Institute for the Study of Conflict, Ideology and Policy


• • • • •

The ISCIP Analyst


Behind the Breaking News


Publication Series

• • • • •


Lecture Series


• • • • •

Search The ISCIP Analyst (formerly the NIS Observed):

The NIS Observed: An Analytical Review
Volume VI Number 11 (11 July 2001)

Russian Federation

Foreign Relations by Richard Miller
Domestic Issues & Legislative Branch by Luba Schwartzman
Armed Forces by Richard Miller

Newly Independent States

Western Region by Tammy Lynch
Caucasus by Miriam Lanskoy
Central Asia by Fabian Adami
Baltic States by Maria K. Metcalf

Links will not function until page is completely loaded.
Search Back Issues    Subscribe to NIS Observed

Back Issues

Volume XII
No.1 (27 January 2006)

Volume XI
No.4 (08 December 2005)
No.3 (17 November 2005)
No.2 (03 November 2005)
No.1 (20 October 2005)

Volume X
No.9 (11 August 2005)
No.8 (26 July 2005)
No.7 (8 June 2005)
No.6 (25 April 2005)
No.5 (6 April 2005)
No.4 (25 March 2005)
No.3 (4 March 2005)
No.2 (11 February 2005)
No.1 (31 January 2005)


Volume IX
No.19 (9 December 2004)
No.18 (10 November 2004)
No.17 (28 October 2004)
No.16 (15 October 2004)
No.15 (29 September 2004)
No.14 (15 September 2004)
No.13 (18 August 2004)
No.12 (4 August 2004)
No.11 (15 July 2004)
No.10 (23 June 2004)
No.9 (12 June 2004)
No.8 (12 May 2004)
No.7 (28 April 2004)
No.6 (8 April 2004)
No.5 (26 March 2004)
No.4 (5 March 2004)
No.3 (19 February 2004)
No.2 (06 February 2004)
No.1 (23 January 2004)


Volume VIII
No.20 (11 December 2003)
No.19 (20 November 2003)
No.18 (7 November 2003)
No.17 (24 October 2003)
No.16 (10 October 2003)
No.15 (25 September 2003)
No.14 (12 September 2003)
No.13 (22 August 2003)
No.12 (10 August 2003)
No.11 (10 July 2003)
No.10 (18 June 2003)
No.9 (28 May 2003)
No.8 (7 May 2003)
No.7 (23 April 2003)
No.6 (9 April 2003)
No.5 (26 March 2003)
No.4 (5 March 2003)
No.3 (19 February 2003)
No.2 (5 February 2003)
No.1 (22 January 2003)


Volume VII
No. 20 ( 18 December 2002)
No. 19 ( 4 December 2002)
No. 18 (20 November 2002)
No. 17 (30 October 2002)
No. 16 (16 October 2002)
No. 15 (25 September 2002)
No. 14 (11 September 2002)
No. 13 (21 August 2002)
No. 12 (24 July 2002)
No. 11 (10 July 2002)
No. 10 (12 June 2002)
No. 9 (22 May 2002)
No. 8 (1 May 2002)
No. 7 (17 April 2002)
No. 6 (3 April 2002)
No. 5 (13 March 2002)
No. 4 (27 February 2002)
No. 3 (13 February 2002)
No. 2 (30 January 2002)
No. 1 (16 January 2002)


Volume VI
No. 20 (12 December 2001)
No. 19 (28 November 2001)
No. 18 (7 November 2001)
No. 17 (24 October 2001)
No. 16 (10 October 2001)
No. 15 (26 September 2001)
No. 14 (12 September 2001)
No. 13 (21 August 2001)
No. 12 (1 August 2001)
No. 11 (10 July 2001)
No. 10 (13 June 2001)
No. 9 (23 May 2001)
No. 8 (2 May 2001)
No. 7 (18 April 2001)
No. 6 (4 April 2001)
No. 5 (21 March 2001)
No. 4 (28 February 2001)
No. 3 (14 February 2001)
No. 2 (31 January 2001)
No. 1 (17 January 2001)


Volume V
No. 19 (13 December 2000)
No. 18 (29 November 2000)
No. 17 (11 November 2000)
No. 16 (25 October 2000)
No. 15 (11 October 2000)
No. 14 (27 September 2000)
No. 13 (13 September 2000)
No. 12 (23 August 2000)
No. 11 (2 August 2000)
No. 10 (12 July 2000)
No. 9 (21 June 2000)
No. 8 (16 May 2000)
No. 7 (24 April 2000)
No. 6 (4 April 2000)
No. 5 (21 March 2000)
No. 4 (29 February 2000)
No. 3 (15 February 2000)
No. 2 (1 February 2000)
No. 1 (18 January 2000)


Volume IV
No. 20 (20 December 1999)
No. 19 (6 December 1999)
No. 18 (15 November 1999)
No. 17 (1 November 1999)
No. 16 (18 October1999)
No. 15 (27 September 1999)
No. 14 (13 September 1999)
No. 13 (31 August 1999)
No. 12 (4 August 1999)
No. 11 (14 July 1999)
No. 10 (23 June 1999)
No. 9 (2 June 1999)
No. 8 (10 May 1999)
No. 7 (5 April 1999)
No. 6 (5 April 1999)
No. 5 (22 March 1999)
No. 4 (1 March 1999)
No. 3 (15 February 1999)
No. 2 (1 February 1999)
No. 1 (13 January 1999)


Volume III
No. 18 (9 December 1998)
No. 17 (16 November 1998)
No. 16 (4 November 1998)
No. 15 (21 October 1998)
No. 14 (7 October 1998)
No. 13 (16 September 1998)
No. 12 (2 September 1998)
No. 11 (3 August 1998)
No. 10 (16 July 1998)
No. 9 (18 June 1998)
No. 8 (28 May 1998)
No. 7 (7 May 1998)
No. 6 (23 April 1998)
No. 5 (26 March 1998)
No. 4 (5 March 1998)
No. 3 (19 February 1998)
No. 2 (5 February 1998)
No. 1 (22 January 1998)


Volume II
No. 22 (4 December 1997)
No. 21 (20 November 1997)
No. 20 (6 November 1997)
No. 19 (23 October 1997)
No. 18 (10 October 1997)
No. 17 (25 Sep 1997)
No. 16 (9 Sep 1997)
No. 15 (20 Aug 1997)
No. 14 (6 Aug 1997)
No. 13 (23 July 1997)
No. 12 (9 July 1997)
No. 11 (18 June 1997)
No. 10 (4 June 1997)
No. 9 (21 May 1997)
No. 8 (7 May 1997)
No. 7 (23 April 1997)
No. 6 (9 April 1997)
No. 5 (26 March 1997)
No. 4 (5 March 1997)
No. 3 (19 February 1997)
No. 2 (5 February 1997)
No. 1 (22 January 1997)

Volume I
No. 4 (18 December 1996)
No. 3 (4 December 1996)
No. 2 (20 November 1996)
No. 1 (6 November 1996)

The NIS Observed: An Analytical Review
Volume VI, Number 10 (11 July 2001)


In the wake of the Bush-Putin summit in Slovenia, senior Russian foreign policy officials continue primarily to hammer away at the proposed American National Missile Defense (NMD) system and proposed NATO expansion. And the Russians persist with the carrot-and-stick approach; on one hand, they speak of consultation and cooperation; on the other, they threaten arms races and treaty withdrawal.

