|The NIS Observed:
An Analytical Review
Volume IX Number 07 (28 April 2004)
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Reform and its critics
Every person who has ever fallen haplessly into some bureaucratic web can certainly understand the desire to see state bureaucracy prunedcut down and back, trimmed to the brink of scrawny deathin order for it to grow one day into something recognizable, familiar, perhaps even vaguely appealing. The jaded among us may sense a futility of effort, but the hope of success brings a fleeting glimmer of determination. Such was the setting for President Putins executive branch reform plan, but that bitter aftertaste? Thats reality setting in.
The reforms themselves presented many questions (many cynical questions) about their proposed implementation: In the Kremlin, for instance, would Abramov, Ivanov and Shuvalov receive pay cuts to go with their diminished job title? Or would they simply change the name plaques on their gilt Kremlin office doors? (Hint: No one is facing a pay cut.)
Before the cynicism hardens into misanthropy, it should be noted that the foundation of the reforms seems solid enough: Decrease the number of ministerial deputies and the departments (sections, directorates, etc.) with overlapping spheres of authority to reduce the avenues for corruption (you cant collect a toll on a closed road, at least not for long), and increase the salaries of the bureaucrats left standing to reduce the demand for extra-curricular remuneration.
To that end, the number of government ministries has been whittled down substantially, with a corresponding decrease in the number of deputy prime ministers and ministers in general. (1) A restructuring of the organization of the governments responsibilities has produced a more rational-looking schematic of the ministers work. An overarching Ministry of Industry and Energy, for example, will incorporate Nuclear Oversight, the Space Agency, Construction and Housing, Energy, and even the infamous Minatom (now down-sized to federal agency status). (2)
As that example may suggest however, the decrease in numbers of ministries has been met by an increase in "federal agency" designations. There are now 17 new federal services and 20 newly created federal agencies. (3) The actual relevance of the name changes from Ministry to Agency or Commission to Service is, as yet, unclear. (The big toll road may be closed, but you still have to pay to walk the path?) The careful grouping of related fields demonstrates the months of planningthe Government Commission on Administrative Reform, led by Boris Aleshin, has been meeting since last August after all. (4) The headline stealing slash of ministerial level workers belies the virtual "full employment" policy of the administrative reformersKasianov appears to be just about the only former government leader left (unwillingly?) by the side of the road. If this werent a whole new era, with a new tough love president and his reform-minded team, one would have to wonder if the shake-up wasnt a "Yeltsin special" specifically designed to shake loose a single tenacious minister.
Perhaps even more intriguing is the status of the Big Five ministries, thus far left out of the reform schemes-those directly under presidential oversight (and the federal services that accompany them). While it has already been made clear that the "two deputy" rule need not apply to the power organs, there is constant speculation about a possible overhaul of the Security Services and Defense Ministry. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already been undercut by the creation of a Foreign Policy Directorate (see below, "Foreign Relations"), which will split policy formulation and even implementation responsibilities.
Sergei Shoigus Emergencies Ministry is protected by the appearance of success and perhaps even by a personal presidential debt to Shoigu. The MVD and FSB have already been through one round of redistribution among power ministries (5), and while another cant be ruled out, it would seem unlikely for Putin to draw even more attention to the workings of the services by publicly reforming them again. The Ministry of Justice was an integral part of reformer-Extraordinaire, Dmitri Kozaks previous judicial reform act. The Defense Ministry however, appears ripe for a full-on renovation. Early indications can be seen in the further consolidation of the arms production and sales industries.
Several federal services have been moved directly into the Ministry of Defenses purview: Special Construction; Military-technical cooperation; Defense Orders; and Exports Control all have been remade as Defense Ministry branches. Clearly, Sergei Ivanov is attempting to "streamline" the procedures of the arms trade by incorporating everything from construction to negotiating terms to export expediting in his one-stop shopping Ministry. Few personnel changes have accompanied the chain of command alterations: most of the moves have been lateral, as in Andrei Belyaninovs jump from Rosoboroneksport to his new post as Head of Defense Orders (technically, Belyaninovs senior deputy, Sergei Chemezov steps up the ladder to take over at Rosoboroneksport). The stability of personnel in this instance suggests that Ivanov is pulling the arms industry closer in a defensive move, to protect this turf from other contenders, rather than to pry it away from overly independent minds. The Foreign Ministry, had it not been gutted by administrative reforms, would surely have something to say about these moves. The General Staff still might.
Some questions linger as the details of this bureaucratic restructuring become more evident. If this radical reform was many months in the planning, why did Putin trumpet the dismissal of Kasianovs government and the announcement of a new government structure so close to the presidential elections, rather than just releasing the details of his well-thought out scheme? If reform was really the goal, why continue the policy of creating duplicative bodies of authority on major topics (but bury them below the ministerial fold)? And finally, if not for reform, then what?
- See previous issues of NIS Observed, 8 Apr 04 and 25 Mar 04.
(2) Izvestiya, 10 Mar 04; Current Digest of the Post-Soviet Press, vol. 56, no. 10, 7 Apr 04.
(3) Izvestiya, 12 Mar 04; Current Digest of the Post-Soviet Press, vol. 56, no. 10, 7 Apr 04.
(4) Izvestiya, 6 Aug 04; What the Papers Say (WPS) via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(5) See Perspective, vol. XIV, no. 3 March/April 2004.
By Susan J. Cavan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sutyagin verdict "a warning" says FSB
Igor Sutyagin was first arrested in October 1999, when he was working for the USA and Canada Institute in Moscow, and was charged with High Treason. The FSB claimed that Sutyagin sold information about Russias nuclear submarines and missile warning systems to the Central Intelligence Agency, via a British-owned cover company, called Alternative Futures. (1)
Sutyagins case was first heard in the Kaluga Regional Court in 2001. The trial ended with a ruling that there was insufficient evidence to convict. Moreover, the court stated that the charges against him were so vague, that they "interfered with Sutyagins right to a defense."(2) Instead of dismissing the case however, further investigation was ordered by the court. Meanwhile, Sutyagin was to be kept in detention pending the results. During the summer of 2002, the case was transferred from Kaluga to Moscow, a decision which caused consternation among Sutyagins lawyers, because Moscow courts have gained a reputation for "returning guilty verdicts in spy trials in which the government has failed to provide compelling evidence." (3) Finally, in August last year, the Prosecutor-Generals office announced that Sutyagins case indeed would be returned to the Moscow courts.
