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The NIS Observed: An Analytical Review
Volume IV Number 8, (May 10, 1999)

(formerly the Editorial Digest)

The other shoe drops
President Yel'tsin has finally made the move he has seemed to want to make for months now: Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov has been dismissed and replaced by his recently named first deputy, Sergei Stepashin. In a televised address, Yel'tsin praised Primakov for having achieved "stability" in the economy but expressed concerns with his ability to "re-launch" the economy. (AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, 0433 PDT, 12 May 99;

Primakov's dismissal also results in the release of all the government's ministers, although Railroads Minister Nikolai Aksyonenko has been asked to remain on as Stepashin's first deputy. (INTERFAX News Agency, 12 May 99; Stepashin, who was said to be reluctant to take on the prime ministerial slot, is working on the formation of his cabinet and has asked the former ministers to consider staying in the new government. He has received his first refusal, unsurprisingly, from Communist Minister Yuri Maslyukov. (Jamestown Foundation MONITOR, 12 May 99)

Yel'tsin's motivations for firing Primakov are manifold. Beyond the economic rationale he mentioned in his address, Yel'tsin may have justifiable concerns that Primakov would act to undo elements of the market reforms that are the hallmark of Yel'tsin's presidency. Primakov has also courted the leftist, Communist elements in the Duma and a resurgence of the CPRF would represent a repudiation of Yel'tsin's anti-Communist legacy. There is also the strictly political motive: In January, while Yel'tsin lay ailing in the hospital, Primakov launched an attempt to siphon power out of the presidency and consolidate authority around the prime minister through a "power-sharing" agreement eventually brokered with Duma representatives. (See previous issues for details.) Yel'tsin, as is well-known, bristles when underlings overreach their roles. The ironic problem for Yel'tsin may well be that his dismissal of the government could hasten and strengthen the very trends he was hoping to curtail.

While Yel'tsin's sacking of the government can hardly be characterized as a "bolt out of the blue," it is certainly shocking in the degree of destabilization it will bring to Russia's already turbulent political system. The timing of the move, coming just one day before the Duma begins the impeachment debate, is one curious factor. Yel'tsin must be aware that, constitutionally, he cannot disband the Duma once a vote for impeachment has been taken. (Article 109, Section 4) Primakov's dismissal has radicalized opposition in the Duma, making an affirmative vote on a charge against the president far more likely today than yesterday. Duma Chairman Gennadi Seleznev claims that the impact of Primakov's dismissal on the impeachment vote is that now "400 votes [will be given] where we expected 300." (INTERFAX News Agency, 12 May 99;

It also seems, at the moment, highly unlikely that the Duma will approve Stepashin's candidacy in the three ballots required. How does Yel'tsin propose to break that deadlock, without being able to disband the Duma; and how will Russia form a functioning government? Yel'tsin may attempt to rule by decree until new Duma elections are held, but will he wait until the scheduled elections, or try to have the impeachment charges declared unconstitutional to pave the way for disbanding the Duma?

Questions about Yel'tsin's health lie uneasily at the foundation of this current political struggle. It appears probable that Yel'tsin did not challenge Primakov earlier in the year because of his need to recuperate from an ulcer and respiratory problems. Yel'tsin's recent high visibility around the Kremlin and in the media, especially over Kosovo, suggests his health has improved, but the question remains: Is he really well enough to sustain a protracted battle with the Duma?

Gustov out, Stepashin in
Earlier, Vadim Gustov was summarily dismissed from his position as First Deputy Prime Minister on 27 April and replaced by Minister of Internal Affairs Sergei Stepashin. Stepashin, currently viewed as a Yel'tsin loyalist, will concentrate on the upcoming elections and strengthening the center's relations with the regions. He will also retain control of the MVD. (THE MOSCOW TIMES, 28 Apr 99; nexis)

While Gustov may have been surprised by the president's decision, his name had been mentioned previously as a possible "sacrifice" should Yel'tsin feel the need to reassert himself through a personnel shuffle. The dismissal of a first deputy prime minister signals Yel'tsin's displeasure with the government; removing Gustov seems to represent either a mild rebuke or just the first move in a presidential attack on the Primakov government.

Orekhov resignation
Ruslan Orekhov, deputy chief of the Presidential Administration and head of the Main State Legal Administration, has resigned from the Yel'tsin administration. Claiming he felt like "a square peg in a round hole," Orekhov initially tendered his resignation in February. (MOSCOW NEWS, 28 Apr 99; nexis) It was finally accepted on 22 April.

Orekhov had worked in the Main State Legal Administration, and its predecessor, since 1993. In leaving the Kremlin, Orekhov noted that he still thought "highly of Yel'tsin" but believed the president was "being hoodwinked" through the intrigues of his staff.

Increased patrols on border with Chechnya
Prior to assuming his new government post, Sergei Stepashin announced that interior troops from the North Caucasus District would step up patrols around Chechnya, in order to attempt to forestall terrorist activities by Chechen rebels. (ITAR-TASS, 1348 GMT, 27 Apr 99; FBIS-SOV-1999-0427) The move follows a series of kidnappings and a bombing in the region.

Report on capital flight
According to estimates of the interior and economics ministries, illegal monetary transfers from Russian to Western banks have resulted in the loss of between $50 and $250 billion. The money is believed to represent criminal earnings, which are sent abroad for "laundering." The MVD report particularly highlights the role of off-shore accounts in Cypress and Russian criminal gangs operating in Germany. (INTERFAX, 1149 GMT, 22 Apr 99; FBIS-SOV-1999-0422)

by Susan J. Cavan

Kosovo 'conflict' may be just what the doctor ordered
NATO's airwar against Yugoslavia is turning out to be just what many in Moscow have longed for since the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and subsequent NATO plans to expand eastward. Russia's "neutrality" and patience in the Yugoslav war, which may have already aided the ailing Russian economy in the form of a nearly $5 billion IMF package promised to Moscow only days after NATO airstrikes began, is also serving to resuscitate Russian foreign policy. The latest round of talks between the key members of NATO and Russia at the G8 conference in Bonn on 6 May turned out to be a diplomatic victory for Russia. Although NATO has not backed off its demands for a substantial withdrawal of Yugoslav forces from the Kosovo region in order to suspend airstrikes, it has agreed to a UN-led ground contingent as a peace implementation force in Kosovo. While all of official Moscow agrees that there are still several obstacles to any lasting agreement over Kosovo, Yel'tsin and Ivanov were quick to claim at least a small diplomatic victory with regard to the NATO-Russian agreement on the UN-led peacekeeping force. (AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, 0656 GMT, 6 May 99; nexis, and INTERFAX, 6 May 99; nexis) Such a peace plan serves Moscow's ultimate goal of subordinating NATO to the United Nations and other international organizations such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Moscow is becoming increasingly efficient at spinning NATO mishaps and the alliance's inability to force Milosevic to accept its demands into opportunities to strengthen Moscow's hand in the resolution of the conflict as well as advancing Russia's diplomatic standing in other regions of the world.

