Editorial Digest Volume III Number 18 (December 9, 1998)
RUSSIAN FEDERATION EXECUTIVE BRANCH
PRESIDENCY Yel'tsin returns (briefly); shakes up apparat
President Yel'tsin took a break from his hospital routine to put in a few
hours at the Kremlin on Monday, 7 December. As a result of his sojourn,
Valentin Yumashev, Yevgeni Savostyanov, Mikhail Komissar, and surprisingly,
the Kremlin veteran and FAPSI Chief General Aleksandr Starovoitov have been
sacked; Yuri Yarov was relieved of his administrative tasks and named Yel'tsin's
representative to the Federation Council; and General Nikolai Bordyuzha,
secretary of the Security Council, has been tapped to replace Yumashev as
chief of staff. Yel'tsin has also decided to assume direct presidential
supervision of the Justice Ministry and the Tax Police.
One theory on the dismissal of FAPSI Chief Starovoitov suggests that his
removal was a precondition for Bordyuzha's acceptance of the chief of staff
position. Bordyuzha served briefly, and apparently unhappily, in the Starovoitov-directed
FAPSI. The new head of FAPSI is Starovoitov's former deputy, Vladislav Sherstyuk.
(ITAR-TASS, 7 Dec 98; nexis) Sherstyuk holds the rank of Colonel-General
and formerly worked in a technical section of the USSR KGB. He was appointed
a deputy director of FAPSI in 1995. Another former FAPSI staffer, Vladimir
Makarov, who was a deputy director from 1992 until his retirement from the
service in 1994, has been named a deputy chief of the President's administration.
(Russian Public Television, 1800 GMT, 7 Dec 98; BBC, 9 Dec 98/nexis)
ORT shares flap
Boris Berezovsky's allegation that he had turned over 26% of Russian Public
Television (ORT) to President Yel'tsin was, in part, confirmed by former
Kremlin security chief Aleksandr Korzhakov. According to Korzhakov, Berezovsky
gave him notice of power of attorney transferring rights to the ORT shares
to President Yel'tsin in 1994.
While Yel'tsin's press secretary, Yakushkin, denied that ORT shares were
transferred to "the President's ownership or control," (Radio
Mayak Network, 1636 GMT, 18 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-323) he conceded that someone
could have "transferred warrants" without the recipient's knowledge.
Deputy chief of the Presidential Staff Yevgeni Savostyanov, when asked to
comment on the ORT shares issue, claimed that "The President was assigned
the right to them [ORT shares] only for the duration of his term of office."
(Segodnya, 26 Nov 98; BBC, 28 Nov 98/nexis) Control of a significant stake
in Russian Public Television is apparently considered a presidential perquisite.
In later comments, Korzhakov further asserted that Boris Berezovsky is blackmailing
the president and his family, threatening to publish scandalous material
"if he is touched." (Interfax, 1236 GMT, 26 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-330)
APPARAT Yastrzhembsky joins Luzhkov's team
Whether or not Sergei Yastrzhembsky's support for Yuri Luzhkov as prime
ministerial candidate in September caused his abrupt dismissal from Yel'tsin's
staff, we can at least confirm his general sympathy for Luzhkov now, as
he has just joined the Moscow city government as a deputy prime minister
in charge of public and interregional ties. (ITAR-TASS World Service, 1011
GMT, 18 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98- 322) It also seems likely that Yastrzhembsky
will play a significant role in Luzhkov's newly created political movement,
New local government council decreed
President Yel'tsin has created a new Council on Local Self-Government to
coordinate between "federal and regional state bodies and local self-government
for the implementation of state policy." (ITAR-TASS World Service,
1110 GMT, 14 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-319) According to the edict, President
Yel'tsin will chair the council with Boris Nemtsov as his deputy and a membership
of 58, including several government ministers, presidential apparatchiks,
regional leaders and others. This is not the first report to suggest that
Nemtsov would be re-involved with the current administration, and while
he may well take up this position, other reports of his involvement have
SECURITY COUNCIL Will 'extremism' re-invigorate the Security Council?
During a meeting with law enforcement officials (not held under SC auspices),
the problem of extremism, which SC Secretary Nikolai Bordyuzha warned could
lead to the disintegration of the state, prompted the scheduling of a full
Security Council session on 20 November to address this topic. Participants
in the initial meeting discussed "practical steps for control of rallies
and marches where extremist slogans are often voiced...." (Interfax,
1008 GMT, 13 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-317)
Following close on the heels of the security officials' gathering, a "routine
meeting" of the SC Interdepartmental Commission for International Security
was chaired by Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, during which the implementation
of Russia's national security concept was addressed, in addition to the
coordination of policy efforts in the international arena. At issue during
the Ivanov meeting was the maintenance of a unified foreign policy on behalf
of all the regions of the Russian Federation. The most notable achievement
of this commission meeting was the assertion of primacy for the foreign
ministry in all international issues, which may explain why a subsequent
document on the composition of the Security Council, issued by the presidential
apparat, listed former foreign minister and current Prime Minister Primakov
first in the SC membership behind the president, rather than SC Secretary
Bordyuzha as has been the usual practice. (ITAR-TASS World Service, 1451
GMT, 20 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-324) It remains to be seen what impact Bordyuzha's
elevation to chief of the President's staff will have on the status of the
GOVERNMENT Tax police under investigation...
A new Governmental Interdepartmental Commission has been established to
investigate and inspect the operations of the Tax Police. Chaired by Deputy
Justice Minister Yevgeni Sidorenko, the commission is charged with producing
a report on the effectiveness of the Tax Police, to be submitted by 15 December.
Commission membership includes security (foreign and domestic) and finance
officials, as well as currency and customs officers. (ITAR-TASS, 1218 GMT,
19 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-323)
...And privatization policy too
PM Primakov continues to ponder the crimes of his predecessors. At a recent
meeting of a council on Far East trade, Primakov vowed to "carry out
to the end the investigation into illegal privatization." (Interfax,
1135 GMT, 19 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-323) Primakov's examples of illegal privatization
included the controversial Svyazinvest auction as well as Purneftegaz.
Rosvooruzhenie leadership battle results in Primakov score
Igor Maslyukov, who has been agitating for changes in the executive offices
of Rosvooruzhenie since his appointment in July, has finally attained part
of his goal: Managing Director Yevgeni Ananev has been replaced. (Interfax,
1334 GMT, 27 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-331) For Maslyukov, however, the good news
ends there. The new head of Rosvooruzhenie is not Maslyukov's candidate,
but rather a former deputy director of the FIS and deputy secretary of the
Security Council, Grigori Rapota. (Moscow News, No. 47, 3 Dec 98; nexis)
Rapota's connection to the once Primakov-led FIS extends beyond his tenure
as deputy director--he is also the husband of the longtime press spokesperson
for the FIS director, Tatiana Samolis. This appointment, coming after a
hard-fought battle for control of the state arms trading company, represents
another victory for Primakov in his increasingly obvious effort to consolidate
both formal and informal authority under his personal direction.
What did Mironov do?
