The ISCIP Analyst
Behind the Breaking News
Volume III Number 2 (February 5, 1998)
As journalists sought clarification of Yel'tsin's statement, they speculated on a possible Russian defense of Iraq in the event of an American attack. In a rush to squelch international concern over the remarks, Presidential Spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky described the journalists' interpretation of Yel'tsin's statement as "ridiculous and absurd." Yastrzhembsky did not, however, offer his own spin on the president's intended message. Given Yel'tsin's propensity for hyperbole when departing from prepared texts, particularly in front of foreign audiences, it seems likely that Yastrzhembsky will concentrate his attention on keeping the president and his staff on the same page.
Yel'tsin rules out 2000 presidential bid
Presidential review of death sentences
Yevgeni Savostyanov, deputy chief of the Presidential Staff in charge of personnel matters, has also announced a ten percent reduction in staff personnel, which is asserted to be a dismissal of 200 staffers. Savostyanov's explanation for the cuts focused on financial, not ideological issues: "In 1997 due to certain decisions, we expanded beyond the limits set by the budget." (Interfax, 19 Jan 98; FBIS-SOV-98-019)
Ramazan Abdulatipov, who heads up the Russian government's Commission for the Stabilization of the Socioeconomic Situation in Chechnya, has been conducting negotiations in Chechnya throughout its recent formation of a new government. While Abdulatipov has refrained from direct comment on the Kulikov-Rybkin split, he has remarked upon the perennial problem of lack of implementation of presidential and governmental orders concerning Chechnya. (ITAR-TASS, 10 Jan 98; FBIS-SOV-98-012) Among the recommendations Abdulatipov is prepared to present to the President on the Chechen/North Caucasus situation is a proposal for the establishment of a committee within the Nationalities Ministry to coordinate policy. (Interfax, 12 Jan 98; FBIS-SOV-98-012)
While purportedly an investigation of recent shortfalls in sales expectations, the MK article focuses on Urinson's role in the removal of arms sales authority from the presidential apparat and, specifically, the undercutting of the former Rosvooruzhenie chief Aleksandr Kotelkin. The unflattering portrayal of Urinson's stewardship vis-a-vis Kotelkin's suggests a strong personal motive for this journalistic attack.
Chernomyrdin health rumors confirmed by events?
Russian analysts are notoriously, and quite understandably, sensitive to potential health crises, nonetheless the state of the prime minister's health could well be an important variable in the current leadership conflicts, especially if Chernomyrdin is the chosen successor Yel'tsin has in mind.
by Susan J. Cavan
Primakov opposes force in Iraqi inspection problems
Russia opposes any use of force to settle the problems concerning the work of inspectors, Primakov said during his telephone talk with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on 13 January. The telephone conversation was initiated by Albright. Primakov emphasized the need for full cooperation between Iraq and the UN special commission, Russian foreign ministry spokesman Valeri Nesterushkin stated on 14 January. (Interfax, 1351 GMT, 14 Jan 98; FBIS-SOV-98-014)
Primakov stated in a news conference the following week that Russia is in favor of Iraq fulfilling the UN Security Council resolutions, commenting that it was essential for Iraq to comply. However, he noted Russia's opposition to the use of strong-arm methods, which he said were counterproductive. Primakov said there was a whole arsenal of possibilities for exerting additional pressure, including more effective work by the special commission." (ITAR-TASS World Service, 1659 GMT, 20 Jan 98; FBIS-SOV-98-020)
A new dimension to Baltic-Russian relations
The Russian side declares "with total certainty" that if the issue of the Baltic states' admission into NATO becomes a reality, Russia will inevitably have to revise its relations with the alliance, foreign ministry spokesman Gennadi Tarasov told a briefing in Moscow Tuesday. Russia "takes note" of the explanation that the charter is not legally binding, he said. "At the same time, comments by the signatories are full of words about the United States' commitment to aid in the admission of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia to NATO, although it was said previously that the issue of the Baltic states' acceptance into the Alliance is not on the agenda. (Interfax, 1259 GMT, 20 Jan 98; FBIS-SOV-98-020)
