The ISCIP Analyst
Behind the Breaking News
Volume II Number 15 (August 20, 1997)
Korzhakov book preview a disappointment
Perhaps the most publicized passage thus far involves the 1994 incident at Shannon airport, during which Yel'tsin remained aboard his plane instead of attending meeting with the Irish prime minister. While rumors at the time suggested Yel'tsin had been intoxicated, Korzhakov insists that the Russian president suffered a "strong heart attack or mini-stroke." Unexplained is how Yel'tsin was capable of exiting the plane and speaking with reporters upon his return to Moscow some five hours later.
The book, "Boris Yel'tsin: From Dawn to Sunset," is due to be published this week. Korzhakov had difficulty finding a publisher, which prompted speculation that the security services or government might be pressuring publishing houses to reject the manuscript. A manager from the Mozhaysk printing house commented, however, that they "do not engage in gossip" and that they "shall do without Korzhakov." (Ekho moskvy, 8 Aug 97; FBIS-SOV-97-220)
First Deputy Premier Chubais, however, claimed that President Yel'tsin had requested the details surrounding the Svyazinvest sale and was satisfied that the auction "was held in compliance with the strict rules which were set." (Interfax, 30 Jul 97; FBIS-SOV-97-211) Yel'tsin's satisfaction with the auctions came into question, however, when he released the head of the State Property Committee, Alfred Kokh, from government service.
The initial comments from the president's press service claimed that Kokh wanted to resign, and that Yel'tsin had praised and thanked him for his service. (Interfax, 13 Aug 97; FBIS-SOV-97-225) Within two days, however, as Yel'tsin was discussing his new state property chief, Maxim Boiko, Yel'tsin evaluated the results of the two recent auctions by claiming, "some banks appear to be closer to the heart of Alfred Kokh and this is not proper." (ITAR-TASS, 15 Aug 97; NEXIS) In any event, the replacement of Chubais loyalist Kokh with another Chubais supporter, Boiko, suggests there will be little policy change at the State Property Committee.
The Norilsk Nickel auction was initially postponed by the prime minister on the basis of letters he received from the General Prosecutor, Skuratov, and the Minister of Economics, Yasin. Their complaints about the bidding process included violations of procedure and unfairly short notice of the auction to bidders. Chernomyrdin was apparently persuaded to go ahead with the auction, however, after meetings with Oneximbank's Potanin, Chubais and Kokh. (NTV, 5 Aug 97; FBIS-SOV-97-217)
by Susan J. Cavan
The agreement to develop the Serdar field had been signed by Lukoil, Rosneft and Azerbaijan's state oil company on 4 July, in the presence of Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov and Azeri president Heydar Aliev, and was immediately protested by Turkmenistan, which claimed that international law of the sea placed the fields within its area of jurisdiction. (See Editorial Digest, July 17, 1997)
Iran, while declining to take sides overtly, then called for adherence to Soviet-era agreements. Iranian deputy foreign minister Mahmud Va'ezi said on 5 August that arguments based on the premise that international law now override previous treaties "are legally unacceptable and invalid." Va'ezi also decried unnamed states that "are behaving in an individualistic manner and signing agreements with foreign firms." (IRNA, 1001 GMT, 5 Aug 97; FBIS-NES-97-217). Two days later, Turkmenistan endorsed the Iranian position when it was put forward again by Russian president Boris Yel'tsin.
Commentators, Foreign Ministry endorse "Eastern" orientation
Primakov's discussion of security issues at ASEAN was a "brilliant diplomatic maneuver" according to Obshchaya gazeta, since he "provided a wonderful way of giving vent to the irritation about the unceremoniousness of American foreign policy which has been building up deep inside ASEAN." Primakov also won the support of Indonesia and Malaysia, the paper reported, since "he did not fail to note that the actions of Washington-based Tel Aviv are an insult to Muslims." (Obshchaya gazeta, 1 Aug 97; FBIS-SOV-97-217).
Moscow's ties in Southeast Asia, Moskovskiye novosti wrote, come as a welcome antidote to the isolation produced by NATO expansion. "The road to the West has been blocked indefinitely, despite the ceremony of strategic betrothal with NATO that spared our national pride," the paper wrote, noting that the resultant expansion to the East "should not lead our diplomats and politicians to develop an inferiority complex -- it is obvious that the Pacific region will become one of the world's economic (and therefore political) focuses by the beginning of the 21st century." (Moskovskiye novosti, 3-10 Aug 97; FBIS-SOV-97-219).
