Volume II Number 4 (March 5, 1997)
Yel'tsin finally begins his second term
Debates over the health or incapacity of President Boris Yel'tsin have subsided
as leading officials and analysts attempt to forecast the policy initiatives
and personnel reorganization expected from Yel'tsin later this week. In
the days leading up to his much-anticipated speech before the Federal Assembly,
President Yel'tsin has at last addressed some of the critical problems facing
the Russian Government. The President's recovery and re-engagement with
governance highlight not only the possibility for effective action to confront
wage arrears and military reform, but also the stagnation endemic to a presidential
system in the absence of the executive.
In the case of military reform, mixed signals from Yel'tsin have caused
a marked escalation in the continuing struggle within the Defense Council
between DC Secretary Baturin and Defense Minister Rodionov. On February
17, President Yel'tsin met with Rodionov (apparently for the first time
in several months) and announced his support for the Defense Minister. Apparently
assured that he had won Yel'tsin's endorsement, Rodionov launched attacks
against the government for non-payment of funds, against 'new Russians'
for ruining the Armed Forces, and against Baturin for soft-peddling the
dire circumstances of the military.
Yel'tsin, in response to Rodionov's invective, told his Defense Minister
to "stop whining," and in a radio address on February 28 announced
military reform objectives which closely followed Baturin's proposals. As
speculation began over the possible dismissal of Rodionov, Yel'tsin met
with the commander of the Far East Military District, Colonel General Viktor
Chechevatov. While Chechevatov was thought to have been a candidate for
Defense Minister last summer, it seems unlikely that Yel'tsin is considering
him as a replacement for Rodionov at this junction. In the previous week,
Rodionov had made the condition of the Armed Forces in the Far East an issue
in his struggle with Baturin: Rodionov claimed Baturin returned from his
tour of the Far East and reported that all was well, but that the commander
had cabled that he needed help. (Radio Rossii, 23 Feb 97) Yel'tsin probably
called in Chechevatov to hear his analysis in person. It is interesting
to note that Chechevatov met first with Baturin before seeing the President.
Whether Rodionov will be dismissed or rather called upon to take up his
rival's reform proposals will have to wait for Yel'tsin's final word. In
the meantime, Yel'tsin has made quite clear that a personnel reorganization
is in store for the Government and possibly his Administration. In a televised
appearance with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Yel'tsin criticized
the Government for its inability to pay pensions and wages and to alleviate
social conditions. Citing public opinion polls, Yel'tsin noted "Many
Russians are not satisfied with the Government, its chairman, and consequently
the President." While Chernomyrdin pointed to problems at the regional
level in disbursement of federal funds, Yel'tsin called for changes to the
structure and personnel of the Government in Moscow.
Speculation over the possible variants of this 'cadre-letting' have run
the gamut from the dismissal of Chernomyrdin, the transfer of Chubais back
to the Government, or the re-appearance of Gaidar in the Prime Minister's
seat. It may prove more fruitful, however, to look to the First Deputy Prime
Ministers to consider the ramifications of this upcoming reshuffling. In
the long absence of the President, the First Deputies represented a careful
balancing of personal and institutional interests. Now, as the President
seems poised to re-assert his authority, the fate of the First Deputies
may shed light on the influences and officials closest to the President.
Alexei Bolshakov, the 'senior' First Deputy who deputizes for Chernomyrdin,
has oversight of the industrial sector and represents the interests of the
former 'Red directors.' His removal would be a rebuke to Chernomyrdin, especially
if the banking interests represented in the government are left in place.
Vladimir Potanin, former president of Oneximbank, oversees the economy as
First Deputy and represents the banking/financial sector. He is closely
linked with Presidential Chief of Staff Anatoli Chubais and was instrumental
in the Chubais-led prong of Yel'tsin's re-election campaign. His dismissal
has been often suggested, but if he remains in the Government it would provide
testimony to Chubais' continued influence. The third First Deputy is Viktor
Ilyushin, the former first assistant to President Yel'tsin. At the time
of his appointment, he was considered the (pre-Chubais) Kremlin's eyes in
the government. Other reports suggest however, that Ilyushin's government
post was his parachute out of the Presidential Administration. In any event,
Ilyushin was given oversight of social policy and therefore is a highly
likely target for 'restructuring.' Given his long service to the President,
however, it seems likely that yet another new position will be found for
by Susan J. Cavan
Primakov claims NATO-Russian relations will be legally binding
In talks in Moscow on NATO expansion, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright agreed that the treaty or document to be signed by Russia and NATO
must be binding for both sides, Foreign Minister Yevgeniy Primakov told
a February 21 news conference.
"From Russia's viewpoint the agreement or document which is supposed
to be signed with NATO must be binding," Primakov said. "As far
as I understand, the Secretary of State agreed with that."
