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The NIS Observed: An Analytical Review
Volume VI Number 13 (21 August 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


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The NIS Observed: An Analytical Review
Volume VI, Number 13 (22 August 2001)


RUSSIAN FEDERATION
FOREIGN RELATIONS
Hello, nice to meet you. Would you like some tea, perhaps a gun, tank, plane?

Russia has continued to push foreign policy through the sale of weapons. Putin personally attended the opening of the 5th International Aerospace Show, MAKS 2001, on 14 August where Russian equipment and arms deals were being offered to many putative customers, including more aircraft for India. (ITAR-TASS, 1021 and 1109 GMT, 14 Aug 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0814, via World News Connection) Again, Russia is working these initiatives on a broad front around the world.

Putin met with the head of Guinea, Lansana Conte, on 26 July and the two leaders signed friendship and military-technical cooperation agreements. While details of specific military transfers were not published, Guinea has agreed to serve as a conduit for Russian initiatives with other African countries and to cooperate with Moscow in aluminum and bauxite mining -- raw materials required for Russian military production. (INTERFAX, 1018 GMT, 27 Jul 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0727, via World News Connection) Following Kim Jong-Il's visit to Russia, diplomatic sources in Moscow indicated that Russia would recommence cooperation with North Korea in the military sphere. (INTERFAX, 0804 GMT, 9 Aug 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0809, via World News Connection)

After an ASEAN regional forum, Moscow announced two new arms deals in that region. Malaysia concluded contracts for delivery of anti-tank missile systems and continued discussions for portable anti-aircraft missile systems, T-90S tanks and BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles, as well as modernization of previously delivered equipment. (ITAR-TASS, 1611 GMT, 2 Aug 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0802, via World News Connection) Burma supposedly has concluded an agreement to buy a squadron of MiG-29 fighter jets and armaments worth $150 million. (INTERFAX, 1205 GMT, 9 Aug 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0809, via World News Connection)

Both of these deals are consistent with the statement by Rosoboroneksport's director general, Andrey Belyaninov, that Russian priorities will shift to modernization of previously sold systems and to geographic expansion of arms exports into the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East and Latin America. (ITAR-TASS, 1132 GMT, 15 Aug 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0815, via World News Connection)

Following up on the Latin American and Middle East portions of the plan, the head of the Russian presidential administration, Aleksandr Voloshin, was in Cuba on 13-14 August to hold talks with Cuban defense officials. (ITAR-TASS, 0231 GMT, 14 Aug 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0814, via World News Connection) Moscow also has announced that King Abdullah of Jordan will visit Moscow on 27 August to discuss Russia's training of Jordanian servicemen. The meeting between the Jordanian king and Putin is expected to reinforce military-technical cooperation agreements. (ITAR-TASS, 1431 GMT, 11 Aug 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0811, via World News Connection)

US and NMD: More talksno action
Several rounds of talks were held in recent weeks between Russian and US officials following the meeting of Presidents Bush and Putin in Genoa at the G-8 Summit. First came the trip to Russia by Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's special assistant for national security affairs, immediately after the G-8 summit ended. She met with Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov and Security Council Chief Vladimir Rushaylo on 25-26 July. (ITAR-TASS, 0700 GMT, 26 Jul 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0726, and ITAR-TASS, 1658 GMT, 25 Jul 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0725, via World News Connection) Following her visit, Russian and US defense officials met in Washington during the week of 6 August to discuss strategic stability issues and to finish laying the ground work for talks between the respective defense ministers. (ITAR-TASS, 0046 GMT, 9 Aug 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0809, via World News Connection) US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld met with Sergey Ivanov in Moscow on 13-14 August. All this movement, however, does not indicate necessarily increased Russian flexibility. Following three weeks of talks, no significant changes are evident concerning NMD and the 1972 ABM Treaty.

Not only is the Russian stance still cemented in the contention that the 1972 treaty is the cornerstone to strategic stability, but Moscow continues its campaign to elicit support from around the globe on this issue, while stating publicly that the opinions of third parties do not matter. Putin himself said that this is a delicate matter demanding precision in the interpretations of treaty provisions to avoid speculation and ambiguities, especially as there are "volunteer participants" who attempt to confuse the issue, based on self-serving interests. (TRUD, 24 Jul 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0723, via World News Connection) Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told the ASEAN conference on 25 July that potential US abrogation of the ABM Treaty would probably provoke an arms race. (RIA, 0933 GMT, 25 Jul 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0725, via World News Connection) If a regional group like ASEAN does not prove to be an effective tool, there is always the cooperation treaty Moscow signed with Guinea. That document had an article calling for all states to abide by obligations under current treaties and agreements in the sphere of arms control and disarmament, especially the 1972 ABM treaty. (INTERFAX, 1018 GMT, 27 Jul 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0727, via World News Connection) This author seriously doubts Guinea's "voluntary participation" in this campaign.
by Richard Miller

DOMESTIC ISSUES & LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
GOVERNMENT
Time for a change?
The prospects of a cabinet reshuffle have been discussed regularly in the media and by politicians. In response, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov has said that "The question of replacements in the Russian government may arise in the fall, although at the current moment this issue is not being discussed." The sources of these rumors, he explains, may be any of the "various centers of influence and... forces pursuing their own interests. Well, let them play their game," he declares, "I don't see any reasons for alarm or concern." (INTERFAX, 0633 GMT, 9 Aug 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0809, via World News Connection)

In particular, the left opposition blames the Kasyanov cabinet for making "a number of decisions which objectively increase the likelihood of social upheaval." These decisions include housing and utilities reforms, electricity sector reforms, transport ministry reforms and privatization.

