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."
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
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.
() 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?
RTR TV, 0800 GMT, 25 Apr 05; BBC Monitoring via Johnson's
Russia List (JRL), #9130, 25 Apr 05.
Interview with Anatoli Chubais, NTV Sunday Program, 17 Apr 05;
The Federal News Service via Lexis-Nexis.
RTR TV, Ibid.
Der Spiegel website in
German, 18 Apr 05; BBC Monitoring, 19 Apr 05 via Lexis-Nexis.
By Susan Cavan (email@example.com)
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
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?
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.
Abdullaev, "Report: Beslan HQ Was Run By Others," The Moscow Times, 15 Apr 05, p. 3 via (http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2005/04/15/011.html);
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.
Abdullaev, "Police Role May Pass Back To FSB," The Moscow Times, 25 Feb 05 via ISI Emerging Markets.
"President to travel to Latvia, the Netherlands, Russia, and Georgia in
May 2005," Press Release, Office of the Press Secretary, Mar 24, 05 via (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/03/20050324.html).
(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.
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.
Abdullaev, "Maskhadov Raises Stakes In Chechnya," The Moscow Times, 8 Feb 05 via
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.
A. Uzzell, "Ramzan Vows to kill Basaev by May 9," Chechnya Weekly, 20 Apr 05 , Volume VI, Issue 15, The Jamestown
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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 mourn
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.
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)
(1) Radio Free
Europe/Radio Liberty Newsline, 22 Apr 05, vol 9, no 76 via (www.rferl.org/newsline/1-rus.asp?po=y).
Novosti, 22 Apr 05 15:58 GMT via (http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20050422/39726622-print.html)
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Newsline, 22 Apr 05, vol 9, no 76.
Novosti, 19 Apr 05, 22:47 GMT via (http://en.rian.ru/world/20050419/39705428-print.html).
Novosti, 24 Apr 05, 14:03 GMT via (http://en.rian.ru/world/20050424/39732864-print.html).
(8) Ibid., RIA
Novosti, 19 Apr 05, 22:47 GMT.
(9) RIA Novosti
via Johnsonšs Russia List, 11 Apr 05, #28-JRL 9118 via (www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/9118-28.cfm).
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Newsline.
Novosti, 21 Apr 05, 19:25 GMT via (http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20050421/39721828-print.html).
By Rebecca Mulder (email@example.com)
DOMESTIC ISSUES & LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
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
"Russian Duma passes election law granting proportional
representation," ITAR-TASS, 22 Apr 05 via World News Connection (WNC).
"Proposed changes in election law strongly favor United Russia,"
Gazeta.ru, 18 Apr 05 via WNC.
"Moscow website predicts changes in United Russia leadership,"
Gazeta.ru, 21 Apr 05 via WNC.
"Number of AIDS cases reaches 260,000," RIA-Novosti, 25 Mar 05 via
"Spread of AIDS seen affecting potential economic growth," ITAR-TASS,
30 Mar 05 via WNC.
Russia pool efforts in struggle against HIV/AIDS," ITAR-TASS, 18 Apr 05
350,000 drug addicts officially registered in Russia," ITAR-TASS, 14 Apr
05 via WNC.
"Russian minister says majority of working-age men incapable,"
RIA-Novosti, 21 Apr 05 via WNC.
350,000 drug addicts officially registered in Russia," ITAR-TASS, 14 Apr
05 via WNC.
"Russia confirms commitment to further counter-drug activities with
NATO," ITAR-TASS, 30 Mar 05 via WNC.
"Terrorist activities in North Caucasus financed by drug
trafficking," ITAR-TASS, 22 Apr 05 via WNC.
By Robyn Angley (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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
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, Gazeta.ru, 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
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.
"More Retired Officers Send Compensation Checks Back to Putin,"
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 9, No. 73, Part I, 19 Apr 05 and "As Outraged
Reserve Officers Send Their Cash Compensation Back to Moscow," RFE/RL
Newsline, Vol. 9, No. 70, 14 Apr 05.