The initial hearings for his second trial began in September 2003, and the trial itself began on March 23 2004. The specific charges against him were that he had met with foreign intelligence officers on five occasions, and had passed along information on "the MIG-29SMT fighter, plans for Russias strategic nuclear forces until 2007, permanent readiness units, and the structure and condition of Russias early warning system."(4)
The trial attracted criticism from the beginning: During the hearings in last winter, the composition of the jury was changed without warning. At the same time, the
assigned judge, a "leading jury trial expert" was replaced by an inexperienced junior justice. (5)
After an 11 day closed trial, the Judge, Marina Komarova, asked the jury to deliberate four questions in deciding whether Sutyagin was guilty as charged, or should be acquitted. First, they should consider whether he had been "recruited by a foreign intelligence agency;" secondly, they should consider whether he had received remuneration for his activities; third, was there enough evidence on the previous two questions for a verdict; and finally, the judge asked the jury to discuss the question of leniency, based on Sutyagin having already served four years in prison. (6) After only three hours of deliberation the 12 member jury panel returned a "guilty" verdict on the charge of "state treason in the form of espionage." Only four jury members believed that Sutyagin deserved to be treated with leniency. (7) Two days later, the sentencing hearing took place. Sutyagin was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, and the judge stated that the sentence should be served out in a prison camp with "a special hard labor regime". (8)
Reaction to the verdict has come from many quarters. An FSB spokesman stated that "we are pleased with the outcome
This should serve as a warning to scientists, ecological organizations, journalists and others who often exchange information with foreigners."(9) Another FSB source stated in an interview with RIA News Agency that Sutyagin had been fully aware that he was cooperating with foreign agencies, and added that "Igor Sutyagins case shows that Russian society is recovering. Every country has interests that it protects." (10)
Meanwhile, the response to the verdict and sentence from human tights groups and the
West as a whole has been one of deep concern. In Washington, State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli stated that the United States could not comment in detail, because the trial had been closed. He stated that there had been "a general lack of transparency and questions about due process" during the trial. The United States, Ereli intimated, had informed the Kremlin of these concerns. (11)
Grigori Pasko, a journalist also convicted of treason several years ago, but released on parole last year, has commented on the case, arguing that the sentence is "payback for all the cases they (the FSB) had lost." (12) Pasko was referring to Valentin Danilov, a scientist who was acquitted in December 2003 of spying for China. (13) Several other prominent human rights activists have added their voices to the argument that Sutyagins case constitutes revenge for the FSB. Maria Lipman of the Moscow Office of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace stated that the sentence was "a surprise" because it was out of proportion to similar cases. (14) Lev Ponomarev, of the Human Rights Group, expressed his fears that the verdict would "change the social climate" of the country, returning Russia to the closed atmosphere prevalent under the Soviet government. (15) It is clear that the severity of the sentence is indeed, as the FSB has stated, designed to serve as a warning, and perhaps as revenge for prior failures. But the case may not end here. Sutyagins lawyers are pursuing two avenues in an attempt to obtain his release. First, Sutyagins legal team has announces its intention to file an appeal with Russias Supreme Court. His lawyers allege that Judge Komarova was remiss in not instructing the jury to consider Sutyagins defense argument; namely the claim that all the information he released was already public and declassified. The defense team also alleges that the FSB planted several of its agents on the jury in order to guarantee a conviction. (16) At the very least, the first of these defense arguments appears to hold some water: Sergei Rogov, the Director of the USA and Canada Institute has said that Sutyagin could not have passed on "any top secret information. What he disclosed were his own conclusions based on information gathered from open sources and his personal contacts." (17) Rogov intimated that what Sutyagin had done was "not spying" because he had passed little, if any, information which could have harmed the state. (18)
Finally, Boris Kuznetsov, Sutyagins primary defense attorney, stated that the International Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg had accepted a request to fast-track a review of Sutyagins case. At present, it seems unlikely that these appeals will be successful. The trial indicates that the fledgling jury system in Russia is merely a façade, and that the Danilov acquittal may well have been an anomaly. The FSB seems willing to do anything under the new system to ensure that it receives the verdicts it desires.
(1) Action AlertRussia: "Dr. Sutyagins Trial Begins," 26 Sept 03 via www.nearinternational.org.
(2) St. Petersburg Times, 16 Ap 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(3) Action AlertRussia: "Dr. Sutyagins Trial Begins," 26 Sept 03 via www.nearinternational.org.
(4) Izvestiya Press Digest, 6 Apr 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(5) St. Petersburg Times, 16 Apr 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(6) "Igor Sutyagin hit with 15 year hard labor sentenceFSB says verdict is a warning;" Bellona Foundation, 7 Apr 04 via www.bellona.no.
(10) RIA News Agency Moscow, 9 Apr 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(11) Agence-France-Presse, 7 Apr 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(12) "Igor Sutyagin hit with 15 year hard labor sentenceFSB says verdict is a warning;" Bellona Foundation, 7 Apr 04 via www.bellona.no.
(13) St. Petersburg Times, 9 Apr 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(14) "Igor Sutyagin hit with 15 year hard labor sentenceFSB says verdict is a warning;" Bellona Foundation, 7 Apr 04 via www.bellona.no.
(15) Agence-France-Presse, 7 Apr 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(16) St. Petersburg Times, 9 Apr 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(17) Ekho Moskvy Radio, 7 Apr 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
By Fabian Adami (email@example.com)
Russia turns off gas to Azerbaijan
Was Moscow using an old leverage trick when it halted the supply of natural gas to Azerbaijan for three days in mid-April, or was it due simply to "planned repair work," as the Azerbaijani Turan news agency has reported? (1) The closing of the tap followed recent reports of Moscows concern over the rising level of military cooperation between Baku and Washington. On 17 April, the Azerbaijani daily Ekho reported information that the U.S. was planning to deploy troops to Azerbaijan in 2005 or 2006, in part to defend its interests in the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which is scheduled to start pumping crude oil in 2005. (2) Additionally, Nezavisimaya gazeta in March quoted the Azerbaijani Defense Minister, Safar Abiyev, as saying that a military cooperation venture with the U.S., similar to the recently concluded Georgian Train and Equip Program, was soon to be announced. (3)
The move to halt energy supplies temporarily to a country in the "near abroad," as a means of reminding that state of its energy needs and thereby influencing its foreign policy, certainly corresponds to Russias historical modus operandi, particularly vis-à-vis Azerbaijans neighbor, Georgia. While Moscow consistently denies there is ongoing competition for influence in the "near abroad," this display of pipeline-leverage might serve as an example of what the Kremlin has in its arsenal to counter perceived Western encroachment. Azerbaijan is especially important to Russia now as the debate over the Caspian Sea's legal status proceeds. Should the U.S. gain more influence in Azerbaijan, Russia might anticipate losing the position of strength it currently seems to have in the Caspian negotiations. (4)
Whos forming Russian foreign policy?
In an article on President Putins Foreign Policy Directorate, Kommersant describes Moscows Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) as occupying merely an "auxiliary role" and as being used only for "articulating and implementing the presidential line." (5) It asserts that the administrations Foreign Policy Directorate, under its new leader, Aleksandr Manozhin, actually forms Russian foreign policy for the presidential administration.
Manozhin, who is reportedly a senior KGB veteran and has been working until now as first deputy head of the Foreign Policy Directorate, is among the many siloviki appointed to the highest levels of the presidential apparatus over the past several years. (6)
The report also claims that the MFA has always played an insignificant role in the formation of foreign policy even under President Boris Yel'tsin, although it specifically excludes the period when Yevgeni Primakov served as Foreign, and then Prime Minister.
While the author's characterization of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as simply a mouthpiece for the presidents foreign policy may appear somewhat overstated, there is no denying that Putin likes to keep his hands firmly on the controls of Moscows international affairs. His summit-to-summit foreign policy style and frequent use of special presidential envoys bear witness to this practice. Moreover, his use of the Foreign Policy Directorate, rather than the MFA, to shape his foreign policy, further demonstrates his efforts to centralize the Russian government and concentrate power in the Kremlin.
