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The NIS Observed: An Analytical Review
Volume V Number 8 (16 May 2000)

Russian Federation

Executive Branch by Susan J. Cavan
Foreign Relations by Chandler Rosenberger
and Sarah K. Miller
Media by Jonathan Solomon
Domestic Issues & Legislative Branch by Michael DeMar Thurman
Armed Forces by LCDR James J. Duke Jr. and LtCol Jill Skelton

Newly Independent States

CIS by Sarah K. Miller
Western Region by Tammy Lynch
Central Asia by Monika Shepherd
Baltic States by Kate Martin

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Volume I
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No. 1 (6 November 1996)


At a ceremony in the Kremlin on 7 May, Vladimir Putin was officially installed as president of the Russian Federation. Former President Boris Yel'tsin, appearing unsteady and pained at times, stood alongside the new president for much of the inaugural ceremony. The image of Putin and Yel'tsin together, signifying the peaceful transfer of power following an election, marks an extraordinary moment in Russian history. Despite misgivings over the installation of Putin as hand-picked successor, some electoral irregularities, and apprehension over the heavy-handedness of Putin's regime, this imperfectly democratic presidential succession is a unique event in Russia's troubled political history. It seems unwise to deem it a step in the development of democracy, but the celebratory emphasis given the ceremony and this method of succession may make it less likely that the Russian population would accept less democratic changes in leadership.

The head of the Constitutional Court was given a prominent role in the inaugural ceremony, although he did not actually swear Putin into office. Putin placed his hand on the constitution, the same copy used by Boris Yel'tsin in 1996, and read out the text of the oath as stipulated in Article 82 of the constitution. The patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Aleksei II, was also a high-profile presence at the inauguration. Following the ceremony, Aleksei II conducted a service honoring Putin and presented him with the icon of St. Prince Aleksandr of Neva (Nevsky) to serve as protector of Putin as president. (ITAR-TASS, 1315 GMT, 7 May 00; FBIS-SOV-2000-0507, via World News Connection)

The advent of Putin's presidency was also noted by the heirs of the former Russian tsars. Prince Nikolai Romanov, head of the Imperial family, commented, "Russia can hope that it will be in reliable, and ... more practical hands." (ITAR-TASS, 7 May 00; FBIS-SOV-2000-0507, via World News Connection)

First appointment
The installation of a new president requires the resignation of the government and Kremlin administration. Putin accepted the resignations but requested that most staffers remain in their jobs until new appointments were made. Putin's first personnel move was to nominate Mikhail Kasyanov as prime minister. Kasyanov, who successfully negotiated with the IMF over new loans, had been considered the front-runner for the position. His nomination is likely to meet with little opposition in the Duma.

Victory Day sparks Stalin revival
The close proximity of the inaugural and Victory Day celebrations produced a disconcerting "coincidence" in the elevation of Putin and the celebration of former Soviet dictator Iosif Stalin. Stalin's image will be given unexpected prominence on a new commemorative coin issued by the Central Bank. The coin, featuring Harry Truman and Winston Churchill along with Uncle Joe, is meant to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the Allied victory in World War II. (AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, 0440 PDT, 5 May 00; via For a Western audience, the coin is meant to represent a time of Russian and Western cooperation. Domestically, however, it is an awkward statement. Stalin has never appeared on Soviet or Russian currency before, and most post-Stalin administrations have made a point to distance themselves from the brutal leader.

President Putin, however, does not seem concerned by the notion of a cult of personality, the likes of which surrounded Stalin. Just two days after his inaugural, on Victory Day, Putin unveiled a plaque in the Kremlin to honor the heroes of WW II. Once again, Stalin's name appears in the Kremlin etched alongside 16 others, including military leaders Georgi Zhukov, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Tito. (AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, 1100 PDT, 9 May 00; via

Putin's first presidential actions
If actions speak louder than words, Putin's endorsement of free speech was ringing terribly hollow following a Federal Security Services (FSB) and tax police raid on the offices of Media-MOST Thursday, 11 May, just four days after the inaugural ceremony. Media-MOST, whose holdings include NTV, Segodnya and Itogi, is headed by financier Vladimir Gusinsky, a rival to Boris Berezovsky. Gusinsky's media outlets were less than enthusiastic supporters of Putin and have also been somewhat critical of the war in Chechnya. They have also taken on the FSB in an investigation of the apartment explosions in Moscow and the planted explosives in Ryazan. (UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL, 11 May 00; via

Putin's administration claims, however, that the raid on MOST's office was motivated by recent criminal investigations. Amid the nearly universal condemnation of the security services' attack on MOST, FSB officials have attempted to justify their action by displaying eavesdropping and intercept devices claimed to have been seized in the raid. The intended targets of MOST's surveillance are said to include MVD Chief Vladimir Rushailo and several rival businessmen. (UPI, 1700 PDT, 13 May 00; via While it is entirely plausible that Media-MOST would possess such equipment (similar equipment was found in businesses owned by Berezovsky in the past, when he was the target of a politically motivated criminal investigation), it is likely that many such offices around Moscow would contain analogous devices. The selection of Gusinsky's offices and the timing of the raid make this a particularly questionable move that will likely have a further chilling effect on an already state-dominated media. It also taints Putin's claims of democratic intentions.

Decree on regions
Even before he was named acting president by outgoing President Yel'tsin, Putin had stressed the need to adjust relations between the regions and the federal center. Most often, Putin stressed the need for a revitalized system of vertical power. On Saturday, 13 May, he issued a decree setting out his scheme for reasserting federal control of the regions. According to the decree, Putin will establish seven vast regional districts, each of which will incorporate several republics and territories and will have a presidential representative and staff responsible directly to the president. The list of new districts and their capitals follows: Central Federal (Moscow); Northwest Federal (St. Petersburg); North Caucasus Federal (Rostov-na Donu); Volga Federal (Nizhni Novgorod); Urals Federal (Yekaterinburg); Siberian Federal (Novosibirsk); and the Far Eastern Federal (Khabarovsk). (ITAR-TASS, 13 May 00; via Johnson's Russia List)

The decree does not elaborate on the exact powers and responsibilities of the new presidential representatives, but if federal funding is now to be distributed through these new districts, the president should be able to wield considerable authority when dealing with regional governors. One of the key failures of the previous system of presidential representatives was their reliance on the local governors and officials for housing and other expenses. This clearly made them susceptible to corruption, and weakened their ties to the federal center. The new districts will be entirely federally financed.

In addition to this new decree on regional relations, Putin has also moved to bring regional legislation in line with federal laws. Exercising his constitutionally provided presidential powers, Putin suspended specific laws enacted by Ingushetia, Bashkortostan and in the Amur region. (REUTERS, 14 May 00; via Johnson's Russia List) He further suggested that certain regions may need to amend their constitutions to bring them into compliance with the federal constitution.

by Susan J. Cavan

In his recent gestures towards the United States, Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown that incumbency comes with its own world-view. Nothing, it seems, will be allowed to rock the boat of US-Russian relations before the American presidential elections. Instead, Moscow has gone out of its way to praise Democratic candidate Al Gore, and to portray him as the natural successor to a Clinton administration with whom the Kremlin has been able to do business. Stability, it seems, trumps all.

With an eye to the upcoming Moscow visit of US President Clinton, the Kremlin has been making every effort to hide embarrassing problems and differing opinions. In addition to virtually endorsing Gore for president, Putin's government has stymied attempts to investigate financial scandals that might show the White House's relations with Russia in an embarrassing light. In Mikhail Kasyanov, Putin has found a prime minister with deep knowledge of the controversies surrounding US-Russian aid and a similar inclination to let investigations drop.

Although differences between the White House and the Kremlin remain, a Gore administration promises the continuation of business as usual, so Moscow thinks.

See no evil
The Kremlin's first favor to the democratic campaign and to itself has been to squash efforts by the US Congress to get Russian cooperation in the investigation of the scandal over the theft and laundering of US aid. Representative Jim Leach, chairman of the House Banking Committee, arrived in Moscow in late April to participate in hearings on money laundering called by the Russian Duma. The hearings, however, were postponed until after Clinton's own trip.