Terse reports on Russian news agencies noted that President Yel'tsin has
intervened in government personnel policy by dismissing the prime minister's
expert on military issues, Valeri Mironov. (ITAR-TASS, 1138 GMT, 14 Nov
98; FBIS-SOV-98-318) Mironov's service in the government predates Primakov's
appointment as prime minister, but if Primakov had wanted him fired, he
could easily have used his own authority to dismiss him. We are left wondering
why President Yel'tsin used his power of decree to dismiss Mironov not only
from the government but from his military service as well. Could there be
a corruption scandal brewing here?
by Susan J. Cavan
FORMER GOVERNMENT Kirienko views causes and results of crises
In the past, Russia's democrats have not been able to unite into a single
party or movement. Sergei Kirienko, the former prime minister, looks forward
to an upcoming conference of all the democratic figures on 10 December,
but recognizes "that it won't be easy" to unite them. Asked if
the new democratic movement that has taken form since the assassination
of Galina Starovoitova will aim at establishing a true national party and
field candidates in the 1999 Duma elections, Kirienko sidestepped the question.
"We will work to the presidential elections," he said.
On 7 December, Kirienko analyzed Russia's recent history from the democratic
perspective. He stressed that the real cause of Russia's crisis does not
reside in the sphere of economics but stems from the "lack of a political
consensus and a resultant weakness of the government. " The belief
that the events of 1992 had endowed Yel'tsin with a popular mandate to carry
out economic reform was an "illusion." The population was unprepared
for the inevitable hardships and had never agreed to take on the heavy burden
of reform. For this reason the government was not able to formulate and
maintain a coherent reform plan. Economic reform has not failed in Russia;
in fact, it has never been seriously undertaken.
According to Kirienko, over the last few years the biggest mistakes were:
1) Unrealistic expectations about the pace and ease of reform and an underestimation
of its costs; 2) Overreliance on macroeconomic measures while paying little
attention to restructuring enterprises; and 3) The imposition of overly
The legislature represents the unwillingness of the electorate to carry
the weight of reform. Consequently, it has prevented a real revision of
the state budget, so that over the last seven years the size of the budget
deficit has actually grown. The two branches of government were so bitterly
opposed that they were unable to agree on a common policy "even under
crisis conditions. "
Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov has "without question secured political
stability. But this is at the cost of no economic action." So far,
his government has carried out no economic measures and there has been no
conflict with the legislature. But time is running out and he will have
to act to forestall the possibility of hyperinflation in the spring. Even
the most reactionary members of the current government now know that currency
emissions will not solve anything. They will have to pass a tight budget
as a basis for securing credit.
How will the Communist faction in the Duma react to that? They will look
for enemies, scapegoats. According to Kirienko, Makashov's recent comments
were meant to serve as a trial balloon. That attempt clearly failed, so
they will look for other enemies: bankers, liberal reformers, foreign economic
advisers, or the West.
Kirienko identified three possible scenarios for renewed reform:
1) An honest public appraisal of the depth and breadth of the problem and
the consequences of the solution.
2) The use of populism to disguise the difficult policies. This was attempted
by Lech Walesa in Poland, and to some extent by Yel'tsin in Russia.
3) "When the patient is tied up, there is no need for anesthesia,"
or the Pinochet solution.
The Russians will hold onto the idea that no solution is necessary as long
as possible. If any outsider "tries to force a solution, he will easily
become that scapegoat."
The best policy for the West is to let the Russians choose their own path
but to keep certain doors open. The most important "doors" are:
1) Restructuring the former USSR debt. (The interest on the debt is $17
billion which equals 10% of Russia's GDP.) 2) Extending the agreement with
the World Bank and the IMF to supply additional credits. These loans must
be based on stringent conditions, but in principle they should be available.
3) The possibility, after having met the relevant conditions, of allowing
Russia into the World Trade Organization.
In the past IMF aid was used to cover the budget deficit. Since the budget
supported inefficient enterprises, the money was wasted. IMF credits should
be targeted at "restructuring the economy in order to achieve a balanced
budget." The Russian government should be held responsible for how
the money was spent. Western credits could have been put to better uses
but "the blame for this lies with Russia."
There is the possibility of the first option, a forthright approach to the
nation's problems, but this will require a change in the consciousness of
the electorate. Already 61% of the population are economically independent
of the government. They need to draw political conclusions from their financial
independence. The generation which grew up during the reform lacks the habits
of political action. "We have the political institutions, we need to
learn to use them," he told the forum, hosted by Harvard University's
Davis Center for Russian Studies.
by Miriam Lanskoy
Primakov watch out! Franco Frattini has your number
Franco Frattini, chairman of the Italian Chamber of Deputies Intelligence
Services Committee, in an interview with an Italian journalist stated that
Moscow is behind the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) Chairman Abdullah Ocalan
affair. Frattini said that Moscow staged the affair and that "Primakov
skillfully turned a cumbersome guest into a successful [covert] operation.
After taking him in to help Syria, he [Primakov] found himself in a tight
corner on account of the pressure being brought to bear by Ankara. First
he attempted to send him to Athens, but since he was unsuccessful there,
he set up the arrival in Italy. " Frattini went on further to describe
what he referred to as a "heaven-sent short circuit" between Italy
and Turkey, two countries he described as "the NATO allies that are
showing the greatest commitment in the Balkans." The undermining of
this solidarity plays right into the hands of Moscow, which is "pulling
the strings of the Serbian-Russian-Greek alliance." Frattini also stated
that not only was Primakov able to get rid of an "undesired guest whose
presence exposed him to the risk of having to engage in a trial of strength
with Ankara," but also "consolidated the solidarity between the
Italian, Russian, and Kurdish communists." (La Stampa, 1 Dec 98, p.
Russia: Stabilization Force member or NATO antagonist?
The Russian foreign ministry is protesting the detention by Stabilization
Force (SFOR) troops of Lt. Gen. Radislav Krstic, commander of the Republika
Srpska's (incorporated in Bosnia and Herzegovina) 5th Corps. The foreign
ministry statement highlighted the fact that it was NATO forces that detained
Krstic and not members of the Russian brigade serving in the international
Stabilization Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Russia has denounced and
distanced itself from the arrest, which it described as a NATO activity
even though the list of war criminals was compiled by the International
Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia, headquartered in The Hague. Additionally
the Russian brigade commander sent a strong protest to the command of NATO
forces in Bosnia because Krstic was detained in the area protected by the
Russian brigade without clearance from the brigade command. (Interfax, 1455
GMT, 3 Dec 98; FBIS-SOV-98-337)
Although there have been no allegations made of the Russian brigade deliberately
protecting suspected war criminals in its sector, it is widely known that
it will not detain suspected war criminals. The Russian commanders on the
ground and the Russian foreign ministry have repeatedly stated that such
actions should only be carried out by the parties involved and not SFOR.
Russian-Cuban relations reforming?
During an official visit to Cuba, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Georgi
Mamedov stated that conditions are shaping up to renew mutual ties between
Russia and Cuba. The deputy minister said that the two countries "have
passed a very difficult period of breaking up former relations and their
transition to a more reliable foundation of concurring national interests."
Apparently Mamedov did consider the Russian radar station in Cuba as constituting
a reliable foundation on which to build mutual understanding between the
two countries, while recognizing the strategic role that the station plays
for Russia. (ITAR-TASS, 1110 GMT, 19 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-323) Additionally
the deputy foreign minister may not have been informed by the atomic ministry
that a fairly reliable foundation of concurring national interests has been
in place for quite some time. Plans have been on the table for nearly a
year to resume work on a nuclear power plant in Cuba that was started during
Soviet times. The deputy also overlooked the fact that Moscow consistently
champions the Cuban cause to have US sanctions against Cuba lifted.
