Volume II Number 1 (January 22, 1997)
Yel'tsin illness sparks constitutional debate
As the Kremlin announcements of Yel'tsin's current health woes evolved from
the flu to pneumonia, the State Duma debated the procedure for declaring
the President incapacitated. Initiated by the Communist faction in the Duma,
a resolution on removing the ailing president was stymied by the Duma's
legal department. At issue is the vague wording of Article 92 of the Constitution,
which describes the replacement of the president due to incapacitation.
The Constitution does not stipulate who should determine the capability
of the President to perform his duties. The Duma's resolution to remove
the ailing President was evidently viewed as an attempt to amend the Constitution.
The head of the Federation Council's Committee of Constitutional Legislation
and Legal Issues, Vladimir Platonov, said on January 16th that a law defining
the constitutional amendment process must be written before such a resolution
could be considered.
While the current controversy over the president's ability to govern
may soon be resolved by Yel'tsin's return to the Kremlin, the constitutional
debate it has sparked is likely to haunt the executive branch. The Russian
Constitution, written after the dissolution of the Supreme Soviet in 1993,
highlights the role of presidential power and seems specifically designed
for the current leadership. While in the past the Federation Council may
have been more inclined to negotiate with the Kremlin, recent elections
may embolden the regional leaders to join with the Duma in calls for changes
to the constitutional balance of branches. Once again, Yel'tsin's initiatives
upon his return to work may be crucial in determining the relations between
executive and legislative branches of government. Expect personnel changes.
Romancing the Cossacks
The idea of creating separate Cossack units is once again on the agenda.
With the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya and the uncertainty
of upcoming elections, Cossack leaders are demanding guarantees for Russians
residing in the north of the republic. Deputy Secretary of the Security
Council Boris Berezovsky recently announced support for the idea of arming
separate Cossack units. His comments were soon contradicted by Secretary
of the Security Council Ivan Rybkin, who opposed arming Cossack units, suggesting
instead that they could be integrated into the Armed Forces. Interior Minister
Anatoli Kulikov also opposed the arming of Cossack units, and instead stated
that if the interests of ethnic Russians living in Chechnya were not protected
following the troop withdrawal, Russia could again send in troops.
Although the participants in the Security Council debate seem unaware,
there is already a presidential department tasked with coordinating Cossack
affairs. The Cossack Troops Main Department (CTMD) under the president was
created in January 1996 in accordance with a presidential decree. Headed
by Anatoli Semenov, the CTMD recently released its first news bulletin,
in which it detailed its work "on the transformation of Cossack troops
into military structures entitled to a state service." (TASS, 8 January
1997) Various departments in the presidential administration, the Defense
Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the Federal Border Guards Service, and
the Nationalities Ministry are all involved in the work of the CTMD.
by Susan J. Cavan
EAST AND CENTRAL EUROPE
Anti-NATO stance taken by Rodinov, Yel'tsin, but dismissed by Primakov
Russian Defense Minster Igor Rodionov blasted NATO's plans to expand eastward
after meeting with defense ministers from the 16 NATO countries on 18 December,
international agencies reported. Rodionov dismissed alliance pledges not
to deploy nuclear weapons in new member states, saying such promises could
be revoked at any time. He renewed threats to take unspecified "countermeasures"
if the alliance expands and said expansion would threaten START II. (OMRI
Daily Digest I, No. 244, 19 Dec 96). Addressing a Moscow conference on CIS
military cooperation on 25 December, Russian Defense Minster Igor Rodionov
said that Washington's efforts to "make its world leadership complete"
by relying on an expanded NATO may become a "military threat"
to Russia and other CIS states, Russian and Western agencies reported. (OMRI
Daily Digest I, No. 246, 30 Dec 1996).