Ivanov heads south in search of regional influence
President Boris Yel'tsin recently directed his foreign minister to visit several Middle East countries in an attempt not only to energize the on-again-off-again peace process to which Russia claims the role of co-sponsor but also to advance Russia's influence throughout the region. While Ivanov did not break any new ground in the peace process during his Middle East tour, he did take the opportunity to deride NATO and push the idea that Russia should serve as lead mediator in the peace process. Ivanov met with Egyptian President Husni Mubarak, PLO leader Yasir Arafat and Syrian President Hafiz al-Asad during his tour and indicated that these leaders all touted Russia as the objective agent for the peace process. (ITAR-TASS News Agency World Service, 1841 GMT, 26 Apr 99; BBC Summary of World Broadcasts/nexis) Although this position is not new, Ivanov attempted to draw a parallel between NATO actions in Kosovo and the West's desire for influence in the Middle East. Ivanov claimed that NATO's Kosovo operation is just another example of the West's unipolar approach to international relations and offered Russia as the flag bearer of a multipolar world. Following his visit to the Middle East, Ivanov said that "a fight for the region is now under way -- not for influence, but for taking part in resolving problems... (and) all the leaders I met showed an interest in an active Moscow policy because Russia is now trusted, Russia is now a factor of stability. Russia is inciting no conflict in any region. It is trying to search for political solutions to international problems." (ITAR-TASS News Agency World Service, 1410 GMT, 26 Apr 99; BBC Summary of World Broadcasts/nexis)

It appears as though Russia is using NATO's airstrikes against Yugoslavia as ammunition to undermine NATO credibility in Europe as well as US influence in the Middle East and perhaps even Southeast Asia. As long as the airstrikes continue, Moscow can portray the US-led coalition as the aggressor and Russia as the peacemaker, opening doors for Moscow to serve as the mediator in other regional conflicts.

by John McDonough

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It ain't over 'til it's over
And yet it's apparently over. The Russo-Chinese Demarcation Commission has finally completed its seven-year effort to map the Russo-Chinese border. The demarcation effort marks the end of over 300 years of border disputes. Although the documents will be signed at the next summit meeting, the issue hasn't been entirely resolved. The fates of three large islands have yet to be decided, but will remain under Russian jurisdiction until the sides negotiate their status. (ASSOCIATED PRESS, 27 Apr 99; This will not deter Russia and China from signing the agreements on demarcation at the next summit, apparently, nor from concluding bilateral military talks between China's Military Chairman Zhang Wannian and President Yel'tsin, Prime Minister Primakov, First Deputy Prime Minister Maslyukov and Defense Minister Sergeev. (ITAR-TASS, 23 Apr 99; nexis) The talks will focus on bilateral military cooperation, Kosovo, the US-Japan Defense Pact, US Theater Missile Defense (TMD) proposals and possible Russian arms exports to China. A springtime thaw seems to have descended upon these old foes. It was only 1969 when their troops last fought along the border, but now a new chapter seems to have been opened, which may quite possibly begin with Russia arming its old enemy.

Russian diplomacy heads south
Speaking of new chapters, Russia appears to be opening yet another in South Asia. Moscow has been pursuing relations with East Asian countries for many years, but only recently began to open a discourse with India, and now Pakistan. It was Yevgeni Primakov who first suggested a strategic triangle to strengthen security in Eurasia. Although the strategic partnership concept was discarded before it was ever adopted, Russian diplomacy reveals an effort to broaden the dialogue with South Asia in general. To that end, Yel'tsin met with Indian Prime Minister Sharif in Moscow, while a Russian parliamentary commission met with the Indian and Pakistani parliaments as well. (ITAR-TASS, 0817 GMT, 22 Apr 99; FBIS-SOV-99-0422) The topics of discussion ranged from NATO's action in Kosovo to the region's own security problems such as Jammu and Kashmir. (RADIO PAKISTAN, 1300 GMT, 21 Apr 99; FBIS-NES-99-0421) Russia seems to enjoy its role in the Kosovo crisis, and thus far, a similar Russian intermediary role seems to be welcomed by the Indians in local regional disputes.

by Sarah K. Miller

Boris wins one
By replacing the largely ineffective First Deputy Prime Minister Vadim Gustov with Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin, Yel'tsin scored a victory against Prime Minister Primakov. While Gustov's dismissal was no loss to Primakov, Stepashin, as a loyal and powerful ally of Yel'tsin, most certainly is. Gustov was largely ineffective because he lacked access to the resources of any ministry. Stepashin will remain interior minister. By heading the Russian internal police, Stepashin should make a more formidable defender of the government's prerogatives vis-a-vis the regions' than Gustov.

Not only is Stepashin in charge of the government's regional policy, he is also involved in running national elections, including the upcoming Duma election scheduled for December 1999. This puts him in the position of being able to affect its outcome, as well as the presidential elections next year. By giving the Russian election authority access to martial force, Stepashin becomes perhaps the most powerful person in the federation.

The blurring of the lines between Stepashin's police and electoral responsibilities can be seen in Karachay-Cherkessia, a small republic in the North Caucasus where the second round of presidential elections is underway. Admittedly the North Caucasus republics are more volatile than other areas of the federation, but the general process of threatening military force to influence electoral outcomes might be quite similar.