Instead, Leach was faced with the first signs that Moscow intends to sweep the entire matter under the rug. Sergei Stepashin, the former prime minister who is now head of the Audit Chamber, the Russian government's financial watchdog, announced that a four-month investigation had failed to find any evidence that funds from the International Monetary Fund had been siphoned off and laundered through the Bank of New York. (INTERFAX, 0647 GMT, 27 Apr 00: FBIS-SOV-2000-0427, via World News Connection)

Stepashin's assurances are difficult to square with the scale and chronology of the scandal surrounding the Bank of New York. Lucy Edwards, a former BoNY vice president, and Peter Berlin, her husband, pleaded guilty last February to a wide range of money-laundering activities; in cooperating with US authorities, the couple has admitted to arranging more than 160,000 illegal transactions that moved more than $7 billion from Russia. (Jamestown Foundation MONITOR, 25 Apr 00) The majority of funds was moved shortly after the collapse of the Russian ruble in August 1998. The Russian Central Bank is suspected of having bypassed the usual currency markets shortly before the ruble's drop in order to sell 18 Russian banks more than $4 billion lent by the IMF. There is still strong suspicion that the Russian government arranged to give favored bankers the chance to get their holdings out of the ruble before the devaluation.

Stepashin and several Duma deputies complained that investigation of the BoNY scandal had acquired a "political tinge" in the United States, but at least one Moscow newspaper concluded that politics would also make the scandal go away.

"What matters most for the United States right now, however, is its forthcoming presidential election," Sergei Yegorov of The Moscow News wrote. "The fact that president Bill Clinton is arriving in Moscow in June might point to a softening of the U.S. position toward Russia. After all, he wouldn't be coming here for the sake of confrontation, would he? Which means that the Bank of New York has a reasonably good chance of seeing a happy end to the investigation." (MOSCOW NEWS, 4 May 00; via lexis-nexis)

Back-scratching from Boston to Moscow
On the topic of the "forthcoming presidential election," the Kremlin has been remarkably outspoken. In early May the Russian foreign ministry praised the foreign policy agenda laid out by candidate Gore as "fully in tune with the Russian approach." Gore had delivered his first major foreign policy speech in Boston five days earlier.

The substance of the foreign ministry's statement was not surprising. In an attempt to find much of its own rhetoric in Gore's pronouncements, Moscow highlighted what it interpreted as Gore's call for cooperation in fighting new threats such as "international terrorism," a favorite Kremlin smear of Chechnya's rebels. (REUTERS, 1221 ET, 5 May 00; via lexis-nexis)

The surprise lay instead in the substance of the election campaign speech the Kremlin saw fit to endorse. In his address Gore had not only laid out an agenda for post-Cold War cooperation with Russia and China, but had attacked Republican Party candidate George W. Bush for lacking a credible foreign policy agenda and submitting to hawkish ideologues.

"Stuck in a Cold War mindset," Gore said, "Governor Bush continues to view Russia and China primarily as present or future enemies." Gore added, "Just this past week, Governor Bush used his brief meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov to issue a warning that his intention would be to build and deploy a global 'Star Wars' system," a project that Gore claimed right-thinking people had long ago dismissed. "Governor Bush wishes to return to it, and chose the worst possible venue in which to launch -- for lack of a better phrase -- his risky foreign policy scheme." (REMARKS OF AL GORE, International Press Institute, Boston, MA, 30 Apr 00; via

For Moscow to endorse an attack on another presidential candidate might seem a foolish way to prepare for the unpredictable results of November's elections. What, one is tempted to ask, will Russia say if Bush wins? The Kremlin appears to have decided that endorsing Gore is worth the risk of slighting his rival.

One hand washes the other. Despite its continuing differences from Washington on the ABM Treaty, Kosovo and Chechnya, it seems that the newly installed Russian government will refrain from upsetting the democratic campaign. The Kremlin apparently believes that the scandals of the recent past can only stay buried if both Washington and Moscow remain in safe hands.

by Chandler Rosenberger

* * * * *

Volodya and Yoshi play tough, but nicely
At their weekend meeting in St. Petersburg last month, Russia and Japan's new leaders agreed on little more than their predecessors did. During the three-day summit, Russian President Vladimir "Volodya" Putin and Japanese Premier Yoshiro "Yoshi" Mori simply agreed to disagree on the Kurile Islands issue while simultaneously committing themselves to completing a peace treaty; thus, the new leaders placed themselves in precisely the same position as their predecessors had in 1997. Since that time, Russo-Japanese relations have been stymied by the lack of a peace treaty or a solution to their territorial dispute over the Kurile Islands. (REUTERS, 1 May 00; via

Their decision to avoid the peace treaty is hardly surprising, given former Russian President Boris Yel'tsin's hastily concluded meeting with Mori's top foreign aide and former Premier Ryutaro Hashimoto the weekend prior to Mori's trip. The meeting was presumably a last-minute Russian attempt to ensure that the issue did not complicate Putin and Mori's informal get-together in St. Petersburg. And indeed, the effort seemed to pay off; after their meeting, Mori said that, although they had intended to negotiate the territorial issue, the subject simply didn't come up. (, 29 Apr 00) But the question remains as to how long the two will be able to avoid negotiating this sticky issue. They are already scheduled for bilateral talks on the sidelines of the G-8 summit in June, and are tentatively scheduled to meet in Japan in late August. If the two are able to emerge from these encounters without addressing the subject, they will have proven themselves just as adept at the art of avoidance as their predecessors.

Meanwhile, economic relations hardly felt the bump as Putin and Mori glossed over the territorial issue. Choosing instead to focus on Putin's love of judo and Mori's familial ties to the Russian Far East, the two recalled their "creative partnership," and most importantly, their infant trade relationship. According to Mori, "extensive economic cooperation" with Russia is a "priority task" for Japan. And despite Russia's recent economic woes, creating a "favorable climate for development of Japanese-Russian trade and investment" is paramount in this task. (ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA, 29 Apr 00; FBIS-EAS-2000-0501, via World News Connection) However, Russo-Japanese economic cooperation has been minimal since private Japanese companies pulled out of Russia during the Asian, and subsequently Russian, economic crisis two years ago. As a result, in this one area of cooperation, Russia and Japan have quite a few obstacles to overcome. Thus, trips to Tokyo by such notable economic personalities as Boris Nemtsov and Mikhail Zadornov to meet with Mori are all the more important indicators of a concrete Russian desire to open potentially profitable economic relations with Japan. These high-profile contacts, as well as numerous Russo-Japanese economic and business bodies, have been arranged to create the foundation for better economic relations. Perhaps practical steps will follow. Until then, it will be up to Russia's first diplomat to encourage economic improvements while remaining tough on the territorial issue. (RIA, 1407 GMT, 10 May 00; FBIS-EAS-2000-0510, via World News Connection)

by Sarah K. Miller

The hounds are unleashed

Since Putin came into office in January, the big question in Russian media affairs has been what will become of Vladimir Gusinsky's opposition press. NTV, Media-MOST's flagship outlet and Russia's only nationally broadcasting independent station, has been providing relatively unbiased reporting on the Chechen campaign, and as such it has not been too flattering towards the government. MOST's Segodnya newspaper has often been highly critical of the Putin administration as well. MOST-supported outlets not actually in the group, such as Novaya gazeta and Obshchaya gazeta, have made names for themselves as muckraking papers hostile to the administration's policies, especially fond of exposing corruption or "conspiracies." Lastly, MOST supported both YABLOKO and Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and his Fatherland-All Russia bloc in the December Duma elections, and YABLOKO leader Grigory Yavlinsky in the spring presidential campaign. Little wonder, then, that Putin has looked to silence MOST since taking over for Yel'tsin.
And it appears that all Putin was waiting for to move decisively was the security and authority of finally being inaugurated president.