A trial run of the new housing and utilities system (in which the "rich," individuals with a monthly income of more than 6,000 rubles, will pay 100 percent of the utilities bills and poorer residents will receive a partial subsidy) starts in the Zelenograd rayon of Moscow on 1 October. Zelenograd is one of the poorer Moscow rayoni, and the theory is that if the new payment system works there, it will work elsewhere in the Russian capital. The Communists expect the system to plunge Russia into darkness and leave it without heating this winter. The left opposition also claims that higher prices associated with the electricity and transport system reforms will shift the entire burden of payments from the "magnates" to the ordinary Russian citizens.

The Communists are hoping that one of their own, Mikhail Prusak (at present governor of the Novgorod region), will replace Kasyanov. "He's young, but an experienced politician and effective manager with a good record and international profile," they say. Another possible candidate is Yuri Zaostrovtsev, FSB deputy director for economic issues. (NOVAYA GAZETA, 9 Aug 01; via Johnson's Russia List, and ORT, 16 Aug 01; via www.ortv.ru)

REGIONS
Running cold...
The prospects of cold and darkness are not that far off the mark for some of Russia's regions. Electricity and heat prices are expected to go up by 30-40 percent - partly as a result of a matching prospective increase by the coal industry and a recent doubling of rail tariffs. The government seems to be taking three directions for dealing with the problem: allocating 20 billion rubles from the federal budget (R10 billion to settle federal consumers' debts to suppliers, R5 billion to the Unified Energy Systems Russian Joint Stock Company [UES RAO] in the form of a budget loan to purchase fuel, and R5 billion to the regions), including indexing in the 2002 budget to enable the power industry to increase loans, and instituting criminal proceedings against those (such as former Spassk-Dalniy Mayor Vladimir Ashikhim) suspected of "negligent handling of fuel supplies" and abuse of power. (RIA, 0126 GMT, 14 Aug 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0814, and ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA, 10 Aug 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0810, via World News Connection)

...and hot
Sadly, the fears of the cold are here while the summer heat is still wreaking havoc in its own way. Some Russians, trying to escape the heat wave by swimming, caught viruses spread through the bacteria-infested water. Others - 286 as of 1 August, mostly drunk -- have drowned in Moscow alone. (ORT; via www.ortv.ru)

Back in the USSR
In other regional news, Volgograd Governor Nikolai Maksyuta related that he is "flooded with letters and requests to return to the city its historical name." He is referring, of course, not to the city's original name - Tsaritsyn - but to the one made famous by the "glorious" and "extraordinary" battle of Stalingrad. Maksyuta is recommending that a referendum be held on this topic.

MEDIA
All TV channels are equal; here's hoping that some aren't more equal than others
On 13 August, President Putin signed a decree creating a federal unitary enterprise, the "Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Network" (RTRS). According to the presidential press service, the new company will seek "to improve the operation of the television and radio program distribution network in the Russian Federation and create a single production and technological complex on the basis of state television and radio broadcasting networks."

Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin explained that "the coverage of the country's whole territory with information services is an essential feature of democracy and one of the most important functions of the federal budget." Moreover, with the federal funds which will be allocated, the RTRS -- formed from "federal state unitary enterprises" including the Main Center for Television and Radio Broadcasting and the Main Center for the Control of Broadcasting Networks, and parts of the All-Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) -- will be able at least partially to "recover debts and to improve the quality of television programs."

This new entity will fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry for the Press, Radio and Television and Mass Communications. A director-general of the RTRS will be appointed in the near future. According to Press Minister Mikhail Lesin, the change will allow for equality for all of the television channels - previously, the VGTRK was both a provider and a competitor to major channels. (ITAR-TASS, 1626 GMT, 13 Aug 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0813, via World News Connection, and IZVESTIYA, 15 Aug 01; BBC Monitoring, via ISI Emerging Markets)
by Luba Schwartzman

ARMED FORCES
New maritime doctrine signed

President Putin used Russia's Navy Day celebrations as a backdrop to sign and publish the new Maritime Doctrine of the Russian Federation for the period up to 2020. (Russian text available NVO 3 August 2001) Some commentators have criticized the doctrine as a weak and ineffectual document, claiming that it would do little or nothing to invigorate the Russian Navy. (TRUD, 1 Aug 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0801, via World News Connection) What many critics may be missing is that this document really represents a broader maritime policy, covering the full spectrum of maritime activities, rather than a specific naval-military doctrine focused on the Russian Navy, as anticipated by many.