Albright did not deny the statement of her Russian counterpart. She spoke
of very significant progress at her talks with Primakov but admitted there
remained quite complicated matters and said very much would have to be done
on them. (Interfax, 21 Feb 97)
The results seemed to confirm the wisdom of Primakov's decision to take
a hard line before the talks. "Russia has been and will be negative
about NATO enlargement, and negotiations we have with our partners do not
aim to find a compensation for a change in our stance," Primakov told
correspondents in Moscow on Tuesday, February 18. "The Russian stance
won't change." Russia would only be satisfied with a "binding
treaty" to be "obligatory for the sides," Primakov said.(ITAR-TASS,
18 Feb 97)
Albright, on the other hand, had prepared the ground for her Moscow visit
with a speech in Brussels in which she proposed the creation of a joint
Russian-NATO force and a "NATO-Russia" joint council on which
Russia would have a vote but not the right of veto. The secretary of state
also said the U.S. had persuaded its allies to accept a reduction in troops
on the territories of Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. (Komsomolskaya
Pravda, 20 Feb 97)
After the talks a Russian analyst listed the following further U.S. proposals.
"The United States is prepared to carry out a unilateral reduction
of NATO armed forces in Europe, so that the fact that the Czech Republic,
Poland, and Hungary are joining the alliance will not increase its military
potential;" the analyst wrote. "It is proposed to revise the 1990
Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces with due regard for Russia's new interests;
to set up a consultative council on questions of European security, which
Russia will join along with the 16 NATO states; and, finally, to form a
Russian-NATO brigade to conduct chiefly peacekeeping operations." (Rossiyskaya
Gazeta, 22 Feb 97)
EAST AND CENTRAL EUROPE
Polish interior minister claims Russia will sabotage NATO bid
Polish interior minister Zbigniew Siemiatkowski raised hackles in Warsaw
and Moscow on February 16 when he accused Russian intelligence agencies
of attempting to sabotage his nation's bid for NATO membership.
"Simultaneous attempts are being made to seize strategic sectors
of the Polish economy with the capital of the Russian secret services, as
exemplified by the recent Gavrilov affair and the establishment of strong
links between the Polish and Russian economies which could provide an alternative
to Poland's joining the EU," Siemiatkowski said in an interview with
the Polish daily Rzeczpospolita.
Influential individuals from the West -- publishers, editors, congressmen,
senators, European Parliament deputies -- had been invited to visit Russia
in order to influence their opinions, Siemiatkowski said.
"This bears the trademark of the coordinated activities of the Russian
secret services," Siemiatkowski says. "Huge provocations staged
by them may be expected in the nearest future." (Rzeczpospolita, 15-16
The Russian Foreign Ministry quickly issued a statement condemning Siemiatkowski's
comments. "The conjectures, unsupported by any evidence, show that
someone in Poland is interested in launching an anti Russian campaign and
a spy hunt. . . Our negative position on NATO expansion is known very well.
This, however, does not mean that we are conducting any activities running
counter to international standards and the spirit of our relations with
Poland," the statement read. (Rzeczpospolita, 19 Feb 97)
Baltic representatives tangle with Moscow
Alfreds Cepanis, Chairman of the Saeima and leader of a Latvian delegation
to Russia, said on his return that Russian politicians condemned discrimination
against Russian speakers in our country and the poor efforts at naturalization.
(Radio Riga Network, 19 Feb 97)
The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in turn denounced attempts to
delay the concluding of an Estonian-Russian border agreement and to link
it to other unrelated issues, such as Tallinn's desire to join NATO. (Radio
Tallinn Network, 19 Feb 97)
SOUTHWEST AND SOUTH ASIA
Russia asserts itself in Middle East, Asia
While Western diplomats and journalists were preoccupied with Albright's
visit to Moscow, Russian parliamentarians and foreign ministry officials
were assiduously wooing Middle Eastern and Central Asian nations.
Three days before meeting Albright, Russia's foreign minister and president
hosted Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat. Arafat said that President Boris
Yel'tsin had "touched his innermost feelings," and that "the
meeting even went beyond the bounds of protocol." (ITAR-TASS World
Service, 18 Feb 97)
Foreign Minister Yevgeniy Primakov said Arafat had assured him that the
Palestinian side wanted Russia to be more involved in the Mideast peace
process and that he hoped that "in a number of years Russia will have
more opportunities to develop economic cooperation with what will already
be the Palestinian state."
