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Volume III Number 7 (May 7, 1998)

Russian Federation
Executive Branch
Susan J. Cavan
Foreign Relations
John McDonough
Mark Jones
Domestic Issues &
Legislative Branch

Michael Thurman
Armed Forces
LtCol Dwyer Dennis
CDR Curtis Stevens

Newly Independent States
CIS

Mark Jones
Western Region
Tracy Gerstle
Caucasus
Miriam Lanskoy
Central Asia
Monika Shepherd
Baltic States
Kate Martin

 

RUSSIAN FEDERATION
EXECUTIVE BRANCH
PRESIDENCY
Yastrzhembsky completes Kurile tour
Sergei Yastrzhembsky, demonstrating once again that his role within the administration expands well beyond his duties as presidential press spokesman, toured the Kurile Islands at Yel'tsin's request in order to dispel "some nervousness" of the residents over the future status of the islands. Yastrzhembsky reaffirmed the government's position upon completion of his tour, claiming "The Kuriles are Russian territories." (ITAR-TASS, 23 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-113)

Orekhov's insights into government decree process
In an interview with Moscow News (12-19 Apr 98, No. 14), the head of the president's Main State Legal Administration (GGPU), Ruslan Orekhov, described a procedure through which "thousands" of government decisions were illegally implemented. Beginning in 1991, according to Orekhov, requests to deputy prime ministers from various industries, sports groups, or individual supplicants for "the transfer of property...as well as tax breaks and exemptions" were resolved through individual instructions for action known as "PPs" (expansion unclear, possible "on behalf of the government"). The normal procedure for granting such requests would require an edict with the signatures of each relevant minister, the deputy prime ministers, prime minister and often the president as well.

Tracing the full scope and number of these government instructions would prove nearly impossible. As Orekhov notes, "These 'PPs' were never published, despite being the sole grounds for million dollar operations. In theory, they were supposed to be registered by the vice premiers' staff, but this is doubtful."

The procedure was formally abolished by a 1994 presidential edict.

Kotenkov foresees conflict this fall
The president's representative to the State Duma, Aleksandr Kotenkov, believes that, while the president's threat to dissolve the Duma may have prevented a more prolonged struggle over the government, it will likely rebound to spark further confrontation in the Fall. "After its defeat in the latest round of its fight with the President, the opposition will try and get its own back in the autumn, when the 1999 budget comes for approval," Kotenkov predicted. (ITAR-TASS, 27 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-117)

SECURITY SERVICES
Berezovsky implicates Korzhakov in infamous murder cases
Billionaire tycoon and recently named Executive Secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States, Boris Berezovsky, accused the security services of involvement in the 1995 murder of Vlad Listev. While Berezovsky himself has often been mentioned in connection with Listev's assassination, he now claims to have information that "clearly points to the hand of the special services." (Moskovskaya pravda, 11 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-104)

When prompted to comment on the former head of the Presidential Guards, Aleksandr Korzhakov, Mr. Berezovsky implicated him in the attempted assassination of former National Sports Foundation Chief Boris Fedorov and in the murder of Otari Kvantrishvili.

Korzhakov has responded to the allegations by berating Berezovsky's habit of blaming "all Russia's misfortunes" on the security services, but his comments fell well short of a refutation. (Komsomol'skaya pravda, 15 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-105)

GOVERNMENT
New appointments trickle in
Sergei Kirienko, in consultation with president, has thus far made the following appointments to the government:
Date:  Appointments:
April 22 Nikolai Khvatkov
Acting Chief of his Secretariat
(Komsomol'skaya pravda, 24 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-118)
April 28 Boris Nemtsov
Deputy Prime Minister
Viktor Khristenko
Deputy Prime Minister
Mikhail Zadornov
Finance Minister
Igor Sergeev
Defense Minister
Yevgeni Primakov
Foreign Minister
Sergei Stepashin
Interior Minister
Sergei Shoigu
Minister for Emergency Situations
Nikolai Aksenenko
Railways Minister
Alex. Tikhonov
Education Minister
(Interfax, 28 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-118)
 April 30 Oleg Syusev
Deputy Chair
Yakov Urinson
Economics Minister
Pavel Krasheninnikov
Justice Minister
Viktor Semenev
Agriculture and Food Minister
Farit Gazizullin
State Property Minister
Vlad. Bulgak
Science and Technology Minister
Sergei Generalov
Fuel and Power Minister
Oksana Dmitrieva
Labor Minister
Natalia Dementieva
Culture Minister
Sergei Frank
Transportation Minister
Viktor Nekrutenko
Natural Resources Minister
(RIA-Novosti.com, 30 Apr 98)
 May 5 Ilya Yuzhankov
Minister for Land Policy, Construction and Housing
(RIA-Novosti.com, 5 May 98)
 May 8 Ivan Rybkin
Deputy Prime Minister and
Special Presidential Envoy to the CIS
Georgi Gabuniya
Minister for Trade and Industry (Acting)
(RTR, 8 May 98;
Monitor, 11 May 98)

by Susan J. Cavan

FOREIGN RELATIONS
Russia supports Iraqi progress
, wants nuclear papers closed
Russia believes that the UN Security Council should take account of "the political results Iraq has already achieved in various areas, including in the nuclear sphere," Russian foreign ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin told a 30 April briefing. At the UN Security Council's meeting on Iraq on 27 April the Russian ambassador to the United Nations acknowledged considerable progress in regard to Baghdad destroying banned missile potential, and proposed in a draft document that the positive results achieved by Iraq be fixed to stopping international inspections of Iraq's sites related to nuclear programs and transition to long-term monitoring. (ITAR-TASS, 0746 GMT, 25 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-115, and Interfax, 1304 GMT, 30 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-120)

Russian-Iranian relations cool...
A strain in Russian-Iranian relations developed when Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev signed an agreement with Russian President Boris Yel'tsin on the division of the Caspian Sea bed. Previously, Moscow and Iran held similar views on the issue, which stressed allocating an exclusive 45-mile area in the sea to each of five littoral states--Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan--and sharing the exploitation of the remainder of the world's largest lake. Russian officials had always referred to the close cooperation between Tehran and Moscow in codifying a legal regime for the Caspian Sea but abandoned that cooperation when the joint Kazakh-Russian document was signed. (Iran News, 12 Apr 98, p. 2; FBIS-NES-98-109) Prior to the signing of the Russian-Kazakh agreement on the Caspian issue, Iranian Ambassador to Russia Mehdi Safari said Iran's stand on the legal status of the Caspian Sea remains unchanged and that all issues concerning the legal status of the Caspian Sea should be based on consensus. Iran does not recognize decision-making methods that do not take into account the stances taken by all of the littoral countries, the ambassador said. (Interfax, 1814 GMT, 24 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-115)

