Editorial Digest, Volume IV Number 2 (February
PRESIDENCY Latest Yel'tsin health ordeal
President Yel'tsin was hospitalized last month with a large gastric ulcer,
which, according to one of his physicians, developed extremely rapidly.
(Interview with Sergei Mironov on NTV, 2015 GMT, 17 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-017)
On Saturday, Yel'tsin was released from the hospital and is expected to
spend two weeks recuperating at Barvikha Sanitarium. (UPI, 30 Jan 99; clarinet)
The lessons learned from this latest hospitalization are familiar: The government
goes on without him, but lest anyone forget he is still in some form of
control, the threat of dismissals is lobbed at his ministers. In this particular
case, the president evidently gave his prime minister just enough rope to
hang himself by suggesting Primakov float a power-sharing proposal before
the parliament. (For further information on the proposal, see "Government"
section.) Once the details of the proposal were published, Yel'tsin quickly
denounced the provisions calling for a suspension of his constitutional
right to dissolve the Duma and called Primakov in for a discussion, even
broadcasting part of the meeting. Speculation on the length of Primakov's
tenure as prime minister soon occupied the press, despite "reassurances"
from the presidential staff that Yel'tsin "has supported efforts taken"
by Primakov. (ITAR-TASS, 1630 GMT, 26 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-026)
While it is highly unlikely that the president would sack his prime minister,
thereby setting off another confrontation with the Duma, Yel'tsin has managed
to remind everyone of his constitutionally given relevance. Just for the
record: According to Interfax (1027 GMT, 18 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-018), the
Russian stock market has been unaffected by Yel'tsin's illness.
APPARAT Borodin speaks up
The extension of General Bordyuzha's authority to oversee the Kremlin's
Economic Management Office, noted in our last digest, has provoked comment
from Manager Pavel Borodin. The very independent-minded Borodin noted, "The
tasks, forms and methods of our work can be changed only if over 40 regulations,
including presidential and government resolutions, are also changed."
(Interfax, 0845 GMT, 13 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-013) Sounds like a bureaucratic
line in the sand.
Bordyuzha rises to challenge?
On what may or may not be a related note, General Bordyuzha announced that
President Yel'tsin has approved the general's blueprint for the reorganization
of the Kremlin apparat. (Interfax, 1156 GMT, 23 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-023)
The relevant presidential decrees are expected next week.
Employing a traditional Kremlin-watcher's gauge of apparat authority to
Bordyuzha's influence with the president, it is clear that the general has
been granted substantial access to Yel'tsin during the course of his current
illness. Bordyuzha is frequently reported to be meeting or speaking with
the president from the hospital. While that is not necessarily unusual for
a chief of staff, it has been notable by its absence in the past. (As, for
instance, when General Korzhakov was a Yel'tsin intimate.)
GOVERNMENT Primakov proposal dust-up
The prime minister, apparently at the suggestion of the president, drafted
a proposal on measures to foster political stability between the executive
and legislative branches during the lead up to the next parliamentary and
presidential elections. (ITAR-TASS, 1037 GMT, 26 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-026)
Drawing in part from a September 1998 agreement (never implemented), Primakov
suggested that each participant agree not to employ any of its constitutional
triggers that would lead to an early dissolution of the Duma. In exchange,
the Duma would not proceed with attempts to remove the president. (NTV,
1900 GMT, 25 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-025 )
Primakov did make clear that this was an overture meant to elicit responses
which would, in turn, be sent to the president for his consideration. The
president, as noted above, immediately renounced the restriction of his
constitutional rights, leaving the appearance that Primakov had overreached
his authority and consequently placed his job in jeopardy.
General Bordyuzha, who in addition to being Yel'tsin's chief of staff is
also a close associate of Primakov's, confirmed that the president had earlier
solicited draft measures on political stability and added that the president's
comments on the proposal were meant as input to what is still "purely
a working matter." (ITAR-TASS, 1630 GMT, 26 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-026)
Bordyuzha also noted that a Security Council session is scheduled to take
up this issue.
Questions raised about MinAtom finances
The Ministry of Atomic Energy has been subjected to serious press scrutiny
in recent months. At issue seems to be not only a re-evaluation of the March
1998 dismissal of longtime Minister Viktor Mikhailov (and his reappearance
as a deputy), but also the possible use of diverted ministry funds for future
While the initial salvo came from Sovershenno Sekretno (11 Nov 98; FBIS-SOV-98-331),
both the Luzhkov-aligned Moskovsky komsomolets (10 Dec 98; FBIS-SOV-98-350)
and the government's Rossiyskaya gazeta (18 Dec 98; FBIS-SOV-98-362) have
joined in the attack. The recent articles emphasize the shift in financial
accounting under the current minister, Yevgeni Adamov, and the banks (and
consequently financiers and politicians) who have benefited. One of the
underlying assumptions of the pieces is that Adamov was appointed through
the intervention of Boris Berezovsky, and remains "propped up"
by the unlikely tandem of Berezovsky and Anatoli Chubais (through the electrical
company YeS Rossii).
While Adamov rejects the influence of any "oligarch" in his ministry,
he does acknowledge that Chubais' appointment as chairman of the board of
YeS Rossii facilitated the payment of funds for electrical energy production.
(Yevgeni Adamov letter to the editor, Moskovsky komsomolets, 14 Jan 99;
Adamov, in the above-referenced letter which attempts to rebut MK's charges
about corrupt financial practices at MinAtom, suggests that his intent is
to overhaul radically the financial arrangements at MinAtom because the
real corruption may have occurred under his predecessor's watch: "Let
us hope that the law enforcement authorities will not, as a matter of fact,
have occasion to investigate the uranium business, the prerequisites for
which were perfectly ripe on the verge of the change of leadership of the
Ministry of Atomic Energy in March 1998." (Moskovsky komsomolets, 14
If any of this speculation is on target (and it should be noted that both
the Moskovsky komsomolets and the Rossiyskaya gazeta articles seem to draw,
in part, from the initial Sovershenno Sekretno piece), it would seem that
Adamov's "revised financing" with the assistance of Chubais' new
position may improve wage disbursement to workers, but also represents the
possibility of channeling MinAtom resources to different political campaigns
than Mikhailov may have supported. As to Mikhailov's affiliations, it may
not be irrelevant to bear in mind that former MVD Chief Kulikov was fired
at about the same time as Mikhailov was dismissed.
by Susan J. Cavan
Ivanov speaks of Russian-US equality; Albright gives reassurances
Referring to a telephone conversation between President Boris Yel'tsin and
visiting US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Foreign Minister Igor
Ivanov told journalists on 26 January that "it is of principled importance
that they confirmed the allegiance of Russia and the United States to the
development of bilateral relations on the basis of equality [and] respect
for each other's interests." (ITAR-TASS, 1258 GMT, 26 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-026)
This statement followed Albright's earlier statements which were designed
to reassure the Russian government that a decision on deploying a new US
Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) system would not be made any earlier than mid-1999.
During a joint news conference held with her Russian counterpart, Foreign
Minister Ivanov, Albright stressed the US commitment to the ABM Treaty but
at the same time noted there are new threats in the world which the two
countries should take into account. Albright stated that the US budget has
money for research and development now but added that, if it is necessary
to deploy a new ABM system, this will be done no sooner than the year 2005.
(ITAR-TASS, 1258 GMT, 26 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-026) While Albright was reassuring
the Russian government that the US would not move forward on a new ABM system
without Russian knowledge, if not approval, Ivanov was reassuring the Russian
press that Russia was a strong independent state. Responding to a question
concerning economic assistance in exchange for political assurances, Ivanov
said "we do not bargain with our national interests." (ITAR-TASS
World Service, 1250 GMT, 26 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-026)
However, bargains may have been on Secretary Albright's agenda as she voiced
support for the Russian free press and offered $10 million to strengthen
free press in Russia. (ITAR-TASS, 1614 GMT, 25 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-025)
Perhaps the ratification of START-II is what the US can expect in return
for its support of the Russian free press. While speaking at a joint press
conference Albright expressed the hope that the START-II Treaty will be
ratified when she comes to Moscow next time and that work on START-III will
begin. (ITAR-TASS, 2055 GMT, 26 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-026)
The Russian media depicted Secretary Albright's visit to Moscow as a Russian
diplomatic victory. The Russian coverage emphasized American reassurances
on the ABM treaty, the pledges of economic support, and the theme of US-Russian
equality. Although Foreign Minister Ivanov did give some assurances concerning
a Russian crackdown on weapons technology exports, these were overshadowed
by the Russian government's and scientific community's repeated denials
of having assisted Iran with any weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
Where in the world is Abdullah Ocalan now? Not in Italy
Once again the Russian government played a game of diplomatic cat and mouse
with Turkey and the international community over the whereabouts of Abdullah
Ocalan, leader of the Kurdish Workers' Party. On 19 January 1999 Russia's
Federal Security Service (FSB) and foreign ministry declined to comment
on the Turkish authorities' assertions that Abdullah Ocalan had returned
to Russia following his short hiatus in Italy. In conjunction with this
official "no comment," sources in the Russian foreign ministry
told Interfax on 19 January that, according to Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov,
"competent services are checking reports that Ocalan has flown out
to South Africa from Moscow." (Interfax, 1257 GMT, 19 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-019)
The comments are reminiscent of statements made during Ocalan's short period
of "exile" in Moscow after his expulsion from Syria in late 1998.
