Volume II Number 5 (March 26, 1997)
Yumashev takes over as Chief of Staff
President Yel'tsin named Valentin Yumashev to the post of Chief of Staff,
replacing Anatoli Chubais who returns to the Government as First Vice Premier.
Yumashev, a writer who formerly worked for Ogonek, has worked with Yel'tsin
on his two memoirs. Most recently, Yumashev was a presidential adviser and
active in the re-election campaign staff led by Chubais. Departing with
Chubais is Alexei Kudrin, who was a deputy Chief of Staff and head of the
Control Department. (See Government section for more on the Kudrin appointment.)
Vladimir Putin, a deputy in the presidential Economic Management office
of Pavel Borodin, has been named to replace Kudrin.
Yumashev steps into a very powerful position within the apparat, which
was restructured last summer by Chubais. Chubais folded the post of First
Adviser into the Chief of Staff's portfolio after the departure of Viktor
Ilyushin. As Chief of Staff, Chubais combined his access to the president
with administrative ability to exercise wide-ranging authority. While Yumashev
may already enjoy access to the president, it is unlikely that he will be
able to wield power within the Kremlin in the manner of Chubais. No further
major personnel changes are anticipated, however the interaction of the
new Chief with his deputies may prompt a reshuffle. It should also be noted
that Yel'tsin has, until now, spent very little time working with his new
administration, and his return to the Kremlin could also spark changes to
New team reflects Chubais' continued ascendency albeit with clipped wings
While most of the elements of the new Government have been announced, the
length of time in completing the picture suggests some serious negotiating
for position. The initial round of reshuffling saw the removal of the First
Vice Premiers Bolshakov, Ilyushin and Potanin. Of the Vice Premiers, only
Valeri Serov and Anatoli Kulikov kept their posts; Davydov, Zaveryukha,
Ignatenko, Livshits and Lobov were all dismissed. Ignatenko will stay on
as ITAR-TASS General Director however. The Construction Minister Basin and
Minister of Industry Bespalov were also removed, and their ministries dissolved.
Zinovy Pak (Defense Industry) and Yevgeni Yasin (Economics) were likewise
dismissed, although Yasin has been brought back as "minister without
portfolio" after lobbying by the young reformers.
Chubais, as expected, became First Vice Premier tasked with economic
management, but the addition of a second Vice Premier seems to moderate
Chubais' control. The choice of Boris Nemtsov as First Vice Premier in charge
of social affairs, housing and monopolies is interesting. His views are
seemingly sympathetic enough to make an alliance with Chubais natural, but
his ties to Yabloko and his own independent power base suggest a rivalry.
Nemtsov claims to have been cajoled into considering the government post
by a close relative of the President, which may suggest that Tatiana Dyachenko
is indeed still actively involved in state decisions. (Komsomolskaya pravda,
19 Mar 97) Tatiana's involvement, coupled with Nemtsov's past criticisms
of Chernomyrdin, make an alliance with Chubais more likely than one with
Chernomyrdin, but time and circumstances may alter the equation.
The new Vice Premiers: Yakov Urinson; Alfred Kokh; Oleg Syusev; and Vladimir
Bulgak suggest a strengthening of Chubais' position in economic matters,
but may also reflect the lack of success in negotiations with Yabloko members.
Nemtsov is said to be currently engaged with further talks to bring some
members of Yavlinsky's circle into the government. On March 26, Chubais
ally Alexei Kudrin was brought into the government from the presidential
apparat. Kudrin is part of the St. Petersburg 'tail' that followed Chubais
to Moscow following Anatoli Sobchak's defeat in the May 1996 gubernatorial
elections. He is the deputy Finance Minister charged with revenue collection.
Chernomyrdin has stated that the government composition is 'virtually
complete' but there are still several important posts to be filled. Chubais
personally holds the post of Finance Minister, which is likely a temporary
appointment. Also, the post of Minister of Foreign Economic Relations is
still vacant as well as key anti-monopoly assignments. Thus far, the composition
of the new government team indicates a significant weakening of Chernomyrdin's
authority. The delays in finalizing the team may suggest back room bargaining
to mitigate this effect.
by Susan J. Cavan
A Fresh START?
A meeting between the presidents of Russia and the United States that was
to be dominated by a clash over NATO expansion instead produced a revision
of the arms-control agreement known as START II and a proposal for a new
agreement to be called START III.
U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin met in
Helsinki, Finland from March 21 to March 22. At the summit the Clinton Administration
agreed to seek extension of the deadline for meeting START II criteria for
reduction of warheads. The deadline in the treaty ratified by the U.S. Senate
is December 31, 2003. The new deadline would be the end of 2007.
Under START II, the United States would be allowed to hold 3,000 warheads,
while Russia would be allowed 3,500. The Russian Duma has not ratified START
Clinton administration officials said they hoped the extended deadline
would convince Russian legislators to ratify START II. To further sweeten
the deal the White House proposed a START III deal with the same 2007 deadline,
by which time the U.S. would be allowed 2,000 warheads and the Russians
2,500. Approval of START III would be conditional upon previous agreement
of START II. (ITAR-TASS, 21 Mar 97)
The two presidents also signed agreements on European security, in which
Russia maintained its opposition to NATO expansion, and economic reform,
in which Clinton promised to seek more aid for Russia in 1998.
