The ISCIP Analyst
Volume XI Number 1 (20 October 2005)
 

Russian Federation

Executive Branch by Susan J. Cavan
Security Services by John Kafer
Foreign Relations by Rebecca Mulder
Domestic Issues & Legislative Branch by Robyn Angley
Armed Forces by J. Marcel LeBlanc and Jeffrey Butler

Caucasus by Kate Martin

Central Asia by Fabian Adami

Western Region by Tammy Lynch


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RUSSIAN FEDERATION

 

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

 

Atomic balm

The detention of former Atomic Energy Minister Yevgeni Adamov grows more and more interesting as it drags along.  Initially, it appeared as an extremely well timed extradition request by the United States, which complained to Swiss authorities that Adamov should face charges that he embezzled funds earmarked for securing nuclear facilities during his tenure (1998-2001) as Minister of Nuclear Energy.  The request (and Adamov's arrest in Bern) came just days before Condoleezza Rice was due in Moscow, intent on addressing issues of Russian nuclear safety and security of its nuclear materials.  Already, what might have been a simple corruption case had taken on ominously political overtones. 

 

Hard on the heels of the first stories came debate as to Adamov's worth to the United States:  Would he divulge Russia's nuclear secrets if he was extradited from Switzerland?  Clearly, there was some concern in Russia, as the state chose to file its own charges against Adamov to seek his extradition back to Russia, rather than the U.S.

 

The Adamov case provoked intriguing memories of the Borodin–Mabetex case from early 2001:  Pavel Borodin (the former Kremlin "Butler" or Property Manager) was detained in the U.S. while awaiting extradition to Switzerland to face money laundering charges.  Oddly enough, then-Secretary of the Security Council, Sergei Ivanov, was in Washington to meet with Condoleezza Rice, Bush's then-National Security Advisor, and raised the issue of Borodin with her.  (1)

 

The Borodin case, it may be recalled, was resolved when the Russian government paid a $3 million bond to Swiss authorities for the release of Putin's one-time boss (Putin's first Kremlin gig was in the Economic/Property Management office).  Borodin then was found not guilty by a Russian judicial body (of course, at that moment money laundering was not yet illegal in Russia).  The $3 million payment was viewed as a ransom, of sorts, to keep Borodin out of jail and away from interrogators.   Soon after, Borodin was named to his current post in the Russian-Belarus Union, a position that carries immunity.  (2)

 

As if anticipating the start of the haggling process over the price of freedom for Adamov, an unusual interview with Colonel-General Nikolai Solovtsov, Commander of the Strategic Missile Forces, just days after Adamov's arrest in May 2005, began with questions about nuclear security and the safety of nuclear materials and proceeded directly to the question of the level of Adamov's knowledge of Russia's nuclear secrets:  "[A]s a minister, Solovtsov Adamov was privy to all classified information. (Š) In terms of Strategic Missile Forces secrets, Adamov is not a valuable asset." (3)

 

Adamov, who pleaded his case in the Russian media with an article in Izvestiya in August and a call to Echo Moskvy from his Swiss jail cell in September, claimed that the charges evolved more from his role in strengthening Russia's international position (along with Yevgeni Primakov – whom Adamov singled out for particular praise) than his role in diverting US assistance funds.  (4)  In his radio call, Adamov emphasized his work with Anatoli Chubais, his "partner" in ensuring "Russia's nuclear energy stability." (5)

 

Perhaps hedging his bet that his lauding of powerful officials would not be sufficient to save him from extradition, Adamov then played a desperate card: "If I spend at least [sic] a night in a US jail, there will be problems with state secrets." (6)

 

US indictments of Adamov, both from the US Federal Prosecutor's Office and the US Federal Grand Jury in Pittsburgh, PA claim that Adamov, while serving as Russia's Nuclear Minister, embezzled millions of dollars intended for nuclear safety and research programs.  According to the Federal Prosecutor's indictment, "Adamov fraudulently transferred to American firms under his control more than $15 millionŠ." (7) 

 

Earlier this month, Swiss authorities decided to extradite Adamov to the United States, with caveats about his repatriation to Russia, if found not guilty in US courts. (8)  The debate over Adamov's arrest and possible trial – including the question of what a Russian official with his level of security clearance was doing traveling abroad and just who permitted the misuse of funds earmarked for nuclear safety  – have reached a crescendo with the decision of the Swiss to extradite him. (9)

 

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov downgraded Adamov's worth to US authorities, claiming that Adamov had no access to state secrets after 2000.  (10)  The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov, was pushed on the issue following his meeting with Condoleezza Rice, but denied that Adamov had been the subject of any discussions with the US Secretary of State.  (11)  Adamov, who ended his hunger strike upon hearing of the decision to extradite him (he had been protesting the delay in having his case resolved), must have been chagrined to realize that Russian authorities seemed unwilling to barter to keep him out of the hands of the American authorities.

 

But there is still hope for ex-Minister Adamov:  US (Pennsylvania) attorney Mary Beth Buchanan, whose office issued the indictment for the arrest of Adamov, is currently in Moscow with an entourage of FBI and tax authorities.  Details of the visit are being held close to the vest, but it seems a possible accommodation over Adamov's fate is very much in the cards. (12)

 

Source Notes:

 

1) See The Ballad of Borodin, The NIS Observed, Vol. VI, No. 7, 18 Apr 01.

2) See "What price freedom? $3million," The NIS Observed, Vol. VI, No. 5, 21 Mar 05.

3) Vremya novostey, 6 May 05; What the Papers Say (WPS) via ISI Emerging Markets.

4) Izvestiya, 16 Aug 05; WPS via ISI Emerging Markets.

5) Kommersant report of Ekho Moskvy interview, 7 Sep 05; WPS via ISI Emerging Markets.

6) Ibid.

7) Moscow News, 18 Oct 05 via http://english.mn.ru/english/printver.php?2005-39-24.

8) Ibid.

9) Leave it to former Nuclear Minister Mikhailov to stir the conspiracy theory pot:  "How was it possible to transfer government funds to the accounts of private persons? And yet the Americans did it! (Š) It turns out that they closed their eyes to this specially in order to have grounds to blow up a scandalŠ" Rossiyskaya gazeta, 5 Oct 05; FBIS Translated Text via World News Connection (WNC).

10) ITAR-TASS, 3 Oct 05; FBIS Transcribed Text via WNC.

11) ITAR-TASS, 15 Oct 05; FBIS Transcribed Text via WNC.

12) ITAR-TASS, 7 Oct 05; FBIS Transcribed Text via WNC.

 

By Susan J. Cavan (sjcavan@bu.edu)