An "unofficial" response came from Tehran in the English-language daily Iran News editorial on 30 April, cautioning Russia about possible consequences of "ignoring Iran." The daily reacted to Russian-Kazakh agreement dividing the resources of the Caspian Sea bed without consulting the other littoral states. The editorial went on to state that to ignore Iran at the present juncture would be an error on the part of a Russia which desires to maintain its presence in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East. (IRNA, 0730 GMT, 30 Apr 98; FBIS-NES-98-120)

...But they remain united on denials of weapons programs
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Mahmud Mohammadi on 28 April said that a shipment, bound for Iran from Russia, consisting of steel alloys weighing 22 tonnes used in the construction of advanced missiles could also be used for peaceful purposes and was ordered possibly by a private Iranian firm. He stated that the "Iranian government has started its own investigation," and highlighted the futility of attempts to politicize the incident. He also used the statement to once again deny that Iran is seeking access to missile technologies from Russia. (ITAR-TASS, 0727 GMT, 29 Apr 98; FBIS-NES-98-119)

Russian-Iranian cooperation in nuclear power engineering has "purely peaceful purposes and is in strict accordance with the Russian President's decisions and with the spirit and letter of the nonproliferation treaty," Russia's Acting Minister for Atomic Energy Yevgeni Adamov told US Under Secretary of State John Holum during an official visit to Moscow on 22 April.

The ministry's press service highlighted the fact that Iran as signatory of the treaty on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons is entitled to the peaceful development of nuclear technology. The press service also highlighted the fact that Iran was "among the first countries to sign this international document and put its nuclear activity under IAEA guarantees." (Interfax, 1803 GMT, 22 Apr 98; FBIS-TAC-98-112)

Kosovo situation may lead to war; borders should be secured
The secession of Kosovo from Serbia "may lead to a war that will be even worse than the one in Bosnia," Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeni Primakov told a conference at the Moscow Institute of Foreign Relations on 28 April. He said the secession would contradict "the interests of Serbia, historical justice and the task of stabilizing the situation in the area" and that "Russia is most resolutely opposed to attempts to tear Kosovo away from Serbia." Instead, "Russia's efforts in the contact group are directed at beginning a dialogue between the authorities of Serbia and the leaders of Kosovo Albanians," he said. (Interfax, 0939 GMT, 28 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-118)

Primakov also said that in the contact group Russia is pressing to stop attempts to bring militants and arms across the border to Kosovo. According to him, the Russian side has reasons to believe Albania has camps for training terrorists who are later sent to Kosovo. The foreign minister also stressed that "borders should be secured to prevent infiltration of this kind both from Albania and from Macedonia, and we are submitting our representations in this respect."

Comment:
Although Primakov recommends closing the borders, his plans to accomplish this are not clear. During previous interviews Primakov has repeatedly stressed the need to avoid deploying foreign troops to Kosovo to resolve the crisis. (ITAR-TASS World Service, 0845 GMT, 28 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-118)

Primakov concerned over Mideast peace deadlock
Primakov told reporters on 20 April that everything possible should be done to take the Mideast peace process "out of its present difficult situation." He also expressed concern that attempts have recently been made to separate Lebanon and Syria from the peace process. These statements were made at the conclusion of talks between Primakov and his Qatar counterpart which focused on the Mideast peace process as well as the current situation in Iraq. (Interfax, 1324 GMT, 20 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-110)

Comment:
Russia has recently been rebuilding Russian-Syrian relations partly in an attempt to play a role in the Mideast peace process and block US influence in the Mideast. The elimination of Syria from any formal negotiations in the Mideast would seriously undermine Primakov's foreign policy strategy for the area.

Primakov leaving? They're only rumors
Presidential press secretary Sergei Yastrzhembsky dismissed rumors of his intention to become Russia's foreign minister during a news conference in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk on 20 April. He referred to the rumors as speculation, stating that Primakov is doing a great job. He also noted the Russian diplomat's handling of the Iraqi crisis and the Kosovo situation as some of Primakov's recent successes and stated that, "the Foreign Ministry's policy is invariably supported by the president [and] thanks to it Russia [is] gradually establishing firm positions on the world arena."(Interfax, 1010 GMT, 20 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-110)

Travel ban lifted on 50 'state secrets' holders

The Russian foreign ministry on 14 April lifted travel restrictions on 50 citizens who were previously refused permission to travel abroad due to their knowledge of information that constituted state secrets. The foreign ministry said that, in accordance with current legislation, the commission lifted the restrictions on going abroad for the citizens and gave them the right to receive foreign passports. The commission left temporary restrictions in force for seven of the citizens who applied for permission to travel abroad. (Radiostantsiya Ekho Moskvy, 1150 GMT, 22 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-112)

******

Russia and China cooperation in nuclear power noted
A Russian atomic energy ministry official announced in early April that preparations are underway for the joint construction of a nuclear power plant near Lianyungang, China (Xinhua, 7 Apr 98; FBIS-CHI-98-098).

Another joint Russo-Chinese construction project, located near the Chinese city of Hanzhun, is also proceeding on schedule. The second phase of a three-stage project to build a gas centrifuge uranium enrichment plant is supposed to be completed by August of this year. The plant is expected to be fully operational by January 2002 (Interfax, 8 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-098).

No neckties lead to little progress
Russian President Boris Yel'tsin traveled to Japan for an informal "no neckties" meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto in mid-April. The meeting was scheduled as a follow-up to last Fall's summit where Yel'tsin showed some flexibility on the Kurile Island issue and proclaimed that the countries should sign a formal peace treaty by the year 2000. At this month's meeting, Yel'tsin proposed an even broader agreement on "peace, friendship and cooperation" between the two countries, noting that a simple peace treaty is "too narrow." In short, very little progress was made on either the peace treaty or the Kurile Island dispute because Tokyo wishes to link both settlements while Moscow refuses to do so (ITAR-TASS, 18 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-108).