"Our policy for the settlement in the Middle East and stronger friendship
with the Arab world is not only traditional but also strategic," Primakov
said. (Interfax, 19 Feb 97)
Even as Albright was in town to discuss the expansion of NATO, a conference
of Kurds and sympathizers was meeting to denounce NATO-member Turkey. Delegates
(including Representatives from the Russian Foreign and Internal Affairs
Ministries, Liberal Democratic Party, Communist Party, KGB, and the Armenian
Dashnak Party) pledged to struggle against pan-Turkism and to pressure Istanbul
to reach a peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue. It was also decided at
the conference to launch work to set up a Kurdish radio. (MED TV Television,
22 Feb 97)
There were no reports of concern expressed for Kurds in Iran and Iraq.
The two nations, however, were hardly being ignored.
On February 24 Sergey Belyayev, the head of the nominally-centrist 'Russia
Our Homeland' party in the Duma, met with Iranian Foreign Minister 'Ali
Akbar Velayati. Belyayev said the Caspian belonged to the five littoral
nations (Iran, the Russian Federation, Azerbaijan, Kazakstan, and Turkmenistan)
and called for a legal regime which would encompass and define political,
economic and legal aspects of the world' largest inland sea. (IRNA, 24 Feb
97) Iranian Deputy Oil Minister for International Affairs Mohammad Hadi
NejadHoseynian had announced the previous week that foreign companies could
participate in Iran's gas transfer and export projects. (IRNA, 17 Feb 97)
A high-ranking official from the General Staff of the Armed Forces of
the Russian Federation had even hinted at a possible military or military-political
union with Iran and other nations, but Primakov said he has "not heard
such proposals from our military." (ITAR-TASS World Service, 20 Feb
On February 25 Dimitri Yudin, first deputy chairman of the International
Organizations Department at the Russian Foreign Ministry, received a warm
welcome in Baghdad from Iraq's acting minister of foreign affairs, Hamid
Yusuf Hammadi. The Iraqi diplomat stressed the importance of cooperation
with Russia in efforts to have sanctions against Baghdad lifted. (INA, 25
Pointing to the clash between Afghanistan's government and the Taliban insurgency,
Primakov and Kazakh Foreign Minister Qasymzhomart Toqayev called for a greater
collective effort by Russia and the Central Asian CIS states to limit the
effect of the conflict. The foreign ministries of both Russia and Kazakstan
called for joint activities by the two countries intended to implement the
UN action to end the violence. (ITAR-TASS World Service, 19 Feb 97)
Bait and Switch?
The U.S.-Russian talks on the expansion of NATO revealed how effectively
Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeniy Primakov plays on American guilt. U.S.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has offered gestures of cooperation,
such as a joint NATO-Russian task force, in the hope that Moscow would not
turn away from the West in frustration. The State Department seems unaware
that Primakov has already charted a non-Western course for Russian foreign
affairs and that such mea culpas merely make his indignation more credible.
Interviewed by NTV television on the eve of talks with his American counterpart,
Primakov said that Russia's size and strategic interests precluded close
cooperation with a strong Western alliance. He denied being anti-Western
but said he could not "concentrate just on relations with the West
and believe that at all costs these relations should not assume the form
of a strategic alliance." In particular, Primakov said, it would not
suit Russia to join a military alliance with the West, since "any alliance
presupposes the possibility of fighting against someone, victories, national
interests, and so on. Why should Russia join NATO? To fight China or Iran?
It is not in our interests." (NTV, 16 Feb 97)
Given such a frank admission of Russia's new 'Eurasian' tilt, the State
Department ought to feel free to cement bonds with the democratic states
of Central Europe and to criticize Russia's deepening ties to dictatorships
in Dushanbe, Tehran, Baghdad, and Beijing. It will not help Primakov critics
(such as the outspoken Duma deputy Konstantin Borovoi) to agree that the
West's support of democracy is a terrible threat to Russia. Albright has
shown signs of resolve. One would wish that her coworkers in Washington
and her critics in the American press would stop offering condolences on
the death of postwar cooperation to a Russia that no longer grieves.
POLITICAL PARTIES AND THE FEDERAL ASSEMBLY
Viktor Anpilov sets up new communist party
As he has been expelled from the Russian Communist Workers Party (RKRP),
Anpilov established yet another party of the left. Within only two months
the name of his group has been changed three times: from the RKRP(b) ('b'
stands for Bolshevik) to the Communist Party of the Home Country of Soviets
(KPRS) and finally to Communists--Working Russia. During a television show
just before the New Year, Anpilov managed to squeeze 1.2 million rubles
out of none other than Zhirinovskiy himself. Viktor Ivanovich solemnly promised
to television viewers to spend the money he had raised to achieve the dream
of his life: people's television. The further splintering of the "workers'
movement" is in keeping with the present political tendency toward
party de-alignment, or disintegration. Whether the parties will re-coalesce
for future electoral purposes is unclear. (Moskovskiy Komsomolets, 11 Jan
Maj. General Nikolay Stolyarov claims return to Cold War possible
As the deputy chairman of the Russian Duma's Committee for International
Affairs, his statements warrant attention. Stolyarov threatens that NATO's
expansion plans may lead to the curtailment of Russian programs for reducing
the stockpiles of nuclear, chemical and other weapons, which in turn will
increase ideological confrontation between East and West. And in an inventive
interpretation of NATO's mandate, Stolyarov asserts that economic interests
in fact stand behind NATO's military plans. The West's movement to the East
should therefore be viewed as an attempt to broaden the spheres of its influence.