On the cooperative note, former defense minister and now special presidential advisor Igor Sergeev hinted at initiating a prolonged dialogue. Meeting with various Bush administration officials in Washington between 16-20 June, he called for clarification of US statements on warhead reductions in return for ABM treaty modification. As a former strategic rocket forces commander, he assumed the role of a strategic weapons "specialist" simply requiring greater information to move forward in the discussions. (INTERFAX, 0745 GMT, 23 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0623, via World News Connection) Sergeev has called for international analysis of proliferation threats, free from political considerations, to determine the best way to proceed. He and Russian defense ministry officials also have hinted at possible warhead reductions on the Russian side to 1,000-1,500 warheads. (INTERFAX, 1132 GMT, 29 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0629, via World News Connection) These figures essentially are driven by financial considerations due to Russia's inability to maintain the currently larger force; they also match the numbers purportedly being considered by the Bush administration. Such numbers of warheads are anticipated in current START-III drafts. Whether or not this approach becomes a central aspect of possible START-III negotiations remains to be seen.

But Moscow and Putin are doing their best to play their hand from a clearly weaker position at the bargaining table. While references to further discussions lingered after the summit, tough rhetoric also followed, with Putin threatening to pull out of all strategic arms treaties if the US amended or withdrew from the ABM treaty. Additionally, the Russians claimed that they would be forced to consider MIRVing their missiles to counter any potential US shield. Hints of a putative MIRV response emanated from many Russian officials, including the new commander of the Missile Troops, General Nikolai Solovtsov. At a military academy graduation ceremony he said that "if the U.S. continues to step up work in this direction [NMD development], Russia and missile troops are capable of reciprocating with some measures which will help set off such developments." (ITAR-TASS, 0514 GMT, 24 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0624, via World News Connection) This was orchestrated by the tests of two MIRVed missiles in June. An SS-H-23 submarine-launched ballistic missile was fired (ITAR-TASS, 1444 GMT, 28 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0628, via World News Connection) as was a land-based SS-19. Defense ministry sources evaluated the 27 June SS-19 test: "These [SS-19] have very much greater chances of overcoming the missile defense system of a potential enemy than the Topol-M modern missile systems." (ITAR-TASS, 0701 GMT, 27 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0627, via World News Connection) There is only one enemy they could have in mind with that statement.

Putin also continues to line up international support for his opposition to US NMD. In the reversal of the Cold War triangulation involving China and the US versus the USSR, Putin has now aligned with China to counter perceived US hegemony. In the same carrot-stick mindset, Russian officials are careful at least publicly to put a thin veneer of diplomacy on the initiative so as not to paint an entirely anti-US picture. Leading up to Putin's meeting with the Chinese president to sign a new cooperation treaty, Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Losyukov stated, "it's incorrect to explain the rapprochement of Russia and China with anti-American feelings or the striving for military-political union." However, he also added, "naturally, the rapprochement is based on similar assessments of international development prospects, but it is mostly explained with the pragmatic understanding of national interests of the two countries." (ITAR-TASS, 1843 GMT, 3 Jul 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0703, via World News Connection) The Russian president also made the anti-NMD stand a centerpiece in his talks with French President Jacques Chirac last week in Moscow. Putin certainly had to have been pleased with the joint statement released following the latter summit that included the Russian criticisms of US missile defense plans. As the Western European power most likely to challenge perceived US predominance, it is not surprising that Putin courted France.

NATO expansion
Moscow also is continuing to express opposition to NATO expansion, albeit with less conviction of success as NATO members show increasing determination to accept new members. According to a Russian defense ministry statement, "NATO remains a military-political organization. The Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union have ceased to exist. We do not understand the meaning of NATO's enlargement and feel uncomfortable and concerned about this. Further strengthening of this powerful military alliance may cause instability in the whole of Europe." On Baltic state admission, the ministry added, "[the alliance] will directly approach the Russian borders and we shall have to take responsive military measures to guarantee our national security." (INTERFAX, 0723 GMT, 3 Jul 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0703, via World News Connection) And if words were not enough, on 29 June Russia began a large, 10-day command post exercise in the Leningrad military district and Baltic Fleet -- the military forces that border the three Baltic states. This coincided with the NATO's Supreme Allied Commander's trip to the Baltic states. US General Joseph Ralston's visit was designed to assess the progress of the three Baltic states on meeting the conditions for NATO accession. According to statements, he was favorably impressed. (LETA, 1412 GMT, 28 Jun 01, and ITAR-TASS, 0936 GMT, 28 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0628, via World News Connection) Coincidentally or not, the Russian Baltic exercise also began as the NATO Partnership for Peace exercise, Cooperative Partner 2001, wrapped up in Georgia. The Russian defense ministry stated that the Baltic exercise was "not a warning measure," yet it was the first time an operation of this scale was conducted there in over 12 years. (RIA, 0928 GMT, 29 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0629, via World News Connection) Baltic and Georgian officials clearly have stated their interests in NATO membership, although recognizing its geographic position, Georgia also has expressed its desire not to mar its relationship with Russia. Russia, however, says that it is a cooperative partner of NATO and that cooperation cannot develop further if its views and desires are not heeded and enlargement plans halted.