Russia hopes that the charter between the US and the Baltic countries "will not bring negative elements into Europe's system of interaction appearing in the process of working out a general and universal model of security," foreign ministry spokesman Valeri Nesterushkin said at a briefing in Moscow prior to the signing of the Partnership Charter. Russia's attitude to this document will depend on "its consistency in ensuring open, equal and good-neighborly ties in the Baltics as a part of constructing a new Europe without division lines," Nesterushkin said. (FBIS-SOV-98-015)
Prior to the signing of the new charter, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Avdeev noted that positive changes have taken shape in Russian-Baltic relations; however, the process of clearing the obstacles of the past and mutual confidence-building needs to be continued. These comments came while concluding a working tour of the Baltics. The conversations centered on the Russian president's proposals to strengthen trust and stability in the Baltics and his proposal to cut unilaterally the armed forces in northwestern Russia by 40 percent. (Rossiyskaya gazeta, 14 Jan 98, p. 7; FBIS-SOV-98-014)
Kovalev on challenges facing Federal Security Service
Moscow glad Bosnian Serbs form constitutional executive
US efforts for Middle East peace settlement welcomed
Space agency director to discuss technology export with US
New interest in North Korea noted
High-level talks produce a commission
by Mark Jones
DOMESTIC ISSUES AND LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
Ryzhkov: No 'Red Belt' seen developing
Assessing the results of the 14 December 1997 elections held in seven Russian regions (Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Tomsk, Vladimir, Smolensk, Tambov, and Kaliningrad), State Duma First Vice Speaker Vladimir Ryzhkov claimed that the popular view that "Red belts" have almost encircled the entire country is untrue. The communist parties were routed in each region. According to Ryzhkov, the seemingly common belief that political parties play no real role in the society and politics of contemporary Russia is similarly false and therefore must be the invention of sociologists. In evidence, Ryzhkov points to the fact that the NDR has established factions in 23 regional assemblies and hopes that by the end of the year that number will increase to 30-35. (Rossiyskaya gazeta, Dom i Otechestvo Supplement, 20-26 Dec 97, p. 1; FBIS-SOV-97-356)
'Industrial lobby' wins Tomsk elections
An interesting question may be raised as to why these busy industrial executives should choose to sit in the regional Duma themselves, rather than seat a front-man (or woman). Is it the perks of office, the lack of trustworthy drones, or an absence of respect for maintaining a discreet distance between public and private interests? Perhaps this is not surprising given that, with so much emphasis being placed on the beneficence of the marketplace, voters would believe that there is, and more importantly should be, no effective difference between politics and business. (Radio Rossii Network, 0400 GMT, 22 Dec 97; FBIS-SOV-97-356)
Common sense said to win in Tambov
The amnesty applies to pensioners, including men over 60 years of age and women over 50, persons who served in the army or took part in fighting to defend the Motherland or received state awards, invalids and people suffering from tuberculosis in a contagious form, adolescents who were sentenced to imprisonment of up to three years but were never indicted [sic] earlier, women imprisoned for a term of five years and who had served no less than a third of their prison sentence and people indicted [sic] for a term of three years for crimes committed as a result of carelessness.
The amnesty does not apply to people indicted [sic] for premeditated murder, severe violence, robbery, large-scale thefts, fraud, abuse of office, high treason, or subversive and terrorist acts. The amnesty does not apply to dangerous recidivists [sic], people indicted [sic] for violent crimes more than once, and those who had been amnestied earlier and were again convicted of another offense.