Going one better, Georgiy Tikhonov, the leader of the Duma committee on
CIS Affairs, argued that Russia, "...must conclude a strong military
treaty, a proper one, with China. Then [NATO] will pause to consider whether
it is worth advancing its borders or not." (Interfax, 13 Jan 97).
Political intrigue surrounding Yel'tsin's illness
Not surprisingly, opposition members of the Federal Assembly have been attempting
to remove Yel'tsin from office. Success is doubtful. The presidential envoy
in the Duma, Aleksandr Kotenkov, described as legally meaningless a suggestion
by Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin to include a draft resolution
on the early termination of powers of the President. The idea was forwarded
to the Duma Legal Committee which rejected the resolution by claiming that
Part 2 of Article 92 of the Russian Constitution which covers the impeachment
of the president needs to be clarified. The constitution only provides for
the grounds on which the president may be impeached. It does not specify
how impeachment and removal is to be conducted. Legislation should be drafted
which stipulates who will appoint the medical commission, on which parameters
the president may be recognized as incompetent, etc. While frivolous attempts
at removing the President are not promising, the legal or constitutional
construction of the debate is. (Interfax, 15 Jan 97).
Start of "northern" route oil pipeline operations postponed
The Azerbaijan International Operating Company (AIOC) has again postponed
the start of operations of its Northern route (Baku-Makhachkala-Grozny-Nevinnomyssk-Novorossiysk)
from February 1 to April 1. Though the Chechen government has guaranteed
the safety of the pipeline, the magnitude of the tariff is currently under
discussion. The Russian agreement with the AIOC calls for a $15.70 per ton
tariff, whereas the Chechen side, represented by the Southern Oil Company
(YUNKO), requests $20.00 per ton. (Rossiyskaya Gazeta, 8 Feb 97)
Russia and Chechnya resumed talks on the pipelines which had been postponed
due to the elections in Chechnya. The November 23 interim agreement had
called for the sides to finalize an agreement on the transportation, processing
and production of oil by December 1.[See Editorial Digest, Volume I, Number
3 (December 4, 1996)]
New government to be formed
Yanderbiyev's government, though it has formally resigned, continues to
work until new members are appointed by Maskhadov. Thus far little has been
announced about the composition of the new government. The president will
act as Prime Minister and as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.(TASS,
14 Feb 97) Movladi Udugov has been appointed Deputy Prime Minister and charged
with managing relations with Russia. His party the Islamic Order Union,
won six seats to the republic's parliament. (TASS, 20 Feb 97)
Second round of parliamentary elections fails to fill all the seats
Only five candidates were elected to the Parliament in the first round of
the parliamentary elections held on January 27. The second round was held
on February 15 to fill the remaining seats. According to the Chechen Central
Electoral Commission, a district must have 50% turnout for the elections
to be deemed valid. If this rule is applied only 32 deputies will have been
added as a result of the second round, and 31 districts will have to have
a third round. Russian electoral observers, individual candidates, and the
National Independence Party have appealed the law, arguing that at this
rate the process of electing a legislature will take too long, lead to voter
fatigue, and ultimately fail to create a strong legislature. (TASS, 18 Feb
The Russians continue to pressure Ukraine to stay out of the international
arms sales business (i.e., as a competitor to Russia). The Ukrainian sale
of T-80 tanks to Pakistan is a much-publicized case in point. Even so, the
two nations have signed an accord allowing Russian use of cold-war era early
warning radars in Ukraine.
U.S. Secretary of State Albright offered a joint NATO/Russian brigade as
part of a package aimed at easing Russian apprehensions about NATO expansion.
Also offered were adjustments to CFE troop levels, which many say the Russians
are disregarding already.
Russian Military Woes
Personnel issues focus on manpower, training, and morale.Yel'tsin has ordered
a 200,000-man reduction in armed forces manpower by the end of the year.
In the meantime, many in the military have noted training and supervisory
confusion: Ground Forces chief General Semenov continues to work even though
Defense Minister Rodionov fired him. Yel'tsin countermanded the order and
Semenov's status remains in limbo; Rodionov's star may be waning on part
due to his public statement expressing serious doubts about the effectiveness
of the controls over the Russian nuclear arsenal. He has also indicated
that he may ground MIG-31 flights because the pilots are not getting enough
flight time to safely operate the aircraft.