The new doctrine outlines general principles and fundamentals of national maritime strength and policy. Thus, it includes the exploitation of other fishing and natural ocean resources, viable (military and commercial) shipbuilding industries, law enforcement, environmental protection, scientific exploration, safety at sea, and many other aspects of maritime policy. The Russian Navy is discussed, but again only in broad terms that address regional focus. There are no specific threat assessments or naval planning strategies to which one can point. Only a passing reference in this vein is to be found in the discussion concerning the Atlantic/Mediterranean region, in the context of which a concern is voiced about NATO expansion eastward. However, Russia's preoccupation with this issue has been expressed so often in other venues that its omission in the new maritime doctrine would have been more noteworthy than the bland reference it contains.

In fact, it has been suggested that the new doctrine is merely a reincarnation of (Russian Navy commander in chief) Admiral Vladimir Kuroedov's Ph.D. dissertation from the summer of 2000. (Jamestown Foundation MONITOR, 3 Aug 01) The traces of Kuroedov's imprimatur carry further weight in view of the heavy emphasis on the international Law of the Sea, Russia's development and use of its Exclusive Economic Zone, and development of the shipping industry. A review of statements by senior Russian officials over the past 18 months concerning maritime and naval issues show that Kuroedov was the only officer to address publicly these aspects of maritime power. In fact, some of his speeches centered exclusively on these themes.

Considering Russia's decade of decline since the fall of the Soviet Union, this doctrine probably constitutes a realistic starting point to define its overall maritime interests for the next two decades. Whether the document will have any significant or lasting impact remains to be seen. How the Russian Navy develops relative to the remainder of the armed forces within the ongoing military reform efforts also constitutes an open question. If the Navy, and various sectors of Russia's maritime industries, were to be given greater priority in government funding and attention, the new doctrine might be viewed as viable Russian policy rather than merely another piece of paper. Financial support for national maritime policy is mentioned in the document; however, it does so in a somewhat contradictory manner. It refers to attracting non-governmental forms of financing and international investment to enhance Russia's maritime interests. On the other hand, it calls for limiting access of foreign capital to maritime activities that ultimately affect the security of the Russian Federation. This will be a difficult balancing act to maintain.

As far as the Russian Navy itself is concerned, the new doctrine coincides with the first anniversary of the Kursk disaster and the efforts to raise the submarine's hull from the bottom of the Barents Sea. Prior to the Kursk's sinking, the Navy apparently had held a special place in President Putin's heart. From the time of his original appointment as prime minister, his statements concerning the world power and prestige emanating from naval strength were revealing. Moreover, Putin's involvement in naval matters during that period, and in the first seven months of his presidency, was striking, considering the scope of other, more pressing, problems confronting him. His "Peter the Great view" of global naval power at that time was particularly notable since the creation of a huge "blue water navy" probably constitutes the least affordable and least essential form of military capability currently required for Russian security needs. Whether his views on naval power prevail after the international and domestic embarrassment suffered as a result of the Kursk fiasco remains to be seen. One could argue this new doctrine constitutes a diminished version of what it might have been had the Kursk incident not occurred.
by Richard Miller

NEWLY INDEPENDENT STATES
WESTERN REGION

UKRAINE
To Russia with love?
This past month has seen a flurry of reports, statements and press releases touting the admittedly superb performance of the Ukrainian economy. With industrial output up 17.9% over last year, the wheat harvest far outpacing last year's paltry numbers, the gross domestic product up over 10% and the federal bank's national reserves the highest they've been since 1998, Ukraine's domestic future shouldn't look anything but rosy. Add to this NATO's increased attention to Ukraine and its inclusion in the European Union's Macedonian negotiations, and it would seem that Ukraine should be able finally to remove the "newly" from its designation as a "newly independent state."

But these numbers and foreign policy coups, while impressive, don't begin to tell the true story of Ukraine as it exists today. In reality, it is a country still attempting to discover its identity, while it seems to become more and more racked each day with internal political conflict. It is led by a president who, it seems, at least had knowledge of a number of criminal acts, and an opposition that can't stop squabbling long enough to unite to counterbalance his enormous power. It is clearly a state in flux. How it will emerge in one, two or ten years is anyone's guess. What is clear, however, is that today new accusations of corruption against President Leonid Kuchma and his supporters appear on a regular basis. And with each accusation, Kuchma moves closer to his biggest potential protector, President Vladimir Putin of Russia.

Despite suggestions in one Russian newspaper that the EU has had some success at pressuring Ukraine "to distance itself from Moscow," the opposite actually appears to be true. (ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA, 1 Aug 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0801, via World News Connection) There can be no two better examples of this than the recent Russian investigation of Yulia Tymoshenko and the inclusion of LUKoil in ceremonies marking a milestone in the construction of the Odesa-Brody pipeline.

United against Tymoshenko ...
Just weeks ago, Russian prosecutors announced that they had built a case against Yulia Tymoshenko and suggested that she was complicit in bribing Colonel General Georgy Oleinik, a Russian army official. Oleinik is currently charged in Russia with laundering $450 million through the Ukrainian energy firm run by Tymoshenko and her husband in the mid-1990s. Russian officials admit that Tymoshenko probably never met Oleinik and did not give him a bribe herself. They suggest, however, that she ordered an unnamed individual to do so. Prosecutors have suggested also that Tymoshenko violated customs laws in 1995 when she attempted to carry $100,000 on board a plane traveling from Russia to Ukraine. Pursuant to CIS and bilateral legal agreements, Russian prosecutors have handed over both cases to Ukrainian officials for prosecution.