In an interview with "Iran Daily," Yuri Kashlev, the president of Russia's diplomatic academy, said that Russia must act as a "bridge between different civilizations and economies." While Russia must "integrate and become part of the West," Kashlev said, it should also become part of the world economic system, which includes many non-Western states. Kashlev singled Iran, China and Japan as nations with whom Moscow was cultivating closer ties. (IRNA, 0948 GMT, 6 Aug 97; FBIS-NES-97-218)
Meanwhile, deputy Foreign Minister Grigori Karasin published a seven-page article on the importance of fruitful relations with China. (Problemy dalnego vostoka, Mar-Apr). Yevgeni Bazhanov, director of the Institute of Current International Issues, praised arms sales to Beijing, since they would "gradually bind" Russia's "gigantic neighbor" to the Russian defense industry. "The necessity for spare parts, shells, etc," Bazhanov wrote, "will turn Beijing into our friendly partner for many years." (Obshchaya gazeta, 7-13 Aug 97; FBIS-TAC-97-224).
Czech newspaper, Slovak politician say Russian agents active in Bratislava
In addition, a Slovak opposition politician has claimed that the Slovak intelligence agency is so compromised by Russian agents that Western nations hold it at arms length.
The appointment in 1995 of Ivan Lexa as head of the Slovak Intelligence Service convinced the West that Russia had gained too much influence in Bratislava, according to Vladimir Palko, a former deputy director of the Czechoslovak secret service. Lexa, a confidante of Slovak premier Vladimir Meciar who had close ties to the former regime, inaugurated a return to influence of former agents of the Communist secret police (StB), who "have a natural tendency to orient themselves toward this particular side, as they did 10 years ago... (I)t means that the Slovak Republic's real foreign policy political orientation is an orientation toward Russia." (Sme, 4 Aug 97; FBIS-EEU-97-217).
Comment: The "Eurasian" vision fills the "national"
While President Boris Yel'tsin's commission on a new "national idea" has returned from the provinces as confused as when it left, Primakov is building a consensus among Moscow's elite that Russia has a peculiarly "Eastern" mission. The tributes to his performance at the meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are more than merely obsequious; his colleagues at the ministry and collaborators in the press have settled on ties to Asia as the salve for the purportedly "wounded" national pride.
Never mind that in negotiations over the expansion of NATO and future of the G-7, the Western nations have given Moscow a status disproportionate to its standing in world affairs. Since the war in Chechnya began three years ago, all thought of replacing Communist-style imperialism with healthy domestic rebirth has been scrapped. The West's own failure to challenge Russia's hegemonic instincts have allowed the nation's worst elements free to seek a new mission wherever they fancied.
Asia has its own appeal. There a Russian nationalist can find leaders sympathetic to what one commentator has called "another conception of human rights, different from the Western conception." After all, the journalist noted, "even at the height of the Chechen war, Beijing did not reproach Russia (it has a headache with its own "separatists" in Taiwan and Tibet)." The unreformed Communist can be "touched by the red color of the Chinese national flag and the formally unchallenged role of the (Chinese) Communist Party." (Moskovsiye novosti, 3-10 Aug 97; FBIS-SOV-97-219). And such a mission can pay financial dividends. For the price of one scrapped oil deal, Russian-Iranian cooperation has restored the pre-1991 hegemony of Moscow and Tehran over the Caspian Sea.
How will the United States respond to Russia's drift East? Some commentators have noted that the State Department appears to be softening its line against Iran in the hope of outbidding the Russians for influence. But there is another alternative, one that would both restrain Russia's behavior and give heart to Moscow's democrats. The United States could openly condemn Primakov's maneuvers as incompatible with the spirit of a healthy post-imperial Russian restoration, and insist that a peaceful future must be secured by abandoning the legacy of adventurism. Such a line would come too late for the dead of Tajikistan, Georgia, Moldova and Chechnya, but would better head off future catastrophes than appeasement could.