Primakov survives, meets Talbot first
Despite President Yel'tsin's pledge to install a reform-minded cabinet,
Foreign Minister Yevgeniy Primakov survived a government shake-up. In the
days before the new cabinet was announced Primakov traveled to Washington
on March 15 to negotiate pre-summit positions with Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright and President Clinton. Primakov first met with Deputy Secretary
of State Strobe Talbott, who greeted him at the airport. (ITAR-TASS, 15
Mar 97). In an apparent slight, Primakov kept Albright waiting for 90 minutes
(CNN 'The World Today,' 17 March 97).
EAST AND CENTRAL EUROPE
Russia makes plans for pipeline with Slovenia and Bulgaria
Russian diplomats have held the carrot of pipeline transit fees before the
foreign ministries of two nations at either end of the Balkans.
On March 7 Foreign Minister Yevgeniy Primakov promised Zoran Thaler,
his Slovenian counterpart, that Slovenia would benefit from a proposed gas
pipeline from Russia to Italy. Thaler promised that Ljubljana will send
a delegation from the Ministry of Economy and Development to Moscow by the
end of March. Thaler also said his government would always take Russian
interests into account when conducting its own foreign policy. (ITAR-TASS,
7 Mar 97)
On March 10 Russian deputy Prime Minister Oleg Lobov discussed similar
plans with Bulgarian Prime Minister Stefan Sofiyanski. In Sofia specific
sums were mentioned; a pipeline would mean $600 million in investment and
millions more annually in transit fees, Lobov said. (Khorizont Radio Network,
10 Mar 97)
SOUTHWEST AND SOUTH ASIA
Russians fire on Turkish ship in Georgian waters, killing one
On March 14 Russian border guards fired on a Turkish fishing boat that had
entered Georgian waters. One Turkish sailor was killed.
Nine Turkish fishing boats had entered the section of the Black Sea off
Georgia's autonomous republic of Adzharia and had ignored warning shots,
Russian authorities said. Russia's Federal Border Guard Service said the
Russian troops were acting under a Russian-Georgian accord of February 3,
1994, on the status of Russian border guards stationed in the country. Turkish
officials said the Russians had acted within their rights. (Interfax, 14
Primakov denies shipping missile technology to Iran
At a press conference following a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu on March 11, Primakov denied American reports that Russia was
shipping sensitive missile technology to Iran. The U.S. State Department
had protested that Russian technology would give Iran the capacity to strike
at American troops in the Persian Gulf. (see Editorial Digest, vol. II,
Primakov also used the press conference to assert that Russia had only
given Iran "light-water" nuclear technology, which could not be
put to military use. (Interfax, 11 Mar 97)
NATO chief discusses cooperation with Kazakstan
Meeting with Kazak president Nursultan Nazarbayev in Almaty on March 11,
NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said Kazakstan could call on NATO for
help with training officers and dealing with environmental issues and "emergency
situations." Kazak officials said that while Russian opinion must be
taken into account, NATO expansion was an inevitable process that posed
no threat to Central European stability. (Interfax, 11 Mar 97)
Russia the right partner for Iraqi oil?
A joint Russian-Iraqi commission on oil production appeared likely to conclude
with an agreement allowing Russia to develop Iraq's Western Qurnah oil field,
Vladimir Karastin, Russian Deputy Minister for Foreign Economic Relations,
The store of the Western Qurnah-2 oil field is estimated at one billion
tons. Annual output is forecast to be 35 million tons over 80 years.
The commission also seemed likely to result in two contracts for Russia's
food and drug exports to Iraq under the U.N.-Iraq oil for food. Karastin
said the children's food contract was worth 4.5 and drug supplies contract
2.5 million dollars. (ITAR-TASS, 19 Mar 97)
Three STARTs and You're Out
Leave it to the Clinton Administration to reward failure to sign one treaty
with further concessions in a second. Despite White House spin about assuaging
Duma deputies' fears, the arms-control agreements produced by the Helsinki
summit reveal a vast discrepancy between the way the executive branches
of Russia and the U.S. view nuclear weapons.
To the U.S. administration, nuclear weapons are a relic of the Cold War
to be bargained out of existence as quickly as possible. The administration
therefore has no difficulty in unilaterally reducing both the number of
weapons at its disposal and the range of any future anti-ballistic missile
To the Russians, painfully aware of the failures of the conventional
forces in Chechnya, nuclear weapons remain their ticket to international
Given that the Foreign Ministry of Yevgeniy Primakov has hardly used
such respectability to promote peace and understanding, one wonders why
the Clinton administration has not sought to reduce it. The Russians rightly
see their nuclear forces as their queen on the world's chessboard. The American
administration apparently believes the rules of chess were changed in 1991.
Now the only respectable aim is to convert the queen into a pawn.