Amid these reports comes information that desertions and suicides are
up in the Russian Armed Forces, 25 percent and 35 percent respectively.
In other news, the Russian Federation reportedly has begun arming Cossacks
in the regions bordering the north Caucasus republics. The leadership of
these republics see this development as threatening.
Numerous stories have surfaced of the U.S. sale of high speed computers
(sales of questionable legality) for use in the Russian nuclear weapon testing
Russia is reported to be moving ahead with a plan to build a facility to
dispose of her large stockpiles (40,000 metric tons) of chemical weapons.
Prior to the Mirzayanov case Russia had claimed she was already destroying
the stocks. Mirzayanov disputed that claim in a fairly convincing manner,
and was imprisoned for a time as a result.
Deserters from former Soviet military units (about 600 still in Germany)
have requested and have been granted (over Russian objections) what amounts
to asylum. Many have cooperated with western intelligence services and fear
repercussions should they return to Russia or the former Soviet republics.
Rumors persist Rodionov may be sacked as defense minister. One Colonel General
Vicktor Chechevatov, commander of the far east military district, was recently
summoned to Moscow for consultations with Yel'tsin -- fueling speculation
he may be in line for the top defense job.
by CDR John G. Steele
Key articles on the status of the armed forces recently have focused on
underpaid and underfed troops as well as potential cuts of personnel.Yet
this bleak picture is hardly surprising and there is not much hope being
offered. The armed forces are disintegrating without pay, clothing and food.
The situation continues to worsen. It appears that one solution being implemented
is to reduce or drawdown the number of troops. "Either the country
will get down to the problems of its army by reforming or modernizing it
-- or else, possibly, it will make an important political move by reducing
it unilaterally (because it cannot afford to feed it anyway)," according
to at least one observer, Viktor Loshak (Moskovskiye Novosti, 9-16 Feb 97).
There is no indication that as this is accomplished these troops are paid
the arrears. If not, they add to the instability of the situation. There
is little doubt why crime is on the rise in Russia. " ...The disintegration
of the army into armed groups, which will earn their living by trading in
weapons and by robbery, is quite a realistic probability."
In contrast, funding apparently is available for some military expenditures,
such as training of carrier-based pilots, testing of combat planes and nuclear
cruisers, and the introduction of missile-firing hovercraft to the Black
It appears that there have been some decisions made regarding spending
with the future in mind. The Navy is getting the emphasis. Their carrier
pilots will be able to continue training. The SU-32, a 21st century aircraft,
though thought an excellent export aircraft, will not be sold until Russian
Forces have a like capability. It too is best-suited for maritime operations.
The hovercraft, a new design, is the fastest ship in the arsenal and is
considered a ship for the future. The nuclear cruiser once repaired will
be underway again. Most noteworthy is the contrast between the obvious willingness
to spend money on these items while the Army starves.
Cossacks satisfied with new military status
The designation of the Baykal, Siberian, and Terek Cossack units has been
changed from that of public organizations to that of state servant. From
the 1980s the relationship with the Cossacks took on a formal stance, with
Russia accepting them as "paramilitary forces." Today they are
now part of the military. What is the impetus behind this? It seems to be
the same old story -- Russian imperialism -- with these military mercenaries
to be used for new pogroms against ethnic minorities seeking self-determination.
Russia reserves right of nuclear weapons first use
Russian Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin has now stated clearly that
Russia reseves the right to follow every military road: "Everyone should
know that if there is a direct challenge, our response will follow a full
program, so to say, and it is for us to choose the elements of this program,
including nuclear weapons...Only in that way can we use the materialized
defense-building effort of many generations of Russians for their reliable
protection." Morever, he blithely evades keeping earlier Russian promises.
"We have got down to a serious analysis of the treaties signed by the
country and frankly speaking some political declarations of the past arouse
great doubts...Our people developed a defense system, a nuclear shield,
an instrument of deterrence denying themselves the most vital things for
decades. And suddenly without warning or consulting anyone it was declared
that we will not be the first ones to use these weapons." The
question remains what would be a direct challenge and from where would it
come? His comments do not seem to count nuclear use as a weapon of mass
destruction but rather as a survivable military tool. His understanding
of deterrence and first use seems a little confused-- they are not synonymous
as he seems to imply.
