The ISCIP Analyst
Behind the Breaking News
Volume II Number 20 (November 6, 1997)
There are also an abundance of reports that the controversial former FSB Chief Mikhail Barsukov will soon receive an appointment to head up a special projects department within the Presidential Administration. (Kommersant Daily, 17 Oct 97; NEXIS) This department, formerly the KGB 15th Directorate, is responsible for the oversight of underground special and communications facilities. (Komsomolskaya pravda, 25 Oct 97; NEXIS)
In other personnel news, it appears that Lt. Gen. Viktor Zavarzin will be appointed as Russia's military envoy to NATO, a position believed coveted by former Defense Minister Pavel Grachev. (Interfax, 20 Oct 97, FBIS-SOV-97-293) Zavarzin served previously as the commander of CIS Joint Peacekeeping Forces on Tajikistan.
In other Security Council news, it appears that issues of military reform will now be coordinated jointly by the Security Council and the Defense Council. SC Secretary Ivan Rybkin and DC Secretary Andrei Kokoshin met and agreed recently to cooperate on military reform, particularly the economic aspects. (Rossiyskiye vesti, 22 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-295)
Chernomyrdin hints at Duma dissolution background
Chernomyrdin also revealed more of his political sympathies than has been evident since the ascendence of the Chubais and Nemtsov reform teams. As has long been speculated, Chernomyrdin may be more comfortable negotiating with the Communists than with liberal reformers. In regard to the recent conflict between the Duma and government, Chernomyrdin remarked "I will never agree with Yavlinsky's position and others and so on. I can work with Seleznev."
Justice Minister Stepashin to head joint commission on extremism
by Susan J. Cavan
Russia was joined in abstaining by China, France, Egypt and Kenya. The resulting 10-0 vote meant the sanctions, which ban travel abroad by selected Iraqi officials, passed by the narrowest possible margin. (Interfax, 1552 GMT, 24 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-297)
Analyzing international business deals with Baghdad, the newspaper Rossiyskaya gazeta concluded that Russian oil firms are "now ahead of their competitors in reestablishing ties to Iraq." A Russian consortium has, for example, concluded a $3.8 billion contract to develop the Western Qurnah oil field.
"The Russian oil companies' activity in the Iraqi market supported at a state level indicates that Russia has probably started to meld the geopolitical aspirations of the state and the commercial interests of major companies in the Persian Gulf Region," the paper concluded. (Rossiyskaya gazeta, 22 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-297)
Primakov tour aimed to secure Moscow's "central role" in
The highlight of Primakov's tour was an impromptu turn as go-between from Damascus to Tel Aviv. Although shrouded in secrecy, it appears that Primakov brought to Israel a message from Syrian President Hafiz al-Asad, in which Asad made an overture to open new negotiations on the status of the Golan Heights.
At a press conference following his meetings with Asad, Primakov hinted that he had attempted to open the "Syrian-Israel" track of the Madrid accords. "There are people who think that one can proceed along only one track, for example the Palestinian one," Primakov said. "But if the Syrian track is blocked, the whole peace process in the region will be stopped." (ITAR-TASS, 1458 GMT, 26 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-299)
After finishing subsequent meetings with Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy, Primakov said Levy had asked him to return to Damascus, rather than continue on to Jordan, in order to convey a message to Asad from the Israeli government. Israel reportedly wanted to express an interest in re-opening peace talks with Syria, in exchange for a Syrian promise to curb attacks on Israel launched from southern Lebanon by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah. (ITAR-TASS, 1706 GMT, 27 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-300)
Russia to help Libya overhaul nuclear research center, other projects
Tripoli and Moscow will establish a joint investment company and bank to finance the projects, and hope to settle Libya's $2.4 billion debt, which Russia inherited from the former Soviet Union. (Interfax, 1100 GMT, 22 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-295)
Russia lobbies Austria, Hungary not to join NATO...