When Russian peacekeepers were deployed in Serb-held Bosnia two years ago,
commentators noted that the end of the Cold War had given Moscow an opportunity
that fifty years of confrontation had not -- a military presence in the
Balkans. If the Russian foreign ministry is now promoting a gas pipeline
to Western Europe that would pass through Bulgaria and Slovenia, one need
only connect the dots to see that Russian cooperation in bringing ex-Yugoslav
war criminals to justice is unlikely. Such a pipeline would have to pass
through both Serbia and Croatia. Would Russia subject such an expensive
and vulnerable project to the political backlash it would encounter if Moscow
helped to capture, say, Radovan Karadzic? It seems far more likely that
Russia, frustrated by the immanent NATO membership of Poland, the Czech
Republic and Hungary, is switching to the 'southern' route to the West.
Military and economic engagement is only a means to that end.
To be fair to Moscow, the Russian foreign ministry is only operating
according to the "economic growth heals all wounds" playbook written
by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
FEDERAL ASSEMBLY AND POLITICAL PARTIES
Duma sets up committee to oppose NATO expansion
Chairman of the subcommittee for international affairs Sergey Glotov said
the anti-NATO organizing committee would consist of 115 members of parliament
of various political orientations. The committee will see that the State
Duma discusses and passes bills to strengthen Russia's national security
and efficiently defend its vital interests in Europe and the world.
The formation of single-issue groups in a legislative body the size of
the Duma is not unusual. What is worrisome is that Glotov may be using the
pretext of NATO expansion to expand Russian missile systems. On 29 January
1997, Glotov said that NATO's expansion into eastern Europe might force
Russia to launch Oka missiles into full production. Oka systems were available
with the Soviet army, however Mikhail Gorbachev ordered that they be destroyed,
although they were not subject to any arms reduction treaty.
Glotov told TASS that the reason for suggesting the Oka systems is that
their counterpart in the West -- the Spider missile -- will not be available
for a decade. Thus, Glotov's Anti-NATO committee will recommend that the
Russian government put into full production the missile system to
"restrain the unprovoked extension on the North Atlantic bloc to the
Russian border". Glotov added that several divisions, stationed in
Russia and Belarus, may be a reliable safeguard during talks on relations
between Moscow and NATO.
As no proposed candidate for NATO expansion borders the Russian Federation
--with the exception of Poland's border with the Kaliningrad Exclave --the
meaning of this thinly veiled threat is unclear. The deafening silence from
the West in response to these threats is similarly curious. (ITAR-TASS,
29 Jan 97)
One-third of Russian citizens support a Luzhkov presidential candidacy
The poll of 1,600 voters across the country was conducted by the Russian
Public Opinion Center in mid-December.
Some 18% said Luzhkov's greater contribution to national politics would
benefit the country. However, every fifth felt he could do more as the Moscow
city leader. Even Muscovites offer greater support to the involvement of
their mayor in nationwide politics -- 35%, still an almost equal number
are afraid of losing a good mayor -- 36%.
Luzhkov is often listed as being one of the most popular politicians
in Russian national politics. His presidential candidacy in 1999 is almost
for certain. However, Yeltsin's former security chief Aleksandr Lebed is
still by far the most popular politician in the Federation. (Interfax, 27
The Philippines have expressed an interest in purchasing MIG-29's from Russia.
Deliveries have begun of Su-30's to India -- 40 will reportedly be delivered
by 2000. The UAE is close to a decision on the purchase of the U.S. "Patriot"
or the Russian S-300V surface-to-air missile -- the deal could be worth
$1 billion. "Illegal" transfers of tanks, surface to air missiles
and other heavy arms to Armenia was confirmed by the Russian Defense Ministry.
Hard to believe such heavy equipment could have been shipped without some
tacit consent on the part of Moscow officials.
The recent summit appears to have validated the idea that Russia will accede,
despite the rhetoric, to the initial expansion (the DUMA passed -- 300-1
-- a resolution harshly critical of the proposed enlargement). Indeed, more
nations are clamoring for involvement (if not outright membership). The
Ukraine appears to want in, and to be willing now to say so explicitly.
This may not be entirely unrelated to the increasing isolation of a more-and-more
Russian Military Woes
Strikes and civil disobedience at arms factories, local leadership threatening
to sell nuclear submarines to "friendly" nations to cover debts,
military academy cadets shooting instructors (allegedly over hazing), drunken
border troops shooting their supervisors, uncertainty, contention and predictions
of disaster from the highest levels, 500 Russian officers have reportedly
committed suicide in 1996 -- all constitute recent developments in the Russian
defense establishment. The Duma says the "democrats" have intentionally
destroyed the Red Army. The government says the military must stop "whining"
and reform, downsize and modernize with the resources they have been given.
Reports are virtually unanimous citing the growing shortcomings of the Russian
conventional forces, but it appears the nuclear forces (both submarine and
land-based) have been largely immune from these travails.
At the summit Yel'tsin agreed to press for the ratification of the START
II treaty, with understandings established as to the continuation of the
process in a START III framework.