 

~~~~~

 

SECURITY SERVICES

 

Over the past year, the ³Beslan Mothers² committee asked repeatedly to meet with President Putin to ask pointed questions over the perceived lack of progress in investigating the Beslan school hostage crisis of September 1-3, 2004.  According to the Beslan Mothers committee, key regional leaders, as well as Federal Security Service and Internal Affairs leaders bear responsibility for the outcome of the terrorist act which resulted in 331 hostages killed, including 170 children. (1)  One year later, Putin agreed to meet with Beslan Mothers committee representatives at the Kremlin.  Following the September 2005 meeting, Putin agreed to send yet another group of investigators from the Prosecutor General¹s Office to Beslan to ³revitalize² the year-old investigation and use the findings to reform the police and security services.  The new investigation will be led by the Deputy General Prosecutor, Vladimir Kolesnikov. (2) 

 

Certainly a reform of the security services is in order, but Putin cannot expect to uncover new, revealing evidence to forward this cause by establishing another investigation a year after the tragedy.  Two parallel investigations were already underway:  Alexander Torshin is Chairman of the Duma¹s parliamentary commission investigating Beslan; and Stanislav Kesayev is chairman of a separate, ad hoc, North Ossetian commission.  Additionally, the local Beslan community, lacking confidence in the Russian authorities, set up their own, unofficial investigation.  So far, the investigations revealed more questions than answers and do not address the heart of the security problems – resulting in a loss of confidence in Russian security forces among populations throughout the Caucasus.

 

The contradictions among the various investigations and the lack of any conclusions have only added to the confusion.  Basic questions about the siege remain either disputed or unanswered, including the number of terrorists, how they arrived at the school, how the weapons were brought into the school, how and where fire was opened. (3)  For example, official Russian investigators insist there were only 32 terrorists (all of whom were killed except one, Kulayev, who is on trial), while various reports suggest there likely were more terrorists, some of whom got away. (4)  The North Ossetian investigator, Kesayev, was very critical of the uncoordinated actions of the various local and federal agencies.  He questioned the security coordination that enabled the terrorists to accomplish all their preparatory work, including driving across several heavily-guarded borders to find an obscure school next to a police station via a route with many dead-end roads, without being stopped or checked.  The authorities then failed to surround the school for three days.  Kesayev also faults the organization of the investigation, which allowed the school site to be bulldozed the day after the siege ended, and investigators who failed to confiscate weapons for ballistics tests, did not examine clothes terrorists had changed into, and conducted no post mortems. (5)  At this point, none of the investigations are likely to uncover the true cause of the security failure or pinpoint blame.  There are too many varying witness accounts, changed testimony, and lost evidence. 

 

The lack of control throughout the crisis is clear.  There was simply no one in charge.  General Andreev, head of the local Federal Security Forces (FSB) division, was officially appointed commander on the second day; however, it is clear that proper coordination between the FSB, the armed forces, and the Interior Ministry never occurred. (6)  Although Putin assigned the FBS as the lead to fight terrorism in the Caucasus, it appears each security apparatus is fighting its own, uncoordinated war. 

 

In August, the Defense Ministry reported on the results of a 3,000 troop sweep of Chechnya.  Maj-Gen Sergei Surovikin, Commander of the 42nd Division, explained how they split the area into sectors, divided into subunits to control each sector, eliminated bandits and captured weapons.  However, it appears the only coordination that occurred with FSB officials, who are supposed to be leading the fight, was at the end of the sweep, when those captured by the armed forces were handed over to the FSB. (7) 

 

In a recent exercise, Russian Interior Minister Nurgaliyev praised the teamwork and the efficiency of Internal Troops and police subunits repelling a simulated rebel attack in the Chelyabinsk Region.  The exercise had many moving parts including amphibious troops, helicopters, a hovercraft, and various small arms, but no FSB. (8) 

 

While Russian forces have held occasional exercises to increase the level of coordination between the disparate security forces, they do not appear to have been effective.  Initial reports from the most recent militant attacks in the city of Nalchik in the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic, against multiple police, FSB, and Internal Affairs targets indicate another slow, uncoordinated response by Russia¹s military and security forces. (9)  It appears that Putin¹s curious decision, ten days after the Beslan crisis, to abolish direct gubernatorial elections allegedly to prevent the spread of terrorism was less than effective; the separatists¹ rebellions have spread to yet another republic.  The soldier fighting the war on the ground requires a clear chain of command from his supervisor all the way to the President.  The reform Putin needs is not another centralization of control, but an entire reorganization of all security functions in the military, FSB, and Interior Ministry.  The current structure looks surprisingly similar to the structures that existed during the cold war.   

 

Reforms themselves will not make the security forces more effective without addressing their loss of legitimacy as a result of pervasive corruption.  Russia¹s senior leaders recognize the need to fight corruption, but have not been effective in combating it.  President Putin gave Dmitri Kozak, the presidential envoy to the Southern federal district ³carte blanche to fight corruption in the security and law enforcement agencies² in the Caucasus. (10)  Additionally, Internal Affairs Minister, Nurgaliyev publicly criticized those responsible for corruption within the police forces.  He pointed to the lack of expertise among policeman and the tendency of staffers and servicemen to fraternize with criminals as particular contributors to corruption. (11)  Both Kozak and Nurgaliyev  themselves are alumni of the ³special services.²

 

In an annual corruption rating by Transparency International, Russia is tied in 76th place out of 102 countries for its high rate of corruption. Police Major General Yuriy Kokov, First Deputy Chief of the RF MVD Department for Combating Organized Crime and Terrorism, who is considered one of the leading specialists in combating corruption in Russia, assessed the situation regarding official corruption in Russia. (12) Russian legislation lacks a concept of corruption which makes it difficult to prosecute. He criticized Russia¹s lack of statistical records on manifestations of corruption, hindering efforts to organize effective programs to counter it. He provided numerous examples to highlight how much corruption has permeated society, from regional officials accepting bribes to provide tax benefits for corporations, to doctors and medical facilities accepting bribes for treatment, to police routinely accepting bribes.  General Kokov recognizes that fighting corruption requires the broad support of the population and will take a complex solution, which would include effective law enforcement activities, increasing wages, and actively engaging public institutions and ordinary citizens. (13) 

 

General Kokov primarily addressed corruption by Russian government officials; much of the corruption in the Caucasus involves bribes and abductions, which permeate through the security personnel at the lowest levels.  It is highly unlikely the Beslan hostage takers were not confronted by police at various checkpoints.  In all likelihood, meagerly paid security forces accepted a ³standard toll² to enable their transit.  Regarding kidnappings, international human rights groups blame Russian federal troops and security forces for an estimated 1700 abductions throughout Chechnya (14). 

 

The continued dispute over the number of Beslan terrorists adds to the lack of credibility among Russia¹s security services.  Official Russian accounts continue to insist the number was 32, while local accounts insist there were far more. (15)  Russia¹s security forces need to address basic problems of corruption and loss of legitimacy before that can hope to become effective fighting separatists in the Caucasus or elsewhere. 

 

Aleksandr Torshin stated that the parliamentary commission investigation of Beslan is final, but the report will not be ready before the end of the year.  He freely admitted that after one year¹s work, there are now more questions than answers. (16)  The Beslan Mothers are asking Putin to find those responsible for the security failures and make them accountable for their actions and their failures.  It is clear that the security response (or lack thereof) and subsequent investigation into the Beslan tragedy was so poorly led and uncoordinated that no one knew what was going on or who was responsible.  An additional investigation, one year later, is unlikely to uncover new evidence to the contrary.   Perhaps Putin agreed to re-investigate this tragedy because he is bending to the new political pressures from the vocal Beslan Mothers Committee; perhaps he has a particular scapegoat in mind.  

 

Source Notes

1) Nezavisimaya gazeta, 1 Sep 05 via World News Connection (WNC).

2) ³Putin Accepts Guilt for Beslan Tragedy² by Simon Saradzhyn, Moscow Times, 8 Sep 05 via ISI Emerging Markets.

3) ³Russia: Official, Local Versions of Beslan Siege Cause 'Open Tension,'² by Madina Sageyeva, Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 21 Aug 05 via WNC.

4) "Gunmen Miscounted. North Ossetians Certain That There Were More Terrorists in School Than Investigators Claim," by Andrey Riskin, Nezavisimaya gazeta, 5 Nov 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-1105 via WNC

5) ³Stanislav Kesayev:  Khodov was an Agent of Four Special Services² by Timofey Borisov, Rossiyskaya gazeta, 12 Sep 05; What the Papers Say via ISI Emerging Markets. 

6) ³There were Actions that Resembled Storming the School,² by Pavel Pushkin, Kommersant-Vlast, 29 Aug 05 via Lexis-Nexis. 

7) ³Russian Division Deploys 3,000 Regular Troops in Chechnya Sweeps², Itar-Tass, 12 Aug 05, via WNC

. 

8) ³Interior Minister Praises Southern Russian Anti-Terror Exercise,² Itar-Tass, 5 Oct 05 via WNC. 

9) ³Nalchik Under Attack: Moscow Unable To Respond,² Eurasia Daily Monitor, 14 Oct 05, Vol 2, Issue 191.  

10) ³Further Reforms to Security and Law Enforcement Agencies,² by Marina Saidukova, Nezavisimaya gazeta, 20 Jul 05 via Lexis Nexis.

11) ³Criticism With Unchanged Content,² Gazeta.ru, 13 Sep 04 via WNC.

12) Rossiyskaya gazeta, 21 Aug 05 via WNC. 

13) Ibid. 

14) ³Putin Hints He May Stay in Politics,² by Oksana Yablokova and Francesca Mereu, Moscow Times, 28 Sep 05 via Johnson¹s Russia List (JRL) #9256.

 

15)  ³Russia: Official, Local Versions of Beslan Siege Cause 'Open Tension,'² by Madina Sageyeva, Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 21 Aug 05 via WNC.

 

16)  ³Parliamentary Report on Beslan Now In Doubt,² Izvestiya, 8 Sep 05 via WNC. 

 

By John H. Kafer (kaferj@bu.edu)

 

~~~~~

 

FOREIGN RELATIONS

 

Bilateral matters

LITHUANIA

Russia¹s relations with Lithuania and its Baltic neighbors took a turn for the worse when a Russian fighter pilot recently ejected recently from his SU-27 fighter jet before crashing into an empty field. Other contentious issues were sidled as Lithuania undertook an investigation into the crash. With the investigation now complete, and theories that the incident was a fumbled intelligence mission or a test of NATO¹s air defenses put to rest, the Russian pilot has been repatriated. (NATO forces did not become engaged.) It remains unclear why his plane was fully equipped for combat.

 

An uncooperative Russia withheld information that the Lithuanians deemed critical to the crash investigation. Lithuania ³followed the letter of international law, treated the Russian pilot with full courtesies, and allowed a Russian team of officers to witness all phases of the investigation.² (1)  (NATO treated the investigation as a bilateral matter between Lithuania and Russia and distanced itself from the incident.) Although the crash has highlighted possible Russian threats to Baltic security, it seems unlikely to add momentum to Lithuania¹s effort in the European Union to raise the issue of demilitarization of the Kaliningrad region.

 

IRAN

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov again has denied a recent British news report which alleged that former members of the Russian military had helped Iran secretly to obtain technology needed to make missiles capable of hitting European capitals.

 

The British news report stated that the Russians were intermediaries in a multi-million dollar deal negotiated between Iran and North Korea in 2003, enabling Tehran to receive regular clandestine shipments of top-secret missile technology. (2)

 

The British news report was published following a visit to Russia by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Calling the report ³delirium² and ³nonsense,² and indirectly addressing Washington¹s concerns, Ivanov responded by stating that ³Russia is a responsible partner and is interested in the strict observance of all nonproliferation regimes.² (3) Ivanov went so far as to accuse Britain indirectly of involvement of proliferation, recalling a European international consortium that developed a few years ago and included British companies. According to Ivanov, the consortium delivered a uranium centrifuge to Pakistan, which later surfaced in Iran. (4)

 

THE US

Despite diplomatic remarks by the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov¹s, following recent talks in Moscow with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the visit was not without tension and disagreement. The two clashed over Iran¹s nuclear program and exchanged views on Central Asia following Rice¹s trip to the region, which noticeably excluded a stop in Uzbekistan. Lavrov reiterated that Iran should not pursue nuclear proliferation, a view held in common with the US, but he disagreed with Rice¹s stance that Iran cannot be trusted with uranium enrichment. Rice¹s response countered the notion that Iran has a ³right² to enrich uranium: ³It is not a question of rightsŠthe NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty] doesn¹t come only with rights but also with obligations.² (5) This disagreement over Iran¹s nuclear program is not a new issue in US-Russian relations, however the rift between the two countries was clearly evident following Rice¹s unexpected visit.

 

During the talks, Rice reaffirmed that Washington would not install any new military bases in Central Asia and that, as the threat from Afghanistan diminishes, the US presence will also diminish, although no time frame has been set for troop departures. Following her visit to Central Asia and her talks with Lavrov, Rice met briefly with President Putin, who congratulated her on the results of her trip. (6)  However, Putin¹s remarks highlighted another area of discord between Russia and the United States: the contest for influence in Central Asia.

 

Seizing a possible opportunity in Central Asia, Lavrov and other Russian officials have criticized US and EU sanctions against Uzbekistan, calling for ³dialogue instead of sanctions.² The latter were intended to punish Uzbekistan¹s leadership for backsliding on democratic reform, its ruthless handling of the May riots in Andijan, and the eviction of American troops from the Karshi-Khanabad base. This rift between the West and Uzbekistan has given Moscow an edge in pursuing stronger relations with Tashkent. Russian-Uzbek joint military exercises in September and Uzbek President Karimov¹s invitation to Putin to upgrade their relationship from the level of strategic partnership to that of ³full-blown alliance² seem to indicate this increasing closeness. (7) Recent statements by the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) also emphasize Moscow¹s reassertion in the region, while denying that a Central Asian army group, supported by Russia, would be created in the near future so as to defend CSTO members from all sides. (8)

 

The geopolitical struggle in the region between Russia and the US is often downplayed by Washington, but Moscow¹s decision to engage fully in the region – politically, strategically, militarily – is clear.

 

RUSSIA AND THE WTO

As the end of 2005 approaches, Russia¹s rush to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) seems to have slowed; it may join in 2006 or 2007 instead. Government officials now believe that timing is less important than the conditions under which Russia will enter, and with oil prices high, Russia can take its time and push for more favorable conditions. (9) Since 1993, Russia has been in the process of negotiating with the fifty countries that must approve its entrance into the WTO; Russia will engage in talks with ten of those countries throughout the next six weeks. The US, Canada, Australia and Switzerland appear to be the countries least favoring Russia¹s request. Disagreements over tariffs, Russia¹s exclusion of foreign banks, intellectual property rights, and agricultural matters remain most contentious.