by Chandler Rosenberger
POLITICAL PARTIES & LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
The president claims the appointment of his daughter did not violate the law since he, as Russian president, is not a state employee. It would seem that the issue revolves around the status of appointed versus elected state officials as being state employees. Speaker Lukyanov admitted that the applicability of this law to the president -- indeed all elected persons -- is not clear, however the speaker believes the law has been violated. (Sovetskaya rossiya, 3 Jul 97; FBIS-SOV-97-184)
Federation Council forbids the sale of agricultural land
Large-scale land reform -- via sale or forced redistribution -- does not seem likely. The losers, besides the Russian consumer, are those who would have "forty acres and mule." (Interfax, 1042 GMT, 3 Jul 97; FBIS-SOV-97-184)
The creation of the committee raises two interesting issues. First, it is possible that the organizational political power of the army as it is presently constituted is insufficient for its needs, otherwise a special advocacy group would not be needed. Second, the Duma is seen as being an appropriate venue for redress, that is, a dispenser of political patronage. This suggests that the legislative process may be seen by many to be a useful means for attaining their aims. (Interfax, 1110 GMT, 9 Jul 97; FBIS-SOV-97-190)
NEWLY INDEPENDENT STATES
This apparent discrepancy in views might be explained as an example of astute politicking by the Foreign Ministry (to put pressure on Georgia), or by a fundamental difference in interpretation of policy by the ministry and the General Staff. What is even more interesting is the discrepancy between the two organizations regarding who has the authority to order a withdrawal. According to Mironov, a decision by all CIS leaders (heads of state) is necessary to terminate the operation (ITAR-TASS, 31 Jul 97; FBIS-SOV-97-212). However, according to Arinakhin, President Yel'tsin, acting as chairman of the Council of Heads of State, can "make such a decision on behalf of the council..." In other words, at least as far as the Russian General Staff is concerned, Boris Yel'tsin is the de facto commander-in-chief of CIS armed forces.
Non-peacekeeping in Tajikistan
Who says we aren't independent?
Even though not one international organization has recognized the Dniester region of Moldova as an independent republic, leaders there continue to act as if they deserve precisely that recognition. Recently, "border guards" of the unrecognized republic refused to let the Moldovan minister of defense cross into the region because officials in Chisinau did not file the proper papers with officials in Tiraspol. The minister was on his way to attend the Open Doors Day with the group of Russian troops and claimed that, since Dniester is part of Moldova, no coordination was necessary (NTV, 3 Aug 97; FBIS-SOV-97-215).
Tiraspol leader Igor Smirnov also called for a law declaring Dniester
a "customs control zone." Smirnov's son, Vladimir, who is the
chairman of the region's customs committee, said it was necessary for prosecutors,
police, customs officials, and border guards to work more closely to control
access roads passing by customs checkpoints (Baspress, 30 Jul 97; FBIS-SOV-97-212).
More fallout from ORT arrests
Even Russian President Boris Yel'tsin condemned the actions of the Belarusian authorities, calling Lukashenka "inexperienced" and requesting an explanation of his actions. Lukashenka responded with characteristic anger and paranoia. He canceled a trip to Kaliningrad over the issue (Radio Minsk, 0900 GMT, 1 Aug 97; FBIS-SOV-97-213) and said, "I will provide explanations to Yel'tsin but (only) after he gives me explanations over the war the Russian TV channels have unleashed against me" (FBIS-SOV-97-212). This statement can only cause us to wonder whether the ORT reporters were arrested for "violating the border" as they are charged, or because the president doesn't like their opinions.
Problems in parliament
The Gabala station monitors air space for Russian nuclear forces and, according to Colonel General Viktor Smirnov, commander of the Russian air defense troops, "is a latest generation station," one that is "immensely significant for Russia's defense capability." (Turan, 2 Aug 97; FBIS-SOV-97-216) Since 1991 Russia has accumulated an unpaid debt of 100 billion rubles to Azerbaijan for the electricity and water that the station uses.
US OSCE representative raises land swap possibility for Karabakh
The proposal consists of a land swap: the Lachin corridor, which connects Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh, would be traded for the Mergi district, which connects Azerbaijan to Nakhichevan. By making Azerbaijani and Armenian territories contiguous, this arrangement would ease the security concerns for the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh and the Azeri population of the Nakhichevan exclave. Moreover, Azerbaijan would gain a direct path to Turkey's border, and therefore a path for oil pipeline construction that avoids Armenia, Georgia, and Russia. One major difficulty with the plan is that Armenia has never admitted that its forces participated in the war over Nagorno-Karabakh, and is therefore under no obligation to cede anything to the other parties. While it is conceivable that the population of the Lachin area (which has now been thoroughly cleansed of its pre-war Azeri and Kurd inhabitants), may not object to integration into Armenia, there is no reason to suppose that those residing in the Mergi region would want to be transferred to Azerbaijan's jurisdiction.
