The NIS Observed: An Analytical Review
Volume VI, Number 9 (23 May 2001)
Cult of Putinality?
The "youth for Putin" crowd is back, and this time their numbers
are swelling thanks to the costly inducements of free pagers, movie passes,
Internet access, and t-shirts bearing a large, smiling picture of President
Putin. (AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, 0730 PDT, 8 May 01, and 0520 PDT, 13 May 01;
via ClariNet) On 7 May, the anniversary of Putin's inauguration as president,
a crowd of up to 10,000 gathered and marched to Red Square to listen to
lively paeans to Putin and his accomplishments as president. The marchers,
who carried signs sporting slogans like "Youth all-star team of Russia,
head coach Putin V.V.," also received cash incentives of 500 rubles
and the offer of a Crimean holiday for the most successful recruiters of
new members from the organizers of the demonstration.
The laudatory tone of the event prompted a YABLOKO party deputy to comment
that a "similar demonstration could have taken place in Pyongyang in
support of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il." (AFP, 13 May 01)
An apparently new organization called "Moving Together" sponsored
the event and handed out the goodies as inducements to those who would sign
up as new members (who, in turn, are required to pledge to
renounce alcohol and respect one's elders). It is unclear at this point
exactly who is funding Moving Together, but its tone is decidedly pro-Kremlin
and obviously pro-Putin. The "youth for Putin" marchers have turned
up at other events, but this is the first time the organizers, and their
recruitment drive, have been so prominent.
Other hints at the developing cult of personality surrounding Putin include
a new exhibition of portraits of the president, new books for children celebrating
Putin's "humble beginnings," and an increasing media-driven drumbeat
of national resurgence sparked by Putin's presidency, which, of course,
highlights the level of state control over the media.
Pavlovsky on Putin
Gleb Pavlovsky, head of the Effective Policy Fund and a Kremlin adviser
to the president, displayed his own take on the president's accomplishments
in an interview with Interfax News Agency. (7 May 01; via lexis-nexis) Putin,
according to Pavlovsky, has succeeded in ending the "continual revolutionary
shocks" to Russia's political system and has achieved political stability.
He also claims that Putin halted the "oligarchic control" of the
media, which he describes as "outwardly democratic, but [with] a rather
serious totalitarian filling." It's an apt description of many things
Pavlovsky also credits Putin with reorienting Russia's foreign policy to
focus on Europe, working to change attitudes towards private property, and
initiating thorough judicial reform.
Putin on Putin
At a meeting on Saturday with his representatives in the seven "super-regions"
he created last year, President Putin declared victory, claiming that the
super-region system and the representatives he dispatched "have halted
the process of disintegration and increased the effectiveness of the central
authority." (AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, 12 May 01; via lexis-nexis) That,
of course, was one of the key aims of his administration, which he articulated
frequently over the course of the past year. (It is unclear to what extent
that goal actually is being reached.) Putin also praised the representatives
for their "constructive collaboration" with the regional governors,
but urged them to "work more actively, more surely and more resolutely."
In addition to the representatives, the prime minister, defense and interior
ministers, FSB chief and head of the Kremlin administration also attended
Kompromat war returns?
Aleksandr Korzhakov, once the Kremlin's chief enforcer, has resurfaced in
the latest battle of secret tapes in the Kremlin, and this time Aleksandr
Voloshin is the intended target. Korzhakov claims that an anonymous man
dropped off two CDs containing taped phone conversations from the office
of the chief of the Kremlin administration. While the Kremlin has declined
to comment on their authenticity, pending an investigation, they are widely
believed to be genuine. (MOSCOW TIMES, 17 May 01; via lexis-nexis)
There is apparently little incriminating criminal activity recorded on the
tapes, but they are interesting for the fawning tone and discussion of the
administration's future plans. The tapes cover approximately one week from
the end of February through early March and focus mostly on Voloshin's impending
birthday. Numerous officials call in to inquire as to the proper
way of congratulating him and there is much discussion of the elaborate
gifts he receives and his secretaries' difficulty in dealing with the volume
of flowers. Also, as The Daily Telegraph reported (10 May 01; via lexis-nexis),
Voloshin's secretaries have an interesting way of referring to the president,
whom they call "the great leader" and "the beloved one."
Just sends shivers, doesn't it?
In a conversation with an Izvestiya editor, Voloshin reveals the administration's
plan to disband the Duma, "if not now then in the fall for sure."
(MOSCOW TIMES, 17 May; via lexis-nexis) While Voloshin provides little by
way of justification for this action, it appears to be an attempt to assert
the administration's supremacy in Russian political life.
Sergei Markov, currently foreign editor of Gleb Pavlovsky's pro-Kremlin
Strana.ru publication, claims that the tapes seem genuine and signal that
the security services clique within the Kremlin is aiming to have the powerful
apparat chief, and holdover from the Yel'tsin years, removed from office.
Highlighting Voloshin's perhaps divided loyalties, Yel'tsin's daughter,
Tatiana Dyachenko, is also featured prominently on the recordings; she reveals,
among other things, that her father's illness earlier this year was more
serious than was reported.
Kursk funds guaranteed
Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov has announced that the Russian Government
guarantees that it will pay the full cost of raising the Kursk submarine
from the Barents Sea. (AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, 0920 PDT, 11 May 01; via ClariNet)
The Kursk, which sank in a training exercise last August, is set to be lifted
out of the sea late this summer. Klebanov was apparently responding to concerns
that the Kursk Foundation, an organization established last year to raise
funds for the operation, might not reach its goal of $80 million.
by Susan J. Cavan
& LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
The usual suspects...
High-visibility trials are continuing in Russia. The charge against a Krasnoyarsk
scientist, Valentin Danilov, has been raised from "espionage"
to "high treason through passing classified information to a foreign
country." He is also accused of fraudulent use of funds received for
this information. (ITAR-TASS, 0536 GMT, 29 Apr 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0429, via
World News Connection)
John Edward Tobin's appeal is scheduled for 25 May. If the conviction is
confirmed, the American would begin serving his sentence six days later.