by Richard Miller

Duma keeps busy
The Russian members of parliament have been fairly active in the past month. Some of the most significant bills considered were: a draft appeal to the leadership of the Serb Republic of Yugoslavia not to hand over Slobodan Milosevic to The Hague tribunal, passed by a vote of 272 to 77, with one abstention (RIA, 0858 GMT, 28 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0628, via World News Connection); an ominous constitutional law "On admission of new constituent parts to the Russian Federation," approved by 375 votes, with one abstention -- just which new territory does Moscow have in mind? (INTERFAX, 1304 GMT, 28 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0628, via World News Connection); an approval in the first reading of a federal draft law on privatization of (non-strategic) state and municipal property, approved 266 to 132 (ITAR-TASS, 0551 GMT, 22 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0622, via World News Connection); as well as an anti-tobacco law, passed in the third and final reading, which provides guidelines for cigarette content, warning labels, a minimum number (20) of cigarettes per package, locales for tobacco sales, smoke-free workplace and transportation provisions, and finally, a limitation on the portrayal of smoking in films and plays, as well as a prohibition on media outlets showing public and political figures smoking. (INTERFAX, 0947 GMT, 21 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0621, via World News Connection)

The most controversial bill to pass through the State Duma in the past month, however, was the government's draft of the Land Code. The Communists and their obedient sidekicks, the Agrarians, originally had tried to cancel or delay the first reading of the draft; on the day of the reading, their supporters picketed the State Duma building and even stopped traffic on nearby Okhotnyi Ryad Street for 30 minutes. A number of the communist leaders spoke at the improvised rally and the picketers accosted non-communist deputies headed into the Duma assembly with whistles and jeering.

The agitation did not stop at the doors. Agrarian deputy Nikolai Kharitonov brought a loaf of bread with him as a symbolic argument. The Agrarians and Communists chanted "shame, shame" and tried to prevent the main speaker, German Gref, from getting to the podium by crowding the space at and around it. In an attempt to resolve the issue, Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev announced a recess and called Vladimir Putin. The Russian president promised to discuss all of the changes to the second draft with leaders of all factions, but this did not assuage the leftists. Passions got so aroused that a fist fight broke out. Aware of the futility of their protests, Communist and Agrarian deputies walked out before the vote (which approved the bill 251 to 22 with three abstentions). As for the Duma speaker, he was taken to the hospital to be treated for high blood pressure. (ORT, 15 Jun 01; via

Death penalty debate resurfaces
An equally major controversy concerns the death penalty. When Russia entered the Council of Europe in February of 1996, it placed a moratorium on the use of the death sentence and pledged to sign Protocol No. 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which outlaws the death penalty, within a year, and to ratify it within three years. Russia still has not come through on this promise. Furthermore, recently a number of political figures (including former dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn) have spoken in favor of abolishing the moratorium after jury trials are instituted throughout the nation. In response, the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Lord Russell-Johnston, noted that a cancellation of the moratorium "would inevitably lead to the questioning of whether Russia is fit to continue as a member of the Council of Europe." (DECLARATION BY THE PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT, 31 May 01; via

Those in favor of re-instituting the death sentence call attention to Russia's uniqueness and to polls which indicate that most Russians support the death penalty. Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov declared that "what is good to quieten Europe does not fit Russia.... Europe does not have Chechnya, Europe does not have (rebel leader Shamil) Basaev... special conditions authorize special measures." (ITAR-TASS, 0844 GMT, 13 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0613, via World News Connection) Perhaps the strongest argument against the death penalty concerns not the concept itself, but its potential application to those seized for "drug trafficking" (a request made by a number of regional leaders, including Irkutsk Region Governor Boris Govorin, Chelyabinsk Mayor Vyacheslav Tarasov, Chelyabinsk Region Governor Petr Sumin, and Sverdlovsk Region Governor Eduard Rossel). Prominent writer and chairman of the Russian presidential clemency
commission, Anatoly Pristavkin, summed up this argument: "In our country, if there is a need to arrest a person, a package with drugs is put into his pocket right before his eyes and then retrieved in the presence of witnesses. So now we are going to execute such 'drug-dealers.'" (ITAR-TASS, 1608 GMT, 26 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0626, and INTERFAX, 1556 GMT, 13 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0613, via World News Connection)

Out with the old...
Earlier insinuations that the number of committees in the Duma would be reduced from 28 to 12 and that committee portfolios would be redistributed are still hanging over the heads of the Communists; now there are also rumors that government-favorite Unity is on a crusade to replace Nikolai Troshkin, the head of the Duma Office of Administration (an entity that is
accused of serving solely the interest of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation). There is also speculation about the replacement of the (Communist) State Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev on the grounds that his party no longer constitutes the largest faction in the Duma. (ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA, 21 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0622, via World News Connection)

...and in with the new
Meanwhile, prominent businessman Boris Berezovsky has reasserted his intention to "set up a political party in Russia, a real opposition party that will struggle for power... find a common language with the patriotic part of society and express its interests... [and] combine the ideas of liberalism with the ideas of patriotism." Berezovsky had originally intended to throw his weight and money behind the Union of Right Forces (SPS) but had been rebuffed by SPS's new leader, Boris Nemtsov. His sponsorship of channel TV-6 most likely is not completely unconnected with his quest. (INTERFAX, 0907 GMT, 1 Jul 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0620, via World News Connection, and THE MOSCOW TIMES, 30 May 01; via

Also, the Russian political movement Enterprise Development officially has declared itself a political party. Leader Ivan Grachev announced that the party "has over 11,000 members with fully-fledged party structures numbering more than one hundred persons in over 50 Russian regions," which means that Enterprise Development will be eligible for official status once the bill on political parties (approved by the lower house in the third and final reading on 21 June by a vote of 238 votes to 164 with no abstentions) makes its rounds. (ITAR-TASS, 1221 GMT, 16 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0616, and INTERFAX, 0751 GMT, 21 June 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0621, via World News Connection)

This can't be good news
At least six of the Ten Plagues have descended upon the Russian Federation. (Quick reminder: (1) The Nile waters turn to blood; (2) The frogs; (3) The lice; (4) The flies; (5) The disease of livestock; (6) The boils; (7) The hailstorm; (8) The locusts; (9) The darkness; (10) The death of the firstborn)

(1) Water has not turned to blood, but the flooding certainly caused loss of life (with as many as 15 persons reported dead) -- and a little bit of blood-letting in the apparat -- with Anvar Shamuzafarov, former chairman of Gosstroy (State Committee for Construction and the Housing and Municipal Complex) as the number one victim. (ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA, 23 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0625, via World News Connection) More recently, flooding also has reached emergency status in the Irkutsk oblast'. (ORT, 9 Jun 01; via

(5) While the scare of mad cow disease actually has been alleviated, a number of restrictions remain in effect -- especially in Kyrgyzstan where reports of possible infection were received. (INTERFAX, 1201 GMT, 1 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0601, via World News Connection)

(7) It's unlikely that a hailstorm brought down the TU-154 on 3 July, but then again, historically, the official Russian (and Soviet) explanations for catastrophes are usually equally doubtful. The surprising factor is how much the Russian president has learned about PR since the Kursk disaster. Not that many more people died when the plane mysteriously extended its landing gear, turned 180 degrees, and crashed not far from the city of Irkutsk: 145 versus 118. This time, however, Putin's reaction was lightning-quick. He expressed his condolences to the families, and decreed 5 July 2001 to be an official day of mourning, with flags flying at half-mast, entertainment shows pulled from television broadcasts, and an official moment of silence to start that day at many enterprises. (ORT, 4 Jul 01; via

(8) Over 339,800 hectares of land have been plagued by locusts in Dagestan and in the Stavropol Territory.

