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The NIS Observed: An Analytical Review
Volume VI Number 10 (13 June 2001)

Russian Federation

Executive Branch by Susan J. Cavan
Foreign Relations by Richard Miller
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Armed Forces by Richard Miller

Newly Independent States

Western Region by Tammy Lynch
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The NIS Observed: An Analytical Review
Volume VI, Number 10 (13 June 2001)

Police appointment power shift

President Vladimir Putin issued a decree last week transferring the power to appoint regional police chiefs from local control to the Kremlin. (AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, 1120 PDT, 5 Jun 01; via ClariNet) While details of the decree are not yet available, the move fits neatly with Putin's overall strategy of asserting greater central control over the regions, and may even be presented as part of Dmitri Kozak's efforts to reform the judicial system. (See previous issues of THE NIS OBSERVED for more on Kozak's reforms.)

Earlier reports suggested that the authority to appoint and dismiss local police chiefs rested with the president's super-region representatives, but this new decree would appear to contravene that decision. In either event, the purpose remains to circumvent the local governors.

New Primakov memoir reinforces old stereotypes
Former Prime Minister and spy master Yevgeny Primakov is set to publish a new memoir, and judging from the preview, he is just as frustrated with his previous employer's "Family" as most other disgruntled Kremlin insiders. According to a report in the Moscow Times (6 Jun 01; via lexis-nexis) on the previewed chapters, Primakov was persuaded to accept the nomination to the prime minister's seat by then-President Yel'tsin's chief of staff, Valentin Yumashev, protocol head (and keeper of the facsimile presidential seal) Vladimir Shevchenko, and daughter Tatiana Dyachenko. It wasn't long, however, before the same group, together with current Chief of Staff Aleksandr Voloshin and a gaggle of oligarchs (most notably Boris Berezovsky), turned against him and launched a campaign to secure his ouster. Primakov identifies Voloshin as the "ideologist behind the attack" on him, which featured "falsifications, forgeries, lies, disinformation and the spread of incredible rumors through journalists controlled by Berezovsky."

In the memoir, Primakov portrays Yel'tsin in his second term as weak from illness, dependent on medications and unable to overcome the pressures from his "Family," an image familiar to most observers. Primakov illustrates the characterization with an anecdote from notes recorded by then-chief of staff General Nikolai Bordyuzha. In a conversation with Yel'tsin, Bordyuzha is informed that he will be replaced by Voloshin. Bordyuzha argues that the decision is being foisted on the president by certain Family members opposed to Primakov, who are angry with Bordyuzha for not joining the anti-Primakov campaign. According to Bordyuzha, Yel'tsin responded with "I hadn't expected they would acquire such power. I will chase them all out! I reverse my decision." Bordyuzha agrees to stay on, but only if the offending advisers are removed. It was, of course, Bordyuzha who was dismissed later that day.

As for the current president, Primakov uses an interview with Kremlin adviser Gleb Pavlovsky to draw out the comparisons between them. Pavlovsky cites Primakov as a "model" for Putin and claims that Primakov's failure was in not forging an alliance with the "Family," which certainly reinforces the thought that this was precisely Putin's path to power. The full memoir is due out later this summer.

Yel'tsin in China
The unusually low profile post-presidency of Boris Yel'tsin was punctured briefly last month by a trip to China and a meeting with Jiang Zemin. After meeting and dining with Zemin, however, Yel'tsin retreated to a villa on the Yellow Sea for a vacation and, reportedly, traditional Chinese therapy treatments for his various ailments. The villa, which was previously used by Mao Zedong, rents for $15,000 a night, but Yel'tsin need
not worry. The tab for him and his 18-person entourage (including at least six doctors) is being picked up by the Chinese foreign ministry. (AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, 0340 PDT, 28 May 01, and 0250 PDT, 29 May 01; via ClariNet)

Borodin returns to Geneva, but...
Despite predictions made here to the contrary, former Kremlin Economic Manager Pavel Borodin did indeed return to Geneva to face money-laundering charges. He refused, however, to answer any questions put by the Swiss investigators, claiming, through his lawyer, that as the Russian prosecutors had cleared Borodin of any charges, the Swiss had no authority to pursue the complaint. Swiss prosecutors quickly pointed out that a lack of follow-through on the part of the Russians did not mean that the Swiss could not investigate a crime committed in Switzerland. Borodin has been summoned to appear again before Magistrate Daniel Devaud in July as the investigation continues. Borodin's attitude toward the whole affair is nonchalant. I've already answered all the questions in Russia, he said before the court appearance today, "I've nothing more to do here." (AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, 0706 PDT, 11 Jun 01; via ClariNet)

Did anyone else notice that the Russian law on money laundering wasn't signed until after Borodin was cleared of all charges?

by Susan J. Cavan

Middle East initiatives-another means to thwart perceived US hegemony

When taken in isolation, Russian initiatives throughout the Middle East of late can be seen as further bids for international influence and for the revival of Russia's de facto "great power" status. However, when viewed in the aggregate, they portray a Russian maneuver designed to counter US positions and influence in the region.

Last year, it was President Clinton who tried to cast himself in the role as the Middle East peace broker. This year, President Putin seems to be vying for the role. Taking advantage of the change in US administrations and an apparently concomitant lessened US focus as compared with the late Clinton administration period, Russia has been stepping up activities designed to garner influence and prominence. Just in the last two weeks, Putin has met with Chairman Yassir Arafat in Moscow, held phone consultations with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and spoken with Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. (INTERFAX, 1312 GMT, 29 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0529, and INTERFAX, 1352 GMT, 29 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0529, via World News Connection) Russian foreign ministry officials, and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov himself, have been making multiple contacts with both sides in the dispute and calling for a new international conference to approach "the next phase in regional settlement efforts." (INTERFAX, 1335 GMT, 28 May 01; FBIS-NES-2001-0528, via World News Connection) In public statements, Russian officials hail the Egyptian-Jordanian proposal and the Mitchell Commission findings as constituting the required basis for further negotiations. What also becomes evident is the view that Russian prominence in the process is paramount. In fact, Foreign Minister Ivanov added, the "failure" [of the US] "has not cooled us but has put us in a mood for active work." (INTERFAX, 1337 GMT, 28 May 01; FBIS-NES-2001-0528, and INTERFAX, 1335 GMT, 28 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0529, via World News Connection)

The emerging Russian position favors the Palestinian view of the dispute. Putin told Arafat, "you know how we cherish the traditional friendly relations with the Palestinian people. We share the grief of the tragedy lived by the Palestinian people." (INTERFAX, 1352 GMT, 29 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0529, via World News Connection) Meanwhile, Vasily Sredin, Putin's special Middle East envoy, said both sides should do what is possible to stop the violence but he stressed Israel should withdraw its troops, stop the military and economic blockade of the Palestinian Authority, and freeze settlement activity. (INTERFAX, 0615 GMT, 29 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0529, via World News Connection) The Palestinians are responding to Russian leadership; a member of their negotiating team with Israel, Saib Erikat, "views Russia as an important mediator whom we constantly urge to take initiative and action. Russia should do everything possible to save the peace process. This is Russia's natural role." (INTERFAX, 0821 GMT, 29 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0529, via World News Connection) The Palestinian ambassador to Russia, Khairi al-Oridi, stressed that his side "pins [its] hopes on Russia." (ITAR-TASS, 1601 GMT, 26 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0526, via World News Connection)