After meeting with Yel'tsin on 4 January, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl
admitted that "some differences" divide Bonn and Moscow on NATO
enlargement, but he expressed the hope that a mutually acceptable compromise
solution would be found this year. Yel'tsin's spokesman, Sergei Yastrzhembsky,
later said that the Russian president had laid out Russian objections to
enlargement "fairly toughly." (OMRI Daily Digest I, No. 3, 6 Jan
97) Two days later Yel'tsin directed Foreign Minister Yevgeni Primakov to
devise a flexible "action plan" of various measures which Russia
might take if the alliance accepts new Eastern European members. (OMRI Daily
Digest I, No. 4, 7 Jan 97)
But German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel on 8 January interpreted the
latest Russian denunciations of the alliance's expansion plans as bargaining
ploys, saying "Russia knows that it cannot prevent NATO expansion and
wants to obtain a good price for it." (OMRI Daily Digest I, No. 5,
8 Jan 97)
At a meeting of the Russian government the next day, Primakov appeared
to justify Kinkel's assessment. Primakov cited the December 1996 NATO statement
that the alliance has no intention of deploying nuclear weapons in new East
European members as evidence that firm Russian opposition to NATO expansion
was delivering results. He described the pledge as "insufficient,"
however, adding that Russia would use NATO's approach to planned talks on
revising the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty to evaluate
whether the alliance was serious about negotiating a substantive Russia-NATO
charter. (OMRI Daily Digest I, No. 6, 9 Jan 97)
But does Russia want Belarus or the Baltics in exchange?
Foreign Minister Yevgeni Primakov told a meeting of the Russian government
on 9 January that Moscow "should not be afraid to use economic sanctions"
to defend the human rights of Russians living in the Baltic states, Russian
and Western agencies reported. In order to pressure Estonia into halting
what he claimed are discriminatory policies toward its Russian minority,
for example, he said that Moscow will refuse to sign a border treaty with
Tallinn until the issue was resolved. (OMRI Daily Digest I, No. 7, 10 Jan
Belarusian President Lukashenka hailed Yel'tsin's move [to integrate
Belarus into the Russia], as did Russian communist politicians. Lukashenka
said accelerated integration "is our baby, mine and the Russian president's."
CIS Affairs Minister Aman Tuleev, the only opposition representative in
Yel'tsin's cabinet, called Yel'tsin's move "the only real step to counter
NATO" yet taken by Moscow. (OMRI Daily Digest I, No. 9, 14 Jan 97).
Who are Russia's enemies? What are her interests?
Addressing a Moscow conference on CIS military cooperation on 25 December,
Russian Defense Minster Igor Rodionov said that Washington's efforts to
"make its world leadership complete" by relying on an expanded
NATO may become a "military threat" to Russia and other CIS states,
Russian and Western agencies reported. Rodionov added that Turkey, Iran,
Pakistan, Japan, China, and other unnamed Asian countries also pose potential
military threats. He urged the formation of joint CIS military forces and
the bolstering of Russian strategic nuclear forces in response. The Russian
Foreign Ministry quickly moved to downplay Rodionov's remarks, labeling
his list of potential adversaries "purely hypothetical." (OMRI
Daily Digest I, No. 246, 30 Dec 1996).
In an interview with ITAR- TASS on 8 January marking his first year as
foreign minister, Yevgeni Primakov said Moscow aims for "equal partnership"
with its partners around the globe, and he emphasized that he wanted to
steer a middle course between the extremes of Soviet-style anti-Westernism
and what he termed the romantic pro-Western approach of his predecessor,
Andrei Kozyrev. Using a favorite theme, he said the emerging multipolar
world order gave Russian diplomacy room for maneuver, and he lauded Russian
successes during 1996 in building ties with China and pushing forward with
CIS integration. (OMRI Daily Digest I, No. 6, 9 Jan 97).
There seems to be a substantial split between the defense and foreign ministries
on who Russia's enemies are. While ideologues such as Rodionov may instinctively
object to the expansion of NATO, the (more dangerous) pragmatists such as
Primakov seem to be playing the NATO expansion game for other prizes, such
- increased arms trading to China, and others
- sanction of Russian involvement in Iran's nuclear industry
- a larger number of troops Russia would like to place near the Baltics.
Should the West instead accept integration of Belarus as a chit in negotiations,
the Russians would end up agreeing to expansion in exchange for the 'right'
to carry a state that is in any case collapsing into its arms. Other concessions
would simply allow Russia to continue to use what Primakov himself has admitted
is nothing more than a bargaining chip, one that expands with every Western
Li Peng in Moscow: another chit in NATO negotiations?
