The NIS Observed: An Analytical Review
Volume IX Number 13 (18 August 2004)
 

Russian Federation

Executive Branch & Military Reform by Susan J. Cavan
Security Services by Fabian Adami
Foreign Relations by Maolmordha McGowan
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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RUSSIAN FEDERATION

EXECUTIVE BRANCH & MILITARY REFORM

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

Aftereffects of Kremlin reform

The much-discussed Kozak reforms of the state bureaucracy have had only a minor impact on the Kremlin administration. Despite promises and predictions, (see previous NIS Observed) the cold numbers of reform data belie the expectations of bureaucratic contraction: the number of directorates in the presidential administration has decreased from 20 to 17 and the "total number of staff" has been reduced "from 1,500 to 1,200." (1) Doubts remain, of course, about the definition of "total number of staff."

The shifting of titles among Kremlin elite, from deputy directors of the administration to presidential aides for example, would have carried more significance if the reform were not applied across the board but selectively. While there has been a significant redistribution of portfolios among the top Kremlin figures, this reform suggests less of an attempt to circumvent opportunities for corruption than an effort to change the system established by former Kremlin Chief Aleksandr Voloshin. Dmitri Medvedev, as current Chief, has expanded his reach to include not only presidential envoys, protocol, and the control and legal affairs directorates, but the Prosecutor’s office and Supreme Court as well. On the surface, this would appear as a challenge to Dmitri Kozak, who cut his Kremlin teeth on judicial reform. Kozak, however, retains oversight of the power organs, state and regional reforms, and his entire government portfolio. (2)

As always, duplication, and potential overlap of authority continues to plague Kremlin operations, leaving the effect of personality to drive the power of positions.

Reform at the White House

On the government side of the Kozak reform plan, it appears as though even less has been accomplished, and, once again, the effect of reform is best measured by comparing the relative gains and losses of the main players.

While the number of ministries has been reduced from 23 to 15, the number of departments has surged from 56 to 80. (3) The decrease in the number of ministries was intended to concentrate authority in the hands of the ministers heading newly combined sectors of governmental responsibility. Fewer but stronger ministers, who are not dependent on the prime minister, would serve to weaken the premier’s position relative to the president and the Kremlin side of the executive branch. In practice however, Prime Minister Fradkov has managed to strengthen his position as Premier by increasing the number of departments within his personal purview to eight, and more importantly, obtaining the nuclear power and natural monopolies portfolios under the guise of prime ministerial departments. (4) (Fradkov’s move on the nuclear industry may have been countered already, in part at least, by the defense ministry. See the Military Reform section below.) For Prime Minister Fradkov, any move to strengthen departments, or state agencies and services for that matter, wins him a greater degree of autonomy as he retains appointment prerogatives over their leadership, as opposed to that of the ministries.

Despite initial impressions of the reform, some of the ministers, such as Viktor Khristenko, have managed to retain their influence even with overt demotions, by gaining the Prime Minister’s confidence and therefore oversight functions over crucial government sectors. While the ministries theoretically have the right to submit draft laws to the Federal Assembly, the Prime Minister, in some instances, has added a supervisory layer directed from his office, to curtail some ministerial independence. Other ministers, German Gref for example, appeared to wield significant influence according to the initial reform, but in fact, has seen his Ministry of Economic Development and Trade pecked away, in part by the aforementioned Khristenko. (5)

Of greater concern in the overall reform effort is the increased role the executive branch as a whole is playing in the legislative process. Without a viable opposition in the Duma, executive draft laws can expect little interference from legislators as the bills make their way toward full legal status.

MILITARY REFORM

Military-technical commission membership

President Putin will chair the Commission for Military-Technical Cooperation with Foreign States, with Prime Minister Fradkov serving as Deputy Chairman. The other members are Boris Alyoshin, Director of the Federal Agency for Industry; Mikhail Dmitriyev, Director of the Federal Military-Technical Service; Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov; Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov; Chief of the Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergei Lebedev; Chief of the Kremlin Administration Dmitri Medvedev; FSB Chief Nikolai Patrushev; Presidential Assistant Sergei Prikhodko; Industry & Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko; and Sergei Chemezov, Director of Rosoboroneksport among others. (6)

Defense ministry reform

With the battle over managerial control of the Armed Forces apparently won by Sergei Ivanov’s Defense Ministry, the structure of the newly-reformed Defmin, as decreed by the President, was recently outlined by Ivanov: The number of deputy defense ministers will be reduced from nine to four, two of whom will be designated first deputies. The new Chief of the General Staff, Yuri Baluyevsky, will serve as one of Ivanov’s first deputies (ex officio). The defense ministry will now officially have a core or "central staff" thought to number approximately 9,000 members. (7) The distinction of this central staff in terms of assignments and authority is not yet clear.

Nuclear myths and the Ivanov reality

A special exercise, "Emergency 2004," was conducted August 3-5 under the auspices of the Russian-NATO Cooperation Council with the intention of demonstrating the security of Russia’s nuclear facilities to NATO observers. The simulation scenario, prepared by the 12th Directorate of the Defense Ministry and led by Colonel-General Igor Valynkin, (who is tasked with securing the nuclear arsenals), envisioned an attack by international terrorists on a convoy transporting nuclear warheads. (8)

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, who led the NATO delegation on a tour of a nuclear arsenal near Olenegorsk on the Kola Peninsula, used the opportunity of the NATO visit to remind the delegation of the West’s promise of monetary aid in the amount of $5 billion to assist Russia with the security and destruction of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. (9)

On August 9, President Putin held a meeting with his defense and nuclear leaders including Sergei Ivanov; Aleksandr Rumiantsev, head of the Federal Nuclear Energy Agency; new Chief of the General Staff Yuri Baluyevsky; and Army General Aleksei Moskovsky among others. (10) At the meeting, Putin announced his decision to put the military sector of the nuclear industry under Sergei Ivanov's supervision. According to Putin, "the logic of the administrative reforms and perfection of performance of the government" prompted his decision to place Sergei Ivanov and the "Defense Ministry in charge of the atomic sphere where the nuclear defense complex is concerned." (11)

While the "Emergency 2004" exercise ended successfully, with the help of the timely arrival of reinforcements for Russia’s nuclear security forces, which managed to surround the terrorists and frustrate their attempts to steal nuclear material, military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer points out that the simulated response was a far cry from the actual raids last June in Ingushetia, when reinforcements took hours to respond to real attacks on conventional arsenals. (12)

Despite Ivanov’s reassurances to the NATO delegation that it is a "myth" that "Russian nuclear weapons are poorly guarded," nuclear security may yet prove to be the poison chalice among Ivanov’s recent acquisitions of authority. (13)

 

Source Notes

  1. Gazeta, 5 Aug 04, p. 2; What the Papers Say (WPS) via ISI Emerging Database.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Gazeta, 3 Aug 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid. See article for more detailed information on the relative importance of individual ministers.
  6. Krasnaya zvezda, 5 Aug 04, p.1; WPS — Defense and Security via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
  7. Itogi, 3-8 Aug 04; WPS — Defense and Security via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
  8. Nezavisimaya gazeta, 4 Aug 04; WPS — Defense and Security via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
  9. Ibid. Thus far, only $400 million has reached Russia, according to Ivanov.
  10. Krasnaya zvezda, 11 Aug 04; WPS via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
  11. Kommersant, 10 Aug 04; WPS via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
  12. The Moscow Times, 10 Aug 04 via www.moscowtimes.ru/2004/08/10/008.html.
  13. Ibid.