(9) Darkness descends. In Russia no one is surprised when homes are left without water and electricity for days, when television or radio stations suspend broadcasts, or when "all auxiliary facilities" of military bases lose their power supply for non-payment, as at the Northern Fleet Belomorskaya naval base in Severodvinsk a couple of weeks ago. (ITAR-TASS, 2218 GMT, 22 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0623, via World News Connection) An interesting development, however, was Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov's statement to journalists on 26 June regarding the "prospects for introducing presidential rule" in the Maritime region if the situation gets "critical" next winter. (RIA, 26 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0626, via World News Connection) It will be interesting to see to what extent the "deeper intervention" by federal authorities will go.

(10) As for the tenth plague -- the death of the newly free media while still in their infancy: this time, no one has been spared. When, on 23 May, Vladimir Gusinsky transferred his 14 percent of Ekho Moskvy shares to the radio station's team of journalists, there was some hope that this successful and popular station would escape the Media-MOST carnage. But then, on 2 July, the Russian Federation prosecutor-general and the Federal Security Services froze the share transfer. Gazprom has promised to keep coverage objective and independent, but there is much understandable skepticism concerning this guarantee. Five deputy editors -- Marina Koroleva, Irina Tsvei, Sergei Buntman, Tatyana Shcheglova and Vladimir Varfolomeev -- resigned the following Friday, 6 July. (INTERFAX, 1147 GMT, 2 Jul 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0702, via World News Connection, and THE MOSCOW TIMES, 9 Jul 01; via

Then, there is TV-6 itself, which took on a number of NTV journalists, including prominent Itogi program anchor Yevgeny Kisilev. The television channel's chairman, Badri Patarkatsishvili, who is currently out of the country, has been ordered to appear in court. He told journalists that "immediately after the NTV team headed by Yevgeny Kisilev came over to TV-6, a stream of lawsuits came down on the company while company staff was blackmailed and threatened." (INTERFAX, 1714 GMT, 29 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0629, via World News Connection)

There is no mystery as to what the government is trying to achieve. President Putin's message to Media-Soyuz, a new media union, sums it all up. "A free press is the most important guarantor of the irreversibility of our country's democratic course," he declared, but then noted ominously the need for "journalists who work constructively, in the interests of all society... [and] contribute to the formation of Russia's single information space." (RIA, 0722 GMT, 13 Jun 01; FBIS- SOV-2001-0613, via World News Connection)

by Luba Schwartzman

Personnel changes resume

When Putin installed Sergei Ivanov as defense minister late in March and shifted several other senior MOD positions, he promised no further shake-up of personnel for at least two to three months. Well, time is up: On 29 June, Putin signed the decree retiring Colonel General Valery Manilov, first deputy chief of the General Staff. A defense ministry spokesman said Manilov was discharged because he had reached the maximum age for military service, 60 years. Actually, Manilov is 62, having continued service the past two years on an extension waiver. Closer to the truth, Manilov probably was released due to increasing differences with Defense Minister Ivanov. Manilov had become a "fixture" in this staff posting. Over the past few years, he actively spearheaded work on Russia's military doctrine and other key documents as well as serving as a vocal spokesman for operations in Chechnya. Unofficial sources indicated the post of first deputy may be eliminated in the military reform efforts. (ITAR-TASS, 0544 GMT, 30 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0630, via World News Connection) This would be consistent with predictions that Ivanov would use his ties to the president and strengthened position to squash dissenting opinions for his reform efforts within the upper ranks of the MOD.

It was also announced that Colonel General Leonid Ivashov soon will leave his post as chief of the defense ministry's Main Department on International Military Cooperation, although that post will remain within the structure of the defense ministry. Ivashov was offered another post on the military coordinating body of the CIS -- the place to which senior Russian officers are banished apparently when they fall out of favor with the current leadership. Former commander of the Strategic Rocket Forces, General Yakovlev, recently was appointed there as chief of staff; Ivashov would become his first deputy. (INTERFAX, 0958 GMT, 3 Jul 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0703, via World News Connection) Ivashov's current post was a source of early friction between Ivanov and Chief of Staff Anatoly Kvashnin in April when Kvashnin tried to fire Ivashov and transfer the functions of that department out of the General Staff. In recent weeks, rumors that Kvashnin also may soon be sacked have been circulating. (MOSKOVSKIYE NOVOSTI, 26 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0626, via World News Connection)

Senior officers are not the only targets of personnel changes. Defense Minister Ivanov has stated that he wants to accelerate manpower reductions to help finance the military reform efforts. Ivanov said he considers it "justified and desirable" to have the bulk of the cuts in the Russian armed forces made in 2002-2003, faster than originally projected. He is predicting the first real "fruits" of military reform and professionalization will not be evident until the 2005 timeframe. (INTERFAX, 1641 GMT, 24 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0624, via World News Connection) With some 100,000 troops cut by the end of 2001, the follow-on reductions may go a little deeper than initial estimates. A defense ministry spokesman said the "optimal size" when completed will be a military force of 1 million (this does not include the armed services of other "power ministries"). (INTERFAX, 1118 GMT, 29 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0629, via World News Connection) Accelerating the cuts will make more funding available for investments in hardware and welfare programs for the troops.

