The NIS Observed: An Analytical Review
Volume IX Number 09 (12 June 2004)
 

Russian Federation

Executive Branch & Military Reform by Susan J. Cavan
Security Services by Fabian Adami
Foreign Relations by Scott C. Dullea
Domestic Issues & Legislative Branch by Kate Martin

Newly Independent States

Western Region by Elena Selyuk
Caucasus by Ariela Shapiro

Central Asia by David W. Montgomery


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Erratum: Our last N.I.S. Observed mistakenly identified Vyacheslav Trubnikov as former head of the KGB in Azerbaijan in January 1990.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION

EXECUTIVE BRANCH & MILITARY REFORM

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

Prosperity replaces legitimacy

A lot of things have changed in four years. When Vladimir Putin gave his speech after his first presidential inauguration in May 2000, it was clear, even in his brief remarks, that the legitimacy of his succession weighed heavily: " For the first time in the history of our state, supreme power is delivered in the most democratic way, according to the people’s will. Legally and peacefully. Change of authority is always an examination for the constitutional order. (…) We passed this examination with dignity. (1)

In stark contrast to 2000’s bluster, this year’s state of the nation offered a sharp rebuke for those who would question the legitimacy of this president or Russia’s democracy. "The strengthening of our statehood is sometimes deliberately interpreted as authoritarianism. (…) Fidelity to democratic values is dictated by the will of our people and by the strategic interests of the Russian Federation itself." (2)

Indeed Putin spent far more time addressing state priorities such as housing reform, education, health care and the tax system than justifying his right to rule. Russian democracy "validated" by elections has produced its President — no need to cite the sage advice of the once-beloved (although granted, long ago) Yel’tsin to signify the passing of the torch — Putin instead looks forward, stresses the freely-chosen actions of the Russian people, and sets a series of goals for his government to attain. His own responsibility (aside from oversight of government personnel) he equates with the nation’s aim: "[T]he creation of a free society of free people in Russia is our most important task, as well as the most complex one." (3)

Perhaps there is a certain Dostoyevskian prejudice at work, but the image of a broad but very, very shallow pool springs to mind.

Putin was however, finally able to leave issues of bureaucratic reform out of his remarks for the first time in months. Whether the intense jockeying for position between Prime Minister Fradkov and Staff Director Kozak has abated or simply settled into a new pattern of tit-for-tat behaviors, the issue has fallen off the president’s radar screen. (See below for more on Government Reform issues.) The apparat reforms, while still adapting to immovable Kremlin forces, are falling into a familiar routine as well. (Although the State Council, as the new forum for announcing policy initiatives, is also venturing into policy formulation and structural reform — a sure sign that some elements of the reforms are not taking root.) Putin thus devoted two-thirds of his address to economic goals, the success or failure of which will lie at the feet of the government. Above all, the call to double the GDP resounded once again from the president’s rostrum. While choosing a purely economic, hence governmental, issue as his signature aim for the year is a clever play, Putin is running the risk of personal association through endless repetition.

Putin did manage to hit a few intriguing notes during his address to the nation. For those watching the storm clouds rumbling from the General Staff to the Defense Ministry, Putin’s pointed comment on the need "to ensure civilian oversight of the effectiveness of the reforms underway in the army," (4) bodes ill for General Kvashnin (bearing in mind that retired General Ivanov was appointed as a "civilian" Defense Minister). (See Military Reform below.)

Will Fradkov hold off Kozak?

The past few weeks have seen the public revelation of an obvious conundrum: Is Kozak, as (lead) author of the administrative reforms of the government and Kremlin, and Director of the Government Staff, in fact running the Government or is the Prime Minister actually responsible for the workings of his Council of Ministers? Recent stories suggested that Fradkov had some form of final approval over Kozak’s reforms. (5)

The recent "government secrecy" controversy however, had Fradkov diving for cover. An early report of the new government classification rules claimed, "The Fradkov government" would forbid the dissemination of "information about the issues being considered by the government." (6) (A level of secrecy unmatched since the days of Primakov’s leadership.) By the next day, news accounts (no doubt with the help of the Prime Minister’s press assistant), identified the unpopular new secrecy regulations as having been "drafted by Cabinet Chief-of-Staff Dmitri Kozak." (7)

Whether or not by design, Putin has managed to prevent, at least for the time being, the creation of an alternative power base at the Government's White House by pitting the Prime Minister against the reform-magician; Kozak is as effectively neutralized as Fradkov. That leaves only one clear possible successor at this early stage….

MILITARY REFORM

Can Kvashnin be toppled?

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov seems to be on a mission — in fact, he may have been on this mission for a very long time, but it now seems ready to produce the desired results. Chief of the General Staff, Anatoli Kvashnin, finally appears vulnerable enough to move against — and Ivanov is poised for the take down.

While turf wars between the Defense Ministry and the General Staff are by no means new, there is plenty of evidence that Kvashnin’s ouster has been on Ivanov’s wish list for quite some time. Recent developments suggest a rapid time frame for the move.

In April for example, Kvashnin attempted to remove a CIS rival, General Vladimir Yakovlev, Chief of Staff of the CIS HQ for Military Cooperation. Ivanov proposed the extension of Yakovlev’s term. (8) Yakovlev and Ivanov won the day. Interestingly, Kvashnin’s distrust of Yakovlev stems from another DefMin-GenShtab battle, when Sergeyev held Ivanov’s job and Yakovlev sided with him and the Defense Ministry against Kvashnin. (9) The speculation over Yakovlev's suitability as a replacement for Kvashnin only fuels the General's ire.

