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The NIS Observed: An Analytical Review
Volume VI Number 6 (4 April 2001)

Russian Federation

Domestic Issues & Legislative Branch by Luba Schwartzman
Foreign Relations by Sarah K. Miller
Media by Maria Metcalf
Armed Forces by Richard Miller

Newly Independent States

Western Region by Tammy Lynch
Caucasus by Miriam Lanskoy
Central Asia by Lt Col James DeTemple
Baltic States by Kate Martin

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Volume I
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No. 3 (4 December 1996)
No. 2 (20 November 1996)
No. 1 (6 November 1996)

Untitled Document

RUSSIAN FEDERATION

DOMESTIC ISSUES & LEGISLATIVE BRANCH

SECURITY SERVICES

March madness?

In the aftermath of the 15 March hijacking of a Russian Vnukovo Airline Plane returning from Turkey (See THE NIS OBSERVED, 19 Mar 01), Sadettin Tanta and Vladimir Rushailo, the Turkish and Russian interior ministers, spoke over the phone: They discussed "ways of intensifying the struggle against all manifestations of international terrorism" and "agreed to exchanges of information and experts. (INTERFAX, 1333 GMT, 19 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0319, via World News Connection)



The Russians have also increased security in airports, railway stations and bus terminals. (INTERFAX, 1434 GMT, 19 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0319, via World News Connection) There are those, however, who doubt whether Russian security measures are effective in light of recent events. In the past two weeks there has been a spate of incidents which the Kremlin links to Chechen separatists.

 

Between 17 and 20 March ten civilians -- eight Russians and two Chechens -- were murdered in their homes in the Leninsky District of Grozny. The investigators of the local prosecutor's office claimed that fighters are "trying to scare city residents and destabilize the situation." (ITAR-TASS, 0631 GMT, 20 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0320, via World News Connection)

 

Eight more persons -- six Russians and two Georgians -- were killed by 23 March. (RIA, 0910 GMT, 23 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0323, via World News Connection)

 

On the next day three car bombs went off almost simultaneously in the Stavropol Region towns of Mineral'nyye Vody and Yessentyuki and in the Karachevo-Cherkessia village of Adyge-Khabl. Twenty-three persons were killed and more than 130 injured. On Monday, 26 March, a Day of Mourning for the Victims of the blast was held. (ITAR-TASS, 0830 GMT, 26 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0326, via World News Connection)

 

An earlier civilian reaction to the events was a roadblock of concrete blocks, burnt cars, tree trunks and vans with slogans like "Say no to murders, mopping-up operations, robbery and camps" and "Where are you, Chechnya's leaders, where is the mufti, where are the judges, because we are being killed with your consent." Hundreds of women guarded the 1.5-kilometer roadblock. (INTERFAX, 1307 GMT, 20 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0320, via World News Connection)

 

Other, non-fatal, explosions included a landmine hit by a vehicle in which four police officers were injured, a car bomb in Moscow that injured a father and daughter, and an explosion in a train near the Chechen city of Gudermes. (INTERFAX, 1111 GMT, 28 Mar 01, and RIA, 0533 GMT, 28 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0328, via World News Connection; and RIA, 0959 GMT, 29 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0329, via World News Connection)

 

In addition, according to the then-Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo, 61 bombings had been prevented "at the stage of planting explosive substances or explosive devices" between 19 and 26 March. (INTERFAX, 1248 GMT, 27 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0327, via World News Connection) There are rumors that recent events in Chechnya constituted one of the factors that led to Rushailo's replacement by Unity faction leader Boris Gryzlov.

 

To oversee the investigation and to help the victims and their families, a top-level anti-terrorist unit for "public security, post-crises rehabilitation and urgent assistance," was formed by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov on President Putin's order. On 26 March the group flew out to the Stavropol Territory where the terrorist attacks took place. Headed by FSB Director Nikolai Patrushev, the group includes Russian Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov, Deputy Interior Minister Ivan Golubev, Stavropol Governor Alexander Chernogorov, the Kremlin's envoy to the Southern Federal District, Viktor Kazantsev, Deputy Finance Minister Andrei Petrov, Deputy Director of the FSB German Ugryumov, and Health Minister Yuri Shevchenko. Investigation teams from the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Ministry of the Interior (MVD) as well as a special brigade of explosion experts have also been ordered to fly to the region. (INTERFAX, 1210 GMT, 24 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0324, via World News Connection; OFFICIAL KREMLIN INTERNATIONAL NEWS BROADCAST; 27 Mar 01; Federal News Service, via lexis-nexis; and ITAR-TASS, 1325 GMT, 26 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0326, via World News Connection)

 

There are several theories to explain the increased terrorist activity. General Ustinov suggested that "it's all about money. The gunmen need to prove that they have done work for it. It is no accident that they record everything on film -- to report back to those who pay them money." (ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA, 27 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0327, via World News Connection) Security Council Secretary Sergey Ivanov asserted at a briefing in Kaliningrad that "leaders of Chechen bandit formations" picked up their fighting because they have been "confronted with a coherent, predictable and clear-cut policy of the federal center." Presidential Aide Sergey Yastrzhembsky said that according to recent intelligence reports, rebels considered some retaliation after the arrest of Ruslan Akhmadov and Badrudi Murtazayev in Baku. (ITAR-TASS, 1442 GMT, 24 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0324, via World News Connection) Other federal military and security officials propose that rebels are reacting to the anticipated transfer of the Chechen administration to Grozny and also timing the "various acts of terrorism and sabotage to the coming May Day holidays." (INTERFAX, 1248 GMT, 27 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0327, via World News Connection) Finally, if the recent attacks constitute an intentional statement, they could also be related to the transfer of control over operations in Chechnya to the security services or to the mass graves recently found near two Chechen towns. (See THE NIS OBSERVED, 19 Mar 01)

 

Don't put off until tomorrow

In the meanwhile the security services will have a respite from participating in three of the more publicized court cases: The murder trial of Russian General Yuri Budanov, the "state treason" trial of military journalist Grigory Pasko, and the "espionage" trial against scientist Igor Sutyagin all have been postponed.

 

JUDICIARY

Judicial reform

Together with the repeated acclaims of the Chechen Republic's justice ministry and the decreased number of prisoners in Russia, there has been much discussion on the subject of judicial reform.

 

Full details of the proposed changes to be presented to the Duma in mid- to late-April have not been released, but putative items on the agenda, as related by Igor Artemev, deputy head of the YABLOKO faction who has worked on the proposal, would include: changes in the process of selecting judges, broadening rights of the defense, curtailing the power of the prosecutor's office, salary increases for judges, reconstruction of courthouses, and the introduction of jury trials to the 82 Russian Federation regions that currently do not have jury trials.