Latvia expels Russian diplomat for "spying on NATO"
As the ongoing sparring continues between Riga and Moscow over Latvias plans to limit teaching in Russian at secondary schools for minorities, the Russian MFA has warned Latvia to refrain from taking "unfriendly steps." The Ministrys statement also criticized the Latvian government, stating that "[It] continues to live in the world of stereotypes of the Cold War era." (7)
Days later, Latvian Foreign Minister Rihards Piks, apparently feeling less insecure as a new member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), predicted that although Russian-Latvian political relations would improve, it would not happen overnight. He stated that Moscow will have to "get accustomed to the new geopolitical situation and our country's new status." (8) In the same interview, Piks confirmed that Latvia will sign the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) after its current signatories have ratified the agreement thus leaving Rigas accession to the treaty an open question, given the hesitance of other signatories. Moreover, Piks connected the Treaty's effectiveness in ensuring European stability with Moscows obligation to remove its forces from Georgia and Moldova.
On 23 April, the Latvian government expelled a Russian diplomat for showing too much interest in NATOs Latvian infrastructure. The Russian MFA immediately linked that action to Latvias alleged lack of independent decision-making capability and pressure from Rigas new NATO allies. It also connected the move to the "anti-Russian policy of [Latvia's] current leadership
[and its] Russophobic politicians." (9)
This expulsion of a Russian diplomat is the sixth from the Baltic countries this year but the first from Latvia. The expulsions have been part of rising tensions between the Baltic states and Moscow over the past few months, as the European Unions (E.U.) and NATOs expansion approached. While Moscow ratchets up the rhetoric against the Baltic countries treatment of their Russian minorities, it is working simultaneously with the E.U. to put additional pressure on Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius.
Of the 14 "issues of concern" that Moscow presented to the E.U. in February 04, it now says that only three remain unresolved. One is the question of the Russian-speaking minority in the Baltic countries. (10) Should this issue remain in limbo after the E.U.s May 04 enlargement, it is likely that friction between Moscow and its Baltic neighbors will continue on a bilateral basis (in the manner seen now) potentially hampering both E.U.-Russian and NATO-Russian relations.
Lavrov caught smoking
During his recent trip to Ireland to discuss Russian-E.U. relations with the E.U.s leading "troika," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was, as he himself told journalists, nearly issued a €3,000 fine for smoking in a Dublin restaurant. (11) This is not the first time Lavrov has been cited as a result of lighting up in violation of anti-smoking rules. In September 03, then Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Lavrov expressed his frustration over U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annans restrictions on smoking inside U.N. headquarters. Calling the Secretary General merely a "hired manager" without the authority to impose such a ban, he said Annan was just trying to "please [New York City] Mayor Michael Bloomberg."(12)
On the one hand, it seems somewhat unbecoming for the foreign minister of one of the worlds most powerful countries to be caught up in such a trivial issue as smokers rights. On the other hand, charged with the responsibility of conducting the foreign affairs of the heir to the Soviet Union, who wouldnt be driven to smoke?
(1) Turan, 21 Apr 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database
(2) Ekho, 17 Apr 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database
(3) Nezavisimaya gazeta, 23 Mar 04; FBIS Report, 26 Mar 04 via World News Connection.
(4) Izvestiya, 14 Apr 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(5) Kommersant, 19 Apr 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(6) Laurent Murawiec and Clifford C. Gaddy, "The Higher Police: Vladimir Putin and His Predecessors," The National Interest, online weekly, Issue Date: Spring 2002, Posted On: 1/21/2003, http://www.nationalinterest.org.
(7) Radio Russia, 12 Apr 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(8) Vesti Segodnya, 14 Apr 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(9) Radio Russia, 23 Apr 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(10) RIA Novosti, 14 Apr 04 via Johnsons Russia List #8167, 14 Apr 04.
(11) Ekho Moskvy, 14 Apr 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(12) BBC News World Edition Online, 9 Sep 03, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/ 3094498.stm.
By Scott Dullea (firstname.lastname@example.org)
DOMESTIC ISSUES & LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
MPs learn to read
Apparently surprised at the wording of a proposed bill that they had passed in the first reading, members of Russias lower house of parliament decided that perhaps they didnt want to restrict citizens right to assemble and protest after all. The bill, proposed by Deputy Justice Minister Yevgeni Sidorenko and passed by United Russias overwhelming majority on 31 March, (1) garnered increasingly vocal protests from members of the opposition and, eventually, from the President and United Russias leadership. The day after the first reading, MP Pavel Krasheninnikov, who heads the Duma committee on civil, criminal, arbitration and procedural legislation, announced the removal of the ban on rallies near government offices from the draft. (2) Within days the United Russia deputies had admitted the list of off-limits areas for protests may have been passed without sufficient review. (3)
So, whats going on in Moscow? Is there a rogue MP element working against the wishes and direction of the President and party leadership? Are deputies, made over-confident by the number of seats held, simply approving everything that comes their way, without reading the bills? Or, more likely, are restrictive laws being proposed in order to gauge public reaction?
First Deputy Speaker Lyubov Sliska gave some indication of the latter when discussing the improvements expected of the legislation for the second reading, which now appears to be scheduled for May. "The conceptual framework, which we adopted recently, was a sort of a test," she said. "Anyway, the procedure for holding rallies was to be streamlined on the level of legislation." (4)
Okay, so it was a test. But was it given with the Presidents knowledge? That is more difficult to say. Putin waited a while before weighing in, but warned Speaker Boris Gryzlov more than two weeks after the bills first reading to be wary of encroaching on citizens rights. "There must be order; the law should not lead to the restrictions on citizens freedoms. This is an obvious fact, and I am hoping the MPs will proceed from that," he said. (5) And that, as they say, will be that.
But wait: Apparently just to prove that the Duma does understand the democratic process, Deputy Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin announced that the second reading of the draft law should be as public as possible, with the authors on hand to answer questions from deputies. "We would like to hear how the authors intend to resolve a number of disputable questions that have started a public discussion," he said. (6) And it would be far too cynical to suppose that the deputies who blithely passed the original draft law would use the opportunity to pose as champions of democracy in the process.
Breakdown of powers provides view of whos who, and who isnt
The Duma leadership finally got around to divvying up responsibilities among the deputy speakers this month, giving a clear indication of who is trusted within the party of power.
Speaker Boris Gryzlov (United Russia) is in charge of the Dumas committees on defense, international relations and security. First Deputy Speaker Lyubov Sliska may have the title, but Deputy Speaker Oleg Morozov landed the responsibilities that were up for grabs after the elimination of the second deputy speaker post. Morozov will be in charge of Duma interaction with the government (and also with the regions) concerning legislative activity and commission work. Vladimir Pekhtin (United Russia), will serve as the Dumas link to the presidential staff.