Iran's nuclear program must be peaceful; the Russians keep saying so
Russian foreign ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin stated, once again,
that Russian-Iranian cooperation in the nuclear sphere "is of strictly
peaceful character and fully complies with Moscow's international obligations
in the field of nuclear non-proliferation." These latest comments were
made in defense of a Russian nuclear energy ministry delegation led by Minister
Yevgeni Adamov to Iran in late November. (ITAR-TASS, 1507 GMT, 26 Nov 98;
FBIS-TAC-98-330) Even though the nuclear project is strictly "peaceful,"
Adamov revealed in a November 23 statement perhaps the more lucrative, diplomatic
nature the project has acquired. He said his country was determined to continue
nuclear cooperation with Iran and that "Russia pursues an independent
foreign policy, and we believe that our relations with Iran are long-term."
(Interfax, 1845 GMT, 24 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-328)
by John McDonough
* * * *
Russian-Japanese cooperation reaffirmed at summit
With the summit in the front of their minds, Russia and Japan have signed
a cooperation agreement providing for the formation of an international
public organization linking the Russian 21st Century Committee and the Forum
of Japanese Russian Friendship for the 21st Century. Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov
and his Japanese counterpart Ishio Sakurauti signed the documents which
provide for cooperation on political, economic, scientific, and regional
exchanges. A joint news publication has also been established in association
with the plan. (Interfax, 1140 GMT, 17 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-321) Since the
summit, both the Japanese and Russians have backed away from extreme approaches
to the territorial issue, allowing progress to be made in other areas of
cooperation. (Interfax, 1042 GMT, 19 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-323)
Sino-Russian summit concludes without fanfare
During Chinese President Jiang Zemin's visit to Russia, the two countries
jointly issued three documents aimed at improving Sino-Russian relations.
The documents, titled "Sino-Russian Relations at the Turn of the Century,"
"Joint Statement on Sino-Russian Border Issues" and "Joint
News Communique," were accompanied by a Russian pledge not to support
Taiwanese independence or the concept of "two Chinas." (Ta Kung
Pau, 30 Nov 98; FBIS-CHI-98-334)
North Korea-Russia sign plan for 'professional exchanges'
Russia has signed a document with North Korea meant to enhance intergovernmental
cooperation in the fields of science, technology, culture, and the economy.
As part of the agreement, the foreign ministries will regularly exchange
information on "domestic situations and foreign policy activities."
(ITAR-TASS, 1215 GMT, 1 Dec 98; FBIS-SOV-98-335) Cooperation in these
areas could afford Russia a singularly useful diplomatic link with the
DPRK government. On the other end of the peninsula, Russia negotiated the
payment of up to US $63 million in debts owed to South Korea
in commodities. (Yonhap, 0612 GMT, 20 Nov 98; FBIS-EAS-98-324)
Russia's efforts to widen relations on both sides of the DMZ
in the past few years have been largely successful due to the emphasis
of strategic and policy-oriented exchanges with the north and economic
cooperation with the south.
by Sarah K. Miller
DOMESTIC PARTIES & LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
POLITICAL PARTIES Polls suggest a different Duma if elections were held today
According to poll results published by the Public Opinion Foundation on 1 November, if elections to the State Duma were held today, only two parties which won seats from national party lists in 1995 would remain in the Duma--the CPRF with 23 percent (a little more that the 22.3 percent the party won in 1995 elections) and Grigori Yavlinsky's Yabloko party with 13 percent (twice the 7 percent it received in 1995). Two of the more indomitable parties of the present Duma--Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal-Democratic Party and former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's Our Home is Russia--would net less than the 5 percent needed to be seated in the Duma, with 4 percent and 3 percent, respectively. Such a result would be a significant setback from the 11.18 percent received by the Liberal Democrats and the 10+ percent won by Our Home is Russia in 1995.
The Agrarian Party and the People's Power Party, presently in the Duma due to individual party members being returned from single-member districts, would, as in 1995, not receive enough support to overcome the five-percent hurdle. Two new parties, however, would see representation in the Duma if elections were held today. The Russian People's Republican Party of Aleksandr Lebed would garner 11 percent, and Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who until recently did not even have a party, would receive 9 percent. Luzhkov's new party is called Fatherland. (NTV, 1800 GMT, 8 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-312)
When interpreting these opinion poll results, it is important to remember
that, unless the present method of election changes, these numbers represent
only half of the seats in the Duma. The other half of the Duma is elected
from single-member districts and as all politics are local, the parties
not given seats from the national party lists might well see representation
in a future Duma through single-member election. However, such parties would
have only marginal influence in the Duma.
Communists continue to push for government control of the media
The leaders of three left-wing parties in the Duma--Gennadi Zyuganov of the Communist Party, Nikolai Ryzhkov of the People's Rule group, and Nikolai Kharitonov of the Agrarian Party--have called on the government to control the state-owned television channels ORT and RTR.
Not realizing the apparent contradiction, the Communists and their supporters
simultaneously call for the establishment of supervisory boards to monitor
media content while vigorously denying that this means censorship. Why is
such "supervision" necessary? According to the above-mentioned
letter, media outlets "are pushing through the tendencious [sic] stands
taken by their management and their owners, including their open animosity
towards the [Primakov] government The anti-communism of Nikolai Svanidze
and other anchormen on the RTR is pathological and odious. The pro-NATO
and anti-Serbian reports on NTV Independent Television about the crisis
in Kosovo and the openly pro-Israeli interpretation of developments in the
Middle East may cause [civil?] protest. The small political minority that
has usurped the media is cynically manipulating the public opinion against
the interests of the state." (Interfax, 1359 GMT, 11 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-315)
Surely it is comforting for the citizens of Russia, as well as the international
community, to have self-appointed authorities on what exactly constitutes
the interests of the Russian people. In fact, the Communists are less interested
in what the media think of international events than they are about the
campaign coverage they will receive in the run-up to the 1999 Duma elections.
The Communists assume that Primakov will save them from the anti-communist
bias seen in election coverage in the past.
REGIONS Kirpichnikov discusses regional responses to the crisis
In an interview, Minister of Regional Policy Valeri Kirpichnikov confirmed
the suspicion that things in the regions are worse than they may appear.
While noting that "all conflicts [in the regions] start with money
and then evolve into interpersonal battles," Kirpichnikov pointed to
a potentially dangerous situation created, or rather exacerbated, by the
recent passage of the Budget Code. According to the code, the regions are
responsible for disbursing 40 percent of the combined Russian budget (up
from 14 percent), but are allowed only 1 percent of the combined budget
income in the form of local taxes. The substantial difference is supposed
to be covered by money transfers from Moscow, which are clearly not happening.
Most disturbing is the message the lopsided Budget Code sends. Moscow apparently
has a shaky grip on the financial realities of the federation, as well as
little understanding of how to run a modern state. (Interfaks-AiF, 23-29
Oct 98, No. 43, p. 2; FBIS-SOV-98-313)
by Michael DeMar Thurman
That's my story and I'm sticking to it!