The latest assault on MOST began during the first week of this month. Despite highly secretive negotiations regarding repayment of MOST's $211.6 million debt to Gazprom, the deputy head of corporate relations at Gazprom, Alexei Kedrov, leaked information that the natural gas monopoly sought full control over MOST to compensate for the debt. Kedrov stated that Gazprom had rejected MOST's initial offer of a generous stock portfolio as debt payment, including a 20% share in MOST, 25% of the THT regional television network, and 100% of the Sem Dnei (Seven Days) Publishing House, which produces Segodnya and the magazine Itogi. This is in addition to the 30% of NTV that Gazprom already owns.

MOST spokesman Dmitry Ostalsky hotly denied that such an offer had even been made, however, and observed that, although MOST and Gazprom were in debt-settlement negotiations, Kedrov's statements were politically motivated. Kedrov shot back in an interview with the Moscow Times that he had documents from MOST that proved the content of the offer. (THE MOSCOW TIMES, 4 May 00; via By saying as much, he only confirmed what Ostalsky had been hinting at -- that the revelation of the offer was intended to embarrass and discredit MOST and Gusinsky. It was a perfect use of kompromat.

The next move was a shocker... or perhaps it wasn't, depending on how you view it. A little after 9 a.m. Moscow time on 11 May, just four days after Putin's inauguration, agents of the tax police, prosecutor general's office, interior ministry, and FSB raided all of MOST's Moscow-area offices. The stated intention of the search was to gather evidence in a criminal case against members of MOST's security service. According to FSB spokesman Alexander Zdanovich, several security service officers had been conducting electronic eavesdropping on the conversations and telephone calls of MOST employees. Zdanovich did not say if the officers were acting on instruction from MOST officials or acting independently, and declined to identify specifically those whose privacy had been invaded. (INTERFAX, 0805 GMT, 1734 GMT, 11 May 00; FBIS-SOV-2000-0511, via World News Connection)

Zdanovich also commented that the prosecutor general's office was the lead agency in the investigation, and had called in the others for assistance in the raid. Most tellingly, when asked to respond to the allegations by Mikhail Berger, the editor of Segodnya, that the raid was partly intended to seize material being used in his newspaper's investigation of the FSB's deputy director of economic security, Zdanovich replied that "One could expect that, in a bid to avoid punishment, a lawbreaker would try to carry out a preventative strike against the relevant law enforcement agency, which deals with economic security issues. Criminal structures use tricks like this all the time...." (MOSCOW RIA, 1140 GMT, 11 May 00; FBIS-SOV-2000-0511, via World News Connection) Later, he added that the raids were absolutely not intended to intimidate the opposition press. "Nobody is talking about pressuring journalists. Tomorrow, people will be able to read Segodnya and watch NTV, which will comment on events as they choose to," he said. (THE MOSCOW TIMES, 12 May 00; via

If the raid was intended to collect evidence of illegal espionage by individual MOST security officers, and occurred without any condemnation of Gusinsky or other executives for ordering such surveillance, then why the apparent characterization of the MOST group as a whole as a "criminal structure"? Furthermore, why not just flatly deny Segodnya's allegations instead of giving them credibility by delving into the "motivations" of Segodnya's investigative reporters? Intimating that they are "lawbreakers" and that their intent was to publish a compromising article as a "preventative strike" against the FSB is just too much to swallow.

Indeed, various factors call into question just how much of a direct role Putin could have had in the raids. For one thing, the raids seemed very unorganized -- in fact, almost as if the raiders had been assembled at the last minute. A tax police spokesman told reporters that, while his service had been involved, none of the legal violations being investigated by the raid involved tax issues. The prosecutor general's office did take responsibility for initiating the raids, but it was the FSB's Zdanovich who made the majority of the public statements regarding the raid's intentions. And officials were not very clear on what exactly they were investigating. While Zdanovich said that the security officers had been spying on MOST employees, Yuri Martyshin, an investigator from the prosecutor general's office, said the reason was that the security officers had been conducting industrial espionage on MOST's business rivals. (THE MOSCOW TIMES, 12 May 00; via Perhaps the security officers were doing one or both -- who knows? The problem lies in the fact that the federal agencies involved lacked a common stand on why they were doing what they were doing; the last time such confusion occurred was during the muddled Babitsky scandal. (See THE NIS OBSERVED, 29 Feb 00)

Even so, the raids served to humiliate MOST and Gusinsky, despite the outpouring of support for MOST by the Moscow media outside of the Berezovsky group. They also were an ideal lead-in for the real clincher. On 17 May, the Central Bank announced that it had imposed "temporary administration" over MOST-Bank, the core of Gusinsky's empire and the main source of Media-MOST's funds. The Central Bank stated that its reason for such an action was to "stabilize MOST-Bank's finances and protect its depositors and creditors." (THE MOSCOW TIMES, 17 May 00; via The effect which the seizure of MOST-Bank will have on Media-MOST's operations is sure to be significant, not to mention that the gloves have officially come off in Putin's dealings with at least one of the oligarchs. An argument can be made that Putin did not pre-authorize the raids, but an action by the Central Bank is sure to have been signed off by him. Besides, Putin himself stated at his inauguration that he alone is responsible for the actions of the Russian government. If anyone is acting outside of his authorization, after making a statement such as that which implies that he should be held accountable if a policy or action draws severe fire, one can be sure that those acting on their own won't last in their current positions much longer. There is no room in this ex-intelligence officer's world for not being "on the same team."

Bidders on ORT, Center TV announced...
State public television network/Berezovsky-run ORT will be bidding to receive a new operating license on 24 May, as will Luzhkov-allied Center TV, as per Press Minister Mikhail Leslin's announcement on 29 February that the two would not have their licenses automatically renewed. Competing for ORT's Channel One frequency are ORT and RTR, the other state-run network. Center TV is up against LUKoil's REN-media, a company that produces programs for ORT called VID, and another production company, ATV. (MOSCOW RIA, 1220 GMT, 10 May 00; FBIS-SOV-2000-0510, via World News Connection) For his part, Luzhkov has been fighting the tender in court, as Center TV is the only media outlet allied with him and thus a tool of his political survival. On 5 May, the Moscow Arbitration Court ruled that the press ministry's declaration that Center TV had violated electoral law in its biased support of Fatherland-All Russia during the Duma electoral campaign -- which the ministry had used to justify putting the outlet up for tender -- was invalid. According to the decision, no specific legal violations had been stated. (THE MOSCOW TIMES, 5 May 00; via

...As Putin installs his people in ORT...
In late April, Putin nominated a bloc of candidates for ORT's board of directors. These include presidential spokesman Alexei Gromov, ITAR-TASS General Director Vitaly Ignatenko, First Deputy Minister of the Press Mikhail Seslavinsky, and Presidential First Deputy Chief of Staff Igor Shuvalov. (ITAR-TASS, 1557 GMT, 29 Apr 00; FBIS-SOV-2000-0429, via World News Connection)

In other words, they're clearly HIS people. This leads to the question of what the tender for ORT's license means. The installation of his own people in ORT could mean that ORT will win back its broadcast license, but the influence of Berezovsky will be reduced by virtue of Putin's hand being extended into the board of directors. It seems unlikely that Putin would install such high-profile officials into ORT if ORT and RTR were to consolidate in the event the latter won. But Putin does control RTR rather tightly, and if RTR did win, it would effectively cut Berezovsky out of national TV media rather abruptly. So, the question is, does Putin want to squeeze or push out Berezovsky from influence. Whether ORT or RTR wins not only will tell us which track Putin has decided on, but will also show how Putin views his own political strength, which was in doubt prior to the inauguration because of the lack of a clear popular mandate in the election. No doubt, his actions here and those already taken against MOST are assertations of that power to dull questioning into how politically strong he truly is.

...and Berezovsky appears ruffled
Signs that Putin is indeed strong vis-a-vis the oligarchs come from other sources, as well. In the first week of May, Berezovsky's Kommersant newspaper published several excerpts from internal Kremlin documents that call for integration of the state and FSB apparatus. "The new president, if he really wants to ensure order and stability, does not need a self-regulating political system... intellectual, personnel, and professional potential in the hands of the FSB should be brought in to work for controlling the political process," Kommersant claimed the documents to read.