 

Source Notes

1) Eurasia Daily Monitor, The Jamestown Foundation, 14 Oct 05, vol.2, issue 191 via www.jamestown.org.

2) Agence France-Presse 16 Oct 05, 327 GMT via ISI Emerging Markets.

3) ITAR-TASS, 17 Oct 05l BBC Monitoring, 17 Oct O5, 1011 GMT via ISI Emerging Markets.

4) BBC Monitoring, Ibid.

5) Agence France-Presse 15 Oct 05, 1942 GMT via ISI Emerging Markets.

6) Agence France-Presse, Ibid.

7) Eurasia Daily Monitor, The Jamestown Foundation, 13 Oct 05, vol. 2, issue 190 via www.jamestown.org.

8) Eurasia Daily Monitor, Ibid.

9) Prime-Tass, 5 Oct 05 via Lexis-Nexis.  

 

By Rebecca Mulder (rmulder@bu.edu)

 

~~~~~

 

DOMESTIC ISSUES AND LEGISLATIVE BRANCH

The Public Chamber and the media

President Vladimir Putin submitted a amendment to the State Duma on 13 October to the law ³On the Public Chamber.² Putin wants to broaden the functions of the newly created Public Chamber to included oversight of the mass media. The Public Chamber¹s duties and privileges also would include the convening of citizens, mass media representatives and public organizations to discuss the issue of freedom of speech, the protection of citizens¹ access to legally available information, defense of freedom of speech by the media, and the drafting of recommendations or conclusions about issues related to free speech. These conclusions could be submitted to state organs or media outlets, depending on the circumstances. As usual, any action taken by the Public Chamber would remain purely advisory. An additional function of the Chamber would be to ensure that the media are not granting privileged access to one political party (e.g. United Russia, the dominant party in the State Duma) over another.

 

In accordance with the law that established the Public Chamber, Putin has selected the first third of the Chamber¹s 126 members. These 42 persons are supposed to choose the next 42 members from among nation-wide civic organizations. Finally, the remaining one third would be selected by the previously selected two thirds from among regional civic organizations. Although the Public Chamber ostensibly represents the active involvement of the Russian public, in overseeing the state, the members of the Chamber who have been selected by Putin are having trouble overseeing even the selection of the next 42 members of the Public Chamber. Instead, that job is reportedly being carried out by Mikhail Ostrovsky, deputy chief of the President¹s domestic policy directorate. (1)

 

The President¹s appointees to the Public Chamber represent a broad array of professions, including medicine, journalism and athletics. However, none of the members are from human rights organizations, the segment of civic groups most likely to criticize the present administration. The pro-Kremlin composition of the Chamber and the executive¹s unwillingness to relinquish responsibility for member selection suggest that the Chamber will struggle for any real influence on state policy.

 

Moscow¹s elections and liberal political parties

The democratic parties Union of Right Forces (SPS) and Yabloko have decided to put aside their differences long enough to contest Moscow¹s November elections on the same ticket. The two parties face a crisis of legitimacy because of the recently raised threshold for participation in the State Duma; 7 percent of the vote rather than the former 5 percent requirement. The elimination of single mandate seats, which had previously comprised half of the seats in the Duma and represented the best chance for small parties to gain a place in the legislature, also complicates the task of such parties attempting to play a role in the government. The SPS-Yabloko joint ticket will face a formidable opponent in United Russia, whose list of contenders will be headed by Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. The success or failure of the SPS-Yabloko venture could well determine whether either party contests the next Duma elections.

 

Foreign media licensing

The task of licensing foreign publications has been transferred from the Press Ministry to the Federal Service for Preservation of Cultural Values. This shift in responsibilities was announced not long after ABC aired an interview by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty correspondent Andrei Babitsky with Shamil Basayev, the notorious Chechen separatist. Foreign print licenses have not been issued since January, when the Press Ministry was dismantled. Deputy Head of the Federal Service for Preservation of Cultural Values Viktor Goreglyad has stated that licensure is not meant as a means of censorship. (2) However, the announcement¹s proximity to the ABC scandal gives rise to fears that it may be employed for exactly those purposes. Publications currently awaiting licensure include Ukrainian, British and American periodicals.

 

Growing xenophobia

The immigration of citizens from former Soviet republics to Russia on a seasonal or permanent basis in order to find work and better economic opportunities has led in some regions to heightened nationalism and aggression against ethnic minorities or members of other races.  For instance, the recent murder of a Peruvian student in Voronezh Oblast on 9 October has raised concerns about the increase of xenophobia in Russia. The murder occurred in a city park, with police nearby, although they were not patrolling the area. One suspect has been detained by local authorities. Officials consider the murder to be ethnically motivated. Local groups, including human rights organizations and other civic groups, have asked Governor Vladimir Kulakov to establish an independent council to address the issue of xenophobia. The proposed council would involve government representatives as well as human rights activists. (3)

 

Another example of aggression against ethnic minorities involves the Batumi Kurds (Kurmanch), Khemshil, and Yezids of Krasnodar Krai in the region of Kuban. The Batumi Kurds were deported by Stalin to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in 1944. They moved to the Kuban region (located in Krasnodar Krai) in the 1980s along with the Khemshil Meskhetian Turks. These ethnic minorities have appealed to the United States for refugee status on the basis of ³repeated racist statements made by the governor of Krasnodar Krai² (Aleksandr Tkachev) and ³endless degradations and acts of repression by the authorities and militarized structures.² (4) 

 

The ethnic minorities seeking refugee status comprise approximately 2500 persons. Although more than 80 percent of the Batumi Kurds have received citizenship and registration, it has not prevented abuse by local authorities. The Batumi Kurds submitted their request to the US ambassador a year ago. They were informed initially that their plea was not being considered. However, State Department officials have met recently with human rights organizations that are working on the issue.

 

Source Notes

1) ³Russian paper reveals confusion in newly-formed Public Chamber,² Kommersant, 11 Oct 05; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

2) ³Licensing of foreign print media to resume,² Gazeta, 12 Aug 05; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
3) ³Voronezh NGOs call for council to fight xenophobia after student's murder,² Itar-Tass, 10 Oct 05 via World News Connection (WNC).  4) ³Ethnic minorities in Krasnodar Krai appeal for US refugee status,² Izvestiya, 14 Oct 05 via WNC.

 

By Robyn Angley (hearthhobbit@hotmail.com)

 

~~~~~

 

ARMED FORCES (INTERNAL)

Russian missile strategy

Russia appears committed to the effort of reestablishing strategic nuclear parity with the United States. Russian military exercises and testing increased significantly in recent months with particular emphasis on long range missiles.  In late September, Russia held a large-scale exercise of its Strategic Missile Troops, demonstrating the ability to secure its weapons from terrorists while also projecting the capability of the Topol missile to defeat missile defense systems. (1)  Also in September, Russia demonstrated a new submarine-launched ballistic missile, the R-30 ³Bulava² which includes features designed to defeat emerging ballistic missile defense systems. (2)  Moreover, Russian strategic forces conducted several other launches of older missiles as part of training and maintenance of the ICBM force as well as a new nuclear-capable air-launched cruise missile. (3)   

 

Recent strategic missile activity is consistent with Russia¹s continued reliance on strategic forces as a hedge against attack or coercion while continuing to modernize its conventional forces. (4)  The publicity surrounding the recent upswing in activity also points to Russia¹s desire to be a player on the world stage.  Russia¹s conventional force capability is significantly less than the juggernaut status of the old Soviet Union; however, it is clear that the Russian political and military leadership continues to view Russia¹s tremendous nuclear capability as vital to national prestige as well as a counter to Western influence.  Any hint of the previous debate between Kvashnin and Dvorkin over decoupling nuclear force levels from the US is gone, and Russia is committed to nuclear parity. (5)

 

Russia and the United States

Russia¹s long-term nuclear strategy is focused primarily on the United States. (Unquestionably, there is a short-term priority on securing the ³Near-Abroad² through diplomatic, economic, and military means.) Russia considers the U.S. as the primary opponent. (6) The concept of the ³main adversary² dates back to the Soviet period, and is focused on whatever power has the capability on inflicting decisive damage, irrespective of intent and verbal statements. The fact that the United States currently enjoys an overwhelming advantage in non-nuclear forces contributes to the Russian view that the United States is that main adversary. This approach feeds on U.S. discussions of preemptive nuclear strikes against suspected WMD states, continued exploration of the expanded use of nuclear weapons for missions such as ³bunker busting² and the development of ballistic missile defense. The U.S.-initiated NATO attack on Serbia, and its support of regime change in Ukraine and Georgia have served to reinforce such views, held particularly by the Russian military and security services. (7)

 

The US pursuit of missile defense appears to have a significant effect on Russian nuclear forces.   Russian response to termination of the ABM treaty was to back away from the START II agreement on force structure. (8)  This maneuver allowed Russia not only to avoid the cost of dismantling its heavy missile force, but also provided greater flexibility in trying to defeat a hypothetical US missile defense through the retention of rockets with multiple warheads.  A specific goal of Russian missile modernization is to ensure, if possible, that future ballistic missiles can defeat missile defense.  Russian officials have consistently asserted that its new strategic missiles, such as the Topol-M, have the ability to defeat missile defenses well into the future. (9)

 

The news is not all confrontational, and there has been some significant cooperation between the US and Russia on nuclear threat reduction.  The cooperative efforts between the US, Russia, and other actors such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have had an impact on the reduction of weapon grade materials and on ways toward a putatively peaceful resolution to a nuclear related crisis.  In fact, these were the considerations that led to the IAEA receiving the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize. (11)  A joint US-Russian press release hailed the midpoint of a program to convert excess Russian weapons grade uranium into material for civilian nuclear power plants.  This program has converted some 250 tons (the equivalent of 10,000 nuclear warheads) to peaceful use. (12) US-and Russian cooperation efforts include the recovery of nuclear materials from post-Soviet Republics and former client states such as Czechoslovakia (13).

 

Russia, Europe, and Asia

No other nuclear power seems to concern Russia as much as the US. There appears to be decreasing nuclear tension between Russia and Europe. (10) Russia and China have increased cooperation to balance perceived US hegemony, particularly in Asia.  The expansive Peace 2005 military exercise and resolution of border issues also suggest an decreased level of distrust between China and Russia. 

