The NIS Observed: An Analytical Review
Volume IX Number 17 (28 October 2004)

Russian Federation

Executive Branch by Susan J. Cavan
Security Services by Eric Beene
Foreign Relations by Rebecca Mulder
Domestic Issues & Legislative Branch by Robyn Angley
Armed Forces by Jeff Kubiak and Kyle Colton

Newly Independent States

Western Region by Elena Selyuk
Caucasus by J. Ariela Shapiro

Central Asia by Fabian Adami

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Whatıs the plan?

President Putin has embarked upon an interesting approach to the fight against terrorism in the weeks since the Beslan tragedy: He has redefined Russiaıs view of terrorism, simultaneously recommending his redefinition of the term for the entire international community; he appointed a trusted associate as envoy to the conflict-prone southern region of Russia; and he has destabilized further domestic political institutions, in the name of strengthening hierarchical accountability.


In an interview with Chinese newspapers and television, Putin laid out his concern with terminology by emphasizing the ideological change wrought by the end of the Cold War:  ³We must do away with the stereotypes and rhetoric of the ³cold war,² when the same actions by practically the same organizations, but in different parts of the world were declaredŠto be either terrorist acts or a struggle for independence, a struggle for national liberation and so onŠ.We must understand that terrorists can be distinguished not by the goals that they hide behind, but by the methods that they use.  And the key element here is the use of violent methods that make innocent people suffer.²  (1)  Intriguing words from the president, but time will tell if this represents a true policy shift or only a rhetorical outreach for international support.


The Presidentıs Representative to Southern Russia, Dmitri Kozak, has been busy putting out fires:  In Karachayevo-Cherkessia, he negotiated with protestors after the local police announced that they were seeking the arrest of the son-in-law of the Republicıs President, Mustafa Batuyev, in connection with the abduction and murder of seven persons, including a regional legislator.  (2)  Protestors demanded the resignation of the local leaders of the MVD and FSB.  Kozak called for calm:  ³I request the kith and kin not to give way to these provocationsŠ. The criminal case will be investigated objectively and comprehensively and all those who organized this crime and those who executed it¾nearly all the perpetrators have been detained¾those who were directly or indirectly, be it in a juridical or political sense, to blame for the commission of this crime will be punished.² (3) Following the surrender of Ali Kaitov (Batuyevıs son-in-law), Kozakıs spokesman suggested that there would be little purpose in the resignation of the local security chiefs. However, if public outrage over these murders (and the presumed complicity of authorities) does not subside, the Republicıs President himself may be forced to resign. (4)


Kozak also received a controversial assistant, a position that is in itself an unusual adjunct for an envoy; Ramzan Kadyrov, son of the assassinated Chechen President, was named as advisor to Kozak.  Opinions vary widely on the purpose, even the source of this appointment.  Whether it originated in the Kremlin, as some believe, or was requested by current Chechen President Alu Alkhanov, it is clear, as one analyst has noted that naming Kadyrov to a presidential post is more suitable than sidelining him otherwise: "Kadyrov's group is too influential to argue with it.² (5) (For more on this issue, please refer to the ³Caucasus² section.)


Clearly, there are a number of important, even urgent, issues for Putinıs Representative to address, just how this will aid in the prevention of another terrorist attack or help bring to justice the organizers of Beslan however, has yet to be seen. 


The third of Putinıs anti-terror initiatives likewise confounds analysis of its utility as part of a domestic security package.  While the harshest criticism of Putin has been reserved for his attempts to strengthen the ³vertical of power,² his intention to override local authorities by nominating (with the right to dissolve local legislatures if they wonıt approve his nominations, Putin has taken de facto right of appointment) regional governors seems far more likely to stir up local discontent, rather than help the Center contain it. 


Putin has suggested that corruption and the inability to have federal executive orders implemented form the backdrop for his decision to intercede in regional politics, but it is becoming increasingly clear that any heavy-handed central move might instead propel centrifugal forces.  Consider, for example, the response of Mintimer Shaymiyev, President of Tatarstan, who disagreed, on democratic principles, with attempts to circumvent local assemblies, which reflect the choice of regional citizens: regional parliaments are elected by people's votes, "and we must not agree with the possibility of a regional parliament being dismissed." (6) 