It is rumored that his mother, Alyce Van Etten, tried to convince her son
to petition the Russian president for a pardon, but Tobin's lawyers oppose
such a move at this stage, and hope to prove his innocence. (INTERFAX, 18
May 01; via lexis-nexis)
An Irkutsk court sentenced an unnamed Chinese citizen to 10 years in prison
for espionage. Allegedly the accused had been using his position in a commercial
firm as a cover to obtain information about Russian defense systems for
China. (AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, 21 May 01; via lexis-nexis)
The head of the North Ossetia FSB department, Vladimir Bezugli, has accused
40 international humanitarian organizations operating in the North Caucasus
of harboring CIA operatives in their ranks. (AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, 19 May
01; via lexis-nexis)
Finally, the trial of Colonel Yuri Budanov, accused of murdering an 18-year-old
Chechen girl, continues. A number of new witnesses testified, including
Igor Grigoriev, formerly commander of an armored personnel carrier and a
subordinate of Col. Budanov. Grigoriev testified that he and another officer
accompanied Budanov when the young woman was arrested in her home, that
Budanov threatened them, saying that "If someone finds out what happened
here I have enough bullets for all of you," and that he ordered the
subordinate officers to bury the Chechen girl's body. (ITAR-TASS, 1157 GMT,
10 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0510, via World News Connection)
April attacks bring May malice?
A Rossiyskaya gazeta article asserts that "the spring escalation of
the [Chechen] gunmen's activities is being matched by equally vigorous actions
on the part of the federal troops in Chechnya." It supports this statement
by referring to Colonel General Valery Baranov's report that, over the last
45 days, 652 firearms, 602 grenade launchers, and tons of explosives were
confiscated, and 130 Chechen "bandits" were killed (including
three representatives of a well-known Muslim brotherhood group in the past
few days alone). It alludes also to the 5 May action-coordination meeting
in Yessentuki (Stavropol Territory) of Federal Security Service (FSB) Chief
Nikolai Patrushev, Russian Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov, Presidential
Envoy to the Southern Federal District Viktor Kazantsev, Health Minister
Yuri Shevchenko, Stavropol Territory Governor Aleksandr Chernogorov and
other local leaders. (ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA, 16 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0516,
and ITAR-TASS, 0711 GMT, 5 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0505, via World News Connection)
Various officials loyal to Moscow also have made optimistic statements.
FSB Director Patrushev told the press that the situation in Chechnya is
stable, that the actions of the secret services are "rather successful,"
and that "the current state of affairs in Chechnya makes it possible
to neutralize the rebel leaders without large losses." (ITAR-TASS,
1441 GMT, 27 Apr 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0427, via World News Connection) Colonel
Ali Muguev, deputy chief of the Chechnya office of the interior ministry,
declared that "the gunmen are incapable of offering open resistance
to the federal troops. They have no resources for staging major combat operations."
(ITAR-TASS, 0732 GMT, 15 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0515, via World News Connection)
Yet there are significant discrepancies between the numbers of victims reported
by the Russian military chiefs and by Chechen separatist sources. During
the latest major operation in Argun, the Russians claim, only two federal
troops were killed and one wounded, while the Chechens say that fatalities
included "dozens of Russian soldiers and four Chechen fighters."
In addition, a controversial statement made by Grozny Mayor Bislan Gantamirov
does not attest to a favorable situation for the federal troops. He ordered
his subordinates to kill, on the spot, all rebels who gave the slightest
indication of resistance, or were suspected of having killed Russians. A
quick response came from the newly appointed interior minister, Boris Gryzlov,
who condemned Gantamirov's order, and from the justice ministry, which declared
that the Russian state's war on terrorism will be waged "in strict
compliance with the law and the principle of inevitability of punishment."
Gantamirov was summoned to Moscow to answer for his extremist statement.
(IZVESTIYA, 8 May 01; via lexis-nexis, and ITAR-TASS, 1657 GMT, 7 May 01;
FBIS-SOV-2001-0507, via World News Connection)
Such abuse of power and arbitrary arrests have brought about denunciations
and protests. On 2 May, several hundred persons, including many women and
older individuals, rallied in Alkan-Kala, southwest of Grozny, to demand
the release of 36 young men and an end to the "genocide." On 13
May, at least 100 persons, mostly women, demonstrated in Grozny itself.
These actions come despite the ban on demonstrations and public gatherings.
(AFP, 2 May 01; via lexis-nexis, and INTERFAX, 0930 GMT, 13 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0513,
via World News Connection) Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov responded
to accusations by saying that "the responsibility for all these barbarous
actions is borne by terrorists' leaders and their patrons abroad."
(ITAR-TASS, 1342 GMT, 17 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0517, via World News Connection)
The Russians are trying also to improve their image by promising to send
28,000 Chechen children to recreation camps and sanatoria in the North Caucasus
during the summer vacation. (RIA, 1241 GMT, 15 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0515,
via World News Connection)
Putin and his peons
The one-year anniversary of Putin's term in office has passed, and the accompanying
evaluations of achievements now are focused on the first year in office
of the presidential envoys. On Saturday, 12 May, Putin summoned his seven
satraps to his Kremlin office to sum up their work. His words were kind.
"The presidential envoys' activities have brought the central authorities
closer to the regions and that is an important result," he said. The
Russian president also mentioned that the regional leaders had acquired
"a systematic and steady channel of communication with the country's
leadership." The main task that lies ahead, according to Putin, is
raising the living standard of the population. "If these parameters
grow, it will mean that we have achieved the result of pursuing our common
goals. If not, then all the work doesn't make sense and is futile."
(UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL, 12 May 01; via lexis-nexis) He also called
on his envoys to continue working to bring regional laws in line with federal
laws, but not to "go beyond the line where obvious prerogatives of
regional leaders are in place." (INTERFAX, 12 May 01; via lexis-nexis)
Not everyone is totally optimistic about these plenipotentiaries. The newspaper
Izvestiya notes that "not many people have confidence in the presidential
envoys, but even fewer distrust them -- the public simply doesn't know them."