China's Li Peng met President Yel'tsin and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin
during his 26-28 December official visit. The two countries issued a joint
communique hailing the "huge potential" of bilateral cooperation
and pledging to build an "equal and reliable partnership." Several
bilateral agreements were also signed, covering nuclear-power-plant construction,
central-bank cooperation, and finalizing the sale of SU-27 fighters and
related production technology to China. Segodnya on 28 December noted that
warming Russian-Chinese ties were intended as Moscow's "answer to the
United States" in response to such Western policies as NATO enlargement.
(OMRI Daily Digest I, No. 246, 30 Dec 1996).
SOUTH WEST AND SOUTH ASIA:
Russia in Iran's nuclear industry?
Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeni Primakov met with his Iranian counterpart,
Ali Akbar Velayati, and Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani during
his two-day visit to Tehran on 22-23 December, international agencies reported.
After signing a memorandum of understanding on nuclear export control with
Velayati, Primakov said the two countries adhere to "internationally
accepted norms," and that "no one can condemn" their cooperation
in this area, which includes plans to finish an incomplete nuclear power
station at Bushehr in southern Iran. (OMRI Daily Digest I, No. 246, 30 Dec
Russia sells Greek Cypriots air defense systems
Cypriot officials and a Rosvooruzhenie delegation concluded a contract for
the delivery of S-300 air defense missile systems on 4 January, international
agencies reported. The number of missiles involved and the exact value of
the deal was not revealed by either side, nor has a delivery date been specified.
Unconfirmed Cypriot sources suggest Nicosia has purchased 20 missile systems
for $660 million.
Head of KomiPermyak district administration reelected
About 70% of the voters who took part in the elections on 18 November 1996
for the head of Komi Permyak autonomous district administration, in the
Urals, supported the incumbent leader Nikolay Poluyanov.
Communist elected in Stavropol
Aleksandr Chernogorov, a Communist member of the State Duma, was elected
governor of Stavropol territory, southern Russia. 55.06% of voters cast
their ballots for Chernogorov in the second round of voting. His rival,
the incumbent governor Petr Marchenko representing Our Home is Russia movement
was backed by 40.14%.
Incumbent wins in Komi
On 18 November 1996 incumbent Governor Nikolay Poluyanov won provincial
elections in the Komi Permyatsk autonomous area with some 70% of the vote.
His main rival, chairman of the Constitutional Party Anatoli Fedoseyev got
only 17 percent of votes.
First woman elected in Koryak
Jurist Valentina Broniyevich, a 40-year-old native of the Koryak Autonomous
Okrug and former chairman of the okrug executive committee, has become the
first woman who will head the administration of this autonomous territory
in the north of the Kamchatka Peninsula. According to preliminary data,
she secured more than 46 percent of the votes.
Duma recommends moratorium on capital punishment
Russian State Duma recommended to the Federation Council a moratorium on
capital punishment. The authors of the bill reiterated Russia's intention
to impose a moratorium on carrying out executions when it joined the Council
of Europe. The lawmakers proposed to suspend all death penalties until the
adoption of a law on capital punishment. According to a report read at the
debate, a total of 238 people were sentenced to death in Russia last year.
Of those, 40 were executed.
Polling places for refugees from Chechnya
Those who have been displaced by the war number 350,000 and constitute more
than 50% of Chechnya's electorate. The arrangements by which they would
be allowed to vote have been a source of contention between Moscow (which
favored setting up polling places throughout the country including Moscow,
St. Petersburg, Volgograd and other Russian cities where Chechens reside),
and Grozny (which sought to accommodate the refugees by busing them to their
former homes). At their meeting in December, Rybkin and Maskhadov agreed
to allow displaced people who have been forced to flee Chechnya to vote
in districts of Dagestan, Ingushetia and Stavropol that border Chechnya
(TASS, 26 Dec 1996). However, the final arrangement as described by Tim
Guldimann, the head of the OSCE mission in Chechnya which is monitoring
the elections, are as the Chechens originally intended; returning voters
are to register in their home districts. (Interfax, 10 Jan 1997) This procedure
is certain to attract fewer of the displaced people than allowing them to
vote in Russia would have, and (unless a candidate that Moscow favors is
elected) may leave the election open to claims of unfairness.
A second provocatsia on election eve?