Other regions present challenges on different fronts:  an insensitive central appointment in Dagestan, for instance, could, quite conceivably worsen ethnic tensions.  Sergei Artyunov, Director of the Sector of the Caucasus of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology at the Russian Academy of Sciences, points out the potential pitfalls in Dagestan:  ³Dagestan is the home of fourteen peoples mentioned in the ConstitutionŠ. The State CouncilŠis a form of consensus democracyŠWhenever a president or, even worse, an appointed governor appears there, the question of this ethnic origin will be raised immediately.  It will be all right if he is a representative of some small ethnic group.  If however, he represents a majority ethnic groupŠall the rest will probably turn to mutiny.² (7)


Thus far, President Putinıs post-Beslan approach to combating terrorism seems to have little to offer, perhaps thatıs because Putin needs answer to no one.




Putinıs decision to insert himself into the Ukrainian presidential elections are perplexing enough, but his comments to the Ukrainian electorate might prove even more confounding.  During a phone-in program for three Ukrainian television channels, Putin quoted some verse by the Ukrainian national poet, Taras Shevchenko.  Speaking in Ukrainian, Putin waxed, ³The day goes by, the night goes by, burying my head in my hands, I keep wondering why the apostle of truth and science stays away.²  (8)  He noted that he had found, at the time he learned the lines, the verse ³suits me to a tee.²  (9)  That may speak volumes.


Source Notes

(1) ³Interview with Chinese newspapersŠ,² Kremlin website via (

(2) The Moscow Times, 26 Oct 04 via Lexis-Nexis.

(3) RTR Russia TV, Moscow, in Russian 0700 GMT 22 Oct 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis. 

(4) Vedomosti, No 197, p.A2; RusData Dialine via Lexis-Nexis.

(5) RIA Novosti, 21 Oct 04 via Lexis-Nexis.

(6) Moscow News, 27 Oct 04 via Lexis-Nexis.

(7) Novye Izvestiya, 15 Oct 04; What the Papers Say (WPS) Defense and Security 20 Oct 04 via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(8) UT1 Kiev, 1700 GMT, 26 Oct 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Database.

(9) Ibid.


By Susan J. Cavan (







October 11 marked three months since President Putin signed the order authorizing the reorganization of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).  In that missive, he gave the FSB Director, Nikolai Patrushev, three months to prepare specific proposals for FSB restructuring.  (1) There has been no official or leaked word on any such proposals thus far.   This suggests one of two things:  Either Patrushevıs plan is still in the hands of President Putin and is being held in such secrecy that no word of it has reached the outside (possible, but unlikely given the current climate in Russia); or the Beslan siege in September, in which nearly a dozen of the FSBıs special forces troops were killed, in addition to over 300 civilians, has altered the timetable for an FSB shakeup.  The latter explanation is the more plausible, given the mass of other changes enacted or planned by the leadership.


The Beslan siege is bound to have caused reverberations throughout the security services on many levels, not just because of the loss of life within the services (whose replacements will take time to train), but because it demonstrated the inefficacy of the administrationıs Caucasus strategy.  Some journalists have reported that the security services themselves drafted a new Chechnya plan, which was thought to be unpopular with some in the presidential administration and thus was leaked in order to garner support, not an uncommon move.  It appears to contain some ³out-of-the-box² thinking, including cooperation with Israel on counter-terrorism. The plan reportedly elicited some support in the Kremlin, but there has been no formal announcement so far.  (2)  Meanwhile, the (Federation Council-led) investigation into the Beslan tragedy continues, with few results yet available (or expected).  (3)  With so many new developments and diverse responses since August, the plans for an FSB reorganization imagined in the relative political calm of July, probably will need more time to emerge. 


Still, changes were included in the original decree, namely cutting the number of departments from twelve to four; this was largely cosmetic, since many of the ³cut² departments simply were renamed ³services² and their leaders were left untouched.  (4)  On the one hand, the FSB may be the one organization in which President Putin, had the most faith, rightly or wrongly, and his siloviki appointees are the individuals on whom he most relies.  On the other hand, the FSB may be the single most disappointing organization in the Putin administration, a fact made especially obvious in the three months since the reform decree was signed.  Although its budget has increased many times in the past four years, the FSBıs ranks are still marred by rampant corruption, and the service seems signally incapable of preventing the most horrific acts of terror on Russian soil. (5)  Only if Putin has the ability to comprehend the true state of this highly publicized service is there the slightest chance of genuine change.