Beating a hasty retreat
Within five days of President Yel'tsin's informal summit with Hashimoto, the Russian foreign ministry began retracting its official position regarding a peace treaty between the two nations. Although prior to the meeting the official Moscow line was a treaty by 2000, foreign ministry spokesman Sergei Kastornonow is now saying that "It will be very difficult for Russia and Japan to find a mutually acceptable solution to the territorial problem by that time," and then concluded that "a full-scale Russian Japanese treaty is unlikely to be completed by 2000" (Interfax, 22 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-112).

by Mark Jones


DOMESTIC ISSUES AND LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
ELECTIONS
Recent regional elections returns
Sverdlovsk: Fourteen vacancies in the local Duma were filled. Turnout was over 37 percent in what has been described as a rough-and-tumble campaign. The populist governor of the region, Eduard Rossel, was disappointed by the returns as his party, Preobrazheniye Urala (Transformation of the Urals), won only 9.5 percent of the vote. The most successful party was that of the Yekaterinburg mayor, Nash Dom-Nash Gorod (Our Home is Our City) which won 22 percent of the vote. A record 5,000 observers watched the election in addition to police posts set up to record violations as might occur. Vladimir Mostovshchikov, chairman of the regional electoral commission, admitted that a number of people were detained for giving voters (presumably alcoholic) drinks. (NTV, 1500 GMT, 13 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-103)

Lipetsk: The elections of the Regional Administration head in the Lipetsk region were won by Oleg Korolev, current chairman of the Regional Council of Deputies, with 79.38 percent. The incumbent, Mikhail Narolin, received only 13.81 percent. Korolev was supported by over 40 public organizations and parties, including Yabloko and Gennadi Zyuganov's Communist Party.

Penza: The incumbent governor of the Regional Administration, Anatoli Kovlyagin, lost with only 13 percent of the vote. Yuri Bochkarev, the chief of Penza's Zheleznodorozhny District, won with 60 percent of the vote. The Penza region's voters were to choose among five candidates.

Nenets autonomous district, Arkhangelsk: The residents of the Nenets autonomous district have finally elected a deputy to the Arkhangelsk regional legislature after Nenets dropped its drive for "sovereignty." Of the eight contenders, the voters gave preference to Communist Aleksandr Sablin, who polled 28.56 percent of the vote. (ITAR-TASS, 0805 GMT, 13 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-103)

Nikolaev elected from Moscow district to State Duma
The former chief of Russia's Federal Border Service, Andrei Nikolaev, has been elected to the Duma from Moscow's Orekhovo-Borisovo one-candidate constituency. Nikolaev won with 62.5 percent of the vote. Total turnout was 35 percent. Nikolaev resigned his military commission on 12 April so that he could enter the Duma as "citizen" Nikolaev.

Unsuccessful candidates for the seat filed suit against Nikolaev in Moscow city court citing election violations, but the suit was dismissed. The candidates next turned to the Russian Supreme Court, which is to hear the case sometime this week. (ITAR-TASS, 0805 GMT, 13 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-103)

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT
Potential power of Constitutional Court discussed
In an address to the nation before his trip to Japan in April, President Yel'tsin pointed to the importance of the 1993 constitution as the foundation of Russian society, and the role of the Constitutional Court as its guardian. "The role of the Constitutional Court is very important in defending the country's main law.... The main thing...is to ensure that all branches of power act in line with the law, respect the constitution, and strictly adhere to the Constitutional Court's decisions [which] are binding on everyone, including the President." But the president notes that during times of reform, "it is very dangerous to change the Constitution." In fact, on 13 April 1998, the president pointed out that there will be "no changes to the Constitution while I am President."

However, he also admits that there are glitches in the basic law which have become evident over time. For instance, who would become acting president should the president die or become incapacitated when there is no prime minister? This recently became an issue during the month-long struggle over Sergei Kirienko's nomination. (NTV, 1000 GMT, 13 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-103)

The president's categorical dismissal of constitutional amendment means that only the Federal Assembly or the Constitutional Court must address the holes in the constitution. But as neither the Federal Assembly nor the court seems particularly capable of opposing the wishes of the president when he is most adamant, the constitution remains, as it was born, a function of his power. The president seems to forget that the Federal Assembly is also a constitutional institution, and that his consistent disregard for its rules and procedures harms his beloved constitution. (Interfax, 1413 GMT, 17 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-107)

by Michael Thurman


ARMED FORCES
Rosvooruzhenie denies reports of shrinking revenues...
Director General Yevgeni Ananev of Rosvooruzhenie reported to the Duma's Defense Committee that the state's arms trader had already received orders totaling more than $8.5 billion for work out to the year 2003. According to Interfax, sources have reported that the amount may exceed $9 billion by the end of 1998. During a press conference held after the closed-door session with the Duma, Ananev cited many examples and statistics to refute claims that arms sales revenues had actually shrunk; he gave Russian President Yel'tsin's August 1997 decree "On Measures to Strengthen State Control Over Cooperation for Trade in Arms and Related Services with Foreign Countries" credit for much of the success. Ananev said that, since 1996, the number of importers had grown from 49 countries to 58 and that planned arms exports for 1998 would be almost $3.5 billion.

Ananev's primary argument was that the net gains due to arms sales have increased. During the press conference he pointed out that the former Soviet Union annually supplied weapons to countries with extremely limited budgets. He said that "our [Soviet] arms exports were an addition to our ideological expansion" and claimed that the practice of handing out arms for free had stopped. He compared 1997 arms exports proceeds of $2.5 billion to the Soviet arms exports in 1990 worth more than $16 billion but with gains of less than $900 million. (Interfax, 1404 GMT, 16 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-106, and Interfax, 0903 GMT, 28 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-118)

At the heart of the issue, though, is the impact to the actual defense industry. Various sources have claimed that Rosvooruzhenie charges an overhead fee of anywhere between 10 to 50 percent for coordinating arms trade. One move to help alleviate this has been the approval of 14 defense enterprises to operate on foreign markets directly. This, however, has brought concerns from the Ministry of Defense regarding the marketing of leading technology and the resulting security issues. It is important to note also that $8.5-9 billion worth of contracts up to the year 2003 actually equates to less than $2 billion in sales per year. New contracts are sure to come in, but many on the books could also disappear or be drastically reduced given current financial trends in the ASEAN region, which was until recently one of Russia's expanding markets.