Aviation highlighted
As one of the areas in dire need for hardware investment, statements and articles concurrent with the recent Paris Airshow have again spotlighted the crumbling state of Russian military aviation. Speaking in Yekaterinburg to the 5th Air Force and Air Defense Army, the Air Force chief of staff, General Anatoly Kornukov, stated the current condition of Russian aircraft is "critical" and that "there is no money to buy new equipment." He said the Air Force will buy a paltry few new Su-30 fighters and one to two new S-400 air defense missile systems next year. In tune with Defense Minister Ivanov, Kornukov is pinning his hopes on the 2005 timeframe to start receiving needed equipment. (INTERFAX, 1400 GMT, 27 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0627, via World News Connection)

A recent article by Viktor Litovkin derided not only the problems mentioned above by Kornukov, but other inherent problems as well, including: the lack of simulator trainers, lack of upgraded avionics and radar in current airframes, and "half-hearted decisions in the re-structuring of the aviation industry itself." (OBSHCHAYA GAZETA, 21 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0621, via World News Connection)

Inflation may offset budget benefits
Underpinning the success of any military reform efforts is proper financing. In a recent article titled "Leaving Inflation for Later," Dr. Mikhail Delyagin, economics professor and director of the Institute of Globalization Problems, defends recent increases in the MOD budget but doubts they will be enough to achieve reform. While the 13.4% budget increase over last year helps to address readiness problems and pay for the troops, he says inflation will cause the real increase in defense purchasing power to rise only by .36-1.25%. If inflation turns out to be higher than predicted, or inadequate government controls fail to achieve projected GDP growth and revenue collection, then next year military spending actually may suffer a decrease in real terms. (ROSSISKAYA GAZETA, 26 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0626, via World News Connection)

by Richard Miller


The other great schism
Over the last several weeks, there was substantial discussion (to put it mildly) of the religious divisions plaguing Ukraine. Analysts and reporters examined the issue from just about every conceivable angle. But another division that will likely also cause problems in the future was talked about very little.

As Ukraine moves closer and closer to Western international organizations, it seems to move farther and farther away from Western human rights norms. As the country begins to involve itself more closely with NATO and the European Union, it continues to be plagued by a clampdown on media; governmental strong-arming of the judiciary, kompromat politics, and corruption.

Although the disconnect between foreign and domestic policies has been a factor in Ukrainian politics for years, it has intensified dramatically since the Georgiy Gongadze scandal. During this period President Leonid Kuchma seems to have realized that he and his supporters were beyond the reach both of Ukraine's domestic laws and of the international community's temporary indignation. Since then, media repression has intensified in the country, pressure on independent judges has reached new heights and Kuchma's control over the country's cabinet has become almost absolute. At the same time, Ukraine has solidified its Western-oriented foreign policy by aligning itself more closely with NATO and the European Union. In fact, some have suggested that this cooperation with the West may reach new levels with Ukraine's dispatch of a peacekeeping force to Macedonia.

On 5-6 July, Ukraine hosted a NATO conference attended by 350 representatives from 17 member-countries and 19 partner-countries. The pronouncements of Ukraine's leaders left little doubt about their policy toward NATO. The state news agency Ukrinform noted that Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko called cooperation with the European Union and NATO a key aspect of the country's foreign policy. Meanwhile, Yevhen Marchuk, Ukraine's National Security Council secretary, reiterated his country's desire to become a member of the European Union. (UKRINFORM, 5 July 01) Perhaps most significantly, Volodymyr Hobulyn, the head of Ukraine's Commission for the Defense-Industrial Complex, suggested that Ukraine's policy of neutrality may become impossible to maintain if Russia continues its opposition to NATO expansion. Because of difficult relations between NATO and Russia, he told the conference, Ukraine could end up on "the border . . . of the sphere of influence between NATO and Russia." In this case, he implied, Ukraine may sacrifice its neutrality to side with NATO in foreign policy matters. (UKRINFORM, 6 July 01)

For his part, NATO Secretary-General George Robertson went out of his way to embrace Ukraine during the conference. Just the fact that the conference was held in Kyiv was significant, but Robertson's statements suggesting a future expansion of cooperation between NATO and Ukraine were even more important. (UKRAINIAN NEWS, 5 Jul 01; via ISI Emerging Markets Database) According to the Ukrainian daily Kievskiye Vedomosti, this future cooperation could come in the very near term. On 6 July, reporter Serhiy Kyselyov wrote that Robertson and Kuchma have agreed on the inclusion of a Ukrainian battalion in the upcoming Macedonian peacekeeping mission, if NATO allies are not able to muster the necessary 3,000 soldiers. Kyselyov noted Robertson's particular concern about Germany's ability to produce its promised battalion.

Kyselyov's report, of course, has not been confirmed and in many ways seems questionable. There is little doubt that Ukraine would be interested in assisting NATO, especially given the recent statements of its leaders, but would NATO want to risk angering Russia? Perhaps yes, if the organization truly believes Ukraine is as important to European security as many of its representatives have stated in recent days. And there is no doubt that Macedonian officials trust Ukraine -- they have visited during the crisis, sent their pilots to be trained at Ukrainian airfields and taken possession with gratitude of a small but significant amount of military hardware. Having a trusted Slavic participant in the peacekeeping operation would clearly be an asset for NATO. Still, involving a non-member in a NATO operation would be a tricky proposition. However, regardless of what does or does not happen with Ukrainian peacekeeping in Macedonia, the NATO conference has moved forward the Ukrainian-NATO relationship. This, combined with new interest in Ukraine on the part of European Union leaders, confirms Ukraine's success in forging positive relationships with Western international organizations and enhances the country's international profile.

Ukraine's leadership has not been so successful in forging positive relationships with its domestic organizations -- particularly those related to the media. While these leaders were basking in the glow of the NATO conference, television reporter and director Ihor Alexandrov lay in a coma as the result of a beating taken in the stairwell of the station where he worked. He died without regaining consciousness the day after the conference ended. As a result of this attack, which came on the heels of the Gongadze murder, the human rights watchdog group Reporters Without Borders called Ukrainian violence against journalists the worst in Europe.

Alexandrov was no stranger to repression. He was jailed in 1998 after reporting on the corruption of local officials in the Donbas; his release came only after his case was heard in the European Court of Human Rights. Despite this experience, Alexandrov apparently continued to investigate and report on corruption. Therefore, while it is possible that he was the victim of a crime unrelated to his work, it seems that Alexandrov finally received a sentence that could not be overturned by any international tribunal. Kuchma and Prime Minister Anatoliy Kinakh have not commented on the Alexandrov case -- they were too busy hosting the conference.

Hrach ratchets up the pressure again
President Kuchma responded to the ongoing (and never-ending) political crisis in the Crimean Republic last week by trying his best to do nothing.