Vremya novosti criticizes the plenipotentiaries for being too contentious
-- fighting the regional leaders "on legislation issues, but also on
politics in general," working against governors (in Primoriye and in
Kursk), as well as fighting the presidential administration and the economic
bloc of the Cabinet. (WHAT THE PAPERS SAY, 16 May 01; via lexis-nexis)
Finally, some regional leaders, for example President Ruslan Aushev of Ingushetia
and Governor Mikhail Prusak of Novgorod, have determined that no tangible
good has come of the seven-envoy institution, which they say creates a barrier,
rather than a channel, as the bureaucracy grows out of proportion. (STRANA.RU,
13 May 01; via Johnson's Russia List)
Easy come, easy go
The bitterness of the governors should not come as a surprise, since they
see these direct lines to the Kremlin as limiting their power. In another
move to undercut the governors, Russian State Duma decided to cut the number
of Russian regions where the heads of executive power bodies can be re-elected
for a third term from 69 to 9. This constitutes an amendment to the law
passed in February of this year which gave presidents of certain republics
the right to be re-elected three and, in some cases, even four more times.
(INTERFAX, 17 May 01; via lexis-nexis)
by Luba Schwartzman
Further government action spurs little reaction
During May, it was Novaya gazeta and Ekho Moskvy's turn to face harassment.
While the struggle for NTV went on, the average Russian was far too concerned
with issues of everyday survival to care about the demise of independent
media. Despite the protest marches (which were organized by NTV), the public
barely flinched when the media coup finally did occur. Not surprisingly,
there has been almost no popular reaction to further official actions against
independent print and electronic media.
The rest is downhill
When, on 4 May, a Moscow court decided to award Gusinsky's 19-percent stake
in NTV to Gazprom, it also gave Gazprom 25-percent-plus-one share in 23
other Media-MOST companies, including the Seven Days Publishing House, which
produced the daily newspaper Segodnya and the weekly political magazine
Itogi. Both Segodnya and Itogi subsequently were shut down. Another Media-MOST
company that ended up with Gazprom as a majority shareholder was Radio Ekho
Moskvy. All evidence seems to indicate that Ekho Moskvy, Russia's largest
privately owned radio station, will share the fate of Segodnya and Itogi.
On 10 May, investigators from the prosecutor general's office searched the
radio station's offices, claiming that the action was related to the investigation
of the former first deputy general director of Aeroflot, Nikolai Glushkov.
(Last December, Glushkov was arrested for fraud, in connection with cases
involving several Swiss companies suspected of embezzling funds from the
Russian state airline.) The next day, Olga Bychkova, an Ekho Moskvy host,
was summoned for questioning regarding her interview with Glushkov's lawyer.
(Jamestown Foundation MONITOR, 11 May 01)
There is some room for doubting the official explanation for the most recent
search. Monitor cites Yury Fedutinov, Radio Ekho Moskvy's general director,
as having been told that the station would be required to provide documents
pertaining to the ongoing fraud investigation of Vladimir Gusinsky. When
the first raid on Media-MOST offices was carried out a year ago, there were
conflicting stories concerning the motive. In the beginning the prosecutor
general's office claimed that the raids were due to suspicions that Media-MOST's
security service was eavesdropping on personnel. When the raids continued,
the prosecutor's office claimed that they were connected to a three-year-old
criminal case against Gusinsky for allegedly embezzling state funds. Only
subsequently did the authorities claim the raids were related to an investigation
of Gusinsky on the charge of fraudulently taking a multimillion-dollar loan
from Gazprom. (Jamestown Foundation MONITOR, 11 May 01)
Meanwhile, the journalists at Ekho Moskvy are trying to negotiate with Gazprom
to buy back the 25-percent share lost to the state-owned company through
the 4 May court decision. The journalists currently hold a 33-percent stake
in the station, and the additional 25-percent would allow them to maintain
its independence. However, very recent history indicates that the odds do
not favor the journalists.
Nor are the electronic outlets the only victims of state attacks on media
independence. Late last month the main military prosecutor's office searched
the apartment of Valery Shiryaev, deputy general director of the biweekly
newspaper Novaya gazeta. (See THE NIS OBSERVED, 2 May 01) With 80 percent
of newspapers controlled by the Russian state, and 90 percent of all TV,
radio stations and printing houses under state supervision, Novaya gazeta
is one of the very few remaining independent sources for reliable news.
In the last 24 months, the largely employee-owned newspaper has experienced
seven major tax inspections and 40 trials with staggering legal fees from
libel suits and other accusations. (AMERICAN JOURNALISM REVIEW, May 01;
via Johnson's Russia List)
The battle over NTV has demonstrated the Putin government's negative approach
to the crucial role that a free press plays in an open and democratic society.
Ironically, this has left an oligarch, Vladimir Gusinsky, as the symbol
for freedom of the press. It is impossible to ignore the ways in which the
authorities are assaulting media independence in Russia. Unlike NTV, both
the newspaper and radio station currently under attack have strong reputations
worldwide for rising above reportage of the manipulative statements of politicians
and oligarchs. Ekho Moskvy spent four years building its reputation, before
joining Media MOST in 1994 when the ruble depreciated; its editorial style
remained unchanged under Gusinsky. There is good reason to expect that Radio
Ekho Moskvy and Novaya gazeta will fall under the thumb of the state. The
NTV takeover could be viewed by some as ironic, but with the most recent
turn of events on the Russian media front, the situation now is simply tragic.
by Maria Metcalf
Despite rhetoric, military continues to deteriorate
"The Russian soldiers of the new, 21st century continue to maintain
the heroic traditions of the World War II front-line fighters by perfecting
unceasingly the[ir] combat readiness and military skills, by accomplishing
with honor the combat tasks set for them and persistently consolidating
Russia's military security," Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov
stated in his message commemorating the Great Patriotic War Victory Day
celebrations. In reality, Russia's military apparatus continues to decay
while the idea of military reform, albeit widely discussed, does not flourish.
