Danilov to face retrial
In February 2001, Valentin Danilov, a nuclear physicist working at a Krasnoyarsk research facility was arrested and charged with high treason and fraud. According to the security services, Danilov had passed top secret satellite information to a front company tied to the Chinese government. (1)
After two years of incarceration, during which he suffered a serious heart attack, Danilovs case was brought to trial in the fall of 2003. His defense team argued that the information Danilov had passed was unclassified and freely available in the public domain. If convicted of the charges however, Danilov could face up to 30 years imprisonment.
The trial was one of Russias first spy trials to be determined by a jury, and resulted in an acquittal in December 2003. According to various sources, the FSB was so enraged by the result of the trial, that it rigged the subsequent trial against Igor Sutyagin (see previous NIS Observed for details), resulting in a 15 year sentence, which was to serve as "a warning" to Russian scientists. (2) It now appears, however, that the FSB is not satisfied with the conviction of Sutyagin alone, and the agency is making renewed efforts to achieve a conviction in the Danilov case.
At a hearing on 9 June at the Supreme Court, the prosecutor appealed for a new trial against Danilov. According to press reports, the appeal was based on several significant procedural violations that occurred during the trial. First, the jury apparently left its room during deliberations, a fact that the prosecutor claims might have allowed the jury somehow to be corrupted. (3) Second, prosecutor Yevgeni Naidyonov claimed that Danilovs defense team had tainted the jury by "discussing material that had not been accepted as evidence in court." (4) Third, the prosecutor alleged that three jurors claimed that they had privately been approached by the defense team in an effort to exert pressure. (5) After a hearing that lasted less than an hour, the Supreme Court accepted the prosecutors arguments, and ruled that there should be a new trial, which is to be held in Krasnoyarsk with a new judge and jury, at a date still to be determinedbut in the near future. (6)
The Supreme Courts decision predictably has caused outrage and consternation among domestic and international human rights activists and Russian scientists alike. Grigori Pasko, who commented recently on Sutyagins conviction, has stated that Russia is witnessing a "rapid regression into totalitarianism." (7) Danilovs peers have also spoken out, including Aleksander Nitkin, an environmental analyst, who stated that the "reputation of the FSB was undermined" by the Sutyagin verdict, and Vitali Ginzburg, a academician at the Russian Academy of Sciences adding that he was convinced that Danilov "is innocent." (8)
Danilov reacted to the Supreme Courts ruling with surprising equanimity, telling the press that he was not surprised by the decision, but that he believes a new jury will "come to the same conclusion: that I am innocent." (9) It is difficult to agree with such optimism. If the Sutyagin case proved anything, it was that the FSB is prepared to go to any lengths to achieve the desired results. It is highly unlikely that the new jury will be left alone with its deliberations, or that the result will be an acquittal.
Danilovs case is not the end of Russias spy trials: on June 16, Moscows Regional Military Court set 21 June as the date for preliminary hearings in the case of Igor Vyalkov, a former FSB officer accused of passing secret information to foreign intelligence services. Vyalkov has been held in Lefortovo prison since his arrest in the fall of 2002. (10)
FSB spreads its wingsyet again
On June 5, Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov appointed former FSB General Nikolai Volobuyev to the post of Deputy Head of the State Customs Committee (SCC). During his time in the FSB, Volobuyev headed the counterintelligence operations department of the Federal Security Service. In publishing the news, Kommersant stated that Volobuyevs role most likely will be to oversee the transformation of the SCC into the Federal Customs Service, which he will then head. (11)
There are two possible reasons for Volobuyevs appointment. First, it may be a precursor to a formal takeover by the FSB of the SCC. Or, more likely, it is a political move: nominally, the agency will be controlled by the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, but in reality, it will be subordinate to the FSB. (12) In conjunction with the piece on Volobuyevs appointment, Kommersant published a list of ministries and agencies in which members of the Siloviki hold senior positions. Of eleven ministries listed, former FSB officers are in charge of ten. Three of these, as expected, are so-called "power ministries," namely Defense, Interior and Justice. At the Defense Ministry, it is unclear whether Sergei Ivanov exerts any influence over the GRU, while Rashid Nurgaliyevs appointment at the Interior Ministry can be seen as a second attempt to gain control of the MVD after the removal of Boris Gryzlov. (13)
There are two things about the report that are disconcerting: first, that former FSB officers control, or have senior positions in seven minor ministries such as the Agency for State Reserves, and second, since the March elections, the siloviki have been given control over a major new ministry, that of Culture and Mass Communications, where Leonid Nadirov as First Deputy Minister has been directly responsible for writing Russias new media licensing laws. (14) This means that former FSB officers now not only control Russias security and foreign policies, but also state finances, and the organs for dissemination of news and information. President Putins former KGB and FSB colleagues now have the capacity to control every important aspect of life in Russia, and, as such, there can be no more doubt that the country once more is a police state.