...While Duma official warns of defense industry bankruptcies
Stepan Sulakshin, president of the Russian fund for high tech development and deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee for Industry, Construction, Transport and Power Engineering, told an industry conference on 23 April that every other Russian defense enterprise is on the verge of bankruptcy. According to ITAR-TASS, Sulakshin said that the conversion of the military-industrial complex is not properly financed and not yielding positive results. Only 15.5 percent of the budgeted funds (which were less than half of what was originally requested) were actually allocated for defense conversion in 1997. Civilian product output is three times lower in volume than four years ago. Further aggravating the problems is that the government is only financing 40 to 50 percent of its contracted defense orders. Conference participants reportedly felt that all players, from high-tech developers to banks and leasing companies, need to work jointly towards a solution. Emphasis on transnational corporations was presented as a possible mechanism. (ITAR-TASS, 1416 GMT, 23 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-114)

Additional evidence is accumulating which casts much of the Russian defense industry closer to death's door than the road to recovery. Two thousand workers at the Sokol aviation plant in Nizhni Novgorod were placed on compulsory four-month leave on two-thirds pay. According to ITAR-TASS, only managers and specialists engaged in export production will keep working. While this situation may be an example of the current environment found in the Russian defense industry, it also indicates that drastic, but probably most necessary, actions are beginning to be taken. Chubais and Urinson have both previously stated that many enterprises will indeed shut down, since the state could no longer afford such a large, redundant industrial base. A rather satirical question concerning the compulsory leave does come to mind though, considering the still-demoralizing arrears problem that is rampant throughout the Russian defense industry. Is the two-thirds wages more or less than what the workers have been paid over the last year?

by LtCol Dwyer Dennis

*****

Defense minister snubs NATO commander
Claiming he had a full schedule and was called away to a meeting at the Federation Council, Marshal Sergeev unexpectedly canceled a meeting with visiting NATO commander General Wesley Clark on 22 April. General Clark had met with chief of the Russian General Staff, Anatoli Kvashnin, on 20 April. Also in Russia, on an unrelated trip, was Italian Defense Minister Beniamino Andreatta. The Italian defense minister was received by the busy marshal and several military cooperation agreements were signed. (ITAR-TASS, 1302 GMT, 20 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-110, Jamestown Monitor, 23 Apr 98, and Jamestown Monitor, 24 Apr 98)


'Plotters' arrested in Volgograd Army Corps
The Segodnya newscast reported several soldiers who were assigned to units in the North Caucasus district have been arrested for unspecified plots against the government. The North Caucasus Military District Commander, General Viktor Kazantsev, said the "threads stretch even to the State Duma." The chairman of the Duma Defense Committee, retired General Lev Rokhlin, had previously been the commanding general for several of the troops arrested. (NTV, 1800 GMT, 25 Apr 98: FBIS-SOV-98-115)


Comment:
During the summer and fall General Rokhlin was extremely active and outspoken in his opposition to President Yel'tsin and routinely called for the president's removal from office. He founded a group of retired and active duty officers and defense industrialists to speak out on the plight of the Russian military. Many of General Rokhlin's speeches came perilously close to advocating an overthrow of the government or having military forces take an active role in government in order to halt the decline of the Russian military.


by CDR Curtis Stevens


NEWLY INDEPENDENT STATES
CIS
Heads of State hold summit
The twice postponed Heads of State meeting was finally held in Moscow on 29 April. Unlike previous conferences, which often took up several days, this summit apparently only lasted three hours. In keeping with past meetings, the council failed to sign any significant documents and did not issue a joint communique at the end of the conference. Commenting on the failure to issue a joint statement, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev said, "What is the sense if nothing is decided?" Nazarbaev went on to describe the summit as "totally empty" and "leading nowhere."

The issue of establishing an "interstate forum," first put forward by Ukrainian President Kuchma and Yel'tsin after their bilateral meeting last month--and one of the main agenda items--was shelved until at least July. The question of CIS military cooperation and planning through the year 2001 was also postponed due to a lack of consensus among the presidents. The Russian-sponsored "Declaration on the Further Development of Equitable Partnership and Cooperation in the CIS" was also voted down due to objections from Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan because it did not contain language confirming the territorial integrity of CIS member states. Russian initiatives were not the only ones to receive short shrift. President Nazarbaev's proposal to create a single CIS economic space and a free trade zone was also rejected (Intelnews, 30 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-120, Jamestown Monitor, 30 Apr 98, and ITAR-TASS, 29 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-119).

Commonwealth leadership posts filled
The biggest shock to come out of the CIS summit was the appointment of Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky as CIS executive secretary. Berezovsky takes the post from Belarusian Ivan Korotchenya, who held it since 1991 when the secretariat was known as the CIS working group. Berezovsky's appointment may be seen as a shift in policy for Moscow from an attempt to dominate the CIS politically and militarily to a policy which recognizes economic dominance as the critical locus. If there were any question of the extent to which Korotchenya was Yel'tsin's lapdog, the Russian president promised to find the dismissed secretary an "equal post" in the future. It will be interesting to see if that post materializes in the Russian government (Interfax, 1028 GMT, 29 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-119).

Boris Yel'tsin was again elected to the post of chairman of the Council of Heads of State, this time until the year 2000. In a somewhat surprising move--in that it actually fulfills the requirement of the CIS charter to rotate leadership positions--Uzbek Prime Minister Utkir Sultanov was elected chairman of the Council of Heads of Government and Aueznur Kazhenov was appointed to preside over the CIS Economic Court. Now that Berezovsky has been named executive secretary, it is likely that power will begin flowing away from these councils and toward the secretariat. Therefore, these non-Russian appointments may be strictly ceremonial (Interfax, 1028 GMT, 29 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-119).

Major General Sergei Korobko's status as commander of CIS peacekeeping forces in Georgia was confirmed by the heads of state. Korobko has been serving as acting commander of the unit for several months after President Shevardnadze requested the expulsion of the old commander for "taking sides" in the Abkhazian conflict (ITAR-TASS, 29 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-119).

