|The ISCIP Analyst|
Volume XIII Number 10 (29 March 2007)
No.9(8 March 2007)
No.8(22 February 2007)
No.7(8 February 2007)
No.6(25 January 2007)
No.5(7 December 2006)
No.4(9 November 2006)
No.3(19 October 2006)
No.2(5 October 2006)
No.1(21 September 2006)
No.8(17 August 2006)
No.7(20 July 2006)
No.6 (15 June 2006)
No.5 (25 May 2006)
No.4 (20 April 2006)
Executive Branch by Susan J. Cavan
Domestic Issues & Legislative Branch by Robyn E. Angley
Security Services by Fabian Adami
Armed Forces (Internal) by Monty Perry
Armed Forces (External) by Daniel R. DeBreeForeign Relations by Alexey Dynkin
Caucasus by Creelea Henderson
Central Asia by Monika Shepherd
Western Region by Tammy M. Lynch
Don't fear the orange—beware the white revolution
The Kremlin political elite has been concerned about the possibility of political unrest, even revolution, upsetting their plans for succession in 2008. To date, most of the speculation has focused on the possibility of crowds mobilizing (perhaps with the help of foreign-financed civic organizations) to protest election results á la the color revolutions.
In response to this dread scenario, Putin's closest advisers, such as Vladislav Surkov, have devised schemes to mobilize their own crowds of young demonstrators. Recently, reports have surfaced about the education of these youth groups expanding beyond politics and mass mobilization to encompass crowd control…of a violent nature. (1)
With all the succession speculation and preparation for a constitutionally-scheduled transition, it seems possible, if not probable, that a challenge to the best-laid plans of Kremlin apparatchiki could come from an unforeseen direction, and that it could be cloaked in an unexpected color:
Dateline: Moscow, 15 May 2008
The crowds in Manezh Square gather in front of the History Museum, encircling the specter of Marshal Zhukov atop his rearing steed, and call out for a decision – a resolution to the lengthy debate and discussion among historians, philosophers and a cross-section of scholars, and a tally of the vote that will decide the future of the nation. It is not the result of the country's fifth presidential election that is in question, that result has been made moot by the startling revelation of a secret agreement signed by the highest authorities in the country as the tumultuous 1990s came to a close, an agreement that supersedes the result of any election.
A small crowd gravitates towards the Lenin Museum, where the porch, which would normally be the backdrop for fiery nationalist speeches is cramped instead with confused and leery orators who have trimmed their rhetoric from the bloodthirsty condemnation of post-Soviet societies' ills to the affirmation of nationhood: "Rossiya! Rossiya!" There is no evidence that the occupants of the porch have a unanimous vision of which resolution would most benefit Rossiya, but they wait, like the crowd, like the viewers at home and abroad, for an answer, the hint of a signal of what direction developments will next take.
The clamor of a helicopter touching down within the Kremlin walls sets off another round of cheering and calls, most of the mob hollers, "Tsarevich!" A quieter, but equally fervent group answers "Mama! Mama!"
Russia's first president, Boris Yel'tsin, hobbles along a familiar path to the Kremlin's presidential offices to meet his successor, Vladimir Putin, who has been sequestered with the head of the Constitutional Court, Valeri Zorkin, and Patriarch Aleksei, waiting for the verdict from the scholars gathered in the History Museum.
Anatoli Chubais, the man who set in motion these astonishing events, finishes his latest round of interviews with the international press, where he explains yet again about the sealed, secret documents, signed more than a decade ago, and the decisions that led to their drafting. The recent revelation of the secret agreements is less difficult to explain: Russia was devolving into a police state with sham elections, which only served to confirm the power of a Chekhist regime. This was never the intention of Russia's father of democracy; Yel'tsin's true intentions had to be revealed to the public, and Chubais was therefore duty-bound to bring these secret agreements to light.
On Megatron screens around central Moscow, "Mama," the Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, demurs that her ambitions are not for herself, but for her son, the Grand Duke Georgi Mikhailovich. Maria Vladimirovna and the Grand Duke have been ensconced for weeks at Tsarskoe Selo, in the St. Petersburg area. It is now their turn to pace the grounds and wait for the politics of the day to play out. Every day, the crowds around the palace have grown, fresh flowers line the streets, and thousands wait for an appearance by the young Grand Duke and his mother. Maria Vladimirovna recounts again her meetings with President Yel'tsin in the mid-1990s, describing for the crowds in St. Petersburg, in Moscow and around the world how their discussions resembled the kitchen whisperings of concerned parents as they discussed their children's future: what would be best for the people, for Russia? The only conclusion possible was an eventual restoration of the monarchy, a return of the Tsar. (2)
At the time, her son was too young to consider shouldering the responsibility to lead such a great nation. Now in his mid-twenties, the Grand Duke was ready to try, and so, apparently, was Russia.
The Putin interregnum had strengthened the country economically, and now, with the help of constitutional experts, sociologists, psychologists, and grief counselors, a Tsar would be returned to Russia, to serve as the father figure for a nation buffeted by deep ideological and economic shifts in recent years.
As soon as the scholars, philosophers, writers (including the great Russian moralist writer, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn), and, of course, lawyers at the History Museum reached a verdict on the legality of the grand Duchess' claim to the throne, she would abdicate in favor of her son (at least that is the plan).
Constitutional Court Chairman Zorkin had been working day and night with representatives from both the Yel'tsin and Putin Kremlin teams – the writers of the constitution and the architects of the current political structures. A constitutional monarchy, bolstered by a strong Prime Ministerial government, renamed the Imperial Chancery (headed, at least for the time being by the outgoing President, no doubt), would provide the best hope for a resolution of the nation's ills and a permanent restoration of the state's grandeur.
As the historians emerged to confirm the succession, and set in motion a new round of voting that would finally see the majority of Russian voters affirming a new constitution, the crowd in downtown Moscow: the National Bolsheviks, Communists, United Russia and Just Russia supporters, the remnants of the Yabloko democrats and SPS voters, and, loudest of all, the Nashi youth cheered and waved Russian flags—both the black, yellow and white and the red, white and blue tri-colors and the double eagle, even the St. Andrew's blue and white. A new Russian color revolution indeed.
(1) "Marching in agreement: Are the Kremlin's defenders being trained for street brawls with the operation?" by Ilya Yashin, Novaya gazeta, No. 20, 22 Mar 07, p. 3; What the Papers Say (WPS) via Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe.
(2) The possibility of a secret agreement regarding the return of the Romanov dynasty has been raised in several sources. For example, "Can a Czar's Receding Heir Line Return?" by Lee Hockstader, Washington Post Foreign Service, Washington Post, 13 Jan 97 via Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe.
By Susan J. Cavan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
DOMESTIC ISSUES AND LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
Out of the shoot: Just Russia and regional elections
Russia's newest "opposition" party has fared remarkably well in the March elections. Just Russia, a center-left amalgam of the Rodina (Motherland) Party, Party of Life, and the Party of Pensioners, surpassed United Russia in the Stavropol proportional representation voting, leading to Stavropol governor Alexander Chernogorov's ouster from the party by State Duma Speaker and United Russia head Boris Gryzlov for "failing to accomplish his mission" and calls for the governor to step down from his post. (1) (Not surprisingly, Just Russia also has rejected a proposal that it accept Chernogorov as a member.) Just Russia earned the second highest number of votes in four out of the fourteen regions that went to the polls on 11 March, and took third place in seven others.
Just Russia, while in supposed opposition to the dominant party of United Russia, is staunch, nevertheless, in its support for Putin and his policies. Although there has been considerable verbal sparring between the two pro-Kremlin parties in the run-up to the voting, which was seen as the de facto start to the Duma elections, the two parties managed to agree fairly quickly on policies espoused by the Kremlin. For instance, United Russia agreed to support Just Russia leader and Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov's bid as the senatorial incumbent from Saint Petersburg, despite friction between the two groups.
Just Russia's platform draws extensively on left-leaning rhetoric. Included in a recent interview with party leader Sergei Mironov, for example, were the following comments: "Only socialist ideology, socialist ideas unite people. By calling ourselves a party that protects working people, obviously, we advocate socialist ideals and we will insist on this path for our country. Personally, I do not want to build capitalism in Russia." (2)
Looking forward to the upcoming Duma elections, Mironov is banking on Just Russia's recent success and hoping to cobble together an opposition coalition with the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), led by Gennady Zyuganov, and ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal-Democratic Party (LDPR). The Communists have rejected such a possibility, claiming plausibly that Just Russia's policies are nearly identical to those of United Russia. (3) It appears that Just Russia's has a choice between two strategies: To siphon votes away from the CPRF and LDPR; or to co-opt those parties into an opposition bloc in hopes of gaining a majority in the Duma.