Natalya Timakova of the Presidential Press Service flatly denied the report, saying that whatever Kommersant had published had not come from the Kremlin. She did admit, though, that "Kommersant may have shamelessly published one of their [the Center for Strategic Research, Putin's chief "think-tank"] proposals, but that plan has not been approved."

The reporter who published the documents, Nikolai Vardul, insisted that elements within the administration had leaked them to him, but that he'd never said that the plans had been approved. Speculation emerged that Putin's chief of staff and Berezovsky-ally Alexander Voloshin had been the source of the leak. (THE MOSCOW TIMES, 5 May 00; via

Berezovsky's nervousness about losing his political influence -- or his empire and freedom -- is evident in that this leak appeared not in Novaya gazeta, Versiya, Obchshaya gazeta, or any other muckraker of recent note, but in Kommersant. True or not, it serves as an attempt at kompromat against Putin in order to discredit him via his "plans for an intelligence-state." Most likely, Putin truly does intend such a merging of "power agencies" and state apparatus, as the creation of the seven administrative districts with "his boys" in key positions shows. Berezovsky and Voloshin (who no doubt is not keen on losing political power himself) presumably aimed to raise alarm among influential Russians in business and government that their very influence is in jeopardy, and Putin needs to be challenged, or "engaged" in the very least. What a marked difference from Berezovsky's dismissive statements in Vedomosti in late March! (See THE NIS OBSERVED, 4 Apr 00)

The ball is clearly in Putin's possession.

by Jonathan Solomon

Independent commission on Chechnya formed
Former justice minister and current head of the Duma's committee on legislation, Pavel Krasheninnikov, has been appointed to chair a new independent commission investigating the events in Chechnya and the North Caucasus. The commission also includes the former presidential candidate, Ella Pamfilova, the editor of Izvestia, Mikhail Kozhokin, and writer Yuri Polyakov.

Saddled with an unwieldy title, the National Public Commission for Investigating Crimes and Monitoring Respect for Human Rights in the North Caucasus is to gather relevant information for the Duma's use, to make recommendations with regard to the passage of laws regarding problems in the North Caucasus, to speak with human rights activists both within the federation and abroad, and to assist in the formation of a final settlement in Chechnya. (INTERFAX, 1107 GMT, 18 Apr 00; FBIS-SOV-2000-0418, via World News Connection)

It is not entirely clear if this body is to exercise any real degree of independence or authority, considering the fact that the Duma has wasted little time lining up behind Putin's violent campaign in Chechnya and the vilification of its people. It would seem to be little more than a Potemkin commission that can be shown to foreigners and the few Russian critics as evidence of the Russian government's fair handling of the situation. Indeed, this was the sop thrown to European foreign ministers to prevent any meaningful follow-up to PACE's suspension of Russia from membership in the Parliamentary Assembly.

Back to Peter's City?
Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev has suggested that the Federal Assembly be moved to St. Petersburg, although the capital would remain Moscow. The odd request is most likely a political move to put pressure on Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov to provide a suitable location for a new parliament center. Luzhkov has suggested some sites on the outskirts of town which Seleznev and others do not like.

Perhaps sensing an opportunity, St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev has promised to give the parliament the "most beautiful place" in the city, where it would be convenient for everyone. He has also come up with a preliminary proposal.

The future parliament center would extend from the Smolny along Shpalernaya Street to the Tauride Palace. Apparently the area is large enough to construct a compound of buildings which could easily house both the Duma and the Federation Council. Who would sit in the historic Tauride Palace has not been decided.

The negatives to such a move are clear, but the benefits are not. The move would be extremely expensive, logistically challenging, and would make face-to-face meetings between members of parliament and representatives of the legislative and executive branches much more difficult. There would also be the additional logistical nightmare of trying to find apartments for Federal Assembly members and their staffs, not to mention jobs for their spouses. (ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA, 4 May 00; FBIS-SOV-2000-0504, via World News Connection)

If the proposal is a political tactic to get Luzhkov to give up some attractive site for a new parliament complex in Moscow, then it is harmless. If, on the other hand, it was sincerely meant, the proposal is both reckless and wasteful.

Putin begins to show regions who's boss
In a letter sent to the Bashkirian parliament, President Vladimir Putin demanded that the republic change several of its laws to bring them in line with federal statutes. Presently, Putin charged, Bashkiria has in its constitution text which runs "counter to foundations of the federal setup," overriding the Russian Federation's state sovereignty and the "supremacy of the Russian Federation's Constitution and federal laws" as well as overstepping "the limits of joint jurisdiction of the Russian Federation and the Bashkortostan Republic." Indeed, the republican constitution pursues "an idea of establishing complete international legal sovereignty of the Bashkortostan Republic, including independent participation in international and foreign economic relations." (ITAR-TASS, 1226 GMT, 11 May 00; FBIS-SOV-2000-0511, via World News Connection)

The president also ordered the suspension of decrees made by various regional leaders, such as those in Ingushetia and in the Amur region. Putin is reportedly drafting some 15 additional edicts annulling regional decrees which contradict federal law. (ITAR-TASS, 1212 GMT, 11 May 00; FBIS-SOV-2000-0511, via World News Connection)

Clearly the contradictions that exist between federal and regional legislation need to be resolved. Time will tell whether Putin can do it when Yel'tsin could not. Putin must also remember that many of the regional laws and decrees in violation of federal law occurred because the federal government proved incapable of addressing the basic needs of the regions, such as a stable currency, banking system, etc. The president cannot expect the regions to sit idly by while the federal government frets over silly issues such as moving the Federal Assembly to St. Petersburg while the most pressing affairs of state go unattended.

by Michael DeMar Thurman

Putin approves revised military doctrine

After two years of bureaucratic haggling and rewrites, President-elect Vladimir Putin approved Russia's revised military doctrine on 22 April. Although the document does not contain any surprises compared with previous Kremlin policy statements, it still deserves study. Interesting aspects of the doctrine are the list of external, Western-led "threats" to Russian security, the vaguely defined nuclear weapons use policy, and finally, the wartime economic mobilization requirement.

The text of the doctrine appeared in the Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya gazeta. Some of the main external "threats" listed include: 1) interference in the Russian Federation's internal affairs; 2) attempts to ignore the Russian Federation's interests in resolving international security problems and to oppose its strengthening as one influential center in a multipolar world; and 3) expansion of military blocs and alliances to the detriment of the Russia's military security. The origins of these "threats" are European criticism of Russia's war in Chechnya, US-led efforts to gain influence in the Caspian Sea, and, finally, NATO expansion. Such a stand clearly demonstrates where Russian and Western security interests conflict. Russia probably will not consider itself a partner with the West until these issues have been resolved in Moscow's favor.

The doctrine also states that nuclear weapons not only may be used in response to attacks of weapons of mass destruction, but also in response to "large-scale aggression using conventional weapons in situations critical to the national security of the Russian Federation." (NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA, 22 Apr 00; via Johnson's Russia List) Publicly, Russian officials have promoted the "defensive doctrine" as that of a "peaceful state." (ITAR-TASS, 1307 GMT, 24 Apr 00; FBIS-SOV-2000-0424, via World News Connection) Unfortunately, these statements do not clarify what constitutes "large-scale aggression." The policy's vagueness enables the Kremlin to interpret this statement to fit any scenario it perceives as threatening Russia's national security.

Finally, the doctrine requires military-industrial mobilization of the economy. In peacetime, the document mandates the "creation of conditions ensuring the timely switching of industrial enterprises ... to the production of military output." During a period of threat and commencement of armed conflict, the doctrine specifies "the switching of the country's economy and of individual sectors of it, enterprises and organizations, transportation and communications onto a footing of work in the conditions of a state of war." These requirements are reminiscent of Stalin's mobilization system developed in the 1930s which enabled the Soviet Union to defeat Germany in World War II. Then, tanks and airplanes were relatively primitive and could easily be mass produced. Today, modern weapons' complexity is incompatible with civilian industry. Almost all Western countries have scrapped plans for military-industrial mobilization and mass conscription. (THE MOSCOW TIMES, 27 Apr 00; via lexis-nexis) This unrealistic economic mobilization requirement is either another indicator of Moscow's attitude toward the West, or the result of an intense lobbying effort by Russia's oligarchs. The requirement justifies the existence of a disproportionately large, state-supported, military-industrial complex which will stifle any fundamental changes in Russia's economy.