 

US and Russian cooperation on nuclear counter-proliferation and threat reduction bears close scrutiny in the future.  While programs to secure Russian nuclear materials have undoubtedly made progress to date, but increasingly are stymied by the Russian refusal to provide access.  Russian military officials claim their nuclear assets are safe and do not need to provide the additional access requested by US inspectors. (14)  In addition, Russian suspicion of US motives is voiced repeatedly, and key Russian officials claim the US is intentional trying to edge Russia out of the global nuclear energy market by supposedly exaggerating the vulnerability of security measures and opposing the transfer of Russian nuclear know-how and material to Iran and North Korea. (15)  The recent extradition of the former Russian Atomic Energy Minister from Switzerland to the US to investigate proliferation charges is cited in this context. (16)  One area of particular concern is the security and use of tactical nuclear weapons – largely neglected in negotiations to date, but representing a tempting target for terrorists. (17)

 

The way ahead

Nuclear superpower status is a centerpiece of Russia¹s strategy in Asia, Europe, and the global stage.  The maintenance and modernization of its strategic missile force also allows Russia to balance US, European, and Chinese pressure as it transforms its conventional forces and seeks to reestablish its influence in Central Asia.

 

The Maintenance and aging of the Russian strategic missile force may become an area of increasing concern. Validating and characterizing the operation of aging missile systems are primary reasons for the increase in strategic missile testing.  Many of these systems are beyond their initial warranties, and it is likely that some of the test failures are due to the age and poor maintenance of the systems.  Hence, the sheer number of Russian nuclear missiles will provide significant deterrence; however, the aging inventory also presents a substantial risk in terms of safety, security, reliability, and cost.   In addition, Russian command and control and early warning systems will need to be maintained and improved in order to safeguard operation of the strategic missile forces.

 

Continued cooperation on threat reduction and counter-proliferation will be an area of concern on the road ahead.

Source Notes

1) ³Russian Topol strategic missile's invulnerability demonstrated,² Strana.Ru website, Moscow, 27 Sep 05, BBC World Wide Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

 

2) ³Nuclear Dilemmas Reveal Fragility of Russian Military System², Pavel K. Baev, Eurasian Daily Monitor, Jamestown Foundation, vol 2, no. 188, 11 Oct 05.

 

3) Ibid; ³Strategic Missile Carriers Rearmed,² Dmitri Litovkin, Izvestia, 5 Oct 05, WPS Defense and Security via Lexis-Nexis.

 

4) Miller, Steven and Trenin, Dmitri, The Russian Military: Power and Policy, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2004, pp 188-190.

 

5) Trenin, Dmitri, ³Russia¹s Nuclear Policy in the 21st Century Environment², IFRI Security Studies, Autumn 2005 via www.ifri.org/files/securite_defense; ³How To Hold The Global Triangle Together,² Voenno-promyshlennyi kurier, No. 38, 12 Oct 05; WPS via Lexis-Nexis.

 

6) ³Main threats to Russia from Central Asia, military experts believe,² RIA news agency, Moscow, 2 Oct 05; BBC World Wide Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

 

7) Holdren, John, ³The Future Role of Nuclear Weapons in International Relations,² Symposium on the 60th Anniversary of Trinity, National Academy of Sciences, Washington DC, 14 Jul 05.

 

8) Miller, pg 188-190.

 

9) ³Russian Topol strategic missile's invulnerability demonstrated,² Strana.Ru website, Moscow, 27 Sep 05, BBC World Wide Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

 

10) Trenin, Dmitri, ³Russia¹s Nuclear Policy in the 21st Century Environment², IFRI Security Studies, Autumn 2005 via http://www.ifri.org/files/securite_defense; ³How To Hold The Global Triangle Together,² Voenno-promyshlennyi kurier, No. 38, 12 Oct 05; WPS via Lexis-Nexis.

 

11) ³UN's nuclear watchdog wins peace Nobel², Reuters, AFP, 8 Oct 05 – via Lexis-Nexis.

 

12) ³US State Department: Midpoint of the successful implementation of the Highly Enriched Uranium agreement between the United States and Russia,² M2 Communications Ltd, 30 Sep 2005 – via Lexis-Nexis.

 

13) ³Nuclear fuel shipped back to Russia from Czech research reactor², RIA news agency, Moscow, 27 Sep 05 via Lexis-Nexis.

 

14) ³US official: Russia, US working on nuclear security partnership but access still a problem,² Associated Press Worldstream, 1 Oct 05 via Lexis-Nexis; Finlay, Brian and Grotto, Andrew, ³The Race to Secure Russia¹s Loose Nukes², Henry L. Stimson Center and Center For American Progress, Sept 2005 via http://www.americanprogress.org.

 

15) Trenin, Dmitri, ³Russia¹s Nuclear Policy in the 21st Century Environment,² IFRI Security Studies, Autumn 2005 via http://www.ifri.org/files/securite_defense.

 

16) ³Russian TV continues to reflect concern over Adamov extradition,² BBC Worldwide Monitoring, 12 Oct 05 – via Lexis-Nexis.

 

17) Ibid Finlay.

 

By Jeffrey Butler (butler88@bu.edu)

 

~~~~~

 

ARMED FORCES (EXTERNAL)

 

Joint military exercises: benefits and risk

This summer the Russians focused on joint military exercises with friends. (1)  Specifically, the Russian military participated in separate exercises with China, Uzbekistan, and Armenia. These operations with foreign militaries offer the Russians some significant benefits, but are not without risk.

 

China: Peace Mission 2005

Russia teamed-up with China for this summer¹s Peace Mission 2005. Hailed as a first-of-its-kind exercise between the two countries, it presented Russia with an opportunity to gather intelligence and a chance to advertise hardware to its defense industry¹s biggest client.

 

Gathering military intelligence is of vital importance, even when the object of one¹s efforts is an apparently friendly state.  When Russian troops joined Chinese troops to participate in Peace Mission 2005, it was the first time the two had worked in close concert since the Korean War. It was also a chance for the Russians to look in depth at Chinese military doctrine and capability, an opportunity the Russians did not pass up.  In fact, after the exercise was complete, military commanders admitted as much when they expressed disappointment in China¹s performance. (2) Such a low-risk approach to intelligence is very appealing.

 

However, just as the Russians gather information on their neighbors, so too will the latter reciprocate. Even before Peace Mission commenced a number of individuals in Russia stood accused of spying for the Chinese. (3) It is almost certain that the close contact during Peace Mission offered the Chinese further opportunity for exploitation.

 

More apparent benefits of joint exercises are the indirect dividends from foreign arms sales. Today¹s Russian army is saddled with Soviet-era equipment, a problem all the more frustrating in light of the 20% increase in the military budget that still does not fund the research and development or modernization of military hardware. (4) Consequently, until the Kremlin can appropriate the funds necessary to revitalize its industry, Russian defense contractors will rely on countries like China to help keep them alive. Fewer than thirty days after the conclusion of Peace Mission, the Chinese implicitly acknowledged this reality with their commitment to purchase (U.S.) $1.5 billion worth of IL-76 and IL-78 heavy-lift aircraft. (5, 6)

 

Hand-in-hand with arms sales goes the risk of compromising military technology.  Russian military commanders must consider whether they made a regrettable choice in selling their hardware to China.  Although Peace Mission 2005 represented heightened levels of cooperation between Russia and China, the two countries have more history as either outright enemies or lukewarm allies. So, if history were to repeat itself, if the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) were to fail or if Chinese interests were to conflict too strongly with their neighbor¹s interests, Russian military commanders might face their own weapons on the field of battle.

 

Uzbekistan: not China but still important

Joint military exercises between Russia and smaller states are often overlooked. Such states lack the diplomatic heft of a country like China, and they certainly do not have the same purchasing power.  However, to the Russian military, working with countries like Uzbekistan can be just as beneficial as working with China.

 

The Uzbek-Russian joint military exercise of 21-23 September was unprecedented.  Moreover, Uzbekistan and Russia each participated with equal numbers of elite troops (about 200) in this relatively small operation. (7)  This contrasts sharply with Peace Mission 2005 in which the Russians had significantly fewer troops than their Chinese counterparts.  Such attention to balance and quality in the Uzbek-Russian exercise suggests a focus on tactics not seen in Peace Mission¹s heavy diplomatic emphasis. 

 

No less important than the identity of the participants was location. In the case of the Uzbek-Russian exercises, Russian troops trained in Uzbekistan¹s Nuratau Mountains against a simulated group of terrorists. (8) Flushing terrorist strongholds in the mountains of central Asia seems more relevant to Russian military commanders than Peace Mission¹s amphibious landing practice performed on the beaches of China¹s Shandong peninsula.

 

Yet Uzbekistan¹s small size did pose a risk to the Russians.  Namely, working with the Uzbeks could have hindered good training.  Because an organization is never better than its weakest link and because smaller states such as Uzbekistan often have lower caliber militaries, the Russians ran the risk of training Uzbek troops at the expense of their own.  As they work with other small states in the future, the Russians must consider this pitfall or risk wasting time, money, and manpower.

 

Armenia: important benefits over 10 years of joint exercises

Unlike war games with the Uzbeks, the Armenian-Russian war games were conducted on a much larger scale, employing more than 1,000 troops and various tanks, airplanes, and other assorted military hardware to repulse a mock-invasion from the north. (9)  This three-stage exercise provided the Russians with very specific benefits. (10)

 

 First, the exercise continued support of a military command-and-control infrastructure strategically located beyond Russia¹s borders. Second, it focused on the logistical trail that extends from Russia through Caucasus hot-spots and into Armenia (a focus that includes often-overlooked but critical details like the condition of roads and pre-positioning of supplies.) Third, much like the Uzbek exercises, it focused on quality training for Russian and Armenian troops.

 

The Russian-Armenian exercises do present a risk to Russian military commanders of overextending their resources.  The command-and-control and logistical infrastructure outside Russia¹s borders will require constant care and feeding.  So far, the Russians have been able to support this through 10 years of joint exercises with Armenia. (11)  But, as it participates in a similar way with more and more countries, the Russian military may find itself spread too thinly to support its commitments.

 

Conclusion

In many ways, Russia¹s military has been slow to change its Soviet-era mindset.  Unprecedented joint exercises with China and with Uzbekistan and the continuation of a military relationship with Armenia indicate a new-found desire to test troops and equipment in the field.  This doctrine offers many benefits with some risk exposure.  Russian military commanders have stated their intent to continue joint operations in the future, an indication that they believe the benefits outweigh the risks. (12)

 

Source Notes

1) ³August in Russia: Month of Military Exercises,² RIA Novosti, 29 Aug 05 via ISI Emerging Markets.

2) ³Chinese army not very effective, Russian TV says following joint exercise,² Channel One TV, Moscow; BBC Monitoring, 20 Sep 05 via JRL #9249.

 

3) ³The Chinese are After Russia¹s Defense Sector Secrets,² Novoye Vremya, No. 35, Sep 05; WPS Russian Political Monitor, 9 Sep 05 via ISI Emerging Markets.

4) ³Russia Not Planning New Weapons Acquisitions Despite Higher Defense Budget,² Interfax-AVN, 22 Aug 05 via RFERL NEWSLINE Volume 9, No. 158, Part I.

5) ³Putin Steps in to Revitalize Arms Sales to China,² RIA Novosti, 8 Sep 05 via ISI Emerging Markets.

6) ³Sino-Russian War Exercises Starting to Pay Off?² VY, 26 Aug 05 via RFERL NEWSLINE Vol. 9, No. 162, Part I.

7) ³Unprecedented Uzbek-Russian Joint Military Exercise Held,² Rossiiskaya gazeta, 21 Sep 05 via Eurasia Daily Monitor (EDM) Vol. 2, Issue 179.

8) ³Forish for Special Forces,² Voenno-promyshlenny kurier, 28 Sep 05 via Lexis-Nexis.

9) ³Annual Armenian-Russian Military Exercises Conclude,² RFERL Armenian Service and Arminfo, 14 Sep 05 via RFERL NEWSLINE Vol. 9, No 174, Part I.

10) ³Mock Battles Make for Fast Friendship,² Krasnaya zvezda, 13 Sep 05 via Lexis-Nexis.

11) Ibid.

12) ³Defense Minister Says Russia, China, India May Hold Joint Military Exercises,² VY, 17 Oct 05 via RFERL NEWSLINE Vol. 9, No. 195, Part I.

 

By Marcel LeBlanc (jleblanc@bu.edu)

 