"Russia favors the Austrian stance" on European security issues, Chernomyrdin said. "Ever since the end of World War Two Austria has been a neutral country and it has only gained by this," he said. The body most likely to emulate the Austrian stance, Chernomyrdin said, was the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Russia intends to cooperate actively with NATO on the consolidation of the European security, Chernomyrdin said, but "we will never agree that the expansion of NATO is needed now, since its doctrine of confrontation with the Warsaw Pact, the Soviet Union and, consequently, Russia has not essentially changed," he said. (Interfax, 1628 GMT, 29 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-302)
Foreign Ministry spokesman Valeri Nesterushkin also praised alternatives to NATO expansion as a future basis for European security. He praised the Hungarian organization "A Public Coalition for a Policy in the Name of Man" for asking the Russian leadership to declare that it would guarantee Hungary's neutrality if that country does not join NATO. (Interfax, 1343 GMT, 28 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-301)
...while Duma leaders complain to President Clinton
The process of expanding the alliance eastward "will indeed weaken the entire international security system and undermine strategic stability," the letter stated. "Mr. President, it is evident from the above-mentioned appeal that your compatriots are reasonably asking questions about the aims, possible consequences, and price of the alliance's planned eastward expansion."
The good faith of the letter's signatories was bright into question, however, by a number of questionable historical judgments. Not only, the signatories affirmed, did Russia pose no threat to the West since the end of the Cold War; the authors insisted that "it did not pose one previously either." The "new and truly artificial line" to be drawn in Europe as a result of NATO expansion was, the signatories believed, particularly unjust, since the preceding line of the Iron Curtain "was fairly established on the basis of the results of World War II, in which the Soviet Union is well known to have played a decisive liberating role." (Sovetskaya Rossiya, 16 Oct 97; Johnson's Russia List #1304).
Russia to provide India with weapons technology, support bid for UN
The Russian ambassador to New Delhi also promised Moscow's support for India's bid to gain a seat on the Security Council of the United Nations. The pledge came as Russian Deputy Prime Minister Anatoli Kulikov was in India to discuss cooperation in fighting drug trafficking. (Deccan Herald (Internet version), 17 Oct 97; FBIS-NES-97-290)
Russia and China to finish drawing border before Yel'tsin visits Beijing
Work on establishing the border, ongoing since 1992, is complete but for agreement on two strips of land near Vladivostock. Although some regional leaders in Russia believe these areas have been transferred to China at the expense of Russian security, spokesmen in Moscow said the government would ignore such complaints.
Agreement of the border is a critical step in the improvement of Sino-Russian relations, and helps to secure the "strategic partnership" pronounced during the visit of Chinese president Jiang Zemin to Moscow in April. (Reuters, 21 Oct 97; Johnson's Russia List #1304)
Comment: Primakov's Mid-east maneuvers
One must admire Primakov's strategy. He tried to secure this roost for Moscow due to his government's ties to Iran, the backers of the Syrian-based Hezbollah, which has harrassed Israel from the north. By securing a friendship with Iran, then traveling to Syria, Primakov has positioned himself as patron of both the government that backs Hezbollah and the government that offers it a home.
This is not to say that Primkov is acting in the best interests of peace.
Re-opening the Syrian-Israeli track of negotiations wouldn't guarantee a
just settlement. It is, however, a means by which Russia can counter America's
attempts to build an alliance between Turkey and Israel, and thus can put
Russia right back at the heart of Middle East talks. The only good news
is that the Iranian-Syrian "track" is hardly compatible with Primakov's
ardent support of Iraq, Iran's and Syria's adversary.
by Chandler Rosenberger
DOMESTIC ISSUES & LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
Meshcherin received 43.9 percent of the vote. Colonel Nikolai Lyashenko, the former Budennovsk police chief, came in second. Lyashenko represented the Congress of Russian Communities. Turnout was less than 31 percent (Rossiyskaya gazeta, 16 Sep 97; FBIS-SOV-97-259).
Yel'tsin supports importance of local government
Yel'tsin's position is in keeping with his continuing courtship of the regions. By supporting the regional and local government at the possible expense of the center, Yel'tsin may be realizing that elections are won outside of the Beltway -- or rather Sadovoye Ring Road, (ITAR-TASS, 0954 GMT, 30 Sep 97; FBIS-SOV-97-273)
However, when asked about the ownership of his own media organization, Svanidze denied that his programming was influenced by the state, or more specifically Anatoli Chubais. Svanidze claimed that Chubais was simply too busy to concern himself with the operations of a TV and radio station (Argumenty i fakty No. 39, September 1997; FBIS-SOV-97-267)
by Michael Thurman
A significant and growing region for arms importing is East and Southeast Asia. Annual growth in defense expenditures of the ASEAN member countries is projected at a level of six percent, making the area ripe for arms sales. Russia has now made considerable sales in these countries, historically a US market, marked by the 1994 sale of 18 MiG-29s to Malaysia for a reported $600 million. On 17 October, a $34.4 million modernization contract for the MiGs was signed. The modernization effort will include mid-air refueling capability, increased payload, and arming with the newest Russian air-to-air missiles RVV-AE which has a range of 50 kilometers. This missile system gives multiple launching and reaim-during-flight capabilities. (ITAR-TASS, 0841 GMT, 17 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-290) This is the latest example of Russia's willingness to market leading quality products.