"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
"Expert Says Army Fed Up with the Government," RFE/RL Newsline, Vol.
9, No. 70, 14 Apr 05.
"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.
"Russian Foreign Minister Says Force in Modern Relations Not
Diminishing," RIA-Novosti, 19 Apr
05 via World News Connection (WNC).
"Cossacks to Be Recruited," Simon Saradzyan, St Petersburg Times, 19 Apr 05 via ISI Emerging Markets.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"New VDV Chief of Staff Likely to Head Startup of Special Forces Command,"
Nikolai Poroskov, Moscow vremya novostey, 16
Apr 05 via WNC.
"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.
"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 (email@example.com)
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 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
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
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
(1) Moscow Interfax, 26 Jan 05, Ukraine-Russia Missile
Cooperation to Continue via (www.missilethreat.com/news/200501262035.html).
(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).
Bush, Yushchenko Issue Statement on Strategic
(4) (cns.miis.edu/pubs/week/030919.htm), 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
Missile Defense Grounds Ukraine in West.
(8) cns.miis.edu/pubs/week/030919.htm, CNS, Monterey Institute
of International Studies, Russian-Ukrainian Missile Cooperation.
By Kyle Colton (firstname.lastname@example.org)
NEWLY INDEPENDENT STATES
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"
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: "all
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
(1) Rice Calls
for Change in Belarus, BBC new, 21 Apr 05 via (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4467299.stm).
(2) Khartiya 97
website, 22 Apr 05 via (www.charetr97.org).
(3) The Moscow
News, "Who is Against Lukashenko?" by Anna Rudnitskaya, 3 Nov 04 via
Daily, 20 Apr 05 via Lexis-Nexis.
(5) Vremya novostey, 20 Apr 05 via Lexis-Nexis.
France Press, 2 Apr 05 via Lexis-Nexis.
pravda website, 21 Apr 05 via
By Elena Selyuk (email@example.com)
Remembering the victims
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
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.
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
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
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
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)
(1) Agence France Presse, 02:57
GMT, 19 Apr 05 via Yahoo News.
(2) Deutsche Welle, 22 Apr 05
(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.
"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 (www.civil.ge).
(10) Agence France Presse, 0835
GMT, 26 Apr 05 via Yahoo News.
(11) Civil Georgia, 2347 GMT,
25 Apr 05 via (www.civil.ge).
(12) Kommersant, 18 Apr 05;
Defense and Security via Lexis-Nexis.
(13) Civil Georgia, 19:23 CET,
22 Apr 05 via (www.civil.ge).
(14) Interfax, 1826 GMT, 25 Apr
05 via (www.interfax.ru).
(15) Civil Georgia, 1217 GMT,
26 Apr 2005; via (www.civil.ge).
France Presse, 1050 GMT, 20 Apr 05; via Lexis-Nexis.
By Tammy Lynch (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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
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.
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."
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.
(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).
gazeta Moscow in Russian, 1 Apr 05; BBC Monitoring
via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
Newsline- Transcaucasus & Central Asia, Volume IX Number 57, 25 Mar 05 via
gazeta Moscow in Russian, 28 Mar 05; BBC
Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
Nezavisimaya gazeta, 20 Apr 05; FBIS-SOV-2005-0420 via World News Connection.
Almaty-Interfax-Kazakhstan, 21 Apr 05; FBIS-SOV-2005-0421 via World News
(10) See NIS
Observed: An Analytical Review, Volume X Number 5 (6 April 05).
TCA-Kyrgyzstan, 12 Apr 05; The Times of Central Asia via ISI Emerging Markets
13 Apr 05; The Times of Central Asia via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
TCA-Kyrgyzstan, 15 Apr 05; The Times of Central Asia via ISI Emerging Markets
15 Apr 05; FBIS-SOV-2005-0415 via World News Connection.
Television First Channel, Bishkek, in Kyrgyz, 24 Apr 05; BBC Monitoring via ISI
Emerging Markets Database.
11 Apr 05; FBIS-SOV-2005-0411 via World News Connection
By Fabian Adami (email@example.com)