~~~~~

 

CAUCASUS

Tragedy in Southern Russia

Last week¹s attack in Nalchik highlighted the spreading unrest in the Caucasus region.  The attack on local, regional and federal structures was similar in many ways to the July 2004 attack in Nazran, Ingushetia, by forces led by Shamil Basayev and Doku Umarov.  Nalchik also opened the still-sensitive wounds of the September 2004 debacle in Beslan.

 

According to Kabardino-Balkarian presidential Chief of Staff Oleg Shandirov, ³several hundred² militants were involved in the attack of the republic¹s capital city. (1)  The statistics vary with the sources.  When the fighting stopped, 61 militants were killed, according to official sources while 17 were captured. (2)  In all, 24 troops and 12 civilians were killed, and 100 individuals were wounded, including 51 law-enforcement officers, eight seriously.  3)  A rapid-deployment police task force has since been established in the region. (4)

 

Even before Nalchik, commemoration of the first anniversary of the deaths of 331 schoolchildren and adults in Beslan, the result of hostage-taking by armed guerillas and the federal authorities¹ response, had already served as a focal point for analysts.  In that instance, many of those affected directly by the Beslan tragedy charge that the investigation has been (at best) misguided or (at worst) obstructionist. (5)  The Beslan Mothers, those whose children were killed, converged on Deputy Prosecutor General Vladimir Kolesnikov when he went to the site of the school, seeking answers to questions about the investigation into the assault on the school; they received only the mildest of reassurances that he cared more for them than for the ³bureaucrats.² (6)

 

Chechen and Russian authorities continue to claim, with little evidence, that the situation on the ground is improving and that Chechen ³rebels² are being soundly defeated. (7)  The deteriorating situation cannot be blamed exclusively on those seeking independence.  Aside from incursions and attacks against government agencies, the region is beset by an increasing number of kidnappings. (8)  Many of these may be orchestrated by federal forces.  Amnesty International reported recently that there ³is no end to gross human rights violations in Chechnya and Ingushetia with the Russian authorities implicated in the torture, abduction and secret detention of civilians.² (9)

 

Although Russian-supported officials have denied Amnesty¹s charges, during a television show broadcast towards the end of last month Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted that the kidnappings in Chechnya, which he linked to unresolved ³security questions,² could be the work of pro-Moscow forces.  ³It is impossible to say who stands behind these crimes: disguised bandits or law enforcement workers abusing their power.² (10)

 

Timing may have led to the relative speed with which the Nalchik incursion was suppressed.  Just one week before the attack, the North Caucasian Military District finished 10 days of exercises meant to improve mobilization of troops and weapons training. (11)  The exercise was just one example of a concerted effort by the military district to be prepared for crisis: while over 4,000 troops underwent the September training, another 2,200 reservists were assigned to participate in maneuvers held by the 58th combined Arms Army in the region this month. (12)

 

There is certainly cause for increased training.  In 2005 there has been a reported total of 28 terrorist attacks and over 90 attacks on law enforcement officers in Dagestan, primarily in Makhachkala, according to Dagestani Internal Affairs Minister Adilgerey Magomedtagirov.  He added that OMON training of local officers had contributed greatly to the increased success rate of investigations and prosecutions.  ³A total of 23 terrorist acts have been cleared up, and two cases have been sent to court. Š. The identities of over 130 active members of bandit groups have been established; 55 of them have been arrested and convicted as a result of special operations; 34 have been eliminated when presenting armed resistance. Š All the arrested members of terrorist-sabotage groups are currently confessing.² (13)

 

Yet, there is also cause to wonder how good those confessions are.  Case in point: One week before the attack in Nalchik, two suspected religious extremists were arrested, accused of planning what officials termed a ³terrorist act² at Nalchik Airport. (14)  So, perhaps officials might have guessed that more than those two individuals were plotting something?  Yet within a few hours on the morning of 13 October, heavy damage reportedly was inflicted on several district police stations as well as Interior Ministry and Federal Security Service buildings. (15)  Other sites included the border guards headquarters and Š the airport. (16) 

 

This approach may create bigger problems in the long run.  At issue, according to Shamyl Beno of the Russian Islamic Heritage movement and former member of two Chechen governments, is the Russian center¹s inability or unwillingness to take into account the distinct nature of the peoples of the Caucasus.   ³What can be done to ensure that Chechens do not want to blow up Moscow in 20 years¹ time? Š In the Caucasus, people are accustomed to living independentlyŠ. The social aspirations of Chechens are simple: to have a home, a normal family, a car, the possibility to watch your children get married and to show society as a whole that every one of them has made it.  And all that is required of the regional authorities is not to get in the way of all this.² (17)

 

Alas, it looks like Russian authorities have every intention of getting in the way: An additional 800 million rubles (over US$28 million) had been earmarked for infrastructure work in the North Caucasus Military District, including housing for two mountain rifle brigades in Dagestan and Karachayevo-Cherkessiya. (18)

 

GEORGIA

Paying attention to the man behind the curtain

Following the ill-advised celebration of independence day in (the unrecognized republic of) South Ossetia, a reported shelling of Tskhinvali by Georgian troops (asserted by South Ossetian and Russian officials, and denied by Tbilisi), (19) and subsequent reports of shelling of Georgian villages from South Ossetia, the Georgian parliament issued two diplomatic shots across the bow:  a demand for the removal of Russian troops, based on allegations that the Russian ³peacekeepers² are turning a blind eye to violations of agreements, and the demand for a substantial change in the format of negotiations between Georgia and the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. (20)

 

According to Georgian State Minister for Separatist Conflicts Giorgi Khaindrava, Tbilisi continues to seek a peaceful settlement to the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but is reacting to a perceived ratcheting up of the situation by others, particularly Russia, which has troops on the ground purportedly for peacekeeping purposes.  The military parade in Tskhinvali included the display of military hardware, specifically, tanks, Khaindrava said.  That hardware, he added, ³is new, and South Ossetia had no other way of acquiring it except from Russia through the Roksky tunnel.²  In addition, both South Ossetia and Abkhazia have been holding military exercises. (21)

 

³We do not understand why Russia is openly supporting and giving armaments to separatist authorities,² Khaindrava said. (22)

 

Certainly, the suggestion that Russia remove its ³peacekeepers² managed to roil the waters, not calm them.  Sergei Shamba, the foreign minister of Abkhazia, responded that demanding the withdrawal of Russian forces would result in a return to hostilities. (23)

 

Assuring all the players that Georgia does not want a resumption of hostilities, Khaindrava subsequently made a second demand.  ³Negotiations cannot go on in their current format, with representatives of Tbilisi, Tskhinvali, Vladikavkaz and Moscow.  The format should be changed. Š Russia and Georgia should settle problems in the conflict zone with the assistance of the OSCE,² he said. (24)

 

According to Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Loshchinin, any attempts to change the current negotiating process, which is being handled by a Joint Control Commission consisting of representatives of Russia, Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia (i.e., with Georgia outnumbered 3:1), ³are counterproductive.² (25)

 

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov asserted that Georgia does not get to make a unilateral decision of this sort.  The peacekeepers, Ivanov said, ³are in the conflict zone under the mandate which has been given to them by the two conflicting sides.  Abkhazia and Georgia, as well as South Ossetia and Georgia, should decide whether Russian peacekeepers should be there,² he said. (26)

 

The new Georgian ambassador to the Russian Federation, Irakli Chubinishvili, was not quite as belligerent about Russia¹s actions, or inactions, as Khaindrava, but nonetheless remained firm about Georgia¹s expectations.  ³If Moscow is to be the mediator in this process, it should act more decisively instead of being so passive. Š If [the peacekeepers¹] work is unsatisfactory, there is no point in keeping them there.  The problem now is that Russian military officials Š did allow the heavy equipment of the South Ossetian army to join the parade.  A special agreement signed by Russia, Georgia, and South Ossetia, however, stipulates that no tanks, armored personnel carriers, or heavy weapons will be allowed within the Georgian-Ossetian conflict zone.  This is something the peacekeeping forces should be enforcing.² (27)

 

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili was quick to point out that this discussion does not negate other, more positive, negotiations between Georgia and Russia.  To be sure, some discussions are successful: Russia agreed in September to a ³full-scale withdrawal of Russian military bases from Georgia² beginning in 2006, a member of the Russian delegation said. (28) While not recognizing the authority of Russian officials placed in leading positions in the breakaway republics, Georgia is committed to maintaining relations with its significantly larger and more powerful neighbor, he said.  ³A dialogue with Russia is a rather thorny process.² (29)

 

Russian-Georgian relations are likely to get thornier:  a report out of Abkhazia on the establishment of an ethnic Georgian battalion in Abkhazia¹s Gali District includes the allegations of an interesting mix of carrot and stick recruitment policies:  Georgians are promised favorable conditions for family business endeavors, with the implied unfavorable conditions for those who refuse.  The price of signing up: renunciation of Georgian citizenship. (30)

 

Meanwhile, Tbilisi has had to contend with rumblings from other ethnic minorities.  Visiting Azeri official Nazim Ibrahimov, who led a delegation to Georgia to investigate the situation of ethnic Azeris living in Georgia, said ³The state committee had earlier conducted research and held meetings with our compatriots living in Georgia and familiarized itself with their problems. Having met them again and learnt their problems, we realized how serious the issue was.² (31)  Ibrahimov added that he saw a need ³to bring these problems to the attention of the Azerbaijani public and to raise the alarm.²

 

While Ibrahimov did not elaborate further, Georgian officials are getting clearer signals from a representative of the Armenian population in the Georgian region of Samtskhe-Javakheti, who has complained of Georgians moving into the area in what he described as a ³large-scale attack against Javakhk.  David Rstakyan, chairman of the Virk organization, said the Georgian Armenians will work towards autonomy within the confines of the Georgian constitution; however, if those attempts fail, they will fall into actions of civil disobedience and form local authorities. (32)  While Rstakyan was quick to differentiate between the goals of the Javakhetians and the breakaway actions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, he noted that they are ³inspired² by the establishment of the Nagorno-Karabakh independent exclave in Azerbaijan.

