembering the victims Š preparing for revolution?

Last weekend, Armenians around the world commemorated the 90th anniversary of the mass killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks. The killings, officially labeled genocide by 15 countries, most historians and all recognized human rights groups, began when the Ottoman government arrested over 200 leading Armenian intellectuals on April 24, 1915. These individuals were soon executed, and the forced relocation of Armenians from Anatolia to Syria began. During this brutal relocation, over hundreds of miles of desert, documents suggest that 1.5 million Armenians died from starvation, illness or violence.


On April 24 in Yerevan, officials organized what may have been the largest demonstration in the countryšs history; nearly one million people gathered to honor those who died in the attacks. Official delegations from the 15 countries recognizing the "Armenian Genocide" -- including France, Britain and Poland -- attended ceremonies at the national genocide memorial. They then joined the countryšs 3.8 million residents for one minute of silence.


Armenian officials effectively used the press attention created by the commemoration as part of their stepped-up campaign to force Turkey to admit that the actions of 1915-1917 rose to the level of genocide. A key component of this campaign recently has been to try to make this admission a requirement of Turkeyšs EU accession agreement. "We would very much like it if this issue was raised by this organization [the EU] as a prerequisite," Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian said. (1)


The country received support last week from German parliamentarians who gave preliminary approval to a resolution that asks Turkey to take responsibility for "massacres" and "expulsion" during 1915. Germanyšs Christian Democratic Union-Christian Social Union Bloc member Erwin Marschewski said that the EU requires countries to "shine a spotlight on the dark pages of our history." He continued, "Recognition by Turkey of the Armenian genocide of 1915 and 1916 is important." The Bundestag resolution also pointedly asks Armeniašs "forgiveness" for Germanyšs "co-responsibility" for the massacres, by virtue of its alliance with Ottoman Turkey and its "failure to take effective measures" to stop the killings. (2)


At the same time, French President Jacques Chirac made a significant gesture by accompanying Armenian President Robert Kocharian to a Paris monument honoring victims of the killings. And former Polish President Lech Walesa suggested that Turkey at least should be questioned about the killings before it is admitted to the EU. (3)


Although Turkey continues to maintain that the killings were the result of "civil strife" and not genocide, and that both sides lost "hundreds of thousands" during those years, the country suggested a joint commission should study the issue. "Turkey is ready to face its history," Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said. He claimed that Turkeyšs version of events would be vindicated, apparently ignoring significant documents that have been recognized by historians throughout the world as proving otherwise.


All of this activity was welcomed by Kocharian, who used every opportunity to frame himself and his government as an essential protector of Armeniašs future. "Today we bow our heads in remembrance of those who died, filled with grief," he said, "but also in the certainty that the government of Armenia is a guarantor of the safety and eternal nature of Armenians." (4)


The commemoration, for all its necessity and grace, could not have come at a better time for the Armenian president, whose government is facing increased pressure from political opponents. The spirit of roses and oranges has infected Armeniašs politicians, and proclamations of revolution are abundant. While these proclamations likely have little possibility of becoming reality, the willingness of so many anti-Kocharian political leaders to speak them so loudly suggests that the presidentšs iron hold on the country may be waning.


The opposition Justice Party recently stated that it is "an adherent to evolutionary and peaceful changes. However, if unpredictable events occur when changing power, Kocharian and the ruling coalition will be responsible for it." (5) The Blocšs leader, and one of the main opposition activists in Armenia, told a recent gathering of opposition parties, "President Robert Kocharian likes to call Armenia an organized country. If you speak of falsifications, violence, lies and corruption, then Armenia is well-organized," Stepan Demarchian said. "The resignation of the incumbent is the number one desire of society, and the consolidation of all healthy political forces of the country is necessary here." (6)


At the same time, the opposition Republic Party (not to be confused with the pro-government Republican Party), called for the "liquidation of the authoritarian, administrative-clan regime and its substitution with a political, economic and social system based on democratic principles." A statement released by the party said, "A democratic revolution in Armenia is possible in the case of unity and consolidation of healthy political and nongovernmental forces. The Republic Party is ready for unity." (7)


President Kocharianšs response to these statements has been calm and dismissive, even though some of his own allies -- most importantly the parliamentary speaker -- have begun casting about for possible new coalitions. "We often read in the press that our [Armenian] opposition is very weak and bad," he said. "It has failed not because it is working badly but simply because the authorities in our country are working more effectively and better." (8)


And in fact, Kocharian is partly correct. Unlike the Georgians, Ukrainians and Kyrgyz prior to their revolutions, Armenians generally receive their pensions and wages, thanks to large subsidies from Russia. Even more, Armenians have a relatively developed local administrative structure and civic culture, meaning that the central authorities control far less of the day-to-day governance than in most other former Soviet republics. This fact provides a significant psychological buffer for the authorities in Yerevan, although these authorities are careful to keep their local representatives in line.