At the end of June, the communist speaker of the Crimean Parliament, Leonid Hrach, once again issued his semi-annual demand that Kuchma dismiss the reformist Crimean Prime Minister, Serhiy Kunitsyn. Hrach has been calling for Kunitsyn's ouster for several years, but had no legal ammunition until May of last year. At that time, Hrach's Communist-dominated parliament passed a vote of no confidence in Kunitsyn and his cabinet. The victory was hollow, however. President Kuchma must approve any action to dismiss a Crimean cabinet, and he has declined steadfastly to do so. Kunitsyn is a loyal Kuchma ally, and the president values his position in the rebellious Crimea.

Nevertheless, Hrach is loud and persistent and Kuchma clearly felt some type of action was needed. He acted, therefore, as any good politician would when he doesn't want to do anything -- he set up a commission. This "special group" will "study the situation and talk to people," Kuchma's chief of staff said. But, there should be no illusions about the situation, Volodymyr Litvyn noted. "The fact that there is still no solution shows that we are interested in preserving stability and the fragile balance that presently exists," he said. (UKRAINIAN NEWS, 3 Jul 01; via ISI Emerging Markets Database) That balance leaves Hrach, a dedicated communist with close ties to Gennady Zyuganov and dreams of joining the Russia-Belarus Union, on one side, and Kunitsyn, a reformer with close ties to Kyiv and dreams of realigning the autonomous republic with the Ukrainian center, on the other. Although the power struggle often results in political stalemates, Kyiv has shown no inclination to alter the situation. A formerly secessionist republic embroiled in political stagnation is clearly more desirable than one with a strong, but hostile, political system.

Consequently, while Kuchma plays lip service to Hrach's demands for attention, he likely just will sit back and enjoy the upcoming battles in the Hrach-Kunytsin war.

by Tammy Lynch

Welcome to Oz...

On 28 June the Duma adopted on the third reading the ominous law "On the procedure for accepting into the Russian Federation and constituting within it a new subject of the RF." The law establishes a procedure for adding new territories and reorganizing territories already in the Russian Federation. New territories may include whole states or portions of foreign states. The measure passed with 375 votes, none opposed and one abstention. In the absence of the text of the law, summaries appearing in and Interfax on 28 June are being employed here.

The law specifies a procedure for adding new members which is a simplification of the process of constitutional amendment. Regions can be merged into larger units, if the regional legislatures initiate this process and the populations approve in referenda. The project subsequently must be approved by both houses of the Federal Assembly. Then the new entity can be added to the constitution. The addition of a foreign state would require an international treaty, a review by the constitutional court, and ratification in the Duma. It's unclear how a foreign territory that is not a state could be incorporated into the Russian Federation.

This law has several consequences. It clarifies the conditions under which the incorporation of Belarus could proceed. That state would not be able to enter as an equal partner, as it has insisted, but would have to become a region within the Russian Federation. The law is consistent with the Kremlin's regional policy in that it creates possibilities for revising Russia's federal system by merging regions into larger units. However, it seems that regional governments retain some protection against such measures.

Creating a process for the incorporation of foreign territory into the RF is an aggressive political proclamation with no legal consequences. Having nurtured rebellious autonomies in neighboring states, Russia tries to use them as leverage in its relations with those states and raises the possibility of incorporating the territories into Russia. No rosy glasses or posturing in the Duma can legitimate what is a patently illegal process of imperial expansion.

A spokesman of the Azerbaijani opposition Musavat Party, Sulhaddin Akbar, denounced the legislation, saying: "This decision shows that Russia has not still stopped its empire policy. The purpose is to strengthen separatist movements in the newly formed independent states, break stability in those states, and so, to broaden influence possibilities of Russia in the region." (DEMCONGRESS BULLETIN N19, 3 Jul 01)

Indeed, the separatists reacted rapidly. A two-day meeting of the "foreign ministers" from the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transdniestr was held in Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, from 2 to 4 July. The participants sought to coordinate strategies to press their case against the central authorities of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova. (RFE/RL NEWSLINE, 3 Jul 01 and MONITOR 10 Jul 01)

This was far from the first occasion of coordination among the rebel entities. On 20 -22 November 2000, the "foreign ministers" of the same four separatist territories met in Tiraspol to coordinate their policies and issue a joint statement that was publicized from Yerevan. (Jamestown Foundation MONITOR, 1 Dec 00) This immediately preceded the 27-28 November 2000 OSCE conference where Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and other members of GUUAM were expected to press Russia to comply with its various international obligations (and to cease its support for the separatists).

Moreover, according to a former OSCE official, such meetings have been held on several other occasions in the past, including a gathering in Moscow in the fall of 1999 with representatives of the same separatist entities participating. The Moscow meeting may have included consultations with representatives from the Russian military and the Duma. The regress from Yel'tsin to Putin is notable: Under Yel'tsin such meddling in the internal affairs of neighboring states was conducted semi-clandestinely and US diplomats heard tidbits about these meetings in passing. Under Putin, this particular Russian pressure on its GUUAM neighbors is accompanied by press releases and coordinated openly with the Duma.

A wicked witch is dead ...
One wicked witch, Arbi Baraev -- the Chechen commander linked to a number of hostage-taking incidents and to the FSB -- is dead. Another wicked witch, General Valery Manilov -- the first deputy chief of the General Staff and military spokesman on Chechnya -- was relieved of his duties and retired on 29 June. According to Anna Politkovskaya, the FSB has started killing off its own network of informants in Chechnya. (NOVAYA GAZETA, 28 Jun 01) These developments could be interpreted as clearing the way for talks with Aslan Maskhadov.

Some have even started thinking about the contents of a solution. The deputy prime minister in Maskhadov's government, Apti Bisyltanov, would compromise on the status of Chechnya. Chechnya would be sovereign but it would also recognize special Russian economic and political prerogatives. In this context, it is useful to remember that Dzhokhar Dudaev, Chechnya's first president, offered a deal by which Chechnya would remain in the ruble zone and forbear from joining anti-Russian alliances. The Radio Liberty correspondent, Andrei Babitsky, has suggested that, if accompanied by a condemnation of Basaev's incursion into Dagestan and Maskhadov's inaction in this regard, and if it were legitimized by a referendum on Chechnya's status, the package solution should bring hostilities to an end. (RADIO LIBERTY, 29 Jun 01)

...but munchkins have little to celebrate
In fact, "cleansings" against Chechen civilians have intensified over the last week. Mass arrests of Chechen males were conducted in Starye Atagi, and the village Alkhan Yurt was subjected to the second "cleansing" over a two-week period. On 5 July two more local district administrators from Sernovodsk and Assinovskaya resigned in protest over the cleansings in their districts. In response to the charges of illegality and repression, FSB Director Nikolai Patrushev explained that Chechen "fighters commit crimes in Chechnya, using Russian uniforms for this purpose." (POLIT.RU, 4, 5, and 6 Jul 01)