For some time now, officials high in the Russian Federation government have
been stating that ten of Russia's strategic gems of the 21st century, the
Topol-M (classified by NATO as SS-27s), would be operational by the end
of 1998. This appeared to be a lofty, clearly unattainable goal--at least
before last month. Until that point, the Russians only had two Topol-Ms
"in service" at the Tatishchevo Strategic Missile Forces (SMF)
base near Saratov, and they had been delivered at the end of 1997. (See
Editorial Digest, Vol. III, No. 17) Visible progress in 1998 was nonexistent,
as their only test launch up to late October 1998 ended in failure. (See
Editorial Digest, Vol. III, No. 16) Then, in what looked like a face-saving
measure, it was reported that the Strategic Missile Forces had taken delivery
of five additional missiles and put them in service on a "trial basis."
(See Editorial Digest, Vol. III, No. 17)
Russian Federation Defense Minister Igor Sergeev added to that total earlier this month when he stated that eight missiles had already been supplied to the SMF. He again expressed confidence that ten Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missiles would be supplied to the SMF by the end of year -- less than a month away. (Interfax, 1240 GMT, 1 Dec 98; FBIS-SOV-98-335) At the same time, Sergeev reported that the 104th missile regiment of the SMF's 60th division had added the Topol-M launching complex to its arsenal to guide and control these powerhouse missiles. This launching complex consists not only of the control systems, but also the maintenance systems for the missiles and launch pads. (Interfax, 1240 GMT, 1 Dec 98; FBIS-SOV-98-335)
Whether the eight missiles currently "in service" at Tatishchevo
could be successfully launched to support a mission can be debated; however,
the Russians are one step closer to putting their much-desired ten in their
respective holes by the end of the year. It is becoming increasing evident
that the military is pulling out the stops, making every possible attempt
to reach this goal, even as many other parts of the armed forces simultaneously
deteriorate at an alarming rate.
The fact that air force pilots receive about one-third of their required
flight training, or that the navy has numerous ships literally rotting in
port, or that a significant portion of the armed forces doesn't know if
next month's paychecks will appear, or any other deficiency indicative of
a poorly maintained force, appears secondary to the Russian desire to have
a state-of-the-art nuclear arsenal. The current power brokers may believe
this capability is their only hope of retaining any say-so in global happenings,
a shell of their once credible superpower status. However, this strategy
may be analogous to an investor with a portfolio that contains a single
risky stock, bought on margin. If tests on the SS-27 continue the current
unsuccessful trend and if the economy dips much lower, Russia may not be
able to pay the margin call.
Military reform becomes 'military deform' without funding
In mid-November, the Duma adopted the second reading of a federal law "on
military reform in the Russian Federation." (ITAR-TASS World Service,
1135 GMT, 18 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-322) The aims of military reform, according
to the law, are to create a single military organization in the Russian
Federation and to increase its combat and mobilizational readiness as well
as its fighting capability. It is also designed to bring the state's military
potential in line with the current requirements of the state's defense and
security. Under the law, the Russian president determines the time scale
of military reform, its content, and measures. He also is in charge of how
the reform is carried out and controls the way implementing bodies fulfill
these measures. Financing for the reforms is dependent on the federal budget
and is determined by the type and extent of the reform measures required
for the given year. The final version of the law was actually passed on
2 December 1998 by a unanimous vote of the Duma. (ITAR-TASS World Service,
1014 GMT, 2 Dec 98; FBIS-SOV-98-336) The law also contains provisions for
the social protection of servicemen and their families.
Neither report cited above provided specific details of the law. If history is any indication, the true test of progress on this military reform law will be seen in the specifics of how the law is tied to the budget. Over the past five or six years, progress on military reform in Russia has been slowed significantly by inadequate budget appropriation (or distribution). Removal and disposition of equipment, troop cutbacks, organizational or basing changes, etc., all take some amount of upfront financing. The old adage, "it takes money to make money," is certainly germane in this case and it appears Russia just isnšt willing or able to devote the necessary resources. Aleksei Arbatov, deputy chairman of the State Dumašs Defense Committee, recently said, "The 2.6% of the GDP earmarked for defense next year  will not suffice for implementing military reform or maintaining the country's defense capacity." (Interfax, 1123 GMT, 2 Dec 98; FBIS-SOV-98-336) This disparity is exacerbated by the current Russian government's almost obsessive desire to field a credible, modernized nuclear arsenal of $35 million+ Topol-M missiles at the speed of heat. It is difficult to believe that any significant progress will be made toward reform over the short term without a change in funding strategy or increase in budget. Barring this, I would have to agree with Arbatov's statement that "without further reform, the army will collapse shortly." (Interfax, 1123 GMT, 2 Dec 98; FBIS-SOV-98-336)
Anyone who jumps out of a perfectly good plane would have to be a dummy
The AN-70 transport aircraft, a Ukrainian-Russian joint venture, recently
progressed a couple of steps closer (or more appropriately a couple of jumps
closer) to European acceptance. German Federal Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder
met with Russian governors on 17 November and discussion of the AN-70 was
on the agenda. Samara Governor Konstantin Titov relayed that Schroeder "listened
and took a note." (ITAR-TASS, 1607 GMT, 17 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-321)
Furthermore, Titov said, "Thanks to that, the project will be supported.
The large-scale project of the production of the AN-70 military cargo aircraft,
which used to be Russian-Ukrainian, will now become Russian-Ukrainian-German."
(ITAR-TASS, 1607 GMT, 17 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-321) Titov's optimism may be
just a bit more biased than other Russian governors, especially since one
of the two production locations for the AN-70 plane happens to be in his
region (the other being in Gostomel, just outside of Kyiv). Whether Germany
will ultimately support the aircraft is yet to be seen, however, the German
defense ministry is seriously considering it, analyzing its potential as
the basic model for the next-generation European transport. On 1 December,
an exercise was staged at the testing ground in Gostomel. The exercise involved
dropping mannequins from the aircraft, using standard German parachutes.
Engineers from Germany's Daimler Chrysler Aerospace group have determined
that the AN-70 meets their requirements, although its cargo handling equipment
has to be improved and the cockpit redesigned. (Interfax, 1119 GMT, 2 Dec
Use of the AN-70 as the European standard transport plane would certainly boost an ailing Russian arms export industry, through widespread and possible long-term sales. Acceptance of such an integral asset could also keep Russia's "foot in the door" for follow-on sales. However, European acceptance is not a prerequisite for continued production of this aircraft. The demand in the CIS member states is estimated at 600 planes, of which Russia will purchase 150. Another 300 planes may be sold in the Middle East. (See Editorial Digest, Vol. III, No. 12.) The solid AN-70 may have the opportunity to be the workhorse of intra-European theater transport for some time.
by Michael K. Reardon
One of the interesting turn of events from the end of the Cold War is that
the United States is actively helping Russia to destroy nuclear weapons
and delivery systems. The latest such example was reported by the Voice
of Russia World Service, which described a visit by US Senator Richard Lugar
to Severodvinsk. There, the senator and his delegation watched three submarines
being cut up, the work being paid for by the US. The news report was a positive
story, emphasizing the spirit of cooperation in dismantling, safely, the
submarines. Also noted was the backlog of decommissioned submarines, currently
at 96, with another 90 or so more expected to be added to that list by the
year 2000. (Voice of Russia World Service, 1510 GMT, 21 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-326)
Unstated was that, even with this US help, the task of safely cutting up
all of these vessels and disposing of the spent nuclear fuel remains extremely
daunting. The Russian government is too broke to handle the problem.