Even more important, the Armenian oppositionšs history is filled with unrealized potential. Internal bickering, shortsightedness and over inflated egos regularly have combined to undermine any possibility of success. Kocharian cannot be blamed for thinking that this latest wave of proclamations in favor of unity also will fail.


Still, the presidentšs increased focus on external disagreements with Turkey and Azerbaijan (see NIS Observed, 6 Apr 05 combined with numerous statements playing down the possibility of revolution, point to his uneasiness over the domestic situation. And although the economic situation may seem stable, it is far from satisfactory. This weekšs genocide commemoration may have served as a temporary distraction, but in the coming months, as the country prepares for Fallšs local administration elections, Kocharian will face a shifting domestic environment newly informed by the examples of its neighbors.



Real progress, or real politik?

Earlier this week, Georgian Foreign Minister Salome Zourabichvili and her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov completed the latest round of talks over the withdrawal of Russiašs army bases from Georgia. Following the talks, Zourabichvili announced that, for the first time, the countries had made "concrete progress." She said a deadline for the basesš withdrawal had been preliminarily reached -- January 1, 2008 -- as well as an agreement that the process would entail a phased withdrawal to begin within one year and the inclusion of a detailed schedule for withdrawal within the final agreement. (9)


Lavrov also noted "real progress," and said, "We agree that the pullout will be done in stages and will begin, assuming we sign an agreement, this year." (10)


It is Lavrovšs five words -- "assuming we sign an agreement" -- that are the problem. Although both foreign ministers said they had sent "an agreement" to their presidents to sign, Zourabichvili said that she would withhold her final recommendation to President Mikhail Saakashvili until she receives further details in writing. "It is a matter of trust," she said. "We know from the past that Russia has ignored many agreements and treaties [with the Georgian side]." Further, she said, "The devil is in the details." (11)


Zourabichvili has been through numerous rounds of negotiations that have ended badly. In fact, just two weeks ago, talks in Tbilisi ended in frustration and recrimination.


At that time, Georgian officials expressed concern over a number of periphery conditions proposed by Russia. Russia was demanding that Georgia clearly state within the base closure agreement that it would forbid the future deployment of all "third country" troops on its territory. (12) Russia also continued to request that Georgia pay the relocation costs of its troops and equipment. Georgia refused to accept either of these points.


Although numerous Georgian officials stated that the country does not plan to allow non-Georgian bases on its territory, following the previous negotiations, Parliamentary Chairperson Nino Burjanadze said, "Deployment or non-deployment of foreign military bases on Georgian territory is Georgiašs internal affair." (13) Both Burjanadze and Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli also reiterated that "we are not going to pay any compensation." They did suggest, however, that perhaps the international community would assist Russia in this regard. (14)


At the time, Georgia reportedly demanded that Russian bases be operated only in "pull-out mode." This would eliminate the possibility of conducting military exercises and end troop rotation. The Georgian side also continued to push for the base in Gaduata, Abkhazia to be included in the new closure agreement, since the country doubts Russiašs claim that it has already been shut down (especially given recent admissions by Abkhaz military officials that their troops are being trained by Russian military officers). Russia objected to these stipulations.


It appears that at least one of these sticking points -- that the base be operated in pull-out mode -- may have been overcome by Russiašs verbal agreement this week to a phased withdrawal. However, the rest of the points remain.


The base closure agreement is far from complete. It seems, however, that the leaders of Georgia and Russia are attempting to avoid the triggering of a Georgian parliamentary resolution that would outlaw bases if at least a preliminary agreement on their closure isnšt reached prior to May 15. Russia in particular seems to have -- at least momentarily -- blinked. Izvestia wrote, "The Georgians intended to restrict the movement of Russian militaries on the Georgian territory. Georgia also intended to ban the military trainings of the Russian militaries. And suddenly a miracle happened -- Moscow has given up. Without a fight. Quietly." (15)


That seems hard to believe, particularly for Zourabichvili. She refused to backtrack on her earlier statement connecting Saakashvilišs attendance at Moscowšs VE Day anniversary celebration to an agreement over the bases. "The [Georgian] president will analyze the results of these negotiations," she said. "Then, he will decide whether the results are worth for him to go to Moscow on the 9th of May." (16)


Source Notes

(1) Agence France Presse, 02:57 GMT, 19 Apr 05 via Yahoo News.

(2) Deutsche Welle, 22 Apr 05 via (

(3) Agence France Presse, 02:02 GMT, 24 Apr 05 via Yahoo News.