Putinıs words indicate that he is aware of the problems linked to corruption.  His moves to strengthen the ³vertical of power² conceivably might reduce corruption at the regional level, by keeping local leaders at the Kremlinıs mercy, although this approach certainly is questionable.  With respect to the security services, however, his actions thus far appear to fall short of the mark.  Indeed, the Kremlin has raised salaries for cabinet members, but so far there is no word on whether the 50-billion ruble FSB budget for 2005 will include increases in the salaries of lower-level security service employees, in addition to the plan to procure hardware and training.  (6)  Presumably, a better wage would tend to reduce corruption, but it is not clear what constitutes an ³honest wage² in the Russian security services.  With FSB members allegedly selling fake passports for $1500 each, and Interior Ministry members charging upwards of $100,000 to close troublesome investigations into major businesses, pure compensation alone will not solve the problem of corruption within the security services.  (7)


Nevertheless, the Putin administration continues to rely almost solely on current and former FSB personnel, even recycling seemingly spent siloviki.  Putin recently announced the appointment of Anatoli Safonov to the newly created post of ³presidential special representative for questions of international cooperation in the fight against terrorism and transnational organized crime.²  Of late, Colonel-General Safonov was Ambassador-at-Large and FSB deputy director, but he lost his position in a cabinet reshuffle last summer.   Safonov has made a career of security service work in the former KGB and FSB, all within the USSR and Russia.  Newspaper reports find no distinguishing diplomatic or counter-terrorism experience in his background, only the expected tradecraft and cronyism one has come to expect from such appointments in the Putin administration, making Safonov another typical Putin apparatchik. In short, Safonovıs appointment is unlikely to provide the impetus necessary to develop a new breed of dependable and well-trained soldiers, who can enhance the stateıs security.  (8)


It must be remembered that the security services operate in a grey area of statecraft, one that has changed significantly in the past few years, owing not just to the breakup of the Soviet Union, but also to the altered strategic landscape that recognizes state- and non-state-sponsored terrorists as major players.   And while the KGB was especially well trained to do what they did, their goals were limited and their methods less circumscribed than they are today.  A good Soviet intelligence officer is unlikely ever to have been taken alive following the assassination of an insurgent leader, much less captured, tried, and convicted in a foreign country as were the two GRU officers in Qatar (following their successful car-bombing of Chechen rebel leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev).  And while the Kremlin denied any link to the minor damage caused by the fire-bombing of the London apartment of Maskhadovıs deputy, Akhmed Zakayev, on 17 October, the fact that it occurred mere hours after Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov reiterated Russiaıs intention to strike preemptively where the terrorists and their supporters live seems more than a coincidence.  (9)  Perhaps the fire bombings really were carried out by those seeking retribution for Beslan, as the Kremlin suggested; maybe the GRU agents really were acting on their own.  If this is the case, then despite the siloviki in the cabinet, there is no control over these mechanisms of direct action.   If it is not the case, perhaps there are even more unsettling conclusions to draw—perhaps security services have either lost a part of their operational expertise, or are still relying on cold war methods (typified by a more Machiavellian ends-means relationship) in the new strategic landscape.   


The larger point is the example Putin is setting for the security services.  By maintaining, as his unstated requirement for appointment to an administration leadership position, prior service in the security services, he has created a model for the current generation of security service officers—adherence to the values that made the KGB so powerful in the USSR: cronyism; strict observation of orders from above with little innovation; and a career resume that values simple service, not cultural or academic broadening that might provide an enhanced perspective of the problems facing the NIS.  The officers he has put into positions of leadership are not the best and the brightest, only the most well-known (or loyal) to the president.  And there appears little motivation to alter this recipe for personal success in the government, at any level.


So, if there is to be any lasting reform, whenever it is discussed openly, one would expect the conversation to include corruption proofing measures that ultimately will help prevent future attacks by terrorists, aided by those whose job is to protect the nation; and command and control measures aimed at helping end terrorist incidences rapidly and with minimal loss of life, a shortcoming discussed in previous NIS Observed (see archives).  Until President Putin sets a higher standard for the upper levels of the administration, do not expect any reforms, no matter how well-conceived they may be, to change any of the security servicesı fundamental shortcomings.   The FSB-produced Chechnya plan appears to be a step in the right direction.  If so, it would be the first.  One hopes it is not an aberration.


Source Notes

(1)  "Reform of Russia's Federal Security Service, Emergencies Ministry Detailed," Vremya novostey, 15 Jul 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-0715 via World News Connection.