 

One important aspect of the prosecutor's power that has not been considered, according to Artemev, is the right to "conduct an investigation into a criminal case and at the same time supervise the observance of the law during the investigation." (THE MOSCOW TIMES, 28 Mar 01; via Johnson's Russia List)

 

FEDERAL ASSEMBLY

Loose lips lose memberships

Two deputies, Rafakh Abdul-Vahid Niyazov and Konstantin Svenarda, have been expelled from the ever-more-powerful Unity bloc of the Russian State Duma for speaking on behalf of the faction without the authorization of Unity leaders. According to faction head Boris Gryzlov, both had been warned, but continued to make unauthorized statements in order to pursue their own personal and commercial goals. (ITAR-TASS, 1420 GMT, 20 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0320, via World News Connection)

 

The two spots were still warm when Igor Lisinenko, vice president of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs and deputy head of the Duma property committee, as well as Vladimir Semenkov, deputy head of the Duma committee for public health and sports, were admitted to the Unity faction. Lisinenko previously was a representative of the Fatherland-All Russia bloc, and Semenkov had been elected to the Duma as a member of Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party bloc, but withdrew from that party three months ago to become an independent member of parliament. (ITAR-TASS, 1055 GMT, 22 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0322, via World News Connection)

 

Another change to the Unity bloc is expected shortly, when a replacement for Boris Gryzlov, current faction leader appointed interior minister on 28 March, is to be announced. (RIA, 0615 GMT, 29 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0329, via World News Connection)

 

 

by Luba Schwartzman

 

 

FOREIGN RELATIONS

US-Russian relations: cool winds are blowing

A chill in US-Russian relations has become more evident. In the latest diplomatic spat, the largest number of expulsions of "diplomats" from either side in recent years has been announced. This development, however, is just another manifestation of the cooling of US-Russian relations, which has become more apparent since January.

 

The most recent episode opened with the US announcement that 50 Russian "diplomats" would be expelled. This followed the Robert Hanssen spy case -- an FBI officer charged with over 15 years of spying for Russia. Moscow then announced the expulsion of 50 US diplomats from Russia. (THE BOSTON GLOBE, 24 Mar 01) At the same time, Presidents Bush and Putin expressed doubts that the spy spat would have a lasting effect on US-Russian relations. Putin said that he "didn't think the expulsions would cause further damage," while Bush said that he believed the US "can have good, strong relations with Russia." (AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, 25 Mar 01; via lexis-nexis) However, rhetoric cannot paper over the deepening fissure in US-Russian relations.

 

It is becoming clear increasingly that US-Russian relations are rough at best. After eight years of a "blanket engagement" strategy pursued by the Clinton administration, the administration is taking an independent and proactive approach to Russia based upon US interests. (See THE NIS OBSERVED, 14 Feb 01) Recognizing the various areas of contention between the US and Russia, the administration has begun to reevaluate relations with Russia, starting first with economic aid once lavished on the new "democratic" Russia. In a statement last week, Bush singled out the nuclear arms reduction program cooperation with Russia, saying, "We're reviewing all programs ... related to de-escalating potential nuclear problems... We want to make sure that any money is being spent in an effective way." (REUTERS, 30 Mar 01; via RussiaToday.com) The US has also voiced increasing concern about Russian arms sales to a variety of "rogue states," particularly Iran, and has expressed its misgivings about the Russian war against Chechnya.

 

In this vein, the spy spat is just another signal to Russia that Washington will undertake policies that protect US interests, especially on its own soil. This new approach came across in President Bush's statements following the Russian expulsions: "They'll just [have to] understand [that] my administration is one that takes firm positions when we think we're right." (AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, 25 Mar 01; via lexis-nexis)

 

Moscow now alleges that the US is painting Russia as the "evil empire" in an attempt to justify a more hawkish policy. In the wake of the expulsions and news of a secret US tunnel under the Russian embassy in Washington, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko claimed, in effect, that the expulsions were a political ploy to push through NMD. "Under strained relations, it is easier to deploy National Missile Defense," he commented. (ITAR-TASS, 24 Mar 01; via lexis-nexis) In Washington, however, Russian Ambassador Yuri Ushakov took the tunnel revelations in stride, suggesting "perhaps we could use it as a sauna." (INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE, 26 Mar 01; via lexis-nexis) All joking aside, it will require more than words to compose these and other differences.

 

Putin's European gambit: a forum for anti-American rhetoric

As the new US administration pledged a more independent policy, Russia sought engagement elsewhere. In recent weeks, Putin accepted an unprecedented invitation to the European Union summit in Stockholm, where he took advantage of the media spotlight to rebuff Western criticism of his domestic policies -- specifically regarding Chechnya -- and level accusations of his own against the US.

 

Although the meeting resulted in few concrete rewards, Putin used his half-day appearance to deepen Russian political and economic involvement with the EU. After months of international criticism of Russian actions in Chechnya, Putin used the visit to lobby the EU for increased economic cooperation. In exchange for his efforts, EU members agreed to drop import duties on some Russian metals as well as to extend Russia an $89 million loan for environmental cleanup. Regarding the EU's future, Putin expressed concern for Russian interests, especially in Kaliningrad, but said that expansion is an issue for EU countries to decide. (ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA, 24 Mar 01; FBIS-WEU-2001-0326, via World News Connection)

 

As Putin reached out to Europe on economic and trade issues, his tough, anti-US stance on strategic and European security issues never wavered. When commenting on the EU's -- and Russia's -- decision to pledge full political support to Macedonia, Putin compared the unfolding events in Macedonia to those in Chechnya, calling the Albanian separatists not just rebels, but terrorists. Putin attempted to legitimize his government's war in Chechnya by urging that tactics similar to those used against the Chechens be used in Macedonia. "They are terrorists, not rebels, and they must be dealt with in a robust manner or else they will create conditions that will leave Europe quaking in its boots," Putin argued. (THE WASHINGTON POST, 24 Mar 01; via lexis-nexis) Likewise, during his Balkan visit last week, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov also compared Macedonia to Chechnya, saying that the region is a "flashpoint of extremism and terrorism, not unlike Chechnya," and as a result, the "most important task will be to develop a reliable security system." (ITAR-TASS, 0214 GMT, 26 Mar 01; via lexis-nexis)

 