Vyacheslav Volodin (United Russia) will coordinate the work of the Dumas budget committee, as well as factional and committee activity concerning the budget. Georgi Boos (United Russia) will serve as liaison with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Sergei Baburin, of the Rodina (Motherland) party, has been put in charge of Duma interaction with the government organs in the Urals Federal District. Valentin Kuptsov (KPRF) and Vladimir Katrenko (United Russia) will have similar responsibilities with organs in the Siberian Federal District and the Southern Federal District, respectively. However, Kuptsov also will cooperate with international trade unions and MPs in China, Cuba, Eastern Europe, Moldova and Vietnam. Katrenko will also lead the Dumas economic policy committee and the womens, family and childrens affairs committee, and collaborate with the United Nations organs focusing on economic cooperation.
And, not without irony, Vladimir Zhirinovsky (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia) will be in charge of coordinating international humanitarian cooperation activity. (7) No mention was made of the tasks assigned to the final deputy speaker, Artur Chilingarov, who recently returned from leading a mission to rescue a Russian expedition to the Arctic. (8)
Ministries volley for power over press
One of the more interesting debates being played out in public these days is who will be in charge of the mass media, following the disintegration of the Press Ministry. Aleksandr Sokolov, Minister of Culture and Mass Communications, announced on 7 April how he saw the power delineation emerging. The ministry, Sokolov said, would oversee legislative and political functions regarding the media, while government agencies would be in charge of economic and organizational functions. Or, the ministry would do the thinking, while the agencies would put those thoughts into actions. At issue in the real world is who will be in charge of issuing licenses. And, after all the talk of changes, the answer comes down to "the same people, in the same offices, with the same phones, at the same desks," according to Leonid Nadirov, First Deputy Minister of Culture and Mass Communication overseeing the mass media. But maybe not. Mikhail Seslavinsky, the newly named head of the Federal Agency for the Press and Mass Communication, said that the administration dealing with registration and licensing will be split up, at least somewhat. "Part will go to the Ministry of Justice, but we hope that the backbone of the licensing administration will go to the Ministry of Culture," he said. (9)
And yet, within weeks, jurisdiction was shifting yet again. Seslavinsky announced in Kaliningrad that the Culture Ministry would be in charge of media licensing for the time being, until a special service is created, in the near future, to oversee both licensing and compliance. (10)
Parties are burstin out all over
In what is beginning to be a near-constant phenomenon, new parties have emerged in the past few weeks, filling in what some see as a vacuum of power beyond United Russia. Alas, some party organizers may be a bit more enthusiastic about their groups future, and present, than others.
Independent deputies Vladimir Ryzhkov and Mikhail Zadornov announced the establishment of the Democratic Alternative Club on 15 April, and provided a list of liberal politicians who have signed on as membersor maybe not. Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the Federation Councils international committee and a member of United Russia, denied reports that he was affiliated with the Club. "I have found my name on the list of club members, but I know nothing about the nature and goals of the club," Margelov said. The club, which purportedly will act as a debate forum for new ideas and to search for possible leaders of a new liberal party, has listed as members YABLOKOs Aleksei Arbatov, Sergei Popov and Galina Khovanskaya; Leonid Gozman, Boris Nadezhdin and Ivan Starikov, from the Union of Right Forces (SPS); Viktor Pokhmelkin, leader of Automobile Russia; Republican Vladimir Lysenko; and, from United Russia, Valeri Galchenko and Mikhail Yemelyanov. (11)
It does appear that the Democratic Alternative Clubs goals mirror those of another group recently founded with the same level of fanfare, 2008: Free Choice. Some of the latters members are worried that parties at the democratic end of the spectrum will once more undergo a battle for power that will split support, as had been seen for years with the inability of YABLOKO and SPS to join forces. Viktor Shenderovich and Yuliya Latynina, for example, both expressed concern that no single leader is emerging, while numerous small parties are founded. Others, however, such as Nadezhdin, who belongs to both groups, applaud the chance to debate and elaborate an agenda. (12)
At the opposite end of the political spectrum, parties also are being created, but there is no lack of leadership. Rather, the parties are being formed as foundations to challenge Gennadi Zyuganov, leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF). As discussed previously, Zyuganov had been battling competition in the Patriotic Union, namely Gennadi Semigin. (13) Now Zyuganov has a new force with which to contend: Dmitri Rogozin, fresh from his victory of getting Rodina (Motherland) faction co-founder Sergei Glazyev drummed out of a leadership position there. (14) Rogozin has announced his plans to turn his Rodina faction into a replacement for the KPRF in the minds of the electorate. Rogozin claimed that the KPRF has ceased to act as an opposition party, and instead is acting as a parasite in the political process. There is a need, he asserts, for a strong party to fill the social-liberal vacuum. (15)
Meanwhile, Rogozin is busy collecting allies. He has approached the Peoples Party to suggest that the two groups merge into one party, since they already share social democratic ideas and already are allied. According to Rogozin, theres no time to lose. "If we plan to merge or integrate, better do it earlier and not lose time," he said. Newly elected Peoples Party leader Gennadi Gudkov, (16) has announced a plan to create a coalition that would include the Rodina faction, but said the party is not planning to cut its ties with United Russia just yet. (17)
(1) The NIS Observed, 7 Apr 04.
(2) ITAR-TASS, 1611 GMT, 1 Apr 04 via World News Connection.
(3) Vremya novostei, 5 Apr 04 via World News Connection.
(4) ITAR-TASS, 1227 GMT, 15 Apr 04 via World News Connection.
(5) ITAR-TASS, 1505 GMT, 15 Apr 04 via World News Connection.
(6) ITAR-TASS, 1744 GMT, 19 Apr 04 via World News Connection.
(7) Nezavisimaya gazeta, 19 Apr 04 via World News Connection.
(8) ITAR-TASS, 2233 GMT, 6 Mar 04 via World News Connection.
(9) Rossiyskaya gazeta, 7 Apr 04 via World News Connection.
(10) ITAR-TASS, 1337 GMT, 21 Apr 04 via World News Connection.
(11) ITAR-TASS, 1918 GMT, 16 Apr 04 via World News Connection.
(12) Nezavisimaya gazeta, 16 Apr 04 via World News Connection.
(13) The NIS Observed, 24 Mar 04.
(14) Izvestiya, 5 Mar 04 via World News Connection.
(15) Izvestiya, 13 Apr 04 via World News Connection.
(16) ITAR-TASS, 1356 GMT, 17 Apr 04 via World News Connection.
(17) ITAR-TASS, 1520 GMT, 17 Apr 04 via World News Connection.
By Kate Martin (email@example.com)
To be or not to be
that is the Iraqi question
The run-up to war in Iraq tested the fabric of both regional and international alliances around the world. Equally, it tested the leadership and the resolve of many states in confronting the problematic realities posed by the tyrannical and terrorist-laden initiatives of our worlds malcontents. To some, the courageous, that meant supporting the U.S.-led coalition. In large part, that meant knowing that the challenge of ridding the world, once and for all, of despotic regimes was worth both the effort and price required. Russia now, as before the war, has failed to extend the resources and/or personnel to participate in this epic battle. Moreover, Russia is now trying to fight the rhetorical fight instead, by telling those nations that have forces in Iraq, to get out.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrovs visit to Ukraine recently entailed discussions on Ukraines economic interests with Russia, on the Sea of Azov/Kerch Strait demarcation and, most notably, on Ukraines support for the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.
