The ISCIP Analyst
Behind the Breaking News
Volume II Number 19 (October 23, 1997)
There are several interesting aspects to this sudden outburst of cooperative negotiation, not the least of which is the institutional. Yel'tsin revived the dormant "Council of Four" to shape the first round of talks on October 20. This council, created just prior to his bypass surgery last year, was originally intended to provide a forum for discussion between the executive and legislative branches while the president was unable to serve as personal arbiter. The original composition of the council consisted of the speakers of the Federation Council and Duma, the prime minister, and Anatoli Chubais representing the president. Its operation was quickly derailed over the legislative leaders' refusal to accept Chubais as the president's proxy during his convalescence. This most recent convocation of the council, with Yel'tsin's prominent participation, has re-invigorated the council, which is now slated to convene twice monthly.
The second round of executive-legislative negotiations occurred the following day as Yel'tsin met with representatives of the seven Duma factions, as well as several members of the presidential administration. (ITAR-TASS, 21 Oct 97; NEXIS) Evidently, the president's assurances during this conciliation session convinced participants that the advisory council of regional, executive and legislative leaders would have a major role in policy formation. Its first session is slated for November 22 and agricultural land ownership tops its agenda.
Much print space has already been devoted to the questions of who backed down and who gave in during the spiraling confrontation between president and parliament this Fall. Once again in Russian politics, the vagaries of the agreement need further elucidation before the winners and losers can be tallied. Did the president agree to a Law on the Government, which provides for parliamentary oversight (and dismissal powers) of the government? Did the Duma opposition, most notably the Communists, give in to presidential threats to their parliamentary perks? (See, among others, The Boston Globe, 22 Oct 97)
The question of who most benefited from the compromise solution is controversial. If the opposition Duma factions (opposition only in reference to the executive branch) could expect stronger support from a disillusioned populace, then they would seem to have a powerful incentive to provoke new elections. If the executive's threat of revising election rules was thought to jeopardize opposition support, then a maintenance of the status quo, with caveats, would benefit the opposition.
Yel'tsin's decision to tone down his threatening rhetoric on dissolution and compromise with the Duma is seen by some as a tactical retreat in the face of broad opposition encompassing the Communists, many regional leaders, and Yabloko. According to this scenario, Yel'tsin will work to weaken the opposition coalition and move against them with a stronger hand. (See comments by Stanislav Menshikov on Johnson's Russia List, #1307, 22 Oct 97) There has already been a backlash in the Duma with Sergei Baburin leading a small faction of deputies calling the compromise a "strategic mistake." (Agence France Press, 2 Oct 97; firstname.lastname@example.org)
A final assessment will have to wait for an implementation or re-interpretation of the elements of the executive-legislative accord. The critical issues of the Law on Government, Tax Code, land and housing reforms will provide the litmus tests to gauge the performance of the cooperative councils. At least this Autumn's display of brinkmanship ended peacefully.
by Susan J. Cavan
The declaration was seen as a snub to Britain, whose prime minister, Tony Blair, had just concluded a lackluster visit to Moscow. The announcement of the trilateral meetings came two hours after Blair had left the council meeting. (Press Association, 1747 GMT, 10 Oct 97; FBIS-WEU-97-283).
The announcement also had an anti-American tinge, coming a week after Yel'tsin had decried condemnation of the oil deal in the American press and White House pressure to expand European institutions through NATO enlargement. In a thinly veiled reference to "Uncle Sam," Yel'tsin had said that "We do not need an uncle from elsewhere. We in Europe can unite ourselves." (Reuters, 8 Oct 97; Johnson's Russia List #1269).
Yel'tsin highlights common stance with Europe on executions, rights
"Russia has imposed a moratorium on the execution of capital punishment. We strictly fulfill this obligation," Yel'tsin said. "I know that the European public has been shocked with the news of public executions in Chechnya. The Russian leadership takes all the necessary measures to localize such manifestations of Middle Ages barbarity."
The emphasis on capital punishment also drew a line between the countries of Continental Europe, which do not execute any criminals, and Britain and the United States, both of which have capital punishment provisions in their law.