Either way, the Kremlin has little to fear from the new party on Russia's political scene.
The "suicide" of Ivan Safronov
Kommersant journalist Ivan Safronov died on 2 March after falling from a fifth floor window in what investigators are content to label a suicide. Safronov, a Space Forces colonel who became a journalist after the fall of the Soviet Union, previously had published several stories that reflected unfavorably upon the military establishment. Information released by Kommersant shortly after his death indicated that Safronov's next article, which never made it to press, may have threatened the financial prospects of elements of the military.
In February, Safronov traveled to the United Arab Emirates to observe an international weapons bazaar. Specifically, Safronov intended to investigate the claim that Russia had made an arrangement involving the sale of Su-30 jets to Syria and S-300V surface-to-air missiles to Iran. (4) According to some sources, MiG-29 fighters and Iskander-E ballistic missiles also were part of the deal. (5) The potential sale of Iskander missiles to Syria raised considerable concerns because the missiles' range would give Syria the capability to strike at targets throughout Israel. The arms sales to both Middle Eastern countries were to take place with Belarus as an intermediary, allowing bureaucrats to skim export earnings off the top. (Belarus, through the head of the press center of the State Secretariat of the Belarusian Security Council, Uladzimir Nestsyarovich, denied the plan, stating that "no evidence has ever been presented." (6)) While proving extremely lucrative for corrupt officials, this deal certainly would not help the already tense situation in the Middle East.
Safronov's most recent investigation was not the only time he had unearthed a weapons scandal. Last fall, Safronov released information concerning the three consecutive failed test-launches of the new Bulava R-30 naval ICBM. The Defense Ministry imposed a prohibition on information about the status of the Bulava missiles' testing. Under existing nuclear agreements, the US had been informed of the tests beforehand; therefore the ban was not a means of guarding information from export abroad, but rather from being released to the Russian public. Safronov exposed the Bulava scandal and earned the antagonism of the Defense Ministry.
Given Safronov's unfavorable coverage of past weapons scandals and his recent investigations into weapons sales to Syria and Iran, his death is suspicious, at the very least. He left no suicide note, and his family claims that he had no reason to commit suicide. The frequency of violent, unsolved deaths among journalists in Russia, including those of Anna Politkovskaya and Paul Klebnikov, does not auger well for a thorough investigation into Safronov's demise. His "suicide" marks the continued danger to and decline of media freedom in Russia.
(1) "Stavropol governor won't be admitted to Just Russia Party," ITAR-TASS, 18 Mar 07 via Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe.
(2) "Russia's new left-wing party eyes Communist Party's electorate," NTV Mir, 26 Feb 07; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe.
(3) "Communist deputy leader rules out cooperation with A Just Russia," ITAR-TASS, 24 Mar 07 via World News Connection (WNC).
(4) "Ivan Safronov was driven to death," Kommersant, 6 Mar 07; RusData Dialine via Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe.
(5) Pavel Felgenhauer, "Non-combat casualties," Novaya gazeta, 12 Mar 07; WPS via Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe.
(6) "Belarus dismisses illegal arms sales charges after journalist death," Belaplan, 6 Mar 07; via OSC Translated excerpt (WNC).
By Robyn E. Angley (email@example.com)
Trepashkin: State revenge for Litvinenko allegations?
In October 2003, Mikhail Trepashkin, a lawyer and former FSB officer was arrested on charges of treason. The FSB alleged that classified documents, which Trepashkin supposedly was planning to pass on to foreign powers, had been discovered in his apartment. Although the espionage allegation was based largely on hearsay, Trepashkin was convicted and sentenced to serve a four-year sentence.
At the time of his arrest, Trepashkin was representing one of two defendants in a trial over the 1999 apartment bombings in Moscow. Trepashkin apparently possessed evidence implicating the FSB in the atrocity that he planned to bring to light during the trial. As such, it seemed safe to conclude that his arrest was a "silencing exercise," ordered at the highest levels. (1)
In the aftermath of Alexander Litvinenko’s death last November, Trepashkin, remarkably, has been able to make his voice heard on the case. Firstly, he succeeded in dispatching a letter from prison in Nizhny Tagil, in which he claimed that the FSB had established a hit squad with orders to eliminate Litvinenko. (2) Perhaps more remarkably, the BBC succeeded in speaking to Trepashkin directly via a phone smuggled into prison by a Russian film maker. In a conversation recorded for BBC’s “Panorama,” Trepashkin claimed that he had been assigned the advance surveillance work with orders to “find the route to Litvinenko…discover his pattern of movement, his meeting places. I realized they wanted to send one person to find his whereabouts, and the group will follow.” (3)
Trepashkin’s allegations, as well as the fact that he was somehow accessible, have now brought a reaction. On 9 March, a court in Nizhny Tagil ruled that Trepashkin should be transferred to a higher security “general colony.” According to his lawyer, the sentence was imposed due to Trepashkin’s violation of “sentencing regulations.” (4) At this juncture, it seems evident that Trepashkin’s change in status is designed both to ensure he cannot speak out any longer, as well as to punish his verbosity. Given the fact that Trepashkin apparently is being denied the necessary medical care for his asthma, (5) the message being sent is: we can make your life even worse. So keep quiet.
FSB touts law-enforcement success
On 15 March, the FSB announced that it had smashed an international gang, “engaging in human trafficking and illegal immigration,” specifically from South-East Asian and CIS countries to Western Europe. Russia apparently was the hub of the operation. (6)
The group used “dummy firms” in several Russian towns as cover. These front businesses subsequently falsified employment contracts with dual-nationality Russian citizens wishing to move abroad, in order to obtain their foreign passports. Once passports had been obtained, the firms then created Schengen visa documents on the passports—replacing the owner’s photos with those of persons being trafficked. (7) Those wishing to reach Western Europe were forced to pay between three and five thousand Euros for their documents.
According to the FSB’s spokesman, the law enforcement operation was an international effort involving Uzbek, Italian, Finnish and Russian authorities. “Key gang leaders” from Russia, the Ukraine and Moldova were “caught red-handed.” (8) The 20 individuals captured apparently included the head of the gang, a “Russian state official.” (9) The FSB has stated that six criminal cases have been filed, and that the investigation is ongoing. As yet, no announcement has been made as to the “state official’s” identity, his job title, or even the department of the government in which he worked. It seems safe to assume that the department involved is connected with law enforcement or immigration in some manner. As such, FSB employees cannot be above suspicion.
At this point in time, no reason for doubting the veracity of the FSB’s claim exists. Human trafficking operations are prevalent across Eastern Europe. It is possible, however, that the FSB is exaggerating the level of criminal operation—as well as its own achievement. The agency has been the target of some serious criticism of late. What better way to silence the critics, than by demonstrating the agency’s efficiency and humanity in busting what is essentially a “slave trade” operation?
FSB director in Caucasus
In mid-March, FSB Director Nikolai Patrushev traveled to Chechnya to preside at the opening of the agency’s new headquarters in Grozny alongside Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov. (10) It seems clear that the occasion was designed to demonstrate Moscow’s trust in the loyalist government; indeed an announcement was given that authority would be partially restored to the Chechen government in the law-enforcement field. Kadyrov announced that as a result of negotiations with Eduard Petrukhin, deputy head of the Russian Federal Penal Service, Chechen criminals convicted in other regions of the Russian Federation will be returned to serve their sentences in the Chechen Republic. (11) Kadyrov will “personally supervise” construction of two penal colonies by the end of 2007, after which an initial 1,000 prisoners will be transferred. (12)
The occasion also was used to announce a major new drive to capture or kill the “last Chechen warlords Akhmed Zakayev and Khozh-Akhmed Nukhayev,” who “remain at large.” (13) Patrushev’s trip included the viewing of a new FSB training complex in Dagestan, which is specifically to be used for the FSB’s Special Forces Units, (14) including the Alpha Team. It seems likely that this facility will serve as a “launch-pad” into Chechnya, presumably for special-forces units conducting a hunt for the individuals named by Patrushev.