Other sales in this region include six Su-27s (worth $180 million) in 1995 to Vietnam with plans to buy another 24 aircraft for approximately $800 million, as well as 12 Su-30K fighters and eight Mi-17-1B helicopters to Indonesia this past August. Talks are underway with Burma for MiG-29s and Mi-35 helicopters. In addition, the MiG-29 is to partcipate in an upcoming Phillipine competition. (Delovoy mir, 22 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-301)
While Russia appears to be pursuing aggressively the arms export market, there have been some troubles. Ukraine has continued to stand as a direct competitor to Russia as witnessed by the $650 million contract with Pakistan for 320 T-80UD tanks. Progress on that contract was discussed on 22 October in Kiev with a Pakistani delegation. Though Ukraine has the manufacturing facilities, many components currently must be supplied by Russia. Ukraine is apparently seeking other sources to ensure implementation of the contract. (NTV, 0800 GMT, 21 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-295)
Influence by the US is being blamed for Thailand's withdrawal of tender for a Russian armored personnel carrier (APC). The Russian military attache in Thailand announced on 23 October that Thai military officials had yielded to US pressure to refuse a contract with Russia and substitute a US APC as a finalist in the competition. (ITAR-TASS, 1808 GMT, 23 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-296)
While arms exports appear to be on the increase for Russia overall, Russian Defense Minister Sergeev repeated his warning on 15 October that the reform of the Russian armed forces must included a "cardinal reorganization of the military-industrial complex." He says that there are too great of reserves in the defense industrial complex and that the 1998 budget can only fund 780,000 workers versus the 2.5 million currently employed. He stated that Russia cannot afford 37 aircraft-building enterprises, citing the six types of fighters currently being developed in Russia as compared to the US's two and Western Europe's one. While the privatization of Russia's defense industry continues, we can expect to see massive consolidation not unlike the mergers that have occurred in the past three years in the US defense industry. (Interfax, 0635 GMT, 15 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-288)
by LtCol Dwyer Dennis
Mir to be de-orbited in 1999
Pacific shipyard woes
The admiral's comments come as 500 workers at a submarine maintenance facility in Vladivostok appealed to Japanese Prime Minister Hashimoto for aid. In the letter to the prime minister, the workers stated the government arrears to the plant forced the layoff of 60 percent of the workforce and warned of a possible ecological disaster if the Russian government did not act. (Agence France-Presse, 30 Oct 97; clari.net)
Strategic forces modernization planned
In other strategic news, commanders of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces and the United States Strategic Command have agreed to an exchange program where personnel from one country will work with their counterparts for one week. Each "shadow" team will include a range of ranks. (Jamestown Foundation Monitor, 30 Oct 97)
NEWLY INDEPENDENT STATES
As in the past, some leaders came to the meeting pushing for increased economic and political integration. Some sought only to improve economic relations, and still others opposed any strengthening of the CIS structures. There were leaders who accused Russia of undermining the commonwealth by refusing to treat member states as equals. Others believed that the formation of unions, namely the Belarus-Russian Union and the Customs Union, hurt the organization because they provide a "multi-tracked" system of integration. By the time the conference ended, no leaders changed their fundamental position on the state of the commonwealth.
Some reports indicate that there was a good deal of heated discussion and name calling at the closed-doors sessions. Presidents Shevardnadze and Yel'tsin admitted as much in their post-summit news conference. Yel'tsin said Russia was "singled out" and received the majority of the criticism.
The one thing the leaders did agree on was the fact that the council was incapable of implementing the decisions it makes. To remedy this, President Yel'tsin suggested strengthening the secretariat and reorganizing the bureaucracy. Strangely enough, most of the "reforms" are actually components of the CIS charter. Yel'tsin called for rotating the leadership of key CIS councils (which to this point have always been held by Russians -- in direct opposition to the charter) and for formalizing the dates of the Heads of State summits as the last ten days of March and October.
During the meeting, President Yel'tsin decided not to address any of the prepared agenda items and instead pushed them all back to the prime ministers. According to Yel'tsin, the items were "not presidential issues." He went on to say that from now on, the heads of state would concentrate on solving "strategic issues" and said, "Documents which can be signed by premiers should be signed by premiers" (Infotag and ITAR-TASS, 23 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-296). He then decided to schedule an "emergency session" of the council on 23 January 1998, at which these delegated issues will be reconsidered.