 

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

 

~~~~~

 

SECURITY SERVICES

 

Nazran Raid Revisited

Six weeks ago, Chechen and Ingush rebels participated in a successful raid on the Ingush capital, Nazran. During the raid, Acting Interior Minister Abukar Kostoyev was killed, and the insurgents raided a Russian arms dump. (1) In the immediate aftermath of the incident, allegations were made, specifically by Ingush President Murat Zyazikov, that the attack had been possible only because of treason on the part of the Security Services. (2) At the time, there was little evidence to support this claim. Instead, a more credible theory was that there had been simply a massive intelligence and inter-agency communications failure. (3)

In response to the raid, the FSB mounted a massive manhunt, during the course of which Magomed Yevloyev, one of the alleged ringleaders of the incursion was killed. A Kommersant report by Sergei Dyupkin however, indicated that the FSB had killed the wrong individual. Dyupkin surmised that the FSB was desperate to convince the Duma and the Russian public that the culprit had been caught, and that this claim was rooted in the need for a cover-up. (4)


During the first week of August, two stories emerged that shed new light on the Nazran incident, and give rise to the question of whether Zyazikov’s allegations in fact were correct.

Russkii kurier gave further details concerning the FSB’s response to the raid. According to this story, within days, the FSB had made thirty arrests. The newspaper claimed to have obtained documentation relating to two suspects, Magomed Goboyevich Khamkhoyev, and Magomed Aspiyev, who participated in the incursion. The report states that these two men are Sergeants serving in the Ingush Interior Ministry. Until recently, Khamkhoyev was head of the Sunzha District Internal Affairs Department, while Aspiyev is a serving member of OMON, the Interior Ministry’s armed force. (5) Moreover, the newspaper’s source claimed that Khamkhoyev is a member of the Sernovsk Wahabi Jamaat that ordered him to infiltrate the Interior Ministry. Aspiyev, on the other hand, apparently acted on his own accord to help guerillas bypass searches and road-blocks, and to smuggle weapons. (6)

Moskovskii komsomolets provided more colorful details. Firstly, Abukar Kostoyev was killed in his car, allegedly by men wearing GRU commando uniforms. (7) Other insurgents were wearing OMON and FSB uniforms, and they were carrying NATO, not Russian, arms. These facts were provided by Kostoyev’s brother who was traveling with the Acting Interior Minister at the time. Kostoyev’s brother used his mobile phone to call Major General Koryakov, the local FSB Chief, to request help. Koryakov neither logged the call, nor sent reinforcements. (8)

If these two stories are true, it must be concluded that Zyazikov’s allegations of treason on the part of the Security Services are plausible. However, the question remains as to why the Security Services would allow such a raid to go ahead. The answer must surely lie in the dispute between the FSB and Zyazikov regarding that agency’s tactics in the Chechen war.

For some time, President Zyazikov has been critical of the Security Services' tactics in prosecuting the Chechen war. In March this year, he met with Security officials and "castigated" them for their behavior in conducting local operations, (9) and then, after the Nazran attacks, he directly addressed the FSB’s "abduction" tactics, noting that seven "disappearances" were reported in Ingushetia, and warning that "not a single vehicle with special license plates should enter Ingushetia." (10)

It seems evident that while the FSB did not directly facilitate the incursion of June 22, it allowed it to occur. The FSB hoped that the expansion of the Chechen conflict into Ingushetia would force Zyazikov to reverse his opposition to Security Service tactics in pursuing rebels across Federation borders.

FSB Tactics in Chechnya

President Zyazikov’s comments concerning the FSB have company. Major concern has been voiced in recent weeks by several sources, over the FSB’s tactics and heightened level of activity in Chechnya and Ingushetia.

On August 4 and 10, Amnesty International (11) and the International Helsinki Federation For Human Rights, (12) presented briefings concerning detentions, "disappearances", and torture in Ingushetia and Chechnya. Alone, these reports, which stated that "the situation in Chechnya continues to present the gravest challenge to human rights in the entire OSCE region," (13) provide cause for deep concern. But when FSB tactics are viewed through the prism of upcoming Chechen elections, they gain further significance.

In a story on August 13, bound to cause irritation in the Kremlin, Novaya gazeta alleged that the FSB possesses an elite and secret unit known as Special Composite Group No.12 (SSG-12). According to Novaya gazeta, this group has been engaged in an ongoing war with the personal bodyguard of Ramzan Kadyrov, son of the late Chechen President, involving torture and abductions, in an attempt to influence the upcoming Presidential elections. (14) However, this analysis is questionable at best. Kadyrov is not a candidate in the presidential election. What then, is the FSB’s motivation in Chechnya?

At this point in time, the most viable explanation is also the most disconcerting. On 30 July, according to Mikhail Rybakov's article in Rodnaya gazeta, "elements of the siloviki" are agitating for the cancellation of presidential elections in Chechnya. (15) In a move that Rybakov argued would induce "mass terror", this group wishes to institute "harsher security sweeps and special operations among the republic’s civilian populace." (16)

The Chechen Presidential Security Services, headed by Kadyrov, represent the principal law enforcement body in Chechnya. As such, they constitute the main obstacle for the FSB, if its goal indeed is the creation of a terror regime.

 

Source Notes

1 See NIS Observed: An Analytical Review Volume IX, Number 11 (15 Jul 04).

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 See NIS Observed: An Analytical Review Volume IX, Number 12 (4 August 2004).

5 Russkii kurier, 30 Jul 04; WPS-What the Papers Say via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

6 Ibid.

7 Moskovskii komsomolets, 4 Aug 04; WPS-Defense and Security via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

8 Ibid.

9 Russkii kurier, 30 Jul 04; WPS-What the Papers Say via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

10 Moskovskii komsomolets, 7 Jul 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

11 Amnesty International Urgent Action Appeal, 10 Aug 04 via web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGEUR460452004?open&of=ENG-RUS .
12 "Chechnya: Enforced ‘Disappearances’, Extrajudicial Killings and Unlawful Detentions — An Update", International Helsinki Federation For Human Rights Publication, 8 Aug 04 via www.ihf-hr.org .

13 Ibid, Page 2.

14 Novaya gazeta, 12 Aug 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

15 Rodnaya gazeta, 30 Jul 04 via "Are the Siloviki Preparing a Major Crackdown in Chechnya?", Lawrence Uzzell, Chechnya Weekly, Volume 5, Issue 31, 4 Aug 04.

16 Ibid.

 

By Fabian Adami (fabs_adami@yahoo.com)

~~~~~

 

FOREIGN RELATIONS

"How to Fire a Russian Bureaucrat" according to Sergei Lavrov

On July 12, all senior Russian diplomats attended a meeting at the Foreign Ministry. In his brief opening remarks, the only part of the gathering that reporters were allowed to attend, President Putin berated the Ministry’s staff for allowing Russia’s image abroad to deteriorate and for "cluttering up the mail" at the Kremlin with impractical and worthless information and analysis. His criticism provided a suitable introduction for an overhaul of the foreign ministry. In an overview of the reform plan, Putin announced that seven of its 42 departments would be cut. The remaining 35 would be maintained by a staff of 3028, down from 3500. (1)

Putin also announced that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would enjoy the service of seven deputies instead of twelve, and only one would hold the title of first deputy, down from three. (2) Confusion was evident as who was in and who was out, with several media outlets reporting staff changes that were not reflected by President Putin’s decrees of 13-14 August.