The purpose of this amnesty is to relieve pressure on the severely overcrowded and under-funded Russian prison system. The amnesty is also a result of the malformed Russian legal system, the workings of which are often politically motivated, operating with laws that are often contradictory and/or vague, and "proceeding" absent any clear direction from the highest courts. Broad amnesties granted by the legislative branch can only be temporary and should not be relied upon to correct, or even ameliorate, the poor showings of a chaotic and insufficient judicial system. Correcting legislation is required. Such amnesties only work against the construction of a Russian society based upon the objective rule of law and support the bad old habits of legal capriciousness of the central authorities. (ITAR-TASS, 1956 GMT, 24 Dec 97; FBIS-SOV-97-358)
Russian helicopter industry struggles to survive in a free market
During a recent review of the M.L. Mil General Design Bureau, which is marking its fiftieth anniversary, a recent Rossiyskaya gazeta article highlighted many of the current challenges of the helicopter industry. The overriding problem seems to be that during the Soviet period, two design teams, Mil and Kamov, were strongly subsidized and production was kept at very high rates. But today, there is neither the domestic nor foreign market to support such plant capacity. Since its inception Mil has developed, tested, and produced 12 basic types and more than 100 modifications. Approximately 30,000 helicopters have been produced, with more than 7,000 sold abroad. One solution considered is to convert aircraft construction to a commercial basis. The article points out that, even under the most favorable conditions, it takes five to seven years just to develop an aircraft, not counting production and marketing--far too long for businessmen expecting quick returns on investment. (Rossiyskaya gazeta, 4 Jan 98; FBIS-SOV-98-007). While this transition occurs, workers go unpaid. The Mil design bureau's biggest customer, the army, is making the tough choice also. Strapped for cash, military leaders must choose between buying helicopters and feeding troops. In the west, the purchase of 30-40 helicopters per year was considered good, but Mil was accustomed to 300-400. Production is nearly at a standstill today.
Two other situations compound the uneasiness in the industry: privatization and resources. Six months ago, foreign ownership of the Mil Design Bureau was about 14 percent; now it amounts to 35 percent, greater than the government's holdings. (NTV, 1900 GMT, 19 Jan 98; FBIS-SOV-98-019) The resource challenge is a function of the distributed nature of the production process. The article provides a clear example, the Mil-26 helicopter, which is built in Rostov. The main rotor blade construction relies on a special composite called Nomex which was previously supplied by a small enterprise in Kazakhstan. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the plant was shut down. Now the Rostov plant must purchase the material abroad with very limited foreign currency coffers and may logically impact the competitive pricing that government subsidies afforded in the past. (Rossiyskaya gazeta, 4 Jan 98; FBIS-SOV-98-007)
The Soviet Union's defense industry was very distributed across the board, so the resource situation is by no means unique. However, the overwhelming capacity and competing design bureaus will make a successful transition very difficult. On the other hand, there has been some success: Recently at a Rzhev military enterprise in the Tver region, a new commercial two-seat helicopter has been designed, tested, and first two units manufactured within 18 months through a collaboration between Tver businessmen and the military enterprise. (ITAR-TASS, 1530 GMT, 17 Jan 98; FBIS-SOV-98-017) Mil may also find that the foreign ownership may be in the bureau's best interest. Out of the 35 percent of shares held by foreign investors, approximately 10 percent are held by Sikorsky, a major US competitor. Such ownership may indeed lead to unique strategic partnering as the article described a joint development program currently underway between the two. (Rossiyskaya gazeta, 4 Jan 98; FBIS-SOV-98-007)
Russia tests three new aircraft
by LtCol Dwyer Dennis
Decree designed to improve coordination on space systems
While the military and civilian space agencies may have reached a bureaucratic agreement of the future of Russian space policy, the general director of the Russian Space Agency, Yuri Koptev, said on 23 January that 72% of Russian military and civilian satellites were past their operational life. The condition of military and civilian satellites "is equal and explained by a small size of the state support." Koptev went on to say "reformed armed forces and reformed Russia cannot exist without a corresponding space activity." (ITAR-TASS, 1437 GMT, 23 Jan 98; FBIS-SOV-98-023)