Just in the last three weeks, several statements and events have highlighted
the continuing decline:
* The bleeding of Russian forces continues in Chechnya. Figures released
on 16 May admitted that the defense and interior ministries have lost a
substantial number of forces since 1 October 1999 alone -- (at least) 3,096
killed and 9,187 wounded. (INTERFAX, 1537 GMT, 16 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0516,
via World News Connection) These are added to the thousands killed, wounded
or missing in previous warfare there. And while Russian public opinion of
the country's military institution still remains high, 72% of respondents
in a recent poll said that the conflict in Chechnya bothered them. (INTERFAX,
1314 GMT, 4 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0504, via World News Connection) History
has shown that, even in authoritarian regimes, drawn-out and costly conflicts
which lose popular support cannot be sustained (the Soviet experience in
Afghanistan is a telling case). While not only risking the loss of public
confidence, the war in Chechnya is draining precious resources away from
the needs of the general forces and of successful military reform.
* In the war of words over readiness, Russian Navy leadership in past months
has expressed its concerns about material and funding problems, while calling
for a boost in its share of the defense budget from roughly 12% to 25% per
year. Now, the Air Force and Ground Forces commanders are staking out similar
positions. General Anatoly Kornukov of the Air Force stated at a conference
on Russian aviation that 100% of all Air Force helicopter and planes need
modernization because they suffer from technical maintenance problems and
capability shortfalls. (RIA, 1327 GMT, 16 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0516, via
World News Connection) Additionally, he explained that only half of the
aircraft inventory is being flown at all and that flight time for pilot
training is "catastrophically insufficient" due to a fuel shortages;
moreover, ". . . no possibility of increasing the flight time"
was envisaged. (INTERFAX, 1237 GMT, 15 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0515, via World
News Connection) General Nikolai Kormiltsev, recently shifted from the Ground
Forces to a deputy defense minister post, echoed these sentiments of discontent
concerning the Army, which in his words finds the "current condition
of the Ground Forces difficult." (INTERFAX, 1100 GMT, 4 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0504,
via World News Connection) While neither Kornukov nor Kormiltsev stated
specific funding figures, fixing these problems would require enormous resources.
* Shortly after assuming command of the newly created Russian Space Troops,
General Anatoly Perminov had to contend with the temporary loss of communications
with several military satellites, due to a fire in a command post located
in Serpukhov, in the Kaluga region. The cause of the fire was attributed
to defective circuitry in a power supply. (INTERFAX, 0546 GMT, 14 May 01;
FBIS-SOV-2001-0514, via World News Connection) In the larger context, this
incident was just another example of the former Soviet military machine's
decaying infrastructure, which has been starved of proper maintenance for
the past decade.
All the while, pay and housing shortfalls for the troops persist, and local
commanders are looking again to turn out their troops into the fields --
not for the training Ivanov extolled but to help bring in the harvest. On
the other hand, the Kremlin is still pushing newer and more advanced weapon
production for the sake of exports, demonstrating various systems at recent
international arms shows. Foreign policy through arms sales has been a hallmark
of the Putin leadership; thus, reinvigorating ties with former client states
that can pay hard currency to starving Russian defense industries comes
as no surprise. However, recent announcements that Moscow intends to resume
and expand military technical cooperation with Libya and North Korea not
only hold out little potential for generating profits, they are bound to
antagonize neighboring states, some Europeans, and, of course, the United
States. Russia's "great power" status cannot be revived in this
manner, and Putin's geopolitical games cannot be won through military influence
when the troops are hungry and have no place to live.
by Richard Miller
NEWLY INDEPENDENT STATES
Navigating the vicious circle
Just a few days ago, it seemed that Ukraine would be facing the prospect
of an acting prime minister, as President Leonid Kuchma and the Rada could
not agree an a candidate to fill the fill the post on a long-term basis.
Time was running out; the Ukrainian constitution allows only 60 days for
the president and Rada to choose and confirm a new prime minister. "The
Cabinet of Ministers," the document stipulates, "whose resignation
is accepted by the President of Ukraine, continues to exercise its powers
by commission of the President, until a newly-formed Cabinet of Ministers
of Ukraine commences it operation, but no longer than for sixty days."
(Article 115) However, on 22 May, Kuchma nominated Anatoliy Kinakh for the
premiership, and Kinakh seems to have been able to use his considerable
power and connections to garner the support of the Rada's largest party,
the Communists. With that, his confirmation seems probable.
Over the previous week, Kuchma had swung back and forth between two candidates
-- Kinakh, leader of the Ukrainian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs
(UIE), and Serhiy Tyhypko, the head of the political party Labor Ukraine
-- before finally deciding on Kinakh. In truth, however, both Kinakh and
Tyhypko are cut from the same cloth, and likely would govern in the same
way. Not surprisingly, each is well connected both to Kuchma and to international
business. Additionally, both worked vigorously to oust Viktor Yushchenko's
cabinet, and both have deep ties to Russian business and political interests.
Most importantly, both finalists provide a clear indication of Kuchma's
style and policy inclinations.
Kinakh in particular has worked extremely hard to integrate Ukrainian and
Russian business interests. In May 2000, for example, he signed several
agreements with his counterpart in the Russian UIE. One of those agreements
called for "an active involvement of the two unions in drafting governmental
documents regulating trade and economic relations between Ukraine and Russia,"
according to Infobank. It also emphasized "the importance of making
mutual investments in the countries' economies, involvement in mutual projects,
whether they are being carried out in Ukraine or Russia or a third country,
and a regular exchange of information about such projects." (INFOBANK,
16 May 01; via ISI Emerging Markets Database) Coincidentally or not, it
was during this period that then-Foreign Minister Boris Tarasyuk began to
be pressured aggressively to orient his policies more toward Russia. Soon
he was replaced by the more pro-Russian Anatoliy Zlenko. (For further background,
see PERSPECTIVE, Mar-Apr 2001.)
Recently, Kinakh spearheaded the media barrage against Viktor Yushchenko,
using the annual congress of UUIE members to rail against the prime minister's
policies and call for his ouster. In particular Kinakh criticized the government
for "losing control" of certain strategic industries, and for
"overestimating the importance of renewed crediting by the IMF."