Putin also used the Stockholm setting to level his own set of accusations against Western -- read US -- involvement in the Balkans. Putin specifically criticized NATO for its failure to "disarm the terrorists" in the region. (THE WASHINGTON POST, 24 Mar 01; via lexis-nexis) In an article in Krasnaya zvezda, former Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev also accused the US of being directly responsible for the current fighting in Macedonia, saying that the present events "are a result of separatism encouraged... by US political and financial assistance to Albanian national extremist organizations." (KRASNAYA ZVEZDA, 26 Mar 01; via lexis-nexis)

 

While condemning the Albanian extremists, the West continues to urge restraint in Macedonia while ignoring Russian criticisms. In contrast to Moscow's calls for a military response to the rebels, US Secretary of State Colin Powell has counseled Macedonia to reach out to its ethnic Albanian minority, saying that the US and NATO "think that there is a way to deal with this that would not cause yet another Balkan war." (ASSOCIATED PRESS, 23 Mar 01; via lexis-nexis) Washington also has disregarded Russian criticism of last week's meeting in Washington with Chechen Foreign Minister Ilyas Akhmadov. In reaction to the meeting, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov spoke of Russia's "dim view" of US actions. (ITAR-TASS, 1305 GMT, 27 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0327, via World News Connection) The chairman of the Russian State Duma's International Affairs Committee, Dmitri Rogozin, however, said that "we have solid grounds to add the US to those who officially support terrorism." (INTERFAX, 0735 GMT, 27 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0327, via World News Connection)

 

While the spy spat may blow over soon, the poor state of US-Russian relations that it characterizes probably will not. Deep US-Russian differences -- over Iran, Iraq, China, North Korea, India, etc. -- seem to span the spectrum of international and bilateral issues. The Putin administration is taking its anti-American rhetoric across the globe in an apparent attempt to improve Russia's financial and diplomatic position and develop relations that might help balance US "hegemony." As a case in point, Putin's recent initiative in Europe served the dual purposes of increasing economic ties and giving Moscow an opportunity to voice its anti-American views on European security. The cool winds that began to blow across US-Russian relations towards the end of the Clinton administration have intensified and concern a much wider array of issues. In recent press reports, President Bush has suggested that future talks with Putin would be feasible, but, thus far, the sides have not agreed on any dates, either formal or informal, for such a meeting.

 

by Sarah K. Miller

 

 

MEDIA

April fool?

On 1 April, Novaya gazeta placed a message on its web page stating, "The Novaya gazeta server has been arrested and closed. When normal server functioning will resume is not known. Thank you for being with us." However, further investigation of the website produced a subsequent message: "April Fools." In order for such a joke to be successful, however, it has to be somewhat believable. Alas, its contents are all too credible:

 

1. On 13 March, The Moscow Times reported that Gazprom had decided to scrap a Media-MOST political daily, Segodnya. (See THE NIS OBSERVED, 19 Mar 01)

 

2. On 14 March, Communications Minister Leonid Reiman stated that the Kremlin was considering the establishment of a government monopoly on radio and TV broadcasting. Vremya MN reported that President Vladimir Putin is expected to issue a decree soon to establish a state enterprise that will broadcast radio and television signals. (RFE/RL NEWSLINE, 15 Mar 01)

 

3. On 17 March, the latest Public Opinion Foundation poll of 1,500 respondents from across Russia revealed that "57 percent of those surveyed said that censorship of the Russian mass media was needed," and "71 percent of the respondents said that there were socially important problems about which the media should remain silent." (Jamestown Foundation MONITOR, 23 Mar 01)

 

4. On 25 March, Norbert Strade, moderator of the Chechnya Shortlist, posted the following technical message through the reserve mailer for the Shortlist: "For a couple of weeks now there have been increasing problems with sending list messages to servers located in the Russian Federation." This has affected incoming mail to some humanitarian aid and human rights organizations.

 

5. In March Berezovsky took control of 75 percent of TV-6 after securing a 37.5-percent stake from metals tycoon Lev Chernoi; 9 of the 13 board members named were allies of Berezovsky. (THE MOSCOW TIMES, 2 Apr 01) Berezovsky reportedly "does not want to develop TV-6 into a network that opposes the government." (RFE/RL NEWSLINE, 30 Mar 01)

 

In general, there has been surprisingly little coverage of the Russian media in world news lately. This is noteworthy because the lack of coverage does not correspond to actual developments concerning Russian media during this period. Moscow Times has had some difficulties with its website and readers have been forced to obtain access to the newspaper through its Russia-based ".ru" web address rather than its ".com" address which is sited beyond Moscow's reach. Moreover, there is only ominous silence regarding any possible deal between the Turner investment consortium and Gazprom for Western investment in Media-MOST (the media company's only chance for survival). At this point, it seems obvious that the potential deal has evaporated somewhere along the way, and, for political reasons, no one is willing to post an obituary. If an issue is ignored for a long enough time, the expectation is that it will be forgotten.

 

As intimated in a previous issue of The NIS Observed, not only did the authorities fail to charge Boris Berezovsky in absentia concerning the Aeroflot embezzlement case, but he is now in control of TV-6, which reportedly aims to replace NTV as the third-most-watched television station in Russia. Igor Shabdurasulov, former deputy head of the presidential administration, was elected chairman of the TV-6 board of directors. This comes after Berezovsky claimed that he wished to save Media-MOST and to preserve press freedoms. Had Berezovsky marched in the 31 March Russian Rally of Free Speech Defenders, that might have constituted a "pre-April 1" joke. Mikhail Gorbachev was supposed to participate in the rally (of course he didn't); perhaps he felt that this would have been too much of a comedy. The rally itself seemed to be an ironic farewell to Media-MOST, funded by Media-MOST, complete with rock music and balloons. If Media-MOST should survive, it will be in name only and not in the spirit of independent television. The Russian press minister, Mikhail Lesin, said in an interview that, because the poorly financed Russian media companies "lack investments, they have to rely on politicians and people who pay them." (THE BOSTON GLOBE, 18 Mar 2001) Media-MOST won't obtain the private investment that would ensure its independence -- that much seems clear at this point.

 

It is all the more ominous that Putin has been changing and is continuing to change key personnel by replacing Yel'tsin-era members with FSB-affiliated individuals (in order "to hasten reform," and centralize government) at the very time when the vital signs of free media are fading. That is no joke.

 

by Maria Metcalf

 

 

ARMED FORCES

Sergeev out... but what came in?