Russia guts its CIS bureaucracy
Russian Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko's government reforms have destroyed the special status previously enjoyed by Russia's CIS bureaucracy. When Kirienko reduced the number of deputy premier slots to three, he eliminated the post of deputy premier for CIS affairs, the position Ivan Rybkin filled just last month. He then abolished the CIS cooperation ministry, leaving Anatoli Adamishin, who took the post approximately six months ago, without a job. The functions of the ministry are being transferred to the foreign ministry, and probably to First Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov, who has said that, although several commonwealth countries have pursued friendly relations with capitols other than Moscow, "We shall not allow this process to develop to the detriment of Russia's interests" (Jamestown Monitor, 1 May 98, and Interfax, 30 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-120).

Special services' chiefs meet
Russian Federal Security Service director Nikolai Kovalev chaired the third meeting of the CIS council of special services' chiefs in Yerevan a few days prior to the Heads of State meeting. Representatives of all countries except Azerbaijan attended. Kovalev ended the session by saying, "We have come to the unambiguous conclusion that it is necessary to unite efforts and will do our utmost towards this end." He also reported that 15 documents had been signed and, although their contents were classified, at least a few dealt with the "military technical aspect" of cooperation.

The conference, mirroring previous meetings, addressed procedures to combat terrorism, organized crime, economic crimes and illegal migration. An agreement to exchange information on the movements of known members of terrorist organizations was approved and additional work on the joint data bank developed last year was completed (ITAR-TASS, 27-28 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-116 and FBIS-SOV-98-117; Snark, 28 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-118).

CIS peacekeeping zone extended--again
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze said that the CIS decided to expand the Russian peacekeepers' patrol zone in Georgia. A similar decree was issued last March by the heads of state but was never enforced. This time the order comes from the CIS Collective Security Council (formed in Tashkent in 1992) and was not addressed at the Heads of State summit. It is improbable, however, that the new order will meet with any more success than the previous one (Interfax, 1512 GMT, 29 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-119).

The 'Four' become 'Five'
Prime ministers from the "Group of Four" (Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan) held a meeting chaired by Kyrgyz Prime Minister Kubanychbeck Zhumaliev on 28 April in Moscow. The group spent most of its time discussing how best to forge a single economic space in the CIS. The main event at the meeting was the inclusion of Tajikistan as a full member. The council also agreed to adopt Kazakh President Nazarbaev's "Ten Simple Steps" as the model for future economic integration. The steps include mutual recognition of university diplomas and scientific degrees, as well as simplification of money transfers and postal deliveries. They also call for allowing free passage across state borders, and simplifying the procedure for gaining citizenship.

The council adopted a treaty on the legal status of citizens of one country permanently living in another member state, stipulating that such citizens are not subject to restrictions on their rights or "additional obligations which may be set for foreign citizens in the receiving country." The group also decided to move its headquarters from Moscow to Almaty (ITAR-TASS, 28 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-118, and Interfax, 28 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-118). Despite their work, however, the heads of state decided not to adopt further economic integration for the entire CIS. Nazarbaev's plan, therefore, will only be used by "The Five."


by Mark Jones


WESTERN REGION
MOLDOVA
New Alliance for Democratic Reforms holds a majority in the parliament
After almost five weeks of political maneuvering the right-wing Democratic Convention of Moldova (CDM) and the Party of Democratic Forces (PFD) signed an agreement with the pro-presidential Bloc for Democratic and Prosperous Moldova (BMDP) to form the ruling Alliance for Democracy and Reforms (ADR). By joining ranks they effectively quashed any hopes that Moldova's Communist Party retained to dominate the parliament with its 41 seats. The ADR's combined total is 60 seats.

The ADR was made possible by the reconciliation of Moldova's President Petru Lucinschi and his predecessor Mircea Snegur, head of the Party of Rebirth and Conciliation, which joined forces with the Moldovan Popular Front to form the CDM for the parliamentary elections. (Infotag, 1800 GMT, 28 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-118) The two had not met since Lucinschi assumed office on 15 January 1997. Snegur said that the three parties had to disregard their ideological differences, since the "next four years would be hard" ones in order to solve Moldova's economic crisis. (Rompress, 1420 GMT, 27 Apr 98; FBIS-EEU-98-117)

However, this arrangement is one of convenience rather than genuine reconciliation of party platforms. The first cracks in the alliance appeared over negotiations for Moldova's new prime minister. The CDM won the right to name the new prime minister after ceding the parliament's chairmanship to the BMPD's candidate, Dumitru Diacov. Infighting broke out in the CDM when Snegur's group protested the Popular Front's nomination of parliament deputy and economist Valentin Dolganiuc. President Lucinschi also protested the nomination, saying he preferred someone who had no prior strong political affiliations. (Basapress, 2000 GMT, 30 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-121) When it became clear that the Popular Front would not name a new candidate, Snegur allied himself with the BMPD in favor of current Prime Minister Ion Ciubuc, who with his cabinet had formally resigned last week. Ciubuc was instructed by President Lucinschi to form a new government on 6 May. (Jamestown Monitor, 7 May 98)

In the Gagauz-Yeri autonomous oblast the new coalition has not been widely recognized. In its stead the region's parliamentarians are seeking to form a new party. Halk Birlii, leader of the Unity of the People Party, said that the new party would be "aimed at uniting patriots of the (oblast)...and South Moldova in order to avoid a union between Moldova and Romania." During the parliamentary elections the Constitutional Court vetoed a proposal by the oblast's parliament to hold simultaneously a referendum on a constitution for the region. (Basapress, 1600 GMT, 24 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-116)


Transdniestr's hopes to join Russian-Belarusian Union vetoed
At the recent CIS summit in Moscow, Russia's President Boris Yel'tsin and Ukraine's Leonid Kuchma issued a joint statement disapproving of a region-wide poll in Transdniestr on the regions joining the Russian-Belarusian Union. The poll is being run by a local pro-union movement, with the assistance of Alexandru Caraman, Transdniestr's vice president, from 25 April through 15 May. (Basapress, 2000 GMT, 30 Apr 98: FBIS-SOV-98-121)