Since Shevardnadze's trip to the US in July, the Russian side has intensified its mediation efforts hoping to forestall western involvement and remain the sole mediator of the Abkhaz conflict. As part of his 1 August proposal, Yel'tsin invited Ardzinba and Shevardnadze to Moscow to hammer out the details of the peace. The Georgian side has made it clear that such a meeting would have to follow substantial progress on the major issues, including Georgian territorial integrity and the return of refugees.
A few days later the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, John Shalikashvili, arrived in Tbilisi for a short visit the purpose of which was to "examine the issues of deepening U.S. Georgian military cooperation." (Rossiyskaya gazeta, 5 Aug 97; FBIS-SOV-97-218).
by Miriam Lanskoy
Before negotiations could get underway between Qosimov and Salimov, a new battle erupted outside of Dushanbe near the Fakhrobod Pass (approximately 35 km south of Dushanbe), where a group of Col. Mahmud Khudoiberdiev's men clashed with members of the presidential guard (Interfax, 1648 GMT, 9 Aug 97; FBIS-SOV-97-221). Col. Khudoiberdiev's troops took control of the Fakhrobod Pass in June, in an attempt to intimidate the Tajik government into changing the terms of the inter-Tajik peace agreement, which was signed on 27 June by United Tajik Opposition (UTO) leader Said Abdullo Nuri and President Rahmonov (see Editorial Digests for June 1997). Khudoiberdiev supports Salimov's group in the current conflict, and announced that if Qosimov's forces did not leave Dushanbe, he would begin moving additional troops from his base in Qurghon Teppa toward the capital, presumably to aid Salimov and his supporters (Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 1600 GMT, 9 Aug 97; FBIS-SOV-97-221).
There are conflicting reports as to whether Col. Khudoiberdiev's forces were actually able to enter Dushanbe. An Interfax report from 9 August stated that his troops had managed to take over military posts in the outskirts of the capital, and that the government forces had surrendered with little resistance and retreated into the city's center (Interfax, 1823 GMT, 9 Aug 97; FBIS-SOV-97-221). General Ghafur Mirzoev, commander of the Presidential Guard, denied all reports that Col. Khudoiberdiev's men had entered the city, and instead stated that since the morning of 10 August, the colonel's forces had made three attacks on Presidential Guard units, in an attempt to break into Dushanbe. According to General Mirzoev, none of these attacks was successful (ITAR-TASS, 1125 GMT, 10 Aug 97; FBIS-SOV-97-222). On the same day, Col. Qosimov managed to rout Salimov and his supporters and drive them out of the city (Radiostantsiya ekho moskvy, 1200 GMT, 10 Aug 97; FBIS-SOV-97-222). Salimov and most of his men fled west, into the mountains and toward the Uzbek-Tajik border. The Uzbek government responded by closing that section of its border and by putting its border guards on alert (RFE/RL Newsline, 12 Aug 97). Col. Qosimov and General Mirzoev are also reported to have moved some of their troops westward, to the town of Tursunzade, the site of a large aluminum plant which has been occupied by Col. Khudoiberdiev's forces since January 1996. Qosimov's and Mirzoev's men apparently managed to regain control of the plant, and Col. Khudoiberdiev's troops fled into the mountain gorges surrounding the nearby towns of Shakhrinau and Hissar (Interfax, 0928 GMT, 11 Aug 97; FBIS-SOV-97-223). Gen. Mirzoev announced that his units would not remain in Tursunzade, but would allow local authorities to restore order in the area (ITAR-TASS, 1217 GMT, 11 Aug 97; FBIS-SOV-97-223). Qosimov and his troops remained in the vicinity, ostensibly to conduct a "mop-up" operation in the surrounding towns and villages, in order to destroy the last remnants of resistance by Col. Khudoiberdiev's troops (NTV, 0400 GMT, 11 Aug 97; FBIS-SOV-97-223).
However, there were also reports that Qosimov's men began carrying out reprisals against members of the local population whom they suspected of having aided and/or sympathized with Col. Khudoiberdiev's and Yaqubjon Salimov's supporters. Uzbeks and "Leninabadtsy" (people originally from the northern Tajik oblast' Leninobod) were singled out and beaten, raped, and, in some cases, summarily executed. There were also reports that Qosimov's forces had set up checkpoints on the road from Tursunzade to Dushanbe and were stopping and harassing anyone suspected of being Uzbek or from Leninobod Oblast' (RFE/RL Newsline, 14 Aug 97).