Following what was most certainly an exhaustive search on 22 January, Colonel-General
Valentin Sobolev, first deputy chief of the Federal Security Service, declared
that "the Leader of the Workers Party of Kurdistan [PKK] is not in
Russian territory today." Sobolev stated that, "we have taken
all measures to look for him after requests have reached us from authorities
in Turkey and Italy. The result was negative." Also on the same day
Ivanov told a news conference, "I can state officially that Abdullah
Ocalan is not in Russia." (ITAR-TASS, 0948 GMT, 22 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-022)
Although Moscow has apparently closed the latest chapter in the Ocalan affair
with its official "search and denial" mission, only time or the
Turkish security services will reveal the actual whereabouts of Ocalan.
Moscow, which has long been accused of supporting the Kurdish rebels and
still permits a Kurdish mission that represents the PKK to remain in the
city, has not completely turned its back on Ocalan.
Issa Magomedov, the head of the department for international law at the
Russian Prosecutor-General's Office, left the door open for Ocalan's return
to Russia by stating that "if Ocalan is found in Russia, Moscow will
have no legal reasons for extraditing the leader of the Kurdish Workers'
Party to Turkey." He said Russia and Turkey have not signed an agreement
on the mutual extradition of criminals on the basis of which individuals
suspected of committing crimes may be deported. (Interfax, 1257 GMT, 19
Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-019)
Russian and French ministers cozy up in Moscow
French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine recently concluded what appeared
to be more a mutual admiration mission than a substantive foreign ministry
visit to Moscow in early January. Official statements issued by both the
Russian prime minister and French foreign minister focused exclusively on
the "very similar positions, converging objectives, and complementary
approaches" the two countries share. At the beginning of a 12 January
meeting with the French foreign minister, Primakov told Vedrine, "you
have an absolutely correct understanding of the current developments in
Russia," and "it inspires me to hear you say that our model is
close to European Social Democracy." (Interfax, 0911 GMT, 12 Jan 99;
FBIS-SOV-99-012) Although Primakov took the opportunity to highlight how
much the French government admired the Russian political model, the majority
of the meetings focused on international issues with which Moscow and Paris
share a common point of view. During a meeting with Vedrine on 12 January,
Primakov noted that "our countries have very close positions on international
affairs," and "we understand well that measures need to be taken
to maintain order to stabilize the international situation." (ITAR-TASS
World Service, 0822 GMT, 12 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-012) Vedrine echoed this
same theme but was more specific, stating that France and Russia have "very
similar positions, converging objectives, and complementary approaches"
to Iraq and Kosovo. Vedrine stated that "we are going to submit to
our Security Council partners some ideas for getting out of the current
situation [in Iraq] and redirecting the UN inspection methods." (AFP
(Domestic Service), 12 Jan 99; FBIS-WEU-99-012)
Russia and France have long maintained similar positions on several international
issues, not least of which have been UN sanctions and inspections in Iraq.
Vedrine's statement concerning the "redirecting" of UN inspection
methods coincided with several Russian statements concerning the obsolete
nature of UNSCOM and the need to overhaul the UN inspection team that was
operating in Iraq prior to Operation Desert Fox. Vedrine's statements fall
short of complete French support for a Russian initiative to overhaul the
UNSCOM team; however, based on French actions in the Security Council, it
would not be surprising to see a joint Russian-French proposal for a revamped
Iraqi-friendly UNSCOM team.
by John McDonough
* * *
Let the 'sunshine' in
South Korean Foreign Minister Hong Soon-young has expressed his country's
backing of the Russian-proposed six-way talks on the Korean peninsula. Russian
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov responded by supporting ROK engagement effort
on the issue, which has been termed the "sunshine policy." (Yonhap,
0055 GMT, 26 Jan 99; FBIS-EAS-99-025) This comes on the heels of revealing
Japanese analysis -- apparently aided by US intelligence -- that "Nodong
missiles have either already been deployed or are being installed at over
10 bases in North Korea. " Although the report has yet to be confirmed,
deployment of such a highly mobile arsenal would only increase the security
threat to both Japan and the ROK.
3,000 North Koreans labor in Siberia while 200 Chinese are repatriated
KOTRA, the Korean Trade Investment Promotion Agency, has revealed that over
30 percent of Siberia's foreign workers are North Koreans. The DPRK reportedly
receives over $10 million in foreign currency annually from these workers
alone. The workers are being sent to Siberia to work on agricultural and
construction projects. (Hangyore, 0903 GMT, 19 Jan 99; FBIS-EAS-99-023)
Meanwhile, according to a recent report from the Trans-Baikal regional department
press service, 200 Chinese nationals residing illegally on Russian territory
were repatriated from "Operation Vikhr-3" at the end of December.
It was noted that while the Chinese were apparently not taking part in illegal
activity, their presence on Russian soil was in itself an illegal act. Now
that the Sino-Russian demarcation effort has been successfully completed,
the effort to repatriate Chinese workers has been stepped up. (TASS, 0714
GMT, 6 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-006)
Russo-Japanese demarcation effort stalls
According to Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura, "it's a fact
that there are wide differences and the [demarcation] talks have stalled."
(Kyodo, 0355 GMT, 22 Jan 99; FBIS-EAS-99-21) The talks were held under auspices
of the new commissions founded in the November 1998 Moscow Declaration.
The commissions were to handle joint economic development and demarcation
of the disputed Kurile Islands chain. It was hoped that the commission could
resolve the territory issue so that the peace treaty negotiations could
be concluded by the year 2000. This latest setback brings the target date
even further into doubt.
by Sarah K. Miller
DOMESTIC ISSUES & LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
REGIONS Orsk mayor discusses consequences of regional protectionism
Nikolai Tarasov, mayor of the city of Orsk in the Orenburg Region, discussed
the "war" presently underway among the 89 regions of the Russian
Federation. In response to the economic and political crisis of August 1998,
many regions banned exports, and in some cases imports, of products from
other regions. The intention was to prevent shortages, but the result has
been a glut in the exporting region and, in the absence of alternative suppliers,
a severe shortage in the formerly importing region. There are now instances
of smuggling, and in the case of Orenburg and neighboring Bashkortostan,
this has meant the smuggling of milk. According to Tarasov, the governor
of Orenburg Region has spoken to the president of Bashkortostan and now
some milk "trickles" into Orenburg where it used to "stream."
Regional protectionism may be politically popular, and even intuitively
responsible in the short run, but as with the leaders of Orsk and Bashkortostan,
policy makers may now be understanding that protectionism is ultimately
in no one's interest, especially within the same country. (Rossiyskaya gazeta,
Weekend Edition, 6 Jan 99, p. 13; FBIS-SOV-99-007)
Vladivostok municipal election saga continues
Vladivostok remains the only city in the Russian Federation not to have
had a democratically elected city council or city charter since the dissolution
of the soviets in 1993. Each time an election has been planned, it has been
cancelled or prevented in some way. Hopes were high that this would finally
end with the 17 January 1999 elections.
The most recent phase of the saga began when President Yel'tsin issued a
decree in December removing Viktor Cherepkov as mayor, while asking the
Primorye Kray's governor, Yevgeni Nazdratenko, to nominate an acting mayor
until elections could be held. Nazdratenko nominated Yuri Kopylov, Cherepkov's
former deputy mayor, who had been similarly removed from office by the court.
Cherepkov refused to relinquish his office physically or officially, claiming
Yel'tsin's move was unconstitutional, and has filed a complaint with the
Russian Constitutional Court. The court has agreed to hear the case on 14
The result was a peculiar scene where Vladivostok had two mayors, each demanding
loyalty from the city and its citizens. Cherepkov and his supporters holed
up in the mayor's office, known as the Grey House, while Kopylov set up
shop in the district administration building known as the Yellow House down
the street. Kopylov threatened to send in the police to remove Cherepkov,
but had to contend with Cherepkov's supporters surrounding the building.