On 28 March, President Putin dismissed Marshal Igor Sergeev as defense minister and several other senior officials in the Russian defense and security apparatus. On the surface, various government spokesmen and papers have indicated that this was a logical step in the ongoing reform efforts and a move in the right direction towards "demilitarizing" Russian society. However, upon further examination, it is clear that the stage may be set now for placing the blame concerning continuing setbacks in Chechnya. This is likely to consist of finger pointing and further dismissals. Moreover, the apparent takeover of professional military leadership positions by former security officers with strong personal loyalties to Putin does not bode well for pluralistic development in the "power" apparatus, despite the touted "civilianization" of the defense minister post.

 

Summary of the changes in the defense/security establishment

In the key leadership positions, the following changes took place:

**Igor Sergeev retires from the military and the post of defense minister; he remains a "presidential aide," presumably in an advisory capacity only;

**Sergei Ivanov (FSB) moves from the post of Security Council secretary to the position of defense minister;

**Vladimir Rushailo moves from the post of interior minister to replace Ivanov as Security Council secretary;

**Boris Gryzlov, Unity Party parliamentary leader, becomes interior minister;

**Vladimir Vasilev is named deputy interior minister.

 

In other positions, the following appointments were made:

**LtGen Aleksei Moskovsky (FSB) moves together with Ivanov, from deputy secretary of the Security Council to deputy defense minister;

**Vyacheslav Soltaganov is transferred from tax police chief to deputy secretary of the Security Council. Mikhail Fradkov becomes the new tax police chief;

**Igor Puzanov leaves the command of the Moscow Military District to become a deputy defense minister;

**Lyubov Kudelina moves from deputy finance minister to deputy defense minister. Her appointment apparently is meant to try to bring further fiscal discipline to the armed services. Any progress that she can make in routing out financial corruption and widespread embezzlement of defense funds will be a needed change. As the first woman appointed into the traditional all-male bastion of defense leadership, her challenge to make headway may be difficult to meet. Either way, true reform efforts will require greater funding levels, not just better accountability of the already scarce funds.

 

The Apparent Winners

Boris Gryzlov: A relative unknown except for his complete devotion to the president, he moves from relative obscurity to assume the powerful position of interior minister.

 

Sergei Ivanov: With the new assignment and assumption of responsibility for military reform (moved from the Security Council to the defense ministry) while Chechen policy is shifted to the Security Council, he is isolated from what is certain to be further fallout from the deteriorating situation in the North Caucasus. Putin now has a man in charge of the military completely loyal to him and greater FSB influence throughout the state security apparatuses.

 

Definite and potential losers

Igor Sergeev: Once he was granted his third one-year extension past retirement age as defense minister, Sergeev's future was the subject of much debate over the past year. Disputes over military reform with Chief of the General Staff Anatoly Kvashnin, the military disasters of the Kursk incident and continued problems in Chechnya had all given rise to rumors of Sergeev's possible replacement. These assumptions were given further weight by indications in October that the Security Council favored conventional over strategic forces -- again in contrast to Sergeev's position. Despite these factors, beginning in late November, Sergeev suddenly became the point man in Russia's foreign policy initiatives through arms sales around the world. For nearly four months, via international trips followed by reciprocal visits, he met with defense officials and foreign leaders to lay the groundwork for arms sales to bolster a flagging Russian arms industry. However, by mid-March there was a hint he might be on the way out when it was announced that he had not requested further extension of his tour of duty. His replacement now appears to be honoring the rumored agreement between Yel'tsin and Putin during the presidential turnover not to change "power ministry" appointments for at least a year -- Sergeev's dismissal and the chain reaction of other appointments occurred on the first anniversary of Putin's election victory.

 

The Strategic Rocket Forces (SRF): With Sergeev's departure, the SRF may be a loser in the upcoming military reform efforts and the subsequent final decisions on how to structure the military. The SRF's champion in last summer's conventional forces vs. strategic forces debate was Sergeev, a former SRF commander himself. Much already has been written about the putative absorption of the SRF and Air Defense Forces into the Ground and Air Forces, thereby creating a Russian defense structure centered on three main components (Army, Navy, Air Force). This approach now can gain more momentum, although a fourth "service" in the form of a newly established Space Force appears to be taking shape.

 

Vladimir Rushailo: Although Putin emphasized the importance of his new role, Rushailo loses a "power" minister's post to take over what seems likely to be a weakened Security Council. Much of the Security Council secretary's power under Ivanov appeared to come from his close, personal ties to the president. The important job of military reform, begun in the Security Council under Ivanov, is now shifting to the Ministry of Defense with Ivanov. The Security Council apparently will assume a diminished role overall in defense matters; however, according to Putin, its attention will be focused on solving the issues in the North Caucasus. (INTERFAX DAILY FINANCIAL REPORT, 1629 GMT, 29 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0329, via World News Connection) Given recent press criticism and falling public polls concerning the Chechen situation, isolating his loyal supporters from blame and establishing a future "fall guy" may be the motivations behind Putin's darkhorse appointment of Rushailo. Since the latter is a holdover from the Yel'tsin "family" with reported ties to media and oil oligarchs, Chechnya may serve as the "whip" to keep him in line or, if necessary, to oust him.

 

Defense Reform Tailored for Real Security Threats: Past rhetoric and announced plans by Ivanov concerning military reform still leave the question whether he has a truly strategic vision of Russian defense needs. Ivanov has emphasized that he will exercise sole direction of the armed forces and that the chief of staff, General Kvashnin, will work through him rather than continue to have direct access to the president. However, Ivanov does not bring with him a lifelong commitment of working in the defense arena and the consequent knowledge required for thorough reform. Certainly, a long-serving Duma defense committee member or other such civilian with significant understanding of military issues would be a better choice genuinely to "civilianize" the position of defense minister. What Ivanov does bring is a security service background and strong loyalty to Putin. He also brings as his deputy Aleksei Moskovsky who, like Ivanov, has a security services background. Putin claims that, "as you see, in key positions in military bodies, civilians are appearing. This has been done deliberately. It is a step towards the demilitarization of Russian society." (RFE/RL NEWSLINE, 29 Mar 01) What Putin really has done is consolidate his grip on power and strengthen further FSB control over the "power" ministries, probably at the expense of true military reform. To facilitate these goals, in Ivanov Putin has picked the right man.