Russian border troops killed six on the Tajik/Afgan border, and a Turkish
fisherman was killed in an alleged Black Sea poaching incident.
by CDR John G. Steele
Two "Break Away" states request admission to the CIS
According to ITAR-TASS (27 Feb 97), Ikhvan Gerikhanov, Chairman of the Constitutional
Court of the Chechen Republic, declared "Chechnya is determined to
reach an agreement with Russia on its accession to the Commonwealth of Independent
States." Interfax (15 Mar 97), meanwhile, reports that the Abkhazian
legislature sent a similar message to the governments of the CIS member
states, saying that they too were ready to join.
CIS interior ministers meet to combat organized crime
Noting on 12 March that "arms and drug smuggling, contract killings,
and financial wheeling and dealing have become signs of the times,"
NTV announced the beginning of a Council of Interior Ministers meeting in
Chisinau designed to address these problems.
CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly ends work in St. Petersburg
During a meeting of the CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, members re-elected
Russian Federation Council head Yegor Stroyev as its chairman. The participants
also adopted a statement condemning all manifestations of terrorism, including
hostage-taking, and indicated that peacekeeping and assistance in settling
conflicts are among the most important areas of the Assembly's work. Azerbaijan,
Georgia and Moldova insisted that the next session of the Assembly should
discuss the settlement of conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and the
Dniester region. (ITAR-TASS, 1 Mar 97)
OSCE official favors continued presence of CIS peacekeepers
In a 19 March 1997 briefing, ITAR-TASS quoted the Vice President of the
OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Wojciech Lamentowicz, as saying, "The
CIS peacekeeping force should remain in the zone of the Georgian-Abkhazian
conflict, because it promotes the maintenance of peace in the area."
Lamentowicz made the comments after returning to Sukhumi with Major General
Babenkov, commander of the CIS peacekeeping force.
CIS militaries conducting joint operations
ITAR-TASS reported on 5 March that large-scale troop exercises were underway
in the Siberian military district. Units from the Russian Antiaircraft Defense
Forces and the Kazakstan Armed Forces were participating in the maneuvers.
Border troop commanders meet in Ashgabat
Commanders from all CIS countries except Moldova attended a session of the
CIS Council of Border Troops Commanders in Ashgabat (Belapan, 14 Mar 97).
The Council reportedly discussed about 20 issues concerning cooperation
and interaction between units that guard the CIS external border. The Council
also considered conducting an operation called "The Commonwealth Borderline-97,"
which will be executed simultaneously in all member states. The declared
purpose of the exercise is "to prevent illegal migration and traffic
in arms and narcotic drugs."
CIS Cooperation Minister Tuleyev comments on "integration"
Aman Tuleyev, Russia's CIS Cooperation Minister, revealed the course along
which he would prefer to see integration proceed. Reporters from Argumenty
i Fakty, in a interview on 4 March 97, asked Tuleyev to comment on economic
integration. He replied, "What ever happens, we [Russia] need to maintain
our influence in the countries next to us. The economy of the Russian Federation
will improve in any case." Still responding to the same question, he
continued, "I think that debts need to be paid back [to Russia] using
the property of these [CIS member] states. If we had done this with Ukraine,
then for a long time now no one would have been arguing about Sevastopol
or the Black Sea Fleet or about Crimea. Crimea would have become Russian
property a long time ago. . .You owe money to Russia? You owe it! Pay it
back in the form of property."
New economic agreements are being signed by CIS members
Over the past few months, CIS members have been drafting and signing a series
of agreements meant to increase economic cooperation. In November of 1996,
the members drafted a document entitled "Agreement on Principles of
Interaction in the Securities Market of the States Participating in the
Commonwealth of Independent States." Another draft document will establish
a CIS Finance Ministers' Council (Rossiyskaya Gazeta, 23 Nov 96). The same
newspaper also reported on 1 February that representatives signed a document
entitled "Agreement on Supporting and Developing Small Business in
the CIS Member States" as well as one detailing procedures to be used
in applying both value added taxes and excise taxes on shipments of goods
by Mark W. Jones
Two million workers participate in a national strike
Mr. Tereschuck, Workers' Union Deputy Chairman, stated that twenty-three
workers' councils will get ready for a national strike in Kiev on March
18. Demands of immediate repayment of wage backlogs, delayed pensions, free
education, and health care will be made. (Interfax, 7 Mar 97)
Ukraine and Slovak agreements signed
On March 7, Ukrainian Prime Minister Lazarenko and Slovak Prime Minister
Meciar signed 8 bilateral papers in Uzhhorod to increase cooperation in
trade, economy, and science. (Interfax, 7 Mar 97)
Kuchma Signs Accords with Moldova
On March 11, Ukrainian President Kuchma was invited to Chisinau, Moldova
to sign agreements promoting cooperation on border disputes. Kuchma offered
to mediate in the Moldovan Dniester conflict. He assured that Ukraine will
create the necessary conditions for the withdrawal of Russian troops, weaponry,
and ammunition from the Republic of Moldova. The signing of the agreements
marked the 5th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Chisinau and
Kiev. (Infotag, 11 Mar 97)
Lukashenka established a Day of Celebration
On March 6, Lukashenka decreed that April 2 will be established as a Day
of Unity. The celebration will recognize the formation of the union of Belarus
and the Russian Federation which occured April 2, 1996. (ITAR-TASS, 6 Mar
Minister rejects EU recommendations on Constitution
Foreign Minister Antanovich rejected EU's recommendation that the Belarusian
authorities should return to the Constitution which was in force prior to
last November's referendum. EU states that referendum to change the Constitution
was not passed through the Supreme Council as stated by the original Constitution
but through the votes of the Belarusian citizens. EU asked that any amendments
to the Constitution should be adopted through the Supreme Council, a democratically
elected body (which has almost ceased to exist following the plebiscite).