Lavrov met with President Kuchma and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Grischenko. With perhaps the ripple effects of NATO expansion and the gravitational pull of the West continuing to draw alliances from the "Near Abroad," it's plausible that President Putin dispatched Lavrov in a vain attempt to discourage Ukraines westward tack. Nezavisimaya gazeta commented on Lavrovs visit, "the situation being what it is, an official representative of Moscow, which has always been against the American operation in Iraq, could persuade Kiev to renege on [its] promises to Washington." (1)
Yet, with much of the worlds attention (and media coverage) focused on the nations that have refused to embark upon the noble journey to rid the world of terrorism, many countries, including several members of the CIS, have opted to pitch their camp with the U.S.-led coalition. In fact, "Ukraine (1,600 soldiers and officers), Azerbaijan (over 150 servicemen), Georgia (210 servicemen), Kazakhstan (30 servicemen) and Moldavia (30 servicemen) are among the more zealous supporters of the U.S. policy in Iraq." (2)
While Russia attempts to steer Ukraine out of Iraq, many CIS countries are planning to stay the course. In fact, Kazakhstans Foreign Minister, Kasymzhomart Tokayev stated recently that "Kazakhstan has no plans of pulling its military contingent out of Iraq in the short-term." (3) The 30-odd Kazakh servicemen are tasked predominantly with mine-clearing operations and searching for munition stockpiles within Iraq. Their mission as representatives of a predominantly Moslem country is fundamental to the overarching scheme of attaining and promoting a peaceful democracy within Iraq. That goal doesnt seem lost on Tokayev. He recently pledged that "Kazakhstan took an obligation to send a contingent to Iraq, and we must live up to that obligation." (4)
Defying attempts by Russias Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to convince Ukrainian President Kuchma to extract his forces from Iraq, Ukraine, like Kazakhstan, will complete its obligations to the U.S.-led coalition. According to ITAR TASS, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma intends to stay in Iraq, saying that "Kiev would not beef up its military contingent in Iraq, after several countries withdrew their servicemen from that country[but] emphasizing that the Ukrainian peacekeepers intend to perform their duty in Iraq to the end." (5) Opposition to President Kuchmas resolve isnt limited to Russia. Domestically, the divide over Ukrainian troop deployments to Iraq is fueled most demonstrably by the Communists, who are stoutly against a Ukrainian presence in Iraq. The political row that has developed has led the parliament to propose a bill recalling the Ukrainian contingent from Iraq. With elections approaching, President Kuchma remains steadfast: "Ukraine is present in Iraq for peace-keeping purposes. We are not conquerors or a force of occupation. We shall comply with our duty. We shall not flee." (6)
Contrary to the course that Spain has chosen to steer out of Iraq, Georgia is augmenting its role with the U.S.-led coalition and bolstering its military contingent (present since August 2003) by sending 159 servicemen to Iraq on April 7. The force structure is primarily comprised of soldiers of the 16th Infantry Battalion who were trained by the U.S. in 2003. Georgia aspires to strengthen its contingent to 210 troops.
Azerbaijan and Moldova
In a military decision consistent with those of Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Georgia, Azerbaijan has opted to stay committed to the coalition forces in Iraq. Araz Azimov, Deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, stated in late March that "Azerbaijani servicemen will remain in Iraq while this suits Azerbaijan's national interests, and [and added that] Azerbaijani society does not have differences regarding Azerbaijan's cooperation with NATO and the U.S." (7)
Equally, the Moldovan parliament recently approved a referendum on whether or not to prolong the mission of Moldovan servicemen in Iraq. The vote authorizes a group of 12 Moldovan military engineers to continue to assist with reconstruction efforts within Iraq.
As NATO expansion spreads to Russia's borders, it is becoming apparent that Russia's sphere of influence within the CIS is waning. The rapid accession of former Soviet countries and satellite states to the E.U. and NATO has prompted Russia to try to dissuade others from deeper integration with European institutions. Russia's message seems to fall on deaf ears in Poland, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and the like, who see alliance with the West and support for Iraq as mutually beneficial foundations for understanding and cooperation.
(1) Nezavisimaya gazeta, 14 Apr 04; What the Papers Say via ISI (Defense and Security) Emerging Markets Database.
(2) What the Papers Say Observer 12 Apr 04 via ISI (Defense and Security) Emerging Markets Database.
(3) ITAR-TASS, 22 Apr 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0422 via World News Connection.
(4) ITAR-TASS, 22 Apr04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0422 via World News Connection.
(5) ITAR-TASS, 22 Apr 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0422 via World News Connection.
(6) ITAR-TASS, 22 Apr 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0422 via World News Connection.
(7) What the Papers Say Observer 12 Apr 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
By Paul J. Lyons (firstname.lastname@example.org)
What will change for western CIS after E.U. enlargement?
Ten Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC) will join the European Union this Saturday - a joyful and long anticipated event for them, but a rather sorrowful one for those who are left behind. Two of them - Ukraine and Belarus will directly border the E.U. starting 1 May. What will change for these countries on this day? Will the changes be negative or positive? How "transparent" will the falling "curtain" be?
Ukraine felt gradual isolation creeping in with the introduction of visa regimes with Slovakia, Hungary and Poland long before the actual CEEC's accession to the E.U.. Those who suffered most were not criminals (who always find their way in), but ordinary citizens, who, due to high unemployment in Ukraine, were working both illegally and legally in these countries. Visas are prohibitively expensive and often require long waiting periods; those involved in small cross-border trade and those with relatives in new member countries suffer disproportionately. To exemplify the point, in the first three months after visas were introduced between Ukraine and Slovakia in June 2000, the number of Ukrainian tourists visiting Slovakia fell by 76%, private trips fell by 57%, and business trips fell by 64%. (1) The high cost of freedom of movement was especially painful for Ukrainians, as, psychologically, it constituted the return to times of isolation after a decade of openness.
More changes, primarily economic, are due for Ukraine by May. First, since Ukraine has a free-trade agreements with the Baltic states, they will become void once these states join the single market and will be subjected completely to E.U. economic policies. (2) Second, in the next several years, after new members' accession to E.U., trade between these countries and Ukraine may fall by as much as 25% (or about $618 m). Ukraine's exports to new accession countries comprises about 13-15% of the country's total exports, thus resulting potentially in a substantial loss of revenues. (3) European Union officials, when asked about possible compensation for Ukraine's lost trade, stated that Ukraine should benefit overall from E.U. enlargement, as the nominal import tariffs of the accession countries will fall from 9% to 4%. The reduction of tariffs is not particularly useful to Ukraine, however, as the major part of the trade reduction will come from non-tariff restrictions. For example, what difference will the tariff rate for agricultural products make to Ukraine, if these products will not have any chance of landing on the European market due to high certification requirements? How will the output of the Ukrainian chemical industry be sold inside the Union, given the antidumping restrictions that obtain in the E.U.? (4) In addition, some of the ongoing projects between Ukraine and accession countries may be in jeopardy. For example, carrying out the Burshtyn "energy island" project is already facing problems due to the rise of domestic coal prices in Poland because of a cut in government subsidies. (5) Other consequences, harder to quantify, will certainly appear or, in many cases, intensify.