And the dispatch of the head of the Fatherland-All Russia (OVR) faction in the Duma, Yevgeny Primakov, to tour Arab countries signals yet again the concentration of efforts in the Middle East. Primakov has long been considered a leading Soviet/Russian specialist on the region and was instrumental as foreign intelligence chief, foreign minister and prime minister during the 1990s in staking out Moscow's leadership position towards the Middle East. Usually, the Russian position under Primakov was in opposition, or at least in contrast, to the United States. Primakov has not delayed in placing the blame for the current situation on Israel. While touring in Jordan, he told the Jordanian Al-Dustur newspaper that the Israeli policy of replying to Palestinians with "disproportionate acts of violence is groundless, while murders of civilians will not put an end to intifada." (ITAR-TASS, 1221 GMT, 27 May 01; FBIS-NES-2001-0527, via World News Connection)

Primakov again was active on this front, meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Asad and delivering Putin's message of satisfaction with the recent multifaceted cooperation between the two countries and the hope that this would rise to new levels. (ITAR-TASS, 1609 GMT, 30 May 01; FBIS-NES-2001-0531, via World News Connection) Part of these new levels obviously consists of arms transfers. During the week of 21 May, Syrian Defense Minister Marshal Mustafa Tlas met with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov in Moscow. Their talks revolved around military-technical cooperation, which both sides have an interest in reviving. Moscow can expect to earn more than $1 billion as a result of implementing delivery of upgrades and new military hardware. (KOMMERSANT, 25 May 01; via British Broadcasting Corporation) (See Armed Forces section for further specifics of proposed military equipment transfers.) Russia needs to resume its previously large-scale military-technical cooperation with Syria to help bolster its flagging defense industries by generating revenue since Damascus is promising to pay in hard currency. (KOMMERSANT, 17 Apr 01; via British Broadcasting Corporation) (However, Syria still owes Russia up to $10 billion for previous arms transfers.)

These proposed arms transfers follow a mid-April Israeli Air Force strike against a Syrian radar station in Lebanon. At that time, Russian commentary postulated the Israeli strike would not have taken place unless Ariel Sharon sensed US support and that Washington might exploit any Syrian-Israeli confrontation as an opportunity to reassume the main role intermediary in the region and pursue its plan for a settlement. (KOMMERSANT, 17 Apr 01; via British Broadcasting Corporation) The recent talks can be viewed from the Russian perspective as a natural result of events during the past months and another chance to stem potential US involvement in the region.

Russia continues to warm relations with Iran on all fronts. Moscow sees Iran as a key ally in helping to establish more Russian control over Caspian energy reserves (and an alternate transport route to the one put forward by the United States and US-backed consortia) and in the Russian struggle against fundamentalist Islamic movements along their southern frontiers. While logic would see the Islamic regime in Tehran as part of that problem, Russian leaders view broader cooperation as a way of co-opting Iranian opinions and lessening anti-Russian sentiment on the part of extreme factions in Iran. The recent arms transfer discussions, nuclear energy cooperation, central banking agreements, economic proposals, press center cooperation and a host of other initiatives all help to hold Iran close to the Russian fold. In late April, Primakov was in Tehran stressing that Russian-Iranian relations should expand in "disregard of Washington's resentment." (IRNA, 1738 GMT, 29 Apr 01; FBIS-NES-2001-0429, via World News Connection)

After the years of bluster about easing and lifting sanctions against Iraq, Russia is now dragging its feet on supporting a British/US-backed measure for smart sanctions. The new proposal would lift export restrictions on all forms of humanitarian goods to Iraq while hoping to tighten the embargo against arms and dual-use products for weapons development, and at the same time extend the oil-for-food program. The UN-monitored account would ensure that proceeds from Iraqi oil sales would finance food and humanitarian aid for the Iraqi people rather than weapons purchases. This account has long maintained funds that the Iraqi government has chosen not to spend for its people. Russia's deputy UN ambassador, Gennady Gatilov, stressed that Moscow wanted "serious discussion" on the proposal and "analyzing the proposed draft resolution in a short period does not deem [that] possible." (ITAR-TASS, 0655 GMT, 29 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0529, via World News Connection) Primakov went further in slamming the US proposal, stating "Russia views those so called smart sanctions as a continuation of the embargo, and they will further exacerbate the situation in the region... US policy in the region has reached a dead end." (JORDAN TIMES, 29 May 01; FBIS-NES-2001-0529, via World News Connection) Russia's motivation in this is clear -- it wants the embargo lifted completely so that it can re-invigorate the arms trade with Iraq.

In each of these four areas, Russia is pursuing activities that seem more than coincidentally aimed at thwarting US influence in the region. Promoting a huge new package of arms transfers to Syria while attempting to pose as the broker of peace in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict would seem to be mutually contradictory and likely to raise Israeli suspicions. Vigorously pursuing increased cooperation with Iran, including arms and the field of nuclear energy, while preparing for an upcoming Putin-Bush summit meeting where missile defense is sure to be a topic, also seems to pose a contradiction. Stalling on a UN resolution aimed at truly aiding the Iraqi people after years of calling for an end to sanctions is similarly contradictory. The only common thread that explains these contradictions is an attempt to supplant the United States and to assume the status of the "power to be" in the Middle East.

by Richard Miller

SPS emerges as a party
Following the dissolution of the nine factions that had founded the Union of Right Forces (SPS), a marathon 22-hour-long constituent congress was held on 26-27 May during which SPS officially became a party. The delegates elected a 32-person political council (with Anatoly Chubais, Sergei Kirienko, Yegor Gaidar, Irina Khakamada, and Boris Nemtsov as co-chairpersons), and named Boris Nemtsov party leader by a vote of 237 out of 403. Nemtsov had been the favored candidate, but may have been aided by rival Yegor Gaidar's withdrawal from the race after the two compromised on party structure. (Nemtsov had been leaning toward a stricter framework while Gaidar advocated a looser approach.)