As noted in the NIS Observed in May, the Kremlin’s request that the MFA reduce its deputy staff might constitute a natural opportunity for Lavrov to align the remainder with him, considering that all twelve of his deputies were appointed to their posts before he was promoted in April. (3) As expected of course, Lavrov has kept many of his fellow MFA veterans on the staff.

Russia-CIS affairs authority Valeri V. Loshinin will keep his first deputy position. U.S./NATO-Russian relations and nonproliferation expert Sergei Kislyak will keep his deputy post, as will Middle East and Africa specialist Aleksandr Saltanov. Vladimir Chizhov, another foreign ministry veteran and E.U./NATO-Russia affairs specialist will also continue as deputy. While initial reports said that Sergei Razov would be sent to replace the veteran Chinese ambassador Igor Rogachev, (4) Putin’s decree of 13 August reappointed him as deputy foreign minister. Yuri V. Fedotov had to wait an additional day for his reappointment to the deputy position, in which he has focused recently on U.N.-Russian and East Asian affairs. (5)

The new deputy is Aleksandr Alekseyev, a 57-year old career diplomat, who will be responsible for Asian affairs. Alekseyev previously served as ambassador-at-large and headed the Russian mission to the OSCE in Vienna. He served also as Director of the Third European Department, and as ambassador to Pakistan. Most recently, Alekseyev led the Russian delegation to the six-party negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. (6) Those talks were held at the deputy minister level, so his promotion to that position was to be expected.

Deputy Foreign Minister Doku G. Zavgayev, who was the Moscow-backed President of Chechnya, 1995-96, has been appointed Director-General of the MFA. He was Russian ambassador to Tanzania from 1997 until February 2004 when he was recalled to Moscow by President Putin. While some expected that he might deal with Chechen affairs, he was described as "responsible for bureaucratic affairs," (7) and early reports said he would run the finance and loans directorate. (8) It is still unclear whether this assignment represents a promotion involving greater power or a simple change of title. With Putin still interested in advancing a public perception of Chechnya’s reintegration into Russia, awarding Zavgayev a "virtual promotion" might play a role in that effort.

Eleonora V. Mitrofanova, who was deputy in charge of "protecting the rights of fellow countrymen abroad," (9) was chosen to lead the new Agency for Contacts with Compatriots. (10) Given her previous assignment and the name of the new agency she will run, it is not clear what has changed.

Three deputy foreign ministers were sent out of Moscow on ambassadorial assignments. Andrei I. Denisov was appointed Russia’s permanent representative to the United Nations, the post held by Sergei Lavrov and vacant since the latter became foreign minister in March. (11) His command of the English and Chinese languages may be of help.

The thirty-year MFA veteran, Aleksei L. Fedetov, who was barely visible during his two-year tenure as deputy foreign minister, was appointed Ambassador to the Czech Republic in March 2004. (12)

Yevgeni Primakov's former deputy, Vyacheslav I. Trubnikov, was demoted from First Deputy to Russian ambassador to India on 3 August. (13) A 24-year veteran of the KGB and later the director of Primakov's Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), this silovik was moved by newly-elected President Putin from the SVR to the foreign ministry as first deputy and special representative of the President to the CIS. Trubnikov’s removal from the SVR reflected the Russian President's rivalry with Primakov and Putin’s preference for elevating his alma mater Federal Security Service (FSB) veterans at the expense of other security agencies. Current rumors refer to a putative FSB takeover of SVR.

As recently as 1 June, Trubnikov claimed to be working with the OSCE on "drafting the final political document" on the Moldovan crisis. (14) Tensions in Moldova/Transdniestria since have risen significantly, and his experience there might have been deemed valuable for Russia.

Instead, Trubnikov finds himself in New Delhi. Relations with India remain important for both countries, though not as much as those with the CIS. However, neither Lavrov nor Putin have much interest in letting Primakov’s old cronies hang around.

More surprisingly, the other silovik deputy foreign minister, Anatoli Y. Safonov, was also relieved of his post. He was deputy director of the FSB from 1995-99, serving directly under Vladimir Putin while the latter was FSB director in 1998-99. As the deputy in charge of anti-terrorism, anti-drug trafficking, and anti-organized crime operations, his role was particularly important and might have been considered secure. Not to worry, since it seems impossible to fire a Russian government bureaucrat unless he is headed for jail (as will be seen later). ITAR-TASS reported he was moved to a new, unreported position. (15) It would not be surprising, however, to see Safonov resurface in some sort of anti-terrorism capacity.

A predictable fall from grace concerns Viktor Kalyuzhny, whose experience in the oil industry was both his greatest asset and liability. In 1997, Kalyuzhny was CFO of Eastern Oil Company (VNK) when it was bought by Yukos, which immediately fired him. He left the oil industry to enter politics, serving as first deputy minister, then Minister of Fuel and Energy. His animosity toward Yukos did not subside; he reportedly held a grudge against Mikhail Khodorkovsky from the Yukos/VNK take over. (16)

As Minister of Fuel and Energy, Kalyuzhny built a record of favoritism for Sibneft Oil and other companies associated with oligarchs Roman Abramovich and Boris Berezovsky, that aligned him firmly with Yel'tsin's "family." Soon after his appointment, rumors surfaced in the Russian media that Abramovich himself sponsored Kalyuzhny’s candidacy, provided he were personally consulted on key ministry decisions. Kalyuzhny certainly seemed to have dues to pay, since he almost immediately awarded 6 million barrels of Iraqi oil exports under the oil-for-food program to Sibneft, at the expense of state-run Transneft. (17)

The inevitability of Kalyuzhny’s eventual fall from grace can be traced to Putin’s tenure as prime minister. At the time Putin had difficulty dealing with oil lobbies and their influence on Russian energy policy through Kalyuzhny. While he was Fuel and Energy Minister in 1999, Kalyuzhny, and widely-known oligarch ally First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Aksyonenko, orchestrated the removal of state-controlled oil pipeline monopoly Transneft’s president Dmitri Saveliev. Kalyuzhny personally ousted Saveliev (citing authority granted him by the privatization ministry) while Putin was in New Zealand. (18) When Saveliev refused to move, Kalyuzhny ordered 300 policemen to take chainsaws to Transneft’s doors so that his chosen candidate, vice president of LUKoil Semyon Vainshtok, could enter his office. (19) While Putin’s authority clearly was being challenged by the oligarchs, Putin chose to ignore the problem for the time being to avoid making powerful enemies before the 2000 election.