Tymoshenko, of course, rejects these charges and instead finds nothing more than politics behind the move. "I am sure," she said, "that no one at the top level in Ukraine and Russia is interested in any legal argument supporting these charges. I think what matters is the scandal and the pretext to discredit that Ukrainian opposition." (UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL, 8 Aug 01; via lexis-nexis) Tymoshenko also noted the large lapse in time between the named customs infraction in 1995 and its prosecution in 2001. It cannot be lost on Tymoshenko also that these charges were handed over to Ukrainian authorities after Ukrainian attempts to charge her with numerous other crimes began to unravel.

Of course, any realist must consider that Yulia Tymoshenko may be guilty of something. This same realist also must admit, however, that just about every high-profile businessperson in Ukraine in the 1990s probably was guilty of something. Yet, these other individuals remain largely untouched by Ukrainian prosecutors. In fact, many of them hold positions within Kuchma's administration. And certainly, none of them has been investigated by Russian prosecutors -- even though many reportedly have deep and complicated connections with Russian enterprises.

But Tymoshenko is a vocal opponent of Kuchma. These other individuals are not. So, when Ukrainian prosecutors couldn't get the job done, Russian prosecutors took a turn. The development is not surprising given Kuchma's obvious dislike of his loudest opponent; it is disarming, however, for its demonstration of the true depth of cooperation between Ukrainian and Russian law officers.

The biggest irony in all of this is that Tymoshenko is far from the most popular opposition figure in Ukraine. A 16 August poll by the Kyiv International Institute for Sociology and the SocioPolis company found her trailing former Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko (supported by 26% of those polled), Communist leader Petro Symonenko (21%), current Prime Minister Anatoliy Kinakh (9.5%) and four others. Tymoshenko managed to win the support of only 6% of those polled. It's too bad these numbers weren't publicized before Russian officials announced their case against Tymoshenko. They might have saved themselves a lot of work.

A pipeline for Russian oil?
Unlike the justice ministries, there has never been any question of the level of cooperation between energy industry officials in Ukraine and Russia. But there was one bright spot -- the Odesa-Brody pipeline. This pipeline was to be Ukraine's path to independence from Russian pressure over energy issues. Officials hoped that it would pump oil from the Caspian to Europe, making Ukraine an important actor in European energy matters. As recently as 5 June Kuchma said, "We will complete the Odesa-Brody [segment of the pipeline] and terminal this year, and we need joint efforts to ensure that ... Caspian crude oil is transported to Poland and Western Europe." On that same day, Polish President Kwasniewski told reporters that Poland was discussing the pipeline "with various consortiums, including international consortiums, and we are seeking the assistance of the European Union." (UKRAINIAN NEWS, 5 Jun 01; via ISI Emerging Markets)

But that was then. And this is very much now. At a 19 August ceremony marking the completion of the main Ukrainian section of the pipeline, there were no Western oil companies present, no promises of oil to be shipped through the pipeline from the Caspian, no promises of much of anything. Ukraine's internal political problems, Russian opposition to European involvement in the project and an increase in Western support for the alternative Baku-Ceyhan pipeline all have combined to leave the Ukrainian pipeline and oil terminal with little support. Of course, Ukrainian politicians still talk regularly of the involvement of international consortia (the latest apparently being led by the Shell Corporation), but so far with limited actual results. As usual, Russia has been quick to sense the vacuum and has stepped in rapidly to fill the void.

At the 19 August ceremony, LUKoil President Vagit Alikperov stood proudly near Kuchma and announced that his company "will seriously work to ensure that LUKoil's oil goes through this oil terminal." (UNIAN, 1000 GMT, 19 Aug 01; BBC Monitoring, via ISI Emerging Markets) No, this is not exactly what was envisioned originally for this pipeline, which was pointed to so many times as the road to Ukraine's independence. Strangely, as he stood by Alikperov, Kuchma continued to insist that the pipeline would lay "the foundation of Ukrainian independence." But if Ukraine remains reliant on Russian oil for this pipeline, how is it becoming independent? Maybe Kuchma knows, but he just doesn't feel like telling us. Regardless, clearly he sees no need to worry about the pressure exerted by LUKoil. That company, he announced, "has come to our land for a long time, forever." (ITAR-TASS, 1031 EST, 19 Aug 01; via lexis-nexis) How comforting.

In the midst of all this, of course, various Ukrainian politicians have made bold statements about the need to protect Ukrainian national interests, and strongly criticized Kuchma's actions. But somehow, those politicians don't seem to be able to do very much about it.