Neither of these recommendations from EU were accepted; however, Belarusian
authorities are prepared to talk about the EU's recommendations concerning
human rights and rights of the free press. (ITAR-TASS, 6 Mar 97)
Dniester authorities suspend work of OSCE mission
Dniester authorities have suspended the work of the OSCE permanent mission
in Tiraspol. The purpose of the mission was to promote the signing of the
memorandum on fundamentals of Moldovan-Dniester normalization. Dniester
authority, Litskai, states, "we are interested in cooperation with
the OSCE but we want guarantees that work of the mission of this respected
European organization is (...) objective, without interference in internal
affairs." (ITAR-TASS, 11 Mar 97)
Moldovan President thanks Kuchma
Moldovan President Lucinschi stated to the press that President Yel'tsin
assured him that "there are no problems involved in withdrawal of the
Russian Army" from Moldova. Lucinschi said the Russian contingent will
be reduced from 6,000 to 2,500, and 500,000 tons of ammunitions will be
withdrawn from Moldova. He also thanked Ukrainian President Kuchma for the
"great" role in the settlement of the Trans-Dniester problem and
this "resolute stand" on the issue of Moldova's territorial integrity.
(Interfax, 11 Mar 97)
Kazakh emigres are returning to Kazakhstan
The Kazakh Ministry of Labor's Dept. of Immigration has estimated that thus
far, more than 5,000 Kazakh families have returned from abroad to resettle
in Kazakhstan. Most of them have settled either in the southern regions
or in Kustanai Region in northern Kazakhstan (Kazakh Television, 5 Feb 97).
Kazakh defense ministry will soon move to new capital
President Nazarbaev has approved a plan to relocate the Ministry of Defense
to Kazakhstan's new capital, Akmola. A new building must be constructed
to house the Defense Ministry, and until it is finished the ministry staff
will work in shifts. The Defense Minister himself, Mukhtar Altynbaev, has
stated that he will not move to Akmola until the president does, but several
deputy defense ministers will relocate permanently to the new capital. All
of Kazakhstan's ministries and departments are to move to Akmola by August
1997 (Interfax, 14 Feb 97).
Merchants riot in Almaty's main bazaar
An argument between a district police officer and a bazaar merchant who
was allegedly violating market trading rules erupted into a riot on the
evening of 20 February. Eyewitnesses reported that stall holders attacked
a police contingent after one policeman kicked a pregnant woman. The riot
reportedly involved at least 300 people and was finally dispersed by OMON
officers (Radio Rossii Network, 20 Feb 97).
Kazakhstan's criminal code has been reformed
In an interview which was published in the Almaty Kazakhstanskaya Pravda
on 26 February, Igor Rogov, President Nazarbaev's aide on legal affairs,
described recent changes in Kazakhstan's criminal code. The changes include
the decriminalization of certain activities such as engaging in private
business, disassembly of a vehicle, and illegal hay making, which were considered
crimes under the old Soviet code of law. Some crimes which were previously
punishable by imprisonment will now only be subject to fines, and the death
penalty is to be eventually abolished, although women are already exempt.
Kazakhstan, Iran sign letter of cooperation
On 17 February in Tehran Kazakh Transport Minister Iurii Lavrinenko and
Iranian Minister of Mines and Metals Hosayn Mahluji signed a letter of agreement
to improve the level of trade, scientific and cultural cooperation between
their two countries. According to this agreement, the National Bank of Kazakhstan
will help an Iranian bank establish a branch in Almaty. The two countries
also agreed to form a joint company to carry out telecommunications projects
in Kazakhstan (IRNA, 17 Feb 97).
Presidents Nazarbaev, Jiang Zemin discuss economic cooperation
During their meeting in Beijing on 21 February, the Kazakh and Chinese presidents
considered ways of expanding economic cooperation between their two countries.
President Nazarbaev suggested that increasing the freight capacity of the
railroad line between Druzhba, Kazakhstan and Alashankou, China might help
boost bilateral trade turnover. President Nazarbaev also proposed that Chinese
oil companies participate in the tenders for the privatization of Kazakh
oil and gas facilities. He further stated that the two countries could engage
in the joint construction of oil and gas pipelines from southern Kazakhstan
to northern China (Interfax, 24 Feb 97).