(INFOBANK, 29 Mar 01; via ISI Emerging Markets Database) The keynote speaker
during the conference -- President Kuchma -- expressed sympathy for the
demands of the UUIE, but strategically stopped short of seconding the union's
call for the cabinet's dismissal.
Clearly, the appointment of Kinakh will result in the stepped-up involvement
of Ukrainian businessmen in the day-to-day activities of the government.
This is the type of situation that always seemed to worry Viktor Yushchenko.
In fact, in the days before Yushchenko's ouster, Tyhypko criticized the
prime minister for rejecting his attempts at compromise. A ministerial post
or two for his party was all it would take, Tyhypko said, to make him switch
his vote. Yushchenko, however, refused. "Perhaps," Tyhypko told
the press, "as the mass media often claim, . . . he does not want to
soil his hands with the oligarchs." Thus, it was because of this refusal
to provide ministerial posts that Tyhypko predicted -- and successfully
pushed for -- Yushchenko's dismissal. (2000, 21 Apr 01; BBC Monitoring,
via ISI Emerging Markets Database)
Following that dismissal, the Rada splintered into three main groupings
-- the rightist/pro-Yushchenko branch, the center-oligarch parties, and
the Communists -- as the legislature attempted to agree on a nomination
for prime minister. The rightists, who now include Yulia Tymoshenko's Batkivshchina
party, have refused to vote for any nominee as a protest against Yushchenko's
dismissal. The centrists seem generally to support Kuchma's suggestions,
and the Communists intend to use their support of the nominee for their
own gains. Consequently, Ukraine seems doomed to gridlock at least for the
Despite Kinakh's protestations to the contrary, cash-poor Ukraine is depending
on two financial measures to help it continue its economic growth -- resumption
of IMF lending and rescheduling of its debt to the Paris Club. The IMF,
however, has delayed the release of any new tranches until certain laws
are passed. Such legislation, which would rework business enterprise zones,
alter some excise taxes and increase privatization transparency (while,
one hopes, also increasing privatization revenue), seemed possible under
the outgoing cabinet. Now, it seems unlikely. Consequently, the IMF continues
to delay resumption of lending.
The Paris Club, meanwhile, is refusing even to consider rescheduling the
Ukrainian debt it holds until the IMF resumes funding, making long-term
financial planning difficult for the republic. Additionally, both of these
organizations have raised concerns about Ukraine's privatization procedures,
and suggested that its revenue from privatization sales will fall far short
of that projected in the state's budget.
The IMF and Paris Club situations -- as well as any drop in privatization
revenue -- negatively affect the country's ability to pay both its past
and future energy bills, which, in turn, necessitates talk of turning over
state assets to pay for gas. Turning over state assets -- thus further lowering
projected privatization revenues -- would have negative impact on future
IMF lending, which would have negative impact on Paris Club debt rescheduling,
and so on, and so forth. In the short term, with Ukraine experiencing growth
according to all of its economic indicators, the debt situation does not
seem hobbling. In the medium to long term, however, it could be disastrous.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkmen President Saparmyrat Niyazov
both clearly understand this point, as reflected by their actions over the
last week. Putin nominated former PM and head of Gazprom Viktor Chernomyrdin
as the new Russian Ambassador to Ukraine, while Niyazov announced his country's
intention to overlook Ukraine's relatively small gas debt until Paris Club
negotiations are complete, and signed a new agreement to supply more gas
to its regional partner.
While Ukrainian politicians cautiously welcomed Chernomyrdin's appointment,
the move was embraced wholeheartedly by their Russian counterparts. "To
bring such a political heavyweight as ambassador is a significant step for
Russia," Boris Nemtsov said. A representative from a brokerage firm
in Russia was even more thrilled. "Chernomyrdin is a very good choice.
He has great contacts in politics, he knows how Russian-Ukrainian relations
operate, and obviously knows how Gazprom operates," Renaissance Capital
brokerage representative Roland Nash told the press. "In that kind
of position he will be able to cut deals and continue the process Gazprom
has been into for the past year or so -- using financial muscle to gain
greater economic strength in Ukraine." (THE INDEPENDENT PRESS, 11 May
01; via ISI Emerging Markets Database) Nash did not mention, of course,
that Chernomyrdin also will help Russia gain greater political strength
in Ukraine by pressuring the country over its $1.5 billion debt to Gazprom
and aggressively pursuing a turnover of state assets to clear that debt.
Kinakh, who is close to Chernomyrdin, obviously will be receptive to his
friend's suggestions. How receptive remains to be seen.
Kuchma, however, at least publicly is staying true to his previous statements
that Ukrainian state assets (in particular its gas transit system) will
not be surrendered. "It should not be forgotten that Kyiv is now the
capital of an independent Ukraine," he said. "The appointment
of Chernomyrdin as ambassador should not be regarded as appointment by Moscow
of a first secretary of the Ukrainian Communist Party who will control everything."
(UNIAN, 22 May 01; BBC Monitoring, via ISI Emerging Markets Database) Nevertheless,
Kinakh's appointment considerably undermines the force of this statement.
Niyazov, for his part, has agreed that Turkmenistan will continue to increase
the gas it supplies to Ukraine, until, by 2006, it is supplying all the
gas the country needs. At that time, Gazprom gas theoretically will be unnecessary.
The announcement of an impending Ukrainian-Turkmen gas agreement came coincidentally
just days before Putin's appointment of Chernomyrdin, making the intentions
behind this appointment even more suspect.
Ukraine, therefore, is now at a crossroads. It would appear that it may
have the opportunity to extricate itself from its dependence on Russia and
begin building a truly independent state. It would also appear that many
Ukrainian politicians -- who have their individual business interests at
heart -- could stand in the way of this happening. The actions of the Rada
and the few strong reformist politicians in the country are likely to determine
whether this is allowed to occur.
by Tammy Lynch
Reshuffling or rethinking?