Although the threat of instability in Russia's border regions is more acute, the military doctrine clearly places higher priority on confronting perceived threats emanating from the West. Moscow knows its conventional forces are weak, and nuclear weapons are its only means of claiming parity with the West. Moscow can say the military doctrine is defensive because the country is in no position to conduct offensive operations.

New old cruise missiles
Over the past decade the United States has demonstrated the utility of conventionally armed cruise missiles. Since 1991, Tomahawk cruise missiles have been launched in eight separate conflicts or operations, most recently in 1999 during Operation Allied Force in an attempt to end the Kosovo crisis. For the US, the cruise missile has become the "Big Stick" when diplomacy fails. The utility of conventionally armed cruise missiles has not been lost, and Russia is pursuing a variety of cruise missile options, both for their export potential and their value in regional conflicts.

Russia is fielding the Raduga Kh-65SE land attack cruise missile, a conventionally armed, short-range version of the Kh-55 (AS-15 "Kent") strategic, nuclear-tipped, air-launched cruise missile. The missile will be launched from Tu-160 and Tu-95SM strategic bombers, giving the Russian Air Force the capability in regional conflicts to destroy fixed targets from relatively safe standoff ranges without resorting to nuclear weapons. (ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA, 21 Apr 00; FBIS-SOV-2000-0421, via World News Connection) Russia is also offering to export the Novator 3M54E1, advertised primarily for its antiship role. The Novator is formerly the nuclear-tipped SS-N-21 "Granat" naval cruise missile. In 1999, India bought Novator missiles for its Kilo-class submarines. (JANE'S INTELLIGENCE REVIEW, Apr 00)

One advantage of cruise missiles is that they can be launched from a variety of platforms: aircraft, ships, and submarines. Rather than rely on ballistic missile systems which in most cases can only be launched from land, aircraft, ships, and submarines allow cruise missile launch much closer to the target, expanding coverage and increasing hit probability. In addition, as ballistic missile defense systems proliferate, cruise missiles serve as a means to circumvent these defenses. Most ballistic missiles defenses do not have any utility against low altitude, subsonic cruise missiles.

These renovated cruise missiles may have limitations, though. First, the guidance system may not be accurate enough to achieve an adequate probability of kill using a conventional, high explosive, warhead. A nuclear-tipped missile does not need to rely solely on its guidance system to deliver the missile on the target, because a nuclear warhead's destructive power could compensate for any guidance system errors incurred in flight. The much less powerful conventional warhead requires a more accurate guidance system; however, it is unclear whether these missiles' guidance systems have been improved. To compensate for the less destructive warhead and potential errors in flight, more cruise missiles must be fired at the same target to ensure a high probability of destruction. In addition, the Raduga land attack missiles can only hit fixed targets such as buildings; therefore, they will have limited utility combating a mobile adversary in Chechnya-type scenarios. Finally, the Novator antiship cruise missile was originally designed for open ocean conflict. Most analysts believe future naval conflict will take place in the crowded littorals, where the risk of a long-range cruise missile hitting a neutral target is much higher. In the early 1990s, the US Navy removed its long-range, antiship Tomahawk cruise missiles from the inventory due to their very limited utility in crowded coastal waters. These limitations do not render the converted missiles ineffective, however, they are issues military planners must consider prior to using them.

The conversion of these cruise missiles shows that Russia, despite its present economic condition and an expensive war in Chechnya, can still conduct military research and development. If these missiles prove successful in conflict, their conversion would be a remarkable achievement for the Russian arms industry.

by LCDR James Duke

* * * * *

Scratch the surface of the Russian Air Force and see what you find
From the beginning of the second Chechen War in August 1999, the Russian Air Force has waged an effective air campaign. Unopposed by a nonexistent Chechen air force, Russian aircraft have strafed and bombed Chechen cities and villages, pursued retreating Chechen troops into the southern highlands, and provided air cover for Russian ground troops. Reconnaissance aircraft have provided important tactical information on troop locations and field conditions. According to the federal combined force headquarters overseeing operations in Chechnya, Russia's air force has carried out over 42,000 sorties since the beginning of the conflict. Front-line aviation (Su-24, Su-25 and others) has carried out approximately 12,000 sorties and Mi-24 helicopter gunships have made over 30,000. (INTERFAX, 0650 GMT, 28 Apr 00; FBIS-SOV-2000-0428, via World News Connection) To date, air force casualties in Chechnya have been minimal. The Russian Air Force has absolute air superiority and the objectives laid out for the air force have been met: destroy all Chechen infrastructure believed to support rebel operations, destroy troop formations, and provide air support for ground operations. The large number of civilian casualties is not a problem because the avoidance of civilian casualties has never been a part of the Russian rules of engagement.

So, on the surface the Russian Air Force has painted itself as a very capable, successful fighting force. However, as one begins to scratch the surface, it becomes clear that the air force has not faced an enemy which it can hold up as a true challenge. There has been no air opposition. The Chechens have no mobile or fixed surface-to-air missile (SAM) launchers, only limited low-tech man-portable SAMs able to intercept low-flying aircraft. There were some early reports of the Chechens receiving Stinger missiles from Afghanistan but there has been no confirmed evidence of this. As one scratches the surface more, it becomes clear that the Russian Air Force is, in fact, a force made up of aging, insupportable aircraft and inexperienced flight and maintenance crews.

The air force has roughly 1,645 tactical aviation aircraft, comprised of the following:
--Bombers/Fighter Ground Attack: some 725, includes 475 Su-24, and 250 Su-25
--Air-to-Air Fighters: some 415, includes 315 MiG-29, and 100 Su-27
--Reconnaissance: some 200, includes 40 MiG-25, and 160 Su-24
--Electronic Counter Measures: 60 Mi-8
--Training: 245, includes trainers for all fielded tactical aviation aircraft. (International Institute for Strategic Studies, THE MILITARY BALANCE, 1998/1999)

While this number is impressive (the United States Air Force by comparison has approximately 1,500 plus tactical aviation aircraft), again one must scratch the surface to see the reality. Since the establishment of the Russian Air Force in 1992, the defense ministry has made large cuts in air force manpower and aircraft and in the overall defense budget. The most recent of these reductions was in 1998 as a result of combining air and air defense forces. Over 30 air regiments were disbanded, leaving approximately 70 air regiments. The hardware from these disbanded units was either put into storage or distributed between the remaining units, allowing the Russians to remove more ailing aircraft from the active inventory. The availability of aircraft prior to this reduction was assessed at a very low 30-40 percent. Now aircraft availability for tactical aviation is assessed at 84 percent. Sounds fairly good; however, scratch the surface and one sees that these availability numbers constitute a temporary improvement because of the considerable deterioration of Russian aircraft, airfield facilities and airstrips. "Particularly critical is the situation with regard to aircraft engines." (JANE'S INTELLIGENCE REVIEW, 1 May 99; via During 1998, 126 aircraft engines were removed before their service life expired because of technical defects. Grounded aircraft are being cannibalized to maintain operational aircraft. It is estimated that actual readiness figures are closer to 50 percent or lower because of the breakdown of repair facilities and availability of spare parts.

Scratch some more. Between 1992 and 1998 there were 30 fatal crashes. The Russian accident rate is roughly 3.3-4 accidents per 100,000 flight hours as compared to a US military (USAF, USN, and USMC) aircraft accident rate of 1.5 per 100,000 flight hours. (Jamestown Foundation MONITOR, 22 Sep 98) This high accident rate is not only the product of poor aircraft maintenance and availability but also of pilot proficiency. Russian pilots receive approximately 25-30 hours flight hours per year compared to an average 240 hours for US pilots and 120-130 for NATO pilots.