Kazakh, Turkmen presidents sign agreements on economic cooperation
President Saparmurad Niyazov (Turkmenbashi) arrived in Almaty on 27 February
for a meeting with President Nazarbaev. The two presidents gave final approval
to 17 bilateral agreements on such issues as settling mutual payments, cooperation
in small- and medium-sized businesses and investments, the exchange of economic
and commercial information, and mutually beneficial use of Kazakh and Turkmen
Caspian Sea ports (Kazakh First Program Radio Network, 27 Feb 97).
Kazakh foreign, defense ministers speak out on NATO
Kazakh Foreign Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev and Defense Minister Mukhtar
Altynbaev expressed their views on NATO expansion in interviews with Interfax-Kazakhstan
on 13 February. Both men stated that they perceive NATO enlargement to be
inevitable, but that Russia's concern over the matter should not be discounted.
Defense Minister Altynbaev suggested that NATO's functions and perhaps even
its name should be changed in order to ensure its role as a guarantor of
peace and stability. Foreign Minister Toqaev confirmed Kazakhstan's commitment
to continued participation in the Partnership for Peace (PfP) and stated
that Kazakhstan had no need to negotiate a special relationship with NATO
(Interfax, 13 Feb 97).
Foreign Minister Toqaev's comment is most likely a reference to Ukraine's
recently expressed desire to negotiate a special relationship with NATO.
Kazakhstan wants to expand economic, political ties with Ukraine
The Kazakh and Ukrainian Foreign Ministers briefed Interfax-Ukraine on the
results of their talks in Kiev on 17 February, and outlined a few of the
issues to be discussed at the second session of the Ukrainian-Kazakh Commission
for Economic Cooperation, scheduled to be held in Almaty in March. Both
ministers would like to expand trade relations between the two countries
(current trade turnover is equal to $300 million), including increasing
Kazakh oil deliveries to Ukraine. Cooperation in their space programs, and
in transporting oil from western Kazakhstan to Ukrainian Black Sea ports
are two of the issues to be discussed at the next meeting of the Ukrainian-Kazakh
Commission for Economic Cooperation (Interfax, 17 Feb 97).
At a news conference on 18 February, following the signing of a protocol
on cooperation between the Ukrainian and Kazakh Foreign Ministries, Foreign
Minister Toqaev stated that Kazakhstan unconditionally supports Ukraine's
territorial integrity and the inviolability of its borders (UNIAR, 18 Feb
Foreign Minister Toqaev's strong statement of support for Ukraine's territorial
integrity is undoubtedly directed at Russia's occupation of Sevastopol',
and combined with Kazakh-Ukrainian plans to export Kazakh oil, could be
interpreted as a sign that Kazakhstan is turning away from strengthening
its ties with Russia.
Kazakh, Turkmen presidents agree on the division of the Caspian Sea
At a news conference following the signing of a number of bilateral agreements
in Almaty on 27 February, Presidents Nazarbaev and Niyazov agreed that until
the littoral states can reach a final agreement on its legal status, the
Caspian Sea should temporarily be divided into national sectors, in order
to allow its mineral resources to be exploited. Both countries recognize
each other's right to develop their mineral resources on the Caspian seabed.
The terms of this mutual recognition would allow Lukoil, Rosneft (both Russian
oil companies), and other oil companies to participate in the development
of offshore fields in the Turkmen and Kazakh national zones (Interfax Kazakhstan/Moscow
Interfax, 27 Feb 97).
Committee to protect journalists censures Kyrgyz president
The Committee to Protect Journalists sent a letter to President Akaev in
order to voice its concern over reports of the frequent harassment of the
independent press in Kyrgyzstan. The Committee also protested the Justice
Ministry's threat of legal action against Ryspek Omurzakov for his coverage
of the Turgunaliev trial (OMRI Daily Digest, 21 Feb 97).
Protest picket held to show support for T. Turgunaliev, T. Stamkulov
The Public Committee to Protect Topchubek Turgunaliev (this committee includes
representatives of several political parties and movements) organized a
protest picket near Bishkek's White House (the seat of the government) on
17 February, in order to express their support for Mr. Turgunaliev and for
Mr. Stamkulov, whose appeals were to be heard by the Kyrgyz Supreme court
the following day. Approximately 50-60 people turned out for the picket.
They were met by a contingent of 30 police officers and told to move their
picket to another location. The picketers relocated to Ala-Too Square, where
they were met by more police officers, who issued two warnings to the protest
leaders that they were in violation of the law because they were holding
an illegal rally. Two of the protest leaders, Chynynbek Aitkulov and Turgunbek
Akunov (head of Kyrgyzstan's Committee for the Defense of Human Rights),
were subsequently arrested. Aitkulov was released, due to his poor health,
but Akunov was detained for one day and was given a one-day non-custodial
sentence in a trial without witnesses or attorneys present (Bishkek Res
Publica, 25 Feb 97).