In May, the Duma took up consideration of amendments to the Law on Defense aimed at curtailing the authority of the General Staff. (10) The proposed changes include the removal of the formulation of proposals for the Military Doctrine from General Staff purview, as well as an end to its coordinating role in regard to the Armed Forces and among the security agencies. (11)

A counterattack, of sorts, was launched in Novaya gazeta by Pavel Felgenhauer, who cautioned the President that he is being misinformed as to the status of weapons systems, a situation that has led to the President’s utterance of dangerously mistaken claims. "Being from state security, the supreme commander-in-chief does not understand that he is framed once again…" (12) Felgenhauer also makes a strong case that the corruption and theft bloating the defense budget may be the result of Defense Ministry, and specifically the arms export industry (that Ivanov controls), waste, mismanagement and fraud. Felgenhauer even cites an Auditing Commission report on the gross misuse of funds at the Defense Ministry, and highlights the abuses of exports and procurements. Is it enough to save Kvashnin and the General Staff from "Ivanovshchina"? Time will tell, but the omens are not auspicious.

Source Notes

1. RIA Oreander, 10 May 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

2. RTR Russia TV, 0800 GMT, 26 May 04; BBC Monitoring via Johnson’s Russia List (JRL), #8225, 27 May 04.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. "PM approves composition of administrative reforms," ITAR-TASS, 24 May 04 via Lexis-Nexis Academic.

6. Vedomosti, 26 May 04; What the Papers Say (WPS) via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

7. Gazeta, 27 May 04; WPS via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

8. Russkii Kurier, 16 Apr 04; WPS via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

9. Ibid.

10. Nezavisimaya Voennoe Obozrenie, 18 May 04; WPS Defense and Security via ISI Emerging Markets database.

11. Ibid.

12. Novaya gazeta, No. 38, 31 May-2 Jun 04; WPS via Lexis-Nexis Academic.

 

By Susan J. Cavan (sjcavan@bu.edu)

 

~~~~~

 

SECURITY SERVICES

Trepashkin sentenced

In mid-January, the trial of two men accused of complicity in the 1999 Moscow apartment bombings concluded with their convictions. (1) The trial, and events surrounding it, were not uncontroversial. On 22 October, Mikhail Trepashkin, a lawyer representing one of the victim’s family, was arrested during an apparently routine traffic stop. Several days later, while still in custody, his case was passed to the FSB. After a search of his apartment, FSB officials announced that classified documents had been discovered and that Trepashkin was to face the charge of divulging state secrets. Trepashkin, a former FSB officer himself, claimed he had evidence implicating the FSB in the apartment bombings, which would be brought to light at the trial. It seems clear that he was arrested in order to prevent his evidence against the FSB from reaching the public eye. (2) Since his arrest in October, Trepashkin has been held at the FSB’s notorious Matrosskaya Tishina Prison (the same location at which Yukos boss Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been detained), while he was awaiting trial.

In the last ten days, it has emerged that Trepashkin’s trial in fact began just weeks after his arrest, and that it was a closed-door affair, conducted by the Moscow Military District Court. It seems that even Trepashkin’s wife did not know the trial had started. In February, she lodged a personal appeal to British Prime Minister Tony Blair via the British Embassy in Moscow, requesting political asylum for Trepashkin in the United Kingdom. No reply was received from British diplomats. (3)

Three charges were leveled at Trepashkin. First, he was accused of possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition. Second, he was charged with possessing secret documents dating from his time as an FSB officer. Third, he was accused of divulging state secrets. (4)

The second and third charges deserve attention because the details reveal how thin

the evidence against Trepashkin really is. The charge concerning the documents found in Trepashkin’s apartment seems to have been based entirely on hearsay. According to the St. Petersburg Times, the allegation was based on a "report from a former FSB agent that Trepashkin showed him classified documents kept from his time in the service." (5) The indictment relating to divulgence was even thinner. Trepahskin’s lawyer, Valeri Glushenkov, stated that the accusation related to an event in October 2002 in which Trepashkin passed information to another former FSB officer, Viktor Shebalin:

"Trepashkin received reports that a certain Abdul appeared in Moscow at that time. He was an influential field commander. Mikhail [Trepashkin] understood that he intended to do something awful in Moscow. He printed information about the field commander and passed it over to Shelabin, who continued cooperation with the FSB." (6) This evidence, Glushenkov added, could have been used by the FSB to prevent the Moscow theater siege that was to occur later that month. (7) Glushenkov was speaking a day after the conclusion of Trepashkin’s trial. His client was found guilty of all charges, and sentenced by Judge Sergei Sedov to serve four years in a "remote settlement." Trepashkin in other words, is not to serve a ‘prison’ term, but is to be ‘internally exiled’. (8) Glushenkov, Trepashkin’s plans to appeal the verdict to the Supreme Court’s military tribunal. (9)

Minutes before the judge passed sentence, a small group of reporters was allowed to enter the courtroom. From the defendant’s cage, Trepashkin was permitted to speak with them briefly. He claimed that the case was politically motivated, and did not "stand up to criticism from a legal point of view." (10) Trepashkin added that the trial was "linked" to his work for the Terror 1999 Commission, and that without his involvement in those investigations, there would have been no trial. (11)

It is evident that Trepashkin's trial was held in secret and behind closed doors so that the public would have no chance of hearing Trepashkin’s evidence implicating the FSB in the 1999 apartment bombings. Moreover, according to Alexander Podrabinek, editor of Prima News Human Rights Service, the verdict is designed as a warning to others not to question official responses to the Commission’s findings. (12) Podrabinek added that in his view, this verdict, while a setback, did not provide the FSB a guarantee that "we will never find out what actually happened." (13)

Podrabinek's optimism, such as it is, may well be misplaced. Aleksandr Litvinenko’s book FSB Blows Up Russia, while it may be convincing, is tainted due to the author’s association with Boris Berezovsky. Mikhail Trepashkin will soon be

languishing in internal exile. To believe that the FSB or President Putin will ever

allow an independent investigation into the 1999 bombings is at best naïve, and at

worst a serious underestimation of the pervasive nature and power of the security

services throughout Russian society, be it in the judicial, political or civil spheres.

Source Notes

(1) See NIS Observed: An Analytical Review, Volume IX Number 01, 23 Jan 04.

(2) Ibid.

(3) Ekho Moskvy Radio, 26 Feb 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(4) WPS Defense and Security, 24 May 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(5) The St. Petersburg Times, 21 May 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(6) WPS Defense and Security, 24 May 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(7) Ibid.

(8) Ibid.

(9) Info Prod-Strategic Business Information, 24 May 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(10) The St. Petersburg Times, 21 May 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(11) Ibid.

(12) Ibid.

(13) Ibid.

By Fabian Adami (fabs_adami@yahoo.com)