The near-simultaneous resignations (or removals?) of Col. Gen. Valery Baranov,
commander of the joint army group in Chechnya, and Grozny Mayor Bislan Gantamirov
echo a tumultuous 4 May meeting of the three power ministers -- Nikolai
Patrushev (FSB), Sergei Ivanov (MOD), and Boris Gryzlov (MVD). On that occasion,
military officers, MVD officials and especially Gantamirov were criticized
thoroughly. (CHECHNYA WEEKLY, 8 May 01) That meeting followed clashes
between military and MVD officers in Grozny on 1 May. Can it be that the
crime, corruption, cynicism and decay in the Russian forces have reached
such dimensions that the top officials must confront them? Are widespread
rumors of an impending Chechen counteroffensive forcing the Russian leaders
to rethink their strategy? These personnel changes and other signals from
the authorities may indicate a more profound reappraisal of Russia's goals,
means and posture vis-à-vis Chechnya.
Col. Gen. Gennady Troshev, commander of the North Caucasus Military District,
who was the commander of the Eastern group of forces during the first phase
of the present war, has taken over temporarily for Baranov. Next week, Troshev
is expected to cede command to Lt. Gen. Vladimir Moltenskoi, Baranov's deputy
in charge of emergencies. After his, three-week "vacation,"
Baranov may fill the vacant position of Moscow Military District commander.
(INTERFAX, 17 May 01; via lexis-nexis)
The sudden resignation of Grozny Mayor Bislan Gantamirov on 17 May has fueled
widely divergent analyses. According to a 19 May Glasnost-Caucasus report,
there are rumors that Gantamirov resigned because of pressure from the prosecutor's
office, which had started proceedings against him after he issued an order
to shoot Chechen rebels on sight. The newspaper Trud reported on 18 May
that Gantamirov cited personality conflicts with the vice premier of the
pro-Russian Chechen government, Stanislav Il'yasov, as the main reason for
his resignation. The government recently moved from Gudermes to Grozny against
the wishes of the security organs. Trud also suggested that the resignation
may not be final: Gantamirov resigned last year and was persuaded to return.
Grani.ru on 17 May wrote that "when the local authorities abandon ship
... expect a raid from the Chechen fighters."
Presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky indicated that the new mayor
of Grozny will be appointed by Victor Kazantsev, the presidential representative
for the Southern Federal District. Yakub Deniev is considered the most likely
candidate because he replaced Gantamirov in this post in 1996 and for a
short time was the acting head of the Chechen administration. According
to Kazantsev's deputy, Nikolai Britvin, Gantamirov may "be invited
to work for the office of the presidential envoy in the Southern federal
district." (INTERFAX, 18 May 01; via lexis-nexis)
Slouching towards peace talks?
"The trust of the Chechen population for the central authorities has
not reached a high level," Vladimir Putin said to visiting EU officials
on 18 May. (REUTERS; via lexis-nexis) That must be the understatement of
the year. Still, it's a giant step for the usually upbeat Russian president
to admit that something about the "counter-terrorist operation"
is less than one big hurrah. A couple of days earlier, the director of the
FSB, which now directs the war effort, admitted that the republic has not
been pacified fully: "All the tasks which we had to resolve certainly
have not been resolved and one cannot expect literally that we will resolve
these tasks by some preset date or specified month," Nikolai Patrushev
said. (RUSSIA TV; BBC Monitoring, via ichkeria.org)
Could all this negativity signal a new willingness to commence peace talks?
If and when the Russian president decides to undertake negotiations in earnest,
the clearest indication will be the return to the republic of the OSCE Assistance
Group to Chechnya.
The Chechen government repeatedly and unequivocally has expressed its willingness
to begin talks immediately. However, the Chechen side will not settle for
another Khasavyurt treaty. This time, implementation has to be built into
the treaty and international organizations will have to become guarantors
of any future arrangement. (CHECHENPRESS, 15 May 01; via ichkeria.org)
On 17 May following talks with the Russian president, EU foreign policy
chief Javier Solana said "I think in a few weeks, in a few days, the
mission of the OSCE may be returning to Chechnya." (AFP, 17 May 01;
via lexis-nexis) A week earlier, during the Moscow visit of OSCE chairman-in-office
Liviu Bota, it was decided to form a working group composed of officials
from the justice ministry, the foreign ministry, and the OSCE to tackle
technical and security questions pertaining to the redeployment of the group
to Znamenskoye. This opinion finds support in a foreign ministry document
obtained by Interfax, which says: "there are no political obstacles
to the group's return" and "remaining details can be resolved
routinely." However, according to the report, the group's main function
will be "to support the federal authorities' efforts in the humanitarian
sphere and provide tangible assistance for the soonest possible restoration
of peaceful life" in Chechnya. (INTERFAX, 11 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0511,
via World News Connection)
This is far from the first time that Russian representatives have promised
to allow the group to carry out its work. In the past they have pledged
publicly to facilitate its return to Chechnya but in practice created obstacles
to that move. The conditions set out above fall far short of what the OSCE
can accept, at least in two crucial respects: the location of the mission
and its duties. It seems that Russian representatives again may be acting
in bad faith, saying they are ready to work with the mission, while in fact
trying to obstruct the implementation of its mandate.
The location of the group within Chechnya constitutes a very important factor.
The assistance group should return to Grozny. That is the site mentioned
in the mandate, and the group operated there during the last war; it is
the capital of the republic, and the current seat of the pro-Russian
government. Most importantly, Grozny is a central location from which monitoring
of human rights abuses can be conducted with relative ease. In contrast,
Znamenskoye is located in the north of the republic far from the sites where
mass graves were discovered recently. The village has been under Russian
occupation since the very start of hostilities and was spared the artillery
barrages and "cleansings" that have devastated other parts of
the republic. The location of the offices of Vladimir Kalamanov, the president's
special representative for ensuring human rights in Chechnya, Znamenskoye
has become window dressing to distract visiting foreign delegations from
the abuses of the war.
Moreover, if the document Interfax obtained is trustworthy, the Russian
side has rewritten the OSCE group's mandate beyond recognition. At its November
1999 summit in Istanbul, the OSCE affirmed that the original mandate of
the group remains in force and has not been altered. Formed in April 1995,
the group was charged with a wide range of tasks:
- promote respect for human rights and fundamental
freedoms, and the establishment of facts concerning their violation ...