The SPS members also adopted a program consisting of the party's "Russian liberal manifesto," the SPS political declaration (setting the protection of democracy and of the free market as the primary goal), a statement on the party's attitude toward presidential and governmental policy ("it is unacceptable to proclaim one's loyalty to the president and the government irrespective of what they do") and an elaboration of the basic principles of the party's foreign policy concept (deploring "the absence of a single and balanced state foreign policy that would effectively protect the national interests of Russia" and voicing concern that Russia not "find itself on the sidelines of the process of globalization and fall out of the community of leading countries"). (NTV, 0748 Moscow time, 27 May 01; via, and ITAR-TASS, 1634 GMT, 26 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0526, via World News Connection)

In a greeting which was read out on 26 May, President Putin expressed the hope that the new party consistently would support "democratic reforms and contribute to the construction of the rule of law in Russia [and to] solving the tasks facing the country." (RIA, 0654 GMT, 26 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0526, via World News Connection)

The press reaction has not been entirely optimistic. While some have praised SPS for overcoming differences of opinion, there are doubts about the party's popularity (according to recent polls, it is in fourth place behind Unity, the Communists, and YABLOKO) and about its ability to gather support. The government news agency suggests that SPS appeals mainly to "big capital," which does not need a political party to represent its interests, and to the "intelligentsia" or "professionals," who comprise a very small segment of the Russian population. (STRANA.RU, 28 May 01) Still, media speculation about Nemtsov's chances in the 2008 presidential elections gives credibility to the party.

At the time of the congress, fellow democratic YABLOKO representatives expressed an interest in cooperating with SPS (another recent merger consisted of the declaration of coalition signed by YABLOKO and Democratic Russia). However, on 9 June, Grigory Yavlinsky, one of the founders of YABLOKO, declared that, while his party has a lot in common with the Union of Right Forces, the parties disagree on several basic principles including their respective attitudes toward the government and toward the war in Chechnya, and that the two coalitions will remain separate. (NTV, 1934 Moscow time, 9 Jun 01; via

The third major coordinating meeting took place between the government favorite, Unity, and Yuri Luzhkov's Fatherland. Earlier there had been rumors that the two could dissolve and form a single party; however, the Unity coordinating committee announced that it never considered dissolution and that new mechanisms of the political coordination between Unity and Fatherland remain to be worked out. Apparently, since Unity is a "party" and Fatherland is a "movement," Unity leaders had suggested that Fatherland dissolve and join Unity, which it categorically refused to do. (NTV, 1532 Moscow time, 1 Jun 01; via Some journalists joked that the name of the new party would be created by combining "Edinstvo" + "Otechestvo" = "Ediot."

Proposed reforms center on status and rights
On 29 May, President Putin submitted four bills on judicial reform to the Duma that would affect the status and rights of judges, defense lawyers and defendants. Putin also expressed the hope to have jury trials established throughout Russia within a year. Duma Deputy Anatoly Lukyanov, who chairs the Committee on State Construction, commended the professional and thorough drafting of the bill, but suggested that the proposals would engender a "heated discussion." (ITAR-TASS, 1038 GMT, 29 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0529, via World News Connection)

Debates over the concept of jury trials already have begun. Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov declared that the plans for reform are premature in general, and that "many civilized countries have dropped trials by jury as outmoded" in particular. (ITAR-TASS, 0755 GMT, 22 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0522, via World News Connection) He also opposed the death penalty moratorium in effect in Russia.

Justice Minister Yuri Chaika claims he is beginning to oppose the moratorium as well. "Terrorists who are responsible for killing innocent children and old people cannot be called people in the full sense of this word and therefore deserve the most severe punishment. The European Community cannot reproach Russia in this respect," he told Council of Europe Secretary General Walter Schwimmer. (INTERFAX, 0847 GMT, 25 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0525, via World News Connection) It is interesting that this comes on the coattails of the Timothy McVeigh death sentence controversy, which has received a lot of attention in the Russian media.

Chaika recently also called for the simplification of extradition procedures. (INTERFAX, 0830 GMT, 26 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0526, via World News Connection)

Import of nuclear waste discussed
As the time came for the third reading of the bill on importing nuclear waste, the controversy over whether this is an economic miracle or a mirage, a scientifically ordinary procedure or a future Chernobyl, flared up again. The case of Chernobyl has been brought up not only because of the nuclear connection, but also because many still remember the way that the disaster was handled: the government has cried -- not "wolf," but "saved" -- a few too many times. There is also fear that the money -- $20 billion -- will not go where it should, and that, long after the money is spent, Russia still will be paying the price. The bill has yet to receive the approval of the Federation Council and President Putin. Sergei Mitrokhin, a State Duma deputy and member of YABLOKO, suggested that the Federal Council probably will delay the bill for as long as it can. (YABLOKO and SPS were the two parties that voted solidly against the bill, which passed 243 to 125, with 7 abstentions.) (NTV, 7 Jun 01; via

How is Siberia like Texas?
The death penalty is not the only headline topic common to Russia and to America. A number of Siberian towns have experienced heavy flooding. Statistics run at 17 rayons and 70 population centers affected; 42,000 persons left homeless, at least 5 dead and 2 missing; and 7.5 billion rubles needed for restoration.

Unfortunately, there is a significant shortfall in the ability to handle the situation. At the same time, Putin's PR skills seem to be improving: The Russian president flew to the Yakutian town of Lensk, which has suffered the most from floods, and made a point of landing on Lensk's central square and walking over to the town administration office to chair a meeting of the commission created to deal with the aftermath of the disaster (being approached en route by persons asking for help).

Furthermore, Putin declared that the country was ready to sell a portion of its gold and diamond reserves to fund the restoration of the ruined town of Lensk and other settlements in Yakutia. (RIA, 0255 GMT, 24 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0524, via World News Connection)

The magic circle
Media-MOST Capital Management is suing NTV television. The Moscow committee for municipal loans and share market development (Moskomzaim) is suing Media-MOST. Russian Media Minister Mikhail Lesin is suing former Media-MOST deputy chairman Igor Malashenko and NTV. Former NTV Director-General Yevgeny Kisilev is suing NTV and Boris Jordan, the new director of NTV. LUKoil-Grant is suing TV6. Meanwhile, Justice Minister Chaika says that "nowhere is it possible to state one's viewpoint more freely than in Russia." (ITAR-TASS, 1100 GMT, 25 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0525, via World News Connection)

In better news, however, the bill to limit foreign ownership in all Russian media has been partially de-clawed, with all provisions removed except those concerning national television broadcasts, which would apply only to NTV, TV-6, TNT, ORT and RTR. (THE RUSSIA JOURNAL, 10 Jun 01; via Johnson's Russia List)

by Luba Schwartzman

Arms and other transfer agreements support Russian foreign policy

As highlighted in the Foreign Relations section above, Russia has been expanding contacts and initiatives throughout the Middle East, countering US influence and interests. Outlined below are some of the specific military systems discussed or rumored in the region.