by LtCol Cathy Dreher
Official denies Shevardnadze supports alternative to CIS
Georgian Presidential Press Secretary Vakhtang Abashidze rejected a report
by the RIA news agency alleging that, during his visit to Ukraine, Georgian
President Eduard Shevardnadze supported the creation of a new union to replace
the CIS. Abashidze said the criticism voiced against the CIS does not indicate
an attempt to create an alternative Commonwealth. (SAKINFORM, 17 Feb 97)
Peacekeeping commander confirms hostages released
General Zavarzin, commander of the CIS peacekeeping forces in Tajikistan,
confirmed the Tajik president's claim that all hostages in Tajikistan had
been released. Tajik President Emomali Rakmonov said that he and the hostages
would be leaving for Dushanbe shortly. (ITAR-TASS World Service, 17 Feb
Islamic extremism seen sweeping CIS
According to Sovetskaya Rossiya (15 Feb 97), "The tragic business of
the rescue of the hostages seized by one of the guerrilla detachments in
Tajikistan has once again highlighted the threat of Islamic fundamentalism
that is moving ever closer to Russia's borders." Sovetskaya Rossiya
also pointed to the "newly elected Chechen president's assumption of
office, the resumption of the Taleban advance toward the north of Afghanistan,
the Muslim League's accession to power in Pakistan, and the unrest among
the local principally Muslim population in the XinjiangUygur autonomous
region of China" as further evidence of the spread of Islamic extremism.
In an attempt to link America with the Islamic threat, the paper claimed
that "U.S. representatives' contacts with the Taleban, which have become
more frequent of late, have set warning bells ringing. According to agency
reports, CIA staffers have for this purpose paid several visits to Islamabad
while a Taleban delegation visited Washington at the beginning of February."
Solana tour 'Blatant Invitation' to CIS states to join NATO
Moscow's Rossiyskiye Vesti reported on 14 February that NATO General Secretary
Javier Solana completed his tour of the CIS's southern flank. The paper
went on to say "the visitors from Brussels conceal[ed] the undeclared,
behind the scenes aims of their meetings [which were] a blatant invitation
to the CIS countries to join the alliance and an attempt to prevent the
creation of a defense union which would counter the potential threat to
the Commonwealth from the West. And this threat is entirely tangible."
The paper also reported that General John Sheehan, commander in chief
of the NATO Joint Armed Forces, intended to fly to Bishkek to take part
in a conference with the defense ministers of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and
Kazakhstan. The purpose of the conference was to confirm a plan for conducting
the first peacekeeping exercises in the Central Asian region under the "Partnership
for Peace" program in September 1997 in either Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan.
Yel'tsin congratulates CIS defense ministers on anniversary
Russian President Boris Yel'tsin congratulated the CIS Council of Defense
Ministers on the fifth anniversary of its foundation. His message notes
that throughout the period the Council found "optimal ways of solving
integration problems in the military sphere to ensure the security of the
Commonwealth's membercountries." (Mayak Radio Network, 14 Feb 97)
Defense ministers meet to bolster common defense
At a meeting with his Uzbek counterpart, Rustam Akhmedov, Russian Defense
Minister Igor Rodionov said: "One can take many things in the country
calmly but not security because one day this may lead to a catastrophe."
The two ministers are expected to discuss "bilateral military and militarytechnical
cooperation and pressing CIS problems in defense." (Interfax, 18 Feb
Isingarin on results of CIS meeting
The Kazakh chairman of the CIS Integration Committee, Nigmatzhan Isingarin,
while discussing the results of the CIS Heads of Government meeting on January
17 1997, indicated he was still strongly in favor of continuing economic
integration. Isingarin stated his country traditionally favors integration,
noting that Kazakhstan is a member of the Eurasian Union and the Customs
Union. He went on to say that the CIS countries, especially Russia, remained
the republic's main trading partners.
The Chairman did note, however, that his committee did not have "a
clearcut program of action" for integration. When asked what projects
the Integration Committee was working on, he discussed the formation of
a transport union and the drafting of a plan for "The Establishment
of Common Conditions of the Supply of Products for New Technology."
Additionally, Isingarin claimed work was initiated on bilateral agreements
dealing specifically with eliminating dual taxation, preventing evasion
of taxes on income and capital, and concerning the convertibility and stabilization
of the rates of exchange of the national currencies. (Delovoy Mir, 23 Jan
Belarusian Minister for CIS affairs urges bi-lateral integration
Ivan Bambiza, Belarusian minister for CIS affairs, discussed the creation
of the Community of Belarus and Russia and the effect it might have on CIS
integration. Vo Slavu Rodiny (11 Feb 97) reports the minister said, "I
am assured [integration] will be a beneficial influence. The point is that
the 12 CIS states have now come to the moment when it is necessary to rise
above the accomplished things and make a subsequent step toward closer cooperation
in the economic and humanitarian spheres (...) For this purpose, the fundamental
principles of joint activity within the framework of the Community of Belarus
and Russia have to be extended to the CIS."