The contenders for president in Karachaevo-Cherkessia are the mayor of the Cherkessk, Stanislav Derev, who won 40.1 percent of the vote in the first round, and the former commander of Russian ground forces, Vladimir Semenov, with 17.9 percent. Derev is an ethnic Cherkes, a group that makes up 9.7 percent of Karachaevo-Cherkessia's population. Semenov is an ethnic Karachay, which comprise 31.2 percent of the republic's population, but his mother is an ethnic Russian -- 42 percent of the republic are ethnic Russians. (East-West Institute, RUSSIAN REGIONAL REPORT, 29 Apr 99)

The republic is the last region in the federation to elect a chief executive. The campaign has been marred by violence, Molotov cocktails thrown hither and yon, and, as Stepashin himself noted, there is fear that even if a president were to be elected, the conflict could escalate. His fears are perhaps not entirely unfounded. Comment has been made that, if Derev is elected, the Karachay population will push to secede from the republic. So, in the spirit of ensuring free and fair elections, Stepashin sent 700 internal troops to monitor the situation. (RUSSIAN TV, 1300 GMT, 5 May 99; BBC Summary of World Broadcasts/nexis)

This monitoring service is in fact regional military policy by other means. Stepashin has been active in the North Caucasus for quite a while now, ranging from his initial involvement in the Chechnya war, to recent military maneuvers in the region. On 22 April unprecedented military exercises were begun in the North Caucasus, with some 10,000 servicemen from the internal troops, in addition to the 4th air army, units of the Federal Border Guard Service and the air defense system, and police from Dagestan, North Ossetia-Alania, Ingushetia, Karachaevo-Cherkessia, Kabarda-Balkaria and Stavropol Territory. The purpose is to train local forces to be able to respond effectively to regional instability as well as to flex a bit of muscle. The exercises are scheduled to run until 15 May. (RUSSIAN TV, 1600 GMT, 22 Apr 99; BBC Summary of World Broadcasts/ nexis)

What this suggests is that Stepashin as elections monitor and regional point-man cannot be separated from Stepashin as head of the Russian internal police. This is, of course, no accident; Yel'tsin wants his side to make a good showing in the Duma elections, and, one might suppose, provide a mechanism for influencing the emerging electoral blocs. But has Stepashin become too powerful? Could he not play both Primakov and Yel'tsin against each other in an effort to retain, or expand his power?

Lebed' enacts administrative coup in Krasnoyarsk Territory
Entirely bypassing the elected bodies of the region, Governor Aleksandr Lebed' issued an order establishing a parallel governing structure consisting of Muscovites of Krasnoyarsk origin. He has been preparing the region for such a takeover for a while. Secret administrative bodies have long been operating, including a security council, which is comprised of the heads of all law-enforcement organs in the territory. (MOSKOVSKIYE NOVOSTI, 28 Apr 99; nexis)

The construction of his mini-presidential republic within a republic is the result of two processes which have essentially cut him off from accessing the normal administrative mechanisms of the region. First, since assuming the governorship of the territory, Lebed' has managed to alienate himself from the territory's formal and informal power brokers, by not honoring a deal with the Communists in parliament to include them in his cabinet, by picking fights with persons of local importance, and by importing Moscow loyalists to staff his administration. Second, and largely in response to the first point, the territory's parliament passed a law significantly curtailing his authority. His response was not to try to patch up his differences; instead he decided to bypass his opposition, effectively creating a second regional administration.

Lebed' may or may not be a special case of gubernatorial authoritarianism, but he is certainly one of the most visible. What this suggests is that the decentralization of power in the federation as a whole is also apparent in the regions, as mayors and other local leaders battle with their governors for power and resources.

Russian National Unity party may participate in Duma elections
Justice Minister Pavel Krasheninnikov announced that any organization which failed to register for the 19 December Duma elections will be allowed to form a bloc with any party that had qualified, and can thereby participate in the Duma campaign. This means that the All-Russia public-political movement and members of the Russian National Unity (RNU), although not qualified to run, will be able to participate if they can find a partner. The justice minister also defended his decision to register Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's Fatherland party for the Duma elections even though there were some technical problems. (ITAR-TASS News Agency World Service, 1913 GMT, 4 May 99; BBC Summary of World Broadcasts/nexis)

Both of these statements raise some serious questions about the role of parties in Russia today. If political organizations can simply form electoral blocs with registered parties, what is the purpose of registration? And if the rules for party registration can be bent to serve the interests of powerful politicians, again what use are the rules? Paradoxically perhaps, the Russian state would significantly strengthen its hand if it clearly defined what a political party is and focused on registering only those organizations that qualify. The fate of all other movements, blocs, etc. should be left up to the whims of the free market of ideas. The second task should be to ensure that parties are registered for national and regional office separately, though with the same criteria and procedures established by federal legislation. This is, of course, the problem. If both the center and the regions agreed on how to proceed, progress would surely be made.

by Michael DeMar Thurman

MiG fighter updates
Status reports on two MiG aircraft programs were published recently. Starting with the oldest platform, Tass reported on the "modernized MiG-21-93" fighter. First, some background: Design work on the MiG-21 began in the late 1940s; over the next two decades the aircraft became the most widely produced jet fighter in the world. Originally designed as a day interceptor with limited radar, armament, and fuel capacity, the plane was developed through numerous major upgrades to provide all-weather attack capability for both air and ground targets. The modernization program is the latest Russian effort in the aircraft's ongoing evolution. The purpose is to tap what is estimated to be a fairly significant foreign market, where countries with limited resources can upgrade their existing MiG-21 inventories to modern day ("fourth generation") fighter aircraft standards. This is potentially a very competitive market, as upgraded MiGs are competing with more advanced aircraft such as the US F-16 and French Mirage 2000. Early model F-16s are fairly cheap, as jet fighters go. Over 3,500 F-16s have been built worldwide, and it is still currently in production. Russia is trying to compete against other countries (and itself, through cooperation agreements with foreign aircraft manufacturers) in this close-fought battle of worldwide air force modernization.

The short Tass news release focused on the first test firings of the R-73 air-to-air, heat-seeking missile from the MiG-21-93. An official of the aviation plant responsible for the jet's development was quoted as saying that this "confirmed the efficiency" of the aircraft's radar. (ITAR-TASS, 1313 GMT, 27 Apr 99; BBC/nexis) Well, that's not really the case. While the radar likely was used in initially detecting the target, the success of the reported firings is due to the R-73 missiles themselves. The heat-seeking (infrared) missiles fly out to their targets without support from an aircraft's radar, relying instead on the thermal source of their intended victim. So, the test shows that the R-73 missile works. Radar missile firings are scheduled for early May. Good luck to the Russians in their upgrades and sales pitches.