(2)  ³Nukes Will Not Be Used,² by Pavel Felgenhauer, The Moscow Times, 19 Oct 04, JRL #8416.

(3)  Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Newsline Vol. 8, No. 201, Part I, 22 Oct 04.

(4)  ³FSB Reform: Changes Are Few and Far Between,² by Andrei Soldatov, Moscow News, 6-12 Oct 04 via Johnson's Russia List (JRL) #9398, 7 Oct 04.

(5)  "Russian security budget expands during Putin's watch," Agence France Presse (AFP), 19 September 04 via Johnsonıs Russia List (JRL), #8374.

(6)  ³The NIS Observed: An Analytical Review,² Volume IX, Number 15, 29 September 04.

(7)  Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Newsline, Vol. 8, No. 179, Part I, 20 September 04 and Ekspert, No. 39, Oct 04 via JRL #8422, 22 Oct 04.

(8)  ³President Picks Shady Character As Envoy,² by Aleksei Tarasov, Moscow News, 20 Oct 2004 via ISI Emerging Markets.

(9)  ³Nukes Will Not Be Used,² by Pavel Felgenhauer, The Moscow Times, 19 Oct 04, JRL #8416.


By Eric Beene (






Mission accomplished

President Putin traveled first to China and then to Tajikistan on a five day tour from 14-18 October to discuss bilateral issues between the respective countries. Both visits were important occasions in the history of Russian bilateral relations, as they brought the leaders together to examine mutual concerns regarding economic and security matters in the region.


President Putinıs meeting with President Hu Jintao in China (14-16 October) marked the solidification of a partnership between the two countries that provides mutual advantages.  Putin landed with three main objectives: to persuade China to give verbal support for Russiaıs membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO); to resolve the problem of common borders; and to convince China to commit heavy financial investments in Russia. President Jintao hoped to secure approval for a 1,475 kilometer oil link from Siberia to the Chinese port of Daqing. (1)


As the worldıs second largest importer of oil (behind the United States), China currently suffers from dwindling domestic supplies.  Energy demands are almost doubling annually in China, and although Russia currently supplies no gas to the Peopleıs Republic, the head of Russiaıs Gazprom, Aleksei Miller, and Chinaıs National Petroleum company signed a vague agreement that leaves the pipelineıs future uncertain.  Chinaıs critical energy demands proved a significant incentive to invest upwards of $20 billion in Russia by 2020; Jintao also agreed to support Moscowıs bid for WTO membership. (2) Russiaıs entrance into the WTO would benefit China greatly, as it should result in a major increase in its investments.


The founding agreement of the Russia-China Business Council was signed on 15 October during its first sitting in Beijing, timed to coincide with the talks between Putin and Jintao.  The Council will become a tool for the strengthening of economic cooperation and its main goal ³will be to ensure immediate access for businessmen in the two countries to information on different projects in them,² stated Andrei Kazmin, chairman of the board of Sberbank (Savings Bank). (3) Thirteen subcommittees, including banking, have been set up through the council.


Concerning border issues, which have been a longstanding dispute, Putin and Jintao agreed that their adjoining border will be legally registered and marked out, a first in the history of Russian-Chinese relations. According to President Putin, this decision creates opportunities for closer cooperation in developing shipping, nature management, protection of the environment and farming. (4) President Jintao declared, ³From this moment on, the Chinese-Russian border, an extent of over 3,400km, will be a bond of friendship and cooperation between our peoples.² (5)


It seems new frontiers have been opened for the two countries by this border resolution. Overall, President Putin achieved his objectives during his visit. This latest meeting with President Jintao, the one that occurred last month in Russia, and the decision to make 2006 the Year of Russia in China, and 2007 the Year of China in Russia, (6) all suggest a growing partnership that will make agreements, especially in the realm of security, more likely.


Putin spoke of positive dynamics and the beneficial prospects of strong bilateral relations as he opened talks in Dushanbe with Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov.  Putinıs sojourn to Tajikistan showcased the successful completion of agreements that would help solve the problem of Tajikistanıs debt to Russia and bind the two countries in a fight against drug trafficking from Afghanistan. 