 

by Richard Miller

NEWLY INDEPENDENT STATES

WESTERN REGION

UKRAINE

The making of a martyr

When Yulia Tymoshenko was arrested on charges of tax evasion and bribery shortly after helping to create the anti-presidential National Salvation Forum (NSF), she became a rallying point for those attempting to remove President Leonid Kuchma from power. Although most admit that many charges against her may be true, Tymoshenko's arrest was viewed as an attack by Kuchma on one of his most vocal rivals.

 

The opposition, which had been demanding the president's resignation since he was implicated in the death of journalist Georgy Gongadze, finally had a martyr. Opposition members suggested (perhaps correctly, perhaps not) that the former deputy prime minister was being mistreated in custody, and was physically weak and in pain. Suddenly, Tymoshenko's limited political and popular support jumped. Protesters began chanting her name at demonstrations, Western organizations pushed for her release, and the NSF quickly became the primary opposition organization in the country. Other leaders of her group suggested that the arrest would "increase the resolution of the opposition," and called it "a huge political mistake." (EASTERN ECONOMIST DAILY, 15 Feb 01; via lexis-nexis)

 

Despite these comments, Kuchma managed to weather the protests following his rival's arrest. Lately, it has seemed as if he would also outlast his opposition, perhaps even using its disorganization and fragmentation to further consolidate his power.

 

However, on 26 March, Kyiv's Pechersky District Court suddenly stood up to Kuchma's pressure and ordered Tymoshenko released. The court simply could find no reason to keep her detained in solitary confinement until her trial.

 

For the next several days, the former deputy prime minister picked up where she left off when she was arrested on 13 February. From the hospital room where she was "recovering from her prison stay," she met with opposition leaders, Ukraine's representative to the Council of Europe, members of the press and Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko.

 

In her meeting with several journalists, Tymoshenko criticized the idea of roundtable talks between the president and opposition members and suggested that only Kuchma's resignation would solve the country's political crisis. She emphasized the necessity for all opposition parties to put aside their differences and unite in order to accomplish this goal. "For this brief period," she said, "we must work out a single common course and start using our ideology only when we take part in democratic presidential and parliamentary elections." (INTERFAX, 30 Mar 01; via lexis-nexis)

 

Perhaps most important for its likely impact, Tymoshenko also strongly praised Prime Minister Yushchenko, who faces a possible vote of no-confidence in the parliament in April. If he were to lose that vote, it is probable that a much less reformist and more left-leaning government would follow. But Tymoshenko's praise for Yushchenko was unqualified and will probably help him retain his position. She suggested the prime minister "is one of the most promising leaders in Ukraine" and "a worthy candidate" in the country's next presidential elections, whether they be held in 2004 as scheduled or earlier. She also named Oleksandr Moroz, Socialist Party leader and the man who released the "Gongadze tapes," as another promising candidate. For her part, Tymoshenko promised to organize the opposition into an effective, consolidated force "in order to ensure early presidential elections."

 

These statements were obviously too much for Kuchma and his allies to bear. On 30 March, Tymoshenko was re-arrested, after a Kyiv City Court somehow annulled the district court's ruling. Although Tymoshenko was allowed to remain at the clinic where she was being treated, fellow Batkivshchina Party member Oleksandr Turchinov complained that "the entire floor" had been blocked off by police, and that she was allowed no visitors, including a lawyer. (INTERFAX, 31 Mar 01; via lexis-nexis)

 

So now, Yulia Tymoshenko's elevation to martyr is nearly complete. Even Prime Minister Yushchenko is no longer hiding his dismay at the treatment of his former deputy. The arrest, he said, is a "demonstration of force and a disappointing episode, which suspends negotiations between the opposition and the authorities about the way to overcome the political crisis.... It is difficult to carry out negotiations when a side is behind bars." (ITAR-TASS, 1 Apr 01; via lexis-nexis)

 

Tymoshenko's fellow opposition members at first seemed stunned by the arbitrariness of the act, but now vow to stop all discussions and step up their actions against Kuchma. "This is precisely the authorities' answer concerning the way it wants the talks to be held, and there will be an attempt to settle the situation in Ukraine forcefully," Turchinov said, adding, "Starting next week, new mass rallies." (INTERFAX, 31 Mar 01; via lexis-nexis) And very possibly new violence, as the opposition begins a new round of demonstrations -- demonstrations held, of course, in the name of Yulia.

 

MOLDOVA

Will Russia finally get its 'peacekeeping' reward?

A funny thing happened on the way to the new Communist government in Moldova -- Russia began making Dniestr negotiations a priority. Moscow's representatives stepped up criticism of Dniestr authorities and praise of Chisinau. They began suggesting that Tiraspol was the primary cause of the failure to reach a settlement, and they began claiming that a settlement could be reached in as little as six weeks -- if Tiraspol did not get in the way.

 

While Russia's use of "uncooperative" Tiraspol leaders as an excuse for not fulfilling agreements to remove troops and weapons from Dniestr is nothing new, the current rhetoric differs from previous versions in two ways. First, Russia's latest statements criticize Tiraspol for standing in the way of the settlement of the entire Dniestr question, but barely make any mention of troop or weapons removal. Second, the vitriolic level of the rhetoric is almost demonizing in its effect. In past statements, Russia has taken care not to alienate Dniestr authorities completely. Seemingly this is no longer the case, which suggests that an agreement between Communist Party President Vladimir Voronin and Russian representatives may have been reached.

 

On 22 March, Boris Pastukhov, the head of the Russian Duma committee for CIS relations, announced, "We have noticed that Chisinau is ready to reach an understanding [to resolve the Dniestr issue]," but slammed Tiraspol officials for wanting the "preservation of the current state of the conflict." He added, "They are kings in this kingdom, where neither law nor good breeding exists," and said Russia would "no longer tolerate . . . the folly, incompetence, impudence [of those who delay the negotiation process]." He also sharply criticized Dniestr officials for not destroying "their" weapons. (BESAPRESS, 1800 GMT, 22 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0322, via World News Connection)

 

The Moldovan Communist Party newspaper followed up on Pastukhov's visit with a revealing article suggesting the need for Russian troops to remain in Dniestr. The Kommunist said, "In the interest of our state, we should look again at the old position of intransigence to the presence of a limited number of Russian troops on our territory." It continued, "Our proclaimed neutrality is no use for guaranteeing our security, and we should be no exception to the rule if we ended up between two hostile groups." (REUTERS, 30 Mar 01; via Russia Today)

 

It appears, therefore, that Moscow and Chisinau are preparing for an announcement suggesting that the unpredictability of Tiraspol officials, combined with their refusal to cooperate with agreements for weapons destruction, necessitates the need for Russian peacekeepers in the Transdniestr area. Consequently, the 2,000 or so troops currently stationed there will remain, but under the auspices of the CIS Collective Security Treaty. In this way, the announcement will suggest, not only Moldova's internal stability, but also her external security, will be ensured. Of course, the fact that no country except Russia has shown any interest in controlling Moldovan territory is not likely to be discussed.