Scratch, scratch. These seriously curtailed flight hours are a part of a complex, multifaceted equation determining the effectiveness of the Russian Air Force. The first variable is the lack of operational aircraft based on poor aircraft maintenance, shortage of spares, and reduction of trained maintenance personnel and available maintenance facilities. The second variable is the lack of sufficient funds for aircraft fuel in order to conduct increased sorties needed for training. In recent years, the number of flight training schools and exercises has been consistently reduced. The fourth variable is personnel. The air force faces many of the same conditions currently experienced by the rest of the Russian military. Poor living conditions, low pay (often several months in arrears), and the breakdown of discipline and morale have had serious consequences on the quality and dedication of newly graduating pilots and the retention of veteran pilots. The final variable, and one that impacts all other variables, is the financial situation of the air force. The air force share of the military budget was estimated to be 9 percent in 1998 as compared to 20 percent in 1992. In 1998, the air force budget requested was 13.51 billion rubles, but it received only 5.455 billion rubles. Of this 5.4 billion rubles, 37 percent (2 billion rubles) was allocated to military reform (severance pay, transport fees, etc.). (JANE'S INTELLIGENCE REVIEW, 1 May 99) The continuing failure to meet basic air force budgets impacts not only upon air force operations but also on the research, development and fielding of follow-on and advanced aircraft necessary to replace the dangerously aging Russian Air Force fleet.

The sum of the equation is that, despite the success of the Chechen air campaign, the effectiveness of the Russian Air Force is highly questionable if faced with an adversary along the lines of NATO or the US...or in the case of broad, sustained or multitheater campaigns.

by Jill Skelton


Russia hardens up its 'soft' CIS rhetoric

According to Sergei Ivanov, Russia has a warning for CIS members: "Please go wherever you want, but face all the consequences." (INTERFAX, 25 Apr 00; via lexis-nexis) Ivanov, who is officially head of the Security Council, has increasingly assumed the role of ad hoc foreign minister (Igor Ivanov's "'beat"), making official statements on all manner of international relations issues. However, this comment in particular comes at a time when the CIS is undergoing a resurgence of Russian dominance, despite the resistance of several CIS states. Referring to Moscow's need to reassert Russian national interests, Sergei Ivanov went on to say that "one can't enjoy Russian freebies, pinching our oil and natural gas, and simultaneously head for a Greater Romania, for NATO or elsewhere." Considering Russia's recent tensions with several CIS states, this statement reads like a country-by-country list of the "anti-Russian" pole of the CIS: GUUAM. (Of course, now that Uzbekistan seems intent on following a more pro-Russian path, and Moldova is fearful, GUUAM may well become simply GUA.)

With an important heads of state summit approaching in late June, this rift again may thwart CIS initiatives. Russia's newfound assertive -- perhaps better termed domineering -- attitude illustrated by Ivanov's comments may prove forcible enough to push through Russia's newest pet project, the "CIS" Antiterrorism Center. According to Executive Secretary Yuri Yarov, the heads of state are expected to vote in favor of the Antiterrorism Center that will be headquartered in Moscow and "be based on the FSB." (NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA, 28 Apr 00; via lexis-nexis) The center will have 46 staff officers and will be funded jointly by all CIS members through cuts made to the Executive Secretariat's budget. (INTERFAX, 28 Apr 00; via lexis-nexis)

by Sarah K. Miller

The politics of punishment
The examination into the financial practices of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) regarding IMF loans is finally coming to a close. With the exception of one remaining audit, most facts are now public knowledge. On 4 May, a PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PwC) report showed that Ukraine had overstated its reserves in order to qualify for $200 million in IMF loans during 1997; as is the case with many scandals, the buildup to the release of this report was more interesting than the actual facts discovered. Contrary to suggestions made by the media, PwC auditors found that, within the scope of their investigation, Ukraine had not misused or misappropriated funds. Most important, the PwC audit largely confirmed information already known by the IMF.

An IMF press release notes, "Although it discloses some transactions of which the Fund was previously unaware, the PwC report confirms the IMF staff's understanding of Ukraine's use of its foreign exchange reserves .... The report also confirms that, by giving a misleading impression of the size of Ukraine's reserves, the NBU's reserve management practices may have allowed Ukraine to receive as many as three disbursements ... that it might not otherwise have been able to obtain." (IMF NEWS BRIEF NO. 00/26, 4 May 00) According to the IMF, those three tranches totaled about $200 million.

Also according to the IMF release, "Once a final determination on misreporting is made, the Executive Board will decide what remedial action may be appropriate." And therein lies the problem. Over the last year, the IMF has created quite a conundrum for itself by disciplining two countries differently for the same behavior in which Ukraine engaged. Both Russia and Pakistan recently admitted to misleading the IMF about the size of their reserves in order to facilitate the release of loan tranches; while Pakistan has been ordered to repay those loan tranches, Russia has not.

In fact, on the same day that the IMF Executive Board approved a new $4.8 billion credit line to Russia, it examined a PwC report that detailed the Russian Central Bank's questionable past financial practices regarding IMF loans. In the same press release announcing the new credit line, the IMF's directors "expressed strong disapproval" that "the balance sheet of the [Russian] Central Bank had given a misleading impression of the true state of reserves and monetary and exchange rate policies." Without this misleading impression, the IMF wrote, "it is possible that one or more of the disbursements of IMF funds to Russia in 1996 would have been delayed." (IMF PRESS RELEASE NO. 99/35, 28 Jul 99)

The only remedial action taken against Russia for this inaccurate reporting was the condition that the $4.8 billion credit line will be used only to repay past IMF loans and will not be routed through the Russian Central Bank. Instead the virtual money will remain under IMF control at all times.

The new Pakistan administration, meanwhile, voluntarily approached the IMF after discovering that data had been misreported. "As a result of subsequent data revisions, Pakistan's budget deficit for 1997/98 was revised upward by 2 percent of GDP to 7.5 percent of GDP, and the deficit for 1998/99 was raised by 1.4 percent of GDP to 5.9 percent of GDP.... Directors expressed serious concern that the erroneous data had misled IMF staff and the Executive Board about economic performance ...." (IMF NEWS BRIEF NO. 00/23, 28 Apr 00) Pakistan then agreed to repay $55 million that had been received based on the incorrect data.

Why the discrepancy in punishments? In Le Monde, former IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus wrote, "In Russia, the IMF is merely following a policy of seeking to facilitate the continuation of reform measures -- which are, of course, too slow." He continued, "The opinion of the Executive Board [is] that such a strategy -- which is, of course, not perfect -- is worth trying ... and is preferable to Russia's bankruptcy and economic isolation, with all that such a development could bring." (LE MONDE, 18 Aug 00; via

So, which remedy will Ukraine face -- the Russian "engagement" approach or the Pakistani "sanction" penalty? So far, it seems to be getting the Pakistani treatment. The Financial Times reported, "Stanley Fischer, the IMF's first deputy managing director, said ... the Fund would 'make it absolutely clear how unacceptable this is' .... Until it was clarified, he said it would be difficult to revive the $2.23bn loan program with the IMF that was suspended last year." (FINANCIAL TIMES (London), 5 May 00; via lexis-nexis)

In the long run, however, when media attention has lessened a bit, it is likely that Ukraine will escape this embarrassment with a penalty similar to that of Russia. Recent statements of President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright clearly demonstrate that the United States is standing by Ukraine -- although hesitantly until the final PwC report is released in June. Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko came away from his meeting with Clinton and IMF officials convinced, however, that funding will be resumed in July if reform targets are met. Even the IMF has noted that since September of 1998, "new safeguards have been put in place and there has been no evidence of similar problems." (IMF NEWS BRIEF NO. 00/15, 14 Mar 00)

Opposition clearly exists to continued funding of Ukraine under the current system. Anatol Lieven of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace told Reuters, "We have been through this before. They come to America, they make a lot of promises which they mean seriously, and then they go back home and run into contemporary realities which make reform extremely difficult." (REUTERS, 1922 GMT, 9 May 00; via America Online)

For Ukraine's sake, however, one would hope that the IMF would apply the same philosophy to the country that it has applied to Russia. This philosophy was discussed by John Odling-Smee, director of the European II Department of the IMF, in a Financial Times article. It is a discussion that could just as well have been applied to Ukraine. "Of course," he said, "we share the frustration of other friends of Russia about the failures of economic policy. But the right response for the IMF is to remain engaged in the long, hard business of trying to improve policies through persuasion and strict loan conditionality. It is not to stand aside, especially when Russia is showing signs of resolve in tackling the difficult problems it faces." (FINANCIAL TIMES (London), 23 Aug 99; via lexis-nexis) In June, following the IMF Executive Board meeting, it will be clear if this is a philosophy designed for just one chosen country, or for all.

by Tammy Lynch

Whereabouts of Uzbek rebel leader once again uncertain

Mr. Jumaboi Namangani's whereabouts are once more in dispute. The leader of a group of Muslim opposition supporters (originally from Uzbekistan) who invaded southwestern Kyrgyzstan last fall was believed to have sought refuge in Afghanistan last November. However, in late April reports began appearing in the media that Mr. Namangani (a.k.a. Khojaev) was actually in Tajikistan. Whether he returned there from northern Afghanistan or whether he simply never left Tajik territory is still unclear.