Russia will invest a total of $2 billion in the Tajik economy within the next five years, an investment that Putin believes will pay off as Tajikistan regains stability. It also stands as a sign that Russia views political developments as hopeful and that mutual confidence is building. (7) This bilateral economic partnership rests on lucrative investments that hopefully will lead to economic progress throughout the entire region. Showing support for the economic partnership, but not wanting to alienate other investors, President Rakhmonov stated, ³We assign priority to Russian partners, however, the interests of foreign investors in Tajikistan keeps growing.² (8)


The military-political sphere of Russian-Tajik relations is probably the most important development to note, as the respective leaders signed four new military agreements that will allow for the largest Russian military base abroad to be established, with over 20,000 servicemen. (9) Russia will waive tuition and begin training Tajik soldiers next year as a part of the agreements, as well. (10) This base is supposed to promote not only the security of Tajikistan but greater regional and European security, as Tajikistan becomes a ³buffer to protect Europe and other regions from terrorism, extremism and drugs.² (11) This move by Russia to establish a large military presence in the region is yet another consequence of the Beslan attacks. Rakhmonov stated, ³The recent terrorist acts in Russia, above all, the tragedy in Beslan have shown the danger of terrorism. We are ready to join all efforts to prevent terrorist acts and to punish those who perform them.² (12) Russia likely is pleased to have another partner in the war on terror, but this also appears to be a useful instrument through which to assert his power within the Central Asian–former Soviet–territories.


Project Iran

As worldwide debates continue on what to do with Iranıs nuclear program, Russia has voiced again its desire to see Iran settle all remaining questions on its transparency and character.  The Russian Foreign Ministryıs Information and Press Department commented during a recent G-8 meeting in Washington: ³We are speaking in favor of switching the agencyıs control functions onto a normal track, similar to that of most member states of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.² (13) Russia favors diplomatic means in dealing with Iran as the November IAEA Board of Governors session approaches, and further calls on Iran to ³suspend the enrichment and processing of nuclear materials as a confidence building measure.² (14) According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, what Iran should do is ratify the Additional Protocol on IAEA Guarantees; he also encouraged Iran to enforce a moratorium on the enrichment of uranium. (15)


As to the Bushehr nuclear power plant project, Lavrov firmly stated that ³it is not an IAEA concern and therefore Russia will go on in cooperating with Iran in [constructing] the site.² (16)  He noted that what the parties involved have yet to do is sign protocols on the supplies of Russian-made nuclear fuel to Iran and on the return of the nuclear waste back to Russia. IAEA experts are in the process of preparing their report for the November 25 meeting; certainly the Bushehr site and the depth of Russiaıs involvement in Iranıs nuclear program will be discussed.  This relationship between Iran and Russia continues to have the worldıs attention, as Iran remains a strategic ally for Russia in the Middle East, and the nuclear potential of Iran poses concerns, for many, particularly the U.S. and Israel.


An interesting energy development on the horizon that involves Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan is the possible synchronization of their respective energy systems. Anatoli Chubais, on an official visit to Azerbaijan, said that ³Azerbaijan is interested in the expansion of energy contacts with Iran and boosting contacts with RussiaŠIf the talks confirm the technical possibility for broadening the zone, this decision will be a breakthrough to expanding the integrated synchronized zone with the centre in Moscow.² (17) Should this happen, this would be an unprecedented synchronized energy system that would secure Russiaıs interdependence with Iran and likely mark a blow for Azerbaijani independence.


Overall, Russia is seeking to propagate stronger bilateral relations with countries that have strategic importance. Economic, security and energy issues inextricably tie these regions together. How Putin uses these ties to enhance his regional and global objectives will demonstrate his commitment to advancing the well-being and stability of the regions at large, as well as his commitment to increasing his own strategic power, both at home and abroad.


Source Notes


(1) Moscow News, 22 Oct 04 via ISI Emerging Markets.

(2) Ibid.

(3) RIA-Novosti, 15 Oct 04;


(4), 15 Oct 04; (

(5) Ibid.

(6) Ibid.

(7) RIA-Novosti, 16 Oct 04; file://localhost/(http/

(8) Ibid.

(9) Ibid.

(10) Ibid.

(11) Ibid.

(12) Ibid.

(13) RIA-Novosti, 18 Oct 04; (

(14) Ibid.

(15) RIA Novosti, 17 Oct 04; (

(16) Ibid.

(17) RIA Novosti, 20 Oct 04; (



By Rebecca Mulder (








Reforms and United Russia – Doomsday or the chance of a lifetime?