 

It would not be surprising if such an agreement were signed shortly after Yevgeny Primakov's anticipated arrival in Moldova around mid-April. Sadly, that agreement would signal a sharp decrease, if not an end, to Moldova's Western orientation, and perhaps also to its involvement in GUUAM, and would make the country little more than a Russian satellite. It should be noted, however, that had Russia been forced by international organizations to live up to previous promises to withdraw its troops, there would be no troops on Moldovan territory today and no question of them remaining. The Russians' patience easily surpassed the combined will of the international community, and it appears they will soon be rewarded for it. There is a lesson in that somewhere. (For background on Russian promises to withdraw from Moldova, see BEHIND THE BREAKING NEWS, Vol. 1, No. 4; www.bu.edu/iscip.)

 

by Tammy Lynch

 

 

CAUCASUS

CHECHNYA

How it all began

In the beginning there was an acronym (FSK) and it was bad. It seems to be responsible for the bungled coup attempt against Chechnya's President Dzhokhar Dudaev in November 1994, which made war with Chechnya a certainty. (See THE NIS OBSERVED, 10 May 99) The person most responsible for elaborating that colossal failure was Sergei Stepashin, the director of the FSK (renamed FSB), and a close ally of President Putin. Now Stepashin heads the Accounting Chamber. However, many accounts of the war don't start with the bungled covert operation in November 1994, but with the tragic December invasion. And for that the blame goes to Defense Minister Pavel Grachev.

 

In a recent interview Grachev tried to clear his name and pass the blame to former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. (TRUD, 15 Mar 01) This attempt is not entirely convincing but it does contain some interesting comments about the circumstances in which the war was hatched.

 

In the interview Grachev insists that, after his advice to send paratroopers into Chechnya in 1991 was not heeded, he was no longer privy to the upper-level decision making on relations with Chechnya. He repeatedly insists that the top circles favored political means and that "Yel'tsin had put everything into [Prime Minister Yegor] Gaidar's and then [Prime Minister Viktor] Chernomyrdin's hands." But he also says that, even in the earliest period, "The leaders of the government and those close to Yel'tsin thought that serious negotiations with Chechen leaders would be demeaning, to put it mildly. Although I know that Dudaev himself really wanted to meet with Yel'tsin or with Gaidar." According to Grachev, there was no overarching coordinated policy; each ministry had its own plans. "The FSB had its own goals, of which I, as the defense minister, knew nothing. The army was supposed to be involved only to help the border guards to block the border with the rebel republic."

 

The Russian leadership apparently had committed itself very early to resolving the crisis with Chechnya by blockading the republic, thereby provoking a revolt which would unseat Dudaev. "It was said at the time: If we close off all the lifelines to the republic, even to the point of starving the population, then the ordinary Chechens will understand where the regime is going and will overthrow it themselves. And this was quite in earnest, since there were parallel attempts to find a leader to replace Dudaev and lead the Chechens. Until 1993 Khasbulatov's candidacy was discussed, and then there was only one name, Doku Zavgaev. He was the former party leader of the republic and he was being readied for the leadership role."

 

A blockade was indeed imposed on Chechnya in 1994, but a popular revolt was slow in coming and the FSK (FSB) began to lose patience. "I only guessed that some kind of force measure was being prepared, under the wing of the FSB. Then a representative of our ministry had to be appointed to the coordinating body. The head of the General Staff, Mikhail Ivanovich Kolesnikov, became that representative. All that was asked of us was some equipment and volunteers to help the border guards and the FSB. I categorically forbade Kolesnikov to get draftees involved in this operation. But they were not needed. Many warrant officers (praporschiki) of the Taman and Kantemirov Divisions agreed to participate in the operation since they would get paid." Grachev does not mention that the nature of the operation was not revealed to the volunteers and that their identification was taken away. When Dudaev's forces captured 70 Russian servicemen in the middle of Grozny in November 1994, Grachev initially denied that they were his men.

 

This debacle prompted the (Russian) Security Council meetings of 28 and 29 November 1994 where the fateful decision to undertake a full-scale invasion of Chechnya was sealed. According to Grachev, Nikolai Yegorov and especially Viktor Chernomyrdin spoke in favor of invasion and accused Grachev of cowardice for his opposition to the idea. In this, Grachev's account sharply contrasts previously available accounts, which suggest that all the participants endorsed the decision which was made prior to the meeting. According to another Security Council meeting participant, Justice Minister Yuri Kalmykov (who opposed the invasion and was forced to resign), the Security Council members voted on the documents authorizing the invasion before any discussion was held. [John Dunlop, RUSSIA CONFRONTS CHECHNYA: ROOTS OF A SEPARATIST CONFLICT (Cambridge University Press: 1998), p. 207]

 

Similarly, a recent publication authored by several former staff members of the Yel'tsin administration (including Yel'tsin aide and Defense Council Secretary Yuri Baturin) who rely on detailed logs of Kremlin appointments, shows that Yel'tsin had reached the decision before the meeting and removed those who opposed the invasion from the decision-making process. (NOVAYA GAZETA, 26 Feb 01) On 28 November the text of Yel'tsin's ultimatum calling on the Chechens to lay down their arms was authored in consultation with Chernomyrdin, Ivan Rybkin, Oleg Lobov, Yegorov, Viktor Yerin, and Stepashin. On 29 November Yel'tsin met with Chernomyrdin for three hours. Then he saw Sergei Filatov, who proposed a draft decree instituting a state of emergency in Chechnya and bringing in interior troops, which was rejected. Then the president saw Baturin, who opposed the invasion. This suggests that the Security Council meeting that evening formalized a decision which had been made at an earlier date through a process that remains inscrutable.