~~~~~

 

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Who will manage Russia’s CIS relations?

Russian President Vladimir Putin made it clear in his 26 May State-of-the-Nation speech that Moscow’s relations with the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) continue to play an important role in Russia’s foreign policy. Speaking before both houses of parliament, Putin stated: "Work to intensify integration in the sphere of the Commonwealth of Independent States remains our priority…." (1)

Recently, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov, in discussing upcoming reforms to his ministry’s staffing, indicated that his ministry, despite the importance of the CIS to Russia, would not set up a special department to focus on CIS affairs as many of the ministry’s current departments and ministers already "deal with relations with [the CIS] countries." (2)

So, if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) will not lead the effort in Russian-CIS relations, who will? Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the State Duma committee for international affairs, proposed in a radio interview on 26 May that Russia’s cooperation with countries of the CIS should be "implemented by the Security Council," because in these matters "the political will of the state should be concentrated in one pair of hands." (3)

Kosachev, who began his government service working in the Soviet Union’s MFA at the age of 22 in 1984, (4) suggested that the Security Council has increased its role in international policy since the former foreign minister, Igor Ivanov, took over as its secretary. Indeed, Ivanov has been visible on several diplomatic missions abroad in recent weeks, including taking an active part in the removal of Aslan Abashidze from Adjaria, Georgia, subsequently visiting to Georgia regarding the status of Abkhazia, touring three Persian Gulf states, and representing Moscow in Astana, Kazakhstan at an extraordinary session of the Central Asian Cooperation Organization’s heads of state, among others. In July 2004, Ivanov is scheduled to visit North and South Korea.

Were Putin to put Kosachev’s proposition into action, it would serve as a political marker on several counts. Firstly, limiting the MFA’s authority over and involvement in CIS affairs would add credibility to a recent report that Lavrov and the MFA are merely occupying an "auxiliary role" in the foreign policy process and are used simply for "articulating and implementing the presidential line." (5) Secondly, it would reinforce reports that the current Security Council under Ivanov will play a more active role in Moscow’s decision making than it did under his predecessor. (6) Finally, transferring the management of such an important issue as relations with the CIS to within the Kremlin walls would also fit the now familiar pattern of centralizing control of Moscow’s most important issues.

Deals and progress at E.U.-Russian summit

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Chizhov declared that the 21 May Russian—European Union (E.U.) Summit would create a new stage in Russian—E.U. relations. (7) Russian Presidential Aide and Presidential Special Envoy for relations with the European Union, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, described it as "a summit of substance, one of specific, concrete and pragmatic work." (8) While self-congratulatory descriptions of Russian (and other) summits should generally be taken with a grain of salt, the results of this seventh Russian—E.U. conference deserve a closer look.

The "substance" which Yastrzhembsky mentioned manifested itself in the establishment of four so-called "common spaces" between the E.U. and Russia. These spaces, which had been proposed and discussed at earlier summits in St. Petersburg and Rome, consist of:

1. a shared economic space;

2. an external security space;

3. an internal security space; and

4. a humanitarian space involving science, technology, education and culture.

President Vladimir Putin called on the E.U. to prevent further delays in developing these common spaces and immediately appointed his coordinators for each of the spaces. Russian Minister of Industry and Power Viktor Khristenko is in charge of the common economic space. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will coordinate the foreign security space for Moscow. Presidential Aide Viktor Ivanov will organize the cooperation on the internal security space, and Presidential Aide Yastrzhembsky will coordinate the humanitarian segment in addition to his special envoy duties. (9) Once again, such an arrangement of special representatives demonstrates President Putin’s desires to keep crucial international issues firmly in his control and to limit the power of any single ministry or individual.

The big score for Moscow at this summit, however, appears to be the E.U.’s acknowledgement that it will support Russia’s bid to join the World Trade Organization (WTO). Yastrzhembsky denied in a 26 May radio interview that a deal had been struck consisting of the E.U.’s backing Russia’s joining the WTO in exchange for Moscow’s ratification of the Kyoto protocol. The timing of Putin’s announcement that he would expedite the ratification of the environmental protocol (at the same time as his announcement of the E.U.’s WTO position) led to speculation that such bargaining had indeed taken place. (10) The E.U.’s support for Russian acceptance into the WTO might have been the triggering event Putin was expecting before finally playing his "Kyoto card."

Relative to the results of other presidential summits, which often produce little more than proclamations of "a dynamic bilateral relationship" or "potential for increased economic activity," this three and a half hour meeting (and no doubt the preceding preparatory work) appears to have produced substantial results for Moscow. It also represents a dramatic improvement in Russian-E.U. ties, which earlier this spring were somewhat strained as the 1 May expansion date loomed.