Putin managed to destroy Aksyonenko in about three years. Prime Minister Putin first demoted him to Railways Minister, though Aksyonenko ran a powerful government committee that could bypass Putin’s authority on some issues. In 2001, the Audit Chamber charged him with abuse of office and misuse of $370 million in state funds at the Railroads Ministry. Putin fired him in 2002, the interior ministry then added a tax evasion charge, and he ended up in a Swiss hospital with a serious illness. He is awaiting trial. (20)

It should come as no shock that Viktor Kalyuzhny has been similarly marginalized. After the 2000 election, Putin reformed the cabinet, demoting Kalyuzhny from Fuel and Energy Minister to Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Special Representative of the President to the Caspian Sea region. Kalyuzhny has been far less controversial at this post, while his documented rivalry with Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his relevant and important work on Caspian Sea issues probably has helped him to last so long. Given his resume, however, he still faced an uphill battle to survive Sergei Lavrov’s housecleaning. Putin himself has probably had more than enough of Kalyuzhny, especially with his failure to block the American-backed Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline and the South Caucasus natural gas pipeline (SCP), both of which bypass Russian territory in their paths to the Mediterranean Sea. Kalyuzhny’s historic allegiance to the oligarchs and their oil interests was certainly a factor, since curbing these influences has been a longstanding Putin objective. Kalyuzhny will become Russia’s next ambassador to Latvia, stationed a good 900 miles from the nearest major oil field. (21) However, it is also worth noting that the three deputy foreign ministers with the least diplomatic experience, Mitrofana, Zavgayev and Kalyuzhny, were all among those who were stripped of their titles.

The reform of the foreign ministry was touted as a move to fight corruption and duplication by slashing staff and, on paper, six of the twelve deputies were removed. However, only three or four of those positions actually seem to have been eliminated.

In the end, the career diplomats won the day at the MFA. All seven of the remaining deputies: Loshchinin; Chizhov; Y. Fedotov; Kislyak; Razov; Saltanov; and the newly promoted Alekseyev are longtime MFA veterans. Denisov, also among this group, received what could be considered a promotion to Ambassador to the U.N.. To the extent that he, rather than Putin, played a role, Lavrov, who is a career diplomat himself, certainly succeeded in reforming his deputy staff to his liking. And, as only a lifetime Russian bureaucrat can, he managed to do so without actually having to fire anybody.

 

Source Notes

  1. Vremya novostei, 13 July 04; What the Papers Say (WPS) via Lexis-Nexis.
  2. ITAR-TASS, 20 July 04 via Lexis-Nexis.
  3. See NIS Observed, 12 May 04 for background on the deputy foreign ministers.
  4. The Moscow Times, 15 Jul 04 via Lexis-Nexis.
  5. ITAR-TASS, 14 Aug 04 via Lexis-Nexis.
  6. ITAR-TASS, 13 Aug 04 via Lexis-Nexis.
  7. Prime-Tass Business News Agency, 13 Aug 04 via Lexis-Nexis.
  8. Vremya novostei, ibid.
  9. NTV MIR, 26 May 03; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.
  10. Russkii kurier, 14 Jul 04; WPS via Lexis-Nexis.
  11. The Moscow Times, 15 Jul 04 via Lexis-Nexis.
  12. Czech News Agency, 4 Feb 04 via Lexis-Nexis.
  13. Interfax 3 Aug 04, BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
  14. ITAR-TASS, 2 June 04 via Lexis-Nexis.
  15. ITAR-TASS, 14 Aug 04 via Lexis-Nexis.
  16. Financial Times Energy Newsletter, 1 May 99 via Lexis-Nexis.
  17. The Russia Journal, 29 May 00 via http://www.therussiajournal.com/index.htm?obj=2943.
  18. The Moscow Times, 20 May 00 via Lexis-Nexis.
  19. The Moscow Times, 5 Oct 99 via Lexis-Nexis.
  20. The Moscow Times, 19 Nov 03; Rusnet Business Information via http://www.rusnet.nl/news/2003/11/19/currentaffairs02.shtml.
  21. The Moscow Times, 15 Jul 04, ibid.

 

By Maolmordha McGowan

~~~~~

 

DOMESTIC ISSUES & LEGISLATIVE BRANCH

MEDIA

The best of times, the worst of times

The Russian government apparently has discovered the most efficient way to guarantee positive news coverage: mandate it. The official media reportedly have been instructed to use care, and specific phrases, when discussing controversial subjects. While "Vesti" program producers would not confirm or deny reports that instructions had been issued to the Rossiya channel members, an adviser to the chairman of the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK), did assert that television, since it is a public medium, should be compelled to use formal titles and identifications, rather than vernacular terms that might cloud the issue. Thus, the recently passed legislation changing expected social benefits into cash payments must be "monetized benefits," not "replacement of benefits with money," and that pesky rebellious region that continues to cause such headaches in Moscow will be referred to as the "Chechen Republic," not "Chechnya." Other banned phrases include "bank crisis" and "hit man" — one can only imagine "federal financial challenge" and "offensive-human elimination professional" soon will creep into the official lexicon.

Similar wording instructions reportedly have been issued at Channel One "so that the people will not be confused," one station manager explained. "For them, this is already such a complex system. We do this simply so they will know what we are talking about and will not think this is something different, something new they will have to think about." (1)

Clearly another way not to confuse the poor citizens is to limit the amount of information available to them. Thus, they may not even learn much about the current discussions concerning how free "freedom of information" should be. This is a case where confusion would be understandable, however. At first glance, Economic Minister German Gref’s proposal, that would charge for information retrieval and distribution of large documents, would appear to be an instance of setting up an obstacle to the press. However, the camps opposed to the proposal provide a clear indication that this issue is anything but transparent: The Journalists’ Union is against the article that allows for the levying of a fee to offset copying costs for documents over a set number of pages (at 24 pages, a limit one must note that most government documents would surpass), while some government agencies are opposed to providing information at all. (2) Yet others in the Cabinet cited the possibilities of fees for information as the reason for rejecting the proposal. (3)

Whatever the reason, the Cabinet’s rejection of the draft further delays any notion of citizen access to what the government is doing, at least without the government’s own "spin". Gref’s proposal would mandate the release of all non-secret information from federal and regional ministries and agencies, local government bodies, the parliament, the presidential apparat, courts and the Auditing Chamber. However, the proposal is vague about what would be considered confidential information; it is likely going to be decided by bureaucrats, a notion that does not bode well for investigative journalism.

While the Journalists’ Union is upset about proposed charges for information, some individuals expressed their willingness to pay a fee. Businessmen noted that the need for details is there. "Ministries and agencies are closed off at present — and it’s not because the bureaucrats don’t want to give out information. There is simply no mechanism in place for information provision," said Vladislav Koroshnkin, Vice President of the OPORA business association. "Both as a citizen and a representative of a company, I would be interested in access to information such as tax agency data proving that my actions in any particular situation were lawful," said Aleksander Shokhin, the head of the board at Renaissance Capital. Shokhin indicated some hesitation, however, in paying. "If the information related to the activities of a government body, which is funded by taxpayers’ money, why should an extra payment be required?," he asked. (4)

The undefined amount of the fee also caused some concern. "If government bodies do not want to give you information, they can make such a high fee that citizens do not want to get that information anymore," Vladimir Pribylovsky, head of the Panorama think tank, said. "Nothing will really change." Another political analyst, Dmitri Orlov, at the Agency for Political and Economic Communications, said that while the law would violate the constitutional right of free access to information, it would affect "only the active part of the population, like businessmen or lobbyists...not the average citizen," who want to get information. (5)

Meanwhile, another avenue of information has been closed: Many observers of the state of Russia’s media noted with dismay the cancellation of NTV’s popular political talk show "Freedom of Speech" that was hosted by respected journalist (and former Moscow bureau chief of Radio Liberty) Savik Shuster. Since the cancellation followed July’s personnel shakeups at NTV and Gazprom-Media, speculation has been rampant that the decision was based on politics, rather than ratings. (6)

Obviously, the dissemination of information about government activities, legislation and requirements is one of the most important responsibilities of the media in a free society. Thus, continued attempts to restrict that information, and to constrain the media in general, are considerably worrisome. There appears to be little doubt that the Russian government is adept at controlling what information gets out and, to a large extent, even the words used to describe its actions. But intervention does not end there: Also under scrutiny is the economic aspect of the media.

While three bills to ensure media economic independence are under Duma discussion, (7) the secretary general of the Journalists’ Union is demanding an about-face in the government’s policies concerning the treatment of the media. Igor Yakovenko declared that "it is the federal authorities that are posing the main threat to the media’s independence" by following a policy aimed at nationalizing media outlets "to oust journalism from them." Moreover, Yakovenko declared, the Kremlin has consistently portrayed journalists as enemies of the people. "Over the last four years, various officials, starting from the top, have constantly said that journalists are to blame for everything," he added. (8)

It is difficult to disagree, as reporters have been blamed for many crises bedeviling Russia, from the Nord-Ost hostage drama, to banking crises, to terrorism. Government policy may succeed in convincing citizens that the media really are to blame — particularly if the flow of information to the contrary is stemmed.

 

Source Notes

1. Nezavisimaya gazeta, 2 Aug 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0802 via World News Connection.

2. Rossiyskaya gazeta, 4 Aug 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0805 via World News Connection.

3. Gazeta, 2 Aug 04 via Johnson’s Russia List #8310, 2 Aug 04.

4. Ibid.

5. Moscow Times, 2 Aug 04 via Johnson’s Russia List #8310, 2 Aug 04.

6. Nezavisimaya gazeta, 8 Jul 04, Yezhednedelniy zhurnal, 12 Jul 04, Izvestiya, 9 Jul 04, and Moskovsky komsomolets, 9 Jul 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0716 via World News Connection.

7. RosBusiness Consulting, 4 Aug 04 via Johnson’s Russia List #8314, 4 Aug 04.

8. Ekho Moskvy, 0956 GMT, 4 Aug 04; BBC Monitoring via Johnson’s Russia List #8315, 5 Aug 04.

 

By Kate Martin (kmmartin@bu.edu)