487 military suicides in 1997
Meanwhile, on 27 January a soldier at a remote outpost on Sakhalin Island shot and killed six other privates and a warrant officer. The soldier was quickly apprehended and was reported as telling investigators he had been brutally hazed by one of the soldiers he killed. But Colonel-General Mikhail Klishin, a deputy chief of the General Staff, has a different explanation for the killings. He said the conscript responsible had been sniffing acetone and was a known substance abuser. The general went on to say the conscript had a police record. In 1997 there were 80 shooting incidents at guard posts with 36 fatalities. (Jamestown Foundation Monitor, 29 Jan 98)
by LCDR Curtis R. Stevens
NEWLY INDEPENDENT STATES
New CIS peacekeeping commander appointed
Move toward economic integration continues
On newsstands soon: CIS Today
Tiraspol-Chisinau negotiations stalled
The Joint Control Commission (JCC), a tripartite group consisting of Moldova, Transdniestr officials and Russia, has not convened for the past two months. Tiraspol has refused to work with Vitalie Bruma (a deputy in the Interior Ministry, who was recently appointed to the JCC by Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi) due to his chastisement of Transdniestr authorities in the media. (RFE/RL Newsline, 21 Jan 98)
Tiraspol's representatives failed to appear for a 22 January meeting, at which the three sides were purportedly to draft a document that would bring a resolution to the conflict. (Basapress, 1750 GMT, 22 Jan 98; FBIS-SOV-98-022) Currently the peacekeeping corps patrolling the security zone is under no one's control and there is speculation that Tiraspol will take over the area. (Basapress, 1757 GMT, 21 Jan 98; FBIS-SOV-98-021)
Talks also have been hindered by Moldova's upcoming parliamentary elections in March. Anatol Taranu, Chisinau's head negotiator and a special advisor to President Lucinschi, is planning to run for a seat with the newly formed Speranta bloc. The bloc is a social-democratic group of parties, including the United Social Democratic Party of Moldova (PSDUM) and the Movement of Professionals, whose platform is "pro-presidential." (Infotag, 1717 GMT, 13 Jan 98; FBIS-SOV-98-013) With elections only ten weeks away, Taranu said he may be reluctant to restart the talks, since they would take away from his time on the campaign trail.
Lucinschi in Brussels
Chemical weapons removed to Lvov to be destroyed
This was coupled by an announcement from Ukraine's Pulmonary Institute that tuberculosis rates have reached epidemic proportions. From 1990 to 1996 the rate of infection increased 45.1 percent. Currently 45.8 Ukrainians per 100,000 have the disease. Experts contribute the rise to spoiled food and poor medical care. (Intelnews, 0116 GMT, 20 Jan 98; FBIS-SOV-98-020)
No reductions planned in the Army or the Navy despite budget woes
'Peace Shield 98' scheduled for August
Ukraine in violation of PACE membership terms
Belarus loses its Council of Europe membership
Common code of law for Russia and Belarus by 2000?
ORT journalists convicted
While the trial was still in progress the two journalists' defense lawyers said that they would seek to have President Lukashenka charged for interference. They claim that he violated Article 172 of the Criminal Code, which states that "interference in a verdict on a criminal case is an abuse of office." In the days before the trial opened Lukashenka had said that "in time we will be able to call Sheremet simply a criminal."
by Tracy Gerstle
NRC reconvenes, government continues to fulfill peace agreement
Tajikistan's National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) returned to its work on 23 January, following a flurry of meetings between President Rahmonov, United Tajik Opposition (UTO) leader and NRC Chairman Said Abdullo Nuri, and a contact group made up of representatives from the peace agreement's guarantor countries (these include Russia, Iran, Uzbekistan, Ukraine), the UN, and the OSCE. UN Special Envoy Gerd Dietrich Merrem met separately with both Rahmonov and Nuri in order to persuade the two men to sit down together and discuss ways of resolving their differences. Merrem's efforts were successful; the Tajik president and opposition leader held a two-hour meeting on 21 January in Dushanbe, at which Nuri declared his willingness to compromise. He also agreed to engage in further dialogue with the president in order to address the UTO's charges against the government peacefully and put the implementation of the peace process back on track (Interfax, 1329 GMT, 21 Jan 98; FBIS-SOV-98-021).