This statement in support of Moldova's claim to the region contradicts reports by Bender city's Mayor Fedor Dobrov, who says he attended talks on Transdniestr joining the union at the ministry level in both Minsk and Moscow. He said that Transdniestr hopes to achieve observer status in the Union soon, as have some Armenian and Ukrainian political groups. (Infotag, 1600 GMT, 24 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-114)



BELARUS
Hints of the Soviet era still abound...
At the annual May Day parade many persons took to the streets of Minsk holding pictures of Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenka above their heads and with slogans one could have seen in Moscow's Red Square 12 to 15 years ago: "No to War, but Yes to Meat and Sugar." (NTV, 1200 GMT, 1 May 98; FBIS-SOV-98-121)

The Soviet-esque march followed a meeting Lukashenka held with state officials four days previously, during which he demanded that they "improve their efficiency." Lukashenka cited polls in which 60 percent of Belarusians believed bureaucrats are "indifferent to people and nearly half said... (the authorities) were engaged in red tape and lacked general culture." He said that a team of Belarusian scientists had been gathered to create an ideology of the state that would direct and inspire citizens in "constructive work." As in the days of the Soviet Union, propagandists in charge of ideological activities have been assigned to large state-owned factories and farms. (Interfax, 1624 GMT, 27 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-117)


Russian youth join the Belarusian opposition in protest
During a 25 April rally to commemorate Belarus's Chernobyl victims, plainclothes policemen detained between 30 to 40 demonstrators. Included among the detainees were 15 Russian minors, some as young as 14 years old. They are members of the Moscow-based Antifascist Youth action. Their leader, Petru Kaznacheev, said at the rally that the group came to Minsk because "Belarus had become an island of dictatorship and turned into an ordinary police state." (Belapan, 1409 GMT, 26 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-116) The following day the group was deported to the Russian town Smolensk. They were accompanied on a train by a Belarusian security convoy.


Progress of Union lagging
During a visit to Moscow for the CIS Summit, Lukashenka spoke to a group of students at Moscow's Literary Institute. He told them that Russia was not yet ready for a "full-fledged union" with Belarus. He criticized the slowness of unification, citing hundreds of signed agreements that had yet to be implemented. Lukashenka said cooperation was vital and that he could not "be indifferent to what is going on in Russia. If Russia sinks, everybody else will." (Interfax, 1448 GMT, 28 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-118) The next day in a meeting with Lukashenka, Russian President Boris Yel'tsin said he believed that relations between the two states were progressing "well enough." (ITAR-TASS, 0946 GMT, 28 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98- 118)



UKRAINE
Tarasyuk's pro-NATO statements
Boris Tarasyuk, Ukraine's new foreign minister, is already out campaigning for Ukraine's closer integration with the West. In an interview with Uryadovyy Kuryer just prior to his appointment, he emphasized that "NATO remains the only security structure which has the means to maintain peace in Europe." Tarasyuk stated that Ukraine and even Russia should consider joining the organization.

In the same interview he said Ukraine's "long term strategic goal was EU membership." At this time, however, he believes that Ukraine is not ready to join the economic union, since the country lacks the necessary infrastructure and bureaucratic apparatus to maintain the EU's standards. (Uryadovyy Kuryer, 18 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-119)


Punches thrown in fight for new speaker in Crimea's parliament
As the new Crimean parliament convened in Simferopol on 29 April, protesters stood outside demanding Communist candidate Leonid Grach be appointed parliament speaker after Crimean Prime Minister Anatoli Franchuk tried to have him barred from running. Inside the parliament, the dispute evolved into a fist fight. Franchuk supports the reelection of former speaker Anatoli Gritsenko. Grach accused Franchuk of attempting to place his own puppet in the post, and promised that if elected he would immediately dismiss the PM. (Intelnews, 0149 GMT, 30 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-120)

As of 5 May the dispute had not been settled, although the Communists had appealed to Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, the Rada and the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly to intervene. (Jamestown Monitor, 5 May 98)


Cooperation is always rewarded
On 6 May the United States signed an agreement with Ukraine enabling it to produce its own nuclear fuel for reactors. Currently Ukraine purchases fuel rods from Russia. The deal is said to be worth $30 million. The initiative is clearly a reward for Ukraine's backing out of its prior contract with Russia to provide turbines to a nuclear power plant in Iran. (Jamestown Monitor, 6 May 98)

by Tracy Gerstle


CAUCASUS
GEORGIA
Defense minister resigns amid sabotage charges
Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze resigned on 27 April amid charges of failing to provide military escort planes for the presidential plane. At the same time, it became publicly known that military personnel were suspected of involvement in the 9 February attempt to assassinate President Shevardnadze.

On 27 April, Shevardnadze revealed that all of Georgia's tanks in the vicinity of Tbilisi were sabotaged on the day of the assassination attempt. The tanks had been drained of motor oil and hence could not have been used to secure the capital had the assassination attempt succeeded. Shevardnadze disclosed that "the brother of one of the terrorists was the commander of that tank battalion," and indicated that an investigation was underway. (Radio Tbilisi Network, 0800 GMT, 27 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-117)

The defense minister's resignation was linked specifically with the sabotage of Georgian planes while they were being serviced at a Russian base. The planes were supposed to provide escort for the presidential plane during Shevardnadze's trip to Turkey but were disabled when sand and stones were placed in their engines. Neither the Georgian prosecutor, Badri Bitsadze, nor the president blamed Russia for the incident. Instead they emphasized that the servicing of the planes was a routine procedure that should not have taken place at the Russian bases at all. (Radio Rossii, 1800 GMT, 27 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-117) The former defense minister has not been formally charged with any crime; on the contrary, Shevardnadze praised his accomplishments at reorganizing the Georgian military. At least thus far, Nadibaidze has not fled to Russia.