Update: Russia complains of delay in investigation
Russian officials involved in the Litvinenko case have stated that they have a list of some 100 people to be questioned, including Boris Berezovsky. (15) According to Deputy Prosecutor General Alexander Zyvagintsev, as of mid-March, permission has not yet been granted for Russian officials to travel to London. Zyvagintsev expressed frustration, claiming that Russian authorities had waived rules for the British, and that reciprocity should follow. (16) British authorities apparently have held up the investigation because the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has asked police to unearth more details before proceeding with the case. Scotland Yard has responded by stating that “we ensure all due processes are carried out.” (17) Given Russia’s obstruction of British investigations in December and January, whereby officers were refused access to witnesses as well as locations around Moscow, complaints by the Russian Prosecutor’s office should be taken with a pinch of salt at best, and viewed as downright hypocritical at worst.
(1) See The NIS Observed: An Analytical Review, Volume IX, Number 09 (12 Jun 04)
(2) See The ISCIP Analyst, Volume XIII, Number 5 (5 Dec 06)
(3) “How To Poison a Spy,” 22 Jan 07 via www.news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/panorama/6276225 .stm.
(4) “Russian Court Orders Stricter Confinement For Former Russian Security Officer Trepashkin,” International Herald Tribune, 9 Mar 07 via www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/03/09/europe/EU-GEN-Russia-Security-Officer-Trial.php.
(5) “Russia; Further Information On Health Concern/Denial of Medical Treatment: Mikhail Ivanovich Trepashkin,” Amnesty International Urgent Action Network, 13 Marc 07 via www.web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGEUR460072007.
(6) “FSB Routs Human Trafficking Group,” ITAR-TASS, 15 Mar 07 via Lexis Nexis Academic Universe.
(8) “Human Trafficking Group Busted in Russia,” ITAR-TASS, 15 Mar 07 via Lexis Nexis Academic Universe.
(9) Russian Special Service Busts Human Trafficking Ring Set Up By State Official,” RTR Rossiya, Moscow, in Russian, 15 Mar 07; BBC Monitoring via Lexis Nexis Academic Universe.
(10) ITAR-TASS, 16 Mar 07; WPS Defense and Security via Lexis Nexis Academic Universe.
(11) “Russian Security Chief Opens New FSB Building in Chechen Capital,” NTV Mir, Moscow, in Russian, 14 Mar 07; BBC Monitoring via Lexis Nexis Academic Universe.
(13) “FSB To Seek Detention of Chechen Warlords Remaining At Large,” ITAR-TASS, 15 Mar 07 via Lexis Nexis Academic Universe.
(14) “FSB Director Accepts Several FSB Facilities in N Caucasus,” ITAR-TASS, 15 Mar 07 via Lexis Nexis Academic Universe .
(15) “Russia Wants to Question 100 People in UK ex-Spy Probe,” RIA Novosti, 12 Mar 07 via Lexis Nexis Academic Universe.
(16) “British Prosecutors May Explain Hold Up in Litvinenko Inquiry,” The Moscow Times, 19 Mar 07 via Lexis Nexis Academic Universe.
By Fabian Adami (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ARMED FORCES (INTERNAL)
Russian mystery weapon
Russia’s objection to US plans of deploying a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic is continuing at a fevered pitch. This reaction has intensified, following a statement by the head of the US Missile Defense Agency, Lieutenant General Henry Obering. On 1 March, Obering mentioned that “the Caucasus could prove an attractive location for an anti-missile defense station.” (1) Additionally, on 14 March Obering and a US delegation met in Kiev with officials from the Defense Ministry, Security Council, and the President’s office, regarding US plans in Poland and the Czech Republic. (2) Despite clear statements that the US has no intention of placing any part of the missile system in Ukraine, Russia continues with its objections.
Russia's reaction has taken several different forms. Last month Chief of the General Staff, Yuri Baluyevsky, made statements in the media that Russia was strongly considering withdrawing from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. (3) Many believe this “consideration” not only to be a poor strategic idea, but also an idle threat meant to dissuade the US and its partner countries from proceeding with their plans. Another more mysterious response came during a speech on 1 February when President Putin said Russia would develop an effective response to the US action. He went on to say that “all our responses will be asymmetric but highly effective.” (4)
Waiting to learn what Putin meant by “asymmetric” may have come to an end. At a recent “meeting of the government’s Military-Industrial Commission, Senior Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov announced the launch of a project aimed at developing a fifth-generation surface-to-air (SAM) missile system.” (5) This announcement came in conjunction with news that the delay-ridden S-400 “Triumph” missile system finally will be deployed outside of Moscow in June 2007. The S-400 (NATO designated SA-20) is an upgraded version of the S-300 (SA-10), but with twice the range and two-and-a half times the firepower. However, it still uses the same archaic, 1970’s era electronics as the previous system. (6) Despite using previously deployed technology, the S-400 still suffered significant development delays. As an illustration, the 12 February 1999 issue of Aerospace Daily ran an article titled “New Russian ‘Triumph’ SAM Nearly Ready for Domestic Use, Export.” (7) Obviously this wasn’t the case, and the system subsequently was stalled by both technical difficulties and major funding shortfalls.
In describing the new “fifth-generation” system, Ivanov described it as "a very substantial and costly project that is unique in terms of innovation.” (8) He also went on to promise that, because the project is about ensuring security for Russia, it must remain on a strict timeline to be completed no later than 2015. (9) However, “the fifth-generation system only exists in the imaginations of weapons designers at present.” (10) The system is intended to serve all feasible purposes by protecting against aircraft, missiles, and space weapons. However, as Pavel Felgenhauer explained in a 7 March piece on the subject, “it has long been demonstrated that it’s fundamentally impossible to design a system which is equally effective against aerial, ballistic, and space targets. Apparently, no one has explained this to Ivanov.” (11) The government-owned Almaz-Antei defense production company, known for the S-300, S-400, Pechora-2A, Buk-M1, and Tor-M1 missile systems, is likely to be charged to lead the consortium effort. Technical expertise of the Air Force, Navy, Ground Troops, and Missile Defense Troops will be pooled on the project to design a standardized surface-to-air weapon. (12) It should be interesting to keep an eye on the “strict” 8-year development timeline of this project for which the technology isn’t even understood, especially in light of the 8+ years it has taken simply to upgrade the S-300 into the S-400.
Chief of the Russian Air Force, General Vladimir Mikhailov said, “The system will undoubtedly inherit the best features of the S-300 and S-400 systems, but will be designed using advanced technology.” (13) It may be worthwhile to note whether the fire control system will be designed using “advanced technology” or will be based on previous models. The effectiveness of the S-300 and S-400 systems has been found to be completely dependent on the capability of the personnel that operates it. (14) These systems, which may outperform the US’s Patriot system in staged demonstrations and while under the control of the best qualified crews, are likely to lose significant combat effectiveness when controlled by disgruntled, underpaid and ill-trained conscripts on a day-to-day basis.
While the term “fifth-generation” serves to grab attention and to whip up excitement about efforts being undertaken to build an impenetrable defense, it also forewarns of the obviously exorbitant costs that will be incurred in its development. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of Russia’s fifth-generation missile defense technology. The exact same term was used in 2004 when Russia was touting the research discoveries made in another mysterious missile defense program. In August 2004, in an almost identical precursor to recent talks, Russian defense officials announced completion of research and development of the Samoderzhets or “Autocrat” system. (15) The system, said to outperform all other competitors, was originally estimated to become operational in 2012. However, after an initial flurry of curiosity and excitement in the press, nothing more was heard of the system. (16) Interestingly, given the program’s three-year hiatus, the 2012 timeline matches the 2015 completion date promised in the most recent “fifth-generation” discussions.
Time will tell whether this round of interest will survive beyond the curiosity stage.
But, Russia’s signals of insecurity over US missile defense plans continue to intensify and may provide a significant impetus behind the well-publicized announcement of Moscow's new mystery weapon.
(1) Blagov, Sergei, “Russia Weighs Response To US Missile Defense Proposal for Caucasus,” 6 Mar 07, Eurasia Insight via http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/insight/articles/eav030607_pr.shtml.
(2) “US General Discusses Missile Defense,” 14 Mar 07, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty via http://www.rferl.org/reports/FullReport.aspx?report=565.
(3) “Yuri Baluyevski: We Have Invulnerable Weapons,” Rossiiskaya gazeta, 21 Feb 07, pp. 1, 4 via Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe.
(4) “Russia Wants US to Sign Deal Saying Militaries Don’t Target Each Other,” 6 Feb 07, International Herald Tribune via http://www.iht.com/bin/print.php?id= 4494306.