Chechen First Vice Premier Udugov accused General Shevtsov, ataman of the
Cossacks, of plotting the deaths of ethnic Russian families which would
be blamed on the Chechens to substantiate Cossack initiatives for separating
the Naurskiy and Shelkovskiy rayons from Chechnya. (Komsomolskaya Pravda,
14 Jan 1997) This comes on the heels of the departure of the last Russian
detachment on 5 January, 1997 and the renewal of calls for arming Cossack
civilians, (TASS, 13 Jan 1997) forming Cossack detachments (See Security
Council above) and an earlier murder of humanitarian personnel working in
Grozny for the Red Cross. Suspects held in connection with that grisly affair,
which was intended to keep international observers away from the polls in
Chechnya, are members of the Confederation of the Peoples of the North Caucasus,
a group led by Yusup Soslambekov, a presidential candidate in the Chechen
election. (OMRI, 31 Dec 1996)
Recognition in sight?
The Chechen information centers which were organized during the war, particularly
the ones in Krakow and Warsaw, have prompted angry outburst from Russian
politicians. On 26 December, the Polish Ambassador Andrej Zalucki, told
Primakov that the Polish authorities dissociate themselves from the decisions
of the city councils to permit the operation of the centers. He also told
Primakov that the centers would not be transformed into embassies of an
independent Chechnya. (Interfax, 26 December 1996) Although no country has
yet recognized Chechnya, Primakov warned the Security Council on January
9 that it is possible that "Chechnya, de-facto and de-jure, will secede
from Russia," and "the main task facing the Russian government
now is to place shock absorbers on this path in advance." (Interfax,
9 January 1997)
Russian military woes continue
Rodionov continues to warn of Army's impoverishment. Proposed reductions
to a manning level of 1 million (from current level of 1.5 million) are
described as "totally unrealistic" and the 1997 budget is inadequate
to support proposed (but ill-defined) reform efforts.
Moscow military procurators have filed suit against the Defense Ministry
for wage arrears. Sources put the current wage backlog at about 6 trillion
The latest in a series of fatal plane crashes (attributed to poor maintenance
and lack of funding) claimed the lives of seventeen, including the commander
of the Leningrad Military district and his wife.
The Russians have agreed to sell S-300 (a very capable surface to air
missile system) to the Greek Cypriot government. The deal is reportedly
worth $400 million. The Turks are (to put it mildly) not happy about it.
Georgia apologizes for ship seizure by Russians
Georgia apologized to the Ukraine for the actions of Russian naval forces
based in Georgia. Shevardnadze stated the Russian seizure of the Ukrainian
ship "amounted to piracy."
Black Sea Fleet base status examined
The Federation Council called upon Yel'tsin to halt any agreements concerning
the status of Sevastopol until a special commission determines the status
of the main naval base in the city.
Charges against Nikitin are dropped
The Russian prosecutor general followed up on the earlier release of Nikitin,
and dropped the charges of treason against him, though Kovalev (head of
FSB) maintains the opinion that Nikitin actually conducted espionage. In
January Nikitin's wife suffered some harassment at the hands of Russian
border officials when she traveled to and from Norway.
NATO expansion discussed
Yel'tsin and Kohl discussed NATO enlargement, and NATO chief Solana traveled
to Russia and spoke to Primakov on the same topic. The Russians are increasingly
adamant that NATO expansion be halted or that they be afforded an increased
role in the alliance. The Russians and Chinese signed an agreement to allow
the Chinese to produce the SU-27 jet fighters. The Russians stipulated that
aircraft eventually produced under the deal are not to be exported to third
parties. The two countries also signed an agreement to limit border troops
on their frontier.
Russian troops leave Chechnya
On 5 January the Russians announced officially that all Russian forces had
by CDR John G.Steele
Belarus suspended from Council of Europe
The Council of Europe suspended Belarus's special guest status in the organization
on 13 January, international agencies reported. Council President Leni Fischer
said the new Belarusian constitution does not respect human rights. The
Council will also refuse to recognize the new Belarusian parliament, which
was convened after president Lukashenka forced through passage of the new
constitution. (OMRI Daily Digest II, No. 9, 14 Jan 97)
Belarus' president cleans house
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has appointed Piotr Prakapovich first deputy
prime minister, Belarusian radio reported. Prakapovich, an economist, is
considered a moderate. He will be responsible for implementing the government's
socio-economic development program until the year 2000. (OMRI Daily Digest
II, No. 2, 3 Jan 1997)
Lukashenka also issued a decree dismissing Uladzimir Syanko from the
post of foreign minister, and appointing Ivan Antonovich in his place, international
agencies reported on 11 January. The same day, Lukashenka confirmed acting
Defense Minister Alyaksandr Chumakau in his post. Chumakau replaced Leanid
Maltseu last year after Maltseu was unceremoniously dismissed for appearing
drunk at a banquet. (OMRI Daily Digest II, No. 8, 13 Jan 97)
While President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has taken some heat from foreign governments
for his crackdown on the Parliament, his new administration seems composed
on the basis of loyalty rather than ideology.