This might reflect a new vision for how the organization is to work. Up until now, the bureaucracy worked very much like the Politburo -- only the top-most organ had the authority to make decisions. If Yel'tsin's decision takes hold, it may indicate that the concept of delegation might finally be taking root in Russia. On the other hand, this may be a move on Yel'tsin's part to divert some of the criticism for the failure of the CIS away from him personally.
The issue of Russian/CIS peacekeeping forces in Georgia was discussed
at the summit. During the run-up, Georgia indicated that it would ask for
the troops to be withdrawn (as it has done for the past two summits). At
the meeting, however, President Shevardnadze caved in and agreed to extend
the unit's mandate until 31 December (Interfax, 23 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-296).
This is an arbitrary date because, as we have seen in the past, only the
chairman of the Council of Heads of State can decide to pull out the forces.
Yel'tsin has been the chairman since the inception of the CIS and has said
he won't make such a decision without consulting the other leaders (at a
CIS summit). Since the next council will not meet until late February, the
status of the peacekeepers will once again become nebulous on 1 January
OSCE to Russia: Get out
He just doesn't get it
Smirnov then blew an opportunity to discuss the matter with the very people who could help him at a pre-summit meeting with the presidents of Ukraine, Russia, and Moldova. Smirnov simply failed to show up. This did not please President Yel'tsin, who commented, "Igor Smirnov is having a birthday today, and this event seems more important for him than our meeting here."
Carrots and sticks
by Mark Jones
The second assault was launched during the early morning of 26 October 1997, when armed detachments attacked the Gulkhos border post (manned by Tajik border troops and Presidential Guard forces), which is located in Tursunzoda District's Shirkent Gorge, 85 kilometers west of Dushanbe and close to the Uzbek-Tajik border. The attack began around 12:00 am, when the border post was assaulted from three sides with grenade launchers and machine guns, and continued for approximately four hours. Two border guards and nine Presidential Guard troops were killed during this raid (Interfax, 1443 GMT, 27 Oct 97; FBIS-UMA-97-300).
Tajik government authorities believe that members of Uzbekistan's military leadership provided Col. Khudoiberdiev with support for this attack, based on the testimony of Kasim Babaev, the southern Khatlon Region administration's former deputy chief, and one of Col. Khudoiberdiev's closest associates, who voluntarily turned himself in to Tajik government forces prior to the attack on the border post. Babaev stated that he did not believe that the aid provided to Col. Khudoiberdiev's forces was sanctioned by the Uzbek government, but that it was an independent initiative, carried out by individual military officers. He also testified that Col. Khudoiberdiev's two previous operations against the Tajik government (in January-February 1996 and in August 1997) had received backing from these Uzbek officers. Following Col. Khudoiberdiev's unsuccessful attack on government forces last August, he and a number of his field commanders and troops (including Babaev) fled to Uzbekistan and remained there until 20 October. Upon entering Uzbekistan (via the South Shartuz sector on the Tajik side of the border), they were stopped by officers of the Uzbek border guard, who informed the colonel that although they did not have official permission to do so, they would permit him and his men to enter the country for a short period of time (ITAR-TASS, 0910 GMT, 27 Oct 97; FBIS-UMA-97-300).
Led by Major-General Ghaffur Mirzoev, the Presidential Guard immediately launched an operation to locate and capture Col. Khudoiberdiev's forces. They spent two days searching the Shirkent Gorge and, according to Maj.-Gen. Mirzoev, managed to corner 200 of Col. Khudoiberdiev's men near the Uzbek border by 28 October (ITAR-TASS, 1455 GMT, 28 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-301). Maj.-Gen. Mirzoev also informed reporters that his troops had found the body of Tursunzade's ex-mayor and former Popular Front commander, Ibod Boimatov, on 28 October (Interfax, 1310 GMT, 28 Oct 97, FBIS-SOV-97-301). Ibod Boimatov was also an associate and ally of Col. Khudoiberdiev, and participated in the January-February 1996 anti-government operation, after which he is rumored to have fled to Afghanistan. The circumstances of his death are unclear.