A brief update on the latest MiG, the MFI (Russian initials for multipurpose fighter), was released by Interfax. Introduced with fanfare by the Russians in January, and subject to much controversy and speculation (see Editorial Digests 1 February 99 and 22 March 99), the aircraft ideally was to take flight for the first time in February. Now, with "eighty percent" of the aircraft "checked," the first flight might occur in May. At least work is continuing on the plane. (INTERFAX, 0858 GMT, 5 May 99; nexis)

Buy our aircraft carrier, or else
The latest in the on-again, off-again sale of the Russian aircraft carrier, the Admiral Gorshkov, to India is an ultimatum, of sorts: Buy the ship or it "would be modernized for Russian navy use." (PTI, 0806 GMT, 5 May 99; nexis) According to the Indian press agency's report, citing an ITAR-TASS source, a high-ranking Russian naval officer stated that India has until July to decide whether it will buy the ship. Conflicting statements have been made on the possibility of the sale (see Editorial Digest, 16 February 99); perhaps this most recent mention is a ploy by the Russians to get the Indian government to conclude the deal, talk of which began in 1994. Since the Russians have a hard time as it is maintaining a viable air component on their one remaining aircraft carrier, the Kuznetsov, the likelihood of the Gorshkov being decommissioned into the Russian Navy is slight at best.

Pasko's lawyers claim case is harassment
Russian Navy Captain Grigori Pasko is currently on trial in Vladivostok on espionage charges. (See Editorial Digest, 4 November 98 and 9 December 98.) Pasko finished his testimony in late April, and afterward Pasko's lawyer Anatoly Pyshkin talked to the press concerning the trial developments. In an Interfax report, Pyshkin stated that Pasko was disliked and harassed by both Russian Pacific Fleet and Federal Security Service (FSB) personnel because he refused to "collaborate" with the security officials and had published critical articles on the fleet's command. (INTERFAX, 1229 GMT, 27 Apr 99; FBIS-SOV-1999-0427) Pasko is charged with treason in handing over state secrets to a Japanese television company and newspaper. Pasko has claimed that he is being hounded in part due to his uncovering of fraud and misdeeds by the Pacific Fleet in addition to his documenting hazardous environmental practices. Pasko states that all of his information came from unclassified sources; the charges against him are still classified top secret by the Russian prosecutors.

Agence France-Presse reported Pasko's countercharges in more detail, calling his statements a "vitriolic attack . . . on FSB investigators." Pasko reminded readers that he has been illegally detained for over a year and half, on charges he states are "fabricated" by the FSB working in support of the Pacific Fleet. (AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, 0855 GMT, 30 Apr 99; nexis)

Previous press reports mentioned that the Japanese media companies were reluctant to get involved in the trial, and maintained a hands-off approach to the whole affair. This point helps explain another Interfax report that states Pasko discontinued his own lawsuit against NHK, the Japanese broadcasting company. Pasko, somewhat ironically, had turned to a Russian court in order to protect his copyright of a film on the Pacific Fleet dumping radioactive pollution. Speaking again through his lawyer, Pasko mentioned that the involved Russian and Japanese journalists were being used as "pawns" by Russian security officials, and he thought it "improper" for journalists to "settle their disputes through court action." (INTERFAX, 1109 GMT, 6 May 99; FBIS-SOV-1999-0506) Meanwhile, the world watches to see if the Russian legal system upholds the rule of law in the Pasko case and that of fellow Russian naval officer Aleksandr Nikitin.

by CDR Fred Drummond


Georgian and Azeri officials have suggested that GUUAM may be enlarged again. (INTERFAX, 0748 GMT, 28 Apr 99; FBIS-SOV-99-0428) According to the Azeris, Poland and Romania have expressed interest in the next round of enlargement, although neither country has publicly confirmed this. (RFE/RL NEWSLINE, 4 May 99) GUUAM is an economic cooperation organization founded in 1998 as GUAM and joined by Uzbekistan in April 1999. Although it is expressly non-military, at the press conference following its enlargement the presidents stated their commitment to four main security cooperation areas. These areas included the inviolability of borders, rejection of "aggressive separatism" and "ethnic intolerance," resistance to "religious extremism," and prevention of arms flows to conflict areas. (Jamestown Foundation MONITOR, 27 Apr 99) They also pledged to expand cooperation with the NATO Partnership for Peace project and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. According to Azeri President Aliev, who is also GUUAM chairman, the organization concerns itself purely with economic cooperation that "will only strengthen the CIS." (ITAR-TASS, 1942 GMT, 25 Apr 99; FBIS-SOV-99-0425) The two countries that may join the organization, Poland and Romania, are a current NATO member and a NATO-member aspirant, respectively. In addition, Georgia, also a CIS member, has indicated its intention to apply for NATO membership.

The Russian response to GUAM enlargement has been quiet observation. Russia acknowledges that CIS members are not bound solely to the commonwealth and may form other organizations within or outside the CIS. Given the Uzbek, Georgian and Azeri refusal to extend the CIS Collective Security Treaty, it is not surprising that GUUAM has stressed its non-military role. However, GUUAM's commitment to security suggests at least a defensive role in addition to its economic one. In the event that one of the aforementioned security areas is threatened by one of the numerous security issues within GUUAM, the alliance would facilitate inter-GUUAM resolution. Since GUUAM members and Russia are at odds on many of these issues, the situation could become muddled if NATO members are GUUAM members as well.

The Armenians test their toys
Armenia took the opportunity to test its newest playthings, S-300s and MiG-29s, at a late April joint air defense exercise. The exercise was held under the auspices of the CIS Joint Air Defense System, which includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia. (ITAR-TASS, 1059 GMT, 22 Apr 99; FBIS-SOV-99-0422) This latest exercise shows that, in spite of their dwindling numbers, the five remaining CIS Collective Security Treaty members are continuing with military cooperation. The exercises reportedly tested the air defense system using a scenario in which an enemy aircraft has entered CIS territory and is forced to land in Armenia or be shot down. (Jamestown Foundation MONITOR, 23 Apr 99) The exercise successfully tested Armenia's toys as well as the joint system in general. However, in light of the new GUUAM enlargement, various regional hotbeds, and animosity amongst some GUUAM and Collective Security members, the situation isn't to be toyed with at all.

by Sarah K. Miller

Happy anniversary! (maybe)
It's either a wonderful or a terrible anniversary in Crimea this month, depending on whom you ask. On 6 May, Ukrainian and Russian ministers grandly celebrated the 55th anniversary of Sevastopol's "liberation ... from fascists" in 1944. At the same time, Tatars began preparation to commemorate their mass expulsion from Crimea, which began just days after their homeland's "liberation" from Germany.

Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev joined Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma in a day-long series of events celebrating Germany's retreat. Those events included a memorial service for Soviet soldiers who died in the fight for Sevastopol. (ITAR-TASS World Service, 1108 GMT, 5 May 99; FBIS-SOV-1999-0505)

As these events were taking place, the Crimean National Assembly (which is not recognized by the Ukrainian government) announced that it has organized a massive protest march to coincide with the 18 May anniversary of the forced expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Tatars to the Urals, Kazakhstan and Asia.

The march has been organized during a year in which it seems as if many of the gains made by Tatars since they began to be repatriated in 1987 have evaporated. Although Tatars now constitute 12 percent of the Crimean population, the new constitution for the Autonomous Republic of Crimea does not allow for the speaking of the Tatar language in schools or businesses. The constitution also removed previous legal guarantees of Tatar representation in the Crimean parliament.

The constitution clearly has become a flash point in the rapidly deteriorating Tatar-Ukrainian relations. A press release about the upcoming protest march explained, "After the Crimean Tatars were deprived of their representation in the Crimean Republican Parliament, the constitution ... was adopted and approved, [and] the Crimean Tatar language was excluded from official life of the Crimea, ... the Crimean Tatar people ... are trying to express their concern about the issues and hardships of Crimean Tatars." (PRESS SERVICE AND DEPARTMENT ON POLITICAL AND LEGAL ISSUES ... OF THE CRIMEAN TATAR PEOPLE, 5 May 99; Turkistan News and Information Service)

However, there has also been an increase in violence against Tatar-owned property in recent months. Several mosques were destroyed in suspicious fires, several graveyards were seriously damaged, and a monument to those who died during deportation was vandalized. (RFE/RL NEWSLINE, 6 May 99; Turkistan News and Information Service)

Over the next weeks, Tatar protesters will gather in seven cities to begin marching toward Simferopol, where they will meet in Lenin Square on 18 May. From the rhetoric being used by the Crimean Tatar National Assembly, it will not be an easy month for the administration in Crimea, or most likely, for the administration in Kyiv. The 18th of May "is the day of the struggle against the national lawlessness and oppression in our motherland," the press release states. "This is the day of anger and protest. ... It will be until the rights of our people will be restored." (PRESS SERVICE AND DEPARTMENT ON POLITICAL AND LEGAL ISSUES ... OF THE CRIMEAN TATAR PEOPLE, 5 May 1999; Turkistan News and Information Service)

Enemy #6
President Kuchma has recently been begging for attention from the West. Well, by George, now he's got it.

On 3 May, the US Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released its list of the 10 "Enemies of the Press 1999." At number six, behind leaders such as Slobodan Milosevic, Fidel Castro and Jiang Zemin, sits Leonid Kuchma. The inclusion of Kuchma is surprising, given the exclusion of Belarus' Alyaksandr Lukashenka, and given the strength of the opposition-ruled Ukrainian parliament. It is not completely shocking, however, when the sometimes brutish behavior of Kuchma's appointed minister of information is examined.

Kuchma controls no media, outright, in Ukraine. However, Minister of Information Zinovy Kulyk used the government's control of printing facilities to stifle several opposition papers early in 1998, shortly before the last parliamentary elections, and continues to use the country's strict libel laws to threaten reporters and editors with possible prosecution. The most high-profile attack on press freedom came in January 1998, when the information ministry ordered the state printing house to stop producing the opposition daily Pravda Ukrainy. The paper had been staunchly supporting Pavel Lazarenko's Hromada party, and was forced to close when its editors could not find a printer willing to publish the paper. Shortly after, the managing editor of the newspaper was arrested and held in jail for several months without any charge. The parliament has since condemned the action, and ordered the reopening of the newspaper, but with a new more neutral administration.

Several other opposition papers also stopped printing after losing libel cases and being assessed huge fines. The parliament has called for Kulyk's resignation, but Kuchma has not supported these calls.

The most disturbing accusation from the CPJ, however, is its charge of "tacit acceptance of violence against journalists," which the organization said, "encouraged bombings of newspaper offices, [and] assaults on reporters and editors... " (COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS PRESS RELEASE, 3 May 99) No specifics are provided in the short paragraph written about Kuchma, though, and representatives of CPJ were not available for comment.

There were, of course, a number of attacks against reporters in 1998. The media reports of those incidents, however, do not reveal any connection between the attacks and the Kuchma administration. In fact, at least one of the attacks was against a reporter "investigating mafia activities," and others were in relatively remote areas of the country, where Kuchma's influence would seemingly be more limited. (AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, 1857 GMT, 6 Feb 99; nexis, and UNIAN, 1315 GMT, 5 Feb 98; BBC Summary of World Broadcasts/nexis)

It cannot be disputed, however, that reporters in Ukraine face a number of major hurdles to doing their jobs, not the least of which is a Soviet-style minister of information skilled at using intimidation as a weapon. As the country moves into another election season, these journalists' jobs will undoubtedly become even more difficult.

And they're off!
The Ukrainian presidential election season has officially begun, with candidates exiting the gates and rushing to collect the required one million signatures for their names to be placed on the ballot.

President Kuchma officially announced his candidacy on 9 May, while the two arms of Rukh have united behind one candidate, former Foreign Minister Gennadi Udovenko. (RIA News Agency, 1323 GMT, 21 Apr 99; BBC Worldwide Monitoring/nexis, and DEUTSCHE PRESSE-AGENTUR, 1555 CET, 1 Mar 99; nexis)

As of today, the overflowing field also includes former Prime Minister Yevgeny Marchuk (unaffiliated), Communist Party leader Petro Simonenko, Progressive Socialist Party head Natalya Vitrenko, Socialist Party Chairman Oleksandr Moroz, and (currently unannounced) Parliament Speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko (Peasant Party). It is expected that the leftist parties will attempt to unite behind one candidate. Therefore, the battle between Tkachenko and Simonenko should begin to heat up very shortly.

In the latest presidential poll, conducted in March before most candidates had officially declared, Kuchma led with 22.1 percent, while Vitrenko followed closely with 17.4 percent. The rest of the pack trailed badly, with Moroz at 9 percent, Simonenko at 6.4 percent, Udovenko at 3 percent and Tkachenko at 1.8 percent. (VCHIRNEY KYIV, internet version, 27 Mar 99; FBIS-SOV-1999-0409)

The participants with the stamina to complete the race are scheduled to cross the finish line on 31 October.