In fact, when Mr. Namangani's residence in Tavildora (at the foot of the Pamir Mountains) was first reported, the various representatives of the Tajik government could not seem to agree whether he was in Tajikistan or not. Amirqul Azimov, secretary of the Tajik Security Council, informed journalists on 24 April that during his recent trip to Tavildora he had seen no evidence that Mr. Namangani and his supporters were anywhere in the region. The Security Council secretary led a delegation to Tavildora in late April in order to investigate reports that the rebel leader and his supporters had established a permanent base of operations there. (ITAR-TASS, 1337 GMT, 24 Apr 00; FBIS-SOV-2000-0424, via World News Connection) Only one day after Mr. Azimov had assured the public that he had found no trace of Jumaboi Namangani in eastern Tajikistan, another member of the delegation, Minister for Emergency Situations and Civil Defense Mirzo Ziyo (a former United Tajik Opposition commander) reported quite the opposite. Mr. Ziyo stated that he and other members of the commission met with the rebel leader and persuaded him to leave Tajikistan with his supporters by the beginning of May. (VOICE OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN, 1600 GMT, 25 Apr 00; FBIS-SOV-2000-0426, via World News Connection)

On 4 May media sources began reporting that the first group (numbering anywhere from 150-400, based on the various accounts) of Mr. Namangani's supporters had left Tajikistan the previous evening and had crossed the border into Afghanistan. The group was escorted by Tajik defense ministry troops, as well as by Amirqul Azimov and Mirzo Ziyo. It is still unclear whether Mr. Namangani himself was with the group. (ITAR-TASS, 1333 GMT, 4 May 00; FBIS-NES-2000-0504, via World News Connection) A Kyrgyz news agency reported on 8 May that, according to "reliable sources" in Dushanbe, the rebel leader had remained in Tajikistan and the group which was sent to Afghanistan consisted mainly of women and children. (KABAR NEWS AGENCY, 1129 GMT, 8 May 00; BBC Monitoring Central Asia Unit, via lexis-nexis)

The Tajik government's reluctance to admit that Jumaboi Namangani was still on its territory is not difficult to understand. Various Uzbek and Russian officials have been issuing threatening statements in recent months, warning Tajikistan's leaders that, if they are unable to neutralize the "terrorist" groups which have allegedly established bases and/or training camps on Tajik soil, the Russian and Uzbek armed forces may have to do it for them. Consequently, it is very much in the Tajik government's interests to remove Mr. Namangani and his supporters from its territory. The Tajik opposition leaders seem to be equally concerned about hastening Mr. Namangani's exodus; he and his followers have thus far sought refuge in areas where many of the UTO's supporters reside. Should Uzbek authorities remain unconvinced of Mr. Namangani's departure and decide to conduct more bombing raids over Tajik territory, towns and villages inhabited by UTO members' families will suffer the most damage.

However, the Uzbek rebel leader's withdrawal to Afghanistan is hardly a permanent solution. Even if Mr. Namangani and his followers are well received in Afghanistan (Taliban authorities appear to be willing to consider granting them asylum), it is not terribly likely that they will find sufficient resources there with which to construct new homes and livelihoods and eventually they may well attempt to reenter Central Asia. (AFGHAN ISLAMIC PRESS NEWS AGENCY, 1630 GMT, 5 May 00; BBC Monitoring Central Asia Unit, via lexis-nexis) In fact, Mr. Namangani and his supporters have consistently stated that their ultimate goal is to return to their home country, Uzbekistan. With the passage of time, the rebel leader, and many others like him who have been forced into exile due to the Uzbek government's politically repressive policies, may only become more desperate to return, prompting them to use ever more violent methods to achieve their goals. No doubt in recognition of all these facts, both the UTO and the secular Uzbek opposition (led by Muhammad Solih, currently living in exile) have called upon the Uzbek government to enter into a dialogue with Jumaboi Namangani's group. UTO chairman Said Abdullo Nuri has gone so far as to offer to help mediate a settlement between President Karimov's administration and Mr. Namangani's refugees. (VOICE OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN, 1500 GMT, 8 May 00, and 0130 GMT, 4 May 00; BBC Monitoring Central Asia Unit, via lexis-nexis)

Summit addresses security threat, but Tajikistan must also look north
A regional security summit held recently in Tashkent addressed issues of such significance that all of the Central Asian presidents except Turkmenistan's Saparmyrat Niyazov deemed it necessary to attend in person, rather than sending envoys. The summit focused on methods for preventing the spread of such phenomena as international terrorism and other forms of "extremism," as well as organized crime. All of the presidents seemed to agree that the most serious security threats continue to emanate from Afghanistan, which regularly provides refuge for various types of terrorist groups. At the summit's conclusion, all four presidents signed a statement calling on both the UN and the OSCE to work more intensively on finding a peaceful solution to Afghanistan's decade-old civil war. The four men also signed an agreement on joint action against any future terrorist or "extremist" activity and against international organized crime. The main purpose of the agreement's various clauses is to facilitate cooperation between the four states' law enforcement bodies in locating and apprehending criminals. All four sides pledged that they would refuse to grant asylum to "terrorists and extremists" and that they would strive to uphold mutual extradition treaties. (TAJIK TELEVISION FIRST CHANNEL, 1400 GMT, 21 Apr 00; BBC Monitoring Central Asia Unit, via lexis-nexis)

The Tajik and Uzbek presidents were the most vocal in their criticism of the international community for failing to bring about an end to the Afghan conflict more quickly. President Islam Karimov stated that the situation in Afghanistan was promoting instability in all of Central Asia, particularly in his own country and in Tajikistan. The Uzbek president then once again expressed his view that immediate action should be taken to prevent "camps of bandits and saboteurs" from flooding the region with "subversive literature" in an effort to win more converts to their cause and turn part of Central Asia into an Islamic state. (NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA, 26 Apr 00; BBC Worldwide Monitoring, via lexis-nexis) President Imomali Rahmonov echoed the Uzbek president's words, stating that "Afghanistan has become a homeland for mercenaries and subversion squads." He further stated that it is up to the US and Russia to address this problem, albeit under UN auspices. (INTERFAX NEWS AGENCY, 21 Apr 00; via lexis-nexis)

The Russian government has apparently already decided to devote more resources to curbing the spread of narcotics and weapons smuggling, as well as "illegal migration" across the Tajik-Afghan border. Colonel-General Nikolai Reznichenko, chief of the General Staff of the Russian Federal Border Guards Service, paid a visit to Dushanbe while the security summit was taking place in Tashkent. The main purpose of his trip was to supervise the coordination of Russian and Tajik military units in reinforcing the Tajik-Afghan border. (ASIA-PLUS NEWS AGENCY, 0846 GMT, 20 Apr 00; BBC Monitoring Central Asia Unit, via lexis-nexis) Although no exact figures have been cited, this reinforcement will undoubtedly require the deployment of additional Russian border troops to Tajikistan.