The new defense minister, Colonel Davit Tevzade, served previously as the head of the Main Military Inspection of the Georgian Armed Forces General Staff. He earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from Tbilisi University. A native of Sukhumi, he joined the armed forces in 1992 as a battalion commander and rose to brigade leader during the war with Abkhazia. In 1994-95 he attended courses at the NATO military college in Rome and in 1996-97 attended classes at the military college of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. (ITAR-TASS, 1711 GMT, 27 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-117, and ITAR-TASS, 1712 GMT, 28 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-118)

After Tevzade was confirmed by parliament, Shevardnadze promoted him to the rank of major-general and introduced him to the ministry staff on 30 April. (Interfax, 30 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-120) Shevardnadze emphasized the following as the most important and immediate challenges for the armed forces:

  • Improvements in living conditions for military servicemen
  • Making military service as safe as possible
  • Further restructuring and "borrow[ing] the best from international military practice"
  • Expanding contacts with CIS states and within the bounds of the NATO PfP program
  • Expanding cooperation with the armies of other countries in the Caucasus

by Miriam Lanskoy


CENTRAL ASIA
KAZAKHSTAN
Russia, Kazakhstan settle differences on Caspian division and Baikonur
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev and Russian President Boris Yel'tsin met in Moscow on 28 April to sign a statement on their agreement over the division of the Caspian Sea bed. The two presidents will sign a formal agreement on the seabed's division in early July. The statement also called for the leaders of all the other littoral states to make greater efforts to reach an agreement on the sea's legal status (Interfax, 1158 GMT, 28 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-118). The Kazakh and Russian presidents were able to resolve most of their differences over the division of the Caspian Sea's resources at a 9 April meeting in Moscow, where they agreed that, although the seabed should be divided into national sectors along median lines, the sea's surface should not be divided and should be demilitarized (Interfax, 1809 GMT, 9 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-099). Agreements on shipping and fishing rights and on environmental considerations will need to be addressed by all of the littoral states together (Interfax, 0935 GMT, 20 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-110).

The two presidents were also able to reach an initial settlement of the Baikonur lease agreement. President Yel'tsin agreed that the Russian government should pay $115 million for its use of the Baikonur space station in 1998. The $460 million which the Russian government owes for its lease of the facilities over the past four years will be repaid in increments, once the two countries' governments have agreed on how to restructure the debt (ITAR-TASS, 0704 GMT, 21 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-111).

Kazakhstan adopts plan for nuclear energy development
On 14 April, the Kazakh government approved a draft program for the development of its nuclear energy sector. The draft calls for three nuclear reactors to be built at Lake Balkhash, each capable of supplying 640 megawatts of electricity. These reactors are to provide electricity mainly for Kazakhstan's southern regions, which are currently dependent on Uzbek power supplies. The draft program also proposes that additional nuclear reactors be built in Almaty, Akmola, and Ust-Kamenogorsk (Kazakhstanskaya pravda, 15 Apr 98, p. 1; FBIS-TAC-98-110).

The Lake Balkhash reactors are to begin producing electricity in 2005. US $440 million have been allocated for the construction of the reactors, which are to be Russian VVER-type reactors. The Kazakh government intends to raise the necessary funds for the Balkhash complex's construction principally by selling weapons-grade uranium to Russia (ITAR-TASS, 1140 GMT, 23 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-113).

TAJIKISTAN
90% of UTO troops registered, but only 40% have disarmed
On 29 April, Mizrob Kabirov, state advisor to President Rahmonov, announced to the Interfax news agency that approximately 4,000 United Tajik Opposition (UTO) troops are now registered and stationed in special training camps, in compliance with the terms of the peace agreement's military protocol. According to Kabirov's calculations, this means that at least 90 percent of the UTO's units have been registered. Those opposition troops who are considered physically fit enough are to be integrated eventually into Tajikistan's national army. The implementation of the measures specified in the military protocol is six months behind schedule, but Kabirov stated that the process would be completed by 1 July, in line with the deadline set by the International Contact Group at its 28 April meeting.

The International Contact Group (its members are the ambassadors of the various countries which have agreed to guarantee the implementation of the peace agreement) also unanimously called for the already much-delayed repatriation of the 500 UTO troops who remain in Afghanistan to be carried out no later than 25 May. Plans for how to transport these UTO troops and their weapons across the border (via the Lower Panj checkpoint) and to their bases in the Garm and Tavildora regions were still under discussion by representatives of the Tajik government, the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC), the UTO, the command of the CIS Joint Peacekeeping Forces, and the UN mission (Interfax, 0704 GMT, 29 Apr 98; FBIS-UMA-98-119).

Another cause for concern among the members of the International Contact Group, and of the various international agencies which are involved in carrying out the terms of the peace agreement, is the fact that although nearly all of the UTO troops may now be registered, more than half of their arms have not. Thus far, only 40 percent of the UTO troops' weapons have been registered, according to a statement released by members of the UN Observer Mission on 29 April (Interfax, 1241 GMT, 29 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-119).


Comment:
The huge influx of weapons into Tajikistan caused by the civil war is most likely the leading cause for the rising rate of violent crimes in the country, especially in and around Dushanbe, which is currently host to representatives of several different political and military factions.

Slow progress in the peace agreement's political protocol
On 25 April, a UTO representative announced to the press that Said Abdullo Nuri, the leader of the UTO and chairman of the NRC, had sent a letter to President Rahmonov nominating another eight opposition members to posts in the Tajik government. Nuri has proposed that these opposition members be appointed to head two ministries and five government organizations and also to fill another deputy prime minister's post. The names of the nominees were not identified (Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 1600 GMT, 25 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-115).

New clashes reported in Kofarnihon and near Dushanbe
According to a Tajik defense ministry spokesman, government forces (Tajik defense ministry troops) were attacked by UTO troops on 29 April outside Rokhaty, a village located 10 kilometers east of Dushanbe, after they refused to meet the opposition group's demand that they abandon their post. The government troops eventually withdrew to a nearby military block post, but the UTO units again opened fire on them in the early evening. The government troops returned fire, and were subsequently joined by reinforcements from Dushanbe. Clashes between the two groups continued into the morning of the following day (Interfax, 0728 GMT, 30 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-120).

On the morning of 30 April, a large group of UTO troops attacked a Tajik defense ministry post in Kofarnihon, on the highway leading to Dushanbe. An unknown number of casualties were reported on both sides, as well as injuries to civilians. The same morning attacks were also reported on a border troop unit, an interior ministry troop detachment, and on three police posts. According to Radio Tajikistan, all of these attacks were launched by UTO units (Radio Tajikistan Second Channel Network, 1400 GMT, 30 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-120).


by Monika Shepherd

BALTIC STATES
LATVIA
Changes come about in citizenship law
The For the Fatherland and Freedom /LNNK faction finally acceded to pressure from fellow government coalition members, international agencies, and the wishes of much of Latvia's population in early May by agreeing to a loosening of the country's citizenship law. On 6 May the government announced a change in the law that will grant citizenship to all children born in Latvia after 21 August 1991 regardless of their parents' citizenship, provided the parents have been living legally in Latvia for at least five years. (RFE/RL Newsline, 7 May 98)

According to the agreement that formed the ruling coalition government, changes to the law on citizenship were possible only by unanimous agreement of all coalition members. For the Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK had consistently been the holdout in any discussion of the citizenship law, seeking instead to toughen existing citizenship requirements. Apparently increased pressure from the international community--spurred by heightened tensions in Latvian-Russian relations since the beginning of March--and an awareness of Latvia's tenuous position without support from outside the Baltic area brought about the change of mind.