Goin' to the chapel, and we're...well, maybe later
The unity dance continues in Belarus, as President Alyaksandr Lukashenka this week intensified his plea for Russia to create a more unified state. Lukashenka went to Russia on 28 April to offer Boris Yel'tsin a "radical" proposal, which included -- in his words -- "a united, union state. We support the idea of having definite, firm power in this state." (NTV, 1540 GMT, 28 Apr 99; FBIS-SOV-1999-04) Lukashenka also suggested that there should be a vice president and an elected parliament. As expected, Yel'tsin's response was lukewarm at best, leaving Lukashenka "disappointed" with his Russian counterpart. Although Yel'tsin and Lukashenka signed 11 agreements dealing with, among other things, customs and defense, the Russian side suggested gradual unification, with no apparent timetable.

Lukashenka's statements were given an inordinate amount of attention in the local Belarusian and Russian press, and treated as if they were new, fresh ideas for relations between Russia and Belarus. The problem is -- they aren't. Lukashenka has been suggesting "supranational government bodies," with a "head of the union" and a parliament, since December 1998 when the original "unification treaty" was signed. (For further background, see INTERFAX, 0737 GMT, 28 Dec 98; FBIS-SOV-98-362.) However, as reported in the 13 January 1999 Editorial Digest, after signing the "treaty," which really amounted to a very broad outline, Russia began almost immediately backing down from early statements supporting a completely unified Russia-Belarus state. Throughout 1999, that Russian hesitance has continued, leaving the treaty's outline almost exactly as it was in 1998.

It appears as though things will continue in this same vein for at least several months, as both sides admitted that no decisions were made about an appropriate model for future integration. So, while Lukashenka hasn't yet been left at the altar, his bride is still deciding whether to make an appearance.

Newfound cooperation and support
Voting has suddenly begun throughout Belarus in the opposition's unsanctioned presidential election. On 4 May, the disbanded parliament decided to have voters "cast their ballots at their place of residence" over a period of 10 days from 6 May to 16 May. (BELAPAN, 1640 GMT, 4 May 99; BBC Summary of World Broadcasts/nexis) The opposition had previously stated that voting would take place at polling stations on 16 May.

It appears that President Lukashenka's campaign of intimidation and brutality against opposition forces may have finally reached its goal. The Popular Front, whose presidential candidate, Zyanon Paznyak, is living in the United States, protested the decision, saying that it does not conform with election law, and that it was adopted "under pressure" from President Lukashenka. (RFE/RL NEWSLINE, 4 May 99) There was no comment from the second presidential candidate, former Prime Minister Mikhail Chyhir, who is being held in prison on questionable charges of embezzlement.

Lukashenka's lack of comment is most telling, however. It appears Lukashenka's concern over the increasing support for the opposition -- as evidenced by the KGB's crackdown -- has been alleviated. It is likely that, after the votes are counted, Lukashenka will have won by a huge margin.

'They're my weapons!' 'No, they're my weapons!'
The weaponry of the Russian 14th Army division in Dniestr has become a major source of disagreement among the three sides involved in the Dniestr conflict. At the end of April, then Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Vadim Gustov met with Moldovan representatives in Chisinau and agreed to begin immediate withdrawal of 14th Army weapons. At the same time, Moldova consented to give up its previously agreed-upon 30 percent share of 14th Army weapons. (INTERFAX, 1534 GMT, 28 Apr 99; FBIS-SOV-1999-0429) Although Russian representatives had made similar statements in the past, it appears from the reaction of the Dniestr administration that Gustov was serious this time.

Igor Smirnov, the leader of the breakaway republic, announced immediately that he would not attend a previously scheduled summit in Kyiv. That summit had earlier been rescheduled from 9 April to 30 April. A new date has not been set. (SEGODNYA, 23 Apr 99; What the Papers Say/nexis)

Meanwhile, the 14th Army's weapons remain entrenched in Dniestr, with all sides waiting to see just how serious Russia was about its offer.

by Tammy Lynch

Sergei Stepashin's credentials
Russia's new acting prime minister earned his place in history five years before his current appointment. In 1994 he was the director of the Federal Counterintelligence Service (FSK), tasked with gathering intelligence on the internal scene in Chechnya and coordinating Russia's covert sponsorship of the opposition to President Dzhokar Dudaev's government. The November 1994 unmasking of the spectacular failure of Russian secret efforts to manipulate Chechen politics led to the full-scale invasion the following month. According to one author, due to his "personal intrigues and total misreading of the Chechen military potential" Stepashin "was personally responsible for the intervention." [Anatol Lieven, CHECHNYA: TOMBSTONE OF RUSSIAN POWER (New Haven: 1998), p. 13]

In early August 1994, President Yel'tsin indicated that Russia would use covert methods to unseat Dudaev, telling journalists: "If we use force against Chechnya, ... there will be so much blood that no one would ever forgive us for it." However, "the role of opposition to Dudayev is growing in Chechnya, and I would not say that we have not influenced the process at all." (ITAR-TASS, 1151 GMT, 11 Aug 94; FBIS-SOV-94-155) Stepashin reiterated the same thought, listing the agencies that would not use force: The FSK, the interior ministry, the defense ministry. The government, he said, stood ready to negotiate with any side that accepted Russian sovereignty over Chechnya. (SEGODNYA, 18 Aug 94; FBIS-SOV-94-160) Shortly thereafter, the Russian government publicly endorsed the Provisional Council which posed a military challenge to the Dudaev government, thereby robbing the council of what little legitimacy it enjoyed among the Chechen population.

At this stage, the narrow circle of Yel'tsin's advisers, Stepashin and Nationalities Minister Sergei Shakhrai most prominent among them, sought to provide logistical and financial support for various armed groups within Chechnya that attacked the Dudaev government. By summer's end, Dudaev's military proved capable of repelling any attacks from such groups but did not rout them entirely. Dudaev's restraint was perceived in Moscow as weakness.

The Kremlin was also perturbed by the formation of a mediation mission headed by Ruslan Khasbulatov, the ethnic Chechen former chairman of the Supreme Soviet and Yel'tsin's arch-nemesis. It seems that the FSK intensified its efforts to create alternative and obedient power centers upon the arrival of this genuinely popular politician who proclaimed his readiness to cooperate with all the other factions.