But despite Moscow’s claims of progress at the summit, it is still not satisfied. MFA spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko reminded the E.U. of its obligations regarding Russian speaking minorities in the Baltic states and freight transit between Kaliningrad and Russia proper. (11) Also, Russia continues to advocate for a Russian-E.U. visa-free regime. Moscow appears intent on realizing this goal, but as President Putin acknowledged, Russia must first improve control over its borders before such a system becomes possible. (12)

Riding the rapids of Russian foreign relations

Interviewing the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, for Vremya novostei on 18 May, a journalist indicated that Lavrov’s love of white-water rafting is well-known among Russians. Asked how the thrill of his job as foreign minister compared to that of white-water rafting, Lavrov explained that his new assignment left little time for his exhilarating hobby. And while the outside observer might see a similarity in managing Russia’s foreign affairs and traversing a wild and winding river, Lavrov coolly says that although being appointed Minister was exciting, "[t]he adrenaline which increases in fulfilling a professional task cannot be compared with the adrenaline which increases when rafting." (13)

Source Notes

(1) RTR TV, 26 May 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(2) ITAR-TASS, 27 Apr 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(3) Ekho Moskvy, 26 May 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(4) Following his 14 years in the MFA from 1984-1998, Kosachev served as aid to three Russian prime ministers: Sergei Kirienko, Yevgeni Primakov and Sergei Stepashin. In 1999, he was first elected as a State Duma deputy under the banner of Primakov’s Fatherland-All Russia party. In December 2003, he was reelected with the United Russia election bloc. (Who’s Who in Russia website www.whoswho-sutter.com/w_in_russia.htm).

(5) Kommersant, 19 Apr 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(6) Izvestiya, 27 Apr 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0427 via World News Connection (WNC).

(7) ITAR-TASS, 20 May 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(8) Ekho Moskvy, 22 May 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(9) ITAR-TASS, 21 May 04; BBC Monitoring, 22 May 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(10) ITAR-TASS, 21 May 04; BBC Monitoring, 22 May 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database,

(11) ITAR-TASS, 19 May 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(12) ITAR-TASS, 21 May 04; BBC Monitoring, 22 May 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(13) Vremya novostei, 18 May 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(14) See NIS Observed, 28 April 2004.

(15) See NIS Observed, 11 Dec 03 and 10 Oct 03.

By Scott C. Dullea (dulleas@bu.edu)

~~~~~

DOMESTIC ISSUES & LEGISLATIVE BRANCH

REGIONS

The fall, and rise, of justice in the periphery

While a recent survey indicates that jury trials, recently introduced in some regions, have gained the confidence of many Russians, it appears that the prosecution of cases continues to be somewhat less confidence-inspiring. Indeed, lately it seems that, more than ever, politics, not crime, may be the motivation behind some prosecutorial activity.

Once again, reality in Russia tends to depend on just what one wants it to be. The Yuri Levada Analytical Center (formerly VTsIOM) polled 1,591 Russians about the judicial system at the end of April, (1) and found that thirty-four percent of participants stated that they believed juries are fairer and more independent than other courts. Yet nearly another third of respondents (29%) said jurors are less literate and experienced and more likely to be pressured from external forces.

There is evidence however that, in non-political cases, ordinary citizens are not always on the losing end of court decisions, even against government organs. The Agency of Judicial Information announced that, while it may take some time and perseverance, justice can be found in the courts. (2)

The key very well may be "non-political cases." Too much evidence indicates that Russia’s courts continue to be used for political purposes. Case in point: the short-lived, but enthusiastic, attack against Saratov Governor Dmitri Ayatskov, who had been persecuted by Anatoli Bondar, the regional prosecutor, for abuse of office. The charge revolved around the governor’s alleged illegal instruction to pay the customs duties for a private firm’s import of harvesters, machinery that would be delivered to the oblast government itself. At first, Bondar stood on principle, claiming that "obvious elements of corruption" were apparent in a few gubernatorial activities. (3) And yet, the charges did not fit the statements: The "crime" did not involve using his office for personal gain — no one has charged that. Rather, the governor — who has a reputation for getting things done in his oblast — did not obtain prior approval from the regional duma for this budget expenditure, presumably intended to provide oblast-wide benefit through the gathering of the harvest. Bondar himself became defensive when subsequently questioned about the charges, as the case began to unravel. "Why is everyone so hung up on the harvester story? It is just one of the episodes on which the prosecutor's office based its charges. We are working on several leads at once," he said. (4)

The situation raised many questions, particularly about the motivation behind the charges; the "crime," after all, was committed to benefit the oblast’s economy. Moreover, the governor was not a thorn in Moscow’s side — a motivation, alas, in some other prosecutions. Although a Yel’tsin-era appointee, Ayatskov has been an ardent supporter of Putin’s administration, much to the dismay of his fellow governors. "I find all this very difficult to comprehend," Novgorod Oblast Governor Mikhail Prusak said, "Particularly since Ayatskov, unlike my other colleagues and me, always loved the federal Center. And always defended it. It is he who always campaigned for the federal Center's ideas. You remember: The land issue, then reforms that could be regarded as extremely liberal….I can't understand why they did this to him." (5)

So who could be behind the "Ayatskov case"? Most fingers point to the governor’s former deputy, and now Duma Deputy Speaker, Vyacheslav Volodin, a strong rival to Ayatskov’s re-election, who happened to be in the region when the charges were brought. (6) Bondar originally denied that he was following anyone’s instructions, and asserted that he simply was trying to ensure that everyone follows the law. (7) And yet, when asked by another reporter specifically if Volodin was behind the prosecution, Bondar began responding to the reporter’s questions with questions of his own. (8)

Others, perhaps ignoring Ayatskov’s historical loyalty to Moscow, saw a conspiracy stemming from the prosecutor general’s office’s quest to build the "vertical of power." (9) Those allegations don’t hold up, given how the case turned out, however, unless one presumes that Moscow realized, a bit late in the game, how ill-advised it was to attack on grounds of competency one of the most successful governors in the country. More likely, the center had to backtrack for an over-zealous regional agency seeking to curry favor with a powerful rival of the governor. Less than a week after the charges were instituted, the prosecutor-general’s office announced that "the decision to launch the criminal investigation was premature," and criminal proceedings were cancelled. (10)

While the cancellation of charges is good news for Ayatskov, it does not mean that courts will stop being used for political reasons; thus, prosecutors’ credibility, and the faith of the citizenry in the judicial system, remain at risk.

Meanwhile, other regional officials are facing charges of corruption — Karelia’s Ministry of the Interior announced that "an organized criminal group, consisting of the republic's

government officials, has been uncovered," although exactly who is being charged with exactly what remains unclear. (11) Apparently eager to jump to the forefront in the fight with corruption, these regional security agencies probably haven’t heard that the justice system is reformed. And those who have heard don’t seem too happy about the notion. The deputy general prosecutor has proposed amendments to Russia’s Criminal Procedure Code that would put the burden of proof on the defendant in cases where government corruption is charged, removing the presumption of innocence on which the judicial system purportedly is based. (12)

 

Source Notes

1. RIA novosti, 13 May 04 via Johnson’s Russia List (JRL) #8206, 13 May 04.

2. Novaya gazeta #32, 13 May 04.

3. ITAR-TASS, 0919 GMT, 14 May 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0514 via World News Connection. (WNC)

4. Izvestiya, 19 May 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0521 via WNC.

5. Nezavisimaya gazeta, 18 May 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0519 via WNC.

6. Nezavisimaya gazeta, 17 May 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0517 via WNC.

7. Rossiyskaya gazeta, 18 May 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0518 via WNC.

8. Izvestiya, 19 May 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0521 via WNC .

9. MosNews.com/Gazeta.ru, 19 May 04 via JRL #8214, 19 May 04; Nezavisimaya gazeta, 19 May 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0519 via WNC.

10. Interfax, 1554 GMT, 20 May 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0520 via WNC.

11. Izvestiya, 14 May 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0516 via WNC.

12. MosNews.com, 21 May 04 via JRL #8219, 22 May 04.

By Kate Martin (kmmartin@bu.edu)