Later in the speech, Yel'tsin also took a swipe at the Baltic states for allegedly not living up to European standards of language rights and citizenship. "Our country cannot put up with the fact that hundreds of thousands of people, including our compatriots, have no citizenship in modern Europe," Yel'tsin said. "I hope that this issue will be settled in Latvia and Estonia." (RIA Novosti, Rossiyskiye vesti, 14 Oct 97; Johnson's Russia List #1283)
Russian commentators found Yel'tsin's off-the-cuff declaration to be of a piece with other slights to the United States. "There is an impression that the European factor is starting to dominate Russian foreign policy," Itogi, NTV television's weekly analytical program, reported. "In fact, all Yel'tsin's initiatives had a strong anti-American flavor." (Reuters, 14 Oct 97; Johnson's Russia List #1284)
But the Russian military quickly soft-pedaled Yel'tsin's comments. An
unnamed high-ranking military officer told Nezavisimaya gazeta that Yel'tsin's
announcement was nothing more than pure "populism," and that it
violated Russian national interests. (Monitor, 15 Oct 97).
The Standard, a daily close to the pro-Western Bulgarian government, on 6 October accused Russian ambassador Leonid Kerestedzhiyants of using the embassy as a base for a secretive organization, "Association on Friendship with Russia." The paper also accused Gazprom, the Russian gas firm, of planning to disrupt gas deliveries to Bulgaria in an attempt to destabilize the government. The Russian embassy denied all accusations. (ITAR-TASS, 1351 GMT, 7 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-280)
Russia repays one-third of debt to Slovakia in part with weapons
Russian Finance Minister Vladimir Babichev praised the political, economic, and military technical cooperation of Moscow and Bratislava, claiming it differs for the better from Russia's relations with other Central and East European countries. He said the many-sided cooperation is of a strategic nature. (Interfax, 1101 GMT, 10 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-283)
Tense Russo-Japanese relations as Moscow cancels meeting
Russian officials claimed that the meeting had been canceled because members of the Japanese delegation had failed to comply with unspecified requirements. (ITAR-TASS, 1045 GMT, 8 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-281) But the decision came just as the Russian Foreign Ministry was scheduled to begin talks in Moscow with another Japanese delegation on fishing rights near the disputed Kuril islands.
The ministry had complained that the Japanese were insisting on adding too many political dimensions to an agreement that Moscow had hoped would be merely commercial. (Interfax, 1154 GMT, 13 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-286)
Russian legislators introduce bill to strengthen ties to Taiwan
The bill, modeled on the American Taiwan Relations Act, was promoted by Alexei Mitrofonov, chairman of the Geographical Policy Committee of the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament.
Wang Wei-chieh, director of the West Asian Affairs department in the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry, acknowledged the bill stood little chance of becoming law. Russian parliamentary rules mandate that the bill must be approved by the Foreign Affairs Committee before it is referred to a plenary session for a second reading. During a public hearing on the bill in July, Russian foreign ministry officials voiced strong opposition to the bill. (Central News Agency WWW (Taiwan), 0859 GMT, 3 Oct 97; FBIS-CHI-97-276)
Comment: Safe European Home?
In April, Foreign Minister Yevgeni Primakov won the hearts of Asian leaders by espousing the virtues of non-Western traditions. And yet when Boris Yel'tsin attended the Council of Europe meeting in Strasbourg six months later, he took every opportunity to highlight his government's commitment to common (Continental) European values, such as rejection of the death penalty and, less appealingly, development of "pragmatic" economic ties with pariah nations such as Iran.
There is, of course, a common theme running through these disparate, even contradictory, statements. Disgruntled leaders of countries that have run afoul of US foreign policy, be they Asian dictators or beleaguered Eurocrats, may celebrate Moscow's insistence that the United States has too much influence in world affairs.
The Council of Europe is little more than a discussion club. But Yel'tsin's success at its recent meeting demonstrates the importance of rhetoric in international affairs, and the inability of the Clinton Administration to put forward a compelling vision of internal security that might dampen the appeal of Moscow's resentments.
The bellwether of future alliances will be Britain, a traditional US ally. Prime Minister Tony Blair was deeply disappointed that his visits to Moscow and Strasbourg did not earn him anointment as the next spokesman of Europe. The United States has great interest in seeing Blair's appeal spread across the Continent, since his Labor Party promises to lead a center-left reform of its crumbling welfare state. If buoyed by broad international appeal, this effort might well be emulated by social democrats on the Continent, ensuring the stability of the region's political economy.