 

AZERBAIJAN/ARMENIA

Nagorno-Karabakh Update

While Nagorno-Karabakh may serve as inspiration for the Javakhetians to seek autonomy in Georgia, the exclave is serving as inspiration for an arms race between Azerbaijan and Armenia.  Azerbaijan announced recently a plan to increase its defense budget to the equivalent of $600 million in 2006. (33)

 

 ³Azerbaijan seeks to resolve the Karabakh problem peacefully, but the talks yield no results. Š Under these conditions, the buildup of a strong military potential is an important factor² that ³will be continued in future and will help to liberate the occupied territories,² President Ilkham Aliev said. (34)

 

Armenia responded in kind, raising its defense allocation to $155 million in 2006, due to what it terms ³the militarist rhetoric of Baku.²  ³We view the enlargement of defense expenditure in the context of reality and do not forget that Azerbaijan is planning to enlarge its defense budget to $600 million next year,² said Mger Shakhgeldian, chairman of the Armenian parliament¹s defense and national security committee.  However, he added, ³It is our unambiguous opinion that international organizations should pay more attention to Azerbaijan increasing its military budget, and that an arms race is not the path that the region needs.² (35)

 

Nonetheless, according to Armenian Deputy Defense Minister Artur Agabekyan, some of the increased defense spending will focus on 10 fighter jets, reportedly Russian SU-27 and SU-25 jets, as well as some MI-24 helicopter gunships. (36)

 

Source Notes

 

1) Nezavisimaya gazeta, 14 Oct 05; FBIS translated text via WNC.

2) Nezavisimaya gazeta, 2 Sep 05; FBIS translated text via WNC.

3) Izvestiya, 7 Oct 05; FBIS translated text via WNC.

4) Agentstvo voyennykh novostey, 5 Oct 05; FBIS transcribed text via WNC.

5) www.mosnews.com/news/2005/10/07/alkhanovabduction.shtml .

6) Interfax, 30 Sep 05; FBIS transcribed text via WNC.

7) www.mosnews.com/news/2005/09/27/putinchechnya.shtml .

8) ITAR-TASS, 27 Sep 05; FBIS transcribed text via WNC.

9) Nezavisimaya gazeta, 3 Oct 05; FBIS translated text via WNC.

10) Izvestiya, 5 Oct 05; FBIS translated text via WNC.

11) Agentstvo voyennykh novostey, 10 Oct 05; FBIS transcribed text via WNC.

12) Kavkaz-Tsentr News Agency, 13 Oct 05; FBIS translated text via WNC.

13) Rossiya, Channel One, NTV and AVN, 13 Oct 05; FBIS transcribed text via WNC.

14) Agentstvo voyennykh novostey, 13 Oct 05; FBIS transcribed text via WNC.

15) ITAR-TASS, Radio Mayak and Channel One, 13 Oct 05; FBIS analysis via WNC.

16) ITAR-TASS, 14 Oct 05; FBIS transcribed text via WNC.

17) ITAR-TASS, 13 Oct 05; FBIS transcribed text via WNC.

18) Nezavisimaya gazeta, 6 Oct 05; FBIS translated text via WNC.

19) Agentstvo voyennykh novostey, 11 Oct 05; FBIS transcribed text via WNC.

20) Agentstvo voyennykh novostey, 21 Sept 05, Interfax and Rustavi-2 Television, 5 Oct 05; FBIS transcribed text via WNC.

21) Agentstvo voyennykh novostey, 13 Oct 05; FBIS transcribed text via WNC.

22) Agentstvo voyennykh novostey, 29 Sep 05; FBIS transcribed text via WNC.

23) Ibid.

24) Georgian TV1, 29 Sep 05; FBIS translated text via WNC.

25) Interfax, 10 Oct 05; FBIS transcribed text via WNC.

26) Interfax, 30 Sep 05; FBIS transcribed text via WNC.

27) ITAR-TASS, 30 Sep 05; FBIS transcribed text via WNC.

28) Nezavisimaya gazeta, 3 Oct 05; FBIS translated text via WNC.

29) ITAR-TASS, 7 Sep 05; FBIS transcribed text via WNC.

30) ITAR-TASS, 5 Oct 05; FBIS transcribed text via WNC.

31) Rustavi-2 Television, 12 Oct 05; FBIS translated text via WNC.

32) Trend News Agency, 27 Sept 05; FBIS translated text via WNC.

33) Aykakan zhamanak, 2 Oct 05; FBIS translated text via WNC.

34) ITAR-TASS, 8 Sep 05; FBIS transcribed text via WNC.

35) ITAR-TASS, 5 Oct 05; FBIS transcribed text via WNC.

36) Agentstvo voyennykh novostey, 3 Oct 05; FBIS transcribed text via WNC.

37) Turan, 4 Oct 05; FBIS translated text via WNC.

 

By Kate Martin (kmmartin@bu.edu)