~~~~~

 

NEWLY INDEPENDENT STATES

WESTERN REGIONS

UKRAINE

Scandal envelops Tymoshenko

Recent accusations against Yulia Tymoshenko claim she is involved in a judicial bribery scandal and may have attempted to bribe judges and to compromise Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma with fraudulent foreign currency accounts. These charges seem likely to tarnish the opposition’s reputation before the presidential election in October 2004.

On 18 May, Volodymyr Borovko, an aid to the BYT opposition block leader, Yulia Tymoshenko, made accusation against Tymoshenko saying that she gave him $125,000 for the purpose of bribing judges in order to make possible the release of her former business associates, who also happen to be relatives. Her associates, who are under investigation for corruption, used to work for the UESU (United Energy Systems of Ukraine), which was run by Tymoshenko. (1) When she realized the bribery attempt had failed, says Borovko, Tymoshenko demanded he returned her money and began threatening him.

Several days after his first accusation, Borovko revealed that Tymoshenko also asked him to help her carry out a plan that would discredit Kuchma and his family. Her alleged scheme consisted of opening a foreign-currency account in Kuchma’s name, which would later be presented as proof of Kuchma’s involvement in covert arms sales to countries with ties to international terrorism. (2) According to Borovko, the plan was never implemented. Borovko further claims that Tymoshenko asked him to gather information on public figures (such as Mykola Azarov, Viktor Medvedchuk and Viktor Yanukovich) who, she believed, would be willing to pay as much as $500,000 to keep the details concealed. (3)

Tymoshenko called the accusations a "provocation" and said that Borovko had realized that the Prosecutor General's office had enough material to launch a criminal case against him and, therefore, decided to go ahead with the accusations in order to avoid going to court. (4) Borovko, however, presented rather convincing evidence of his claims, including a video that shows a woman who looks exactly like Tymoshenko offering assistance to Borovko in return for his help in bringing her to power. (5)

Tymoshenko is a symbol of the Ukrainian anti-presidential opposition. She is a leading ally of presidential candidate Victor Yushchenko and is expected to support him in upcoming presidential elections. The only question is: will Yushchenko want her support? Associating himself with Tymoshenko after such accusations are not likely to help his chances of becoming president. This is not the first time Tymoshenko finds herself in the glare of an unfavorable spotlight. Tymoshenko was accused of fraud when she was working with former Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, who is now on trial in the U.S. A U.S. court did however, recently drop charges against Lazarenko pertaining to his dealings with Tymoshenko’s company UESU.

It seems that the Ukrainian people have very difficult choices to make in October; neither the current administration (Yanukovich) nor the opposition (e.g., Tymoshenko) can apparently be trusted. Yanukovich’s previous convictions and the opposition represented by Tymoshenko make the choice as easy or as hard as choosing the lesser of two evils.