If, on the other hand, the United States does not put forward a compelling vision of European affairs, Blair may be cowed into submitting to the anti-American rhetoric now spoken in Moscow and echoed in Paris. Europe will then be left to drift back into the befuddled malaise that, prior to Ronald Reagan's tenure, shrouded the Continent in gloom.
by Chandler Rosenberger
DOMESTIC ISSUES & LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
Petersburg TV hands over control to Moscow
by Michael Thurman
Though denied by Sukhoi's chief designer, Vladimir Konokhov, Pravda has restated an ITAR-TASS report from 8 October which announced the beginning of testing of the Su-32, a secret, state-of-the-art "forward-swept" wing fighter. The military-industrial complex source was described as very reliable. Purportedly, aircraft designers expect unique handling characteristics as a result of the wing design. (Pravda, 9 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-282) The US Air Force's X-29 also has a forward-swept wing design.
Arms export agreements continue to add up
Konstantin Makienko, Deputy Director of the Russian Center for Analysis, Strategies and Technologies, has stated that the annual volume of arms trade with India is nearly $1 billion and sees any decrease as unlikely. He describes India as "absolutely our partner in trade in arms and related services because it is the only country with which Russia has signed a long-term cooperation program in the arms trade till the year 2001." This program is of great benefit to Russia, both politically and commercially. Makienko describes India as timely in its payments, a distraction of part of China's military might, and perhaps most importantly, "a serious opponent of the Islamic world." He said that future weapon sales may also include the KA-50 Black Shark helicopter in response to the Ukrainian tank deliveries to Pakistan and most likely the aircraft-carrying cruiser Admiral Gorshkov. (Interfax, 1405 GMT, 8 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-281)
Additional arms sales/defense agreements are underway between Russia and both Ethiopia and Singapore. The Ethiopian cooperation plan will include the training and retraining of Ethiopian servicemen in Russian military schools and defense industry and provide for the service and repair of Russian-made military hardware. (Interfax, 1247 GMT, 2 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-275) Singapore has announced a purchase of an undisclosed number of the Igla (SA-16) air defense missile system. The Igla is an advanced man-portable missile using an infra-red seeker head and having a range of approximately 6000 meters. (Xinhua, 15 Oct 97, Jamestown Foundation Monitor, 16 Oct 97)
Despite an active arms sales program, the Russian defense industry continues to suffer. In Russian parliamentary hearings on 13 October, it was stated that every second defense industry enterprise in Russia is near bankruptcy. (ITAR-TASS, 1330 GMT, 13 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-286) The main culprit appears to be the continuing non-payment for Russian defense orders. The defense ministry owes in excess of 300 billion rubles. With upcoming plans to increase the privitization of the Russian defense industry in '98, it will be interesting to see how effectively the sell-off will boost government revenues and how industry values will be set. With continued development of state-of-the art weapons such as the Black Eagle and the Su-32 and lack of payment by the defense ministry, even more aggressive arms export marketing is in the future.
by LtCol Dwyer Dennis
Space advertising for space exploration?
In other space news the future of GLONASS (the Russian equivalent of the American global positioning system, GPS) is in question. The GLONASS constellation consists of 24 satellites. Currently 10 of the satellites in the constellation have reached the end of their useful life and there are no current plans to replace them with longer-life satellites. The Russians figure the satellite navigation business could be worth as much as $30 billion by 2005. But as it stands now the US will have a monopoly on the service. The Russians figure maintaining and improving GLONASS could allow them to capture about a quarter of the precision navigation business. (Rossiyskaya gazeta, 3 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-279)
Defense minister denies Russian participation in NATO operation
Strategic forces conduct major exercise
Sergeev: 5-6 servicemen die every day
Sergeev's comments come two weeks after the Russian Main Military Prosecutor's Office announced it was taking steps to combat hazing in the armed forces. The office was forming special teams to investigate units where hazing has been reported. About one dozen hazing cases were under criminal investigation. These actions come as the Russian armed forces started the Autumn conscription period, which has a goal of inducting 184,000 conscripts into the armed forces. General Staff Officers expressed doubts whether this goal could be obtained given the opportunities for draft deferments and the number of youths willing to dodge the draft. (Monitor, 10 Oct 97, and Interfax, 1120 GMT, 2 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-275)
by LCDR Curtis R. Stevens
NEWLY INDEPENDENT STATES
The Council of Heads of Government produced 26 documents, including a convention on regulating social-labor relationships in multinational corporations. Also drafted were documents regulating the formation of a common CIS transportation space including an agreement on tariffs for freight shipments across commonwealth countries. A series of agreements on military issues was drawn up which concern the strengthening of border troops and the further development of the unified air defense system (Delovoy mir, 10 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-287). There was, as one might expect, some degree of dissension at the meeting. The Georgian delegate refused to approve a procedure meant to increase economic integration (ITAR-TASS, 9 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-282). Ukrainian Prime Minister Pustovoytenko agreed to sign only 13 of the documents, and three of those contained reservations (Interfax, 10 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-283).