The news report was timely. Recently, several major US newspapers have discussed
the problem of Russia's nuclear waste, primarily related to the dismantling
of the nuclear-powered submarines. The challenges are severe; the ecological
consequences potentially disastrous. Briefly, in addition to the lack of
money and sheer number of submarines awaiting destruction, Russia has extremely
poor storage conditions, and inadequate transportation for moving the spent
fuel to designated containment sites. So, even though the US is helping
Russia to get rid of some relics of the Cold War, there is still so much
more that needs to be done, and not enough money to do it.
Pasko's notes published
A reporter for Literaturnaya gazeta recently obtained access to former Navy
Captain Grigori Pasko's drafts of articles that charge the Russian Pacific
Fleet with "corruption and ecological crimes." (Literaturnaya
gazeta, 4 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-320) Pasko, now a military journalist, has
been held in confinement for over a year in Vladivostok on charges of treason.
(See Editorial Digest, 4 Nov 98) With methods reminiscent of those used
in the case of another former Navy captain, Aleksandr Nikitin, the charges
against Pasko are considered "top secret" and thus are unavailable
for scrutiny. Reading Pasko's notes makes the reasons clear: If accurate,
his notes are both extremely embarrassing and potentially quite damning
in detailing rampant corruption by both military and civilian officials.
Pasko raises some serious questions in regards to the selling, ostensibly
for scrap, of "obsolete" warships. Some of what he alleges may
be aboveboard; it is quite reasonable for a navy to sell off obsolete vessels
for scrap. The US has disposed of many old aircraft carriers in this manner.
Even given that some of the scrap purchases were legitimate, Pasko alleges
that military officials sold off the ships at bargain-basement prices, for
"essentially next to nothing." Pasko also believes that ships
were sold with valuable metals, equipment, and possibly even classified
publications remaining on board. For all of the above to have taken place,
collusion amongst many agencies and departments would have been required.
It's easy to see how authorities do not want to bring Pasko's allegations
to a public arena.
Of much more concern is Pasko's detailing of ecological dangers. The list
of abuses is frightening: toxic chemical containers being disposed of at
sea since the 1950s; leaking containers of rocket fuel poisoning earth and
water; and disposing of liquid radioactive waste into the Pacific Ocean.
Literaturnaya gazeta closed the article with essentially an invitation to
Russian authorities to counter Pasko's charges "fact against fact."
The paper is not holding its presses in anticipation of a response. The
wait continues as to Pasko's fate. Unfortunately it will be a much longer
wait to see how, if at all, the issues he raises are resolved.
Wages, crime, and suicide
The Russian government continues to make good on its pledge to pay the military
on a regular schedule: The latest payout was announced on 1 December. The
troops were paid for October, with November's arrears to follow shortly.
(ITAR-TASS, 0914 GMT, 1 Dec 98; FBIS-SOV-335) The bad news is that four
months of steady payment is not enough to stem growing skepticism of the
government by the military. In addition, recently released crime statistics
concerning the armed forces have been tied directly to the money situation.
The independent military newspaper Nezavisimoe voyennoe obozrenie reported
on a two-day assembly in mid-November of Russian flag officers that included
talks with Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov and other high officials. One
quote by the reporter concisely sums up the situation: "Apathy and
bitterness is the state in which the military find themselves today."
The article suggested that the officers saw some reason for hope in Primakov's
statements that the money situation would get better, but still they "were
skeptical of routine promises" made concerning debt settlement. Quite
clearly, having to wait for a monthly announcement to find out if you are
going to be paid for that month cannot inspire much loyalty if you are a
soldier or sailor, regardless of rank. As the article put it, "Many
service members no longer have a moral or material motive to serve."
(Nezavisimoe voyennoe obozrenie, 13-19 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-335) That in
turn leads us to the next article, concerning Russian armed forces crime
Interfax published the 1998 Russian military crime statistics as announced
by the Ministry of Defense. Taken in the context of Russia's economic and
political situations, and in comparison with last year, there is nothing
really remarkable about the figures. Overall "crimes and incidents"
have gone up from 10,000 in 1997 to 10,500 in 1998; however, broken down
by categories, some areas showed improvement over the past year. One telling
exception, though, is suicides in the armed forces, most of which (over
60% of about 350 cases) were by officers. The report is quite blunt in stating
the cause: "delayed payment of salaries and the poverty of servicemen's
families." (Interfax, 1104 GMT, 1 Dec 98; FBIS-SOV-98-335) If these
figures are reliable, the real surprise is that the numbers are not higher.
Throughout the year we have been reading in the Russian and Western press
about the dismal state of the Russian military: the lack of pay, cut-off
of services by the local utilities, the need to accept foreign aid (in the
case of the Kaliningrad military district), and the list goes on. So, an
optimist might see these figures as a good indication. To its credit, the
Russian government is trying to improve the state of the military, but short
of fixing the Russian economy overall, no long-term relief is in sight.
Next year's statistics may be telling.
by Charles Drummond
NEWLY INDEPENDENT STATES
CIS Berezovsky's scheme shot down
After days of campaigning throughout the CIS, Executive Secretary Boris Berezovsky presented his CIS reorganization proposal at the CIS Heads of State Meeting in Moscow. Berezovsky undertook his last-minute "working trip" to "create a basis for joint work on joint interests." During the trip, Berezovsky boasted of Russian and CIS-wide presidential support for his efforts on several occasions. In reference to Russian President Boris Yel'tsin, Berezovsky commented, "the President is convinced that it is necessary to reduce the management and executive structures of the Commonwealth." (ITAR-TASS, 2050 GMT, 20 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-324) From Yerevan, he boasted that all the heads of government with whom he had met most recently--Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia--supported his proposals. (Snark, 1100 GMT, 19 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-323)
Although the concept of reorganization has been supported by the CIS member
states, it was clear at the Heads of State meeting that Berezovsky's proposal
enjoyed negligible support. The plan envisioned a CIS-wide free-trade area
and the institution of a single coordinating center called the Executive
Committee (EC) that would be led by Berezovsky himself. Also included were
the elimination of a number of redundant CIS agencies and a 40% reduction
of CIS staff. As envisioned by Berezovsky, the EC would "unite the
economic, political and other sectors under a single roof." As such,
the Coordinating Staff for Military Cooperation, the Staff of the Border
Troops' Commanders' Council, the Collective Security Council and a proposed
CIS Committee on Conflict Situations would also be subordinate to the Berezovsky
Economic Committee. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, 25 Nov 98 and ITAR-TASS, 25 Nov
98; nexis) In effect, this would create a CIS supranational structure over
which Berezovsky could exert extraordinary control.