The defeat of the FSK-sponsored Gantemirov faction in October propelled the FSK to the next level of engagement. Now the FSK would recruit Russian mercenaries to unseat Dudaev. According to an Izvestia article, Gantemirov and Provisional Council leader Avturkhanov became frequent visitors to Moscow. In November Russian counterintelligence operatives toured the Solnechnogorsk and Naro-Fominsk garrisons to recruit "volunteers:" 79 servicemen from four divisions were taken under contract and paid 1 million rubles. They were given T-72 tanks in Mozdok, where they trained together with Chechen crews. Of the 40 tanks there, 15 had Russian crews. According to Izvestia sources,

    The FSK engaged in information backup, the Defense Ministry elaborated the actual part of the operation, the Ministry for Nationality Affairs in the shape of [Deputy Nationalities Minister] Kotenkov decided organizational issues ... and the military counterintelligence sought volunteers. (IZVESTIA, 25 Nov 95, p. 2; FBIS-SOV-95-228)

The 25 November operation proved a disaster. Not only did the troops fail to capture Grozny, but Dudaev's forces took the tank crews prisoner. On 28 November he challenged the Russian government to admit that the crew members were Russian servicemen, in which case they would be treated as prisoners of war; otherwise they would be executed as bandits. (RADIOSTANTSIYA EKHO MOSKVY, 28 Nov 94; FBIS-SOV-94-229) On the following day, at a meeting of the Security Council, Yel'tsin decided to intervene with "all the forces and means at the disposal of the state." (Lievan, p. 92)

The captured soldiers described on national television how they were initially approached by the army counterintelligence, then interviewed and hired by the FSK. They received permission from their superiors and were promised they would return to their original units after the completion of the operation, the nature of which was not revealed to them at the outset. At the Mozdok base their identification papers and personal belongings were taken away. One of the soldiers remarked that he felt as though "our government was deliberately sending us to our deaths." (RUSSIAN TELEVISION NETWORK, 3 Dec 94; FBIS-SOV-94-233)

This ignominious episode and the two years of bloodletting that followed stem in no small part from Stepashin's political and operational failures.

by Miriam Lanskoy

Tajik president throws yet another wrench into peace process
The Tajik president once again clearly demonstrated his extreme reluctance to fulfill the terms of the peace agreement's political protocol, when he rejected nearly all of the National Reconciliation Commission's (NRC's) proposed amendments to the country's constitution which had been submitted for his approval on 26 March. The president responded to the NRC's proposals on 3 April and his message was presented to all of the NRC delegates at their 13 April session. (VOICE OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN, 1600 GMT, 24 Apr 99; BBC Worldwide Monitoring/nexis) According to the general peace agreement signed by President Rahmonov and United Tajik Opposition (UTO) Chairman Said Abdullo Nuri in June 1997, one of the NRC's main tasks is to reform the country's election laws through the process of constitutional amendment in order that new presidential and parliamentary elections might take place at the end of this year. The NRC (composed of 26 members: half from the opposition, half from the government) has been struggling with the issue of constitutional change for the past year; fundamental disagreements over certain political questions often caused the commission's work to grind to a halt. Consequently, new elections, which were originally to be held in Fall 1998, were postponed for one year. Unless the international community brings considerable pressure to bear on President Rahmonov's administration, it is beginning to seem likely that the elections may have to be rescheduled yet again.

UN Special Envoy to Tajikistan Jan Kubis has expressed concern over the slow pace of the peace process numerous times. In a 21 April meeting with UTO Chairman Nuri, Mr. Kubis pointed out two other requirements listed by the peace agreement's political protocol which President Rahmonov has yet to meet. The Tajik president must grant full legal status to all the opposition parties represented in the UTO, and permit the open distribution of their publications. He must also agree to the appointment of opposition members to posts in the country's regional and district administrations. Thus far, 22 UTO representatives have been granted government positions, but only at the national level. (RFE/RL NEWSLINE, 23 Apr 99) In order for any real changes to occur in the management of local affairs, the opposition parties must be permitted to have a voice in local administrative organs.

Perhaps if this last requirement had been met months ago, there would be less dissatisfaction and, in some cases, open rebellion, among local UTO field commanders. UTO forces have now all officially been registered with the government and moved into training camps, where they are supposed to remain until they are reintegrated into Tajikistan's national armed forces. However, on several occasions in the recent past, groups of UTO troops have left their base camps and entered nearby villages, where they have raided local police stations and sometimes private residences. President Rahmonov and his administration are understandably perturbed over this situation and have pointed to these incidents as evidence that it is the opposition which is responsible for slowing down the peace process. The UTO chief of staff, Mirzokhuja Nizomov, has said that the troops leave their camps due to poor living conditions and inadequate food supplies. (ITAR-TASS World Service, 1204 GMT, 28 Apr 99; FBIS-SOV-1999-0428) If the UTO troops had their own representatives in the administrations of the towns located near their camps, perhaps they would not feel compelled to raid police stations and residences for food and other supplies. Instead, opposition members in the regional and district-level government organs might act as intermediaries with local leaders in order to resolve the UTO troops' most pressing needs and/or complaints.

by Monika Shepherd

Wanted: One PM who works well with others
President Valdas Adamkus has less than two weeks remaining to nominate a prime minister with whom he can work, after having more than a hand in the resignation of Gediminas Vagnorius. Former Social Security and Labor Minister (in the Vagnorius government) Irene Degutiene, named the caretaker prime minister on 5 May, says she is not qualified to hold the post permanently. (BNS, 0922 GMT, 5 May 99; FBIS-SOV-1999-0505)

Dissension between the president and Vagnorius' government started to grow a few months ago, with members of the media and presidential administration calling for the government to step down and for new elections to be held. Critics claimed that corruption had become pervasive in the operation of the system of supplying electricity to Belarus and projects for linking Lithuania's electricity system to that of West Europe. (INTERFAX, 0715 GMT, 2 Mar 99; FBIS-SOV-1999-0302) A war of words escalated in April, with the government calling Adamkus a "usurper," claiming he was seeking greater presidential power. A "new political tendency is now becoming apparent in Lithuania -- the president's aspiration to take over a part of the government's duties and functions,'" a statement from the governmental press service announced. (Baltic News Service DAILY REPORT, 1600 GMT, 19 Apr 99) That night, in an address televised over the country's four main television channels, Adamkus publicly expressed his mistrust of the Vagnorius administration.