BELARUS
The West is coming! The West is coming!
Let no one say Alyaksandr Lukashenka doesn't prepare for all eventualities in life. Given his domination over the media, elimination of various opposition members and control of the KGB, it would seem that Lukashenka would have little to fear in the upcoming 9 September presidential poll. Despite a remarkable demonstration of unity by Belarusian opposition members behind union head Vladimir Goncharik, one has to wonder how Goncharik can overcome the votes for Lukashenka brought in by collective farm managers, tax police and other enforcement agencies. Still, the opposition has been aggressive and effective at organizing its members. Just a few days ago, over 1,000 persons attended a congress in support of Goncharik -- an impressive turnout from a population riddled with fear. So, the president has decided to take precautions, just in case. He has stepped up activity against all groups opposing him: Computers, newspapers and ink for printing presses have been confiscated, while police routinely question and "warn" members of the opposition against continuing their activity. These "warnings" have added weight given the newly discovered existence of so-called "death squads." The squads, according to recent Belarusian defectors from the prosecutor's office, have been responsible for the disappearances of over 30 persons opposing Lukashenka. (See THE NIS OBSERVED, 1 Aug 01, for further background.)

Even more worrisome than the stepped-up confiscation of property and warnings is a recent statement by the justice ministry. The coalition created to support Goncharik, the ministry announced, "contradicts the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus." Furthermore, according to the statement, the KGB "believes that the individuals who have signed the agreement are in fact stating their intentions to seize state power ... at any cost." (BELAPAN, 17 Aug 01; via BBC Monitoring) In other words, it would not be advisable to be one of those who have signed the agreement.

Nevertheless, Goncharik and his supporters are continuing with their campaign. And Lukashenka is stepping up the pressure even further. On 31 July, the president began making repeated statements about an impending coup -- organized "jointly by the opposition and the West." Therefore, if for some inconceivable reason the poll does not end with his victory, Lukashenka reserves the right to protect his position with force. If, as he expects, thousands of West-sponsored opposition members storm his residence, he will depend on his "Alpha" and "Almaz" special forces to protect him. "There will be no Kostunica in Belarus," he announced. "They [the supposed coup-plotters] know perfectly well I will be defending myself. I will not be sitting in a bunker like Milosevic. I am not afraid of anybody." (WASHINGTON POST, 15 Aug 01)

This is assuming, of course, that the election does not end as Lukashenka plans, which is difficult to believe. More likely, it is Goncharik who should be gathering his own "Almaz" force around him; it is he who is continually followed and "warned." But in a sad commentary on Belarusian life, Goncharik has said that he has gotten used to these warnings. Moreover, he is comforted by the fact that "at least my disappearance would not go unnoticed." (THE TIMES, 18 Aug 01; via lexis-nexis)
by Tammy M. Lynch

CAUCASUS
CHECHNYA
Maskhadov's secret correspondence
A Grani-ru reporter, Andrei Smirnov, met with officials of the Chechen foreign ministry and a leading commander who told him that secret negotiations between Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov and the Russian presidential administration had been conducted by letter from January to March 2001. The correspondence was initiated by the Russian side, which suggested that Russia could join forces with Maskhadov against the criminal elements, offered a scheme for power-sharing, and mentioned the possibility of a referendum on Chechnya's status. The Russian side also demanded that Maskhadov hand over terrorists. The Chechen side asked for the names of the "terrorists" Russia wanted. There was no response to this question, but the correspondence continued. The Russian side agreed to recognize Maskhadov as the legitimate president, to legitimize Chechen armed forces, and to form joint units. In return the Russians asked that the Chechen side give up claims to independence and allow 40,000 Russian troops to remain on bases in Chechnya. According to the field commander, Maskhadov refused these terms and asked that negotiations become public. At that point, in March 2001, all contacts between Putin and Maskhadov ceased. (GRANI.RU, 16 Aug 01)

Smirnov comments that there is little cohesion among the Russian authorities. Akhmad Kadyrov, the head of the Russian-installed administration, approached Shamil Basaev. At one point General Troshev advocated starting talks with Ruslan Gelaev. Kazantsev favors talks with Maskhadov; whereas, Baranov, Kvashnin and Baluevski oppose all negotiations.

In July, Putin met with Aslambek Aslakhanov, the Chechen representative to the Duma, who advocated negotiations with Maskhadov. Then, on 26 July, Putin met with Kvashnin. After the meeting, the head of the general staff relayed Putin's comment: "Tell everyone -- there are no behind the scenes negotiations." (LENTA.RU, 26 Jul 01)

Soldier ordered to attack own position
A soldier in the Russian army, Mekhak Melkonyan, related the following to Vyacheslav Izmailov of Novaya gazeta. (9 Aug 01)

"Our company was located in Roshni-yurt. The senior lieutenant, Vadim Remizov, ordered us to blow up our own checkpoint, so that it could be blamed on the Chechens and we could shoot at them. I refused to do this. Then I was sent to Gekhi, the battalion headquarters, where I was thrown into the maw of the contract soldiers (otdan na raztirzaniye kontraktinikam). They and the major -- the deputy commanding officer of the battalion - abused me. They stripped me naked, beat me, cut into my body, and poured salt into the wounds. They promised to kill me and write it off as a combat death."