(5) Litovkin, Dmitri, “Sergei Ivanov Summons the Triumph to His Service,” 1 Mar 07, Izvestia via Lexis-Nexis.
(6) Felgenhauer, Pavel, “The Fifth-Generation Vacuum Cleaner; The Defense Sector is Foisting Unnecessary New Weapons on the State,” 7 Mar 07, Novaya gazeta via Lexis-Nexis.
(7) “S-400 (SA-20 Triumf),” 26 Mar 07, MissileThreat.com via http://www.missilethreat.com/missiledefensesystems/id.52/system_detail.asp.
(8) Poroskov, Nikolai, “Shield Provisions; Russia Wants to Build a New Kind of Weapon,” 2 Mar 07, Vremya novostei via Lexis-Nexis.
(10) Litovkin, Dmitri, Ibid.
(11) Felgenhauer, Pavel, Ibid.
(12) “Russia Aims to Develop New Aerospace ‘Super Weapon,’” 19 Mar 07, Vremya novostei; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
(13) “Russia’s New Air Defenses to be Based on S-300 and S-400 Systems,” 2 Mar 07, RIA Novosti via Lexis-Nexis.
(14) Felgenhauer, Pavel, Ibid.
(15) “Russia Aims to Develop…,” Ibid.
By Monty Perry (email@example.com)
ARMED FORCES (EXTERNAL)
Peace mission 2007
China announced last week that for the first time ever, it will deploy its indigenously-produced Jian-10 Chengdu fighter aircraft outside the country for participation in a military exercise. (1) Peace Mission 07 is an exercise scheduled for 18-25 July 2007 in Russia's Chelyabinsk Oblast', and will include not only Chinese and Russian military forces, but also limited numbers of troops from other Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) states. (2) The announcement came in conjunction with a visit to China by Russian Chief of the General Staff, General Yuri Baluyevsky, who also called for “further cooperation with China within the framework of the SCO.” (3)
Ostensibly a military exercise to practice counter-terrorism drills, Peace Mission 07 will “contribute to world peace and security” and “does not target any third country,” said the Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister, Li Hui. The purpose of the exercise is simply to demonstrate SCO nations’ ability to “crack down on the three forces of evil, terrorism, separatism, and extremism.” (4) In order to execute this broad mandate, Peace Mission 07 will comprise more than 3000 troops, including a regiment each of Chinese and Russian soldiers. In addition to the Jian-10, the Chinese will also bring their indigenously-produced main battle tanks and BTR-96 armored personnel carriers. There will be a significant amount of air support, artillery support, the use of massed armor, and an airborne landing. Cracking down, indeed! (5)
Even more surprising is evidence that there will be the simulated use of a nuclear weapon by the adversary forces. Reminiscent of Peace Mission 05, this year’s exercise resembles less of an anti-terrorism drill than a full-scale, state-on-state conventional fight. Two years ago, the exercise was held on the Chinese Shandong Peninsula and included an amphibious landing backed by strategic bombers. It too, was touted as an anti-terrorism exercise, but seemed much more like a test invasion of Taiwan. (See ISCIP Analyst Volume XIII, Number 4). Although it may be possible that this year’s maneuvers do indeed concern a terrorist adversary (albeit nuclear-armed), it seems more pointedly designed to “give the United States a certain sign.” (6) In light of recent escalated tensions between Russia and the West, this assessment may prove very accurate.
Regardless of the true intent, the importance of these maneuvers to the Russian leadership cannot be overestimated. Reportedly, both President Putin and PRC Chairman Hu Jingtao will be in attendance. General Baluyevsky visited Beijing to discuss the exercise just this month, and he will be followed in a few weeks by Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov. Even the size and the scope of the exercise indicate its importance. Originally planned to be at the Battalion level (less than 1000 troops), the Chinese requested an increase to 2000. The Russian military leadership not only accepted that proposal, but upped the ante to 3000 troops, where it stands now. In addition, Russia also proposed combining this exercise with joint military exercises being conducted under the auspices of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). (7)
China, for its part, accepted the proposed size increase, but vehemently opposed any association with the CSTO. The Chinese military leadership claimed that “it was not prepared for such close military-political cooperation with so geographically distant countries as Armenia and Belarus.” Military analysts see this as another of Russia's continuing efforts to persuade the 1.5 billion-strong China into the CIS fold, thereby establishing a very definite “pole” to counter US and Western predominance. Although China has displayed its traditional caution in this regard, at least from the point of this military exercise, the SCO military component still does not seem to be as “anti-terrorist” as it purports to be. (8)
The Russian Foreign Ministry’s ballistic missile shield
In what may have been a faux-pas of epic proportions, the Commander of Russian Space Troops, Colonel-General Vladimir Popovkin claimed to be investigating the feasibility of installing space surveillance radars at Russian embassies in a number of countries, allowing him “to adjust flight missions depending upon various contingencies.” Very specifically identifying the type of equipment he was referring to—Sazhen quantum optical stations—General Popovkin did not say which or how many countries were under consideration. He did say in his interview with Novosti kosmonavtiki that he was primarily concerned with getting “visual pictures of second stage and booster activation we cannot receive from Russia.” (9) Claiming that the equipment would fit into a single office and require maintenance from one technician, once a year, he indicated that these remote stations would be controlled by a single command center in Krasnoznamensk. (10)
Within one day of this very revealing interview, the other shoe dropped (presumably). Russian Space Forces, in a 20 March news release, stated that “no ballistic early warning radars have ever been deployed, nor may be deployed [at Russian embassies abroad], in accordance with international law.” (11)
So the question now becomes, was this simply General Popovkin speculating on future plans of his own, without inter-agency coordination? Or, was this an unintentional breach of security, inadvertently identifying plans that Russia would rather not reveal? More information is required to tell definitively, but there are some subtle signs to consider. The details of the interview were very specific, naming not only types of equipment, but also specific places where command and control installations were to be established. In addition, he also claimed to be “looking into the issue together with the Foreign Ministry,” which points to a coordinated effort rather than a unilateral action by the Space Forces. (12) From these details, it seems to be more of a security breach (perhaps an intentional leak) of an actual initiative rather than idle speculation on mere possibilities….
(1) “Jian-10 Fighters to Leave for Russia for Military Exercise,” Wen Wei Po, 12 Mar 07, 07:58:18 GMT via World News Connection.
(2) “Moscow Seeking Closer Military Ties with Beijing,” Nezavisimaya gazeta, 1 Mar 07; BBC Monitoring via Lexis Nexis Academic Universe.
(3) “Russia Willing to Further Work with China Within SCO Framework,” Xinhua General News Service, 4 Mar 07, 0900 EST via Lexis Nexis Academic Universe.
(4) “Chinese Assistant FM: SCO Joint Military Exercises to be Held in Russia,” Xinhua General News Service, 21 Mar 07, 0900 EST via Lexis Nexis Academic Universe.
(5) “Moscow Seeking Closer Military Ties with Beijing,” Nezavisimaya gazeta, 1 Mar 07; BBC Monitoring via Lexis Nexis Academic Universe.
(9) “Russian Military Looks at Deploying Space Radar Stations in Embassies,” Agentstvo voyennykh novostey, 19 Mar 07, 11:24:54 GMT via World News Connection.
(10) “Launch Vehicle Detection Radars May Be Deployed In Russian Embassies,” Agentstvo voyennykh Nnovostey, 19 Mar 07, 10:05:53 GMT via World News Connection.
(11) “No Anti-Missile Radars in Russian Embassies,” RIA Novosti, 20 Mar 07, 1513 GMT via http://en.rian.ru/russia.
(12) “Russian Military Looks at Deploying Space Radar Stations in Embassies,” Agentstvo voyennykh novostey, 19 Mar 07, 11:24:54 GMT via World News Connection.