BELARUS

Belarus natural gas update

Sibur and Beltransgas have signed an agreement that envisages the supply of 650 million cubic meters of gas at $46. 68 per 1000 cubic meters to Belarus in June 2004. (6) Russia’s natural gas monopoly Gazprom holds 50.67% stake in Sibur. (7) Belarus still does not have a permanent contract with Gazprom. "Of course, this is not normal situation when there is no permanent contract with the main gas supplier," said Uladzimir Syamashka, the Belarusian First Deputy Prime Minster. (8) Beltransgas is hoping to get a permanent contract with Gazprom in the first half of June. Gazprom admitted it was ready to give in and offer Minsk lower natural gas prices — $46.7 instead of $50, but, in return, Gazprom wants the gas transport fee through Belarusian territory decreased, which is not likely to happen. (9)

Gazprom stopped the natural gas supply to Belarus on 1 January, as a result of the disagreement over gas prices and acquisition of shares in Beltransgas. Alexander Lukashenko demanded $5bn for Beltransgas, when Gazprom claimed it was only worth $600mln. As a result of recent negotiations, the sides decided to have an independent appraiser, Deloitte & Touche, evaluate the company. (10)

MOLDOVA

Reform of the Security Council

On 25 May, 2004, the President of Moldova issued a decree on the creation of a reformed Supreme Security Council (CSS). The President of Moldova will be the head of the Council, and the chairman of the Supreme Security Council Service of the Presidential Administration, Ion Morei, will be the CSS secretary. (11) The CSS will be structured into the following commissions: for internal and foreign policies, economic and financial policy, social and environmental policies, anti-terror policy and an analysis and information center. (12) The CSS remains an integral element of executive authority within the presidential administration.

Release of a Gagauz prisoner

Ivan Burgudji, an opposition politician and former chairman of the legislature of the Moldovan autonomous region of Gagauzia was recently released from prison. He served just under a year of his three-year sentence. Last June, the judges found him guilty of abusing power, thwarting a referendum of no confidence and anti-social group actions. Burgudji considered himself a political prisoner, while the authorities claim that he has been imprisoned solely on the bases of his criminal activity. Burgudji was convicted for "five years in a maximum security prison," (13) a sentence, that was later changed to "three years in a correctional facility of a semi-closed type." (14) He was also banned from occupying state posts for five years.

Burgudji was a special representative to the Dniestr region and one of the founders of the breakaway Gagauz republic in 1990, when he was in charge of the Budeac special battalion — a parliamentary formation, which played the role of the Gagauz army. (15) Burgudji was arrested and convicted after Gagauzia received autonomy within Moldova in 1995. He later was released.

Political observer Vladimir Tselsyuk points out in his article "Released and Very Dangerous," that Burgudji’s release as an unguarded prisoner could be an attempt by the Chisinau authorities to cast off their responsibility for his persecution. He speculates that should the European court deem the results of the Gagauz 2003 elections invalid, the Moldovan leadership would blame Gagauz local authorities for Burgudji’s persecution. (16)

After his release, Burgudji is expected to continue the dialogue with the Chisinau authorities about the role of Gagauz autonomy in Moldova, he is also expected to demand compensation for his ordeal during of his prosecution/persecution.

 

Source Notes

(1) Inter TV, 20 May 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

(2) One Plus One TV, 22 May 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

(3) Interfax news agency, 18 May 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

(4) UT1, 24 May 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

(5) Ibid.

(6) RosBusinessConsulting Database, 28 May 04 via Lexis-Nexis.

(7) Prime-Tass Business news agency, 28 May 04 via Lexis-Nexis

(8) Belapan News agency, 25 May 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

(9) Gazeta, 20 May 04; RIA OREANDA via Lexis-Nexis.

(10) BELTA, 26 May 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(11) Basapress news agency, 25 May 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

(12) Ibid.

(13) Basapress news agency, 9 Jun 03; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

(14) Moldovan Radio, 24 Jul 03; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(15) Ibid.

(16) Pridnestrovye, 22 May 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

 