The Syrian military is 90% equipped with Soviet-source hardware, of which almost 80% requires modernization. In his recent talks with Russian officials, Syrian Defense Minister Tlas indicated Damascus is interested in both modernization of older systems through upgrades and the purchase of new equipment. In the upgrade category, Syria would like to include: S-200E surface-to-air missile systems, T-55 and T-72 tanks, BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles, MiG-25 interceptors, and MiG-29 fighters. In the new purchase category, Syria listed 8 Iskander-E operational-tactical missile systems, 30 Su-30 fighters, the S-300PMU-1, Buk-M1, and Tor-M1 surface-to-air missile systems, the Mi-35 and Ka-52 combat helicopters, and the Project 12418 and 12421 Molniya combatant craft as possible acquisitions. Additionally, Syria expressed interest in training up to 100 military personnel a year at Russian military academies and schools. In discussing last year's Russian launch of an Israeli spy satellite, EROS-A1, from the Svobodny space center, with possible further launches for Israel, Moscow responded by proposing that 3-5 of the 30 MiG-25s due to be upgraded could be reconfigured as the MiG-25RE export-version high-altitude intelligence-gathering aircraft, which would allow Damascus to carry out airborne reconnaissance of Israeli territory with impunity. Marshal Tlas readily agreed. (KOMMERSANT, 25 May 01; British Broadcasting Corporation)

The Russian deputy minister for atomic energy, Yevgeny Reshetnikov, announced ongoing negotiations for the sale of at least five more nuclear power plants to Iran in addition to the long-coming facility at Bushehr. Various sites are being studied near Bushehr, Karun, and northern areas around the Caspian coast as possible locations for the new plants. Reshetnikov claimed that Russia would not violate any international agreements in the transfer of this nuclear technology to Iran. (ITAR-TASS, 1602 GMT, 11 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0512 via World News Connection) These potential reactor sales, and the completion of the Bushehr facility with Russian assistance, constitute serious proliferation risks. Reactor-grade uranium and plutonium can be processed for weapons use. Once the reactors are operational, Iran could reject the IAEA safeguards and begin the uranium enrichment process. The increased concern due to Moscow's involvement is warranted given Russia's past history of almost openly transferring a gas centrifuge uranium enrichment facility and atomic energy agency's reluctance to insist on Iran's return of spent-fuel plutonium from the Bushehr facility. Ultimately, both of these situations were mitigated but only through US insistence and arm-twisting of President Yel'tsin by the United States. It is doubtful whether American ability to exert this influence in the name of non-proliferation will work with President Putin.

The Iranian ambassador in Moscow headed a delegation from the Iranian Telecommunications Company to negotiate with Russia's aerospace agency officials for a contract to develop, manufacture, and launch a communications satellite for Iran. The Reshetnev Applied Mechanics Research and Manufacturing Association (NPO PM), based in the closed town of Zheleznogorsk, Krasnoyarsk territory, is expected to bid on the contract. (INTERFAX, 1138 GMT, 30 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0531, via World News Connection) The Zohreh (Venus) satellite is the first of an anticipated constellation of six that will be able to handle radio, telephone, and television signals. (IRNA, 0706 GMT, 19 May 01; FBIS-NES-2001-0519, via World News Connection)

The advance of Iran's satellite communications capability will enable its military forces to increase their command and control capability. This is particularly pertinent for the expanding Iranian naval capabilities since it could provide secure and reliable long-range communication for their KILO-class submarines working in concert with other vessels and shore installations to exercise control over vital areas such as the Straits of Hormuz. And while no specific mention of sale to Iran has been made yet, Russia's Vympel Shipbuilding Company in Rybinsk has begun the series manufacture of the Mirazh high-speed hydrofoil. This craft is being marketed specifically to Middle-Eastern and Asian-Pacific countries. Achieving speeds of up to 50 knots, this aluminum-magnesium alloy vessel designed for use in warm/tropical climates can be armed with six Ataka missiles and the Shturm fire control system. It also carries Igla antiaircraft missiles and an automated multifunction gunnery system. (ITAR-TASS, 0714 GMT, 22 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0522, via World News Connection)

Iran is interested in adding Tor-M1 short-range antiaircraft missile systems to its air defense network. Russia is discussing including this with the various armaments, spare parts, and technical assistance packages discussed earlier this year. (See THE NIS OBSERVED, 17 Jan 01, for further discussion of Russian-Iranian arms transfers.) (ITAR-TASS, 0751 GMT, 28 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0528, via World News Connection)

While Russia has been anxious to see the lifting of sanctions to revive its arms trade in the open, it is becoming more and more apparent that illegal transfers and assistance are still underway. Speaking at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey on 4 June, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said American and British pilots who fly patrols over Iraq are under increasingly dangerous fire because of improved Iraqi defenses. He blamed China and other countries, which he said had supplied the Iraqis with advanced antiaircraft technology. (THE NEW YORK TIMES, 5 Jun 01) While it was known that Chinese technicians were installing fiber-optic networks for the air-defense command and control, the "other countries" reference points a finger at Russia since the Iraqi air-defense network is largely of Soviet design and systems (limited French systems as well).

Russia's ongoing and proposed military transfers to the Middle East support its current foreign policy initiatives of expanding Russian influence, creating ties to bolster its perceived "great power" status, and further challenge the military force of the US and her allies operating in the region.

by Richard Miller

In recent days, President Leonid Kuchma and Prime Minister Anatoliy Kinakh have gone to great lengths to portray their country as leaning to the west. A series of regional meetings -- the most important, of course, being the GUUAM summit -- has allowed the two to reacquaint Ukraine with Western representatives, and Western representatives with Ukraine. Kuchma once again has been able to sell his country as a European oil transit alternative and also to suggest gingerly that the Europe Union include Ukraine in its future plans. "A sort of barrier, if not an iron curtain, practically exists at the border today," he told reporters on 4 June. "If you asked me one month ago, I would have said that there were no concrete measures [to develop relations with Ukraine] on the part of the leadership of the European Union... I have recently started to have optimistic hopes." (UKRAINIAN NEWS, 5 Jun 01; via ISI Emerging Markets)

Those hopes came as the result of meetings with Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski, a high-profile visit by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and word that Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson, whose country holds the EU presidency, will visit on 19 June. Consequently, Kuchma and Kinakh each have been putting their best Western foot forward. Kinakh, who is not known for his disagreements with Russian business leaders or officials, has been especially vocal. It is essential, he said at the end of May, that Ukraine diversifies its energy supply. "Now," he noted, "Ukraine's energy security hugely depends on Russian supplies. This is alarming, because a situation like this quite often is exploited for political purposes." (INTERFAX, 1715 GMT, 29 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0529, via World News Connection)

But despite this rhetoric, has anything really changed since one month ago, as Kuchma suggested?

To be sure, the fact that GUUAM finally managed to agree on an organizational charter, especially given the precarious domestic situations within all of the member countries, should be vigorously welcomed. Yet, the group failed to sign an agreement to create a free trade zone. But, really, did anyone ever expect Moldova and Uzbekistan to betray Russia and agree to this? The charter -- and the members' recommitment to the transport corridor -- are accomplishment enough for one summit. Simply put, the prospect that these countries may actually create an alternative pipeline route to Russia -- and that China and Pakistan may be interested in participating -- is an unlikely thought. Of course, much work remains, especially given the large gaps still plaguing the Silk Road corridor, the unfinished construction on the Odessa-Brody-Gdansk pipeline, and the lack of significant investment in the project. Nevertheless, the summit should bolster the hopes of liberals within Ukraine who worried that the Gongadze scandal would usher in an era characterized by the Little Russian syndrome.