 

~~~~~

 

CENTRAL ASIA

 

Kazakhstan update: Gearing up for presidential polls.

 

Earlier this year, Kazakhstan's strongest opposition party, Ak Zhol, underwent a serious crisis when it was discovered that Altynbek Sarsenbayev, one of the party's three co-chairmen, was holding coalition talks with other opposition groups. In mid-February, Alikhan Baimenov, Ak Zhol's second co-chairman, called a special plenary session of the Party to introduce a vote of no confidence against Sarsenbayev. Baimenov claimed that coalition talks were not permitted under the Party's Charter. (1) The motion passed, although several regional factions refused to participate. Not surprisingly, Baimenov's action caused a split in the Party's leadership: Bolat Abilov, Ak Zhol's third co-chairman, joined Sarsenbayev in calling the vote a "foolish escapade," and in publishing an open statement arguing that Baimenov himself had violated statutes by proposing the vote. (2)

 

During the Party's 5th Congress, held in Astana in mid-March, Baimenov reacted to the Abilov-Sarsenbayev 'alliance' by announcing his own resignation. Both Abilov and Sarsenbayev refused to accept his decision. Their motivation could be explained by news which emerged days beforehand: The group at the center of the aforementioned coalition discussions, the Coordinating Council of Democratic Forces, announced the formation of a new organization called For a Just Kazakhstan. Although not a political party in its own right, the Coordinating Council aimed to select a unified candidate to run against President Nursultan Nazarbaev in elections scheduled for the first Sunday in December. (3) Evidently Abilov and Sarsenbayev rejected Baimenov's decision to maintain Party unity, hoping that the unified candidate would come from within Ak Zhol's ranks.

 

Following Parliamentary elections in September 2004, Zharmakhan Tuyakbai, Speaker of the Majlis and member of Otan (Nazarbaev's Party) resigned, claiming that there had been numerous violations during the polls. In April, he traveled with Abilov and Sarsenbayev to Moscow to meet members of the Russian opposition. During the course of this trip, Tuyakbai revealed in an interview with Nezavisimaya gazeta, that he had been selected as the opposition's unified candidate, and would run under the auspices of For a Just Kazakhstan. In the same interview, he revealed that the opposition had ties to "the west," and to "international organizations," and warned that Nazarbaev would use force to maintain his position. (4)

 

Early in June 2005, deputies loyal to Nazarbaev introduced stifling anti-NGO bills to the Majlis. If the bills were passed, NGOs would be subject to closure by the government, and their funding, no matter what the source, subject to scrutiny by the state. After passing both Kazakhstan's upper and lower chambers, the bills were submitted to the Constitutional Council. (5) These bills must be viewed both as a reaction to Tuyakbai's statements, and as a result of the President's suspicion that western-supported NGOs were involved in fomenting the Kyrgyz, Ukrainian and Georgian revolutions.

 

Late in August, the Council announced its ruling. In an open session in Astana, Igor Rogov, the Council's chairman, stated that the "basic norms" of the bills were "unconstitutional," but noted that the Majlis could introduce similar NGO laws in the future. (6) Presumably Rogov meant that the Constitutional Council does not object in principle to NGO monitoring, as long as the illegal aspects of the bills are removed. At this juncture, no detailed ³opinion² has been issued by the body to explain which sections it views as unconstitutional.

 

An increasing fear of foreign intervention is evident on Nazarbaev's part: Reacting early in September to news of a meeting between Tuyakbai and former President Clinton (on a visit to the country), Nazarbaev stated that his opponent had "probably asked for supportŠprobably asked for money," adding the implicit threat that "Kazakhstan will not allow any interference in its internal affairs by any foreign country, any embassy or non-governmental organization." (7)

 

Given this preoccupation, it is not surprising that President Nazarbaev has continued his pursuit of NGOs, making statements which could be read as explicitly attacking the Council's decision. During a September 14 press conference, the President warned that NGOs would not be allowed to support "this or that candidate on behalf of international or Kazakh" organizations. (8) The government, he stated, would "closely follow" the activities of these organizations. In his view, moreover, the Majlis had been justified in its actions because it could "see the dangers taking place in neighboring countries, where foreign NGOs impudently pumped money and destabilized society." (9)

 

On September 8, the Central Election Commission issued a press release which announced that the nomination period for Presidential candidates would begin the following day and last until October 3. By that date, the CEC had certified a total of eleven candidates: Nazarbaev, Tuyakbai, Walikhan Kaisarov & Yerassyl Abylkassymov (both Parliamentarians), Mekemtas Tleulessov (an Almaty lawyer), Baltabai Rakhimzhanov (President of the National Farmers Federation), Nhaksybai Bazilbayev ('Alfa' Public Association Chairman), Mels Yeleussizov (Chairman of the 'Tabigat' Environmental Group), Salim Oten (a 'prominent' businessman), Amantai-kaji Assylbek  and Alikan Baimenov (listed as Ak-Zhol leader). (10) Baimenov's candidacy shows that the attempt to unify the opposition has failed. Since Baimenov is listed as Ak Zhol's candidate, it seems logical to conclude–until evidence to the contrary emerges–that Abilov and Sarsenbayev have split from Ak Zhol, and remain in Tuyakbai's camp.

 

More recent events show that Nazarbaev feels most threatened by Tuyakbai's (apparently foreign-supported) candidacy. To that end, the Kazakh government has engaged in a harassment campaign against him. First, in mid-August, Tuyakbai received a visit from State Prosecutors warning him about "illegal election campaigning." (11) In late September, an arson attack, which damaged computers and other electronic equipment, but in which no-one was harmed, was carried out on Tuyakbai's Headquarters (12). Finally on October 12, heavily armed police officers arrested his campaign manager, Tolen Tokhasynov, on charges of organizing an illegal political meeting in Almaty. (13) How long he will be held is not clear, but it would seem safe to assume that the aforementioned events are designed to cause maximum damage to Tuyakbai's Presidential hopes. 

 

Tuyakbai himself has attempted to allay Nazarbaev's concerns. In mid-September, Tuyakbai ruled out mass protests, telling reporters that even if violations were discovered during the elections, For a Just Kazakhstan did "not have an objective of taking people to the streets," but would seek to resolve issues through the legal system. (14) Given Kazakhstan's multiple fraudulent elections—and the lack of popular response thereto, it is safe to predict that no protests will materialize in December. 

 

The cumulative effect of these incidents is a view of Kazakhstan's opposition groups as empty vessels. Despite holding discussions, the Kazakh opposition is incapable of working together even for the purpose of defeating President Nazarbaev. Moreover, past experience–notably following last September's elections—when the opposition threatened mass protests, but none occurred, shows that there is little popular appetite for rebellion against Nazarbaev. Realistically, the President's position is safe. But given Nazarbaev's current paranoia regarding foreign "interference," it is likely that Kazakhstan's major cities and their government compounds and buildings–most (especially the Presidential Palace{s})–will see an increased Security Services, Interior Ministry and Police presence in the weeks before, during and immediately following Election Day. 

 

Uzbekistan Update: The Andijan "Trial" begins

 

Throughout March, April and early May, Andijan witnessed peaceful protests outside the town courthouse. The crowds gathered there were demonstrating against the detention and trial of 23 local businessmen, charged with supporting Islamic extremism. On May 12, government forces arrested a number of protestors, detaining them in Andijan's prison. At midnight, a group of 100 people attacked a local military garrison, seizing their weapons. After freeing approximately 4000 prisoners, the crowd—by now 10,000 strong—moved to the town's Central Square, where it began to call for President Islam Karimov's resignation, and to demand changes to the government's economic policies. (15)

 

By this time, Interior Ministry Special Forces had arrived on the scene, and had surrounded and cut off the square. Early on May 13, these troops opened fire on the crowd, with no regard for unarmed persons. As the crowd attempted to flee, troops in jeeps, trucks and armored personnel carriers gave pursuit, killing as they moved. (16) It later emerged that snipers positioned on rooftops used high-powered rifles to execute people missed by roving troops. At least 500 persons, possibly as many as 700, were killed. (17)

 

President Karimov asserted at the time—and continues to assert—that the demonstrations were organized by Islamic extremists, specifically Hizb-ut-Tahir. Karimov claimed that the Andijan 'provocateurs' had ties to the Taliban in Afghanistan. He has claimed that the Uzbek government could prove its case with "recorded" telephone conversations between the "terrorists" and their controllers. (18)

 

In the weeks and months immediately following the Andijan incident, the Uzbek government conducted a massive campaign throughout the country, aimed at finding the alleged militants responsible for the demonstrations. A report issued by Human Rights Watch claims that the NSS (National Security Service) used massive coercive methods, including beatings and more serious torture to extract "false confessions of belonging to extremist religious organizations and bearing arms while participating in the May 13 protest" from those detained. (19) The result of the government's "sweep campaign" was the arrest of 121 individuals.

 

On 20 September, a trial at the Supreme Court in Tashkent began for the first 15 defendants. (20) Events on the first day of the "trial" showed that the court case has a much deeper purpose than simply "establishing the guilt" of the accused—all of whom confessed and pled guilty during the first session. (21) The Uzbek government's case—which makes little logical sense—is that the US Embassy, the BBC and other media outlets, and assorted Islamic extremists—trained by Chechens at camps in Kyrgyzstan (several defendants are Kyrgyz)–wished to overthrow the Karimov government. In a Central Asian version of the 'domino theory', the government claims that this conspiracy was the first step in establishing a worldwide caliphate, using Uzbekistan as a launch pad. (22) Several of the accused 'corroborated' the government's case. Effectively, the Karimov regime is claiming that Uzbekistan's sovereignty and national security is under threat from a multitude of sources. But the main 'culprit' is the US, which Karimov believes fomented the recent revolutions in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.

 

The verdicts –death sentences – are a foregone conclusion in this trial; what matters is that Karimov is using the trial as an excuse for a complete ³lock-down² of the country, based on the aforementioned "threats" to his power. Two weeks before the trial began, the government announced a massive autumn military call-up. Under the terms of the President's decree, those who have finished their fixed term of conscription are to be sent to reserve units. Citizens not drafted in the current call up—but who are eligible for service—are also to be sent to reserve units. Finally, commanders and officers are to "ensure that troops are well organized and combat ready" until all new recruits have been admitted and posted to their assigned active units. (23) Uzbekistan's military is to be at a high alert level for an unspecified period of time.

 

A central part of this 'lock-down' includes a massive campaign against human rights campaigners and journalists—both Western and Uzbek—aimed at either imprisoning them, or forcing them to flee the country. The Human Rights Watch report cited above shows that the campaign has already started: 11 Uzbek rights activists have been imprisoned, while 15 have left the country. (24)  Moreover, the Uzbek government has openly stated that the Western media is guilty of "unleashing an information war" against the country, and of deliberately distorting facts. (25)

 

Early in October, US officials held talks with Karimov aimed at persuading the Uzbek President to cooperate "across the board," including on "democratic and market reforms." (26) If cooperation were not forthcoming, the US, according to Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried, would "draw conclusions." (27)

 

Taken together, the Uzbek government's trial allegations, outbursts against the Western media, and the lack of response to the United States' advances indicate that Karimov wishes to 'cleanse' the country completely of all Western (but especially US) influence, which he believes threatens his position. If this prediction is correct his next move likely will be the expulsion of all Western journalists and NGOs, as well as the possible cessation of diplomatic relations with the US. Internally, there is likely to be a massive purge of all those perceived as disloyal to Karimov.

 

 

Source Notes

 

1) See NIS Observed: An Analytical Review, Volume X, Number 3 (4 March 05).

2) Ibid.

3) See NIS Observed: An Analytical Review, Volume X, Number 4 (25 March 05).

4) See NIS Observed: An Analytical Review, Volume X, Number 6 (28 April 05).

5) See NIS Observed: An Analytical Review, Volume X, Number 9 (11 August 05).

6) Newsline—Transcaucasus & Central Asia, 24 Aug 05; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

7) Newsline—Transcaucasus & Central Asia, 8 Sep 05; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

8) Newsline—Transcaucasus & Central Asia, 15 Sep 05; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

9) Eurasianet Civil Society, 13 Sep 05 via www.eurasianet.org/departments/civilsociety/articles/pp09130.

10) Kazakhstan Today, 3 Oct 05 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

11) Navigator, 18 Aug 05; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

12) Kazakhstan Today, 27 Sep 05 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

13) Newsline—Transcaucasus & Central Asia, 13 Oct 05; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

14) IntelliNews—Kazakhstan Today, 16 Sep 05; ISI—Intellinews via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

15) See NIS Observed: An Analytical Review, Volume X, Number 7 (8 June 05).

16) Ibid.

17) TCA—Uzbekistan, 10 Sep 05; The Times of Central Asia via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

18) See NIS Observed: An Analytical Review, Volume X Number 8 (26 July 05).

19) Eurasianet Civil Society, 20 Sep 05 via www.eurasianet.org/departments/civilsociety/articles/eav0920.

20) ITAR-TASS, 20 Sept 05; FBIS-SOV-0920-2005 via World News Connection.

21) Weekday Magazine—Uzbekistan, 28 Sep 05; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

22) Ibid.

23) Pravda vostoka, 3 Sep 05; FBIS-SOV-0903-2005 via World News Connection.

24) Eurasianet Civil Society, 20 Sep 05 via www.eurasianet.org/departments/civilsociety/articles/eav0920.

25) TCA-Uzbekistan, 13 Sep 05; The Times of Central Asia via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

26) TCA-Uzbekistan, 02 Sep 05; The Times of Central Asia via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

27) Ibid.

 

By Fabian Adami (fabs_adami@hotmail.com)

 

~~~~~

 

WESTERN REGION

Dismissal of Prosecutor-General creates new questions

On 14 October, Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko fired Prosecutor-General Svyatoslav Piskun, citing his constitutional right to do so, but providing no reason for the dismissal.  While most in Ukraine will not be sorry to see the beleaguered Prosecutor-General go, the timing of the dismissal creates new questions for Yushchenko and new concerns for those interested in ensuring that corruption is rooted out in the country.

 

Piskun¹s office clearly did not fulfill the goals set for it by the Orange Revolution.  The mastermind of the murder of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze remains at large, even though, in March, Piskun furtively suggested, ³This person is known.² (1)  At the same time, the Prosecutor-General¹s office announced that three of the four individuals who carried out the murder had confessed and were in custody, but the investigation disturbingly has been hidden from view.

 

It was Gongadze¹s death that sparked the first mass protests against the regime of former President Leonid Kuchma in 2001, and it was this case that President Viktor Yushchenko has promised repeatedly to solve.  It was, he said, ³a matter of honor.² (2) Further, he underscored, ³The main task now is to get to the most important thing: who organized and ordered the murder.² (3)  Nevertheless, despite a parliamentary investigation that named several high-ranking Ukrainian officials, including President Kuchma, as ordering the murder, and despite taped conversations of Kuchma that allegedly captured those orders, no progress has been made on bringing those who arranged the murder to justice.   

 

Piskun, who  served under the Kuchma administration, also had little success in pursuing the organizers of electoral fraud during the 2004 election.  In June, Deputy Prosecutor Viktor Shokin confirmed that his office had instituted ³778 criminal cases relating to violations of electoral legislation during the 2004 presidential election.² Of these, he said, ³nearly half – 361 criminal cases – have been sent to court.²  However, he also suggested  that locating those who tampered with a computer server at the Central Election Commission, as well as ³the organizers of the ballot rigging,² would be difficult.  ³They are very sizable cases that call for a large amount of time to be spent,² he said. (4)  Shokin¹s statement seemed to ignore the fact that during the revolution the Security Services of Ukraine publicly distributed a tape said to include conversations between CEC members planning voter fraud.  Despite this potential evidence, and despite a number of witness statements, not a single individual thought to have organized the large-scale fraud, which led directly to the revolution, has been charged. 