By Elena Selyuk (eselyuk@bu.edu)

~~~~~

Caucasus Report

GEORGIA

Anti-corruption drives

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s crusade to purify Georgia of interministerial fiscal corruption and eradicate country-wide smuggling rings and organized crime has prompted pervasive ministerial personnel changes. Additionally, Saakashvili’s anti-corruption campaign provides a plausible guise for asserting Georgian authority over South Ossetia.

If we are to trust the claims of the politicians, the sole rationale for the Georgian Interior Ministry landing, via helicopter, a unit of Interior Ministry troops and a group of police commandos in the village of Tkvivi into the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict zone on 31 May was to protect the integrity of the Georgian anti-smuggling military operation along the Georgian-South Ossetian border. According to Internal Troops Commander Georgy Baramidze, the Interior Ministry ordered the force into the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict zone because peacekeeping contingent commander Major General Svyatoslav Nabzdorov reported that the village had dismantled a roadblock set up by the Georgian police. (1) This road-post is one of four established by the Georgian Interior Ministry and fiscal police in the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict-zone, the other three are located in Eredvi, Nikozo and Khvevi in the Gori district not far from Tskhinvali, the capital of the unrecognized republic of South Ossetia. (2) Georgian politicians quickly painted this ostentatious display of military might as necessitated by the anti-smuggling campaign, creating a political sound-bite molded to garner domestic support, American approval, and remain above Russian reproof. Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania’s assertions that Georgia's desire to protect the police posts rests within the framework of battling organized crime are echoed by Interior Minister Georgy Baramidze, who also discreetly acknowledged the Georgian military operation as a move in the chess game with Russia for territorial sovereignty throughout Georgia proper by stating, "we shall not let the Russian military use force in a territory controlled by Georgian authorities." (3) Georgian Prosecutor General Irakliy Okruashvili's declaration that the period of Russian peacekeepers and Ossetian separatists dictating Georgian policy is over and his condemnation of attempts to address Georgia "in the language of ultimatums" (4) reflects a Georgian political belief that Russia will not act on behalf of its South Ossetian ally and simultaneously demonstrates the Justice Ministry’s strong alignment with Saakashvili’s office.

However, despite Tbilisi’s authoritative display of military and political force in the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict zone in front of Russian peacekeeping forces, Russia's reaction has been primarily limited to ambiguous statements of unease by Andrei Kokoshin, the Chairman of the State Duma’s Committee for CIS Affairs, and the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Kokoshin’s and Lavrov’s underwhelming statements parallel each other in highlighting the overall Russian concern with stabilization in Georgia and a "resumption of the spirit of interaction" between South Ossetia and Georgia (5) and further indicate a Russian complacency toward Tbilisi’s activist policy regarding its separatist regions. Indeed, Russian-Georgian relations have not been damaged by the recent South Ossetian dispute as indicated by Russian participation in the 2 June meeting of the Mixed Monitoring Commission, a supervisory board mediating the South Ossetian-Georgian 1992 cease-fire line. (6)

Although ostensibly acting to eradicate corruption, Saakashvili’s long-term intentions in South Ossetia were suggested in the official release of the Abkhazian Conflict Settlement Plan by Former Deputy Justice Minister Kote Kublashvili in an interview with Civil Georgia on 19 May. The plan, pending the approval of the Georgian National Security Council (NSC), envisages linking Tbilisi and Sukhumi within a single federal state in an attempt to settle the Abkhazian-Georgian dispute. Under the proposed two member federal state, defense and foreign policy, border defense, customs systems and the fight against organized crime will fall within the jurisdiction of the Tbilisi central authority, while the Abkhazian government would manage all other civil affairs. (7) Additionally, the document solely empowers the Georgian Federal State with military capabilities throughout the Georgian-Abkhazian federation while allowing for an Abkhaz police squad in the hopes of precluding the development of an armed Abkhaz separatist movement. The revelation of a comprehensive Georgian-Abkhaz federal framework during a period of escalating tensions between Tbilisi and Tskhinvali offers a solution to the South Ossetian-Georgian conflict and alludes to Saakashvili’s ambition of constructing an all-inclusive Tbilisi-based Georgian federation.

The South Ossetian situation also reveals that the Justice, Interior Ministry, and National Security Council are emerging as power-brokers in forming Georgian governmental policy while alluding to a marginalization of the Foreign and Defense Ministries. While Interior Minister Georgy Baramidze and Prosecutor General Irakli Okruashvili personally represented the Georgian government in Tskhinvali, (8) Georgian Defense Minister Gela Bezhuashvili was relegated to issuing yet another warning to Russia regarding the removal of Russian bases from Georgian territory, (9) while Georgian Foreign Minister Salome Zourabichvili was in the U.S. on a state visit with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. (10) Additionally, the Justice Ministry and the NSC maintained a high-profile throughout the South Ossetian dispute by serving as President Mikheil Saakashvili’s and Prime Minister’s Zurab Zhvania’s official media mouthpieces. Prosecutor General Okruashvili and NSC Secretary Vano Merabishvili gave two appearances on Georgian Imedi TV between 31 May and 1 June to elucidate Tbilisi’s South Ossetian policy, (11) outline Georgian troop involvement with South Ossetian and Russian peacekeepers in the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict zone, and repeatedly issue uncompromising statements regarding Georgian territorial rights in South Ossetia. (12) In comparison, Defense Minister Bezhuashvili has given no press conferences to date on the South Ossetian situation while Foreign Minister Zourabichvili’s absence has hampered direct media coverage and allowed only for a conciliatory statement regarding Russian-Georgian relations, (13) leaving the incendiary rhetoric to the Interior and Justice Ministries. These events indicate that the Justice and Interior Ministries and the NSC, as opposed perhaps to the Defense and Foreign Ministries, align themselves with Saakashvili’s vision of total Georgian territorial cohesion, potentially in a federation framework, and may become the principle Georgian governmental institutions for formulating and executing domestic and foreign governmental policies.

Source Notes

1. Vremya Novostei, 1 Jun 04; What the Paper’s Say via Lexis-Nexis.

2. ITAR-TASS, 31 May 04 via Lexis-Nexis.

3. Ibid.

4. Georgian Imedi TV, Tbilisi, 31 May 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

5. Interfax-AVN Military News Website, 1 Jun 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

6. Financial Times, 1 Jun 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

7. www.civil.ge/eng/detail.php?id=6979.

8. ITAR-TASS Tbilisi, 31 May 04 via Lexis-Nexis.

9. Financial Times, 31 May 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

10. www.civil.ge/eng/detail.php?id=6979.

11. Georgian Imedi TV Tbilisi, 31 May; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis; Interfax Tbilisi, 31 May 04; Financial Times; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Databases; Georgian Imedi TV Tbilisi, 1 Jun; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

12. ITAR-TASS, 31 May 04 via Lexis-Nexis; Georgian Imedi TV Tbilisi, 31 May; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis; Vremya Novostei, 1 Jun 04; What the Papers Say via Lexis-Nexis.

13. Kavkasia Press, 1 Jun 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Databases.

By Ariela Shapiro (ariels@bu.edu)

~~~~~

CENTRAL ASIA

The development of an opposition

With parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for 2005 in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and presidential elections scheduled for 2006 in Kazakhstan, political opposition movements are increasing efforts to gain support and thereby increase their chances to have an impact on political and social change. These political groups seek to capitalize on discontent with the existing course of government, a platform shared in principle by Islamist groups active in the region, as the incumbent governments seek to improve security and economic prosperity in ways that solidify their control of power.