Yet, there was something hollow about Kuchma's wholehearted support for Western-oriented policies during the summit. Something was just a little off.

Could it be that his words came shortly after he announced that he would name a batch of hand-picked "state secretaries" answerable only to him to oversee the work of the cabinet? Or that the Constitutional Court, which is expected to rule on the constitutionality of this move, reportedly already is being pressured by Kuchma's "friends?" Perhaps it is because Kuchma continues to attempt to fulfill an agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin (made seemingly in exchange for Putin's support during the Gongadze affair) to join their countries' electric power grids? Or perhaps it is because the judge who released Yulia Tymoshenko from jail and effectively ruled that Georgiy Gongadze was dead is being investigated vigorously for negligence? Certainly Judge Mykola Zamkovenko's words don't portray a high level of democratic orientation. "If they keep pressuring me like this," he said, "I will have to appeal to Radio Liberty and seek political asylum for my family, for my children and wife. I am not afraid for myself." (UKRAYINA MOLODA, 29 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0529, via World News Connection)

Yes, something was just a little off in Yalta. And it still is. Kuchma may have returned to a Western-oriented foreign policy, but domestically, the president's methods continue to resemble more closely good old-fashioned Eastern authoritarianism.

The pope is coming! The pope is coming!
As the pope's visit to Ukraine nears, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Aleksei II continues to sound the alarm. The visit, he exclaimed, will "complicate" relations between the Orthodox and Catholics because "the Greek-Catholic war continues against Orthodox believers in Ukraine." (ITAR-TASS, 1106 GMT, 3 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0604, via World News Connection) As a result, "The wounds are still bleeding that were inflicted at the beginning of the 1990s when Greek Catholics violently seized Orthodox churches." And those wounds were not helped when "recently Greek Catholics attempted to destroy an Orthodox church in Lviv to clear the way for the Pope's procession," he dubiously claimed. (THE INDEPENDENT, 8 Jun 01; via Johnson's Russia List) Finally, he said, he is waiting to see whether the pope's expression of repentance for wrongs done to Orthodox believers is genuine. "It has only been declared so far," he noted, "and we shall see how his words about forgiveness will materialize in reality."

Curiously, Aleksei made no mention of his plans to ask for forgiveness for the decades that he supported the suppression of Catholics in the Soviet Union. Or for his refusal to recognize an independent Ukrainian Orthodox church. Perhaps he was too busy trying to figure out how to hold on to "believers" in Ukraine. Judging from a number of polls taken in the 1990s, the majority of Ukrainians have deserted the Moscow patriarch. For example, in 1993, 48% of those polled in Ukraine gave allegiance to the Kyiv patriarch, while only 16% supported Aleksei. A separate poll in 1994 found a 41% to 23% breakdown. Add to that the 15-16% who follow the Greek Catholic faith, and Aleksei does indeed have much to worry about. (For poll details, see Andrew Wilson, UKRAINIAN NATIONALISM IN THE 1990s, p. 90.)

Preparing for Armageddon . . .
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has begun preparing his people for the inevitable -- the Western invasion. Yes, it's true that he has prepared them for this event many times in the past, but this time it's for real. And apparently it's being spearheaded by the OSCE.

On Victory Day, Lukashenka explained his unique theory of war. "The first war was the Great Patriotic War, the second was the Chernobyl disaster, and the third was the collapse of the USSR," he said. "Now attempts are being made to foist a fourth war on us, a war similar to the one in Yugoslavia. Vast sums of money are being spent on this, and all-out efforts are being made to bring unprecedented outside pressure to bear." (OBSHCHAYA GAZETA, 17-23 May 01; Current Digest of the Post-Soviet Press, via lexis-nexis)

Now Lukashenka has found the main source of this "outside pressure" and "vast sums of money." On 17 May, Foreign Minister Mikhail Khvostov railed against Hans-Georg Wiek, the OSCE chief of mission for Belarus. Wiek has been informed, Khvostov said, "that we will no longer tolerate OSCE activities aimed at destabilizing the country, and that if these continue we will examine the question of his expulsion." Furthermore, the foreign minister complained that the OSCE had been transformed "into an instrument of control over Eastern European countries." (AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, 18 May 01; via lexis-nexis)

Clearly, the OSCE's intention to provide election observers for the upcoming presidential election is seen as disturbing to President Lukashenka and his disciples, especially since the opposition so far has managed to craft an effective campaign. The five men interested in battling Lukashenka for his position have formed a coalition campaign designed to confuse the authorities as to which one will actually run in the end. So far, it has been effective. Vladimir Goncharik, who is the chairman of the Belarusian Federation of Trade Unions, former Grodno Province Governor Semyon Domash, former Defense Minister Pavel Kozlovsky, former Prime Minister Mikhail Chigir and Communist Party leader Sergei Kalyakin are all managing to go about collecting the necessary signatures to contest the election. Perhaps the best evidence that they are having some level of success is the need for Lukashenka to create fears of attacks on the state and inappropriate activity by the OSCE. Removing the activist OSCE head from the area would certainly help his cause. The president obviously does not feel that his hold on power is totally secure. Only the future will tell, however, if his grip can truly be undone.

by Tammy M. Lynch

Publish the pictures
In testimony to Congress last week, a senior state department official, acting special advisor for the NIS John Beyrle, spoke of Russia's "culture of impunity" with regard to human rights violations and "crimes" against Chechens. (JOHNSON'S RUSSIA LIST, 5 Jun 01) Beyrle called on other states and international agencies to put pressure on Russia. However, there is more the US government can do to promote pressure on perpetrators.

When Chechen Foreign Minister Ilyas Akhmadov met with Beyrle in March, he asked the US government to make public satellite photography of evidence of Russian atrocities in Chechnya, including mass graves and detention camps. Frequent harassment and intimidation, and in some cases violence, against journalists and human rights workers have limited the flow of information from the republic. In the past, the US has used its satellite photography to expose atrocities committed in Serbia and Iraq but has hesitated to apply the same standard to Russia.

Spring: Birds sing. Flowers bloom. Russian commanders panic.
By now most politicians and analysts agree that the Russian occupation of the Chechen republic has been a failure. Unable to break the Chechen resistance, federal forces have only embittered the Chechen civilians. Not even the demagogues of the war dare to forecast any successes. The main question remaining is best expressed by paraphrasing T.S. Eliot: How will it end? With a bang or with a whimper?