 

For months, the majority of Ukrainians have called for Piskun¹s ouster, in hopes that this would lead to the justice for which so many protested late in 2004.  However, the former will not necessarily lead to the latter.  While a new Prosecutor-General may, in fact, vigorously and successfully pursue the cases that now seem to be lying dormant, it is just as likely that he or she simply will maintain the status quo.  This is especially true if the Prosecutor-General is not the one making decisions or setting policy regarding high-profile cases. 

 

Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has suggested that Yushchenko and his allies are protecting former President Kuchma, tying the prosecutor¹s hands.   She and many others have long speculated that Yushchenko privately agreed to protect Kuchma from potential prosecution in the Gongadze case in exchange for his support for a negotiated settlement during the Orange Revolution.  Yushchenko¹s refusal to dismiss Piskun for nine months, despite repeated calls to do so publicly by some of his revolution allies and privately by Western international organizations, lends credence to this theory.  It is also supported by the fact that, for months, Yushchenko publicly discouraged parliament from hearing the final report of its committee investigating the murder – a report which found Kuchma responsible.  In September, Gongadze¹s widow, Myroslava, said, "Unfortunately, even now there is no political will to find those who ordered the killing." (5) If this is the case, a new prosecutor-general will make no difference. 

 

Yushchenko¹s critics also have suggested that delays in pursuing the organizers of electoral fraud may be related to the president¹s alleged agreement with Kuchma or those close to him, and a fear of exacerbating regional cleavages, since the majority of the fraud organizers likely would be located in the East or South of Ukraine.  Yushchenko¹s recent signature on a bill providing immunity from prosecution to all Ukrainian elected officials, and his agreement to introduce a bill potentially providing amnesty for those accused of electoral fraud, provide support to these theories.  In this case, too, replacement of the prosecutor-general will change nothing. 

 

There is one potential shift that is likely to occur as a result of the removal of Piskun – the new chief prosecutor will be more closely allied to the president.  This could provide a useful tool in the run-up to the parliamentary elections of March 2006.  Whether this result was intended or not, the timing of Piskun¹s dismissal creates questions. 

 

One month ago, Piskun announced that five criminal investigations had been opened dealing with corruption and abuse of office by those within the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC), which is technically led by the president.  These five cases were launched following charges by Yushchenko¹s former chief of staff, who suggested that some of the president¹s closest aides were engaging in corrupt activities. 

 

Just one week ago, Piskun opened a new case against former NSDC Secretary Petro Poroshenko, who is also one of Yushchenko¹s closest confidants. Piskun charged that Poroshenko threatened to block construction of a new apartment complex in downtown Kyiv if he didn¹t receive space in the building or shares in the project.  Piskun also was reportedly investigating Poroshenko¹s dealings with businesses in Moldova, and possible pressure placed on judges in several high-profile cases.   Moreover, the president had requested that Piskun examine whether former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, Yushchenko¹s former ally and current opponent, had pressured courts to forgive the debts of her former company.

 

On 17 October, Piskun charged that his dismissal came because he refused to institute criminal proceedings against Tymoshenko, and refused to drop proceedings against Poroshenko.  Piskun said, on the night before his dismissal, Yushchenko  ³reproached me because I ostensibly closed the criminal cases against Tymoshenko too quickly [The Kuchma administration had charged Tymoshenko with embezzlement and bribery. She - and Yushchenko at the time - called these charges politically motivated.  The majority of these charges were dismissed for lack of probable cause by courts.  The rest were closed by Piskun in February.]²  Piskun claimed, ³Yushchenko hinted that it would be very good if the investigations were renewed,² for use ³against Tymoshenko in the upcoming parliamentary elections.²  Further, he said that Yushchenko had urged him to drop the investigation of Poroshenko and had become angry when Piskun said that he had questions about the payment for a plane chartered to carry guests from the US to his inauguration.  (6)  Perhaps not coincidentally, Piskun is thought to be interested in a spot on the electoral list of The Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc in the upcoming elections. 

 

The vacancy at the prosecutor-general¹s office leaves a number of deputies in charge of high-profile cases.  One of those deputies, Viktor Shokin, was tasked by Kuchma in 2002 with overseeing the investigation into Tymoshenko¹s activities, and with ³investigating² the Gongadze murder. He was also the lead investigator of the Gongadze case under Yushchenko. 

 

Shokin is known to be close to Poroshenko, earning himself the nickname Poro-Shokin in Ukraine¹s media.  The activities of Shokin in the coming weeks should be instructive, particularly if, as expected, Yushchenko finds it difficult to convince parliament to confirm his new choice for prosecutor-general.

 

There is little doubt that Piskun¹s tenure as prosecutor-general was disappointing.  As Zerkalo Tyzhnia (Nedeli) put it, ³Nobody was too fond of him.² (7)  However, nobody has been too fond of Piskun for quite some time.  His critics have been pushing for his dismissal for months.  Perhaps the president simply was responding to these calls.  But the fact that Yushchenko chose this particular moment, weeks after investigations were opened surrounding the activities of his aides, and months before a pivotal parliamentary election where he faces his former ally as his opponent, leads to more questions than answers.

 

BELARUS

The next revolution?

 In July of 2006, Belarus will hold its presidential election.  President Aleksandr Lukashenko will stand for a third term, after voters ostensibly approved a third term for the current president in a referendum last year.

 

On 2 October, the political and civic opposition to Lukashenko voted to unite behind long-time civic activist Aleksandr Milinkevich.  The vote came during an ³opposition congress² in Minsk where 800 activists gathered to state their readiness to work to unseat Lukashenko.   The willingness of all opposition activists to support Milinkevich ends to recent personality clashes and power struggles among opposition leaders.  It is telling that Milinkevich primarily has worked at the grassroots level, running legal aid and community resource/outreach organizations, instead of in national politics.  Clearly, Belarusian activists are emulating the Ukrainian and Georgian political-civic coalition model as closely as possible, and civic activists from both countries were in attendance at the conference.

 

Milinkevich has a difficult road ahead, given that most of Lukashenko¹s previous opponents have either disappeared or ended up in prison.  "Many people ask me whether I know what I'm facing,² he said after the vote.   ³Maybe I risk being jailed. Maybe I will be shot at. But every opposition member knows he is threatened, along with his family.² (8) 

 

In preparation for the election, Lukashenko launched an attack on the last remaining non-state-owned newspaper in Belarus – Narodnaya Volya (People¹s Will).  The paper has been informed that state-owned newspaper kiosks will no longer carry it and a state-owned printing house will no longer print it.  Editors have responded by signing a contract with a printer in Smolensk, Russia, and planning to distribute the paper themselves.  The paper currently has 29,000 subscribers.

 

European Parliament again condemns Belarus

The European Parliament released a statement on 29 September, in which it called on member states ³to identify and freeze the personal assets of President Lukashenko and those other senior members of the regime who ensure the continuation of the dictatorship,² and to expand the list of Belarusian authorities subject to the visa ban ³to prevent them from entering the territory of EU member states.²

 

The parliament called for independent investigations into the disappearances of former Minister of the Interior Yuriy Zakharenko, former deputy speaker of the Belarusian parliament Viktor Honchar, businessman Anatoly Krasovsky, and ORT television cameraman Dmitriy Zavadski.  It also demanded the release of numerous political prisoners, including former Foreign Relations Minister and presidential candidate Mikhail Marynich, whose health reportedly has been steadily deteriorating, and now can neither see nor walk. (9)

 

There was no mention in the resolution, however, of freezing oil exports, which, according to a regional NGO, is what would really make a difference.

 

On 30 September, the Bratislava-based Pontis Foundation released a study recommending that the EU ³could strike a direct blow against the Minsk government by blocking oil exports from Belarus.²  The study found that Belarusian authorities and government-owned businesses make considerable profits by importing Russian oil into Belarus at bargain prices and then exporting it to the EU at market - or just below market - prices.  These contracts with the EU are reportedly worth up to 3.3 billion euros each year.  (10)

 

A Belarusian diplomat quoted by the EU Observer didn¹t seem concerned, however:  ³I believe the EU is very interested in importing our oil and raw materials, especially now that the prices are so high,² he said.  ³The EU would not like to lost this quite important source.² (11)  The diplomat is undoubtedly correct.

 

MOLDOVA AND UKRAINE

The EU moves in

The European Union this month made a major commitment to Moldova and Ukraine, agreeing to a moderate-sized border-monitoring mission covering over 1,200 kilometers.  The mission will include the Transnistria section of the Ukraine-Moldova border, which has been identified by the EU as one of the biggest havens for smuggling activities in Europe.  The commitment to the mission represents a huge step forward for Moldova, particularly because it coincided with the opening of an EU representative office in Chisinau, and with the announcement that the organization will double its aid to the country in the coming year. 

 

Perhaps even more important, at the time of its signature on the border agreement, Ukraine re-committed itself to accepting only imports with a Moldovan custom stamp.  As such, unregistered products from Transnistria will be refused entry.  Although Ukraine announced this step in early 2005, its commitment had appeared to be wavering in recent months.  Ukrainian and Moldovan authorities hope that this step, combined with the border mission, will begin to undermine the lucrative smuggling trade that provides the necessary financial support to keep Transnistrian authorities in firm control.  Whether they truly will be able to reduce this trade is debatable, but these measures represent significant progress.

 

The border-monitoring mission will have extraordinary powers to search and seize, and to undertake surprise visits to customs locations throughout the monitored section of the border.  In addition, EU representatives also will conduct training for Moldovan and Ukrainian border guards and help modernize border positions.  They will begin their activities on 1 December.  

 

Source Notes

1)  Agence France Presse, 2 Mar 05 via Lexis-Nexis.

2)  ITAR-TASS, 20 Apr 05 via Lexis-Nexis.

3) Associated Press, 1 Mar 05 via Lexis-Nexis.

4)  Stolichnyye Novosti, 22 Jun 05; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

5) Associated Press, 15 Sep 05.

6) ForUm, 18:59 CET, 17 Oct 05, using material from Svoboda, 17 Oct 05.

7) Zerkalo Tyzhnia, No. 40 (568), 15-21 Oct 05.

8)  Agence France Presse, 0303 GMT, 11 Oct 05 via Lexis-Nexis.

9) European Parliament, Press Release, External Relations, 1422 GMT, 29 Sep 05 via www.europarl.eu.int, and for full text of statement, see Institute on Religion and Public Policy, 29 Sep 05 via www.religionandpolicy.org.

10) EUObserver.com, 30 Sep 05 via Lexis-Nexis.

11) Ibid.

 

By Tammy Lynch (tammyinboston@yahoo.com)


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