Sevastopol new launchpad to the Russian Presidency?
The Russian Federation Council called on President Boris Yel'tsin on 26
December to impose a moratorium on agreements on the Black Sea Fleet until
a special commission examines the status of the main base, Sevastopol, NTV
reported. The following day, Moscow Mayor Yurii Lushkov informed Ukraine's
Foreign Ministry that he intends to visit the city in January, despite the
ministry's threats to declare him persona non grata to prevent such a visit,
Rossiskaya gazeta reported. (OMRI Daily Digest II, No. 246, 30 Dec 1996).
Ukraine budget deficit twice as high as forecast -- corruption a factor?
Ukraine's budget deficit in 1996 totaled 8.6 billion hryvnyas ($4.57 billion),
Reuters reported on 31 December. That is double the figure forecast when
the budget was drawn up. Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko said that GDP fell
for the fifth consecutive year and that, according to the most optimistic
forecasts, it is not expected to reach the 1990 level for another 11 years.
(OMRI Daily Digest II, No. 1, 2 Jan 1997) Meanwhile, World Bank President
James Wolfenson sent a letter to President Leonid Kuchma at the beginning
of the year criticizing corruption within the Ukrainian government, Ukrainian
Radio reported on 8 January. Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Pynzenyk admitted
that the problem of government corruption exists, noting that international
criticism has begun because of increased foreign investment in the country.
(OMRI Daily Digest II, No. 6, 9 Jan 97)
Splits in Moldova cause of worry over splits in Ukraine?
The eastern region of Kharkiv voted to give the Russian language equal status
with Ukrainian as of the beginning of the year, ITAR-TASS reported on 7
January. At the same time, the administration in the predominantly Russian-speaking
eastern region of Donetsk took the opposite position, deciding that the
official language in the region's administration and business would be solely
Ukrainian. (OMRI Daily Digest II, No. 5, 8 Jan 97)
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennady Udovenko on 6 January said
that Ukraine "takes the Moldovan side" on the issue of settling
the conflict between Moldova and its breakaway Dniester region, Western
agencies reported. The comment was made one day after Moldovan President-elect
Petru Lucinschi met Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma in Odessa. (OMRI Daily
Digest II, No. 4, 7 Jan 97)
Five years ago Gen. Alexander Lebed taught all Russian politicians that
defense of an "embattled" Russian minority beyond the nation's
borders made good TV clips at home. Moscow Mayor Yuri Lushkov, second only
to Lebed in recent opinion polls as Russians' choice for Yel'tsin's replacement,
seems to have picked Ukraine's Crimean Russians to be his stage for a similarly
enticing road show. Wary of the precedent, Ukraine appears to be strengthening
its defense of a sovereign Moldova within its borders. Too bad Kiev seems
less interested in resolving the economic crisis that may well push the
Russian-speaking East to action.
Lucinschi has trouble finding a successor
Infotag reported on 19 December that Ion Cebuc, the current chairman of
the State Accounting Chamber, is the candidate most likely to be designated
the country's next prime minister. Citing Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova
(PDAM) leader Dumitru Motpan, the agency reported that Cebuc's nomination
was discussed at a recent meeting between President-elect Petru Lucinschi
and the PDAM leadership. Motpan added that Cebuc has "vast experience"
in politics and managing the economy, having served at different times as
the head of Moldova's representation in Moscow, deputy foreign minister,
and deputy minister of the economy. (OMRI Daily Digest II, No. 245, 20 Dec
And yet for the third time in less than a week, the parliament has failed
to elect a new speaker, Infotag reported on 14 January. The main contenders
to replace Petru Lucinschi in that post are Dumitru Motpan, chairman of
the ruling Agrarian Democratic Party, and Deputy Speaker Dumitru Diacov,
a close associate of Lucinschi. (OMRI Daily Digest II, No. 10, 15 Jan 97)