Relations between Latvia and Russia could not have been termed "good" for several years. The chief reason stated publicly has been the large, primarily Russian-speaking, non-citizen population in Latvia. Russia repeatedly used the existence of approximately 200,000 non-citizens in attempts to influence Latvia's domestic policy and to force--through international pressure--blanket naturalization of the entire population. (As has been noted in previous digests, while an estimated 121,000 non-citizens were eligible to apply for naturalization in 1997, only 2,994 did so, according to Elizenija Aldermane, head of the naturalization department. Moreover, Aldermane reported that less than five percent of applicants were denied due to insufficient command of the language or knowledge of Latvian history. See ISCIP Editorial Digest, 4 February 1998). Russia's oft-cited charges of human rights violations were never proven; in fact, international observers refuted the claims. As recently as February a member of a group of visiting French MPs described such allegations as Russian propaganda which no one in Europe took seriously. (BNS Daily Report, 1600 GMT, 14 Feb 98)

What non-citizens do lack primarily are certain political rights. Still, it appears this lack of political rights means more to Russia than it does to the non-citizens themselves. A study on the formation of a civic society in Latvia, prepared by the Baltijas Datu Nams company, demonstrated that the main reasons behind the slow naturalization of non-citizens included uncertainty about their ability to pass the language and history examinations, lack of interest, and alienation from the state. Although the requirements of the naturalization tests were cited as primary reasons behind the slow pace of naturalization, however, two-thirds of the alien population admitted that they were not personally acquainted with test requirements and knew nothing about the documents needed. (BNS Daily Report, 1700 GMT, 18 Mar 98). In addition, it seems as though the intransigence of For the Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK is not shared by the population at large: The study showed that 82 percent of citizens and 95 percent of non-citizens supported the naturalization of aliens' children, while the option of naturalizing all persons who were born in Latvia has the support of 56 percent of citizens and 91 percent of non-citizens. (BNS, 1100 GMT, 19 Mar 98)

Unfortunately, a series of events in the past couple of months provided Russia with ammunition in its public relations war against Latvia: Police forcibly dispersed a rally of over 1,000 elderly, mostly Russian-speaking, picketers in the capital after main thoroughfares had been blocked (no injuries were reported); a parade and gathering to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the Latvian SS legion was held in Riga and attended by some government officials, although their participation was unsanctioned (Radio Riga Network, 1000 GMT, 16 Mar 98; FBIS-SOV-98-075); and bombs damaged a Riga synagogue (BNS Daily Report, 1100 GMT, 2 Apr 98), the Russian embassy (BNS Daily Report, 1400 GMT, 6 Apr 98) and a monument to Russian World War II soldiers in Dobele (Interfax, 0808 GMT, 5 May 98; FBIS-SOV-98-125). During a meeting of the OSCE permanent council in Vienna, Russia's attempts to characterize the rally dispersal as ethnic discrimination met with little support--most members saw the police action as being aimed at the restoration of public order. Only Belarus accepted Russia's stance. (BNS Daily Report, 1700 GMT, 12 Mar 98). Russia then submitted a draft resolution on the situation in Latvia to the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva (ITAR-TASS World Service, 1349 GMT, 2 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-092). The resolution went nowhere. When attempts to draw international censure against Latvia failed, Russia turned to economic threats--a move which earned a rebuke from the OSCE. While calling on Latvia to review its attitude toward national minorities, Polish Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek, the OSCE chairman, stated at a news conference on 15 April that Russia had overreacted, and that the OSCE was dissatisfied with the policy of sanctions. (Radio Riga Network, 0900 GMT, 15 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-105) Foreign ministers of the Nordic countries and representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) also condemned Russia's policy of economic pressure. (Radio Riga Network, 1100 GMT, 22 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-112, and Radio Riga Network, 1700 GMT, 29 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-119)

While Russia was unable to bring down international condemnation upon Latvia, the heightened tensions did result in strong comments from international players which no doubt led to the 6 May action by the government. The citizenship law change followed the recommendation of OSCE High Commissioner for Ethnic Nationalities Max van der Stoel, a regular visitor to Latvia, who had been suggesting changes in Latvia's citizenship and language law for quite a while. More recently, van der Stoel upped the ante, warning Latvia that the country risked international isolation if it continued to ignore OSCE advice. (BNS Daily Report, 1700 GMT, 31 Mar 98) A few days later, former US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke visited Riga and advised Latvia to continue to examine the citizenship issue. (BNS Daily Report, 1700 GMT, 2 Apr 98) At about the same time, van der Stoel was able to note increasing support for his recommendations in the Saeima. (BNS Daily Report, 1900 GMT, 2 Apr 98) By mid-April the three largest factions in parliament--Latvian Way, For the Fatherland and Freedom, and Saimnieks--had agreed to offer the opportunity for naturalization to children of non-citizens once they reached the age of 16 and had passed the language test or completed schooling in Latvian. (Radio Riga Network, 1500 GMT, 14 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-104) Moreover, during a discussion between US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and Latvia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Valdis Birkavs in Washington, DC, Talbott reportedly also weighed in on the side of the OSCE recommendations. (Radio Riga Network, 2000 GMT, 24 Apr 98; FBIS-SOV-98-115)

One must tread carefully when examining these developments, however. Although in the end, Russia did manage to succeed in applying pressure to affect Latvian domestic policy, the international community cannot be assumed to have fallen for Russia's line. The aim of such players as the OSCE, the UN, and others seems to be a refusal to allow either Latvia or Russia to become so entrenched in rhetoric that all chances for good relations evaporate.


by Kate Martin



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