President Rahmonov was given an opportunity to air his own grievances against the UTO on 17 January, before a meeting of the international contact group. The president's main complaints centered around the UTO's shortcomings in carrying out the terms of the military protocol outlined in the peace agreement. He charged that UTO members continued to violate the terms of this protocol by hiding and refusing to register their weapons and by recruiting new members to its military units even after the peace agreement had been signed. According to Russia's Ambassador to Tajikistan, Yevgeni Belov, the Tajik president was able to refute nearly all of the UTO's charges against him, implying that the opposition's withdrawal from the NRC occurred on frivolous grounds. Belov further stated that the members of the contact group felt that they should actively aid the Tajik government and UTO in the implementation of the peace agreement, rather than just acting as observers (Interfax, 1733 GMT, 18 Jan 98; FBIS-SOV-98-020).
When the NRC reconvened on 23 January with all 26 delegates present, the members of the contact group were also in attendance (ITAR-TASS World Service, 1006 GMT, 23 Jan 98; FBIS-SOV-98-023). President Rahmonov and Said Abdullo Nuri held their second meeting later that day and were able to resolve a number of issues. The Tajik president again agreed to grant UTO deputy leader Haji Ali Akbar Turajonzoda (still living in exile in Iran) the post of deputy prime minister and allowed his decision to be announced to the press (Interfax, 1834 GMT, 23 Jan 98; FBIS-SOV-98-023). President Rahmonov also promised to grant amnesty to all of the UTO leaders (including Said Abdullo Nuri and Haji Ali Akbar Turajonzoda) who were convicted on charges of civil resistance in 1993 (Interfax, 1548 GMT, 26 Jan 98; FBIS-SOV-98-026). Nuri, for his part, agreed to obtain the speedy release of the remaining prisoners held by UTO commanders, to hasten the process of the UTO troops' registration, and to order the dismantling of opposition checkpoints which still exist east of Dushanbe (Interfax, 1834 GMT, 23 Jan 98; FBIS-SOV-98-023).
President Rahmonov and Tajikistan's Prosecutor General, Salomiddin Sharopov, attended the NRC's next meeting on 26 January, at which Sharopov announced that the criminal cases stemming from 1993 against Nuri, Haji Turajonzoda, and the other UTO leaders had been dropped and that they were officially amnestied (Interfax, 1548 GMT, 26 Jan 98; FBIS-SOV-98-026).
On 27 January the peace process advanced an additional step, when Deputy Prime Minister Abdurahmon Azimov informed the members of the NRC's Military Subcommission, as well as the chairmen of Kofarnihon and Lenin districts, that the sites for the stationing and retraining of UTO troops are completely ready for the troops' arrival (Khovar, 1145 GMT, 27 Jan 98; FBIS-SOV-98-027). The preparation of training camps for those UTO troops which have been registered and disarmed is another measure which is called for in the military protocol of the peace agreement, and the Tajik government's failure to comply with this measure was one of the reasons for the UTO's withdrawal from the NRC on 15 January.
UTO troops finally to return home from Afghanistan?
Russian prime minister sends Gazprom delegation to Tajikistan
It is also interesting to note that it was the ostensible threat of Islamic
extremism from Afghanistan and Tajikistan that prompted President Karimov
to lobby so strongly for CIS intervention in the Tajik civil war in 1992-93.