If the patterns of the last war are any indication, the Russian side will not undertake talks until the Chechens have made a very loud "bang." In the past it took the form of Shamil Basaev's July 1995 operation in Budennovsk or Aslan Maskhadov's liberation of Grozny in August 1996. However, despite widespread rumors and expectations of large-scale counteroffensives last summer and this spring, such operations have not materialized. Instead, the Russian forces seem to be dissolving from the cumulative damage of numerous guerrilla attacks and a heightened sense of their own futility.

On 31 May, FSB Deputy Director Rear Admiral German Ugryumov died of a heart attack in Khankala. Since January he had been in charge of all operations in Chechnya. On 4 June Gennady Troshev, the commander of the North Caucasus Military district, called for public hangings. Troshev is temporarily in charge of military operations in Chechnya since his predecessor, General Valery Baranov, was relieved in May. On 7 June Glasnost - North Caucasus reported that 20 senior officers serving in Chechnya have been dismissed in the last month. It's safe to say that the leadership of the Russian forces is feeling the strain.

Confirming that the occupation has accomplished very little, a Duma deputy from the YABLOKO faction, Aleksei Arbatov, summed up his impression from a trip to Chechnya: "Supposedly, militants, drugs and ammunition are coming into Chechnya through the mountainous regions. But that is not the case. Strange as it may seem, the situation is the other way around. Right now, in the mountains things are under control to a much greater extent than in the plains regions. (...) We were flying on that ill-fated helicopter in the mountainous regions, in the Argun ravine (...) and everything went well." (VREMYA MN, 5 Jun 01) The Argun ravine borders Georgia and has been denounced repeatedly as a source of militancy. Arbatov's helicopter in fact was shot down over Ingushetia. President Aslan Maskhadov's forces have taken responsibility for this action, adding that they would not have shot the plane if they had known a Duma deputy was on board.

Counting the losses
On 16 May, presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky gave the figure of 3,096 total losses in the present conflict. Two weeks later the defense minister, Sergei Ivanov, came up with a lower number. According to Ivanov, the Ministry of Defense had lost 2,026 men and the total for the combined group of forces (including security services) comes to 2,682. (AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, 28 MAY 01; via Johnson's Russia List) According to a General Staff report, obtained by Argumenty i Fakty, the number of losses for Russian servicemen is 3,108. (30 May 01)

That those numbers vastly understate the true losses can be judged from a document cited by the news service on 30 May. In a 22 May letter to the Duma, Vladimir Zolotarev, the chairman of the presidential commission for prisoners of war internees and missing in action, states that defense ministry laboratories have identified 2,369 bodies of Russian servicemen who had died in the North Caucasus from 1 August 1999 to the present. Only bodies that cannot be identified without the help of forensic specialists are sent to the lab. This number of corpses must be fewer than the number whose identity can be ascertained more readily. If the ratio is estimated very conservatively at 1 to 1, this yields nearly 5,000. Last spring, the Soldiers' Mothers Committee counted 4,500 fatalities combined for the military, MVD and security services, and estimated that the actual number could be as high as 7,000.

Troop withdrawal halted
In May the military halted the previously announced withdrawal of combat units from Chechnya, notes the authoritative defense journalist Pavel Felgenhauer. In February it was announced that Ministry of Defense troop levels would be decreased to 23,000 in addition to the 20,000 FSB and MVD troops. In May the withdrawal was halted at an estimated combined force of 75,000. (MOSCOW TIMES, 24 May 01) On 4 June the MVD announced that soon 1,500 troops would be added to the 46th brigade stationed in Chechnya, which at present numbers 6,000. (POLIT.RU)

This news came just as some officials began to call publicly for a withdrawal of forces. Stanislav Ilyasov, the prime minister of the Russian-installed Chechen government, described a conversation with Chief of Staff Anatoly Kvashnin in which Ilyasov advised Kvashnin to "withdraw gradually." "The war is over. I had a serious conversation with Kvashnin. I told him 'Come on now, move out.'" (REUTERS, 6 Jun 01) However, on 8 June Minister for Chechnya Vladimir Elagin stated that a withdrawal of forces will not be discussed in the near future. (POLIT.RU)

Chechenization a flop
Just as the military occupation has failed, so too have attempts to shift responsibility to Chechen civilian authorities. On one hand, these officials lack legitimacy because they are propped up a brutal occupying army. On the other hand, if they do establish any public confidence they become unreliable for the federals.

In addition to Ilyasov's comments cited above, several other incidents illustrate this tension. On 4 June, Aslanbek Aslakhanov, himself a retired MVD general and now the Duma deputy from Chechnya, threatened to resign if "cleansings" and disappearances don't cease. (POLIT.RU) On 6 June Ilyasov announced Gen. Troshev's agreement to coordinate military operations with the Chechen government, just as the military closed roads to Grozny preventing the Chechen government from holding a meeting there. (GAZETA.RU, 6 Jun 01) Akhmad Kadyrov commented on the resignations of three local officials and the assassinations of three other administrators and five policemen. Kadyrov, the head of the Russian-installed administration, said: "I will not be surprised if all the heads of local administrations hand in their resignations tomorrow," since neither the federal forces nor the local police can protect them from attacks by the Chechen resistance. (Jamestown Foundation MONITOR, 8 Jun 01)

Give apartheid a chance!
According to a Russian newspaper, when he was MVD minister, current Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo issued Order 151 "On Abolition of conditions for organization of terrorist acts in Russia." The order was intended "to set up strict conditions for the life and activities of ethnic Chechens in the Russian Federation,... to restrict and if possible ban residency of ethnic Chechens in Moscow and other Russian cities,... restrict departure of ethnic Chechens from their permanent residence and the issuing of visas and foreign passports, ... to audit companies involving ethnic Chechens and other residents of Chechnya and freeze their bank accounts, with the purpose of preventing financial aid to guerrillas,... [and] to detain ethnic Chechens and bring them to local internal affairs directorates for identification...." (VREMYA MN, 15 May 01; via lexis-nexis)

This directive, which Rushailo now denies issuing, was made public by Beslan Gantamirov. A convicted criminal who was freed from jail to assist the federal forces in their operations against Grozny in 1999, Gantamirov was later appointed deputy to Kadyrov and then named mayor of Grozny. He resigned this position on 17 May , only two days after the decree's publication. On 1 June, reported that General Viktor Kazantsev will soon appoint Gantamirov as chief federal inspector in Chechnya.