Meanwhile, General Mirzoev's Presidential Guard units launched an all-out attack on Col. Khudoiberdiev's forces to the south, in an attempt to push the colonel out of his stronghold in Qurghon Teppa. Mirzoev's men briefly regained control of the Fakhrobod Pass on 12 August, but had to retreat to their previous positions (near the village of Gagarin, 12 km south of the capital) when Khudoiberdiev's troops counterattacked. Mirzoev's units met with greater success near Qurghon Teppa , however, when they succeeded in taking control of Sarband (formerly known as Kalininabad), a village only 10 km east of Col. Khudoiberdiev's headquarters (Interfax, 1753 GMT, 12 Aug 97; FBIS-SOV-97-224).
On 13 August, President Rahmonov issued a decree stripping the colonel of his command, but apparently promised to transfer him to another government position (Interfax, 1826 GMT, 13 Aug 97; FBIS-SOV-97-225). The two men finally met face-to-face in a location south of Dushanbe on the same day, and in addition to agreeing to give up his command, Col. Khudoiberdiev also agreed to a truce (Interfax, 1107 GMT, 14 Aug 97; FBIS-SOV-97-226). In accordance with the truce, the colonel withdrew his forces from the Fakhrobod Pass and the highway between Dushanbe and Qurghon Teppa was reopened (NTV, 0500 GMT, 14 Aug 97; FBIS-SOV-97-226).
However, even though Col. Khudoiberdiev initially agreed to comply with the president's decree, the Autonomous Defense Council of the Khatlon and Qurghon Teppa zones (a council of local southern commanders loyal to Col. Khudoiberdiev which was formed on 20 July and which has been declared illegal by the Tajik government) rejected President Rahmonov's order (Interfax, 1641 GMT, 13 Aug 97; FBIS-SOV-97-225). Furthermore, already one day after his meeting with President Rahmonov, Col. Khudoiberdiev seemed to be rethinking his response to the truce agreement. In an interview with Russian NTV, he frankly admitted that he had not yet begun to implement the terms of the truce in Qurghon Teppa , because government troops were continuing to advance on his headquarters from the nearby town of Sarband (NTV, 0500 GMT, 14 Aug 97; FBIS-SOV-97-226).
Fortunately, the CIS peacekeepers and Russian military and border guard units stationed in Tajikistan have thus far been able to avoid becoming involved in the latest round of violence. The CIS peacekeeping command assisted in negotiating a cease-fire between Salimov and Qosimov (ITAR-TASS World Service, 1142 GMT, 9 Aug 97; FBIS-SOV-97-221), and was also instrumental in setting up the meeting between President Rahmonov and Col. Khudoiberdiev on 13 August (NTV, 0800 GMT, 13 Aug 97; FBIS-SOV-97-225). The UTO has also declared its neutrality and has urged the two sides to negotiate a peaceful end to the conflict (Clandestine Voice of Free Tajikistan, 0350 GMT, 11 Aug 97; FBIS-SOV-97-223). It would appear, however, that Uzbekistan may bear some responsibility for Col. Khudoiberdiev's actions. As mentioned in a previous Editorial Digest (July 23, 1997), there have been rumors that Uzbekistan supplied aid to Khudoiberdiev. Whether there is any truth to these rumors, Col. Qosimov certainly seems to believe that it is the primarily the Uzbeks and the "Leninabadtsy" who have been supporting Khudoiberdiev's forces in western Tajikistan in the vicinity of Tursunzade and Hissare. (Note: Khujand is the capital of Leninobod Oblast' and the Khujandis are suspected of being responsible for the attempt on Uzbekistan.) Qosimov's actions may presage another government crackdown in Leninobod Oblast' itself, once the current conflict has been resolved.
by Monika Shepherd
Military preparedness will be a major stumbling block to such inclusion, however. According to Colonel Zenonas Vegelevicius, commander of the Lithuanian air force, that service is still unable to repel an attack by air. He cites the need for vehicles, landing locations, and a threefold increase (from 1,000 to 4,000) of troops. (ELTA, 0644 GMT, 30 Jul 97; FBIS-UMA-97-211). His colleague, Major Gediminas Sneideris, who led the Lithuanian contingent in the international Cooperative Safeguard exercises in Iceland earlier this month, said that the lack of modern, NATO-compatible military equipment and communication skills (i.e., English language) caused some difficulties for the Lithuanian troops taking part. (ELTA, 1536 GMT, 5 Aug; FBIS-UMA-97-217).
by Kate Martin