The solution was hoped to have been the 17 January 1999 elections for the
22 seats on the city council. The council had the tasks of passing a charter
for the city and appointing a mayor from their ranks under the conditions
of the new charter. For the first time the people of the city would have
had a democratically elected city council and city charter. But like every
other attempt in the last six years, this was not to be.
Initially, 16 of the 22 district elections were deemed to be valid. The
other six were ruled invalid due to low voter turnout and new elections
were slated to be held between 17 March and 17 May. Cherepkov and his supporters
won 15 of the 16 valid seats, and as 15 members present constituted a quorum,
the council met on 23 January, ratified the city charter and elected Cherepkov
mayor of Vladivostok. His temporary replacement, Kopylov, did not run.
Initially all seemed well until the city election commission declaired that
only 10 of the 22 seats were valid, and later revised that number down to
nine. The city council's adoption of the city charter and its appointment
of Cherepkov as mayor were therefore invalidated. The local court also dissolved
the council, although it is not clear what the purpose was, given that the
council, lacking a quorum, could not pass legislation anyway.
Within all of this must be seen the never-ending battle between Nazdratenko
and Cherepkov. The courts, the election commissions, parties, and even the
Kremlin, are all used to further one side over the other. The fact that
Yel'tsin personally asked the Central Election Commission to oversee this
election, and the fact that it was unable to prevent the present debacle
shows just how weak the center can be when intense regional interests are
The next step, for the umpteenth time, is to hold elections in those city
council districts in which elections were invalidated. Perhaps the wisest
step would be to keep the local and federal election commissions out of
the picture by bringing in election officials from other, noncontiguous
regions, who could be given the sole power of conducting the elections.
And if more faith in the process were needed, perhaps the results of the
elections could be validated by a second group of regional election officials.
What does seem to be needed is some electoral monitoring system which is
reasonably above reproach and is truly interested in the integrity of the
process. While the outcome of elections is that which ultimately decides
the future of the country's citizens, it is belief in the fairness of the
process of democracy which gives the outcome its legitimacy.
by Michael Demar Thurman
Recently completed reorganization produces miraculous results!
Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Air Force, Col. Gen. Anatoly Kornukov,
recently proclaimed the merger of Russia's military air force and air defense
forces has been completed. He said, "The new structure of the Air Force
will allow the combat capacity of various air troops to be used under single
command." (Interfax, 0906 GMT, 8 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-008) The CINC
then provided some insights into the need for the new organizational structure.
In an interview with Interfax he said that, in the initial stages of combat
actions, the use of aircraft should precede the use of land forces and the
air force has the responsibility for successful implementation. According
to Kornukov, "The Air Force of today, with its highly mobile, multi-purpose
efficient means of defense and attack, ensure[s] the defense of the country
in the sky. This increases the part the Air Force plays in contemporary
military conflicts. This increased role calls for a radical revision of
military tactics and practice and the ways of developing the armed forces."
(Interfax, 0906 GMT, 8 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-008)
Though complete, the merger is apparently not the last step; the air force
CINC told reporters three days later that one of the chief tasks of Russia's
air force in 1999 will be to perfect the structure of the force. (ITAR-TASS,
1315 GMT, 11 Jan 99; FBIS-SOC-99-011) Other chief tasks will be to enhance
combat readiness and develop armaments and equipment, a difficult task under
the tight fiscal constraints facing all the Russian armed forces. Kornukov
stated there will be an emphasis on multifunctional systems in the air force
armaments and equipment, with the new S-400 anti-aircraft system (follow-on
enhancement of the S-300 system) adopted for service. The S-400 will have
priority for the next 20-50 years. This "priority" must be Kornukov's
own or only a priority within the air force, because most other high officials,
including Defense Minister Igor Sergeev and Deputy Premier Maslyukov, clearly
favor upgrading Russia's strategic arsenal with as many SS-28s as the budget
will allow. The CINC provided modernization plans for the Su-24, Su-25,
and Su-27, and said the range of the MiG-31 fighter will be increased, with
its armaments perfected. (ITAR-TASS, 1315 GMT, 11 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-011)
For the remainder of the interview, Col. Gen. Kornukov spouted numbers and
statistics positive to his service with the flare and confidence of a seasoned
politician. For example, a numerical strength of 193,000 on 1 January 99
compared to 318,000 a year ago, 580 units disbanded, over 41,000 servicemen
discharged, including 69 generals [of course, he didn't mention how many
may have been added as a result of the president's edict to promote 100
additional officers to the rank of general (See Editorial Digest, Vol. IV,
No. 1)], and 32 airfields and 310 cantonments vacated as a result of reform.
The CINC also said the air force in now manned at 99 percent as a result
of "organizational operations," compared to the previous level
of 75 percent.
Probably the most interesting statistic is that, presumably due to reform,
the aircraft fleet is now magically 70 to 85 percent "ready for flight[s],"
compared to 30 to 40 percent before reform. (ITAR-TASS, 1315 GMT, 11 Jan
99; FBIS-SOV-99-011) However, the increase in flight readiness should be
no surprise, as the air force was blessed with an overabundance of funds
in 1998, a whopping 5.5 billion rubles allocated versus the 13.5 billion
rubles required. (ITAR-TASS, 1315 GMT, 11 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-011) Of course,
the most logical explanations for the miraculous increase in operability
rate are that either the general just decided not to count broken aircraft
or that those 60 to 70 percent of the fleet previously considered unable
to fly have been simply redesignated as static displays.
... But 'complete' may be a relative term
Air Force Commander-in-Chief Col. Gen. Anatoly Kornukov's recent proclamation
that the merger of Russia's military air force and air defense forces has
been completed may be a momentary condition if the strategic missile troops
commander or defense minister have anything to say. The possibility of another
reshuffle in the air force has been hinted at for months. Even before Kornukov
reported that the air force-air defense force merger was 95 percent complete
six months ago (ITAR-TASS, 1708 GMT, 11 Aug 98; FBIS-SOV-98-182), Strategic
Missile Troops CINC Col. Gen. Vladimir Yakovlev was beginning to make a
play for Kornukov's new empire. Yakovlev suggested that the missile troops
and air force should be combined into a single service, allowing for additional
savings over the almost 20 percent realized by the current air force-air
defense merger. He believes the new service could be in place by 2003. (See
Editorial Digest, Vol. III, No. 12) There is little doubt who he saw leading
this "new and improved" force structure.
Though Yakovlev's idea for an "air and space" merger may have
fallen off the scope for the time being, another even more controversial
one has bubbled to the surface -- and continued to boil. Two months ago,
Defense Minister Igor Sergeev reported that President Yel'tsin had agreed
to a proposal to combine all strategic assets under one command. (See Editorial
Digest, Vol. III, No. 16) Under the proposal, strategic forces of the air
force, navy and missile forces would be consolidated into a Strategic Deterrent
Force. This force would serve under a single Unified High Command instead
of the General Staff. Not surprisingly, this revelation irked more than
just air force officials. Navy and air force chiefs saw their empires, already
suffering from reform cuts, crumbling further. Also, the General Staff's
authority would be greatly reduced by not having the nuclear stick under
its direction. Considering all the opposition, coupled with President Yel'tsin's
failing health and diminished political clout, it seemed as if the defense
minister's new organizational design was destined for the archives even
before it got off the drawing board.
However, it may be premature to close the books on this one yet. After two
months of relative silence, Sergeev provided a strong indication that he
has not given in to pressure from the opposition. Speaking to a group of
Russian military journalists on 13 January, Sergeev said that the combined
main command of strategic containment forces will be created in 1999. "If
we do not create a more perfect combat control system, our missiles, no
matter how many of them we have, will be decorative." (ITAR-TASS, 1814
GMT, 13 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-014) He reiterated that the combined main command
of strategic containment forces will incorporate Strategic Rocket Forces
and the nuclear components of the air force and navy. The defense minister
noted that the combat control system should be able to respond promptly
to changes in the situation, "be viable," and act under any circumstances.
(ITAR-TASS, 1814 GMT, 13 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-014) The portion of his comments
which raises the greatest expectation for actual realization of the new
structure is that Sergeev said it would be created this year and not some
time off in the next decade or at some undisclosed time in the future.
The most disturbing aspect of this proposal may be the opportunity to consolidate
funding for nuclear assets. Russia's financial woes are well (and often)
documented. Underfunding of the military continues to be severe, with each
of the services having to make many tough decisions on how to spread the
few rubles they do receive. Much has been reported on Sergeev's and Deputy
Premier Maslyukov's desire to produce Topol-M missiles at an overly ambitious
production rate. (See Editorial Digest, Vol. III, No. 16) Separating the
nuclear forces from the navy and the air force would also separate the funding.