Gantamirov's quarrel with the MVD and his recent appointment by Kazantsev are manifestations of a continuing power struggle among the power ministries. On 3 May, he accused Russian troops of beating and killing Chechen civilians during a May Day "cleansing" in the marketplace of the Chechen capital, which led to clashes among men from the MVD, the army and the Chechen militia. "Three people who had no link whatsoever with (Chechen separatist) rebels were killed and a dozen others injured by mortar shells fired by a unit" of the Russian interior ministry forces, Gantamirov told television station NTV. (AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, 3 May 01; via lexis-nexis) Killings of ethnic Russians in Grozny served as the pretext for the MVD's May Day cleansings. Gantamirov ordered his militia to find those responsible and execute them on the spot. (INTERFAX, 5 May 01) Considering widespread and persistent rumors that those engaged in such activities are Russian-sponsored provocateurs, Gantamirov's order may have been interpreted as a threat against Russian agents. As he reiterated on 4 June, Gantamirov would execute "terrorists" without the "delay" associated with arrest, detention, and trial. (VESTI.RU)

Troshev clarifies
Even if the Rushailo decree is a fake, there is no lack of bad ideas. On 4 June Troshev told Izvestia: " I would do it like this: Gather all of them in the town square, string up the bandit and let him hang, so that all can see!" Gennady Raikov, head of the pro-Kremlin People's Deputy faction of the Duma, and Rostov Governor Vladimir Chub expressed support for Troshev's approach. (POLIT.RU, 6 Jun 01)

The president's spokesman, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, quickly commented that those must be the general's private views and only those fighters who refuse to surrender their weapons can be killed without trial. Troshev clarified on 8 June that executions should occur only after a trial. (POLIT.RU) On 9 June Troshev offered a new plan: District administrators in Chechnya should mobilize the relatives of the fighters to exercise their influence and persuade the fighters to surrender their weapons. (LENTA.RU)

Troshev's comments indicate that the federal side has run out of options. These remarks also show how far public values have degenerated in just one year. Troshev and Gantamirov went substantially beyond what even Col. Budanov deemed publicly permissible. In March of 2000, Col. Yuri Budanov took a young Chechen woman out of her home, then beat, raped, and murdered her. Later, when he was charged with the crime, he explained that he thought she was a sniper. However, he did try to conceal her body and hide his guilt. A year ago there was something shameful about this sort of behavior. Now, after Budanov has become a folk hero, Troshev and Gantamirov can call publicly for extra-judicial execution.

by Miriam Lanskoy

CST states sign rapid reaction force agreement

On 25 May in Yerevan, the presidents of the six CIS Collective Security Treaty (CST) states -- Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan -- gave the green light for the creation of a rapid reaction force to fight international terrorism on the southern borders of the CIS.

In a joint statement, the leaders highlighted the importance of setting up rapid reaction forces to form part of "a strong and united resistance to attempts to violate the peace and stability of Central Asia." (AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, 25 May 01; via lexis-nexis) The joint rapid reaction force will be relatively small at first, consisting of approximately 2,000 troops. It will be formed from battalions from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan, and will be used to respond to flash points in Central Asia, particularly the unstable Tajik-Afghan border. Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Tajik military contingents will be based in their respective countries. Russia will reallocate one battalion of its 201st motorized division, already stationed in Tajikistan. (IZVESTIA, 26 May 01; via lexis-nexis) The battalions eventually will be expanded to brigade-sized quick reaction units. The nucleus of this rapidly deployable force will consist initially of airborne units that will depend heavily on Russian aviation for mobility. (NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA, 25 May 01; via lexis-nexis) The formation of a "coalition expeditionary corps" will enable Russia and the three Central Asian states to react more concretely than before to threats arising in the region. (VREMYA NOVOSTI, 28 Apr 01; via the Current Digest of the Post-Soviet Press)

Kyrgyzstan Defense Minister Esen Topoev said the operational headquarters for the rapid reaction force will be based in Bishkek, and that the force should be ready by 1 August. The command and control relationships for the nascent force presumably were outlined during recent "Southern Shield" exercises in Moscow. Russia almost certainly will dominate the key leadership positions and command structure. CST defense officials said the force's main task is to repel incursions into former Soviet territory by armed Islamic groups allegedly supported by the Taliban in Afghanistan, in addition to other crisis management responsibilities. (AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, 25 May 01; via lexis-nexis)

While designed to work in Central Asia, the force will not include troops from Turkmenistan, a militarily non-aligned country, and Uzbekistan, the largest regional military power. Indeed, Uzbekistan's military aviation played a significant role last summer in halting armed insurgents infiltrating a remote mountainous region bordering southern Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan from bases in Tajikistan. According to Vladimir Rushailo, Russia's Security Council secretary, "The rapid deployment force was created for Central Asia, and this is why there are all prerequisites for Uzbekistan to join this organization." (ITAR-TASS, 28 May 01; via lexis-nexis) However, Ashgabat and Tashkent withdrew from the collective security agreement in 1999 and have accused Moscow of using the threat of Islamic insurgency to preserve its military presence in the region.

by LtCol James DeTemple

Central Asian countries face an uphill struggle for reform
Since winning presidential elections in October last year that were described by international observers as a sham, Kyrgyzstan President Askar Akaev has made moves and instituted policies that are designed to bolster his image. Speaking to The New York Times last month, Akaev stated: "We admit that mistakes were made, and we are fully committed to correct them and stay on the track of democracy." (THE NEW YORK TIMES, 10 May 01) President Akaev clarified his statement, claiming that his top priority is the alleviation of poverty and the improvement of his country's human rights record.

On 29 May, Akaev began to attempt to institute some reforms. Speaking at a forum in Bishkek, he promised that his country would honor all of its foreign debt obligations, and would take out loans only for the "most essential projects." He also introduced a program called the "Comprehensive Development Framework," which purportedly is designed to fight poverty and root out corruption. However, the program encountered some problems. Parliamentary opposition groups, Kyrgyzstan and Communists of Kyrgyzstan, claim that the government did not allow parliament to consider the CDF documents, and blocked opposition participation in the preparation of the plan. (EURASIA INSIGHT, 30 May 01; via EurasiaNet, Kyrgyzstan Daily Digest.)

On a tour of Central Asia, Germany's foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, stopped in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Several members of the Bundestag, as well as an economic delegation, accompanied him. Prior to Mr. Fischer's departure, a foreign ministry press release stated that talks in Central Asia would focus on economic and security issues, in a continuation of President Islam Karimov's recent visit to Berlin.

In meetings with senior Uzbek officials, including President Karimov, Prime Minister Utkir Sultanov and Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Komilov, dialogue was focused largely on security, human rights and economic issues. Speaking after the meeting, Fischer elaborated on the issues that had been discussed. He stated that he had raised the topic of security, especially the question of drug trafficking, since a substantial portion of narcotics that reach Germany comes from Central Asia. Mr. Fischer claimed that Tashkent's willingness to cooperate on such important problems would influence EC policy positively toward Uzbekistan. The economic aspect of the talks, meanwhile, were centered on the question of how German investment in the country could be increased. Last year, trade exchanges between the two countries amounted to $291 million. (EURASIA INSIGHT, 28 May 01; via EurasiaNet, Uzbekistan Daily Digest)

In Kazakhstan, the discussions were of a similar nature, as Fischer met with President Nursultan Nazarbaev, Prime Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev, and Economic Minister Zhaksybek Kulekeev. The meetings specified a number of issues that will be discussed further, when President Nazarbaev travels to Germany in October. The timing of Fischer's meeting with the Kazakh president, in which he spoke of the need for Kazakhstan to reform more quickly, fortuitously coincided with the rejection of an appeal by the editor of Kazakhstan's opposition newspaper against a one-year prison sentence, on charges of "insulting the honor and dignity of President Nazarbaev."