Despite numerous negative consequences, many argue that the overall long-term impact of the E.U. enlargement on Ukraine will be positive. Eventually, after modernizing sufficiently to comply with E.U. trade and sanitary regulations, Ukraine will have access to a much larger consumer market, which can lead to increased trade and revenues. In addition, being in such a close proximity to the European Union, could potentially encourage Ukrainian politicians to undertake more reforms in the hope of joining the E.U. one day. This prospect is not very likely, however, given that the E.U. is not dangling many "carrots" for Ukraine and without external pressure, encouragement, and control, the reformation process may be extremely slow.
As the European Union is preparing to enlarge, Belarus is pointedly isolated. Lukashenko is doing everything possible to preserve and even expand to the old Soviet culture by introducing mandatory ideological teaching in schools and at work places, preserving the state of inefficiency in the economy and suppressing the emergence of civil society.
Due, in large part, to the regime, Belarus' losses from E.U. enlargement may be somewhat smaller than the Ukraine's, but still substantial. Belarus, for example, does not have a free-trade zone with the Baltic countries, but only preferential trade tariffs, which are easier to give up. Due to the very nature of the Belarussian economy (distorted production structure, absence of natural employment structure, absence of wide scale privatization), the country is not well suited to compete in a market environment. And even though almost 13% of Belarussian exports go to the countries that are about to join the E.U., this percentage may go down, as direct foreign investment into new E.U. members (especially the Baltics) is likely to increase and, consequently, boost these countries' capabilities to develop new products more efficiently, thus jeopardizing Belarussian exports.
Just as in the case of Ukraine, E.U. product requirements can pose a considerable barrier to Belarus-E.U. trade relations. Already now, Belarussian beauty product manufacturers are not able to export their output to E.U. states since they failed to follow all the required procedures. Other restrictions such as textile quotas, antidumping duties, standardization and certification of goods for the European market, etc. will further complicate E.U.-Belarus trade relations. In addition, instead of benefiting from new members complying with the E.U. legal and institutional framework (which simplifies trade procedures), the cost of doing business with these countries may increase for Belarus, since it does not have well-developed institutions, well-trained state officials or a functional business environment. (6)
The Belarus Foreign Ministry managed to alleviate some of the negative consequences of E.U. enlargement, such as an agreement on antidumping duties on potash fertilizers and a possibility for Belarus textiles imported before 1 May 2004 to be distributed "freely, without quotas" on the whole E.U. territory after its expansion. (7) The Belarussian government hopes that after E.U. expansion, Belarussian trade with the E.U. will be as high as 35% of Belarus' total exports and will increase by $200 million a year from 2005. (8) These hopes are likely to materialize only in the long run, however, and only given that Belarus goes through substantial economic reforms.
As for the political impact of E.U. enlargement on Belarus, the close proximity to the E.U. can potentially change the political atmosphere in the country and provide more support to European-oriented politicians. It might even prevent Lukashenko from changing the constitution in order to allow him to be re-elected for a third term. This scenario has little chance of materializing, given Lukashenko's low popularity rating and the unwillingness of the population to go through painful market reforms.
The fact that some kind of "curtain" is falling, and both Ukraine and Belarus are being sealed off from the expanded Europe, is undeniable. This curtain is best described as "paper" rather than "iron"-it is not as thick and impenetrable as that of the Cold War. Nonetheless, it has the power to discourage the population (of at least Ukraine) from supporting market and democratic transitions and can heighten people's sense of despair and hopelessness. On the other hand, close proximity to the European Union may also have the opposite effect and assure the population of the possibility of joining the "club" one day. The outlook is pretty gloomy for now, however. Some say it might take anywhere from 20 to 50 years for the western CIS to join the E.U. It is to be hoped that the E.U. will still exist at that time.
Mikhail Formuzal, the leader of the United Gagauzia opposition party and Mayor of Ciadir-Lunga has accused the Moldovan communist government of trying to intimidate him, eliminate his party in the region in order to secure a communist victory in 2005 parliamentary elections, and of attempts to liquidate Gagauz autonomy. On 13 April 2004, Formuzal was dragged to the police commissariat in Comrat (capital of Gagauzia) to testify as a witness in a (probably fabricated) criminal case. (9) Formuzal described the police actions as attempts to intimidate him and silence his criticism of the authorities. "Their single goal is to 'cleanse' the land for the Communist Party before
the elections. That's all! The authorities want to destroy every anti-Communist movement in the region," said Formusal. (10) United Gagauzia does not appear to be in opposition to any other Ukrainian party and the movement never declared its opposition to current authorities. The purpose of the movement is to help current Gagauz authorities to improve the population's standards of living and creating conditions for economic growth. (11)
Lately, there has been a lot of pressure on those attempting to speak out against communist government in the region. The mayor of Comrat, Constantin Tausanji, was dismissed in late March by a local parliament because of his alleged mismanagement of municipal funds and of violating existing legislation. (12) The ex-mayor believes that this decision was politically motivated.
The administrative territorial unit of Gagauzia in southern Moldova is populated by a Turkish-speaking Christian minority whose Muslim ancestors fled the Russo-Turkish wars in the 18th century. Those who settled in Gagauzia had to convert to Christianity. Their language, a Turkish dialect, has become largely "russified," and it has not been subjected to the Islamic influences of other Turkish dialects. (13)
(1) "E.U. Enlarged, Schengen Implemented - What next? - Political Perspectives for Ukraine" via www.isp.org.pl.
(2) Astrov, Vasili "Ukraine: Parliamentary Crisis Against the Background of Strong Economic Performance." A part of WIIW report "Transition Countries on the Eve of E.U. Enlargement," 12 Feb 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(3) Gordon Feller. " E.U. Enlargement for Ukraine's Foreign Trade in Vehicles (Part One)," 2 Mar 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(4) Zerkalo Nedeli, 15 Nov 03 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(6) Commentary on the paper of Anders Aslund "The E.U. Enlargement: Consequences for the CIS Countries," 25 Mar 02 via www.case.com/pl.
(7) Belapan News Agency, 14 Apr 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
(8) Agence France Press, 21 Apr 04 via Lexis-Nexis.