Melkonyan escaped with help from fellow soldiers who feared for his life, Chechen civilians who clothed him, helped him get to Nazran and notified Izmailov. In Nazran he was cared for by the Memorial office, where he was examined by medics and by the Memorial activist Andrei Mironov, who corroborated that he saw signs of torture on Melkonyan's body. After reading Izmailov's 9 August report, MVD Colonel-General Vyacheslav Tikhomirov opened an investigation into the case. Melkonyan has been transferred by the MVD to Rostov. (NOVAYA GAZETA, 13 Aug 01)

Novaya gazeta honors Ustinov, Yastrzhembsky, and the Navy
A monthly rating of lies awarded the top prize, a windmill, to General Prosecutor Vladimir Ustinov for his purported discovery of an armed Wahhabi conspiracy to stage a coup d'état in the North Caucasian Republics of Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachevo-Cherkessia. (NOVAYA GAZETA, 20 Aug 01)

Ustinov, who was sent to Chechnya to check into human rights violations, arrived in Khankala military base on 16 August. Instead of investigating wrongdoing by the federal forces, he announced that a Wahhabi conspiracy had been discovered in two nearby republics.

This news came as a surprise to the governments of the republics. The prosecutor's office in Kabardino-Balkaria circulated an urgent announcement that it was not aware of any attempts at armed conspiracy or a coup d'état. According to the republican press release quoted by polit.ru on 17 August: "At present the situation in Kabardino-Balkaria is stable, and is completely controlled by the leadership of the republic and its law-enforcement agencies."

Second prize, an answering machine equipped with stock phrases, goes to presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky for first denying fighting in Vedeno and then characterizing it as merely ornamental, "an imitation of bandit activity." (NOVAYA GAZETA, 20 Aug 01) According to a 15 August report by Chechenpress (via Chechnya-sl) the Chechen forces had shot down a military transport helicopter, taken control of the Vedeno district center and surrounded the Russian administration building. The newspaper Kommersant confirmed that a Russian MI-24 helicopter did crash, that phone lines to Vedeno were down, and that the head of the district administration could not be reached. (KOMMERSANT, 17 Aug 01; What the Papers Say, via ISI Emerging Markets) The Internet wire service, grani.ru, commented on 17 August that the Chechens' ability to capture and hold most of the Vedeno region for several days refutes the Kremlin's line that the Chechen resistance is not capable of active combat action.

Third prize for lying, a "harmless tour to the safe raising of the torpedoes from the Kursk," goes to the Press Service of the Navy. For a year the Navy denied that there were torpedoes on the Kursk. Now that some have been discovered, the Navy has characterized them as "harmless." (NOVAYA GAZETA, 20 Aug 01)

Provokatsia against rights defenders
On 9 August, ITAR-TASS publicized excerpts of what purported to be a letter from Aslan Maskhadov to his "agents" among human rights activists in Ingushetia. Maskhadov thanks the human rights activists for "making a giant contribution to the national struggle against kaffirs (heathens) and traitors to the nation." According to this purported "letter," Maskhadov's plans included providing information to Western and Russian media about atrocities committed in Chechnya, expanding the hunger strike among Chechen refugees and "searching for people ready to sacrifice themselves and doomed to death because of illnesses -- tuberculosis, cancer -- and prepare them for self-immolation," in return for financial compensation. Such steps should be coordinated with the editors of Novaya gazeta. If taken seriously the letter would incriminate Memorial and Novaya gazeta in taking direction and money from Maskhadov.

It's interesting that "Maskhadov" in his "letter" does not ask his "agents" to manufacture false reports of atrocities. The phrasing presumes that the atrocities are real, and that the agents' work is to report them!

Memorial, to whose activists the "letter" was addressed, called it a fake. (POLIT.RU, 10 Aug 01) Writing on behalf of the board of directors of Memorial, Alexander Cherkasov pointed out that the letter was addressed to two persons, one of whom is no longer affiliated with Memorial, while the other has been living near Moscow for over a year. Neither has been working in Ingushetia. Wouldn't Maskhadov know his agents' addresses? Memorial agrees with ITAR-TASS in one respect only: The "letter" came to light as a result of a "special operation." This provokatsia is only the latest in a whole propaganda campaign conducted by the authorities against Memorial and other human rights groups. A similar episode occurred in June when the presidential authority on human rights, V. Kartashkin, accused Memorial of "anti-state activity." (See also THE NIS OBSERVED, 31 Jul 01)

Novaya gazeta published a mocking front page editorial by Boris Kagarlitsky on 16 August. He remarked that the press already had reported all the activities mentioned in the letter. So why is Maskhadov writing? "It turns out that Maskhadov wrote a letter to persons on his payroll only to let them know that he has been paying for their services. Consequently, one is to believe that persons whom Maskhadov had bought off did not know that they had been bought off until Maskhadov sent them the letter." Kagarlitsky comments that the letter is such a bad forgery that one starts to pity the security services and fear for the country: "Can it be that all competent cadres went over to the private sector? Or were promoted to the Kremlin?"

As Kagarlitsky comments, the most revealing aspect of the letter is the glimpse into the psychology of the agents who concocted it. "The persons who authored 'Maskhadov's letter' expressed their own ideas about life ... The authors are certain: Everything in this world can be bought and sold." If offered the right sum, a person (especially a terminally ill person) would perform self-immolation.