Any arguments for equitable distribution of strategic and conventional funding
from General Staff officials would fall on deaf ears, as presumably the
funding chain for the Strategic Deterrent Forces would be through the newly
established Unified High Command. With the "You better listen to us
because we're still a powerful nuclear force to be reckoned with" defense
advocated by Russian Federation officials every time the US or British do
or say something contrary to their liking, it is pretty clear where their
emphasis lies. The ultimate result would be a navy with more ships rotting
under the surface than above; an untrained, underfed army forced to beg
on the streets; a grounded, obsolete air force; and, most importantly, more
highly capable nuclear ballistic missiles in the hands of fewer dangerous
And now it's time for 'Meet the Republic' with Igor Sergeev
Even Dale Carnegie would have been proud of Russian Defense Minister Igor
Sergeev for his comments to Russian military journalists in connection with
Russian Press Day, 13 January. During the gathering, Sergeev provided the
press with details of several aspects of upcoming military reform initiatives.
In addition to the establishment of a Strategic Deterrent Force, discussed
above, Sergeev named the creation of permanent-readiness units, their interoperability,
the modernization of their weapons and hardware, and their adequate funding
as key reform initiatives. (ITAR-TASS, 1814 GMT, 13 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-014)
He also said that work will continue on reducing the number of military
districts and their reorganization into six operational and strategic commands,
with the Volga and Ural military districts consolidated in 1999. (ITAR-TASS,
1814 GMT, 13 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-014)
Then, the defense minister switched gears. He told the crowd that the "press
is the drive belt of military reform, it is a mechanism which can keep the
public informed about what the defense minister does and why he does it."
Sergeev said that it is his duty to explain his actions to Russian taxpayers.
Continuing, he stated, "An open society cannot be built without open
press." The defense minister stressed, "I always read critical
articles attentively. I am perhaps the first defense minister who writes
resolutions on media reports." Sergeev also noted that "it is
impossible to carry out military reform without information support."
(ITAR-TASS, 1731 GMT, 13 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-014) Why did Sergeev make these
comments? Maybe it was because he wasn't feeling much love from his generals
due to his recent reform initiatives. Or maybe he felt he needed the press
on his side to sell his ideas to the world. Whatever the reasons, I am sure
Sergeev's comments brought tears to the eyes of everyone in the audience.
Tears of pride ... or those tears you get when you've laughed uncontrollably
for a long time.
Wanted: S-300 deployment location, tourist-free and no Marines
The $500 million Russia-Cypriot deal to send Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft
missile defense systems to Cyprus encountered a major obstacle last month
when Cypriot Republic President Glavkos Kliridhis announced the S-300s would
not be deployed to Cyprus as previously planned. At the time, Crete was
announced as the alternate location. (See Editorial Digest, Vol. III, No.
18) However, cloud over the deal has become as thick as London fog. According
to Interfax, "This decision [to deploy the systems on Crete] stirred
protests on the island, which attracts a lot of tourists." There is
also a US Marine base situated on the island. In an apparent revelation
Interfax reported, "Furthermore, stationing the complexes in Crete
will not ensure security of Cyprus, say experts." (Interfax, 1012 GMT,
15 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-015) Experts? Using not much more than a map, a ruler,
and rudimentary knowledge of the S-300's capabilities, any teenager could
have figured out that one. So stay tuned, the search continues for a suitable
S-300 deployment location.
by LtCol Michael Reardon
* * *
My plane's better than your plane
The long-awaited public debut of the MiG fifth generation fighter aircraft
took place on 12 January. Referred to in the West as the "MiG 1.42"
(from the Mikoyan Design Bureau's Project 1-42), the Russians are calling
it the "MFI" (from the Russian initials for multipurpose combat
fighter). Russian print and TV media are lauding the development of this
latest MiG fighter as proof of the viability and even superiority of Russian
aviation design and ingenuity. While the public unveiling of this aircraft
is noteworthy, Russian press reports and the attendant sniping on the MiG
have been particularly entertaining.
Before delving into what the Russians are saying about the new aircraft,
here are some general notes. The aircraft shown is a prototype model, built
in 1991 but essentially stored until now, due to lack of funding for development.
It has not flown yet; that event may happen in February. From the few pictures
released so far, it does not appear to break new design ground, sharing
many characteristics with the French Rafale and the consortium-built Eurofighter.
These include shaping for some stealth capability, canard foreplanes, and
a large intake located on the underside of the aircraft. As with the US
F-22, the MiG has twin-engines and twin-tails. A competing Russian aircraft
from the Sukhoi Design Bureau, the S-37 Berkut, has a much more unconventional
appearance, with forward-swept wings.
The first Russian press reports on Project 1-42 started off in a fairly
straightforward manner, with the claims of the "new" aircraft's
capabilities increasing over time. In all the reports there was an understandable
air of pride noticeable. NTV broadcast a few brief reports on debut day,
with its reporters interviewing and quoting from the MiG bureau's designers.
NTV reported that the MiG would "not be inferior to the F-22,"
and would cost much less, but noted also that the plane had "a rather
uncertain future" due to Russia's financial state. NTV stated that
the aircraft's design was begun 15 years ago, and "a few" prototypes
exist. A subsequent broadcast began the stream of hyberbole, promoting the
superiority of the Russian design (including swipes at US stealth aircraft).
The general manager (or director general -- the person is referred to by
various titles) of the MiG aircraft works claimed that the aircraft is impossible
to track in subsonic or supersonic flight, helped in part because all planned
weapons are to be carried internally. (External weapons and other unnecessary
protrubences increase an aircraft's radar return. The prototype had underwing
stores stations, though.) The general manager was sure, according to NTV,
that the MiG is "less visible than the US Stealth fighter, which was
not invisible to Soviet air defense facilities long before it went into
service. Russian designers have taken into consideration the mistakes made
by the Americans and have achieved less visibility at a lower price."
(NTV, 1100 GMT and 1600 GMT, 12 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-012)
Apparently not all of the Russian press was taking the design bureau's claims
for its latest combat aircraft at face value. Moskovskiye novosti called
the MiG 1-42 presentation a hoax. The newspaper alleged that an old design,
designated 1-44, was shown instead of the actual Project 1-42, in part to
obtain money from the government. A military analyst from the paper repeated
these charges on Russia TV, giving the story a wider audience. (BBC, 20
Rossiyskaya gazeta quickly countered with a blustery rebuttal. It featured
comments by MiG's general manager, made at an ITAR-TASS press conference.
Here are a few revealing excerpts: "Then there was World War II, and
it turned out that the best airplanes were built in the United States, the
USSR, and Germany.... In spite of all their genius and financial power,
the Germans have for some reason gotten out of the habit of designing and
making good submarines, tanks, fighters, bombers.... The Americans spent
billions of dollars to achieve the effect of invisibility. Ultimately they
have built all kinds of 'flying saucers,' which are easier to shoot down
than the antediluvian German Junkers. It is simply that no one has ever
really tried to shoot them down."
Then we get to the point of the history lessons: "So, the MFI (Russian!)
embodies two technologies at once, making it really invisible to radar.
And it turns out that no fancy shape, no frightening colors are needed.
Everything is simple and wonderful in a Russian way. When they figured that
out, the Yanks started kicking themselves." The article continues on
in a similar manner, where proponents of the MiG assail those Russian journalists
who denigrate Russian achievements and innovations.
ITAR-TASS followed up on its own with a report that "leading experts"
in Russian aviation sent an open letter to Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov
complaining of publications critical to their industry. According to Tass,
the experts think that such comments should "not be left unattended."
"Wildcat" strikes at MiG facilities, in protest of these same
critical comments, were also mentioned. (ITAR-TASS, 1500 GMT, 21 Jan 99;
Obshchaya gazeta reported much the same in regards to the MFI, and from
the tone of its article is right in tow with the "party" line.