(9) Jurnal de Chisinau, 16 Apr 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
(11) Infotag news agency, 21 Apr 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
(12) Basapress news agency, 13 Apr 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
(13) Monch Media Turkey, 1 Jan 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
By Elena Selyuk (email@example.com)
Azerbaijan and Turkey solidify Nagorno-Karabakh approach
Azerbaijani and Turkish officials have jointly endorsed a "gradual approach" (1) on a negotiated settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The announcement came during Azeri President Ilham Aliev's 13-15 April visit to Ankara, (2) and indicates a relaxation of tensions between Baku and Ankara. Turkey has always been one of Azerbaijans staunchest international supporters in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but since early 2004 Ankara had strained bilateral ties by publicly contemplating reopening the Turkish-Armenian border. Ankaras gestures to Yerevan, (3) meant to satisfy U.S. and E.U. pressures to ameliorate the hostile Ankara-Yerevan relationship, generated alarm in Azerbaijani politicians. President Aliyev went as far as hinging a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on Turkeys firmness in maintaining the Armenian border blockade. (4) Since Azerbaijan desires an isolated and landlocked Armenia, Aliyev is determined to keep relations between Ankara and Yerevan cold. He has succeeded, for the present, as Turkish leaders have announced that sanctions against Armenia would not be lifted unless Armenia withdraws from at least part of the territory it occupied in and around Nagorno-Karabakh. (5) Ankara and Baku have latched onto a proposal, tabled in 1997 by the OSCEs Minsk Group, stipulating a "phased" Armenian withdrawal of its forces from 5 of 7 occupied regions, followed by Azerbaijan lifting part of its sanctions and resuming of railway traffic with Armenia. (6) The implementation and success of this "phased" approach in solving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are in doubt since Armenia, and, by extension, Russia, do not support the plan, while the Turkish position could change depending on the amount of pressure the E.U. exerts during upcoming E.U. membership meetings.
Chechen quagmire to become Chechen-Ingush conflict?
According to a 19 April Nezavisimaya gazeta article, (7) an effort to merge Chechnya and Ingushetia into one administrative area is being promoted, which would ensure Ingushetia becoming "another front line" in the war in Chechnya.
Both Viktor Kazantsev, the former presidential envoy to the South Russian Federal District, and pro-Moscow Chechen President Ahmed Kadyrov support the merger. Kazantsev, who was envoy until a month ago, wrote a memorandum to President Putin dated 7 Nov. 2001, (reproduced on ingushetiya.rus website) claiming that Ingushetia harbors widespread separatist sentiments as well as about 20,000 members of illegal armed formations, including some from Chechnya. (8) In order to quash the danger of separatism, Kazantsev proposed that Putin back then FSB General Murat Zyazikov in the April 2002 Ingush presidential election, create a commission to draft legislation on the restoration of the former Chechen-Ingush Republic, and order the general staff to prepare a plan to expand military operations from Chechnya to Ingushetia. According to the memo, Kazantsev predicted that those measures would stabilize (and conclude the "counterterrorist operations" in) Chechnya by 2002-2003, thus enabling Putin to take credit for the "normalization" of the Chechen situation prior to the March 2004 Russian presidential election.
Zyazikov was duly elected Ingush president, but has continually rejected a merging of Ingushetia and Chechnya. (9) The merger probably would cost Zyazikov his position as Ingush president, if Moscow chose to elevate Kadyrov to the new post. An April 6 assassination attempt on Zyazikov (10) highlighted the instability of the region. Moscow may be entangled in yet another Northern Caucasus quagmire since Ingushetia is neither stable nor secure, and is led by a president whom Moscow would rather see deceased then in control.
At the same time, the assassination attempt provides an opening for Moscow to extend Russian forces into Ingushetia. As yet, Russia has not done so, despite the incursion of Chechen fighters into Ingushetia during autumn of 2002 (11), the ongoing disappearances of Ingush oppositionists, and the killings of civilians by police. (12) Russias hesitation, thus far, is linked clearly to the wish to avoid international blame for heightening violence in the North Caucasus, but may well evaporate in light of a 15 April U.N. vote. On that date, the U.N. Commission for Human Rights failed, in a vote of 12 in favor and 23 against, to endorse an E.U. draft resolution calling on the Russian leadership to take more "resolute actions" to halt reprisals by Russian forces against Chechen civilians. (13) By failing to pass the resolution, the international community in effect gave Russia a "green light" to continue its offensive campaign in Chechnya, as long as that may be viewed as falling within the confines of "battling international terrorism." Given such international reassurance, Putin may decide to expand hostilities into Ingushetia under that pretext, perhaps to gratify more hawkish elements within the Russian military establishment.
Moscow is already planning the logistics for the implementation of a newly merged Chechen-Ingush republic, as demonstrated by the creation of the Civic Forum in Chechnya. (14) According to Abdul-Khakim Sultygov, Putins former Commissioner for Human Rights in Chechnya, one of the primary tasks of the newly-created Forum is to conduct a public "expert evaluation" on the unification of the Chechens and Ingush. (15) The creation of a Chechen-Ingush republic would necessitate increasing the levels of Russian military forces in Ingushetia and Chechnya and keeping them there indefinitely to maintain order and combat the Chechen, and potential Ingush, rebels.
(1) Hurriyet, 9 Apr 04; BBC Monitoring; Financial Times via Lexis-Nexis.
(2) Turkish Daily News, 18 Apr 04; Financial Times via Lexis-Nexis.
(3) Agence France Presse, 12 Apr 04 via Lexis-Nexis.
(4) Turkish Daily News, 18 Apr 04; Financial Times via Lexis-Nexis.
(5) Agence France Presse, 12 Apr 04 via Lexis-Nexis.
(6) Turkish Daily News, 18 Apr 04; Financial Times via Lexis-Nexis, http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/insight/articles/eav042304.shtml.
(7) Nezavisimaya gazeta, 19 Apr 04, BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets.
(8) Ingushetiya.ru, 14 Apr 04 via RFERL Caucasus Report, 22 April, Vol. 7, #16.
(9) Izvestiya, No 227; Russia Press Digest, 10 Dec 03 via Lexis-Nexis.
(10) ITAR-TASS, 6 Apr 04 via Lexis-Nexis.
(11) New York Times, 29 Sept 02 via Lexis-Nexis.
(12) Novaya Gazeta, No. 21, 29-31 Mar 04; What the Papers Say via Lexis-Nexis; Associated Press, 8 Apr 04 via Lexis-Nexis.
(13) Agence France Presse, 15 Apr 04 via Lexis-Nexis.
(14) Financial Times, 17 Apr 04; via BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
(15) Nezavisimaya gazeta, No. 80, 19 Apr 04; Defense & Security in What the Papers Say, April 21 via Lexis-Nexis.
By Ariela Shapiro (firstname.lastname@example.org)
After the Uzbekistan Bombings: The Reaffirmation of Authoritarianism
There has been relative calm in the region since the 28 March - 1 April bombings in Uzbekistan claimed nearly 50 lives. (1) The concerns of the Central Asian governments have started to focus again on regional agreements over trade, the exploitation of energy reserves, and, of course, cooperation over shared security interests. The immediate impact of the bombings, and steps taken to prevent further attacks, is to establish the tone for increased government control in Uzbekistan. Uzbek President Islam Karimov expressed his staunch determination to uproot terrorism and called on his population to unite "like a fist" against the terrorists. (2) The attacks have emboldened the authoritarian aspects of the Karimov government which has both limited its openness to democratic initiatives and found strong international support in its fight against terrorism.
As the attacks began, Uzbek authorities were quick to implicate international terrorists, claiming specifically Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) as being the groups most likely to be behind the attacks. Officials from HT denied involvement in the attacks as Uzbek security forces detained over 400 suspects and kept over 50 in prison. (3) Those arrested came from the pool of usual suspects - conservative Muslims believed to have ideological ties with HT and the IMU.