The journalist Politkovskaya published a list of persons who were arrested from villages in the Vedeno district that she had visited in February. Following her investigative reporting on the torture and trade of Chechen prisoners by Russian military personnel, there were inquiries and investigations. In March all was calm, it seemed the "cleansings" had ceased. Then came "April, May, June ... And now, tragedy. Those who, without giving a damn about the consequences, decided to talk publicly with me are no longer with us. Disappeared. Shot. Bodies sold back... How am I supposed to live now? What is happening in this country? For talking to a journalist the governing authorities can kill?" (NOVAYA GAZETA, 2 Jul 01)

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain
As the Chechen war limps through its second summer, the Russian forces are unable to break the Chechen resistance and President Vladimir Putin is unwilling to begin peace talks. Neither Putin nor his aides have articulated coherent objectives and strategies. Instead, they seem to have chosen to ignore the magnitude of the problem in favor of doing what they have been doing -- brutalizing the population, driving the Russian military to the point of collapse, and occasionally shaking up the cadres.

As a result of this neglect, articulating federal policy for Chechnya has fallen on the unlikely shoulders of one Beslan Gantamirov, recently appointed to the post of federal inspector for the South Federal District. Gantamirov describes his duties as preparing and conducting elections in Chechnya, drafting a constitution, training personnel, and coordinating the activities of other agencies and organizations. Gantamirov has been studying the Tatarstan model and holding consultations with Ruslan Khasbulatov, Salambek Khadzhiev, Umar Avturkhanov, and Aslambek Aslakhanov, among other prominent "Moscow Chechens." In the next few weeks he will propose a new constitution of a parliamentary republic (without the office of president) which would be in line with the Russian constitution. Election to this body would be held next spring. (OFFICIAL KREMLIN INTERNATIONAL NEWS BROADCAST, 29 Jun 01; via lexis-nexis)

Beslan Gantamirov has had a very colorful career. At one time an associate of Dzhokhar Dudaev, Gantamirov joined the federal side during the first war and was appointed mayor of Grozny. From that position he was sent to jail on embezzlement charges and was set free only in 1999 to form a Chechen militia which would assist the federal forces in their operations against Grozny. Last summer he was briefly appointed deputy to Koshman, then Kadyrov (his bitter rival), and then named mayor of Grozny. As mayor he came into public confrontation with the MVD, was reprimanded by MVD Minister Boris Gryzlov and subsequently tendered his resignation. Just two weeks later General Viktor Kazantsev, the presidential representative to the southern district, appointed him federal inspector, potentially a more powerful position than mayor.

Gantamirov's conflict with the MVD became public in the aftermath of the MVD's May Day "cleansing" of the Grozny market. This event involved clashes between Gantamirov's militia and the MVD during which marauding troops shot up the market and nearby buildings, killing three Chechen guards as well as arresting and severely beating over a dozen others. According to the news service, the Russian military commandant was barred from entering the city. On 3 May, Gantamirov -- who was not present in Grozny during those events -- denounced the MVD for beating and killing Chechen civilians. On 4 May the power ministers, Nikolai Patrushev (FSB), Sergei Ivanov (MOD), and Boris Gryzlov (MVD), met in Grozny and thoroughly chewed out their subordinates. The resignations and dismissals which seemingly are still in flux followed on this tumultuous meeting.

Then came the news that five ethnic Russians were murdered in Grozny. Gantamirov ordered his militia to find those responsible and execute them on the spot. "It is not a matter of shooting everyone. We are only referring to criminals. If you see that a terrorist is planting a bomb or preparing a terrorist act, just kill him and there will be no detentions or arrests," Gantamirov told Interfax on 7 May.

Gantamirov's particular phraseology recalls the famous incident in Ryazan in 1999 when the agents of the local MVD arrested FSB agents who had laid mines in an apartment building. The MVD released the suspects after the FSB explained that the mining of the building was simply a training exercise. (See THE NIS OBSERVED, 17 Nov 00) In view of the persistent rumors that those engaged in acts of terror are Russian-sponsored provocateurs, Gantamirov's order may have been interpreted by some as a threat against Russian agents. Condemnation from official Russian circles followed swiftly, with Gryzlov calling Gantamirov's comments illegal and extremist. In fact by 7 May the prosecutor general had initiated an inquiry into the matter. By way of comparison, when on 4 June the general in charge of military operations in Chechnya, Gennady Troshev, made similar comments about stringing up "bandits" in the town square, no action by the prosecutors office seemed forthcoming.

As he reiterated on 4 June, Gantamirov would execute "terrorists" without the "delay" associated with arrest, detention, and trial. These comments did not dissuade Kazantsev from appointing him federal inspector, tasked with overseeing Chechnya's reconstruction and planning its constitution and elections.

Some contend that negotiations with Chechnya's president, Aslan Maskhadov, would be futile because rival commanders might not comply with his orders. Yet few note that Russia's forces are plagued by similar rifts and competitions. In view of his sparring with the MVD, Gantamirov's recent appointment by Kazantsev indicates deep cleavages among powerful Russian factions. Chechnya is the field in which bureaucrats and officers battle for personal riches and career advancement.

Chechnya policy is by no means the only arena in which competitions among client-patron networks take precedence over basic values such as the rule of law, freedom of speech and the interests of the state. However, due to the mounting casualties and enormous suffering, it is in Chechnya that the failure to formulate policy is most tragic. Only a realization that no amount of tinkering with appointments will save the Russian campaign can lead to a fundamental reassessment of Russia's political objectives and strategies.

by Miriam Lanskoy

Shanghai Cooperation Organization admits Uzbekistan, signs accords

On 14 and 15 June, the leaders and defense ministers of the Shanghai-Five countries met in Beijing. At this summit, the group officially changed its name to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. For the first time since the group's inception in 1996, the so-called Shanghai Spirit, effectively the group's manifesto, was evoked. According to commentators, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is not an alliance system, but rather a partnership between countries with common aims and problems. Its goal is to seek "extensive bilateral and multilateral cooperation and exchange, to put peace and security on a more solid foundation." (XINHUA, 15 Jun 01; FBIS-CHI-2001-0615, via World News Connection) The official Chinese press claims that the partnership does not target any third party; instead, the organization will strive to end the Cold War mentality held by its members, and to achieve a win-win situation for them.