It did quote a Russian general on his view of the future of this aircraft:
"The new fighter has a good chance of becoming the aircraft of the
22d century. At least that is what will happen if the project continues
to be financed in the manner it has to date." The newspaper was not
amused by the good general's remarks. (Obshchaya gazeta, 14-20 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-025)
And now for the rest of the story. Any introduction of a major Russian weapons
system is a newsworthy event, not to be belittled. However, one must not
make too much of the introduction of a prototype, and not pay too much attention
to unproven claims for an as yet unflown aircraft. Coupled with some rather
off-the-wall remarks concerning foreign systems, it's hard to take the cheerleaders
of the MiG MFI all that seriously, and apparently many in the West are not
doing so: The more outlandish statements cited above have not reappeared
in Aviation Week, for example. It is obvious that the Russian aviation industry,
along with the Russian defense ministry, is trying hard to make a case for
funding development of the MiG, hoping that it may be building a military
justification for buying production versions, while at the same time promoting
the Russian aviation industry. After all, it was in weapons systems that
the USSR was able to compete effectively with the US and the West. The case
really remains the same with Russia today -- broadly speaking, it is the
only area of industry that has competitive products to sell on the world
A problem arises when not all Russians believe the sales pitches, and horror
of horrors, are able to publish their views in the press. Think of the audacity
of some Russians to point out the "bluff" of the new MiG, by reminding
its readers that "hey, this is just one, unflown, unproven prototype
on display here." To that may we humbly add some counters to the statements
made in the various dispatches. To begin with, Project 1-42 is an old design.
If it is true that design work on it started 15 years ago, around 1984,
it is highly doubtful that the MiG is significantly more stealthy than,
or even on par with, the US F-22, F-117 or B-2. Without actual flight testing,
comments on the superiority of the MiG's design are at best premature. Just
ask the folks who built the B-2, an aircraft that, despite its elegant design,
needed some fine-tuning and tweaking to achieve its desired level of operational
Statements on US aircraft being "flying saucers" and not being
shot down because no one really tried are plain silly, even by bombastic
Russian standards. Maybe the Russians forgot that it was primarily Soviet-made
missile systems that were trying, unsuccessfully, to shoot down F-117s in
Iraq back in 1991. And finally, maybe the MiG folks should stick to critiquing
only aircraft designs; for instance, the German Type 209 diesel submarine
is not a threat to be dismissed lightly.
Development of the MFI will of course be watched closely in the West. Previous
generations of Russian, primarily MiG, fighters have proven to be capable
warfighting machines. The MiG 29, though not without some limitations, could
be a worthy adversary if flown by competent pilots. Sukhoi's Su-27 (and
variants) is a remarkable fighter. What has always been interesting is seeing
the Russian approach to design -- they have taken different and at times
ingenious approaches to the task. We'll be waiting for the press reports
that may be forthcoming from the flight testing of Project 1-42. In the
meantime, we'll just enjoy the entertainment factor provided by the aircraft's
All together now
On the one hand, Defense Minister Igor Sergeev called the Russian press
the "drive belt of military reform," adding further that "An
open society cannot be built without open press." His comments were
made at a gathering celebrating Russian Press Day. (ITAR-TASS, 1731 GMT,
13 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-014) This was before the questioning article on the
MiG MFI appeared. On the other hand there is a "movement in support
of the army and the defense industry" that wishes to "draft regulations
to set up a public tribunal to accuse the mass media of not providing objective
coverage of the army topic." (Radiostantsiya Ekho Moskvy, 1030 GMT,
16 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-016) This of course would be done within the framework
of the constitution; the group only wants to change it, not oppose it. An
open press serves the country much better when it is not too free.
What a strange new world we're living in
Life in the new world order certainly has turned topsy-turvy compared to
life in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. For instance, who back
then could have imagined Swedish, much less Lithuanian, authorities monitoring
Russian military presence in Kaliningrad? Swedish military personnel visited
various Russian military elements in Kaliningrad in support of the Vienna
Treaty, signed by 55 countries, "for security- and confidence-building
measures in Europe." The initial report from the Swedes was that they
were happy with the Russian compliance. (ITAR-TASS, 1805 GMT, 14 Jan 99;
FBIS-SOV-99-014) Lithuanian inspectors followed a few days later for the
same purpose. Tass noted the historic aspect of the Baltic Fleet visit,
and remarked that "Russian military experts have not inspected the
Lithuanian Armed Forces so far." (ITAR-TASS, 1232 GMT, 18 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-018)
After the West spent billions of dollars over the decades in the Cold War
against the USSR, the European Union will spend four million euros over
two years to help retrain former officers of the Russian armed forces. (ITAR-TASS,
1952 GMT, 15 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-015) Targeted officers are those awaiting
discharge as well as those already released from duty. Several Russian ministries
will cooperate in the running of this program, with the focus on servicemen
receiving "help in job-finding at defense-related enterprises, currently
in the process of conversion, as well as at small and medium-scale businesses."
The number of expected trainees was not revealed. (ITAR-TASS, 1952 GMT,
15 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-015)
The final note in this theme is a proposed Russian-Israeli cooperative effort
in upgrading earlier generation MiG aircraft. The MiG director general observed
that around 5,000 MiG-21 aircraft are still active worldwide, that this
was a "huge market," and that "MiG should team up with Israeli
companies 'in the markets of countries where we (Russia) have lost our influence.'"
Israeli companies have already worked on upgrading Romanian MiGs but were
not "very successful ... on their own." (Interfax, 1257 GMT, 13
Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-013) There is some irony in this as the MiG 21 was the
most popular aircraft type employed by Israel's immediate neighbors. But
then, the Israelis are very familiar with the plane.
Update on the Minsk
In October we reported on the former Russian aircraft carrier, the Minsk,
being sold as scrap to China. One allegation made at that time was that
the ship still had some of its weapons systems intact, calling into question
the veracity of the scrap metal story. (Editorial Digest, 7 Oct 98) The
Washington Post recently wrote that the ship really is intended to be a
floating amusement park, complete with a hotel. (Washington Post, 25 Jan
99) This harkens back to an ABC News report from July 1998 which floated
the story that the Minsk was going to be an amusement center in Macao. Apparently
port authorities there did not like the idea of the ship in their harbor.
The Post updated the Macao link: Instead of the Minsk, a larger, ex-Ukranian
(ex-Soviet) aircraft carrier the Varyag, will become the amusement platform
there. Now, in either case, if any weapons systems still remain intact,
these floating fun palaces may add unmatched realism to their combat action
by LCDR Fred Drummond
NEWLY INDEPENDENT STATES CIS
Collective security or just big brother?
Five out of eight CIS member states' security council secretaries voted
to extend the Collective Security Treaty at a meeting of the CIS Working
Group meeting in Moscow. (TASS, 1653 GMT, 19 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-019) Azerbaijan,
Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan
attended the closed-door meeting held in the presidential office. (TASS,
1439 GMT, 19 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-019) However, the Georgian secretary revealed
that differences remain concerning whether to extend the treaty until modifications
can be made, or simply to adapt the treaty to "contemporary conditions"
before prolonging it. Either way, the future for a CIS Collective Security
Treaty looks strong. Accordingly, the press release on the results of the
meeting stressed the importance of the treaty as a deterrent to "across-the-border
terrorism, illegal narcotics traffic, arms contraband, and organized crime,"
as well as a means of "ensuring nonproliferation of weapons of mass
destruction." In support of joint measures, Chief of CIS Military Cooperation
Viktor Prudnikov has advocated the establishment of a CIS-wide unified defense
system, including missile warning systems, space control, and intelligence
collection. Thus far, work has focused on developing an anti-aircraft system,
the plans of which were Russian-led. (Interfax, 1040 GMT, 15 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-015)
Prudnikov's comments appear to have been prompted by "several states...[who]
prefer the language of force" in reference to recent US actions in
Big brother Boris tries again
CIS Executive Secretary Boris Berezovsky said that Russia has "a colossal
influence" on the former republics, but stressed that artificially
promoting the integration process "is the most dangerous, as it immediately
reminds of the past, of the domination, of the division between the elder
and the younger brother." (TASS, 1147 GMT, 17 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-017)
This has not deterred Berezovsky's personal attempts to dominate the CIS
integration process. However, CIS collective measures will not include Berezovsky's
most recent proposal. The proposal, called a "personal KGB" by
his opponents, would establish an "anti-terrorist" and "counterintelligence"
center in direct control of the executive secretariat. (Monitor, 22 Jan
99) This is not the first time that Berezovsky has attempted to create a
stronger power base for the Secretariat. (See Editorial Digest, Vol. III,
No. 18) In his previous plan, Berezovsky 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.
by Sarah K. Miller
UKRAINE Treaty? What treaty?
On 25 December 1998, President Leonid Kuchma proclaimed "a new chapter"
in Russian-Ukrainian relations, after the Russian Duma ratified the Russian-Ukrainian
Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership, known as the "Friendship
Treaty." (Interfax, 1735 GMT, 25 Dec 98; FBIS-SOV-98-359) The treaty,
which was signed by Kuchma and Boris Yel'tsin in 1997 and ratified by Ukraine
in early 1998, recognizes Ukraine's territorial integrity and existing borders.