By Daniel R. DeBree (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The bear and the dragon
Chinese President Hu Jintao is scheduled to visit Russia from March 26 to 28. In addition to speaking directly with Putin for the first time, Hu Jintao also plans to meet with Prime Minister Fradkov, State Duma Chairman Gryzlov, and, interestingly, President Shaimiev of the Tatarstan Republic. (1) He will complement the visit by attending the opening ceremonies of the “China Year” – a series of events designed to promote cultural exchange that follows a similar “Russia Year” held in 2006. According to Assistant Foreign Minister Li Hui, the visit will have five objectives: “deepening political mutual trust, promoting pragmatic cooperation, widening humanities exchanges, strengthening local cooperation, and reinforcing strategic cooperation in international affairs.” (2) While Li did not specifically mention military cooperation as being on the agenda for the meeting, he did refer to a joint military exercise of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization that will be held in Russia sometime later this year. (3)
As far as strategic cooperation is concerned, the main topics on the agenda are expected to be the six-party talks regarding the North Korean nuclear weapons program and the Iranian nuclear question. Regarding the latter, the timing of the meeting is significant. Following the passing of Resolution 1747 of the UN Security Council on March 24, imposing additional (though as yet hardly overwhelming) sanctions on Iran for its refusal to comply with the IAEA, acting US representative to the United Nations Alejandro D. Wolff said that "while we hope that Iran complies with this resolution...the United States is fully prepared to take additional measures in 60 days should Iran choose another course." (4) While Wolff did not specify what these additional measures might entail, the implication of his statement for the rest of the Security Council is that each member state now has two months to come up with its final position. It is possible, therefore, that the two presidents will use the upcoming meeting to agree upon a common position on the Iranian nuclear question. An unnamed Kremlin source recently noted that both countries are “…interested in strengthening the United Nations and increasing the effectiveness of the main international mechanism to counter multiple challenges of a contemporary world.” (5) In other words, both China and Russia have an interest in using their permanent Council membership as a vehicle for increasing their role in global affairs. Since the US appears, based on Wolff’s warning, to be indicating again that it might proceed independently of the UN, should the latter fail to satisfy its concerns, it would make sense that the topic of Sino-Russian conversation in the following days will be how to prevent that from happening.
The wide range of issues to be addressed during Hu Jintao’s visit raises the question of whether strategic partnership—the kind of long-term relationship with another major country that post-Soviet Russia has thus far been unable to form—might be imminent. On this question, Hu’s fourth objective—strengthening local cooperation—may be the most significant. In theory, it could entail the promotion of a cross-border economic zone (elements of which exist already) along the lines of the US-Canadian, except that it would be based on Russian energy supplies to the ever-expanding Chinese market. While potential for rivalry over influence abounds—most notably in Central Asia—the combination of a common foreign policy vis-à-vis the US, as well as a cross-border economy could make China the closest Russia has had to a strategic partner.
Bushehr as TransSibNeft?
Some time before tensions between Iran and the West were exacerbated by the Iranian seizure of British naval personnel and the imposition of new sanctions by the UN Security Council, a fairly heated dispute took place between Russia and Iran, concerning delays in payment for Russia’s contracting of the Bushehr nuclear power plant. On Wednesday, March 14, head of the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) Sergei Kiriyenko told journalists in Bari, Italy, that “not a kopeck” has been paid by Iran since January, and that, as a result, the launch of the plant would have to be delayed by another two months. (6) Iranian officials, for their part, vehemently denied any delays in payments; Deputy Head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization for international affairs Mohammad Sa'idi called Kiriyenko’s remarks “illogical” and “astonishing.” (7) Meanwhile, the Russian side apparently began demonstrating its willingness to make good on its threat to pull out of the contract by recalling workers from the power plant; according to a US official, a “good number” of the some 2,000 Russian employees at the plant already have left. (8)
One implausible version concerning the dispute, presented in an article in Kommersant, suggested that “the current situation completely suits the authorities in both Iran and Russia - Iran can freeze the Bushehr project with a reference to the problems of its partner (to stave off sanctions without losing face), while Russia can point to Iran's refusal to pay for the nuclear plant." (9) (In fact, Bushehr has no direct link to the proliferation issue.) Since the article appeared, sanctions have been imposed anyway, Ahmadinejad has already promised to proceed with nuclear enrichment, and Iran has further ratcheted up tensions with its detention of British naval personnel. A not much more likely explanation for both Russian and Iranian recent actions would be fear of a US military strike against the actual proliferation sites; that could explain the removal of Russian employees, and, on the Iranian side, the capture of the British sailors (which ensures that, in the event of armed conflict, Iran already would have 15 Western hostages on its tally). But that view, too, has its problems; for one thing, it does not seem logical that should a strike take place, Bushehr itself would be involved – since that is not where enrichment takes place. In addition, this view implies that Iran has been delaying payments partly in order to stall construction in the hope of appeasing the US into not launching a military strike – an unlikely scenario, given that at the moment Iran is playing from a position of relative strength (evidence of which can be seen in its provocative, aggressive actions, such as the latest incident).
Both sides denied that the dispute had anything to do with the UN resolution (that passed eventually on March 24), although some US and European officials expressed hope that it did. (10) For their part, some voices in the Iranian official media accused Russia of using Western pressure on Iran to gain advantage over it (11) – in the same way that it had used Lukashenko’s international notoriety against him in the energy dispute at the end of the previous year. This last accusation actually may be the closest to the truth regarding the Russian position. Rather than actually moving closer to the American position on Iran, Russia is seeking to make Iran dependent on Russian support. In other words, the message is, “we will support you in the UN, but you’re going to have to accept our terms for the contract, because if you don’t, we will stop the project, and then the UN won’t be able to help you.” If that is the case, Iran’s response will likely depend on how far along it is in the development of its weapons program, and how much it needs Russia's help to fuel the reactor, in order to start producing weapons-grade uranium en masse. As long as critical components are still missing, Iran will have to accept Russian demands; once everything is in place, however, it will no longer need Russian assistance, and, as political analyst Vitali Portnikov noted, will probably do what Albania, Egypt and Somalia did to the Soviets (12) - turn away from Russia at the first opportunity.
(1) “China: Diplomat details ‘five objectives’ of President Hu Jintao's Russia visit.” Xinhua News Agency, 23 Mar 07 via Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe.
(3) “Chinese Assistant FM: SCO joint military exercises to be held in Russia in 2007.” Xinhua News Agency, 21 Mar 07 via Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe.
(4) “Security Council approves new sanctions on Iran.” 24 Mar 07, CNN Headline News via http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/03/24/iran.nuclear/index.html.
(5) “Putin, Hu To Discuss International Issues At Moscow Talks – Source.” Interfax, 24 Mar 07, OSC Transcribed Text via World News Connection.
(6) “Launch Of Bushehr To Be Postponed By At Least Two Months – Kiriyenko.” Interfax, 14 Mar 07, OSC Transcribed Text via World News Connection.
(7) “Iran denies Russian claims on Bushehr debt – official.” IRNA Iranian News Agency, 15 Mar 07 via Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe.
(8) “Russia Pulling Out of Iran Nuke Project.” Associated Press, 21 Mar 07 via Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe.
(9) “Russia-Iran: Officials, Media Trade Charges on Bushehr, Point to Broader Conflict.” Russia-Iran OSC Report, 15 Mar 07, OSC Report via World News Connection.
(10) “Russia Pulling Out of Iran Nuke Project.”
(11) “Russia-Iran: Officials, Media Trade Charges on Bushehr, Point to Broader Conflict.”
By Alexey Dynkin (email@example.com)
Of precedence and precedents: The Caucasus look to Kosovo
The UN Security Council is preparing to set the capstone on the Balkan edifice that has been under construction ever since NATO's bombs put an end to the 1998-1999 war between ethnic Albanian separatists and Belgrade forces. By scheduling a vote to endorse a package of proposals recently submitted by UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari, the UN will decide finally to grant de facto independence to Kosovo. (1) It is possible that Russia, which has historically insisted on its special role as protector of the Serbs, will stand on principle and use its veto on the Council to block the Kosovo settlement. “The trouble is that you are too logical,” objected a senior Russian diplomat to a delegate from the EU. “For us, this is an emotional question.” (2) President Putin and his ministers have made it clear that they will only back a plan for the region that has the support of Belgrade.
It is equally possible that Russia will lay aside its sentimental bonds with Serbia and recuse itself from the vote, content to gain a strategically powerful precedent that may be used to legitimize the claims of rogue territories of the South Caucasus.
Principle or bargaining chip?