~~~~~

 

NEWLY INDEPENDENT STATES

WESTERN REGIONS

MOLDOVA

Moldovan schools in Transdniestr are still closed

Ever since Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin’s failure to sign the federalization plan proposed by Moscow, the Transdniestr authorities have tried to get the topic of Dniestr's future back on Voronin's agenda. The purpose of the whole "Moldovan schools in Transdniestr can not use Latin script" exercise might be intended to push precisely that agenda. The choice of such a sensitive issue is further proof that Transdniestr is not willing to wait for a decision on status any longer, and Smirnov's refusal to give in to international demands to reopen the schools is an indication that Dniestr authorities are serious about having their future determined sooner rather than later. Since neither side is willing to compromise, the fight is promising to be long and hard.

More than enough economic and emotional damage has been done already. On 1 August, Chisinau imposed economic sanctions on Tiraspol, which, in turn, turned off the electricity in 50 Moldovan villages and was threatening to leave half of Moldova without power, including Chisinau. The suspension of power already has hit 215,000 persons and potentially can affect more that a million. (1) Economic sanctions from Moldova can cost Transdniestr anywhere from $50 to $60 million per month, since total exports from the Dniestr republic to Moldova proper constitute about $600 million annually. Meanwhile, the Tiraspol police are showing off their strength vis-à-vis Chisinau by throwing the parents of children whose schools have been closed into prisons full of dangerous criminals.

Sitting down to negotiate about the future of Transdniestr might be the only solution that will make Smirnov’s government rethink the schools’ closures. Such negotiations will involve Russia, U.S.A., E.U. and the OSCE. This time, however, Dniestr might not settle for being part of a federation. Viktor Balala, Justice Minister of the breakaway republic, said that "Moldova has buried the chance of forming a federal state with Transdnestria" after refusing to sign a federation agreement proposed by Russia last year. "There cannot be any talk about a federation since there are neither economic, nor legal, nor political reasons for it," said Balala. (2) As for reaching the compromise on the school issue, Dniestr authorities already said that they had offered their "compromise" solution, namely, allowing the schools to reopen only if the schools agree to teach according to Dniestr curriculum -- a ridiculous demand, according to Moldovan schools, since Dniestr schools still use textbooks printed in the 1970s, which were devised under the old Soviet curriculum. It is quite possible that Moldova or Romania might come to the aid of the students affected and offer to place them in schools in either or both countries. This might put off the decision on Transdniestr's future.

However the situation may unfold, it is clear that Smirnov's government is intent on demonstrating to Voronin and the world that Transdniestr is a separate county, which is willing and able to enforce its rules.

Protests against policies toward Teleradio-Moldova

The biggest media protest in years took place over the last several weeks, in which about 1,500 former members of the Teleradio-Moldova company took part. In the beginning of August, the government of Moldova renamed Teleradio-Moldova and reorganized its format, eliminating programs that featured reports critical of the government and replacing them with foreign-produced entertainment programs. The reorganization of the company resulted in approximately a 40% reduction of its staff, leaving many journalists without jobs. The Moldovan authorities said that the reorganization of the company had been undertaken in order to modernize Moldovan television and to provide TV-viewers with an "international-standard" product and that freedom of speech was, in no way, intended to be curtailed. (3) A more probable reality is, however, that the government attempted to rid the company of journalists who object to the government's influence on editorial policy.

Protesters were carrying banners which read: "Long Live Moldova!", "Voronin Dictatorship Down!" and "Down with Communism!" (4) The night of 9 August the media protest was broken up by a group of unknown individuals, who vandalized the tents of the protesters and destroyed hundreds of banners during the night. There are speculations that the government might have ordered the vandalism, since the night before the authorities had ordered to switch off all the lights in the encampment, facilitating the demolition of the camp.

UKRAINE

Pre-election campaign update

The number of presidential candidates finalized…or not

A total of twenty-six presidential candidates has been registered to participate in the elections scheduled for 31 October 2004. Only four of the presidential candidates are considered to be serious contenders for the presidential post: Viktor Yushchenko, Viktor Yanukovich, Aleksandr Moroz and Pyotr Simonenko. There is still a chance for a fifth serious contender for power to appear, namely, Leonid Kuchma. Even though the deadline for the registration has passed (2 August), should Kuchma manage to push through political reform in the fall, there is a real possibility that he might become a very powerful prime-minister in Ukraine.