Hennadiy Udovenko kept faith with his colleague in the heads of government council by offering opposition at the Council of CIS Foreign Ministers conference. Udovenko would not sign a document which would create a "committee on conflict situations." He also insisted on setting up a permanent body to monitor CIS expenditures (ITAR-TASS, 2 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-275). Ukraine has become increasingly more suspicious about how CIS money and resources are being spent.
The Council of CIS Defense Ministers also had a meeting and spent most of its time discussing the development of military cooperation "in the framework of a collective security treaty." It is not yet clear whether they will call for a new security treaty or just an expansion of the Tashkent Treaty of 1992. The ministers, at the insistence of Georgian Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze, discussed the situation in Abkhazia. Nadibaidze is still hoping that the Heads of State decision made at the March 1997 summit will be implemented and called for the appointment of a new commander for the peacekeeping troops. Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev took the opportunity to introduced the new chief of staff for coordinating CIS military cooperation, General Viktor Samsonov. Samsonov until recently served as chief of the Russian general staff (Interfax, 3 Oct 97; FBIS-UMA-97-276).
The Heads of Security and Secret Services met to discuss measures to fight organized crime, weapons and drug trafficking, terrorism, and ensuring nuclear safety. Nikolai Kovalev, head of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), presided at the conference and focused on providing security for "strategic objects" on CIS territory which he defined as facilities which present a nuclear and environmental hazard (Basapress, 8 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-281, and Infotag, 9 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-282). Kovalev went on to say that, "It is absolutely obvious also that we need to cooperate more actively in combating the operations of the intelligence services of other countries on the territory of the [CIS]. More than 400 intelligence agents, who are working on the territory of our country, have been disclosed in Russia. And it is necessary to coordinate our actions to counter them" (ITAR-TASS, 8 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-281).
The final administrative organ to meet was the Inter-Parliamentary Committee of the Customs Union. The group (consisting of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia) has been unable to forge or implement policies creating a functioning union, and no other CIS states seem interested in joining until such procedures can be worked out (Mayak Radio Network, 1400 GMT, 10 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-283).
CIS air defense system fiscal planning outlined
Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov had harsh words for President Lukashenka. Nemtsov called the Belarusian Union extremely important but criticized the president, saying, "Lukashenka behaves like a young student." The remarks were made in connection with the imprisonment of ORT journalist Pavel Sheremet. Nemtsov claims that Lukashenka took revenge on Sheremet because the journalist criticized him in the past. "The feeling of resentment does not befit a politician," Nemtsov added (Interfax, 7 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-280).
Killing of Lukashenka's friend brings harsh response
ORT correspondent released
by Mark Jones
The two governments' disagreement over the development of the Kurmangazy oil deposits began when Russia's Fuel and Energy Ministry unilaterally decided to start accepting bids for the field's geological exploration (see Editorial Digest on Central Asia, 9 October 97). Since the Kazakh government considers this field to be in its national sector (a point which President Nazarbaev reiterated), the Russian ministry's action constitutes a violation of Kazakhstan's territorial sovereignty. Although President Nazarbaev did not bring this issue up during his joint press conference with Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, he did state that the matter had to be resolved before any agreements could be signed on allowing Russian oil companies to develop the Kurmangazy oil field (Interfax, 0954 GMT, 4 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-277).