(1) "Krasnoyarsk Researcher Valentin Danilov Charged With High Treason," Pravda via www.english.pravda.ru/accidents/2001/04/29/4459.html .
(2) See NIS Observed: An Analytical Review Volume IX Number 7, 28 Apr 04.
(3) Vremya Novostei, 9 Jun 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(4) "Russian Court Overturns Acquittal in Spy Case," New York Times, 10 Jun 04.
(5) The Moscow Times, 10 June 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(6) "Russian Court Overturns Acquittal in Spy Case," New York Times, 10 Jun 04.
(7). WPS-Defense and Security, 11 Jun 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(8). WPS-Defense and Security, 11 Jun 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(9) WPS-What The Papers Say, 11 Jun 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(10) ITAR-TASS, 16 Jun 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0616 via World News Connection.
(11) Kommersant; Izvestia Press Digest, 5 Jun 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
(13) See NIS Observed An Analytical Review, Volume IX Number 6, 8 Apr 2004.
(14) Kommersant Daily, 9 Apr 04 via www.kommersant.com/page.asp?id=464765 .
By Fabian Adami (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Putin and the sharks in Georgia
At his closing press conference from the Group of 8 (G-8) Summit at Sea Island, Georgia, President Putin noted with regret that he was unable to take his anticipated swim in the warm southern water, due to the presence of sharks. Putin insisted, despite the doubts of the RTR media entourage, that he had seen a sharks dorsal fin with his own eyes off the beach at Sea Island. (1) To find sharks at Sea Island that week, there was no need to stare offshore.
The Russian president came to Georgia with a clear agenda: He would court the leaders of the worlds wealthiest nations, protect Russias interests where they overlapped with the summits international security agenda, and generally depict himself and his country as an equal among giants.
To begin his campaign, Putins meeting with President Bush ran well overtime an anomaly for the notoriously regimented Bush. According to Presidential Aide Sergei Prikhodko, Iraq was the focus of their discussion, though North Korea and were also mentioned. On all three issues, Putin remained dedicated to his previous positions the U.N. for Iraq, multilateral negotiations for North Korea, and nuclear energy for Iran. (2)
At the end of the first day of the conference, Russian Presidential Advisor Andrei Illarionov told reporters that Russias suggested approach to reform in the Middle East had been adopted as official G-8 policy. (3) As a result, the G-8s partnership with the broader Middle East will assist in building democracy in the region but only at a host countrys request, in contrast to President Bushs proposal of a slightly more imperious Middle East initiative. (4)
G-8 members were also able to agree that they will not initiate new transfers of uranium enrichment and reprocessing technology to countries not already receiving them for the next year, falling well short of the permanent ban on transfers that was the stated goal of the Bush administration. In addition, several developed nations were added to the Global Partnership working to secure and decommission nuclear materials, increasing potential for additional foreign aid. (5)
Except for the sharks between him and the warm water, President Putin essentially got what he wanted from his trip to Sea Island. He was able to stand among the leading world powers, bolstering the perception of power and prestige for Russia that he demands. (6) Finally, agreements on non-proliferation and Middle East reforms will scarcely diminish his position in the Middle East itself. The former compromise allows Russia to continue with its lucrative $800 million Iranian nuclear energy contract, despite the opposition of the U.S. and an investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The latter compromise preserves Russias campaign to achieve observer status at the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attended in Astana, Kazakhstan the following week. (7)
President Bush had to settle for these compromises, in which Russia (among other G-8 members) gave little ground, though he did get something in return from his "good friend" Vladimir Vladimirovich.