As of 30 October, Tajik Presidential Guard commander Maj.-Gen. Mirzoev reported that most of Col. Khudoiberdiev's forces had been neutralized and that the situation in the Shirkent Gorge was under control. He also stated that about 30 of the anti-government militia's men had been killed and 15 had been taken prisoner (Interfax, 1429 GMT, 30 Oct 97, FBIS-SOV-97-303). Maj.-Gen. Mirzoev's units have been able to obtain valuable information about Col. Khudoiberdiev's operations from the prisoners, although this information will not be released until the Presidential Guard's mission has been successfully concluded (Interfax, 0443 GMT, 28 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-301). Maj.-Gen. Mirzoev was able to tell journalists on 30 October that the prisoners had corroborated Kasim Babaev's claim that part of Col. Khudoiberdiev's forces were based in Uzbekistan and that some armed groups had also been hiding in the mountains of northwestern Tajikistan for a few months (Interfax, 1429 GMT, 30 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-303).
The Uzbek government has denied any possibility of the existence of Tajik anti-government militia bases on its territory. Uzbek officials began meeting with representatives of the Tajik government on 28 October to discuss ways of dealing with the armed insurgency on the Uzbek-Tajik border (Interfax, 0711 GMT, 30 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-303). On 30 October, Moscow NTV reported that Uzbekistan's special services had offered their help in tracking down the remainder of Col. Khudoiberdiev's forces, and Tajik Security Minister Saidamir Zuhurov reported that a joint group of Tajik and Uzbek investigators had started work in Tashkent (NTV, 1100 GMT, 30 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-303).
Moscow NTV also reported that a new round of fighting had broken out between Tajikistan's Presidential Guard and Col. Khudoiberdiev's armed groups in the Shirkent Gorge and that, according to military reconnaissance information, the insurgents were holding a number of the residents from the nearby village of Gulkhos hostage. The precise number of hostages was not yet known at the time of the report (NTV, 1100 GMT, 30 Oct 97; FBIS-SOV-97-303).
In an interview with Nezavisimaya gazeta on 31 October, Col. Mahmud Khudoiberdiev reported that his forces had repelled the Tajik Presidential Guard's attack. He also stated that he was ready to continue fighting for another ten years, if necessary, in order to exert pressure on the Tajik government to stop persecuting his supporters, and to accept his own return to Tajikistan (RFE/RL Newsline, Vol 1, No. 150, 31 Oct 97).
President Rahmonov may have also believed that the National Revival Bloc was created at least partly as a front for Uzbek interests in Tajikistan. Leninobod Oblast' is populated by a large Uzbek minority, and historically the Leninobod political faction has had a close relationship with the Uzbek government. Thus, this leads one to wonder whether there are any connections between Col. Khudoiberdiev and the old Leninobod faction and whether he has any links to Abdumalik Abdullojonov and his National Revival Bloc.
The Uzbek military officers' motives for backing Col. Khudoiberdiev would seem to be fairly clear at this point. They undoubtedly hope to regain some influence in the Tajik government by providing the colonel with enough support to enable him to force President Rahmonov to grant him a voice in Tajikistan's affairs, including the inter-Tajik peace process. Although it is unlikely that the Uzbek government sanctioned any of the officers' activities vis-a-vis Khudoiberdiev, it is also difficult to believe that President Karimov is completely ignorant of their actions. Should Col. Khudoiberdiev eventually prove to be successful in his endeavors against the Tajik government, we may see Uzbekistan's role in Tajik affairs grow again. Even if the colonel's efforts fail in their ultimate goal, he may be able to push Tajikistan into such a state of anarchy, that the Uzbek government will have no trouble asserting its influence in Tajikistan.
by Monika Shepherd
... while Baltic, US officials hammer out charter agreement
Recommendations for treatment of non-citizens receive disparate responses
Van der Stoel's recommendations in Latvia did not encounter such a warm reception. The commissioner stressed the need to grant citizenship to children born in post-1991 Latvia, and the necessity to draft the state language law in accordance with international human rights organizations. Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis took umbrage at the recommendations, which he saw as targeting unfairly the Latvian state's autonomy. Such prodding from Europe, he said, "could create a feeling that we (Latvians) ourselves are not authorized to define a status of our native language." (DIENA, 30 Oct 97; LETA, Latvian National News Agency, 30 Oct 97) Controversy over the draft language law is not new; at least in part due to the voicing of concern by a number of European states' ambassadors the previous week, the Saeima's education, research and culture committee had voted to send the draft law to European institutions such as the Council of Europe and the OSCE for examination before further legislative steps were taken. (Baltic News Service Daily Report, 1600 ZULU, 22 Oct 97)
by Kate Martin