Despite the statements that the Shanghai group does not intend to target third parties, it is obvious that this partnership is intended to counter US interests in the region. The US has invested heavily in Central Asia and the Caucasus, especially with regard to the Partnership for Peace program, and the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. Statements emanating from the summit illustrate this point. A communiqué issued by the defense ministers, arguing against the missile defense system advocated by the US, stated that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization considers the 1972 ABM Treaty to be central to world security, and warned of "huge damage" if the US violates the treaty and proceeds with development of the system. (THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, 18 June 2001)

The same communiqué also discussed the strengthening of military cooperation, in order to crack down on "terrorism" and "Islamic Fundamentalism." The leaders signed a pact on this issue, which is separate from the Collective Security Treaty. (XINHUA, 15 Jun 01; FBIS-CHI-2001-0615, via World News Connection)

In a press statement, the leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization also reiterated their belief that the organization is the "cornerstone of maintaining peace and security in the region," (XINHUA, 15 Jun 01; FBIS-CHI-2001-0615, via World News Connection) and confirmed their intention to honor agreements made at previous sessions such as the treaty signed in 1997 for the reduction of forces in border regions. Additionally, the leaders unanimously supported the start of discussions on trade and investment and negotiations on long-term trade agreements.

Uzbekistan enters
The Beijing summit occurred at a time when Central Asia is facing serious problems, especially that of insurgency based apparently on Islam. Uzbekistan in particular has been laboring under this issue, with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) regularly launching incursions from its bases in neighboring Afghanistan. Speaking in an interview after his country was admitted into the organization, President Islam Karimov said that Uzbekistan had "joined the organization for reasons of security and economic opportunity." (TURKISTAN NEWSLETTER, 18 Jun 01; via Turkiynet) In the same interview President Karimov also spoke of his conviction that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization must avoid becoming a military bloc, and argued that, because of Russia's influence in Central Asia, countries in the region are pressured to oppose the Partnership for Peace program. He added that those countries which are signatories of the CST are "having to oppose NATO expansion, since Russia has made public its view." President Karimov said that, because of Russia and China's strength in security and economic areas, it was vital for Uzbekistan to ally herself with them if she wished to develop further. (TURKISTAN NEWSLETTER, 18 Jun 01; via Turkiynet)

The next summit of the heads of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will take place in September 2001.

by Fabian Adami

Are relations between Latvia and Russia improving?
Despite Latvia's past bad blood with Russia over citizenship eligibility, it seems that the Baltic state may be signalling a willingness to cooperate more with its historically not so friendly neighbor. In the first weeks of June, the Latvian government decided to lower naturalization fees and to let Latvian-language examinations given in schools substitute for the rigorous state language examinations for citizenship. Additionally, for the first time in 10 years, top Moscow and Riga officials began several days of meetings on 20 June to establish cooperation between the two capitals. The officials agreed to sign a protocol in the near future to cooperate on tourism economy, trade, education and culture. (RFE/RL NEWSLINE, 28 Jun 01) Riga Mayor Gundars Bojars also met with Russian State Duma International Affairs Committee Chairman Konstantin Kosachev, Moscow City Council Chairman Vladimir Platonov and Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev.

But the apparent progress towards improved relations between the two countries was clouded by an indirect verbal imbroglio between the two respective presidents. At a summit meeting during US President George W. Bush's European tour in June, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that 40 percent of the Latvian population is still unable to obtain citizenship. This statement indicates that Russia remains intent on politically manipulating claims of human rights violations against Russians in Latvia. Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga responded in an interview with an Austrian newspaper: "President Putin is juggling with incorrect figureswe have a citizenship law that meets every international criterionthere is no basis for President Putin's complaints that we discriminate against part of our population." (DIE PRESSE, 20 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0620, via World News Connection) However, Vike-Frieberga was encouraged by the US president's support concerning the Baltic states and NATO enlargement, declaring that his statements contained a "courageous insight on a free and united Europe based on common values." (BNS, 1013 GMT, 16 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0616, via World News Connection) The Latvian president also predicted that Latvia's relationship with Russia would improve definitively once NATO accepts Latvian membership. "We are still outside of EU and NATObut as soon as we are members, Russia will have to reconcile itself to this new fact and react differently." (DIE PRESSE, 20 Jun 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0620, via World News Connection)

Government undergoes major changes
In the past month Lithuania has undergone major changes in its political party system, including the collapse of the seven-month-old "New Politics" majority coalition government. Before last year's parliamentary elections, President Valdas Adamkus and his advisors created the "New Politics" bloc, with the free-market-oriented Liberal Union as the core, in order to form a parliamentary majority (71 out of 141 seats). The "New Politics" bloc emerged from five parties, the two largest of which were the Liberal Union (LU) and the New Union/Social Liberals (NU/SL). But the rivalry between the two main parties of the coalition bloc proved stronger than either party's willingness to resolve their differences on the issue of the privatisation of Lithuanian Gas. As a result, the opposition Social-Democratic Party (SDP), lead by the popular ex-President Algirdas Brazauskas, is now forming a large bloc with the NU/SL and two smaller parties (Peasants Party and New Democracy). With the 48 SDP seats, the 29 NU/SL seats, and the two other parties' 10 seats, the new bloc controls a clear majority of the 141 parliament seats.

On 18 June the ruling coalition's Political Coordinating Committee called on Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas to resign. When Paksas initially refused, the six ministers who had been nominated by the NU (Foreign Affairs, Social Security and Labor, Health, Agriculture, Education and Culture, and Interior) resigned. The constitution stipulates that if more than half of the cabinet changes, the government must receive the approval of parliament. Paksas, having no other constitutional choice, resigned on 20 June. President Adamkus accepted Paksas' resignation and appointed Finance Minister Jonas Lionginas as acting prime minister. At a parliament session on 2 July, Adamkus nominated Social Democratic Party Chairman Algirdas Brazauskas for prime minister, and the new ruling majority supported the nomination.

The change in government may stop what had looked to be a possible solution to the Lithuanian oil industry's recurrent problems of supply. On 15 June, Williams International (operator of Mazeikiai Oil Refinery) announced that it had signed a 10-year supply agreement with Russia's YUKOS oil company. But Williams will not receive loans to modernize the refinery from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development until the government ratifies the agreement. Brazauskas has been critical of the YUKOS-Williams deal, and with the dramatic change in the Lithuanian government, it is doubtful that the parliament will ratify the agreement any time soon. The new government may further impede Lithuania's already problematic privatization process.

by Maria K. Metcalf

 About Us Staff Contact Home Boston University