(4) Reuters, "Armenians Remember Turkish Killings," 24 Apr 05 via Yahoo News.

(5) ARMINFO, "Opposition Justice Bloc is Adherent of Evolutionary and Peaceful Changes in Armenia," 13 Apr 05 via Lexis-Nexis.

(6) ARMINFO, "Consolidation of All Healthy Political Forces of Country Necessary," 13 Apr 05 via Lexis-Nexis.

(7) ARMINFO, "Democratic Revolution in Armenia is Possible," 15 Apr 05 via Lexis-Nexis.

(8) Public Television of Armenia, 1600 GMT, 11 Apr 05 via Lexis-Nexis.

(9) Civil Georgia, 2347 GMT, 25 Apr 05 via (

(10) Agence France Presse, 0835 GMT, 26 Apr 05 via Yahoo News.

(11) Civil Georgia, 2347 GMT, 25 Apr 05 via (

(12) Kommersant, 18 Apr 05; Defense and Security via Lexis-Nexis.

(13) Civil Georgia, 19:23 CET, 22 Apr 05 via (

(14) Interfax, 1826 GMT, 25 Apr 05 via (

(15) Civil Georgia, 1217 GMT, 26 Apr 2005; via (

(16) Agence France Presse, 1050 GMT, 20 Apr 05; via Lexis-Nexis.

By Tammy Lynch (





Unexpected unified opposition candidate emerging?

Last month it emerged that Kazakhstan's most important opposition party, Ak Zhol was undergoing a major crisis, in which a vote of no confidence was called and passed against Altynbek Sarsenbayev, one of the party's co-chairman.  Sarsenbayev's apparent transgression lay in that he had participated in 'coalition' talks with other opposition groups, aimed at finding a single opposition candidate to stand against President Nursultan Nazarbaev in elections now slated for December  (instead of January) 2006. (1) It seemed likely at the time that this unified candidate would be a prominent figure--such as Sarsenbayev, Bolat Abilov, or even former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin—from the innermost circles of Kazakhstan's opposition. That assessment may not have been correct. It is now evident that a new voice within the opposition has emerged.


In the immediate aftermath of last September's Parliamentary elections, Zharmakhan Tuyakbai, speaker of the Majlis and Deputy Chairman of Nazarbaev's Otan Party resigned. Almost concurrently, he published a letter in Vremya alleging that there had been massive violations during the elections. (2) Early in April, Tuyakbai, along with Abilov and Sarsenbayev, traveled to Moscow, where they met with Russian opposition members. An interview given to Nezavisimaya gazeta during the visit revealed that he will be Nazarbaev's "only rival" in the elections. (3)


During the interview Tuyakbai revealed that the opposition had links with "the West" and from "international organizations," and expected to receive support from them. He also revealed that Abilov had traveled to Kiev to observe opposition activities there during the Orange Revolution. (4) Finally, Tuyakbai expressed the view that Nazarbaev would not hesitate to use force to maintain his family's monopoly on power in Kazakhstan. (5)


There are two reasons why Tuyakbai's warning cannot lightly be dismissed; first, in the aftermath of President Akaev's ouster, Nazarbaev publicly stated that the revolution had been possible only through "weakness" on Akaev's part – a tacit statement that his Kyrgyz counterpart should have used force. (6) Secondly, in what could be interpreted as a warning from Nazarbaev to the opposition through a "third party," two Pro-Presidential parties, the Agrarian Party and the Citizens Party, announced that they were willing to "take up arms" to "defend the country's sovereignty and citizens' free choice" should it become necessary. (7)


While the government's threat to use force is in the background, two events in recent days indicate that Nazarbaev is also employing another approach. On 20 April, Nazarbaev dismissed Zagipa Baliyeva from her post as head of the country's Central Election Commission. Baliyeva was replaced by Justice Minister Onalsyn Zhumabekov. Zhumabekov is viewed by many in Kazakhstan as an untarnished figure, who has made his career independently, without patronage. (8) Nazarbaev clearly hopes that Baliyeva's replacement with an 'independent' will silence allegations that the Central Election Commission is corrupt and guilty of vote rigging, and will neutralize a key point of contention for the opposition. A day later, speaking at the Eurasian Media Forum, the President stated that he viewed "freedom of speech and the media" as integral to the country's democratic process, and that in his view, Kazakhstan's media represented a broad spectrum of political views, including "radically opposition" orientations. (9)


These actions and statements indicate a 'carrot and stick' approach by Nazarbaev. He is clearly concerned by events in Kyrgyzstan, and is asserting his determination to maintain power by force if necessary, while at the same time attempting to placate the opposition by removing the deeply controversial figure of Baliyeva.  But Nazarbaev's concerns are likely to prove unfounded; September's election results which handed the opposition a huge defeat, witnessed no mass protests or public outcry. Moreover, there is no indication that Nazarbaev is deeply unpopular, either in the cities or the countryside, a fact which differentiates him from former Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev. Finally, Nazarbaev has been extremely successful in neutralizing or silencing anyone who might emerge to challenge him. At this point in time therefore, it must be said that a successful challenge of Nazarbaev is unlikely—as is the chance of a Kazakh revolution.