President Nazarbaev and Prime Minister Chernomyrdin also have differing views on the extent to which Russian oil companies should be involved in the Kurmangazy field's exploitation. The Kazakh president favors granting tenders to those companies which offer the best terms, whereas the Russian prime minister would prefer that Russian companies be given priority in the field's development. Russia's Lukoil and Kazakhstan's Kazakhoil companies are considering drawing up a joint agreement to exploit the Kurmangazy field's deposits, but the deal has not yet been finalized (Interfax, 0954 GMT, 4 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-277).
President Nazarbaev hopes to have his government's disputes with Russia settled by June of next year, in time for President Yel'tsin's visit to Kazakhstan, which is planned for the first half of 1998, primarily for the purpose of signing the new Kazakh-Russian treaty on friendship and cooperation (Interfax, 0954 GMT, 4 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-277).
Kazakhstan ready to export oil, gas to world market via any corridor
Kazakhstan recently concluded an agreement with the China National Petroleum Company (see Editorial Digest on Central Asia, 9 October) under which the construction of two new pipelines is planned: One pipeline is to run from Kazakhstan to Turkmenistan and another pipeline is to run from Kazakhstan's Aktyubinsk oil field to China's northwestern border. The Chinese company owns 60% of the shares in the Aktyubinsk field, which is estimated to contain reserves of 130 million tons and an annual crude oil output of about 2.6 million tons (Xinhua, 1429 GMT, 10 Oct 97; FBIS-CHI-97-283).
President Nazarbaev has also begun considering plans for exporting Kazakh oil to Japan. At a news conference on 3 October with a group of Japanese editorial writers, he mentioned that he had already discussed the possibility of shipping oil to Japan via China at the recent signing of the Kazakh-Chinese oil development contract (Kyodo, 0227 GMT, 4 Oct 97; FBIS-EAS-97-279).
Kazakhstan selling explosives to Tajikistan
Kazakh metal workers go on hunger strike after police bar their march
On 11 October General Mirzoev announced that three more of Sodirov's supporters had been captured in a suburb of Dushanbe, and that Presidential Guard units had been conducting intensive searches for the rest of Sodirov's party in the mountains near the capital (ITAR-TASS, 0605 GMT, 11 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-284). Two days later, General Mirzoev reported that more of Sodirov's supporters had been arrested and that bases believed to belong to the militia group had been found in the mountains near Dushanbe. One of the hostages was also found dead during the search operation. It is believed that he was shot to death by Sodirov and his men (ITAR-TASS World Service, 1420 GMT, 13 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-286).
US to provide additional $35 million in aid to Tajikistan
President Rahmonov to be final arbiter on allocation of ministries
Prosecutor-general's office completes assassination investigation
by Monika Shepherd
The other seasoned politician campaigning for the post, parliamentary chairman Vytautas Landsbergis, remains in the race, although he is facing lower poll standings (Interfax, 1724 GMT, 30 Sep 97; FBIS-SOV-97-273) and allegations that he collaborated with the KGB--charges leveled by MP Audrius Butkevicius, who is himself facing charges of grand fraud and bribery (ELTA, 0939 GMT, 1 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-274). Landsbergis and Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius, both members of the conservative Homeland Union party, have called the charges against the Seimas chairman lies and provocations. The allegations, confirmed by six ex-KGB officers (ITAR-TASS, 2040 GMT, 6 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-279), were investigated by a special parliamentary commission and found to be "groundless slander," according to commission head Algimantas Sejunas (ELTA, 1124 GMT, 9 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-282).
It is unclear how much harm the charges will bring to Landsbergis' candidacy. His popularity already is lower that other contenders for the presidency, including Valdas Adamkus, an environmentalist for the US who leads most popularity polls although he had to fight hard before winning a court appeal which deemed him eligible to run (Interfax, 1611 GMT, 10 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-283), and the former prosecutor general Arturas Paulauskas. (Interfax, 1724 GMT, 30 Sep 97; FBIS-SOV-97-273). Another candidate from the US, MP Kazys Bobelis, has received permission from the Electoral Commission to run (ELTA, 0843 GMT, 6 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-279), while a third--Professor Liucija Baskauskaite--is bringing her appeal to the Constitutional Court (ELTA, 1303 GMT, 14 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-287). In addition, the rector of Vilnius University, Rolandas Pavilionis, announced his interest in becoming a candidate (ELTA, 0903 GMT, 6 Oct 97l FBIS-SOV-97-279). Nominees have until 6 November to submit the 20,000 signatures required for placement on the ballot.
by Kate Martin