After the Duma vote, Kuchma said, "[the ratification] put a full-stop
on the question of whether Ukraine exists or not." (Holos, 22 Dec 98,
pp. 1, 3; FBIS-SOV 98-364, and ITAR- TASS, 2002 GMT, 29 Dec 98; FBIS-SOV-98-363)
But not so fast. The Russian winds seem to have shifted, thanks in large
part to Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. Luzhkov apparently considers himself
the protector of Sevastopol, which he calls a "Russian city."
During a visit to the city during August 1998, Luzhkov spoke before cheering
crowds of ethnic Russians, vowing "to keep alive their hope that Sevastopol
will be back in Russia one day." (For background, see Interfax, 1120
GMT, 26 Aug 98; FBIS-SOV-98-238) In the last two weeks, Luzhkov has been
doing his best to fulfill his vow.
Luzhkov has been railing at Duma Deputies for "betraying Sevastopol,"
and calling on his fellow Federation Council members not to ratify the treaty.
(Interfax, 1427 GMT, 11 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-011) The treaty is, in his words,
"a forced assimilation of Russians." (ITAR-TASS, 1644 GMT, 13
Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-013)
Without ratification by both houses of parliament, the treaty cannot go
into effect. It was thought that ratification by the council, or upper house,
would simply be a formality. The vote on ratification in the council, however,
was delayed until 27 January. Then, on that day, the council voted overwhelmingly
to postpone the ratification vote again -- this time until at least mid-February.
Federation Council Chairman Yegor Stroev explained that the council needs
time to "carefully study all opinions... I think we shall be guided
by the opinion of the commission and of most members of the Federation Council."
(Interfax, 0926 GMT, 17 Jan 99; FBIS- S0V-99-017)
The reluctance of the Federation Council to ratify the treaty may have also
been influenced by Ukraine's outright refusal to participate in the "Union
of Sovereign States," and by the country's continuing refusal to turn
away from NATO.
After the Russian-Ukrainian Friendship Treaty and the "declaration
on unification of Russia and Belarus" were signed on the same day,
Oleg Korolev, the deputy chairman of the Federation Council, called the
declaration "the beginning of an actual revival of the Union of Sovereign
States." The Russia- Belarus Union Declaration, he said, "dooms"
other republics to join. (ITAR- TASS, 2040 GMT, 25 Dec 98; FBIS-SOV-98-359)
At the same time, Russian Duma Speaker Gennadi Seleznev claimed that the
Friendship Treaty would stop Ukraine from cooperating with NATO. "All
the rumors that someone is running somewhere -- to NATO or any other military
bloc -- are [in] vain. Ukraine has been and remains a Slavic country, an
eternal ally of Russia." (ITAR-TASS, 1703 GMT, 29 Dec 98; FBIS-SOV-98-363)
Ukraine, however, wasn't playing those games. The country immediately refused
to join the "Slavic Union," and announced its intention to continue
its current course regarding NATO. Russia was denied the rewards it apparently
So, just how irritated at Ukraine are the Federation Council members? Or,
just how influential is Yuri Luzhkov? Ukraine will once again simply have
to wait and see -- at least until mid-February, when the Federation Council
votes on whether Ukraine really exists or not.
Money makes the world go 'round...
Ukraine's leaders are collectively crossing their fingers, waiting to see
if they passed the recent IMF reform test. Several IMF representatives left
Ukraine on 26 January without saying whether they would recommend to the
IMF board of directors that the third tranche of a $2.2 billion Extended
Fund Facility loan be released. The EEF loan was granted to Ukraine in September
1998, but only $336 million was released before funding was halted in November.
At that time, the IMF said Ukraine had failed to fulfill more than a few
of the 141 economic reforms required in exchange for the loan.
Before the IMF representatives arrived last month, Ukrainian Vice Premier
Serhiy Tyhypko admitted that most IMF requirements still have not been carried
out, but noted that the country had now fulfilled 42 of the reforms and
was in the process of beginning another 18. (ITAR-TASS, 1516 GMT, 12 Jan
99; FBIS-SOV-99-012) Perhaps most importantly, the IMF representatives did
not rule out a resumption of lending, and noted several improvements before
departing. A decision on whether lending will be resumed will be announced
in February. (ITAR-TASS, 1417 GMT, 19 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-019)
Meanwhile, the United States announced that it would continue its aid to
Ukraine, but will only provide $195 million, which is $30 million lower
than the amount of aid granted last year. (Interfax, 0932 GMT, 13 Jan 99;
Ukraine's FY 1999 debt to foreign creditors already has surpassed $1 billion.
Election `99... here we come!
At the beginning of the year, Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko announced
that a parliament coalition had been formed to support President Kuchma
in the upcoming election, and that "some staff changes" would
be forthcoming "in response to the... coalition." Those changes
have now begun to be detailed.
According to Pustovoytenko, the new coalition includes the centrist People's
Democratic Party, the more liberal Green Party, and the original centrist
Social-Democratic Party. It also includes factions of the leftist Peasants'
Party, and nationalist Rukh and Hromada parties. However, given the divisions
within the parties themselves, the strength of the coalition is questionable.
The fact that any type of coalition has been created at all, however, is
a remarkable achievement. Just three months ago, most observers were predicting
the fall of the Pustovoyenko government, and the resurgence of the communists.
However, the government survived a 13 October 1998 "no-confidence"
vote by 23 votes, and then began the task of building an anti-leftist coalition,
with promises of cabinet posts for parties that voted in their favor. (For
background, see Interfax, 1233 GMT, 14 Oct 98; FBIS-SOV-98-287)
Kuchma and Pustovoyenko apparently now believe they've molded the strongest
coalition possible, and have begun dispersing the promised rewards. There
has been no more talk from the Communists of removing the current government.
The most important staff changes are as follows (not all information is
complete): First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoli Holubchenko was replaced
by Vlodimir Kuratchenko; Mikailo Hladi (former Lviv governor) was named
deputy prime minister, agro-industrial complex; Stepan Senchuk was named
Lviv governor; and Vasyl Rybachuk was named deputy head of the state service
(Intelnews, 0047 GMT, 15 Jan 99; nexis, and Intelnews, 0127 GMT, 4 Jan 99;
So, you want your missile cruiser, eh?
The Ukrainian Industry Ministry seems to have found itself a $10 million
hostage -- the newly repaired missile cruiser Moskva.
The Moskva was built in 1976 (under the name Slava) and, according to the
press service of the Russian Navy, "has a displacement of 12,000 tons
and a crew of 400." It was sent to Nikolaev, Ukraine for repairs, which
were to be financed by Russia, and was then scheduled to join the Black
Sea Fleet in Sevastopol. Now the repairs are complete, except the Russian
payment for the work never arrived. So, the Ukrainian industry ministry
announced that the Moskva "will not be handed over to the Black Sea
Fleet before Russia pays $10 million for repairs," and has been holding
the ship for several weeks. According to the ministry, Russia owes a total
of $100 million for Black Sea Fleet-related work. There has been no response
from either the commander of the Black Sea Fleet or the Russian Navy. (UT-1
Television Network, 0700 GMT, 8 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-008, and ITAR-TASS,
1443 GMT, 13 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99- 013)
BELARUS Diary of a non-union
On 25 December 1998, Boris Yel'tsin and Alyaksandr Lukashenka spoke in grandiose
terms about their "declaration of further unification of Russia and
Belarus." "This document opens a new page in our relationship.
It embodies the aspirations of our countries and peoples to come together,"
Yel'tsin said. (ITAR-TASS World Service, 1233 GMT, 25 Dec 98; FBIS-SOV-98-359)
But, does it really? Since that glorious declaration, there has been very
little unity between Belarus and Russia, while the domestic opposition to
President Lukashenka has been energized.
On 25 December, Interfax explained the "unification plan" step
by step, detailing what would happen almost immediately in the process.
"In February, a special agreement should be signed that will regulate
prices and tariffs on goods and services in transport, communications, energy
and gas industries. Also in February, the pricing principles of the two
countries should be standardized." In addition, a plan should be implemented
"to secure the mutual convertibility of the two currencies. (Interfax,
1318 GMT, 25 Dec 98; FBIS-SOV-98-359)
Soon, however, the backtracking began. Belarusian Finance Minister Mikalay
Korbut said less than a week after the documents were signed that, before
2000, "the two countries will introduce a common clearing currency
in one form or another." (Belapan, 1245 GMT, 1 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-001)
So much for February.
On 15 January, President Lukashenka announced the abandonment of "market
spontaneous principles" for setting consumer prices, a policy that
certainly does not meet the unification requirement that "pricing principles
of the two countries should be standardized."
Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Russia-Belarus Union met in
Minsk on 21 January to create a task force to work on unification issues.