US and EU officials have been at pains to stress the uniqueness of the Kosovo arrangement. At a press briefing on March 13, Assistant Secretary Fried of the US State Department insisted that the UN Security Council is not setting a precedent for other separatist communities anywhere in the world. “We have said before, and we'll say again as many times as we have to, that Kosovo is not precedent for any other area, whether that's Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Chechnya, Transnistria, Corsica or Texas.” (3) Governments in the South Caucasus, unconvinced by the State Department’s glib assurances of support for their territorial integrity, were visited by EU special envoy Peter Semneby, who reiterated the international community’s commitment to the peaceful settlement of the region’s frozen conflicts. (4)
As the issue draws to a vote, Moscow has muted its rhetoric and taken a more circumspect approach, buying time to weigh the potential gains and losses to its internal stability and geopolitical standing. Hedging his bets in a speech before the State Duma on March 21, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, declared that, while Kosovo will indeed set a particular sort of precedent, it must not be considered as a universally applicable model. “For the first time, independence will be gained not by being a component of a former union-member state, as with the case of Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union [but by a former autonomous region]… But projection of this situation in respect to Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transdnistria will not be a correct step.” (5) His reluctance to seize upon the independence of Kosovo as a legal basis for secessionists’ claims in neighboring countries is due, no doubt, to Russia’s own tricky relations with the minority populations living within its borders. Having muscled through the appointment of Ramzan Kadyrov as president of Chechnya, Moscow is anticipating a period of enforced tranquility leading up to next year’s presidential elections.
A vote for precedent
Others in Russia’s government have not been so equivocal in calling a precedent a precedent. In 2006, President Putin drew a sharp parallel between the causes for independence in Kosovo and in Georgia’s breakaway regions. Russia, he warned, would use the decision of the UN as a precedent in its own dealings with the frozen conflicts in Georgia's autonomous regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which, he pointed out, are under de facto Russian military protection, just as Kosovo is NATO’s protectorate. (6) Following Lavrov’s recent speech before the State Duma, Deputy Speaker Sergei Baburin brushed aside the Foreign Minister’s caveat about using Kosovo's independence as a model and instead applauded his use of the term “republics” to refer to the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. (7) Rather than taking up the fraught issue of independence for ethnic minorities, Lavrov finessed the question by suggesting that the minority populations in Georgia’s breakaway regions are in fact Russian citizens (Russia having unilaterally transferred its citizenship to them). “We are ready to develop all kinds of contacts with these republics. The people who live there are our citizens. We are responsible for their social problems because nobody, except us, has been able to do this so far.” (8) It appears that the cause of secession is not a movement toward independence for the regions of the South Caucasus, but an intermediate step toward annexation by Russia.
Leaders of the breakaway regions in the Caucasus have been energized by the idea of a blueprint for independence implicit in the Kosovo settlement. Sergei Bagapsh, the president of Abkhazia (unrecognized by the international community), has called Kosovo “an interesting precedent,” and Eduard Kokoity, leader of the rogue government in South Ossetia, has declared that his region has an even stronger argument for independence than Kosovo. (9) The Kosovo model added another kink in the already tangled negotiations toward settlement of the frozen conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, when Yuri Marzlykov, the Russian co-chair from the OSCE Minsk Group suggested that the Kosovo settlement be used as a precedent “as for the first time in European territory the case concerns [legal independence for] a former autonomy.” (10) The de facto governments of breakaway regions in the South Caucasus and elsewhere are eager for international recognition and lay great stock in the formalities of Western statecraft to attain legitimacy. Transnistria, South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh have all held "plebiscites" within the past year in what amounts to a public relations campaign to draw attention to the democratic will of their populations to secede from their sovereign states and join with Russia. The referenda were uniformly dismissed by the UN, and given only a mute nod of approval in Moscow, where officials congratulated the regions on their show of democratic discipline, but stopped short of official recognition. Until now, pushing for recognition of the overwhelmingly pro-secessionist results of the plebiscites did not serve the interests of Moscow; however, with Kosovo cleared for independence, Moscow may yet change its tune. For Russia, the territorial squabbles on its southern borders are a tactical bargaining chip in a larger, geopolitical struggle for influence.
Redrawing the map
Russia has two choices before it in the Security Council: to veto or to abstain. A veto would be a principled stand in solidarity with its Serbian kin. It would also complicate any eventual use of the Kosovo issue as a precedent to apply to territories within the sovereign states of the Caucasus, where support for secessionist parties would give the lie to the principle of national sovereignty. Should Russia abstain from the vote and implicitly allow for the breakup of former Serbian territories, however reluctantly, then Russia would gain recourse to the principle of regional self-determination, in order to vindicate its annexation of strategic regions in the Caucasus. Should such a radical eventuality come to pass, no doubt NATO would at last step in to adopt the remainder of the countries in the region. Having lost its territorial integrity, Georgia will finally have gained membership in NATO. With NATO on its doorstep, Russia will have regained an intractable presence in the South Caucasus. The endgame of this bleak scenario would be a Caucasus carved up between the Great Powers. Happily, precedent does not a prescription make.
(1) UN Security Council Resolution 1244
(2) “Serbian election highlights the west's fears about Russia,” Financial Times, 19 Jan 07 via http://search.ft.com/ftArticle?queryText=Kosovo+emotional+Russia&y=3&aje=true&x=10&id=070119007663.
(3) “The Kosovo Future Status Process,” 13 Mar 07 via http://www.state.gov/p/eur/rls/rm/81672.htm.
(4) “EU Envoy Rules out Kosovo as Precedent for Garabagh,” Financial Times Global News Wire - Asia Africa Intelligence Wire, 17 Feb 07 via Lexis Nexis Academic Universe.
(5) “Lavrov: Kosovo is a precedent…sort of,” Interfax News Agency, 21 Mar 07 via www.interfax.com.
(6) “Let's get real; Rumblings in the Caucasus,” International Herald Tribune, 3 Oct 06 via www.iht.com.
(7) “Lavrov: Kosovo is a precedent…sort of,” Interfax News Agency, 21 Mar 07 via www.interfax.com.
(9) “Georgian separatist leaders look to Kosovo 'precedent',” Agence France Presse – English, 17 Nov 06 via Lexis Nexis Academic Universe.
(10) “Armenian agency says Kosovo scenario to influence Karabakh settlement,” BBC Worldwide Monitoring, 3 Feb 07 via Lexis Nexis Academic Universe.
By Creelea Henderson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fradkov’s Tashkent visit less than fruitful
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov recently paid an official visit to Tashkent, the first time a Russian prime minister has done so since 1999. (1) Uzbekistan’s decision last summer to rejoin the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and to enter the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsSec) undoubtedly helped provide the impetus for Fradkov’s visit. Uzbek-Russian relations, which cooled after Uzbekistan withdrew from the Collective Security Treaty in 1999 and joined the GUAM alliance (Georgia, Ukraine, Armenia and Moldova) instead, have been on the upswing for the past few years, resulting primarily in heightened trade relations and increased Russian investment, especially in the energy sector. (2) However, military cooperation, which also was expected to increase, has encountered a few roadblocks, causing Russia to scale back investment in Uzbek military production facilities and even to cancel part of one production contract. (3) Nor have Russia’s investment strategies in Uzbekistan’s hydrocarbon and metal industries quite resulted in the benefits either side was expecting, although some might say that it is the Uzbek government that is currently receiving the short end of the stick. Fradkov’s visit seemed geared to address these problems, as well as to persuade President Karimov to allow further Russian investment into the Uzbek economy.
Unfortunately, the Russian prime minister seems to have fallen short of most of his goals, with his biggest achievement being the establishment of a new joint venture between the Russian and Uzbek aviation industries called UzRosAvia, which will carry out aircraft repair, beginning with Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters. The joint venture’s partners will consist of Russia’s Rosoboronexport and Oboronprom and Uzbekistan’s Tashkent Aviation Production Association, named after Chkalov, and Uzmakhsusimpeks and will use the facilities of the Chirchiq aircraft repair plant. Russia’s share in the venture will be at least 51%. Oddly, when asked whether the Russian government was moving ahead with its plans to transfer the manufacture of its IL-76 (Ilyushin) transport planes from the Chkalov plant to Ulyanovsk (in Russia), Fradkov replied: “we are working on this too the transfer and creation of a manufacturing centre in Ulyanovsk ,” then stated “it will take at least a few years to meet a number of existing contracts,” implying that as soon as the Chkalov plant has filled its part of a Chinese order for 34 Il-76 military cargo planes and four Il-78 tanker planes (the order was contracted between China and Russia in 2005 and then subcontracted to the Tashkent Chkalov Aircraft Association), production will be moved back to Russia. (4) The Chkalov plant was originally slated to manufacture all of the planes, but after production delays and cost overruns (due to a disagreement over production costs, the Tashkent Chkalov Aircraft Association refused to sign the production contract with Rosoboronexport in 2006), Chkalov’s share of the order was reduced to only 15 IL-76 aircraft. (5)
Moving production of the Ilyushin aircraft out of Tashkent altogether will be a big blow for the local economy; the Chkalov factory employs 80,000 people and is one of the largest aircraft assembly plants in Central Asia. (6) If production cutbacks cause reductions in the factory’s workforce, it will put a heavy burden on Tashkent’s municipal resources, which already are strained. Another plan being considered is to merge the Tashkent Chkalov Aircraft Association with Russia’s United Aircraft Building Corporation (UABC), which is 90% state-owned and produces aircraft for both military and civilian clients. (7) Should this plan come to fruition, Tashkent might be forced to cede a significant portion of its current profits to the Russian government and will most assuredly lose export rights to the aircraft produced at Chkalov. In fact, Fradkov’s own comment regarding the possible merger was rather ominous, implying that under Russian control, the plant may not have a rosy future: “[the Chkalov plant] is operating, but its prospects need to be soberly assessed.” (8) Thus, what Fradkov gave with one hand, he snatched back with the other, a gravely flawed strategy, if his intention was to create goodwill with President Karimov for future discussions on establishing a Russian airbase in Uzbekistan.