- facilitate the delivery ... of humanitarian aid
- provide assistance to the authorities of the
Russian Federation and to international organizations in ensuring the speediest
possible return of refugees ...
- promote the peaceful resolution of the crisis
and the stabilization of the situation in the Chechen Republic in conformity
with the principle of the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation
and in accordance with OSCE principles and pursue dialogue and negotiations
... with a view to establishing a cease-fire . (See osce.org for the full
text of the mandate.)
During the last war the group was instrumental in facilitating negotiations
between the warring sides; now, according to the version put forth by the
Russian foreign ministry, the OSCE group's function would be limited to
providing "support" to the federal authorities. The OSCE helped
to end hostilities with the Khasavyurt treaty, which Tim Guldimann
signed for the OSCE. The group left Grozny in December 1998 and has been
operating from Moscow ever since.
Familiar faces reappear
Boris Berezovsky emerged from nearly a year of living in exile in relative
obscurity to say that "the war in Chechnya should be stopped immediately
and without any preliminary conditions." (INTERFAX, 11 May 01; via
lexis-nexis) Berezovsky recently declared his intention to spread $10 million
among 163 Russian human rights groups.
Having served as deputy secretary of the Security Council and as a Duma
deputy from Karachevo-Cherkessia, Berezovsky has insider knowledge of Russian
intrigue in the North Caucasus. His critics, such as Sergei Kovalev, have
alleged that Berezovsky undermined Chechen-Russian relations by fostering
the hostage trade and giving millions to Shamil Basaev. (PRESENTATION TO
DAVIS CENTER, 23 Feb 00) More recently, Sergei Yastrzhembsky lashed out
at Berezovsky, accusing him of contributing to the causes of the war. "The
anti-terrorist operation in Chechnya would not be required if Boris Berezovsky's
experience had not had a negative effect." (INTERFAX, 11 May 01; via
According to the Financial Times, retired General Alexander Lebed has been
leading a peace group in Chechnya. Lebed, a major challenger to Boris Yel'tsin
in the 1996 presidential election, was appointed Security Council secretary
and negotiated the Khasavyurt agreements. Now the governor of Krasnoyarsk
krai, Lebed has been heading the Peace Mission in the North Caucasus, a
group working with Forum on Early Warning and Early Response (FEWER) to
promote reconstruction and negotiation in Chechnya. The group called on
the parties to begin talks immediately to ward off the possibility of more
intense fighting. Its April report pointed to alarming indicators of potential
military escalation, such as President Putin's visit to Chechnya in April
and a regrouping of Chechen forces near Grozny. (FINANCIAL TIMES, 10 May
01; via lexis-nexis, and www.fewer.org) This danger of an imminent Chechen
counteroffensive may persuade the Russian authorities to begin talks, or
so the authors of the FEWER report, among many other analysts, hope.
by Miriam Lanskoy
CST countries discuss rapid reaction force
Amid stated concern over deteriorating security on the CIS's southern borders,
senior security officials from Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Russia and Tajikistan met on 26-27 April in Yerevan to discuss combating
terrorism in preparation for the planned Collective Security Treaty (CST)
summit on 25 May in the Armenian capital.
Summarizing the results of the preliminary meeting, Russia's Vladimir Rushailo
said that the CST Security Council secretaries had discussed what progress
had been made in the formation of regional collective security systems and
of collective rapid reaction forces for Central Asia. (ITAR-TASS, 1437 GMT,
27 Apr 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0427, via World News Connection) The Russian Security
Council chief added that the rapid reaction forces "will be employed
if need be in areas with complex operational situations," to repel
"terrorist" attacks. (INTERFAX, 26 Apr 01; via lexis-nexis) According
to Oleg Chernov, deputy secretary of the Russian Security Council, the quick
reaction force's main task will be to contain regional conflicts in Central
Asia. (XINHUA, 25 Apr 01; via lexis-nexis) The officials were reported also
to have considered improving the inter-agency coordination process within
the CST itself and enhancing channels of communication.
Central Asia has been compared to the war-torn states of Sub-Saharan Africa
by some Western defense analysts and is in danger of becoming a "permanent
war zone." Protracted warfare in Central Asia, presumably triggered
by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), could continue to destabilize
this important region. (THE ANALYST, 9 May 01) Consequently, forming the
rapid reaction force in Central Asia to counter the Islamic "threat"
to Tajikistan and other Central Asian states is high on Russia's security
Rushailo claimed that the joint rapid reaction force would benefit Tajikistan
most of all because of its geographic location bordering Afghanistan and,
more importantly, because the IMU is suspected of operating from bases in
Tajikistan's Pamir mountains and may be assembling for a third campaign.
(IMU incursions into southern Kyrgyzstan in 2000 and both Kyrgyzstan and
Uzbekistan in 2001 purportedly were staged from bases in northern Tajikistan.)
"This is more pertinent for our colleagues in Tajikistan, who are the
first to experience all the negative consequences of religious extremism
and outright armed incursions alike," according to the Russian Security
Council chief. (FINANCIAL TIMES, 27 Apr 01)
The CIS security pact undoubtedly provides a practical framework for preserving
Russia's military presence in post-Soviet space. With Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan
and Tajikistan ready to embrace a Russian-controlled collective security
system, including joint rapid reaction forces in Central Asia, the stage
is set for increased militarization of the region.
by LtCol James DeTemple
Thin line between public and private sectors, interests
Privatization issues continue to plague the Baltic states, proving once
more that anything can become a political football if there are enough players
on both sides.
The third attempt to sell off the Latvian Shipping Company ended in disaster,
when no bidder made the required security deposit by the 27 April deadline.
The failure has provided opponents of privatization, specifically the Social
Democrats, with a weapon to wield in an attempt to bring down the economics
minister and, if they're lucky, the government as well. Alas, the demand
for Economics Minister Aigars Kalvitis' resignation represents once again
the political tendency to kill the messenger. In the end, the Social Democrats'
argument is not with the minister but with the job he was tasked to accomplish.