However, in their zeal to neutralize the threat of "terrorism" and "extremism" from Afghanistan, the Central Asian presidents appear to have forgotten about similar threats from another direction, namely from Uzbekistan. For the past 1 1/2 years a wanted criminal, one Colonel Mahmud Khudoiberdiev, is suspected to have been living in exile in Uzbekistan. Col. Khudoiberdiev vowed to return to Tajikistan in an interview with Nezavisimaya gazeta shortly after Tajik military forces drove him out of Leninobod and back into Uzbekistan. Tajik authorities now have reason to believe that the renegade colonel is convening his supporters in Termez (in southern Uzbekistan, near the Afghan and Tajik borders) in preparation for a new attack on Tajikistan. Possibly in response to this threat, Tajik military, police and national security forces conducted joint exercises in Leninobod Province on 18 April. (VOICE OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN, 1430 GMT, 18 Apr 00; BBC Monitoring Central Asia Unit, via lexis-nexis) Then again, perhaps the Tajik government felt it necessary to make a show of force in an area of the country which Uzbekistan occasionally treats as its own protectorate and where the border seems to be at least as porous as the Tajik-Afghan border has proven to be. When Col. Khudoiberdiev undertook his forays across the Uzbek-Tajik border in November 1998, he is believed to have done so with a few hundred armed men. Yet his actions were observed by only one Uzbek border guard, leading one to conclude that either the Uzbek side of the border is almost completely unsupervised, or that the majority of Uzbekistan's border guards are both blind and deaf.

In any case, based on empirical evidence, it would seem that since the end of the Tajik civil war in 1997, the greatest threat to Tajikistan's security has, in fact, come not from Afghanistan, but from Uzbekistan. In addition to Col. Khudoiberdiev's 1998 attack on Leninobod, last fall Uzbek airplanes dropped bombs on several towns in eastern Tajikistan ostensibly in an attempt to help drive a group of insurgents out of southern Kyrgyzstan. Yet, none of the other Central Asian presidents voiced any concerns over Uzbekistan's aggressive tactics at the security summit in Tashkent, nor did any of them refer to the danger posed by the fact that Col. Khudoiberdiev is still at large on Uzbek territory. Perhaps the Russian government should also consider sending border guard reinforcements to the Tajik-Uzbek border.

by Monika Shepherd

Just who isn't getting the lesson here?

Well, Russia once again is expressing shock, outrage, and not a little bit of hurt because of recent statements made by Vaira Vike-Freiberga. In a BBC interview, the Latvian president voiced her concern over the foreign policy stance taken by Russia since Vladimir Putin's election, explaining that recent aggressive statements should serve as a warning that Russia might again use force against the Baltic states. (BBC World Service, 2255 GMT, 30 Apr 00; via In a speech during her visit to Estonia two days later, Vike-Freiberga amended her stand slightly, and said that, while the present Russian regime posed no direct military danger to the Baltic states, Moscow was seeking to regain its world power status. Moreover, she added, there remains a strong core of support for the restoration of the Soviet empire. (BALTIC NEWS SERVICE DAILY REPORT, 1600 GMT, 2 May 00)

Russia, itself a fountain of goodness and light, expressed its outrage immediately with a barrage of denials that it ever would consider such action. A statement issued by the Russian foreign ministry asserted that Russia "favors friendly, mutually beneficial relations with Latvia and is ready for such." Alas, the statement continues, Vike-Freiberga's statement "followed the worst Cold War traditions" due to a skewed perception. "Without putting forth any serious reasons -- and there can be none -- the president of the neighboring country decided to interpret Moscow's recently approved military doctrine in her own way," the ministry said, adding that the doctrine is purely defensive and not directed against other countries. (INTERFAX, 1714 GMT, 3 May 00; FBIS-SOV-2000-0503, via World News Connection) What an interesting thought.

Apparently definition of the word "defensive" depends on the language of the dictionary used. The doctrine, according to the text published recently in Nezavisimaya gazeta, indeed allows Russia to defend itself ... against such noteworthy enemies as any country that interferes in the Russian Federation's internal affairs or even tries to ignore the Russian Federation's interests in resolving international security problems, not to mention supporting the expansion of military blocs and alliances to the detriment of the Russian Federation's military security. (See Armed Forces section of THE NIS OBSERVED, above) Of course, earlier Russian definitions of interference in the country's internal affairs has included criticism of its indiscriminate bombing of Chechen civilians.

An Interfax analyst put another noteworthy spin on the controversy. Vike-Freiberga's comments were intended not only to gain entrance to NATO, but also to "make the West tone down its criticism of the country" for alleged "departures from international human rights standards." (INTERFAX, 1632 GMT, 3 May 00; FBIS-SOV-2000-0503, via World News Connection) It is a little more than slightly ironic that Russia would accuse another country of using a smokescreen to obscure human rights violations. Russia, we are told, isn't fooled by such tactics, and is taking a stand -- on principle -- to shun Latvia. Indeed, the chairman of the Russian Duma's committee on international affairs, Dmitri Rogozin, canceled a planned visit to Riga because of the controversy. (ITAR-TASS, 1535 GMT, 4 May 00; FBIS-SOV-2000-0504, via World News Connection)

Latvia isn't the only Baltic country feeling beleaguered by its eastern neighbor, either. Speaking in Riga at ceremonies to commemorate Latvia's 10 years of independence, Lithuanian Seimas speaker Vytautas Landsbergis declared his belief that Russia is exerting constant pressure on the Baltic region in order to regain its dominance of the region. (LITHUANIA RADIO, 1100 GMT, 5 May 00; BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, via lexis-nexis)

Certainly Estonian Prime Minister Mart Laar had the clearest and most succinct analysis of his country's dealings with its neighbor. "Relations with Russia have never been better," he said. "This means that we are not at war or occupied." (BNS, 1317 GMT, 5 May 00; FBIS-SOV-2000-0505, via World News Connection) Enough said.

And now for the good news...
Estonia seems to be well on its way into Western structures, according to external evaluations. The outgoing Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Wesley Clark, reported that Estonia is able to defend itself and is capable of meeting the tasks necessary for accession to NATO. However, all obstacles have not been overcome, the general noted. The government should continue to increase defense spending to at least two percent of GDP, he said, and focus more on military training. (BALTIC NEWS SERVICE DAILY REPORT, 1000 GMT, 2 May 00)

The subsequent day, another positive evaluation was received, this time from the IMF. A delegation headed by Peter Keller expressed its satisfaction with the way the government is fulfilling the terms of an economic policy memorandum. In fact, due to successful collection of budget revenues and stringent control over spending, Estonia ended up with a budget deficit smaller than the limit established by the memorandum. The IMF officials also were satisfied with government steps to privatize the railways and reform the pension system. (INTERFAX, 1721 GMT, 3 May 00; FBIS-SOV-2000-0503, via World News Connection) Indeed, the government has begun to investigate ways of disbanding the Privatization Agency, since the agency's work is close to completion. (BALTIC NEWS SERVICE DAILY REPORT, 1300 GMT, 3 May 00) And its budget for 2001-2004 takes into account the requirements for entry into both the European Union and NATO. Along the lines suggested by NATO, the proposed budget calls for a 26-percent increase in defense spending for next year, raising the level to 1.8 percent of GDP, with a further increase to 2 percent by 2002. Also included are additional funds to cover the coordination of the negotiation process with the EU and information exchanges with the union. (INTERFAX, 1640 GMT, 9 May 00; FBIS-SOV-2000-0509, via World News Connection)

Revolving door of government opens once again
A new government, which looks a lot like the old government but with a new leader, has taken the reins in Riga. Partisan bickering and conflicts over the privatization process sent Andris Skele packing after only nine months in the head post. The composition of the new government, led by Riga Mayor Andris Berzins, includes a coalition of Latvia's Way, People's Party, the New Party and Fatherland and Freedom, allowing for a stronger presence in parliament. Berzins determined that former prime ministers cannot hold seats in the cabinet, thereby excluding not only Skele but also Valdis Birkavs, who has served as both foreign affairs and justice minister. The motivation behind the ban was twofold: to avoid the bitter infighting of previous governments, and to reduce the influence by business interests on government actions. (DEUTSCHE PRESSE-AGENTUR, 1144 CET, 5 May 00; via lexis-nexis)

by Kate Martin

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