Russian Prime Minister Primakov, Foreign Minister Ivanov and CIS Cooperation
Minister Pastukhov opposed the plan. While Primakov did not object to renaming
the Executive Secretariat, he stressed that its work would be limited to
"coordination and administrative work" and "drafting the
strategy and tactics of CIS development." (Nezavisimaya gazeta, 25
Nov 98; nexis)
In a seemingly unrelated but interesting development, the Duma passed a
second vote on a resolution calling for Berezovsky's dismissal as CIS executive
secretary. The resolution will now be sent to the Federation Council, CIS
Council of Heads of State and the Prosecutor General. (Interfax, 2 Dec 98;
nexis) Duma member Yevgeni Maksimov originally initiated the effort in early
November due to "concern in the public opinion over the situation in
the CIS." However, it seems that Berezovsky's call to ban the Communist
Party was the real fuel behind the Duma initiative. (Interfax, 1723 GMT,
18 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-322)
by Sarah Miller
UKRAINE The year the power went out
Residents throughout Ukraine are facing the possibility of going through
the winter with only periodic electricity. About one-and-one-half months
ago, the Russian and Ukrainian electric power grids were disconnected from
each other. From the almost complete lack of concern generated by Ukrainian
politicians at the time, it seemed that the disconnection was simply an
administrative move. It has become obvious, however, that this is far from
simply an administrative problem, as one after another Ukrainian city experiences
It seems that the electricity from the Russian grid was used regularly to
supplement power produced in Ukraine's own facilities, and to stave off
shortages. When Russia insisted, due to Ukrainian debt, that the grids be
disconnected, homes throughout Ukraine began going dark for various portions
of the day and night.
Deputy Minister of Energy Vladimir Darchuk recently explained that, whenever
the power grid's capacity becomes too great, the entire power system begins
to shut down automatically. But, the disconnection of the electric grids
is not the only problem.
The country's thermal power stations only have 11 days of fuel left at most.
Only nine out of 14 nuclear power plant "generating sets" are
in working order. Water reserves are drying up for the country's hydroelectric
plants, and the country does not have enough coal. (BBC Summary of World
Broadcasts, 19 Nov 98) The town of Sevastopol has recently begun to cut
off power for several hours during each day to the Russian Black Sea Fleet,
which is said to owe at least 13 million rubles for its electricity consumption
over the last several years. (Mayak Radio Network, 0420 GMT, 30 Nov 98;
FBIS-UMA-98-337) Just last week, the fleet's headquarters had its power
cut off for two full days. Russia has been surprisingly quiet about the
fleet outages, perhaps recognizing that its decision to disconnect the grids
helped to cause the situation.
Other towns throughout the country are also trying to manage outages by
deliberately cutting off electricity to individual homes and businesses
at certain times every day. The Associated Press has reported that the temperature
in many areas of Ukraine during the day has dropped to as low as 5 degrees
Fahrenheit. (AP Worldstream, 0922 EST, 1 Dec 98)
In response to the crisis, President Leonid Kuchma announced plans to privatize the country's energy companies. (AP Worldstream, 0706 EST, 25 Nov 98) The government has also begun cutting the amount of energy being sent to neighboring Moldova. In addition, the energy ministry has announced that Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor No. 3, the only reactor still operating at the plant, will continue to operate even though the country's Nuclear Regulatory Administration has ordered it shut down for safety reasons. The ministry said that entire sections of Ukraine would be completely without power if Reactor No. 3 were to be shut down. Perhaps Anatoly Holubchenko, the first deputy prime minister, put it best when he said that the situation now depends "on us and on God." (Holos Ukrayini, 18 Nov 98, p. 1; FBIS-SOV-98-323, and AP Worldstream, 0922 EST, 1 Dec 98)
Buenos dias! Me llamo Pavlo
It appears that Pavlo Lazarenko has come to the end of the line. The former
Ukrainian premier was arrested in Switzerland last week when he tried to
cross the French-Swiss border using a Panamanian passport.
Lazarenko, the head of the ultra-leftist Hromada Party, served as prime minister from 1996-1997, when President Kuchma fired him for alleged corruption. Since February, Ukraine has been investigating Lazarenko for money laundering and has accused him of embezzling up to $20 million from both the Ukrainian state accounts and the energy company he runs, United Energy Systems. It had been doubtful that much could be done, however, since Lazarenko still sits in parliament and therefore enjoys full immunity in Ukraine. In fact, the parliament has refused to lift his immunity, despite frequent requests to do so over the last six months by President Kuchma.
The investigating Swiss judge, though, told AP that "the charges against
Lazarenko ... are related to an inquiry by Geneva officials and were not
linked to proceedings which have been opened in Kyiv." Translation:
no immunity. (AP Worldstream, 1341 EST, 4 Dec 98) Agence France-Presse also
reported that authorities in Kyiv "have requested Swiss judicial aid
in about 20 cases concerning funds stashed in Switzerland." (AFP, 1251
GMT, 3 Dec 98; FBIS-WEU-98-337) Too bad. Perhaps Lazarenko should have practiced
that Panamanian look just a little bit more.
BELARUS Who needs food? We've got Lukashenka!
In early November, President Lukashenka claimed the Belarusian economy grew
11 percent last year, and 11 percent so far this year. Apparently, that's
all that has grown in Belarus lately.
Lukashenka this week "demanded that his subordinates should solve the
food problem once and for all." He told the nation that the government
(which apparently does not include himself) "has two days left to get
foodstuffs back into the shops." Otherwise, he said, there will be
"major personnel changes." (NTV, 0900 GMT, 28 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-332)
Lukashenka has repeatedly denied in the past several months that his country
is suffering from food shortages. When, on 18 September, the Belarusian
Business Journal said that Belarus was dangerously short of basic food items,
the government vehemently denied that there was a problem. However, the
problem has simply become too large to hide.
The price of milk and dairy products has increased almost 13 percent in
November, while most other food is approaching the average European level.
(Interfax, 1147 GMT, 1 Dec 98; FBIS-SOV-98-335) Meanwhile, the average Belarusian
wage remains at under $40 per month. (AP Online, 1948 EST, 8 Nov 98) The
currency has devalued so drastically that the government will soon begin
issuing a banknote with the denomination of 500,000 Belarusian rubles. On
the black market, one dollar is worth BR100,000. (Interfax, 3 Dec 98; nexis)
The Minsk city government has responded to the problem by creating "special
closed shops," where its workers can buy eggs, dairy products and meat.
All companies in Minsk are expected to contribute to a fund to purchase
the products. (Interfax, 3 Dec 98; nexis)
Lukashenka was able to use his "influence," however, to stop a
massive protest by the trade union federation over food shortages. More
than 30,000 workers were expected to take part in the protest and march.
Lukashenka went to the factory center personally to "persuade"
the workers not to protest. The Russian state-run NTV reporter said, "The
President's words found a response. Having stood in queues for hours, people
are no longer demanding that food be put back in the shops; they are asking
for ration cards and order lists to be introduced at enterprises, like in
Soviet times." (NTV, 1300 GMT, 2 Dec 98; FBIS-SOV-98-336)
MOLDOVA Economy, energy sector, and prime minister on verge of collapse
What a few weeks it has been for Moldova, as the economy continues its decent
First, Moldova announced a decision to cut the number of its army recruits
by two-thirds, to just 600, because it cannot pay the soldiers. "The
reduction has been a deliberate step necessitated by the country's grave
economic situation," a defense ministry spokesman said. But, he added,
"This will not influence the Army's combat ability." (Infotag,
1745 GMT, 17 Nov 98; FBIS-UMA-98-321) Shortly after, Moldova announced that
it was "unilaterally" reducing the number of its peacekeepers
in the Dniestr region to 500. (Infotag, 1730 GMT, 19 Nov 98; FBIS-UMA-98-323)
This was the second announced reduction of peacekeepers by Moldova in two
months, but Russia and Dniestr, which have peacekeepers in the region, have
In the meantime, Ukraine announced its decision to reduce electricity sent
to Moldova by 60 percent. Gazprom announced that Moldova's debt has increased
by another $47 million since the beginning of 1998, and threatened (then
backed off) to reduce the amount of electricity sent from Russia. At the
same time, the national television station cut its on-air time from 18 hours
per day to just 5-6, because of a shortage of funds. (Basapress, 1800 GMT,
17 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-321)
Finally, Moldova confirmed that Prime Minister Ion Ciubuc has been hospitalized.