Opposition candidates sign a fair election accord

Right after the list of presidential candidates had been finalized, the opposition presidential candidates Yushchenko and Moroz signed a fair election accord, agreeing to work together in order to prevent election fraud. Moroz and Simonenko signed a similar agreement. When invited by Yushchenko to sign a fair election pact, Viktor Yanukovich refused even to consider it, calling it a "campaign gimmick." (5)

Pre-election coverage is largely skewed in favor of Yanukovich

There are numerous reports which are coming from various independent sources that Yanukovich’s election campaign is marred by prejudicial and illegal actions. The Ukrainskaya Pravda website quoted a statement of Nikolai Katerenchuk, an assistant to Yushchenko, in which he gives various examples of the Ukrainian mass media covering Viktor Yanukovich in a favorable light by means of promotional TV and radio, (6) while devoting considerable air-time to negative reports about Viktor Yushchenko. Yushchenko’s complaint that Yanukovich promotes himself under the guise of "news reports" was rejected by the Central Electoral Commission. The Commission’s reply was that the reports in question constituted "legitimate coverage of political events, in which Yanukovich is featured in his official capacity as prime-minister. (7)

Illegal signatures collection by Yanukovich

Meanwhile, Yanukovich managed to gather more than 5 million signatures in support of his candidacy, far more than the 500,000 necessary to qualify for the presidential race. Hundreds of illegal pre-election activities have been registered all over Ukraine during the past month. An independent non-partisan citizens’ organization, the Committee of Voters of Ukraine (CVU), has issued a report recently which outlined numerous occasions of illegal actions endorsed by Yanukovich. Such cases include the organization of massive pro-Yanukovich demonstrations, in which employees of certain organizations are either made to take part under the threat of being fired or talked into it by promises of extra days off and bonuses. Observations of forging signatures in support of Yanukovich also are common. Some regional mayors and administrators are given quotas for signature collection in support of Yanukovich. A pensioner even testified that she was forced to sign a petition in favor of Yanukovich before she was allowed to collect her monthly pension. (8)

Yushchenko is followed by police

During his tour of Crimea, Victor Yushchenko reported that someone was spying on him. When interrogated about the incident, the local policemen said that they were providing security to all presidential candidates and not spying on them. However, later, on the road which leads to Ai-Peri (a mountain top, where Yushchenko, strangely enough, was planning to collect garbage as a part of his pre-election campaign), a car full of "spying equipment" was found. (9) Twelve license plates, two video cameras and other recording equipment was found in the vehicle. Yushchenko's entire stay in Sevastopol’ with his family was videotaped.

The latest developments in the Ukrainian pre-election campaign are extremely discouraging. Even though there has been some negative reaction from the West, no one from outside Ukraine attempted to take any serious measures in response to the illegal activities. If Yanukovich managed to mobilize the whole country to forge signatures, threaten medical workers, and refuse to give pensions to the elderly, there is little doubt that he has enough power to manipulate the elections results, just in case these 5 million persons, who signed his petitions and went to his demonstrations, refuse to vote for him.

Source Notes

  1. Basapress News agency, 7 Aug 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
  2. Moscow Interfax, 6 Aug 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0805 via World News Connection.
  3. Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 9 Aug 04 via Lexis-Nexis.
  4. Basapress news agency, 9 Aug 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
  5. Interfax-Ukraine, 2 Aug 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
  6. Ukrainskaya pravda website, 08 Aug 04 via http://www2.pravda.com.ua/ru/archive/2004/august/13/2.shtml .
  7. Interfax-Ukraine, 3 Aug 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
  8. Committee of Voters of Ukraine, "Election Campaign Marred by Significant Illegal Government Interference, Say Non-partisan Ukrainian Observers" via http://www.cvu.org.ua/?menu=fp&po=doc&lang=eng .
  9. Ukrainskaya pravda website, 10 Aug 04 via http://www2.pravda.com.ua/ru/ .

 