They view the Latvian Shipping Company privatization as contradictory to
the interests of the Latvian constitution and national economy. Faction
chairman Egils Baldzens claims that the price established for the shipping
company, 70 million lats (US$111,287,000) does not correspond to the company's
actual market value, which he estimates at 200 million lats. (BNS, 1003
GMT, 27 Apr 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0427, via World News Connection) Determining
market value, however, is a tricky business, as the prime minister's spokesman,
Arnis Lapins, pointed out. The initial asking price of 70 million lats "could
not be too low because, if it was, someone would have paid the security
deposit," Lapins said. (BNS, 1521 GMT, 27 Apr 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0427,
via World News Connection)
Rather than problems with pricing or the privatization process, Economic
Minister Kalvitis cited another impediment: the political process. "The
privatization process has been constantly accompanied by scandals and there
have been certain political forces that have done all, used the dirtiest
methods to torpedo and ruin the process and, unfortunately, they have attained
their goal. ... In such an unclear investment environment as has to date
developed ... it will never be possible to attract any potential buyers,"
Kalvitis said. (BNS, 1610 GMT, 27 Apr 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0427, via World
Clearly assuming that the Social Democrats eventually can be overcome, the
government decided in mid-May to focus on the process and not the politics,
and instructed the economics ministry to develop new terms for the Latvian
Shipping Company's privatization. Kalvitis reported that, after serious
debate, the Cabinet adopted the resolution unanimously, demonstrating government
support for the principle of continuing attempts to sell the company. (BNS,
1450 GMT, 15 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0515, via World News Connection)
Meanwhile, the Estonian Privatization Agency continues to barrel along with
the sale of Eesti Raudtee (Estonian Rail), despite a recent court decision
that complaints about the procedure deserved a hearing. Jaak Liivik, the
director-general of the Estonian Privatization Agency, signed a contract
on 30 April with Baltic Rail Services -- a consortium of Estonian, British
and American investors -- providing for the sale of a 66-percent share in
Eesti Raudtee. (BNS, 1221 GMT, 30 Apr 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0430, via World
News Connection) That move resulted in an immediate call by the People's
Union (an opposition party) for the government to cancel the privatization
tender, since legal proceedings to bring the process to a halt are underway.
(BNS, 1222 GMT, 30 Apr 01; FBIS-SOV-0430, via World News Connection)
According to the government's privatization program for state property in
2001, the agency's work is expected to end in October. That expectation,
based on the fact that only three state-owned companies remained when the
program was approved in March, clearly did not anticipate the problems the
agency would have over the railroad sale. However, the original tender for
the rail privatization, Rail Estonia, failed to bring a strategic investor
by the deadline, thus clearing the way -- at least in Liivik's mind -- for
talks with the runner-up, Baltic Rail Services. Not all parties are in accord
over Liivik's decision, however. Rail Estonia successfully brought a suit
in the Tallinn administrative court seeking to suspend the conclusion of
a contract between Eesti Raudtee and Baltic Rail Services until Rail Estonia's
complaint against the privatization agency's decision to uphold the deadline
was heard. But timing is everything. The administrative court judge ruled
that talks could continue. And, according to bidding documents, the agency
could break talks and declare the privatization tender ended if the process
extended beyond 30 April. The agency's move was slick: The Rail Estonia
case was scheduled to be heard on 2 May. (BNS, 1031 GMT, 27 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0327,
via World News Connection)
As the other Baltic states are grappling with privatization problems, Lithuania
continues to be beset by an institution politicians no doubt would love
to privatize if only to get it out of their purview -- the Ignalina nuclear
power plant. Powered by two Soviet-made RBMK reactors (the same folks who
gave us Chernobyl), Ignalina has been a point of dissension between Lithuania
and the international community for years. Unwilling to see another Chernobyl-like
ecological disaster occur, the West has been demanding the closure of Ignalina
and has used all leverage -- including European Union (EU) membership --
to get its way. Lithuania, alas, continues to rely quite heavily on the
power generated by the plant as well as on the employment the plant provides,
and has been stalling as much as possible, claiming first the economic ramifications
and now the social implications such a complete revamping of its energy
policy would entail.
The stalling has now moved into a new phase: preparing for a compromise.
Economics Minister Eugenijus Gentvilas recently told reporters that the
EU's expectation of a complete closure of Ignalina probably won't be met.
International aid of some 200 million euros has been donated to close the
plant's first reactor block, which is scheduled for 2005. The EU has hinted
strongly that the second block's closure is expected to occur soon thereafter.
The government decided to determine, by 2004, what the future of the second
block would be. European Union representatives, on the other hand, have
said that even this decision-making process should be moved up, and that
a plan should be in place by 2002. (BNS, 1922 GMT, 21 Mar 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0322,
via World News Connection) Disagreements on the timing of a decision presage
subsequent disagreements on what that decision will be. "Lithuania
has its own arguments for not closing the second block in 2009, the year
that has been indirectly suggested to us, but for seeking the postponement
of this term. It could be the year 2012 or 2015," Gentvilas said. However,
he explained, "we must also take into account the arguments others
make," especially since Lithuania and the EU have not yet begun talks
on the energy chapter. (BNS, 1617 GMT, 27 Apr 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0428, via
World News Connection)
Repeating the same theme, Seimas speaker Arturas Paulauskas told his counterpart
in the German Bundestag that closing down Ignalina by 2008 was unrealistic.
According to Paulauskas' spokesperson, when Bundestag speaker Wolfgang Thierse
noted the unacceptable use of Chernobyl-model reactors, Paulauskas explained
that social consequences are the determining factor for considering the
reactor's future. (BNS, 1522 GMT, 9 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0509, via World
News Connection) Lithuania clearly is betting that the money it has invested
to insure the plant's safety will prove sufficient in the case a similar
disaster occurs. It would be interesting to see, through a referendum, whether
economics or environmental safety will reign supreme, and whether the Lithuanian
population around the plant - where plant workers and their families live
-- consists of bettors as well.
by Kate Martin