Smirnov re-elected in Trans-Dniestria
Igor Smirnov has been re-elected president of the Transdniester breakaway
region, Infotag reported. He won 71.94% of the vote in elections held on
22 December. Vladimir Malakhov, the only other candidate, polled 19.84%.
At 57.1%, turnout was the lowest for either elections or referenda held
in the separatist republic since the proclamation of independence in September
1990. Smirnov said he intends to continue working to strengthen Trans-dniestrian
statehood and wants to keep Russian troops in the region until Tiraspol
receives "firm guarantees" that the Transdniestrian problem will
not be solved by force. (OMRI Daily Digest II, No. 246, 30 Dec 1996)
At his inauguration Smirnov was congratulated by Tiraspol officials and
blessed by the local Orthodox bishop and stated at the ceremony that the
creation of the secessionist republic has made it more difficult for "Romania
to incorporate Moldova." He stressed that the future relationship between
Chisinau and Tiraspol should be based on treaties and that Moldova should
"view the Dniester region as a [separate] state." (OMRI Daily
Digest II, No. 8, 13 Jan 97)
Maybe it is possible to have too many friends. With so many would-be successors
from his own left-leaning alliance to pick from, Lucinschi, Moldova's newly-elected
president, seems not to be able to convince his colleagues to choose one.
Will he be able to impose discipline on the parliament in future negotiations
with the trans-Dniestrians?
Cossacks as a wedge in Chechnya?
The Russian government has proven very Cossack-friendly. Boris Yel'tsin
has signed a decree establishing a Main Directorate on Cossack Units in
the presidential administration, which will be responsible for working out
policy on the revival of Russia's Cossacks and coordinating the activities
of all registered Cossack organizations, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 December.
(OMRI Daily Digest I, No. 244, 19 Dec 96) The president's Main Department
for Cossack Troops (GUKV) published the first issue of its information bulletin,
marking the Cossacks' official return to state service, ITAR- TASS reported
on 8 January. (OMRI Daily Digest I, No. 5, 8 Jan 97)
Later Cossacks began to demand land from Chechnya. Stavropol Krai Cossacks
rallied on 10 January in several cities to demand the return of territory
transferred to the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic in 1957 and now part
of Chechnya, Russian media reported. The area in question includes Naurski
and Shelkovski raions. Ataman Yuri Churekov said the Cossack Atamans' Council
of the Russian South supports the territorial demand and is ready to mobilize
100,000 armed men to protect Russian-speakers in Chechnya. (OMRI Daily Digest
I, No. 9, 14 Jan 97)
On the surface Cossack demands seem not to have the president's support.
Addressing a meeting of southern Russian Cossack leaders in Stavropol Krai,
Deputy Security Council Secretary Boris Berezovskii said that "crude
military means" could not be used to resolve the Chechen crisis, ITAR-TASS
reported. He also rejected demands by some Cossack leaders that federal
troops occupy three northern districts of Chechnya which were transferred
to the republic in 1957, and had large ethnic Russian populations before
fighting began in 1994. (OMRI Daily Digest I, No. 11, 16 Jan 97)
Further strengthening of center against regions
The Duma passed in the third and final reading a draft law regulating relations
between krais, oblasts, and the autonomous okrugs subordinated to them,
ITAR-TASS reported on 18 December. Nine krais and oblasts of the Russian
Federation contain autonomous okrugs. The bill would make okrugs subject
to the laws of the corresponding oblast or krai. It stresses that elections
to a krai's or oblast's legislative and executive bodies are held throughout
all their territories without any exception. (OMRI Daily Digest I, No. 244,
19 Dec 96).
Meanwhile a new commission has been created under First Deputy Prime
Minister Vladimir Potanin to oversee the allocation of federal funds to
the regions, Segodnya reported on 19 December. Government decree no. 1450
grants the commission broad powers to coordinate all federal economic policies
that affect the regions. (OMRI Daily Digest I, No. 245, 19 Dec 96).
The Russian presidency seems to be building up the Cossacks to be a stick
with which to beat the Chechens. First the presidency takes a much deeper
interest in controlling then Cossack military and press then calls for cooler
heads when the Cossacks demand land back from Chechnya. Can Russian 'peace-keepers'
be far behind?