Russia’s recent economic relations with Uzbekistan outside the military-technical sphere have fared somewhat better. Russia has become Uzbekistan’s most important foreign trade partner over the past two years, receiving close to 25% of the country’s foreign trade with bilateral trade worth $2.5 billion by the end of 2006 (an increase of more than $.5 billion from the previous year). Nonetheless, their economic relationship also has experienced a few snags. (9) A joint venture formed between Russian companies Techsnabexport and Rusburmash, the Uzbek State Committee for Geology and Mineral Deposits and the Navoi Mining and Metals Plant to develop Uzbekistan’s Aktau uranium deposit (estimated at 4,400 tons with the possibility of a 50% increase after further exploration; the country’s total uranium reserves are estimated to be 55,000 tons), which was supposed to have been operational by the end of last year, (10) stalled last autumn when the project hit a financing shortfall, according to Nikolai Kuchersky, general director of Uzbekistan's Navoi Mining and Metals Plant. (11)
Russian investment in Uzbekistan’s natural gas industry has been quite successful lately, with both Lukoil and Gazprom garnering substantial shares in various production sharing agreements (PSA’s) with Uzbekneftegaz. (12) However, Gazprom has been slow to actually carry out its investment promises, causing concern among Uzbek officials that the company was failing to fulfill its contractual obligations. (13) In February, Gazprom announced its intention to acquire the majority of the Swiss Zeromax GmbH company’s oil and gas assets in Uzbekistan. Zeromax is co-holder in an estimated ten joint and subsidiary enterprises, as well as owning a number of gas stations. The company’s subsidiaries are involved in laying gas pipelines and building other energy facilities – thus, Gazprom stands to gain a wide range of assets, if its bid for the Zeromax assets is successful. (14) An unspecified number of Zeromax’s assets reportedly are controlled by Gulnara Karimova, President Karimov’s daughter. (15) Fradkov was very positive about Lukoil and Gazprom’s involvement in the Uzbek oil and gas industry, stating: “This in general enables us to raise cooperation in the gas industry to a qualitatively new level and to speak in practical terms of the resources of independent companies with the leading role being played in this market by Gazprom.” (16) However, he made no mention of the current disagreements over Gazprom’s investment obligations, which could mean that the issue was simply swept under the rug, to be dealt with at a later date, hopefully before Gazprom officials make their bid for the Zeromax assets.
Other thorny issues, such as Uzbekistan’s roughly $700 million debt to Russia (on which no payments have been made in nearly 10 years) and a substantial imbalance in car exports (UzDaewoo exported more than half of the 110,000 automobiles it produced to Russia, whereas Uzbekistan imported only 3,500 cars from Russia) also were not resolved, although the two sides did agree to begin negotiations regarding the debt repayment, once again. (17)
In sum, Fradkov’s visit was most notable for what it did not accomplish and for the wide range of issues that still need to be resolved, if the Russian government hopes to gain an even larger foothold in Uzbekistan’s energy and metal industry, as well as in its military sector. Moscow may not consider the Uzbek government’s dissatisfaction with Gazprom and its undoubted annoyance over the stalled uranium venture to be of great consequence, but if these issues are not resolved in the near future, it could bode ill not only for further Russian investment in the Uzbek economy, but for the investments held by Russian enterprises there now. President Karimov has pulled the rug out from under a number of Western companies engaged in joint ventures in Uzbekistan; Russian companies should not naïvely believe themselves to be immune.
(1) “Russian Premier Due In Uzbekistan For Cooperation Talks,” 6 Mar 07, Regnum; BBC Monitoring International Reports via Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe.
(2) “Back in the CSTO – Uzbekistan returns to the fold,” The ISCIP Analyst, Volume XII, Number 7 (20 July 2006).
(3) “Delivery terms for Il-76 aircraft to China may be revised,” 7 Mar 07, RIA Novosti via GlobalSecurity.org at http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/china/2007/china-070307-rianovosti01.htm.
(4) “Russian-Uzbek Cooperation In Aviation Set To Grow Following Top-Level Talks,” 7 Mar 07, Interfax; BBC Monitoring International Reports via Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe.
(5) “Delivery terms for Il-76 aircraft to China may be revised,” 7 Mar 07, RIA Novosti via GlobalSecurity.org at http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/china/2007/china-070307-rianovosti01.htm.
(6) “Tashkent Aircraft Plant (TAPO),” GlobalSecurity.Org via http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/russia/chkalov.htm.
(7) “Russia, Uzbekistan discuss Tashkent aircraft builder joining UABC,” 7 Mar 07, RIA Novosti via http://en.rian.ru/world/20070307/61705886.html.
(8) “Uzbekistan's Aircraft Makers May Be Folded Into Russian Corporation – Fradkov,” 7 Mar 07, Interfax; OSC Transcribed Text via World News Connection.
(9) Sergei Blagov, “Uzbekistan Harbors Energy Development Plans; Russia Ready To Help,” 15 Feb 07, EurasiaNet Business and Economics via http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/insight/articles/eav021507a.shtml.
(10) “Uzbekistan To Form Uranium Joint Venture With Russian Companies,” 1 May 06, Asia Pulse via Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe.
(11) “Uzbekistan, Russia decide on joint uranium plans,” 1 Nov 06, Interfax; Thomson Dialog NewsEdge at http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/-uzbekistan-russia-decide-joint-uranium-plans-/2006/11/03/2045953.htm.
(12) Sergei Blagov, “Russian Economic Ties With Uzbekistan Hit Turbulence,” 8 Mar 07, Eurasia Daily Monitor (Jamestown Foundation), Volume 4, Number 47 via http://www.jamestown.org/edm/article.php?article_id=2371978.
(13) “Russian Premier Says Uzbek Visit "Serious Step" To Deeper Dialogue,” 7 Mar 07, ITAR-TASS; BBC Monitoring International Reports via Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe.
(14) “Gazprom To Buy Swiss Zeromax's Project Assets In Uzbekistan,” 1 Feb 07, Interfax Oil & Gas Report for 01 - 07 Feb 07, N 05 (774); OSC Transcribed Text via World News Connection.
(15) “Russia to continue making windfall profits at Uzbekistan’s expense,” 23 Feb 07, The Times of Central Asia via Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe.
(16) “Russian PM Praises Russian Oil, Gas Companies In Uzbekistan,” 7 Mar 07, Interfax; OSC Transcribed Text via World News Connection.
(17) Blagov, “Russian Economic Ties With Uzbekistan Hit Turbulence,” Eurasia Daily Monitor (Jamestown Foundation), ibid.
By Monika Shepherd (email@example.com)
Kuchmism 2: Backtracking on reform in Ukraine
In December of 2004, Ukraine was hailed throughout the world following its Orange Revolution. The revolution – 17 days of massive demonstrations to overturn a rigged election – was “a powerful example of democracy for people around the world,” US President George W. Bush said at the time. (1)
What a difference two years make.
Today, Ukraine remains mired in corruption, the man who led the revolution has been forced into near irrelevance, those who were accused of rigging the election have returned to power, and the Ukrainian people face vigorous new assaults on freedoms that they only just won.
In the last six months, Ukraine has seen a significant increase in contract killings, legal and physical assaults on media outlets, and the clear use of the prosecutor’s office to intimidate government opponents. The country faces the prospect of seeing a return to the environment that prevailed prior to 2004, and Viktor Yushchenko, the man swept to power in the “people’s revolt,” seems unable to do anything to stop it.