All of this tempts one to ask: What would FSB officers who were "ready to sacrifice themselves and doomed to death because of illnesses" charge for self-immolation?
by Miriam Lanskoy

CENTRAL ASIA
Atmosphere at informal summit masks the reality of Russia's growing influence

The CIS presidents held an informal summit early at the beginning of August in the Russian resort of Sochi. Arranged by Russian President Vladimir Putin, the gathering was intended to be a launching pad for official talks, which are to be held in November.

Meeting both individually and as a group with President Putin, the Central Asian leaders focused on important problems, such as the threat posed by Islamic fundamentalism and drug trafficking. However, it is clear that the subjects discussed pale in comparison with the larger topic at hand, that is Russia's increasing influence and power in the Central Asian and Caucasus regions.

The status of the Caspian Sea -- specifically, the allocation of its valuable oil reserves -- remains a contentious issue for all of the littoral states, including Russia. In an attempt to resolve long-standing disputes, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev held private talks with Putin. The problems between these two countries relate to the Caspian Sea Pipeline consortium, the taxation of Kazakh oil traversing Russian territory, and the drawing of a territorial dividing line in the Caspian itself. Putin's spokesman for this meeting, Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Sergey Prikhodko, said that Russia and Kazakhstan would move forward in development plans, and that "Russia's and Kazakhstan's principled positions on the division of the Caspian Sea resources coincide." (FINANCIAL TIMES, 2 Aug 01; via BBC Monitoring Service)

Whilst there were no official statements on the topic from the summit, there were several developments of note with regard to the Collective Security Treaty in the immediate aftermath of the talks. On 3 August, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported that the CIS countries had begun force deployments in the region. Initially, an operations group was sent to Bishkek in order to prepare a report on the situation in Central Asia. (NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA, 3 Aug 01; via BBC Monitoring Service) Then, the Kyrgyz defense ministry reported on 7 August that the regional headquarters of the combined rapid reaction force, based in Bishkek, had become active. Whilst it is currently engaged in administrative functions, command exercises will be carried out in the near future. (EURASIA INSIGHT, Kyrgyzstan Daily Digest, 7 Aug 01; via Eurasianet)

Though such developments and statements may look innocuous, deeper analysis reveals that Russia is steadily increasing its sphere of influence.

President Askar Akaev of Kyrgyzstan informed President Putin at the Sochi talks that the Kyrgyz constitution may be amended to make Russian an official language as early as September -- this despite the fact that the Russian minority population of Central Asia has decreased massively in recent months and years.

Meanwhile, the fact that Turkmen President Saparmyrat Niyazov did not travel to the summit received little press coverage. Official Turkmen sources explained that the president would spend the weekend preparing his new book, Rukhnana (Spirituality), for publication. This is not the first occasion at which he has been absent. Niyazov did not appear at the CIS summit held in Minsk last June, nor is he expected to travel to the November meetings. (CENTRAL EURASIA DAILY REPORT, Turkmenistan, 30 Jul 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0730, via World News Connection) No further official explanation has been given for Niyazov's absence, but Turkmenistan is known to be at odds with the Russian plan for the division of the Caspian Sea. Niyazov's absence can be taken as implicit disapproval of Russian hegemonism. Tellingly, Turkmenistan has also remained outside the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Russian neo-imperialism is becoming evermore obvious, to the extent that even statements from the government-controlled press are explicit. An NTV report said: " Our TV Company learned today that Putin will sign a decree on setting up special armed formations within the framework of the CIS Collective Security Treaty. As a matter of fact, this means that a new political and military bloc will be set up following the pattern of the Warsaw Treaty Organization. This time however, it will be set up on the territory of former Soviet Republics."(NTV INTERNATIONAL, 7 Aug 01; via BBC Monitoring Service) [Italics added] Implicit in that statement is the fact that Russia will be the major power, and that Russian officers and officials will hold all senior posts. In the same report, Valeriy Nikolaev, who has been nominated for the position of secretary general of the Collective Security Council, added that he believed the treaty would ensure political as well as military security, and that the political component is of "priority importance" to the CIS. (NTV INTERNATIONAL, 7 Aug 01; via BBC Monitoring Service)

RFE/RL recently argued that the economic agreements between the CIS countries were designed to promote Russian control. Furthermore, it pointed out that President Putin's description of the CIS as a "regional organization" demonstrates that he does not regard the former Soviet states as sovereign republics. ("Back to the USSR?," RFE/RL ANALYSIS, 6 Aug 01)

The leaders of Central Asia, excepting President Niyazov, have assumed for some time that, if they wish to survive, they must toe the Russian line. If this assumption continues to hold, the only question is how much longer they will retain any semblance of independence.
by Fabian Adami

BALTIC STATES

Taking a stance means everything


Six months ago it seemed likely that NATO would adopt a fairly timid approach to enlarging the alliance. Slovenia was becoming the poster child of the perfect NATO candidate, economically secure, no Russian objections, European support ... an all-around politically safe decision. However, since US President George W. Bush came to office it has become increasingly likely that some or all of the Baltic states will be invited into the alliance at the 2002 NATO Summit in Prague. President Bush's June speech in Warsaw containing a US commitment to invite new members to join NATO at the next summit set the tone for Baltic optimism. This was followed by an 18 July US Senate resolution, marking Estonia's, Latvia's and Lithuania's 10th anniversary of freedom from Soviet rule, that expressed Congressional support of the Baltic security concerns and of their sovereign right to choose their own security arrangements.