The media service said that he had been hospitalized for "preventive
treatment," but that "rumors appeared in Chisinau that Ciubuc's
state of health has worsened sharply. However, no details are available
so far." (Infotag, 2045 GMT, 18 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-322)
On 24 November, there was finally some good news: Romania began supplying
electricity to Moldova. (Rompres, 1147 GMT, 23 Nov 98; FBIS-EEU-98-327)
The supply is not enough, however, to prevent various areas of Moldova from
being without power at certain times of the day.
Although there have been one or two written messages to the people "from
Ciubuc," there has been no word to date on the prime minister's medical
condition. One can only hope that it's better than Moldova's economy.
by Tammy Lynch
ARMENIA Latest OSCE proposal fails
Armenia and Karabakh accepted the latest set of initiatives for Nagorno-Karabakh which were introduced recently by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen. Azerbaijan, however, rejected the new formula based on the concept of a "common state." Apparently the OSCE suggested that Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan can join to constitute a new "common state. " This formulation endows Karabakh with sovereignty and was therefore endorsed by the Armenian side and rejected by Azerbaijan. (Interfax, 1200 GMT, 26 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-330) Azerbaijan has already indicated that it would prefer to return to the process which the OSCE outlined last fall, which was rejected by the Armenian side. (Interfax, 1638 GMT, 20 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-324) It is unclear where the Minsk process will go from here, but the issue was on the agenda for the Oslo meeting of the OSCE foreign ministers in December.
AZERBAIJAN Elchibey accuses Aliev and Primakov of setting up the PKK
The local prosecutor initiated a case of libel against the chairman of the
People's Front of Azerbaijan, Abulfaz Elchibey, after he told journalists
that "one of the founders of the PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party] is
Heydar Aliyev," and repeated the thought saying, "Heydar Aliyev
and [Yevgeni] Primakov had a hand in establishing the PKK." (Azadlyg,
18 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-322) The government has challenged Elchibey to produce
evidence of this claim, which so far he has failed to do. Instead, he has
defended himself on the grounds that his remarks do not impair the president's
dignity and honor, the protection of which is the explicit purpose of the
relevant legislation. (Azadlyg, 14 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-322)
For its part, the Democratic Congress, an umbrella group of several opposition
parties, emphasized the reasoning behind Elchibey's claim. Its statement
stressed that the "PKK is a communist-oriented Marxist organization,
it was assisted by the Soviet KGB and the Communist Party." Since Azerbaijan
is in close proximity to the countries where the PKK operates (Turkey, Syria,
Iran, and Iraq), and Geidar Aliev was the head of the Azerbaijani party
and KGB at the time the PKK was created, he must have helped the terrorist
organization in its activities. A prominent member of the PKK, Semdin Sakyk,
corroborated the existence of ties to Azerbaijan. (Azadlyg, 18 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-322)
While Aliev's role is hotly debated in Azerbaijan, we're still waiting for
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Armenia has emerged as a major supporter
of the PKK and the Kurdish cause generally. When the whereabouts of PKK
leader Abdullah Ocalan were unknown, it was widely rumored that he had taken
refuge in Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh or Russian military bases in Armenia.
(Zerkalo, 31 Oct 98; FBIS-SOV-98-323, and see the previous issue of the
Editorial Digest) Frequent allegations from Azeri and Turkish politicians
that Armenia continues to harbor PKK bases and provides safe passage for
its fighters have been repeatedly denied by the Armenian authorities. The
Azerbaijani news service, Turan, recently reported that 100 Kurdish fighters
who fled from Syria were quartered in Russian military bases in Armenia,
while 20 more were settled in the Lachin region. (Turan, 1630 GNT, 10 Nov
Armenia has been the sight of other pro-Kurd activities. A rally 1,000 persons
strong was held to commemorate the anniversary of the founding of the PKK;
on another occasion several hundred showed up to demand the release of Ocalan,
who is held in detention in Italy. (ITAR-TASS, 1908 GMT, 29 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-333,
and ITAR-TASS, 2207 GMT, 16 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-320) Armenia's predisposition
towards the Kurds stems from the sizable Kurdish minority, about 60,000-strong,
and a common enmity against Turkey.
by Miriam Lanskoy
KAZAHSTAN Qazhegeldyn's conviction upheld by Supreme Court
At the end of November, just a few days before the deadline for candidates'
registration in the January 1999 presidential elections, Kazakhstan's Supreme
Court ruled that former prime minister Aqezhan Qazhegeldyn's 27 October
conviction on charges of violating the country's assembly law was valid.
A municipal court had found him guilty of participating in the activities
of an improperly registered political organization, the Free Elections Movement,
and had ordered him to pay a fine. The Supreme Court's decision to uphold
this conviction prevents Mr. Qazhegeldyn from running in the upcoming presidential
elections, or from running for any political office for the period of one
year. (Interfax, 1150 GMT, 24 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-328)
Even if the Supreme Court had overturned the lower court's decision, Mr.
Qazhegeldyn might still have been barred from the elections because of a
recent second conviction. On 18 November, he was pronounced guilty of "disrespect
for the court" and ordered to pay another fine on the grounds that
he had not appeared in court to face the first set of charges against him.
(Interfax, 1551 GMT, 18 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-322)
TAJIKISTAN Tashkent, Moscow accused of aiding and abetting Col. Khudoiberdiev
The Tajik government now claims to have irrefutable proof that both the
Russian and Uzbek governments provided refuge to Col. Mahmud Khudoiberdiev,
Abdumalik Abdullojonov, Abdughani Abdullojonov (Abdumalik Abdullojonov's
younger brother and former mayor of Khujand), Yoqubjon Salimov (Tajikistan's
former Customs Committee chairman, whose private militia attacked government
troops in Dushanbe in August 1997), and a number of others for whom arrest
warrants had been issued by Tajik law enforcement services. The three men
named above are all wanted on charges of attempting to stage a coup d'etat
against President Rakhmanov. The Tajik security services have stated that,
following Col. Khudoiberdiev's latest armed incursion, they have obtained
hard evidence that the Uzbek military and KNB (previously the KGB of the
Uzbek SSR) provided refuge, training, and weapons to Col. Khudoiberdiev
and his forces and even helped recruit additional personnel for his militia
from General Abdulrashid Dostum's army. Abdumalik Abdullojonov is also accused
of directly participating in the arming and organization of Col. Khudoiberdiev's
forces. These accusations appear to be based largely on the testimony of
prisoners captured from Col. Khudoiberdiev's militia. However, government
officials have stated that documents which were seized from Khudoiberdiev's
supporters prove the extent of Uzbekistan's involvement in the affair. (Radio
Tajikistan First Channel Network, 0600 GMT, 13 Nov 98; FBIS-UMA-98-320,
and Tajikistan First Channel Network, 0600 GMT, 13 Nov 98; FBIS-UMA-98-321)
Both the Russian and Uzbek governments have denied aiding Col. Khudoiberdiev,
Abdumalik Abdullojonov, and their supporters in any way and claim to have
no knowledge of their activities or whereabouts. (Khovar News Agency, 1330
GMT, 12 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-317, and Interfax, 1718 GMT, 10 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-314)
Col. Khudoiberdiev's attack on Khujand and Aini caused a great deal of material
damage (approximately US $5.2 million in Leninobod Province alone--Interfax
1026 GMT, 27 Nov 98, FBIS-SOV-98-331), as well as costing many lives, but
from President Rakhmanov's point of view the net benefits in the end may
outweigh the negative results. The Tajik president is now able to oppose
openly the Uzbek government in its bid for influence over Tajikistan's affairs
and his administration may have also gained a significant foothold in Leninobod
Province. Little information is currently available about the present state
of affairs in Tajikistan's northernmost region, but presumably the provincial
capital, Khujand, is occupied by Tajik government troops (most likely by
Presidential Guard units, who thus far have been fairly loyal to the Dushanbe
administration) and the city may even be under martial law. As long as the
government troops remain in Khujand, President Rakhmanov will be free to
remove any local officials whom he deems to be disloyal by accusing them
of having supported either Col. Khudoiberdiev or Abdumalik Abdullojonov.