For reasons perhaps only he understands, President Yushchenko did not move to consolidate his authority directly after taking office. Instead, he chose to separate himself systematically from his closest allies, while reaching out to his former opponents.
In the process, he also separated himself from promises he made during the revolution. These included a commitment to solve high profile murders of journalists and political opposition leaders, stamp out corruption, codify freedom of the press and assembly and introduce a “Western” system of justice.
This pattern first became clear in September 2005 when Yushchenko dismissed his ally Yulia Tymoshenko from the post of prime minister. The prime minister had used her position successfully to increase her popularity and had bumped heads with Yushchenko's entourage on a number of issues – particularly those relating to their alleged business interests.
Further, in August of 2006, following a “Memorandum of Understanding” and a “National Unity Agreement,” Yushchenko nominated his defeated presidential and revolution challenger Viktor Yanukovych as the country’s prime minister. At that time, Yushchenko seemed to believe Yanukovych’s lower popularity would ensure that he followed the dictates of the president. It was an astonishing miscalculation – and one vehemently warned against by many of Yushchenko’s own colleagues.
Since that point, Prime Minister Yanukovych and his allies have battled Yushchenko for control over not only the economy, but also foreign policy strategy and the security services. They appear to be close to winning, if they haven’t done so already, in part by using Soviet-style tactics.
On 20 March, representatives from the Ukrainian Prosecutor-General’s Office (PGO) searched the apartment of former Interior Minister and former Orange Revolution organizer Yuriy Lutsenko.
Lutsenko has been one of the sharpest critics of the Yanukovych government in recent months and spent February traveling through Ukraine’s regions, building support for his People’s Self Defense Movement. He recently announced plans to hold a “March for Fairness” in Kyiv during the Spring.
The PGO announced that the search was part of a criminal case opened against Lutsenko, stemming from his work as Interior Minister. Prosecutors charged that Lutsenko had distributed firearms inappropriately to individuals who did not have the right to possess them. The office said 51 handguns had been issued on Lutsenko’s order during his two year term in office, and “not all” were justified. (2) The handguns apparently are categorized as “award pistols,” which are presented occasionally as gifts for some type of service.
The charge was immediately assailed by Lutsenko’s allies and the majority of Ukraine’s media. The respected Dzerkalo Tyzhnia (Mirror Weekly) wrote:
“The prosecutors maintain that a person who does not serve with the Interior Ministry may not be awarded firearms on its behalf. Then, what about Lutsenko’s predecessor Mylola Bilokon and his deputy Gen. Vasyl Zhuk whose signatures stand under similar directives? … Lutsenko’s predecessors must have handed out more than fifty award firearms to persons who were not militia officers. … It was only Lutsenko who was searched and questioned. Bilokon is not even wanted. Why is the PGO so selective?” (3)
As icing on the cake, the PGO also suggested that Lutsenko possessed an Israeli passport and had been granted Israeli citizenship, which would violate Ukraine’s single citizenship law. In a country struggling with anti-Semitism, this charge seems well-crafted for the intended audience.
Lutsenko vehemently disputes all charges. A Kyiv court agreed with him two days after the search of his apartment, when it invalidated the search warrant, cancelled demands from the prosecutor that Lutsenko come for questioning, and found that the prosecutor had not proved probable cause for opening the criminal case. The case was closed. (4)
Earlier, prosecutors claimed that they had found explosives in the offices of a group associated with Lutsenko. Lutsenko and the group’s leaders (one of whom is his brother) angrily denied the charge. The anger is likely justified, since trumped up explosive charges were used often in the past as excuses to arrest and/or intimidate political opposition or media members. The apparent return of this tactic should cause grave concern to observers of Ukraine.
While Lutsenko was fending off the prosecutor, Yulia Tymoshenko was defending herself against a new attack from the Yanukovych-dominated parliament.
On 23 March, the Verkhovna Rada asked the PGO to investigate Tymoshenko’s dealings as head of the gas intermediary Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine (UESU) in the mid-1990s. A parliamentary commission reported that it had questions both as to how UESU debts to Ukraine were eliminated, and how the UESU conducted its activities. (5)
Tymoshenko’s allies immediately attacked the vote (238 of 450 deputies supported the measure), calling it a “tool for political persecution.” (6)
Indeed, the charges largely seem to be a rehash of previously aired—and dismissed—allegations against Tymoshenko. From 2000-2004, while Tymoshenko worked as one of the leaders of the opposition movement against then-President Kuchma, at least half-a-dozen criminal cases were opened against her. One of the charges led to her detention for 40 days. All were closed by various courts for lack of probable cause. Despite their best efforts, Ukraine’s prosecutors were unable to provide documentary proof of their allegations.
It is unclear whether the prosecutor will open a new criminal case against Tymoshenko. It seems fairly unlikely, however. With their focus on Lutsenko, it may be that the prosecutor and the government hope to undercut Tymoshenko’s popularity by elevating a new opposition leader. Attacking her personally would achieve just the opposite.
Nevertheless, it is clear that they are watching Tymoshenko and her allies closely.
On 20 March, the State-Controlled Ukrainian National Television Channel 1 cancelled its only political debate program, Toloka. The decision by the head of the station came the day after Tymoshenko and Vyacheslav Kyrylenko, leader of President Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine parliamentary bloc, appeared on the program. The two representatives of the new “united opposition” received 80 percent of the support of callers participating in the program’s poll on the political situation. Within hours, the program was off the air for good.
Our Ukraine said the action showed “a return to the use of old schemes and methods: censorship, repressions and political prosecutions.” (7)
The Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko suggested that Yanukovych “is afraid of the unified opposition and the growth of support for democratic forces,” and therefore, is returning to “methods of mocking the basic human right to get objective information.” The Bloc also appealed to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to examine the issue. (8)
The removal of Toloka from the state channel is only the latest in a string of attacks on press freedom in Ukraine. A quick examination of the website of Ukraine’s Institute of Mass Information (IMI) tells a disturbing story. The independent trade group has catalogued a string of increasing pressure on the media.
Since January 1, the office of a newspaper in Dnipropetrovsk investigating local corruption has been burned to the ground, another newspaper in the same region had its entire run of papers confiscated after investigating a local mayor’s use of budget money, journalists in Vinnytsia were banned from attending city council hearings because they were “not covering the council’s activity appropriately,” and a journalist in Dnipropetrovsk was severely beaten after reporting on a labor dispute at another television station. (9)
These are but a few of the incidents listed by the IMI.
At the same time, libel suits by politicians against media outlets have increased sharply. The respected Ukrayinska Pravda website—one of the first truly independent investigative media outlets in Ukraine and an essential element in the Orange Revolution—has been sued six times over the last six months by Parliamentary Speaker Oleksandr Moroz, largely for printing statements made by other politicians. It is rare for any media outlet to win a libel case, and UP is no exception. It seems the pre-revolution practice of forcing press outlets out of business through libel judgments is alive and well.
The “united opposition” has announced a rally, “Betrayal, Out!,” for 31 March. Tymoshenko, Kyrylenko and Lutsenko will address the crowd following a concert on Maidan Nezelezhnosti, the main gathering point during the Orange Revolution. In response, Yanukovych announced his party will bring “half a million” people to the Maidan at the same time, as part of a hastily announced Forum of National Unity. (10)
In response, Javier Solana, on behalf of the European Union, announced today that he was “concerned about the political situation in Ukraine.” (11) He is, no doubt, not alone.
(1) Washington Post, 5 Apr 05, A02.
(2) ITAR-TASS News Agency, 0629 EST, 20 Mar 07 via Lexis-Nexis.
(3) Dzerkalo Tyzhnia, No. 11 (640), 24 - 30 Mar 07 via http://www.zn.kiev.ua.
(4) Interfax-Ukraine, 1753 GMT, 26 Mar 07; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
(5) Interfax-Ukraine, 1000 GMT, 23 Mar 07; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
(7) UNIAN, 1130 CET, 21 Mar 07 via www.unian.net.
(8) Press Service of Yulia Tymoshenko, 1521 CET, 20 Mar 07 via www.tymoshenko.com.ua.
(9) See http://eng.imi.org.ua/.
(10) UNIAN, 1409 CET, 29 Mar 07 via www.unian.net.
(11) ForUm, 1650 CET, 29 Mar 07 via www.for-ua.com.
By Tammy M. Lynch (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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