By Elena Selyuk (eselyuk@bu.edu)

~~~~~

 

Caucasus Report

CHECHNYA

In anticipation of the 29 August Chechen special presidential election, Moscow is pursuing a dual-pronged strategy of promoting Major General Alu Alkhanov’s campaign while simultaneously undercutting Ramzan Kadyrov’s military authority. The Russian leadership seeks to undermine Kadyrov’s jurisdiction by either abolishing the "presidential guard" he commands or subsuming some of its members into a new crack Interior Ministry regiment. Moscow’s aim appears to be to ensure Alu Alkhanov’s success in the election, on the assumption that he is both strong and willing enough to keep Kadyrov in check. However, Moscow’s wisdom is questionable considering Alkhanov’s recent public displays of support for Kadyrov.

Moscow's support for Alkhanov's bid for the Chechen presidency is indicated by several moves. On 4 August, Alkhanov received the support of the bureau of the supreme council of the United Russia party and the political council of the United Russia branch of Chechnya, a factor of great importance since the Chechnya branch of United Russia has 27,000 members. (1) Additionally, a source in the Chechen Electoral Commission informed the Caucasus Times that electoral commission officials have been given verbal instructions to ensure Alkhanov’s victory. (2) The source added that in order to ensure the necessary number of votes in Alkhanov’s favor, commission officials have been ordered to invalidate and forge votes.

While guaranteeing Alkhanov’s victory in the forthcoming presidential election, Moscow is attempting also to weaken Kadyrov’s military apparatus and authority throughout Chechnya. On 31 July, Putin announced the creation of a special purpose Interior Ministry regiment to be deployed in Chechnya, and, on 11 August, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov proposed the formation of a special anti-terrorist mountain brigade. (3) The Special Forces mountain unit will provide additional security in Chechen cities until the inauguration of the new Chechen president, when it will assume anti-terrorist operations. As a representative of the Chechen Interior Ministry indicated, the presence of 14,000 alerted Chechen Interior Ministry personnel stationed throughout the republic negates the need for extra Russian security forces in the republic during the election. (4) In reality, this Special Force will conduct anti-terrorist operations in concert with the western battalion commander Major Said Magomed Kakiyev. (5) This entity may serve to undercut Kadyrov’s forces and his counterterrorist abilities. Although Alkhanov supported Putin’s desire to create an elite Interior Ministry regiment and has taken measures to supply the unit with weaponry, (6) he has balked over the further escalation of federal forces in Chechnya as suggested by Ivanov. At a press conference, he encouraged a concerted effort between Kadyrov’s men and the Russian forces. (7) This followed Aslan Maskhadov’s claim of responsibility for the 22 June Ingush incursion and his threat to assassinate the winner of the forthcoming special presidential election. (8) Alkhanov labeled Maskhadov’s claims to have 2,500-3,000 rebels at his disposal as pure propaganda while claiming that Maskhadov’s military power and projection have been severely curtailed by the ongoing Interior Ministry and federal forces military operations. However, given the current instability in Chechnya and the apparent union of Ingush and Chechen fighters against Russian forces and their allies, one would assume that Alkhanov would welcome additional forces for the upcoming Chechen presidential election.

Alkhanov’s balk at further increases in federal units may indicate a developing aversion to the Kremlin’s forceful Chechen military policy.

Kadyrov’s recent scathing remarks regarding Russian federal forces highlight Putin’s failure to dominate the Chechen security services. Kadyrov’s statements have ranged from threats, such as "if the Chechen people demand we fight against Russia, we shall obey" (9) to accusing federal forces, at a Chechen state council meeting, of betrayal during an armed clash with separatists on 14 July in the Chechen village of Avtury. According to Kadyrov, when the battle began, the Chechen Interior Ministry guardsmen ran out of ammunition so Kadyrov radioed for aid and support from federal commanders. When no one responded to the request, Kadyrov demanded that federal forces block critical roads to prevent the guerrillas from escaping– an order which was also ignored. (10)

Kadyrov further charged the Chechen power structures with corruption, abducting persons and perpetrating crimes against humanity. (11) Kadyrov added that the Interior Ministry and Gosstroi (the State Committee for Construction, Architecture and Housing) would be reformed and "dedicated" to "vigilantly" protecting the quality of life of the Chechen population. (12)

At a Chechen state council meeting Alkhanov supported Kadyrov’s accusations that the federal security services are responsible for armed robberies, burglaries, looting, and abductions throughout Chechnya. Alkhanov further emphasized that one of the primary concerns of the new Chechen government will be to ensure the protection of citizens against every venue of organized crime and violence. (13)

Such public support for Kadyrov and opposition to an increased presence of Russian troops in Chechnya indicates Alkhanov’s growing desire to establish Chechen political and military independence from Moscow. Alkhanov has also started promoting an economic plan designed to sponsor and eventually guarantee Chechen economic autonomy and independence from Russia -- one nearly identical to the model Kadyrov's father supported before his assassination. Alkhanov’s strategy envisions a free economic zone in which the Chechen government monitors its land, subsoil minerals and resources, as well as establishing independent customs duties and cooperating directly with foreign partners. (14) Alkhanov’s economic initiatives and political backing for Kadyrov’s idiosyncrasies will not endear him to Moscow, and will further inflame the on-going power struggle in the Kremlin over who should control the Chechen political apparatus.

Increased tension in relations between Kadyrov and federal commanders is reportedly linked to a behind-the-scenes power struggle in the Kremlin over the Chechen elections. The leadership in the General Staff and the Joint Group of Federal Forces in the North Caucasus are endeavoring to persuade Putin to cancel the elections because, they maintain, the election campaign is undermining stability and provoking more intensive guerilla activity. In reality, the increased level of recent guerrilla activity in Chechnya is due to the general population's sense of impotence over the outcome of the special presidential election. In addition, the incidences of detentions, "disappearances", torture in Chechnya and the rapidly deteriorating Ingush refugee situation, as documented in the reports on August 4 and 10 by Amnesty International and International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, (15) serve further to radicalize the Chechen and Ingush populations against the Russian federal forces and provide fresh recruits for ongoing guerilla activities.


GEORGIA

During the past two weeks of the standoff with South Ossetia, Georgia has proven itself to be a wily political adversary. Georgia has employed a restrained "diplomacy-first" strategy, highlighted by many attempts to involve international players in the conflict. Georgia’s policy contrasts sharply with Russia’s belligerent determination to maintain unilateral control in negotiating the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict. In pursuing a policy of stabilization and integration of South Ossetia via multilateral diplomacy, nuanced by a fierce determination to maintain Georgian territorial sovereignty in the face of Russian pressure, Georgian has managed to avoid needless bloodshed while gaining the growing support of the international community.

The most recent phase of the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict was instigated by a Georgian demand to monitor its territorial waters against unmarked and unregistered shipping vessels around the port of Sukhumi. (16) Although Georgia was within her sovereign rights, the Russian Foreign Ministry condemned Saakashvili's announcement that the Georgian navy would open fire on any unrecognized vessel attempting to enter port without obtaining prior permission. (17)

Instead of relinquishing authority or further inflaming the scenario, the Georgian government fell back on a "diplomacy- first" policy as demonstrated by Saakashvili’s meeting on 5 August with U.S. Defense Minister Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell. (18) Simultaneous to Saakashvili’s U.S. visit, Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania unveiled a three point plan to the Georgian public for negotiating the South Ossetian conflict. (19) According to the plan, Georgia will pursue direct talks with the South Ossetian leadership, seeking to increase the OSCE mandate in South Ossetia and accomplish a complete demilitarization of the conflict zone. (20) To further dispel tensions with Russia, despite Georgian reports of Russian aircraft violating Georgian airspace, (21) Georgian Defense Minister Giorgi Baramidze and Minister of the State Giorgi Khaindrava traveled to Moscow for talks with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov. (22) The decision to send Baramidze, a hard-liner, and Khaindrava, a dove, indicates that the Georgian government realized the negotiations with Russia would not yield any viable solution. Instead, Zhvania and Saakashvili sought to distance Baramidze from personally forming or participating in a campaign to neutralize South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity, a man whom Baramidze compared to a "terrorist" while predicting that Kokoity will suffer the full brunt of the tensions. (23) Baramidze’s hawkish stance also explains his transfer from being Interior Minister to Defense Minister since Saakashvili and Zhvania wanted to preclude the possibility that Baramidze might overreact in an anticipated conflict with South Ossetia. By sending Baramidze with diplomatically inclined Khaindrava to Moscow, Saakashvili and Zhvania removed a potential obstacle to peace in Tbilisi.

On 12 August, Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania and Khaindrava traveled to South Ossetia for an emergency meeting of the Joint Commission Council and to conduct a survey tour of the conflict zone. (24) These talks, which addressed the withdrawal of illegal outposts and armed formations, (25) were temporarily jeopardized when Zhvania’s motorcade came under fire on the detour road to Tskhinvali, and armed skirmishes broke out between South Ossetian and Georgian fighters. (26)

However, on 15 August, the commission chairmen from North Ossetia, Georgia, and South Ossetia signed a cease-fire protocol for Georgia and South Ossetia. (27) Despite this protocol, Georgian TV reported that the Ossetian side opened fire on Georgian villages on 14 August, seriously wounding seven Georgian peacekeepers. (28) Intense fighting continued through the evening of 15 August. (29) As the JCC, with its Moscow-dominated protocol, has proven to be ineffectual at best, President Mikheil Saakashvili is currently seeking an international conference on South Ossetia to be attended by all the OSCE members. (30) If the international community responds to Georgia’s request, it would further undermine Russian power in the South Caucasus while opening the region to greater European and Western.

 

Source notes

1. Krasnaya zvezda, 11 Aug 04; What the Papers Say (WPS) Russian Political Monitor via ISI Emerging Markets.

2. Caucasus Times, 14 Aug 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets.

3. Krasnaya zvezda, 11 Aug 04; What the Papers Say via ISI Emerging Markets.

4. Nezavisimaya gazeta, 12 Aug 04; What the Papers Say via ISI Emerging Markets.

5. Novye izvestia, 5 Aug 04; What the Papers Say via Lexis-Nexis.

6. Interfax, 31 Jul 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets.

7. Interfax, 2 Aug 04; Financial Times via BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

8. Interfax, 2 Aug 04; Financial Times via BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

9. Nezavisimaya gazeta, 22 Jul 04; What the Papers Say via Lexis-Nexis.

10. Novye izvestia, 1 Aug 04; What the Papers Say Russian Political Monitor via ISI Emerging Markets.

11. NTV, Moscow, 3 Aug 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets.

12. Ibid.

13. Nezavisimaya gazeta, 3 Aug 04; What the Papers Say via Lexis-Nexis.

14. Nezavisimaya gazeta, 9 Aug 04; What the Papers Say via ISI Emerging Markets.

15. "Chechnya: Enforced ‘Disappearances’, Extrajudicial Killings and Unlawful Detentions — An Update", International Helsinki Federation For Human Rights Publication, 8 Aug 04 via www.ihf-hr.org.

16 Interfax, Moscow 4 Aug 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

17. Caucasus Press, 5 Aug 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets.

18. Rustavi-2 TV, Tbilisi, 5 Aug 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Databases.

19. Imedi TV, 5 Aug 04; Financial Times; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

20. Ibid.

21. Interfax Moscow, 6 Aug 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis; Itar-Tass, 7 Aug 04 via Lexis-Nexis.

22. Rustavi-2 TV, Tbilisi, 9 Aug 04; Financial Times; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

23. Caucasus Press, 10 Jul 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets; Rustavi-2 TV, Tbilisi, 11 Jul 04; Financial Times; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

24. NTV Mir, Moscow, 12 Aug 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets.

25. Itar-Tass Moscow, 11 Aug 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

26. RIA News Agency Moscow, 13 Aug 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets.

27. Itar-Tass, Moscow, 15 Aug 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets.

28. Rustavi TV, 15 Aug 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets.

29. Itar-Tass, Moscow, 16 Aug 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets.

30. Rustavi- 2 TV, Tbilisi, 16 Aug 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets.

 

By J. Ariela Shapiro (ariels@bu.edu)