Fomenting opposition: political and religious

Political infighting continues in Kyrgyzstan, highlighted most recently by a report issued by a parliamentary ad hoc commission investigating the origin of wiretapping devices found in the offices of members of parliament in mid-January of this year. (1) Parliamentarian Alisher Abdimomunov delivered the report and said that "Special services were following contacts between parliamentarians and other politicians with the German and U.S. Embassies and also with the OSCE and other international organizations." (2) On 17 May, the Kyrgyz Legislative Assembly failed to endorse a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Nikolai Tanayev; the vote was introduced by Ismail Isakov (whose office was among those which discovered a listening device in last January) and was the second in two months. (3)

As centrists made clear plans to participate in the 2005 parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan, (4) a group called the Union for Fair Elections (UFE) was founded on 20 May to challenge the existing government administration in next year's elections. UFE is comprised of a number of opposition parties — including Ar-Namys, the Social Democrats, and the People’s Party — that, according to a press release, have come together with a centrist agenda to unite "for real action, with good intentions, despite differences in our political views or party platforms." (5) The question before UFE is who would be a strong candidate to replace Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev. While Akayev has denied any intention to seek reelection for another term (which would clearly be a violation of constitutionally-set term limits), many fear that he might change his mind at the last minute.

For his part, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev announced that he would stand for reelection in December 2006, claiming that he would continue to "work as President [until 2013]… if, God willing… everything is normal." (6) Such an early announcement likely came as a show of resolve in response to accusations of Nazarbayev’s involvement in a bribery case scheduled to be heard before U.S. federal courts on 2 June. (7) Agreeing, however, that it is time to focus attention on political reform (most reforms in Kazakhstan have been directed at economic reform), opposition party Ak Zhol and Nazarbayev’s party, Asar, leaders announced their decision "to set up a joint working group to develop a political reform program" that would look at "decentralizing power and expanding the role of parliament." (8)

In a push to increase the transparency of Tajikistan’s February 2005 parliamentary elections, the Islamic Renaissance Party, the Social-Democrat Party, and the Socialist Party of Tajikistan, recently formed the Coalition for Just and Transparent Elections. Analysts suggest, however, that the coalition lacks the cohesiveness that its formation implies, bringing into question its potential effectiveness. (9)

While political opposition parties, especially in Tajikistan, appear to lack cohesion, Islamist groups are routinely seen as a worrisome cohesive front able to mobilize the Muslim population. The extent to which this is true is often exaggerated at an ideological level, but the immediate public response to the March bombings in Uzbekistan suggested a moderate level of support for the anti-government militants; i.e. the police and Uzbek government were blamed with equal fervor. (10) Members of Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) are routinely detained for distribution of literature about the group, (11) and Nabijon Rahimov, a Tajik prosecutor from the Soghd Region, suggested that support for HT in Tajikistan was increasing. Furthermore, there is concern that a new Islamist group calling themselves Bayat — 20 members of which where arrested in mid-April in the Isfara District of Tajikistan — has ties with the Taliban and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and is attracting support among those discontent with the path being taken by the Tajik state. (12)

Economics and Security

The countries of the region have made efforts to increase military cooperation and improve regional security. (13) One hope is that improved economic conditions will weaken the support base for Islamist groups. Uzbekistan recently announced its intention to resume participation in GUUAM; (14) Kazakhstan is trying to position itself for membership in the World Trade Organization; (15) and Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to push the creation of a Common Economic Space with Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. (16)

While these larger agreements are designed to improve the macro-economic health of the region, at a micro-level regional security-related border restrictions have complicated cross-border trade and, for example, caused Uzbek and Kyrgyz villagers to take greater risks in order to subvert border-crossing regulations. (17) It is in these regions that many of the Islamist groups cultivate their numbers and it is here that the message of political opposition parties finds support in calls for reform and change.

Source Notes

  1. See NIS Observed, 6 Feb 04 via www.bu.edu.iscip
  2. Parliamentary opposition leaders Ismail Isakov, Adakhan Madumarov, Absamat Masaliyev and Omurbek Tekebayev, and Human Rights Commissioner Tursunbai Bakir-uluu, were among the those whose offices were tapped and followed. Interfax, 1431 GMT, 21 May 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0521 via World News Connection (WNC).
  3. AKIpress (Bishkek), 1402 GMT, 18 May 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0518 via WNC.
  4. AKIpress (Bishkek), 1015 GMT, 19 May 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0519 via WNC.
  5. Eurasianet, 26 May 04, via www.eurasianet.org .
  6. Vremya novostei (Moscow), 17 May 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0521 via WNC.
  7. The bribery scandal, referred to by the media as "Kazakhgate", involves a U.S. businessman, James Giffen, who is accused of paying unnamed Kazakh officials $78 million in bribes to secure oil contracts. For more, see Eurasianet, 20 May 04 via www.eurasianet.org .
  8. Interfax, 1728 GMT, 23 May 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0523 via WNC
  9. Eurasianet, 24 May 04 via www.eurasianet.org; for more on the political situation in Tajikistan, see International Crisis Group, "Tajikistan’s Politics: Confrontation or Consolidation?", 19 May 04, via www.crisisweb.org .

(10) See NIS Observed, 8 Apr 04; 28 Apr 04 via www.bu.edu/iscip.

  1. For information on the most recent arrests of HT members in Tajikistan, see ITAR-TASS, 0630 GMT, 22 May 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0522 via WNC
  2. RFE/RL Central Asia Report, 25 May 04, via www.rferl.org
  3. See, for example, NIS Observed, 5 Mar 04, via www.bu.edu/iscip
  4. ITAR-TASS, 1812 GMT, 10 May 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0510 via WNC. Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova are the members of GUUAM, which was created to facilitate trade through a Europe-Caucasus-Asia transportation corridor. For more on Uzbekistan’s 2002 withdrawal from GUUAM, see NIS Observed, 10 Jul 02, via www.bu.edu/iscip
  5. Interfax-Kazakhstan (Almaty), 0422 GMT, 21 May 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0521; Interfax, 1015 GMT, 24 May 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0524 via WNC
  6. Interfax, 1044 GMT, 24 May 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0524 via WNC
  7. See Eurasianet, 25 May 04, via www.eurasianet.org .

By David W. Montgomery (dwm@bu.edu)


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