 

In the interview with Trud, Grachev misrepresents the nature and the significance of the discussion at the Security Council and Chernomyrdin's role in the proceedings. According to Baturin's account, which appeared in Novaya gazeta, Chernomyrdin sought a peaceful solution as late as 16 December by declaring his willingness to hold talks with Dudaev. This accords with another account by a Federation Council deputy, Viktor Kyrochkin, who describes talks he held with Dudaev and Chernomyrdin's representative, Nikolai Semenov, in early March 1995. They reached an agreement on a cease-fire and commencement of negotiations while postponing the question of Chechnya's status. The agreement was signed by Semenov and Dudaev and had the consent of the Chechen field commanders. When Yel'tsin failed to endorse the agreement, Chernomyrdin disavowed it also. [Viktor Kyrochkin, MISSION TO CHECHNYA (Moscow: 1997), pp. 60-72] Kyrochkin comments that in March the commanders would have accepted almost any terms; they didn't even ask for a complete withdrawal of Russian forces. It was early in the war, Grozny had fallen, but the field commanders still had families. The slaughter of civilians in the countryside came in April and made future talks far more problematic.

 

In July 1995, when Shamil Basaev raided a hospital in Budennovsk, Chernomyrdin promised peace talks in return for hostages. The ensuing talks and cease-fire lasted three months, and some in the military have blamed their subsequent defeat on this interruption in the campaign which gave the Chechen resistance an opportunity to regroup. Although Grachev's contention that he was not among the top circle of advisers pushing Yel'tsin to war seems highly plausible, he would be far more convincing if he passed the blame to one of the known hawks -- Yegorov, Shakhrai, Yerin, or Stepashin.

 

by Miriam Lanskoy

 

CENTRAL ASIA

Kazakhstan: Export route for Caspian oil to Europe via Russia

The Caspian region and its potentially vast energy resources are high on Russia's strategic agenda. Two oil fields in Kazakhstan -- Tengiz and Kashagan -- have been the foci of recent international endeavors with political as well as economic ramifications. On 26 March, Kazakhstan and Russia opened a 1,580-km pipeline transporting oil from the Caspian basin to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiisk, increasing Russia's geopolitical and economic leverage in the region. Offsetting that, however, was Kazakhstan's decision to sign on also to plans for the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which Russia opposes.

 

The $2.3-billion Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) project will provide a key export route for Kazakhstan's onshore Tengiz oil field, and is the first of its kind in the region. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister of Fuel and Energy Vladimir Stanev said "participation of Russia and Kazakhstan in the project confirms our joint strategic commitment to the creation of a balanced and mutually beneficial system for the development and use of the Caspian resources." (ITAR-TASS, 1411 GMT, 26 Mar 01; via lexis-nexis) Indeed, Russia is doing whatever it can to consolidate its economic ties and strengthen its "strategic partnership" with Kazakhstan, the key to Russian Caspian policy due to its geographic location and vast energy resources.

 

Kazakhstan produces approximately 400,000 barrels per day and is the second largest oil producer after Russia among the former Soviet states. Tengiz purportedly contains between 6 and 9 billion barrels of crude oil. (ENERGY OVERVIEW OF KAZAKHSTAN; via www.fe.doe.gov) It will take approximately 100 days for the oil to fill the pipeline and reach Novorossiisk, where the first tanker will be loaded in June. Chevron, which has a 15-percent stake in the CPC pipeline, said the line would transport Tengiz crude as well as oil from other Kazakh and Russian oil fields. Initially the pipeline will transport 560,000 barrels per day and ultimately will be capable of exporting 1.5 million barrels per day of crude oil. (AFX NEWS, 26 Mar 01; via lexis-nexis) Russia and Kazakhstan are the main shareholders of the CPC pipeline. Other shareholders include various West European and Central Asian entities. (FINANCIAL TIMES, 26 Mar 01) Nurlan Balgimbaev, president of Kazakhoil, said, "The pipeline connects Kazakhstan to Europe through Russia. I hope this is the first of several pipelines that Kazakhstan needs." (AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, 26 Mar 01; via lexis-nexis)

 

The landlocked Caspian states are not depending solely on ventures with Russia, however; they clearly endorse multiple transport corridors for exporting their energy resources. The United States is lobbying heavily for the $2.5-billion Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline and is relying on Kazakhstan's oil to ensure the profitability of the east-west transit corridor. (See THE NIS OBSERVED, 17 Jan 01) On 1 March, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and the United States signed a memorandum of understanding in Kazakhstan's capital Astana on the planned 1,730-km pipeline. The memorandum of understanding represents a watershed by providing the framework for Kazakhstan to join the project and export Kazakh oil to world markets via the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan route. (ANATOLIA, 1344 GMT, 1 Mar 01; FBIS-WEU-2001-0301, via World News Connection)

 

Elizabeth Jones, America's envoy to the Caspian and former ambassador to Kazakhstan, reported that Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbaev fully supports the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline and has guaranteed that the first Kazakh oil from the offshore Kashagan field on the Caspian shelf will be transported via that pipeline route. (INTERFAX, 2 Mar 01; via lexis-nexis) Kashagan, a recent discovery that could make Kazakhstan one of the world's leading oil producers, could hold 50 billion barrels of oil, making it the second largest oil field after Saudi Arabia's Ghawar oil field, which contains 70 billion barrels of oil. (CASPIAN CROSSROADS, Summer/Fall 2000) Kashagan and the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline are due to start operations in 2004-2005. (AFX NEWS, 2 Mar 01; via lexis-nexis) Unquestionably, Western energy security depends on increasing access to energy resources outside the Middle East, such as the Caspian region, and establishing energy transport corridors that bypass Iran and Russia.

 

Russia may be softening its hard-line position on the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan route. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Viktor Kalyuzhny, Russia's envoy to the Caspian, recently downplayed any conflict with the planned energy corridor through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, saying it would not affect Russian interests. (RFE/RL NEWSLINE, 6 Mar 01)

 

Additionally, the CPC pipeline does not possess the capacity for all the Caspian oil that could be produced in the future. While Russia has criticized openly the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, Russian oil companies have not displayed any such hostility. In fact, Russian oil companies such as LUKoil and Gazprom may also use the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline if they discover more oil in the Caspian basin. More importantly, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline would lessen the Caspian states' heavy dependence on Russia for transport routes. (THE ECONOMIST, 10 Mar 01)

 

Although Russia, which still regards the Caspian region as its sphere of influence, certainly has gained a competitive edge in controlling Caspian energy resources, historical ties and the CPC pipeline do not preclude de facto development of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan route. Kazakhstan's willingness to foster relations with both Russia and the West signals the country's awareness of its opportunities.

 

by LtCol James DeTemple

 

 

BALTIC STATES

Kin 'grievances' for Russian domestic consumption

The Russian administration once more has decried the allegedly dismal plight of Russians in the Baltic states, primarily for Russian domestic consumption. However, the expressions of concern have allowed glimpses into a kinder, gentler Vladimir Putin, who has ratcheted down the rhetoric concerning actions Russia will take to effect change. One can assume that the international community's refusal to accept earlier rants about the Baltic states (or the premises of those complaints in the face of refutations by numerous agencies) may have shown Russia that the West does not believe in Moscow's tears.