Oh, and by the way, I should mention
At the closing moments of his final press conference, without provocation, Putin defended President Bush against attacks from democrats over his war in Iraq, saying "they have no moral right to do so," while citing President Clintons attack on Serbia in 1999 as justification for this perspective. This comment stunned the media entourage, though it is unclear whether they were surprised that Putin would make such a statement in apparent contradiction to his longstanding Iraq policy, or if they were surprised that the Russian President ever weighed moral considerations. Putin assured reporters that he and Bush still disagreed on many Iraq issues. He reiterated that the U.N., not NATO, should play the key role in resolving problems there, joking that if NATO were to tackle the problem, "it would be good...NATO would end up with a new enemy." (8)
Then, on 18 June, at a forum of the Eurasian Economic Community, Putin announced that Russian security services had warned U.S. counterparts on several occasions that Iraq was planning to execute terrorist attacks in the U.S., and against U.S. interests abroad, in the months between 11 September 2001 and the start of the current war in Iraq. (9) Putins comment essentially confirmed a claim released by Interfax the previous day "by a reliable source in the Russian security services" that such information had been forwarded to the U.S. on more than one occasion in the Fall of 2002. (10)
The Russian Foreign Ministry, Federal Security Service and Foreign Intelligence Service all refused to comment. (11) The U.S. Department of State and White House also had no comment, and State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli referred all further requests to the CIA. (12) Putin stressed that his agents had no evidence that Saddams government was actually involved in any terrorist actions. U.S. President Bush reportedly thanked one of the heads of Russias security services for information, which the Americans deemed particularly useful. (13)
In order to cast doubt over President Putins assertions, we could begin by asking why he had hitherto insisted that the Russian and American special services shared information on non-state international terrorist organizations and Afghanistan, while cooperation on Iraqi counterintelligence has never been mentioned. (14)
Secondly, the timing of Putins comments at Sea Island and Astana straddle a 9/11 Commission statement, on 16 June, citing no evidence linking Saddam Hussein with Al-Qaeda, a contention that the Bush administration continues to dispute. President Bushs various rationales for launching the war have come under increasing attack on both strategic and moral grounds, and Putins statements might ease the pressure on the embattled American president.
Finally, one might wonder why, if Putin was aware that the Iraqi regime was planning terrorist attacks against the U.S., he would side with France in blocking the U.N. resolution authorizing the war in the first place. Assuming his statement to be fact, President Bush could be seen as attacking Iraq to defend his country from terrorism, ostensibly Putins own rationale for reoccupying Chechnya in 1999. When asked whether the Americans might be justified in acting based on this information, the ever-evasive Vladimir Vladimirovich replied with a less-than-satisfying "I dont know. That is another matter." (15)
Putins dive into a contentious American political debate will do nothing to bring clarity to the issue. However, we can rather safely assume that the Russian President is not among the elusive list of foreign leaders that John Kerry claims support his candidacy for President of the United States.
Returning the favor
Despite the NATO-Russia Council discussions scheduled for the NATO Summit in Istanbul on 28-29 June, President Putin has backed out of his planned appearance. NATO spokesman James Apparatoui confirmed that the Russian president would not arrive as expected, and that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would attend in his absence. (16)
Lavrov, visiting Norway at the time, confirmed the report but was careful to reassure Ankara that Putins passing on the Summit should not be taken personally. Rumors that the President would visit Turkey personally floated in the Russian media. (17) Lavrov will represent Russia at the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) and will also attend a ministerial-level summit of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) in Istanbul, according to an MFA press release. (18)
After spending a few days sharing a circular conference table with the worlds great powers, President Putin has no interest in sharing the back of the room with nations like Albania and Moldova, looking up at Slovenia and Lithuania. More generally, Putins rebuke is probably intended to signal his frustration at NATOs recent actions. NATO should need no such signal. Encroachment by the Western alliance on the former Soviet sphere of influence reached a new climax with the accession of the three former Soviet Baltic states and three former Warsaw Pact countries on 29 March. NATO member state foot-dragging on ratification of a revised Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE) leaves open the theoretical possibility of a NATO military build-up on Russias very borders. Putin has also been annoyed by the interest of CIS members Ukraine and Georgia in joining NATO. (19)
These issues have been particularly sore for Putin, whose inability to force NATO to accommodate all of Russia's interests has been embarrassing for his prestige. The Russian interest, in this case, is almost entirely psychological. The new NATO members armed forces are of little threat to Russia. By passing on NATO assistance for the Afghanistan campaign and easily living without it for the Iraqi campaign, the U.S. has demonstrated that it views most of its NATO allies as occupation and mop-up forces, incapable of and undesirable for war-fighting purposes. Also, by engaging in a holding maneuver criticizing and opposing any NATO action despite its irrelevance - Putin might keep Western criticism and opposition to his actions against Yukos or Chechnya to a minimum. While NATO ignoring Russia on these fronts might be a non-issue for a pragmatic observer, Putin would rather ignore NATO to show just how much he cares.