While most Seimas members reaffirmed their support of Vagnorius (the ruling coalition of the Conservative Party and the Christian Democrats holds a majority in parliament), all political forces outside the government supported the no-confidence measure. Adamkus then made it clear that, despite the coalition's support, he still believed Vagnorius should resign. Vagnorius would reach the same decision: His office issued a statement saying that he would consider leaving the post for the good of Lithuanian, since "the confrontation between the president and the government or the ruling parliamentary coalition would cause extensive damage to the country." (Baltic News Service DAILY REPORT, 1000 GMT, 20 Apr 99) Most Lithuanians participating in a poll in mid-April seemed to agree with the president. Some 73 percent of respondents said they believed the country was experiencing a political crisis, and 50 percent believed the Vagnorius cabinet should step down, according to the poll conducted by the Baltic Studies/Gallup company. Another poll placed Vagnorius out of the top 20 in terms of popularity, even though most other politicians gained public support in April. (Baltic News Service DAILY REPORT, 1000 GMT, 27 Apr 99) By the end of the month, citing his willingness to assume partial responsibility for the political conflict, Vagnorius announced he would resign. On 5 May, Adamkus accepted the resignation of the prime minister and six Cabinet members, including Degutiene.

You say 'tomato' ...
Discussions continue on Latvia's language law, once more prompted by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). When the draft language law was being debated in September 1998, OSCE High Commissioner for National Minorities Max van der Stoel recommended some changes, specifically addressing provisions that would mandate the use of the state language in the private sector. (Baltic News Service DAILY REPORT, 1300 GMT, 26 Sep 98) Lack of a quorum delayed the final vote before the October 1998 elections, and the draft law reappeared on the agenda this spring.

Prime Minister Vilis Kristopans recently weighed in, agreeing with Van der Stoel. On 19 April Kristopans presented proposals to parliament that would make the draft language law compatible with international agreements. The current version of the law includes strict provisions concerning the use of the state language in all companies with state-owned holdings. In accordance with Van der Stoel's recommendations, Kristopans suggests that those provisions be applicable only to companies where the state holds at least one-half of the shares. According to the prime minister, state interference in the private sector is justifiable only if required by such public interests as national security, territorial integrity, or public safety. (Baltic News Service DAILY REPORT, 1000 GMT, 19 Apr 99) Support for easing the law's restrictions also has been heard from European Commission President Jacques Santer and EC Foreign Affairs Commissioner Hans van der Broek. Both stressed in a meeting with Kristopans that the law should guarantee the basic freedom and the freedom of business. (Baltic News DAILY REPORT, 1300 GMT, 22 Apr 99)

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled...entrepreneurs
Economic self-interest and security may work wonders where international pressure has failed to improve substantially the lives of non-Estonians. Interior Minister Juri Mois believes that the country's policy concerning non-citizens has been too inflexible and needs amending, for the sake of internal security and economic opportunity. "The state should be braver in making exceptions in the granting of citizenship and at the same time make the status of alien in Estonia more attractive," Mois said. The existing regulations are placing obstacles in the way of foreign investors and entrepreneurs, who face hurdles when applying for residence and work permits, Mois said. "Also, Estonia's national interests require that resident stateless persons and aliens holding the citizenship of Russia and other countries be given a clear message that they are in every way personae gratae in our country," he added. (Baltic News Service DAILY REPORT, 1000 GMT, 29 Apr 99)

Of course, not all non-citizens are welcome: Agitators Petr Rozhok and Oleg Morozov, leaders of the Tallinn branch of the Union of Russian Citizens, have been asked to leave the country, since they refuse to apply for temporary residence permits. Rozhok was given six months to pack his bags, while Morozov has to leave by the beginning of June. (RADIOSTANTSIYA EKHO MOSKVY, 0800 GMT, 4 May 99; FBIS-SOV-1999-0504) This is not the first time that authorities have tried to remove Rozhok from Estonian soil. Procedural errors caused a revocation of an earlier expulsion order. The Tallinn district court ruled that, in its March 1995 attempt to deport the Russian citizen, the Citizenship and Migration Department had not provided the proper documentation. (OMRI DAILY DIGEST, 8 Oct 96) Rozhok is also a member of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party in Estonia, and at one time faced charges for calling on Russian army veterans to form paramilitary units "for defending the (Russians') honor and dignity." (BNS, 0751 GMT, 9 Feb 94; FBIS-SOV-94-028) Morozov also is no stranger to Estonian authorities: Last year he was charged with inciting ethnic and political hostility in organizing unsanctioned rallies. (RADIO ROSSII NETWORK, 1000 GMT, 30 Jan 98; FBIS-SOV-98-030)

'I spy with my own eye...'
Russian authorities apprehended an Estonian citizen on 21 April as he reportedly was obtaining information on the Russian airborne division stationed in the Pskov region. Petr Kalachev, a member of the Kaitseliit (Defense League), allegedly was attempting to recruit officers in the division and gather information on the combat readiness of Russia's airborne units, as well as details on their armaments and personnel. According to an ITAR-TASS report, the Russian authorities -- taking into account the small amount of damage "done to the Russian security, (...) his frank confession, and also guided by the desire to establish good-neighbourly relations with the Republic of Estonia" -- expelled Kalachev instead of prosecuting him on charges. (ITAR-TASS, 1441 GMT, 23 Apr 99; FBIS-SOV-1999-0423) Major Riho Uhtegi, chief of Estonia's defense forces intelligence branch, denied that Kalachev had any connection with military intelligence. (Baltic News Service DAILY REPORT, 1800 GMT, 24 Apr 99) According to Heiki Kirotar, spokesman for the Defense League, the paramilitary unit does not have a mandate to carry out intelligence activities. The Kaitseliit once possessed an information department, Kirotar said, but due to restructuring, now only a small team with the personnel department exists, to check the background of volunteers. (Baltic News Service DAILY REPORT, 1300 GMT, 26 Apr 99) Official Estonian government denials aside, it would not be outside the bounds of credibility that the defense ministry would organize reconnaissance activities to determine as much as possible about the strength and undertakings of Russian military units in Pskov. Geographic proximity alone, never mind security issues, would warrant intelligence-gathering exercises. Perhaps the Estonian government should allocate additional funds, however, on the training of intelligence officers.

by Kate Martin

Editorial Digest, Volume IV Number 2 (February 1, 1999)

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