On the same day, Russia stopped over 500 Belarusian trucks at the Russian
border for failing to have the necessary entry permits. Belapan explained,
"In accordance with the law, only 9,500 permits were issued for Belarusian
carriers for 1999, although as many as 120,000 would be needed." (Belapan,
1435 GMT, 21 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-022) After the trucks blocked traffic for
a full day, they were allowed to cross the border.
Shortly after, the Russian government imposed new export duties on crude
oil, which will reportedly remain in effect for only six months. As of the
end of January, no special arrangement had been made for Belarus, although
consultations were being held with Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. (ITAR-
TASS World Service, 1530 GMT, 25 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-025)
As the unification plans began bogging down, Lukashenka appealed to Russia
to "keep the integration process at its current pace and fulfill its
plans," but admitted that relations "have somewhat slowed down."
(Interfax, 1238 GMT, 12 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-012)
Lukashenka's domestic opposition has been invigorated, however. In a country
where the people have generally been afraid to protest for fear of police
brutality and arrest, significant demonstrations against both the union
and Lukashenka's policies have been held at least six times since 25 December.
While the protests began on 28 December with just a few dozen people blocking
traffic, they have increased to include several thousand people at a time.
(Interfax, 1514 GMT, 28 Dec 98; FBIS-SOV-98-362, and Belapan, 0100 GMT,
23 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-023) All protests, of course, end in dozens of arrests.
As the demonstrations have grown, so has the will of the legitimate government
to continue its shadow operations. The 40 remaining members of the Duma
elected by the people in 1994, but disbanded in 1996 by President Lukashenka
in favor of hand-picked members, still hold parliamentary sessions. This
month, the 13th Supreme Soviet, as they are known, announced that the next
presidential elections in Belarus would, according to the constitution of
1994, be scheduled for 16 May 1999. Lukashenka does not subscribe to the
1994 constitution, and his prosecutor general said that the scheduling of
elections is "an attempt to seize power by unconstitutional means,
destabilize the society, and provoke wide-spread unrest." (Interfax,
1356 GMT, 12 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-012) Meanwhile, the two main opposition
parties, the Belarusian People's Front and the Belarusian Social Democratic
Hromada, have both threatened violence over unification.
The opposition has found a cause, thanks to Lukashenka. Clearly, at least
at this point, the president seems to be on the losing side of this issue.
MOLDOVA We're back in the money!
Just when it seemed that Moldova was on the verge of complete collapse and
bankruptcy, the country has been pulled out of the abyss by the IMF. The
country, which has been forced to lay off military personnel, shut down
most of the state-run media, and ration food and electricity because of
a lack of funds, has received word that the IMF will shortly resume lending
The head of the IMF mission in the area, Mark Horton, said the country will
soon receive a tranche of $35 million, and could receive a total of $135
million from the IMF this year. Lending had been halted in mid-1997 when
the IMF determined that Moldova was making no progress on economic reforms.
Horton said the resumption of lending came because the main recommendations
of the IMF had been incorporated into the FY-1999 budget.
Back to the table
Negotiations between the government of Moldova and representatives of the
breakaway republic of Dniestr have resumed after months of bickering. Moldovan
President Petru Lucinschi (in need of some positive news for his administration)
has been implying to the news media that an agreement may be near on both
withdrawal of Russian troops and the status of the republic. "You have
to bear in mind," he said, "that of all the conflicts bequeathed
to us by the Soviet Union, this particular one is closest to settlement."
(ITAR-TASS World Service, 1738 GMT, 15 Jan 99; FBIS-UMA-99-016) Does "nearest
to settlement" really mean agreement, however? Probably not. The plans
proposed by both sides appear not to have changed a great deal, and although
Russia claimed a month ago that the country was in the process of beginning
a pullout of troops, it now seems that the pullout never actually began.
Lucinschi will have to find his good news somewhere else.
by Tammy Lynch
AZERBAIJAN Desperately seeking something...
"If Armenia places Russian military bases on its territory, why cannot
Azerbaijan place US, Turkish, or NATO military bases on its own territory?
" asked State Foreign Policy Adviser Vafa Guluzade. "I really
think that in the current situation, Azerbaijan should bolster military
cooperation with the West to ensure its security. To start with, it would
not be so bad to move the US military base in Turkey, at Incirlik, to the
Apsheron peninsula [Azerbaijan]." (Turan, 1700 GMT, 18 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-019)
Washington's icy silence and Guluzade's retraction followed swiftly on the
heels of this statement. Yet, in the context of ever-increasing Russian
military presence in Armenia and flagging US interest in Azerbaijan, there
are plenty of reasons for concern.
The defense ministers from Georgia, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan met in Baku
on 21 January to discuss the possibility of military cooperation. (The Moldovan
defense minister was expected but did not arrive.) They discussed a plan
to form a peacekeeping battalion that would operate only with the approval
of the member countries and only on their territory -- therefore, it would
not require a UN mandate. One of the main duties of the battalion would
be the protection of the oil pipelines. (Turan, 1630 GMT, 21 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-021)
Should such a battalion be formed it may to some degree enhance the scrutiny
of the four member states and make them more desirable partners for the
A very porous blockade
A recent article shows that Azerbaijan's blockade against Armenia has been
largely ineffective. Using trade statistics for sales of fuels and chemicals
to Armenia and Georgia, the authors demonstrate that the trade with Georgia
has increased in the same products and quantities as Armenian imports for
1987, the last year before the imposition of the blockade. This indirect
evidence is corroborated by other more specific reports, that Azeri Afghan
veterans and Armenian Afghan veterans ran a fuel import-export business
during the most difficult stage of the war. Since the cease-fire accord
of 1994, the trade has grown substantially among more legitimate businesses.
The high volume of exports benefits Azerbaijani producers, who avoid breaking
the law by working with Georgian middlemen. In view of the difficult economic
situation in the country, the governmental authorities choose to look the
other way. (Zerkalo, 26 Dec 98, p. 22; FBIS-SOV-99-018) It seems that the
only tangible result of the Azerbaijani blockade against Armenia is the
imposition of punitive sanctions by the US Congress against Azerbaijan.
Another coup attempt suppressed?
On the night of 7 January several former military and police officers who
were serving jail sentences for participating in a failed coup attempt in
1995 reportedly tried to break out of prison. According to Ramil Usubov,
the interior minister, the leaders were Vakhid Musaev, a former deputy defense
minister and army general, and Faig Bakhshaliev, a former ally of Rovoshan
Dzavadov, a police commander who died while leading the March 1995 uprising.
Musaev, Bakhshaliev, nine other inmates, and a guard were killed. (Interfax,
1333 GMT, 10 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-010)
Usubov claimed that the jail mutiny was sponsored by foreign agents and
was aimed at the removal of President Aliev, yet he offered no details to
corroborate that version of events. The one item he shared, that Musaev
and Bakhshaliev told the others that Aliev had already been deposed, seems
illogical. If Aliev had been removed, why would they need to mutiny? Surely
those who had seized power would free them.
The frequency with which the Azerbaijani government uncovers schemes in
time to eliminate its opponents is truly amazing. Aliev must have the stupidest
enemies and the very best security personnel. It seems at least equally
likely that the prisoners were shot in their cells. That is the opinion
of Musaev's widow, who insists that her husband was not involved in any
conspiracy. She also points out that all four of his cellmates were killed
as well, which would also suggest that they were simply murdered. (Turan,
1350 GMT, 9 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-009)
DAGESTAN Early warning in border region
The mayor of Derbent, Nikolai Alchiev, stated in a recent interview that
he is not concerned by signs of renewed activity by the Lezgin terrorist
organization Sadval. Alchiev insists that the Dagestani and Azerbaijani
politicians who fear that the Sadval congress, which was held in Derbent,
may signify the re-emergence of a violent Lezgin movement for independence
are mistaken. Although several years ago Sadval armed the Lezgin population
on the border between Dagestan and Azerbaijan, carried out bombings in the
Baku subway, and provoked several border confrontations, it may yet transform
itself into a legitimate political party. Alchiev thinks that new personalities
have taken control of Sadval and wish to use it as a springboard for the
9 March elections to the Dagestani parliament. In his estimation, the local
population does not wish to provoke a secessionist conflict but it may still
regard Sadval as the most legitimate voice to represent the Lezgins in the
"It is very hard to find broad support among the population for separatist
statements," he said. However, that does not mean that there is no
necessity to find ways of accommodating the legitimate needs of the population,
for instance, "an organization that would deal with the problems of
Lezgins's compact habitation on a socioeconomic level." This structure
would presumably represent the Lezgin community to both governments without
challenging the sovereignty of either. The most important topic at present
is the nature of the border controls and tariffs since many Lezgins make
their living in cross-border trade. (Zerkalo, 26 Dec 98, p. 27; FBIS-SOV-99-014)
In the mid-80s the Nagorno-Karabkh leadership complained to the Azerbaijani
government about the poor maintenance of the road leading to Armenia. At
roughly the same time the Abkhaz leaders wanted to found a university in
their region. While many other factors contributed to the escalation of
those conflicts into wars, the fact that the Azerbaijani and Georgian governments
were unresponsive to moderate demands certainly did not help their cause.