(1) RTR, 11 Jun 04 via Lexis-Nexis.
- Pravda.ru (in English), 9 Jun 04 (http://english.pravda.ru/main/18/88/354/13056_Bush.html).
- RTR, Ibid.
- "G-8 Partnership with the Broader Middle East," http://www.g8usa.gov/d_060904c.htm .
- G-8 Action Plan on Nonproliferation, http://www.g8usa.gov/f_060904f.htm .
- NTV, 16 Jun 04 via Lexis-Nexis.
- RTR, Ibid
- Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 18 Jun 04 via Lexis-Nexis.
- Vedomosti, 18 Jun 04 via Lexis-Nexis.
- RIA Novosti, 19 Jun 04 via Johnsons Russia List (JRL), #8260, 19 Jun 04.
- TASS, 18 Jun 04 via Lexis-Nexis.
- Vedomosti, Ibid.
- Interfax, 18 Jun 04 via Lexis-Nexis.
- Safak, 4 Jun 04 via Info-Prod Research.
- Russian Foreign Ministry Press Release, www.mid.ru, 16 Jun 04 (http://www.ln.mid.ru/bl.nsf/062c2f5f5fa065d4c3256def0051fa1e/fdef7fcbb936d964c3256eb60042bc0d?OpenDocument)
- St. Petersburg Times, 16 June 04 via Lexis-Nexis.
By Maolmordha McGowan
DOMESTIC ISSUES & LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
On third thought...
Earlier this month, the Russian State Duma passed in its third reading a revised amendment to the law "On meetings, rallies, demonstrations, marches and picketing," with a vote of 336 to 97 (2 abstentions). The original amendment proposal had launched a loud public outcry, as it had banned assemblies from virtually any location where they would have any effect at all. The final form bans gatherings outside hazardous materials production facilities, main railway lines, border areas, courts and prisons, and residences of the RF president. The revisions reportedly were sent down directly from Putin. In an earlier NIS Observed (28 Apr 04), the question was posed why the Duma seemed intent on holding a harder line than the president appeared to promote. A recent interview with Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov may provide at least a partial answer.
"Some of my colleagues from the State Duma, regardless of their party affiliation, have a kind of pseudo-bureaucratic enthusiasm. So I am not surprised that initiatives are appearing that the president must impede. Yes, the deputies adopted amendments to the laws on the mass media, guided by noble considerations after the terrorist act in Dubrovka. But the effect of the amendments amounted to giving complete freedom to the bureaucrat, who essentially decides the problem of freedom of speech to allow it or not to. The same thing applies to the law on rallies. Yes, we have problems with terrorism, and those who rally near the organs of state government are creating a commotion. So what of it what are they supposed to do, rally in the woods perhaps? Once again, the consequences have not been calculated. Without malicious intent, it is only pompous triviality," Mironov said. (1)
To be sure, Mironov is an adamant supporter of Putin; indeed, he ran one of the more bizarre presidential campaigns this spring, pledging his support of the incumbent president and his unwillingness to unseat him. So Mironov is motivated to paint the parliamentarians as culprits in the series of overwhelmingly restrictive legislative proposals being discussed. However, given the level of Soviet bureaucratization in which these parliamentarians and other Russians were reared, Mironovs statement has a ring of truth. Yet, not the whole truth: The original proposal for the amendments to the law on demonstrations stemmed from the cabinet of ministers, not the Duma.
A CIVIL SOCIETY?
Strangers arent the enemy