Speaking to the press after his summit with Kazakh ministers, Fischer stated:
"We discussed the link between democracy and the creation of a state governed by the rule of law." Fischer added that during talks with Economic Minister Kulekeev, he had spoken of the fact that a developing economy requires greater transparency, which is impossible to achieve without a deeper separation of powers. (RFE/RL NEWSLINE, 23 May 01)
On the subject of trade, Fischer, as he had done in Uzbekistan, noted that turnover between the Federal Republic of Germany and Kazakhstan was healthy, exceeding $1 billion annually.

by Fabian Adami

May flowers for the Baltic countries

May brought an increase in the momentum of political support for EU and NATO Baltic enlargement, highlighted by two significant meetings at the end of the month.

On 27 May, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly opened in Vilnius, Lithuania. The delegations from the 19 NATO countries met for five days to discuss the most pressing issues of the alliance. Enlargement topped the list. The assembly has no formal status within NATO's command structure, but the primary assembly attendees are the lawmakers of the member countries who would have to ratify the treaty in order to enlarge the alliance.

The meetings provide the aspirant countries with a forum through which they can build political support for enlargement. It seems that the Baltic states were successful in this endeavor. Although NATO member support for the Baltics has been evident throughout the Spring (see THE NIS OBSERVED, 2 May 01), the three ex-Soviet countries have been able to consolidate backing; many former doubters are becoming supporters. During the assembly, NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson said in a speech that the alliance is committed to accepting new members and the fact that some aspirant countries were former Soviet territories would have no bearing on eventual membership invitations.

Russian delegates did not attend the Vilnius session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. On 23 May, the State Duma carried a resolution to increase resistance to NATO's putative eastward expansion. The Duma told the permanent delegation not to attend any assembly events in NATO candidate countries, because attendance would be tantamount to a tacit agreement that NATO expansion is inevitable. A recent poll of Russian foreign policy experts indicated that a total of 52.9 percent see NATO enlargement as a threat. But on 29 May, Lithuanian foreign minister said that the three ex-Soviet Baltic states are "sick and tired" of being kept out of NATO because of Russian objections. (AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, 1443 GMT, 01 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0529 via World News Connection) After the assembly, the debate over the inevitability of NATO enlargement was put to rest once and for all: Decisions regarding NATO enlargement in 2002 will not revolve around Russian resistance. The momentum for enlargement is undeniable.

The third joint meeting of the Baltic Assembly (BA) and Nordic Council occurred in the Latvian capital Riga from 31 May to 2 June. This meeting demonstrated that the Baltic countries and the Nordic countries are intent on common regional cooperation. After the meeting, the chairman of the Nordic Council, Svend Erik Hovmand, said that the participating countries -- Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden -- will be able to express their collective opinion as eight equal partners in the future. The meeting's main issues included EU enlargement, regional cooperation, participation of parliaments in Europe's Northern Dimension project, and security and defense policies.

The Nordic countries stressed that they "actively back a reasonable, democratic and adequate process of inclusion of the Baltic countries in EU which would result in their full-fledged membership." (LETA, 1001 GMT, 1 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0601, via World News Connection) The participants agreed also that the current cooperation will continue after the process of EU enlargement is complete. Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs Indulis Berzins expressed concern lest certain European Union candidate countries be grouped together, because such grouping ignores the individual countries' actual readiness to join. (In EU discussions thus far, Latvia has been considered to be in the second group for consideration -- behind fast-track countries such as Estonia.) The deputy chairman of the BA Security and Foreign Affairs Committee, Vytautas Landsbergis, stated that the Baltic countries do not want to be considered "a special case," and that they should be admitted into the EU because they are prepared, not because they are perceived as a buffer zone between Europe and Russia. In the same speech, however, Landsbergis warned that the West should take care to prevent Kaliningrad from becoming a "black hole" in Europe. (LETA, 1148 GMT, 1 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0601, via World News Connection)

Also discussed at the meeting was Russia's involvement in the Northern Dimension, the EU's initiative for regional cooperation and development in northern Europe. Latvian delegate Romualda Razuks said that involvement with the Northern Dimension would allow better cooperation with Russia: "In a short period the Northern Dimension has become an important instrument for regional cooperation that enhances regional stability, the EU enlargement process and economic integration of Russia." (LETA, 0855 GMT, 1 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0601, via World News Connection) The eight countries agreed, however, that the Northern Dimension project on regional cooperation should not be seen as an alternative to EU or NATO enlargement.

Issues concerning security were pervasive throughout the BA and Nordic Council meeting. It was determined that the eight countries will increase dialogue concerning defense policies. The conclusion of this meeting was that the enlargement of the EU and NATO is crucial for stability, freedom, peace and welfare in Europe.

International warm fuzzies
The chairman of the US Senate's Foreign Relations European Affairs Subcommittee, Gordon Smith, forecast that US President George W. Bush would actively support NATO expansion. US leadership is essential to the implementation of NATO enlargement. Smith also said that NATO would invite the Baltics despite the borders that the two have with Russia, and despite Russian opposition.

The president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Lord Russell-Johnston, in a speech to the Estonian parliament on 31 May, praised Estonia's contributions to the EC as disproportionate to its size. According to the NATO commander-in-chief of Allied Forces North Europe, Gen. Sir Jack Deverell, Estonian defense structures are approaching NATO goals as well.

Upon his arrival for the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson commended Lithuania for carrying out its membership action plan. Robertson told reporters, "I am happy that defense reform taking place here takes Lithuania in the right direction, and not only for the membership action plan, but for the defense of Lithuania as a whole." (BNS, 0812 GMT, 31 May 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0531, via World News Connection) However, Lord Robertson added that all eight other NATO aspirant countries were doing well with their membership action plans, and he would not comment on Lithuania's chances for a NATO invitation at the next summit meeting in Prague 2002.

German Bundestag President Wolfgang Thierse gave high marks to Latvia's progress in the political and economic sectors and confirmed Germany's support for Latvian strides toward EU and NATO membership. Before the recent summit in Brussels, the EU commissioner for enlargement, Guenter Verheugen, told Latvian Prime Minister Andris Berzins that Latvia, along with other "second-group" candidates for EU membership, most likely will be able to catch up with the first group of candidates. Norwegian Foreign Affairs Minister Thorboern Jagland also expressed support for Latvia joining NATO.

Such statements must be providing some assurance for the Baltic states, as they continue to aspire to international alliances. And vocalized support only can help to reiterate that the West is keeping its eye on what happens in the region. That can provide security in the short term by itself.

by Maria K. Metcalf

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