~~~~~

 

CENTRAL ASIA

Responding to the suicide bombings in Uzbekistan and political developments in Tajikistan and Kazakhstan

In response to the 30 July suicide bombings in Uzbekistan, security has been tightened, Hizb-ut Tahrir (HT) has been blamed, and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) has developed a crisis plan in response to the threat of future terrorist attacks. (1) In Tajikistan, the former director of the Tajik Agency for Drug Control was arrested in a move that some view as politically motivated. On the other hand, as Kazakhstan prepares for its 19 September parliamentary elections, a recent poll suggests that most parties have a nearly equal chance of winning.

Responding to the Suicide Bombings in Uzbekistan

Leading up to the 31 August celebration of Uzbekistan’s Independence Day, Deputy Interior Minister Zukhriddin Bobokalonov has said that security would be tightened in response to the 30 July suicide bombings at the U.S. Embassy, Israeli Embassy, and the Uzbek prosecutor-general’s office. (2) As the investigation into the bombings continues, Uzbek Prosecutor-General Rashitzhon Kadyrov informed reporters that the identities of the suicide bombers have been established, though in the interest of the investigation, only vague descriptions have been made public. (3) Uzbek officials also revealed that the materials used in the bombings contained foreign-made explosive devices. (4)

At least 85 have been arrested as suspects in connection with the suicide bombings and Uzbek President Islam Karimov has blamed HT for the July bombings as well as those of late March 2004. (5) HT representatives in London issued a statement denying involvement in the explosions, attesting their support for change through nonviolent means. Karimov responded to this claim by asking, "If the religious movement [HT] intends to set up a caliphate in Uzbekistan, overthrow the current system, give up the modern style of life and create as state based on shari’a law, then how will they be able to do this in a peaceful way?" (6) In an effort to enlist the nation in the fight against terrorism, Karimov asked all Uzbeks to provide information: "You should protect not only your house but also your homeland from disasters. I believe that taking into account how dangerous present-day life is, [the Uzbek people] will always be alert and vigilant and turn this into a rule of life." (7)

Fearing the potential spread of terrorism, the Kazakh Foreign Ministry circulated a press release stating that "Kazakhstan confirms that it is ready to unite efforts with Uzbekistan in fighting international terrorism and regional extremism in order to strengthen security in Central Asia." (8) Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov described the threat of further terrorist attacks in Central Asia as real and "the situation is stable there, but it is not easy." (9) The CSTO has drafted a crisis management plan for the use of its rapid deployment forces and has reached an agreement with NATO to cooperate in fighting international terrorism. (10) According to CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha, "there is no real military threat [to Central Asia] or a threat of the situation destabilizing. On the other hand, there are tendencies that concern us [such as the recent bombings in Uzbekistan.]" (11)

Arrest of Drug Control Agency Head in Tajikistan

On 6 August, Lieutenant General Ghaffor Mirzoyev, former head of the Tajik Drug Control Agency, was taken into custody. Charges to be brought against Mirzoyev include tax evasion, abuse of power, possession of illegal weapons, and murder. (12) Tajik Prosecutor General Bobodzhon Bobokhonov told reporters that the authorities uncovered machine guns, grenade launchers, explosives, antipersonnel mines as well as over 6000 sets of military clothing at a meat processing plant which Mirzoyev had privatized. Other charges include the misappropriation of U.S. $650,000 and 350 hectares of land during his tenure as Commander of the Presidential Guards (from 1995-2004) and in connection with the 1998 killing of a district chief of police. (13)

Some political observers fear that the arrest of Mirzoyev was politically motivated, with Tajik President Imomali Rahmonov seeking to remove political rivals prior to the scheduled 2005 parliamentary elections and 2006 presidential elections. (14)

Preparation for Parliamentary Elections in Kazakhstan Continues

As Kazakhstan prepares for its 19 September parliamentary elections, a recent opinion poll conducted by the Kazakh National Association of Sociologists and Political Scientists "assessed the parties’ resource potential for winning seats in parliament [and] according to the respondents, the parties have more or less equal chances of winning voters’ support." (15) According to the poll, 57.5 percent of voters intend to cast their votes for the Otan (Motherland) party (founded by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev) or the Asar (Mutual Help) party (headed by Nazarbayev’s oldest daughter, Dariga Nazarbayeva). Otan received the highest rating of trust (19.4 percent) with Asar coming in second at 17.3 percent. The Ak Zhol party received a trust rating of 6.1 percent, the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan received 4.1 percent, and the Communist Party of Kazakhstan received 3.2 percent. (16)

 

Source Notes

  1. For more on the 30 July suicide bombings in Uzbekistan, see NIS Observed, 4 Aug 04 via www.bu.edu/iscip. The CSTO member states are: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.
  2. Interfax, 1341 GMT, 9 Aug 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0809 via WNC.
  3. The individual responsible for bombing the Israeli Embassy was a "30-35 year-old man of an eastern race"; that of the U.S. Embassy was a "35-40 year-old man also of an eastern race". The bomber of the prosecutor-general’s office has proven more difficult to identify because only fragments remain. ITAR-TASS, 0821 GMT, 9 Aug 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0809 via WNC.
  4. ITAR-TASS, 0704 GMT, 9 Aug 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0809 via WNC.
  5. For more on the 28 March-1 April bombings in Uzbekistan, see NIS Observed, 8 Apr 04; 28 Apr 04 via www.bu.edu/iscip. Officially, 47 were killed in the bombings: 33 alleged terrorists, 10 police officers, and four civilians. The trial for 15 accused of being involved in the March bombings began on 2 August but has been suspended as the investigation of the July bombings continues.
  6. Eurasianet, 2 Aug 04 via www.eurasianet.org .
  7. Eurasianet, 2 Aug 04 via www.eurasianet.org .
  8. Interfax-Kazakhstan (Almaty), 0511 GMT, 5 Aug 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0805 via WNC.
  9. ITAR-TASS, 1501 GMT, 4 Aug 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0804 via WNC.
  10. Interfax, 1040 GMT, 4 Aug 04; FBIS-SOV02004-0804; AKIpress (Bishkek), 1038 GMT, 6 Aug 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0806 via WNC.
  11. Interfax, 0830 GMT, 10 Aug 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0810 via WNC.
  12. Eurasianet, 9 Aug 04 via www.eurasianet.org .
  13. ITAR-TASS, 0639 GMT, 10 Aug 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0810 via WNC.
  14. Eurasianet, 9 Aug 04 via www.eurasianet.org .
  15. Interfax-Kazakhstan (Almaty), 1037 GMT, 5 Aug 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0805 via WNC.
  16. ITAR-TASS, 1203 GMT, 10 Aug 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0810 via WNC.

 

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

 

 


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