While a government can do little to forestall separatist agitation, it may
well be able to curtail the popularity of radical and violent movements
by responding to reasonable requests.
by Miriam Lanskoy
KAZAKHSTAN Observers disagree sharply over legitimacy of president's electoral victory
Amid widely differing views on whether the recent presidential elections
in Kazakhstan were marred by coercive campaign promises and voter fraud,
President Nursultan Nazarbaev swept to victory with an alleged 81.75 percent
share of the vote. (Kazakh Radio First Program Network, 0700 GMT, 11 Jan
99; FBIS-SOV-99-011) Voter turnout was also high, with 7,135,275 out of
8,270,217 eligible voters (86.28 percent) going to the polls. (Kazakh Radio
First Program Network, 0500 GMT, 11 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-011). The remaining
three candidates -- Gani Kasymov, Serikbolsyn Abdildin, and Engels Gabbasov
-- received 4.72 percent, 12.8 percent, and 0.78 percent of the vote, respectively.
(Kazakh Radio First Program Network, 0700 GMT, 11 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-011)
However, at a press conference on 12 January, Serikbolsyn Abdildin, the
Kazakh Communist Party's presidential candidate, accused the electoral commission
of falsifying the election results by drastically inflating the figures
for total voter turnout and by submitting false ballot counts for the various
voting districts. Abdildin alleged that several of his party's observers
had seen electoral officials at the polls hand ballots to voters which had
already been filled out, and that in most voting districts, the members
of the electoral commission did not even bother to count the actual ballots,
but simply broadcast figures given to them by the authorities. The Kazakh
Communist Party further claimed that, according to the real election results,
he had won the largest share of the votes. However, he added, his party
would not attempt to challenge the election results in a court of law, but
would instead demand that new elections be held in 2000. (Interfax, 1157
GMT, 12 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-012)
Whether or not all of Abdildin's allegations are true, Gani Kasymov's campaign
managers also claimed to have witnessed incidents of voter fraud at Polling
Station No. 18 in Almaty, where many voters apparently turned in more than
one ballot. (NTV, 1100 GMT, 10 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-010) The OSCE voiced
grave doubts about the fairness and legitimacy of the elections as well.
Coordinators of the OSCE's Kazakh mission, Judy Thompson and Vladimir Shkolnikov,
told a press conference on 11 January that their organization did not recognize
the validity of Kazakhstan's recent elections, based on the fact that the
elections had not been in compliance with the OSCE's membership principles.
Thompson stated that one of the most serious violations of these principles
was the amendment to Kazakhstan's election law which prohibits anyone who
has been criminally charged from running for political office for one year.
Aqezhan Qazhegeldyn was barred from the presidential elections on the basis
of this law. (Interfax, 1246 GMT, 11 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-011)
International election observers from Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, Turkey,
and England reported no irregular voting practices whatsoever. One observer
from the British parliament called the Kazakh elections "well-organized"
and a Turkish parliament member stated that the elections had been democratic.
(Interfax, 1753 GMT, 10 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-010, and Interfax, 0752 GMT,
11 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-011)
Regardless of whether the published ballot results for Kazakhstan's presidential
elections reflect the truth, there does appear to be plenty of evidence
that President Nazarbaev's campaign managers engaged in illegal practices
in order to obtain enough signatures for his registration as a candidate
with the electoral commission. According to an article in Komsomol'skaya
pravda, many people were threatened with loss of their jobs or expulsion
from their places of study if they did not sign registration petitions in
support of the incumbent president. In other instances, families were threatened
with having their electricity and/or telephone service cut off unless they
supported the president in the upcoming elections. The opposition candidates
and their campaign workers were also subjected to considerable harassment.
A number of Serikbolsyn Abdildin's campaign assistants in Astana were forced
to stop working for the Communist Party candidate after their children were
threatened with expulsion from school. (Komsomol'skaya pravda, 6-15 Jan
99, p. 10; FBIS-SOV-99-007)
Evidence such as this, along with the fact that scheduling early elections
on such short notice gave the opposition little time to organize a real
campaign, seriously undermines the election results. The barring of not
only Aqezhan Qazhegeldyn, but also other prominent opposition figures (e.g.,
Petr Svoik of Azamat), from standing in the elections ensured that President
Nazarbaev would face little real competition. Thus, even without the allegations
of voter fraud and ballot count falsification, it is difficult to perceive
Kazakhstan's 1999 presidential elections as more than a rather spurious
means of ensuring President Nazarbaev's reign for another seven years.
by Monika Shepherd
External funding focuses on education and joint projects
The Baltic states will continue to receive substantial support in 1999 for
military projects from foreign countries. The US is set to provide $3.4
million worth of surveillance equipment for a Baltnet station west of Tallinn.
Norway will provide communication equipment to the surveillance project.
Support for military education and training is also due to arrive from Sweden,
Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Great Britain
and the United States. (Baltic News Service, 1817 GMT, 12 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-012)
ESTONIA Attention brought to defense spending, command structure
Demonstrating an awareness of the need to increase military-related spending,
Estonia has earmarked 949 million kroon (EEK), the equivalent of US$71.46
million, for the defense ministry budget in 1999. Of that total, EEK87.7
million is dedicated to joint military defense projects with the other Baltic
states, participation in the NATO Partnership for Peace program, and military
attaches. (Baltic News Service, 1626 GMT, 4 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-004). This
could result in a critically needed rise in preparedness for both professional
military and reservists. Currently, in the case of attack, Estonia can arm
53 percent of its male population listed as reservists, according to a defense
ministry spokesman. (BNS, 1624 GMT, 5 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-005)
Money alone will not guarantee a well-run military machine, however. According
to Andrus Oovel, Estonia's outgoing defense minister, the armed forces commander
has too much free rein with virtually no civilian oversight. The current
defense management system, Oovel said, "makes it possible for the defense
forces commander to interpret laws, government decrees, the prime minister's
resolutions, and of course the defense minister's orders ... to his best
advantage." (BNS Daily Report, 1100 GMT, 6 Jan 99) Oovel's solution:
subordinate the armed forces commander to the defense ministry.
LATVIA Latvia raises defense budget, names new armed forces commander
Latvia, too, is increasing its defense budget allocation, as promised. President
Guntis Ulmanis expressed his satisfaction with the Cabinet of Minister's
commitment to increase the country's defense budget allocation to 1 percent
of GDP. (BNS, 1801 GMT, 6 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-006) In talks with NATO Secretary
General Javier Solana last summer, government officials had outlined their
plan to increase defense spending from .67 to 1 percent of GDP in 1999 and
gradually to 2 percent of GDP in five years' time. (Baltic News Service
Daily Report, 1600 GMT, 18 Jun 98) NATO member states in 1997 had defense
budgets averaging 2.8 percent of GDP. (Baltic News Service Daily Report,
1600 GMT, 16 Jun 98)
In addition to money matters, the government also took some much-needed
care of personnel business. The turmoil over the position of armed forces
commander, begun when a misappropriation of funds scandal brought about
the resignation of Juris Eihmanis last fall, has finally ended with the
appointment of Raimonds Graube. Graube, a lieutenant colonel of the Home
Guard who had been serving as acting commander since Eihmanis' removal,
won the support of the Saeima's Defense and Internal Affairs Commission
in mid-January. (Radio Riga Network, 1300 GMT, 13 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-013)
False interview charges bring about spokesman's resignation
Latvian Way spokesman and Respublika correspondent Mikhail Mamilov, who
published a falsified interview with NATO Secretary General Javier Solana
on 11 January (Radio Riga Network, 1300 GMT, 13 Jan 99; FBIS-SOV-99-013),
was removed from his party post. After NATO announced that Solana had never
granted an interview to Respublika or Mamilov, Mamilov explained the article
was "a literary-processed version" of a news conference Solana
gave in Latvia last summer. (Baltic News Service Daily Report, 1700 GMT,
18 Jan 99) Party chairman Andrejs Pantelejevs cited Mamilov's primary identification
with Latvia's Way, rather than as a Respublika reporter, as reason for the
dismissal. (Baltic News Service Daily Report, 1100 GMT, 14 Jan 99)