Almost a month ago, after spontaneous riots and looting in Bishkek, the government of President Askar Akaev collapsed. Akaev, along with his family fled the country, flying first to Kazakhstan and then to Moscow, where he currently remains. In order to fill the leadership vacuum left by Akaev, the Kyrgyz Parliament appointed an interim government consisting of the country's three major opposition figures, Kurmanbek Bakiev (Prime Minister & President), Roza Otunbaeva (Foreign Minister) and Feliks Kulov (Security & Law Enforcement). (10)


On 2 April, President Akaev agreed to resign upon receipt of "appropriate guarantees" for his personal safety and immunity from future prosecution "in compliance with the law." (11) Although technically free to do so, Akaev has not returned – and is unlikely to do so – to Kyrgyzstan.


It was clear that the battle for the presidency would develop into a two-horse race between Kulov and Bakiev. While the latter announced his candidacy on April 1, Kulov was forced to hold off any announcement until the Supreme Court ruled on the legality of the convictions he received in 2001 for economic crimes. Although encouraging from a democratic perspective, the prospect of a race between the two men also presents problems: first, each candidate draws support from a different region of the state—opening the prospect of a divided country. Second, having served as Interior Minister and Head of the National Security Service during Akaev's Presidency, Kulov reportedly commands the loyalty of these agencies, leading to fears of possible intervention on his behalf. (12)


On April 7, the Kyrgyz Supreme Court began to hear evidence from Kulov's lawyers regarding his conviction. All in all, three acquittals were issued by the Judges on separate days: on the 11th, Kulov was cleared of criminally exceeding his authority while serving as Minister of National Security; (13) on the 13th, embezzlement charges were thrown out (14), while on the 15th, Kulov was cleared of corruption. (15)


Speaking after his acquittal, Kulov stated that he would base his decision to run or not on the outcome of planned consultations with Bakiev. (16) Those consultations have now taken place. During a telephone interview with Kyrgyz Television First Channel, during which he revealed that he and Kulov had met "four or five times" during the last ten days, and had reached agreement to hold "fair elections and a fair fight." (17)


Roza Otunbayeva would seem to have taken on the role of mediator or conduit between the two leading candidates even before their bilateral consultations: on 12 April, she told the press that she believed Kulov would run, and that if he lost the election, a post would be found for him in the government. (18) Otunbayeva's role provides evidence that all three figures are aware of the potential damage of a North-South divide in the country, and of the forces (Interior and National Security Service) which could interfere in the election (now slated not for 26 June but 10 July) if the outcome is not to their liking. That they are attempting, in advance, to prevent further unrest or schisms is somehow reassuring.


Source Notes

(1) See NIS Observed: An Analytical Review, Volume X Number 4 (25 March 04).

(2) See NIS Observed: An Analytical Review, Volume IX Number 18 (10 November 04).

(3) Nezavisimaya gazeta Moscow in Russian, 1 Apr 05; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(4) Ibid.

(5) Ibid.

(6) RFE/RL Newsline- Transcaucasus & Central Asia, Volume IX Number 57, 25 Mar 05 via (

(7) Nezavisimaya gazeta Moscow in Russian, 28 Mar 05; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(8) Moscow Nezavisimaya gazeta, 20 Apr 05; FBIS-SOV-2005-0420 via World News Connection.

(9) Almaty-Interfax-Kazakhstan, 21 Apr 05; FBIS-SOV-2005-0421 via World News Connection.

(10) See NIS Observed: An Analytical Review, Volume X Number 5 (6 April 05).

(11) Ibid.

(12) Ibid.

(13) TCA-Kyrgyzstan, 12 Apr 05; The Times of Central Asia via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(14) TCA-Kyrgyzstan, 13 Apr 05; The Times of Central Asia via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(15) TCA-Kyrgyzstan, 15 Apr 05; The Times of Central Asia via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(16) Interfax, 15 Apr 05; FBIS-SOV-2005-0415 via World News Connection.

(17) Kyrgyz Television First Channel, Bishkek, in Kyrgyz, 24 Apr 05; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(18) ITAR-TASS, 11 Apr 05; FBIS-SOV-2005-0411 via World News Connection


By Fabian Adami (



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