When asked what he envisioned as the Community's final goal, he replied,
"I think that at the current stage we can strive toward a Community
of states resembling a confederation," but continued, "It is also
important that our integration does not imply a loss of sovereignty or a
mechanical merger of the two independent states; it is an equal union of
their interests and efforts." He did not rule out, however, the formation
of "a system of supranational management bodies in the Community,"
separate from the CIS, to oversee the functions of the organization.
Kazakh foreign minister to visit Ukraine
In preparation for his upcoming visit to Ukraine, Kazakh Foreign Minister
Qasymzhomart Toqayev stressed that Kazakhstan regards Ukraine as a "very
important European nation, whose prestige is steadily growing in the international
arena," but also noted that Almaty and Kiev sometimes hold "different
stands on integration within the CIS framework." Nevertheless, politicians
of both states believe that "bilateral relations are of special value,"
the minister said.
During his visit, the Kazakh Foreign Minister will attempt to strengthen
bilateral relations with Kiev. Also on his agenda is a meeting with President
Leonid Kuchma. Mr. Toqayev pointed out that Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev
visited Kiev and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma visited Almaty last year,
and added "We are trying to develop a permanent dialogue at the top
political level." (Interfax, 13 Feb 97)
by Mark W. Jones
Over 100 people arrested on Belarus to Europe march
On February 14, the Belarus to Europe march was organized by the youth organization
of the Belarusian Popular Front. About 2,500 people marched on the sidewalks
without breaking the public peace. Nevertheless, over 100 people were detained
by the militia and "unidentified persons in civilian clothes."
(Belapan, 17 Feb 97)
The Belarusian Helsinki Committee (BHC) stated that the Minsk City's
decision to reduce the march of 3,000 people to three groups of 15 persons
each was illegal (Belapan, 20 Feb 97).
President Lukashenka wants parliament to approve Linh as premier
Deputy Prime Minister Linh was named as acting prime minister after Mikhail
Chyhir was dismissed in November 1996. Lukashenka's appointment of Linh
will be passed by a simple majority vote in the House of Representatives,
the national parliament's lower chamber (Interfax, 14 Feb 97).
On February 19, 97 members voted for and 8 against Linh's appointment
as prime minister (Belapan, 19 Feb 97).
Crime rate rose 6% in January 1997 compared to last year
Ministry of Statistic and Analysis stated 9,100 crimes were committed in
Belarus in January 1996, a six percent increase compared to January 1996.
About 59% of the crimes reported in January were not investigated.
Russian and Moldovan presidents meet
The presidents of Russia and Moldova met on February 25 and discussed the
Dniester Republic. The Russian president said, "Of course, we also
have to agree [on] a position on the contingent of Russian forces, as the
Moldovan Constitution does not permit the presence of foreign troops in
the country" (Interfax, 25 Feb 97). Two days before the meeting, the
Russian Defense Council visited the Dniester region and said, "...the
President has decided to reduce the manpower of the Armed Forces by 200,000
men during 1997." Although Russia and the Dniester Moldovan Republic
agreed that a memorandum should be signed as soon as possible for the settlement
of the conflict, the final draft of the agreement has yet to be made. (Mayak
Radio Network, 23 Feb 97).
Secret services arrest groups of illegal weapon traders
After the recent arrest of weapon traders, the secret service stated that
there are "122 criminal groups operating in Moldova, who have more
than 1,000 people." President Lucinschi issued an order instructing
the cabinet to submit to the parliament a program to combat crime before
March 1 (ITAR-TASS, 13 Feb 97).
Ukrainian-Georgian accords signed
On February 14, Georgian President Shevardnadze and Ukrainian President
Kuchma signed a declaration for broader partnership and 15 other agreements
on trade, economic, and legal issues. They also discussed prospects for
Ukraine's participation in the construction of an oil pipeline going from
the Azerbaijani capital of Baku to the Georgian port of Poti (Interfax,
14 Feb 97).
Pakistan will receive 320 Ukrainian tanks
Ukraine signed a contract with Pakistan in 1996 for the delivery of 320
T-80UD tanks for some $2 million each. The first 15 tanks are planned to
be shipped off February 19, and are expected to arrive in Pakistan on March
23 (Interfax, 18 Feb 97).
Russian Minister of Foreign Economic Relations Davydov objected to the
delivery of the tanks to Pakistan and said that Ukraine signed the contract
"without consulting Russia, and the implementation of the contract
runs counter to the state interests of our country." Russia objects
to the strengthening of Pakistan's military, because it conflicts with the
interests of Russia's strategic partner, India (ITAR-TASS, 19 Feb 97).