Until recently, it was unclear whether any of the three major European allies would support Baltic accession to NATO. It has been expected that London would follow the US lead, but Paris and Berlin had been Baltosceptics regarding as far as NATO enlargement was concerned. However, during his visit to Estonia and Latvia on 27-28 July, France's president, Jacques Chirac, announced French support of Baltic aspirations to NATO membership, declaring "Each country has its sovereign right to choose what organization it wants to join, and I don't see a possibility how such a choice can be contested." (BNS, 1600 GMT, 27 Jul 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0728, via World News Connection)

The Baltic states were not the last destination on President Chirac's itinerary. He traveled on to Moscow, where on 31 July he reiterated to President Putin that the Baltic states have the right to join NATO. Chirac's move marks a significant and perhaps decisive turn of events for Baltic NATO hopefuls. Until now, Germany had been very careful to avoid a commitment regarding NATO membership for the Baltic republics. Berlin feared a hitch in its good relations with Russia. Now, with US leadership and France's support for Baltic accession to NATO, Germany is unlikely to hold out against Baltic membership.

This turn of events reinforces the importance of making and sticking to a clear and focused
foreign policy objective. As long as the US remains committed to this objective, it is likely that the Baltic states soon will become NATO allies.

Moreover, President Chirac proclaimed the Baltic countries as ready to join the European Union. He underscored France's "moral obligation" to support Latvia and focused on Estonian progress toward integration, saying that he expected Estonia to conclude accession talks by the end of 2002. He stated, "Estonia has no need for French support, Estonia's reform policy has been excellent and it is therefore among the front-runners." (BNS, 1042 GMT, 28 Jul 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0728, via World News Network)

Meanwhile, 3 August marked the end of the informal get-together of ten of the leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in Sochi. According to Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, CIS leaders hope to build a confederation of 12 of the 15 former USSR republics (minus the three Baltic states). Three days later, Lukashenka announced his concern about supposed military activity in neighboring states. With obvious reference to the Baltic republics, he stated, "we cannot help noticing alarming trends in the world and in the European region...armed forces of foreign states constantly accelerate military training in the immediate proximity of the republic's state border." (INTERFAX, 1121 GMT, 6 Aug 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0806, via World News Connection) Not coincidentally, he also announced that, beginning on 26 August, Belarus will conduct the largest tactical military exercise ("Neman-2001") in its short history. The exercise will focus on the troops' ability to repulse an armed attack. In light of the much-proclaimed "Union" between Belarus and Russia, Lukashenka is not precisely an independent or objective party where the Baltic states are concerned.

Russia's continued campaign

Russia continues its campaign of calling attention to the alleged discrimination against Russians in Latvia and Estonia. On 31 July, the Russian foreign ministry's official spokesman, Aleksandr Yakovenko, claimed that witnesses had seen drunk Estonian soldiers beating non-Estonians because they were speaking Russian. Moreover, no sooner had Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga pointed out the great potential for positive relations with Russia, stating, "we are ready to operate without emotions and reproaches," (LETA, 0722 GMT, 10 Aug 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0810, via World News Connection) then Moscow created a provocation. Aleksandr Perelygin, an advisor to Moscow's mayor, was included in the Moscow city delegation that was to visit Riga for the city's 800th anniversary celebration. Perelygin is notorious for his agitation on behalf of the Russian-speaking population in Latvia; however, he is also a member of Moscow's working group for cooperation with Riga. Latvia denied Perelygin an entry visa and the delegation subsequently canceled its trip to Riga.

Latvian Prime Minister Andris Berzins urged Moscow officials to change their stance, but the Russian foreign ministry considered Latvia's visa refusal to Perelygin "a deliberate and unfriendly move." (INTERFAX, 0823 GMT, 16 Aug 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0816, via World News Connection) The deputy director of the Russian foreign ministry's Information and Press Department, Boris Malakhov, announced that "appropriate retaliatory steps will be taken on the basis of the principle of reciprocity." (INTERFAX, 0734 GMT, 16 Aug 01; FBIS-SOV-2001-0816, via World News Connection) A Latvian diplomat stated that the move was made in accordance with Latvian legislation, was not politically motivated and should have no impact on Russian-Latvian relations. Meanwhile, Moscow authorities maintain that the visa denial was a result of the strong influence of Latvian nationalist circles. Latvian officials say that there have been cases when Russia did not issue entry visas for Latvian citizens.

Russia's exaggerated focus on these issues is no surprise. It has long been a Russian tactic to attempt to discredit the Baltic governments; now that their membership in NATO becomes increasingly likely, Russia has few other cards to play. Moscow most probably will continue to exploit any issue in which the Baltic states can be deemed nationalistic and their leaders portrayed as unable to resolve ethnic problems. Since the OSCE has been monitoring Estonia (at Russia's request) it has found invalid most of Russia's claims of human rights violations against ethnic Russians in Estonia. Accordingly, the OSCE is likely to end its mission there soon.
by Maria K. Metcalf



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