Kyrgyz Supreme Court commutes Turgunaliev's, Stamkulov's sentences
On 18 February, RFE/RL reported that the Kyrgyz Supreme Court had decided
to reduce the sentences handed down to Topchubek Turgunaliev and Timur Stamkulov
by a Bishkek municipal court early in January. Mr. Turgunaliev's sentence
was reduced from a 10-year prison term to a 4-year term, 3 years of which
were suspended, and 1 year of which he must serve in a penal colony near
Bishkek. Mr. Stamkulov's prison sentence was reduced from 6 to 3 years.
Mr. Turgunaliev's attorneys have already decided to appeal the new sentence
in the Kyrgyz Constituional Court (OMRI Daily Digest, 19, 28 Feb 97).
Kyrgyz government to support small- and medium-sized businesses
The Kyrgyz government recently approved a three-year program of state support
for small- and medium-sized businesses. This support will include loans
and a system of tax privileges. Entrepreneurs who are willing to take over
bankrupt state enterprises will also receive tax privileges and will eventually
be permitted to buy the enterprises (ITAR-TASS World Service, 27 Feb 97).
Kyrgyz parliamentary speaker supports Russia on NATO
Usup Mukhambaev, Chairman of the Legislative Assembly of Kyrgyzstan (synonymous
with Speaker of Parliament), stated that Kyrgyzstan firmly supports Russia's
position on NATO expansion, in an address to the Russian State Duma. He
also said that although Kyrgyzstan is a member of the Partnership for Peace,
it considers NATO membership for itself to be inexpedient (ITAR-TASS World
Service, 12 Feb 97).
Uighur demonstration held outside Chinese Embassy in Bishkek
China stated that an Uighur gathering held outside its embassy in Bishkek
on 17 February was an act of interference in its domestic affairs. The purpose
of the meeting was to protest against a recent Chinese crackdown against
the Uighur population in the Chinese city of Yining (on the Kazakh-Chinese
border in Xinjiang Province), after a riot occurred there in early February
(ITAR-TASS, 18 Feb 97).
Chinese officials have criticized both the Kyrgyz and Kazakh governments
for tolerating the existence of Uighur separatist groups in their countries.
The Chinese officials have blamed these separatist groups for instigating
recent Uighur rebellions against Chinese authorities in Xinjiang Province.
Treaty on Kyrgyz-Russian dual citizenship ratified by Russian Duma
On 21 February the Russian State Duma ratified a treaty which would in effect
grant dual citizenship to Russian citizens residing permanently in Kyrgyzstan
and to Kyrgyz citizens who reside in Russia. The Duma also approved an agreement
between Russia and Kyrgyzstan on immigration regulation and on the rights
of immigrants. The agreement concerns the property rights of Russian citizens
who have emigrated from Kyrgyzstan to Russia (ITAR-TASS, 21 Feb 97).
Kyrgyzstan plans to strengthen its armed forces
The Kyrgyz government recently passed a resolution to continue military
reforms designed to strengthen and improve the effectiveness of its armed
forces until 2005. One of the aims of these reforms is to create mobile
military units and equip them with modern technology and weapons (Kyrgyz
Radio First Network, 10 Feb 97).
Tajik peace talks in Iran end successfully
Tajik Foreign Minister Talbak Nazarov; deputy leader of the United Tajik
Opposition, Haji Akbar Turajonzoda (UTO); and the UN Secretary-General's
special envoy in Tajikistan, Gerd Merrem, signed a joint agreement in Tehran
on 19 January 1997 to conclude the latest round of Tajik peace negotiations
which began on 6 January (ITAR-TASS, 6, 19 Jan 97). The two sides were able
to come to an agreement on three basic issues: on the procedure for adopting
a mutual amnesty law; on the establishment of a central electoral commission
to organize elections and a referendum; and on government reform and the
inclusion of UTO representatives in the new government. They were unable
to reach an agreement on the procedure for permitting the UTO's political
parties to resume their activities. Nor were the two sides able to come
to an agreement on how many members of the National Reconciliation Commission
should be allotted to each side, although they did define the Commission's
functions and powers (ITAR-TASS, 19 Jan 97). It was also determined that
the commission is to have a total membership of 27 (Radio Tajikistan Network,
20 Jan 97). The Tajik government also agreed to allow the National Revival
Alliance (political movement sympathetic to the UTO, led by former prime
minister Abdumalik Abdullojonov) to be represented on the National Reconciliation
Commission, but only if they share the UTO's seats. The date for the next
round of peace negotiations was set for 26 February in Moscow or Tehran
(ITAR-TASS, 21 Jan 97).