 

Now, the tactic appears to be a propaganda war of attrition. Clearly hoping that repetition of time-worn charges still might result in acceptance of those charges, at least on the domestic front, Russia's Deputy Minister for Labor and Social Development, Galina Karelova, used the 45th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women as a springboard to explain the gender issues of purported discrimination. While it took some verbal gymnastics, the deputy minister managed to link charges of such discrimination with the purpose of her trip to New York. Speaking to Itar-Tass, Karelova claimed that in the Baltic states "manifestations of anti-Russian moods can be seen at all the levels of public and economic life." She said that almost one million persons have suffered from systematic discrimination, including an absence of citizenship, which she described as one of the "shrewdest forms of xenophobia and ethnic discrimination," which "women are practically the first to suffer from." (ITAR-TASS, 0936 GMT, 14 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0314, via World News Connection) Alas, while Karelova proved adept at connecting some heretofore-unconnected dots, she was incapable of connecting others, specifically meeting citizenship requirements and obtaining citizenship. Perhaps it's too obvious.

 

Her boss also expressed concern, in an interview with Russian newspapers, that "relations with the Russian-speaking population are especially difficult in some of [the Baltic] countries." "They even invented a new term there: non-citizens. There are 600,000 such 'non-citizens' in Latvia. This is a matter of special concern and anxiety for us," Putin added. He was quick to tame any incendiary sparks that might result from Russia's outrage, however. "It would be in the interests of our compatriots in those countries, if we avoided confrontation... We should defend the interests of the Russian-speaking population patiently and persistently. I repeat once again that this should be done in the civilized process of a dialogue." (ITAR-TASS, 0735 GMT, 22 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0322, via World News Connection) And, if patience and persistence don't work, there's always the nuclear option -- at least according to Sergei Ivanov, former secretary of Russia's Security Council and now Minister of Defense. Asserting that tactical nuclear weapons have not been deployed in the Kaliningrad enclave -- yet -- Ivanov explained that Moscow "has not made an agreement with the international community not to deploy" such weapons there in the future. (AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, 1833 GMT, 25 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0325, via World News Connection)

 

Although the international community has not swallowed Moscow's line completely, recommendations continue to spew forth concerning easing the assimilation process. The European Union, while supporting Estonia's work toward domestic integration of ethnic minorities, recently pointed out a few areas to which Estonia should pay more attention. Primarily these concern the use of the official language in the private sector and linguistic requirements for electoral candidates. (BNS, 1442 GMT, 16 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0316, via World News Connection) Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) High Commissioner for Ethnic Minorities Max van der Stoel also submitted some recommendations to Latvia regarding the level of bureaucracy attached to language proficiency examinations. (BNS, 1717 GMT, 22 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0322, via World News Connection) Van der Stoel also said that using the required State Language Center proficiency certificate as the only accepted proof of fluency should be reconsidered. (LETA, 0737 GMT, 23 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0323, via World News Connection)

 

Certainly the language barrier won't be breached any time soon in Estonia. A Center Party bill proposing that the State Chancellery have all laws and government regulations translated into Russian failed in the first reading and has been dropped from parliament's agenda. (BNS, 1910 GMT, 21 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0321, via World News Connection)

 

To build or not to build

Anticipating a favorable outcome to the 2002 NATO summit, two of the three Baltic states have been discussing -- publicly -- whether NATO bases will appear on their territory. The verdict depends in part on geography and existing relations.

 

One of the two states which have continued to be the focus of Russian rhetoric is relying on the NATO alliance to help secure the country's future and, therefore, is more than willing to make concessions that would add to that security. Thus, Estonian Defense Forces Commander Rear Admiral Tarmo Kouts said his country may permit NATO to build military bases on its territory once the country enters the alliance. Dismissing Russian warnings of deteriorating relations, Kouts said similar fears, expressed before Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic joined NATO, proved groundless. "Estonia doesn't regard Russia as its enemy, since it sees an enemy only in those who seek to attack its independence," Kouts said. (BNS, 1805 GMT, 19 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0319, via World News Connection) Clearly he, too, saw the kinder, gentler Putin emerging in the neighboring country.

 

On the other hand, Lithuania -- betwixt and between Russia and its Kaliningrad enclave (where there may or may not be tactical nuclear weapons... yet) -- is not as sanguine about the possibility of hosting NATO military bases. Indeed, President Valdas Adamkus said that, if Lithuania is admitted to NATO, "there will be no military bases and divisions of the alliance on its territory." Asserting, as Baltic statesmen do, that NATO expansion would not pose a threat to Russia, Adamkus offered a motive for a complete Russian turnaround on the subject of enlargement. By joining NATO, he said, Lithuania "could become a bridge of goodwill and trust between NATO and Russia." (ITAR-TASS, 0951 GMT, 23 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0324, via World News Connection)

 

LITHUANIA

The issue of transit

While not assuming that Baltic accession to NATO is a given, the Lithuanian and Russian presidents did work on the assumption that the Baltic path to the European Union will be smooth. The meeting of the presidents last week in Moscow focused primarily on Kaliningrad's future after Lithuanian joins the EU. That focus came as no surprise; during the planning stage for the get-together, Russian negotiators made clear that some subjects were acceptable, and others were not. The latter category included Lithuanian claims for compensation for damage inflicted during the Soviet occupation, which the current leadership in Lithuania inherited, much to its chagrin, with a referendum-based mandate.

 

In the leadup to the meeting, Adamkus made it quite clear that he was not interested in anything but the maintenance of "friendly and even exemplary" relations with Russia. "There is no confrontation and no such issues upon which we are not willing to agree," he said. (RIA, 0826 GMT, 23 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0323, via World News Connection) And, true to form, agreement reportedly was reached on some issues concerning movement of persons and military equipment between Kaliningrad and Russia. While few details have emerged, Moscow seems to have been assured that EU frontiers should serve as no barrier affecting access to its enclave. "I don't think there are any acute problems between Lithuania and the Kaliningrad region. We have found answers, though not all of them. But still, we have achieved good progress," Valdas Adamkus said after the meeting. Kaliningrad's future is linked "to the expansion of the European Union, to those processes which are taking place in Europe and in which Lithuania has become very actively involved," he said. (INTERFAX, 31 Mar 01; via lexis-nexis)

by Kate Martin




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