Thus, the president now has an opportunity to staff local government organs
in Leninobod with personnel loyal to himself, and to quash immediately and
forcibly any further opposition to his policies. If government troops continue
to occupy Leninobod Province for a significant amount of time, the president
may also be able to weaken the region's ties to Uzbekistan.
by Monika Shepherd
LATVIA Anatomy of a government formation
While the Saeima approved the minority government of Vilis Kristopans on
26 November with a vote of 59 to 24, the process of government formation
was not a smooth one, and indicates that the new prime minister will likely
face harsh and strong opposition in the months to come.
The nomination of Kristopans himself was the first indication of trouble.
For one month after the 3 October elections, a coalition of three parties
(Latvia's Way, For the Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK, and the New Party) made
it clear that he was the only candidate for the position that they would
accept. With their combined total of 46 seats in parliament, this statement
guaranteed that Andris Skele, leader of the People's Party (which received
24 seats, the most in the election) would not regain the position of prime
minister that he once held. What became quite clear in the weeks after President
Guntis Ulmanis named Kristopans prime minister designate was that, while
Skele and his party were popular with the voters, fellow politicians were
of a clearly different mind.
After Ulmanis handed Kristopans a mandate to form a government on 3 November,
negotiations began. The People's Party proposed a majority government with
itself and the three-party coalition backing Kristopans, provided that there
was a coalition agreement in which only representatives of the parties forming
the government held seats in the cabinet and that government and Saeima
committee posts were filled on the basis of proportionality to the popular
vote (which would favor the People's Party). (Baltic News Service Daily
Report, 1100 GMT, 11 Nov 98)
Kristopans quickly made clear how slim the chances were that the People's
Party would hold a majority of government seats. Interviewed in a Riga newspaper,
Kristopans declared that he remained offended by a pre-election advertisement
in which the People's Party had included his name, along with bankers accused
of fraudulent practices, under the inscription "Abuse of Service Authority."
While describing the advertisement as slanderous, Kristopans said he would
not sue--not because he wished to calm troubled political waters, but because
such legal actions rarely succeeded. (Baltic News Service Daily Report,
1900 GMT, 12 Nov 98)
Kristopans at first offered the People's Party three ministerial posts (foreign
affairs, agriculture and justice), with no mention of a coalition agreement.
(Baltic News Service Daily Report, 1900 GMT, 11 Nov 98) The Social Democrats
Alliance, sensing that a fourth party had not yet been accepted into the
government, announced its support of a majority government in which alliance
members held at least three portfolios. (Baltic News Service, 1851 GMT,
16 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-320) While the introduction of the alliance into
the coalition would bring about a majority government with 60 seats in parliament,
alliance members overestimated the three-party coalition's desire to avoid
a minority government. The alliance proposal was ignored.
The following week, after apparently having accepted that strong possibility
of a minority government, Kristopans made an offer the People's Party couldn't
help but refuse: one post in the government (agriculture) that could be
filled with anyone but party leader Andris Skele, no coalition agreement,
and the assurance that a similar offer would be made to the Social Democrats
Alliance, an alliance which the People's Party had steadfastly rejected.
Moreover, the People's Party was given 30 minutes to decide. A People's
Party representative described Kristopans' proposal as an expression of
no confidence in the party. That perception was right on the money: "I
don't see ...that the People's Party can be fully trusted," Kristopans
told reporters. (Baltic News Service Daily Report, 1900 GMT, 19 Nov 98)
The three parties in the original coalition signed a declaration that a
coalition council would be formed in which all decisions would be unanimous.
(Radio Riga Network, 1200 GMT, 20 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-324) That move sounded
the death knell to any hopes of the Social Democrats: After the agreement
on unanimity was signed, the Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK party expressed
its rejection (and therefore, that of the entire coalition) of involvement
by the Social Democrats Alliance in the government. (BNS, 1019 GMT, 24 Nov
While the two groups may not have been able to work together, the People's
Party and the Social Democrats did find some common ground, at least temporarily,
as each announced that it would not support the cabinet formed by Kristopans
in the upcoming parliamentary vote. (BNS, 1017 GMT, 24 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-328)
At the last minute, however, the Social Democrats changed their position
and voted for the government.
The lineup of the Cabinet that was approved indicates that it was members
of the People's Party, rather than the party's insistence that only government
coalition members comprise the cabinet, that served as the stumbling block
for a four-party majority government.
Cabinet members include:
Latvia's Way: Prime Minister Andris Skele; Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs;
Education and Science Minister Janis Gaigals; Finance Minister Ivars Godmanis;
Culture Minister Karina Petersone; Transport Minister and Deputy Prime Minister
Anatolijs Gorbunovs; and State Revenue State Minister Aija Poca.
For the Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK: Defense Minister Girts Kristovskis;
Interior Minister Roberts Jurdzs; Environmental Protection and Regional
Development Minister Vents Balodis; Welfare Minister Vladimirs Makarovs;
Special Tasks Minister for Cooperation with International Finance Institutions
Roberts Zile; Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration Guntars Krasts;
and Environment State Minister Inese Vaidere.
New Party: Justice Minister Ingrida Labucka; and Economics Minister Ainars
Slesers. (BALTIC NEWS SERVICE Daily Report, 1100 GMT, 26 Nov 98)
LITHUANIA If at first you don't succeed, try another person
Shortly after ending the trial of Aleksandras Lileikis due to the defendant's
ill health, Vilnius District Court announced that it will try Kazys Gimzauskas
for genocide against Jews during World War II. The former deputy chief of
the Vilnius District Security Board (and, therefore, Lileikis' subordinate),
Gimzauskas is charged with complicity in a crime and genocide against Lithuanian
citizens. The first session of his trial is scheduled for 5 January 1999,
however, health issues may again be raised: A medical examination determined
that the 90-year-old was unfit to stand an inquest. (Baltic News Service,
1329 GMT, 12 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-316)