Refugee repatriation protocol signed by UTO, Tajik government
On 13 January representatives of the Tajik government and of the UTO signed
an agreement on the process by which thousands of Tajik refugees currently
living in Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan are to be repatriated. The number of
refugees is estimated to be as high as 700,000 (OMRI Daily Digest, 14 Jan
97). The repatriation will take place over the next 18 months and a separate
joint commission will be established to facilitate the process (Clandestine
Voice of Free Tajikistan, 15 Jan 97). On 14 January Dushanbe Radio Tajikistan
Network reported that more than 30,000 refugees had already returned from
Tajik brigade commander violates presidential order
Colonel Mahmud Khudoberdiev, former commander of the First Motorized Infantry
Brigade, and now the commander of a special rapid deployment brigade, led
his men in an attempt to take control of Central Asia's largest aluminum
plant on the morning of 8 January 1997 in the town of Tursun-Zode (located
54 km east of Dushanbe). Col. Khudoberdiev's troops clashed with a local
militia group of about 250 men, led by Qodyr Abdullaev, Tursun-Zoda's police
chief (Interfax, 8, 9 Jan 97) who has been in control of the town for the
past year, after ousting the mayor, Ibodullo Boimatov. Abdullaev has claimed
that Col. Khudoberdiev's attack was an act of revenge on behalf of the mayor's
supporters. Col. Khudoberdiev, for his part, has stated that his intent
was to end Abdullaev's terrorization of the local population, as well as
to recover arms which Abdullaev's men had stolen from his brigade at the
end of December (ITAR-TASS, 9 Jan 97). In any case, Col. Khudoberdiev acted
entirely on his own initiative with his attack on Tursun-Zoda, without first
obtaining President Rahmonov's consent, thereby violating the law. President
Rahmonov immediately ordered Col. Khudoberdiev to return with his troops
to their barracks in Kurgan-Tiube (90 km south of Dushanbe, in the Khatlon
Region) by 4 PM on 8 January (Interfax, 8 Jan 97). Col. Khudoberdiev finally
complied with this order on 11 Jan 1997 (Moscow ITAR-TASS World Service,
11 Jan 97), however, he reportedly left a small group of his forces behind,
near the aluminum plant (Clandestine Voice of Free Tajikistan, 12 Jan 97).
This is not the first time that Khudoberdiev has challenged President Rahmonov's
authority. Approximately one year ago he and Ibodullo Boimatov, the former
mayor of Tursun-Zoda, organized their own militia groups and began advancing
on Dushanbe. President Rahmonov was able to halt their advance by making
certain political concessions which they had demanded. His most recent action
does not bode well for the continued unity and loyalty of Tajik government
forces. In fact, the possibility exists that Tajikistan may fall prey to
a whole series of Khudoberdievs and Abdullaevs, who are more interested
in self-aggrandizement than in creating a stable political situation.
Presidential commission appointed to investigate Tursun-Zoda events
President Rahmonov held a conference on the Tursun-Zoda crisis on 12 January,
at which he appointed a commission to carry out an investigation of the
clash at the Tursun-Zoda aluminum plant, determine who the instigators were
and then assess the gravity of their actions (Interfax, 12 Jan 97).
New tensions arise in Tursun-Zoda
A new power struggle has developed in Tursun-Zoda. President Rahmonov ordered
the Presidential Guard, led by Col. Gaffar Mirzoev, to replace the Security
Ministry troops who had been guarding the aluminum plant in Tursun-Zoda,
since Col. Khudoberdiev withdrew his forces. However, Lt. Col. Davlat Tursunov,
commander of the Security Ministry troops, claimed that he had received
no replacement orders from President Rahmonov, that he had the situation
in Tursun-Zoda under complete control, and that additional troops were not
necessary in order to maintain law and order in the town (ITAR-TASS, 16
Jan 97). The civilian population of Tursun-Zoda is also opposed to handing
the town over to the Presidential Guard, and a group of approximately 400
protesters (composed largely of women) met Col. Mirzoev's troops at a bridge
outside the town on 16 January and refused to let them advance any further
(Interfax, 16 Jan 97). Col. Khudoberdiev warned the Tajik government against
the use of force in Tursun-Zoda and asked that the Presidential Guard be
withdrawn, as well as offering his services in resolving the stand-off (ITAR-TASS,
17 Jan 97). On 18 January President Rahmonov ordered Col. Mirzoev's troops
to return to their barracks in order to avoid further unrest and bloodshed,
after members of local militia groups exchanged fire with the Guard and
a few people were injured (Interfax, 18 Jan 97).
This series of events raises the question of how much influence Khudoberdiev
still has over Tursun-Zoda, and whether he perhaps had a hand in organizing
the resistance to the Presidential Guard. It also raises the question of
whether President Rahmonov ordered the Guard to withdraw at Khudoberdiev's
urging. Khudoberdiev's base is in the Khatlon Region, which is close to
the Afghan border. He could easily create a great deal of unrest in this
region, and undermine not only the Tajik peace negotiations, but President
Disarmament process underway in Tursun-Zoda
The process of confiscating illegal arms in Tursun-Zoda began on 25 January
and is to be completed by 28 January (OMRI Daily Digest, 27 Jan 97). The
Ministries of Security and Internal Affairs, as well as Col. Khudoberdiev's
brigade, are responsible for carrying out the disarmament. President Rahmonov
also established a special commission, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Abdurahmom
Azimov, to monitor the process (ITAR-TASS World Service, 25 Jan 97). All
those who voluntarily surrender their arms before the deadline will be exempt
from criminal proceedings, according to the Tajik constitution (Dushanbe
Radio Tajikistan Network, 27 Jan 97).