One could speculate that his recent recycling of this theme is connected
to the fact that a new coalition government may soon be formed in Tajikistan
which is to share power with UTO leaders, but which as of yet has made no
provisions to allocate positions to the Uzbek-backed Khujandi faction. President
Karimov may be once again attempting to increase his government's influence
over Tajikistan's affairs by destabilizing the inter-Tajik peace process
with accusations that the UTO is an extremist Muslim organization with links
to "Wahhabi terrorists" (thereby causing President Rahmonov to
halt the government's implementation of the measures called for by the peace
agreement) and/or by putting economic on President Rahmonov's administration,
through the issue of debt restructuring, to procure Tajik government posts
for Khujandi politicians.
by Monika Shepherd
Two-thirds of Russian citizens living legally in Estonia
Apparently, only two-thirds of Russian citizens living in Estonia are doing so legally. According to the Russian Embassy in Tallinn, as of 1 January there were 125,091 Russian citizens living in Estonia. However, Andres Kollist, the head of the Estonian Citizenship and Migration Department, stated that by the same date his department had issued residence permits to 88,683 holders of Russian passports. (Baltic News Service Daily Report, 1900 GMT, 7 Jan 98) According to Interior Minister Robert Lepikson, nearly 70,000 illegal immigrants may be living in Estonia. (Radio Tallinn Network, 1800 GMT, 13 Jan 98; FBIS-SOV-98-013)
While the number of illegal residents may be high, the population of Estonia as a whole has dropped below 1.5 million. However, the percentage of Estonians is on the rise, from 61.5 percent in the 1989 census to 65 percent at the beginning of 1997. (BNS, 1100 GMT, 6 Jan 98) Part of the increase is due to the addition of naturalized citizens, although that rate also is decreasing: While 22,772 persons received Estonian citizenship in 1996, only 8,132 were granted citizenship last year. All told, more than 115,000 persons have become naturalized citizens since 1991. (BNS, 1100 GMT, 2 Jan 98) Still, the numbers of new citizens may increase as regulations are relaxed according to suggestions from the OSCE (please see earlier Editorial Digests).
While Serov did not specify to which laws van der Stoel referred, in the past the OSCE commissioner--as well as other European bodies such as the EC--has discussed the need for changes in the citizenship law and naturalization issues. While the government of Guntis Ulmanis and the parliamentary faction Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK see no need to amend the citizenship law, the parties have agreed to launch a debate on ways to increase the speed of the naturalization process as well as to meet the concerns of non-citizens. (BNS, 1100 GMT, 8 Jan 98)
Even with difficulties in the process, however, the number of persons who obtained citizenship through the naturalization process last year reached 2,994, according to Eizenija Aldermane, the head of the naturalization department. Less than five percent of applicants were denied due to insufficient knowledge of Latvia or Latvian, the department reported. (BNS, 1100 GMT, 21 Jan 98) Aldermane estimated that approximately 121,000 persons who were eligible to apply for naturalization in 1997 did not do so. (BNS, 1700 GMT, 8 Jan 98). While a small percentage stumbled over the language and history requirements, others may have faced unofficial obstacles: The Latvian government has been significantly slower than its neighbor to the north when it comes to accommodating non-Latvians. Whereas Estonia has worked to meet almost all of the OSCE's recommendations concerning citizenship issues, Latvia has steadfastly refused to amend its law. More than likely, the attitude that the citizenship process for non-Latvians should not be easy is prevalent throughout the governmental bureaucracy: In 1997, the State Human Rights Office received 3,120 complaints, many concerning the activity of the Citizenship and Immigration Department. Unfortunately, no breakdown on the number of complaints per government departments was provided. (BNS, 1100 GMT, 6 Jan 98)
The Latvian government does intend to react to another concern voiced by the OSCE, namely that of the large number of stateless persons in the country. The head of the Citizenship and Migration Administration, Ints Zitars, reported that the government plans to grant such persons that status of non-citizen. In 1995, Latvian law accorded the status of non-citizen only to those persons who were registered residents of Latvia prior to July 1992, which resulted in several hundreds of residents lacking official status. (BNS, 1900 GMT, 12 Jan 98) Those who would be affected by an amendment to the law would be persons who moved to Latvia between 1992 and 1995, persons who arrived in Latvia for short-term labor, and homeless persons without any place of registration.
by Kate Martin