Kyrgyz Ombudsman Tursunbay Bakir uulu disagreed with Uzbek accusations of HT involvement in the bombings, saying that he had recently met with HT representatives and was sufficiently convinced that such actions were against the organizations ideological agenda. (4) Drawing from the interrogations of suspects detained in connection with the attacks however, Uzbek Prosecutor-General Rashid Qodirov suggested that jamoats (associations akin to "primary cells") of HT were the organizational force behind the March bombings. (5) Qodirov added that "[the militants] subversive actions were based on the propaganda of members of the Islamic Movement of Turkestan [another name for the IMU]
[who] received instruction and underwent military training at camps with Arab instructors. At the same time, al-Qaida fighters also received training from those instructors." (6)
According to various reports, an organization calling itself the Islamic Jihad Group (IJG) recently claimed responsibility for the attacks. A previously unknown group, possibly an offshoot of Islamic Jihad and the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, the IJG first posted a message (containing spelling and grammatical errors) on an anti-Karimov website and has claimed responsibility since on various other militant Islamic websites. (7) In an 11 April statement posted on the internet, IJG claimed that "the terrorist acts were carried out in protest at the pressure exerted on orthodox Muslims by Uzbekistans temporal power." (8) The validity of their claim is disputed however, and remains under investigation.
While some Islamic leaders in the region have denounced the extremist activities, (9) the governments have taken steps to improve cooperation and limit the spread of such activities. Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov expressed concern for the instability, which the bombings in Uzbekistan could create throughout the region, (10) and police recently arrested Khodi Fattoyev, the leader of Bayat, a banned Wahhabist group active in the country. (11) Kyrgyzstan increased security along the border with Uzbekistan (12) and the prosecutor-generals of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan (Qodirov and Rashid Tusupbekov, respectively) signed an agreement allowing law enforcement agencies to exchange information and to cooperate more efficiently in investigations. (13)
For its own part, Uzbekistan has taken steps to broaden international support for its efforts; Karimov expressed interest in closer relations with Russia during a 15-16 April visit to Moscow. (14) Complaining about the slow response of the anti-terrorist coalition, Karimov told Russian President Vladimir Putin that "a regrouping of terrorists is underway; they regroup faster than the anti-terrorist coalition; they change their tactics faster and are quick to find weak spots and strike." (15) Putin expressed his support for the Uzbek leader and said that "in your struggle against these acts, you can count on Russias full and unconditional support." (16)
The U.S. has also been supportive of Uzbekistan in its crackdown on terrorism and, as one U.S. policy maker described the situation, the issue of democracy is secondary: "we need to support Karimovs efforts to crack down on terrorism, then move to democracy." (17)
It continues to be the case that Uzbekistan is taking steps that further curtail democracy. On 14 April, the Uzbek Ministry of Justice informed the Open Society Institute (OSI) a New York based organization that in 2003 alone contributed over $3.7 million to development projects in Uzbekistan that it would not be allowed to reregister. According to government officials, the work of OSI was seen to be directed at undermining the governments authority and "discrediting" policies by distorting "the essence and the content of socio-economic, public and political reforms conducted in Uzbekistan." (18)
The difficulty of working with the Karimov administration was seen also in a recent decision by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to curtail its involvement in Uzbekistan due to the unwillingness of the government to implement reforms. (19) This announcement comes at a time when the EBRD announced plans to increase investments in the seven most impoverished countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, including Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. (20)
Toktasyn Buzubayev, Deputy Secretary-General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), (21) told members that terrorist activities like those in Uzbekistan were unlikely to spread throughout the region. (22) But Uzbekistans steps towards increased authoritarianism also are unlikely to resolve the concerns that motivated the attacks in the first place. The willingness to trade democratic reform for short term gains against terrorism polarizes the debate along Manichean lines and reinforces the militants' efforts to overcome state-sponsored oppression.
(1) See NIS Observed, 8 Apr 04 via www.bu.edu/iscip; Official figures put the death toll at 47, which includes 33 militants, 10 police officers, and 4 civilians. Eurasianet, 14 Apr 04 via www.eurasianet.org; some estimates, however, place the number of civilians killed as much higher.
(2) RFE/RL Central Asia Report, 14 Apr 04 via www.rferl.org.
(3) According to Uzbek Prosecutor-General Rashid Qodirov, "In connection with a check-up for complicity in the terror acts 412 reported delinquents who had earlier links with religious-extremist movements have been detained by police." ITAR-TASS, 0819 GMT, 9 Apr 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0409 via World News Connection. In that same briefing, Qodirov told journalists that 54 suspects had been arrested. RFE/RL Central Asia Report, 14 Apr 04 via www.rferl.org.
(4) Kabar News (Bishkek), 0715 GMT, 6 Apr 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0406 via World News Connection; Bakir uulu said, "The HT religious and extremist party has no involvement in the terrorist acts in Uzbekistan. I have researched a number of criminal cases in connection with active members of the HT in Kyrgyzstan and have come to the conclusion that there is no proof of HTs direct involvement in terrorist activities in them." The Uzbek newspaper Pravda Vostoka criticized Bakir uulu for these statements. See Pravda Vostoka (Tashkent), 10 Apr 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0410 via World News Connection.
(5) ITAR-TASS, 0907 GMT, 9 Apr 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0409 via World News Connection.
(6) RFE/RL Central Asia Report, 14 Apr 04, via www.rferl.org.
(7) RFE/RL Central Asia Report, 14 Apr 04, via www.rferl.org.
(8) Nezavisimaya gazeta (Moscow), 19 Apr 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0419 via World News Connection.
(9) See, for example, ITAR-TASS, 1839 GMT, 6 Apr 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0406 via World News Connection.
(10) ITAR-TASS, 0825 GMT, 7 Apr 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0407 via World News Connection.
(11) ITAR-TASS, 0856 GMT, 16 Apr 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0416 via World News Connection.
(12) AKIpress (Bishkek), 0535 GMT, 5 Apr 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0405 via World News Connection.
(13) RFE/RL Newsline, 23 Apr 04 via www.rferl.org.
(14) Eurasianet, 19 Apr 04 via www.eurasianet.org.
(15) ITAR-TASS, 1531 GMT, 15 Apr 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0415 via World News Connection.
(16) RFE/RL Central Asia Report, 19 Apr 04 via www.rferl.org.
(17) Eurasianet, 14 Apr 04 via www.eurasianet.org.
(18) OSI contributes largely to the spheres of education, public health, cultural preservation, the arts, and economic reforms. A statement by the organization said that "the foundation has equipped most of Uzbekistans universities and more than 100 secondary schools with computers and internet access [as well as administering] close to $1 million annually in U.S. government-funded assistance in education, HIV/AIDS prevention, and efforts to reduce the demand for illegal drugs." Eurasianet, 18 Apr 04 via www.eurasianet.org.
(19) RFE/RL Central Asia Report, 14 Apr 04 via www.rferl.org.
(20) The four other states targets by EBRD are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Moldova. ITAR-TASS, 1601 GMT, 19 Apr 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-04-19 via World News Connection.
(21) The CSTO includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.
(22) ITAR-TASS, 0833 GMT, 5 Apr 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0405 via World News Connection.
By David W. Montgomery (email@example.com)
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