FBI will help Ukraine to set up NBI
Ukraine will set up its own National Bureau of Investigations (NBI) with
the aid of the FBI. Within few months, the FBI will open an office in Ukraine
to help build Ukraine's new law enforcement system. The NBI is expected
to have a staff of 970 people, and will include for the first time a special
sector for the protection of the witnesses and defendants in court hearings
(ITAR-TASS, 21 Feb 97).
Solana visits the Caucasus
In contrast to his visits to Georgia and Azerbaijan, NATO Secretary-General
Javier Solana received a tepid reception in Armenia. The Armenian Foreign
Minister, Aleksandr Arzumanian, informed him that Armenia and Russia are
strategic partners and that the Russian leadership has legitimate apprehensions
on the issue of NATO enlargement. (TASS, 12 Feb, 97) In contrast the Azeri
and Georgian leadership repeatedly stressed their European identity, OSCE
and PfP membership, professed their desire to further cooperation, and confirmed
that NATO enlargement poses no threat to their interests.
President takes over Prime Minister's duties due to PM's illness
A little over a months after he was appointed Prime Minister, Armen Sarkisyan
is reportedly sick and President Ter-Petrosyan has taken over his duties.
(TASS, 18 Feb 97) Prior to his appointment Sarkisyan served as ambassador
to Great Britain. Soon after taking office, he traveled to Moscow to sign
a contract by which Russia would supply Armenia with natural gas in exchange
for transporting Russian gas through Armenia to Turkey. (Komsomolskaya Pravda,
11 Feb 97)
AIOC goes ahead with western pipeline route
Until the problems with the Northern route are resolved, Azerbaijan will
send its oil by rail to the Georgian port Supsa. A working group of Georgian
and Azeri experts are charged with developing the details of the project.
(Interfax, 18 Feb 97) On February 28, the AIOC announced its intention to
begin immediate construction of a pipeline from Baku to Supsa. It is estimated
that construction will be completed by December 1998 and that the pipeline
will carry 115,000 barrels a day of oil. (OMRI Daily Digest, 3 Mar 97)
However the Georgian route may also prove problematic. The port Supsa
is located in Ajaria, an autonomous formation in Georgia that hosts a Russian
naval and border bases -- which gives Russia effective control of the port.
Moreover, Ajaria has exhibited some signs of seeking greater autonomy including
the status of a Free Economic Zone, which if implemented may reduce Georgia's
profit from the transit fees.
The quickened pace in promoting the western route comes as a result of
oil and gas agreements and a declaration signed by President Aliev and President
Shevardnadze by which Azerbaijan and Georgia became "Strategic Partners."
This phrase, which they borrowed from Primakov's rhetoric, emphasizes an
important element of the agreement: it strengthens bilateral relationships
among CIS members without using CIS mechanisms. Such extra-CIS ties are
promising in that they may buttress the parties in their dealings with Moscow.
Ukraine, which also seeks to attract pipelines, may be another candidate
for the partnership.
Georgia still storing enriched uranium
Though Georgia's nuclear reactor was shut down in 1995, the nuclear center
still houses 4 kilograms (sic) of 90 percent enriched Uranium-235. The center
has been attacked twice by armed persons who shot at the locks. (NTV, 20
Jan 97) Though the International Atomic Energy Center has installed a security
system, the danger of the materials falling into the wrong hands remains.
The Georgian government was ready to pass the Uranium along with the nuclear
waste to Russia or the United States. The U.S. felt that this was Russia's
responsibility; Russia which had agreed to take the substances for "recycling"
in 1996, has thus far failed to do so.
Russian patriots menace South Ossetian settlement
Two days after a commission which monitors the progress towards the settlement
of the South Ossetian conflict announced some very positive outcomes, a
coalition of Russian Communists and Nationalists circulated a statement
expressing support for the people of the "Republic of South Ossetia"
and stating that the only positive outcome of upcoming quadripartite talks
is the affirmation of South Ossetian statehood. The North Ossetian Regional
Committee of the Russian Federation's People's Patriotic Alliance includes
the North Ossetian Republican Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian
Federation, the Council of War Veterans, the Derzhava sociopolitical movement,
and the Regional Department of the Women of Russia Movement. (Radio Tbilisi
Network, 20 Feb 97)
That bit of bile from the patriots comes on the heals of a decision to
cut the number of peacekeeping checkpoints and personnel in South Ossetia.
The number of checkpoint will be brought down from 30 to 16 and will be
distributed as follows: five Georgian, five Ossetian, and six Russian. Since
at this stage the peacekeepers are mainly performing police functions, these
duties will be gradually transferred to the local authorities. The mixed
commission also adopted a document on the rules for the return of refugees
and established a permanent body of Georgian and Ossetian representatives
to coordinate the process. (Iprinda, 18 Feb 97)