With Vladimir Putin taking long strides toward changes in Russiaıs government – he has proposed alterations affecting the executive, legislative and judicial branches – an examination of the effect of those moves on the Kremlin-favored United Russia political party seems in order. To summarize the primary steps under discussion: 1) the elimination of the direct election of governors, replacing it with presidential nomination and confirmation by the regional legislature; 2) the elimination of single-member parliamentary constituencies, confining elections to party lists, with seats allocated by proportional representation; 3) the restructuring of the Supreme Qualification Collegium, reducing its numbers and splitting the power of appointment between an emasculated Federation Council and the president.  The Supreme Qualification Collegium, which has oversight of judges and authorizes new judicial bodies, was the subject of an earlier ³reform² attempt under Dmitri Kozakıs judicial reform package.  Clearly, previous efforts to insert presidential appointees failed.


In recent coverage, there have been two primary, and quite divergent, opinions expressed about United Russia: The first is that it is in decline or, at the very least, seriously challenged by other political parties. (1)  The second is that United Russia is poised to become the dominant party in Russia, much as the Communist Party was in the Soviet Union. (2)


Putinıs changes will affect United Russiaıs power and composition in a number of ways. There have been some forecasts that the recently proposed bill legalizing party membership for ministers may push most ministers to join the ³party of power.² (3) Others allege that Putinıs recently initiated reforms simply formalize a shift toward regional politics that has been under way for the better part of this year. (4)


Tensions erupted over the details of electoral reform at a recent conference. The Central Electoral Commission favors mandating the presence of at least four parties in the Duma. (5) United Russia opposes the suggestion, theoretically on the basis that it could lead to a party that has not earned the requisite share of the vote being allowed to have members in the Duma (if not enough parties pass the seven percent mark). This objection makes sense if United Russia expects to acquire a high percentage of the vote. In that case, United Russia would be forced to yield some of its votes to parties who legally were not supposed to be in the legislature.


United Russia has supported the proposed reforms calling for proportional elections to the Duma. On the one hand, United Russiaıs support for the reforms is consistent given the partyıs close relationship with Putin. On the other hand, based on the last election, the reforms could injure United Russiaıs standing within the Duma. According to some accounts, United Russia earned more seats based on the current electoral system than it would have, if the newly proposed laws had been in place. (6) United Russiaıs support could be a form of rational self interest if the party anticipates increased membership and electoral backing based on Putinıs other reforms. The decision to replace the direct election of governors with presidential nomination and legislative confirmation has encouraged regional leaders to join the Kremlin-favored party. However, the shift to proportional elections theoretically could injure United Russiaıs presence in the federal legislature until it proves its ability to garner more of the vote.


Although fears of a return to one-party government have surfaced often in Russiaıs media coverage of late, the possibility seems somewhat more remote than is suggested. 



Peace with unease in Ingushetia and North Ossetia

It is a prevalent belief in North Ossetia that there were Ingush among the hostage-takers at Beslan. This belief, as yet unconfirmed, certainly does not help the already tense relations between Ingushetia and North Ossetia, which are the by-product, in part, of the 1992 five day war between them. Some members of the government, however, are attempting to address Ingush-North Ossetian relations before conflict breaks out again.


The People's Assembly of the Republic of Ingushetia sent an appeal to the parliament of the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania on (or about) 12 October, at the end of the official 40 day Orthodox mourning period over Beslan.


The appeal asked three main questions. First, ³do you not believe that Ossetians and Ingush found themselves in the path of essentially the same criminal groups?Š  Second, do you agree that behind the various publications and contradictory statements by individuals in the media, a kind of psychological and ideological climate is being developed that is trying to justify new tragedies for our peoples? And should we not take into account, too, that there are certain forces in Russia and beyond its borders who have a vested interest in the destabilization of the Caucasus, and, in particular, are using a conflict between the people of Ingushetia and Ossetia for their own political and financial interests? ThirdŠ does it not seem to you, esteemed parliamentarians, that it is the duty and obligation of elected representatives to stand above such private feelings and impulses for the sake of common and neighbourly interests?² (7)


While incorporating a certain amount of conspiracy theory (though perhaps not unjustly – Russia has a history of using tension between ethnic groups as a means of maintaining its own influence), the fact that an overture is being made on the level of regional parliaments gives at least a token of hope that cooperation between the two regional governments could help address the residual issues in the area. The North Ossetian parliament Council is currently discussing whether to submit the Ingush appeal to debate on 28 October. (8)  This screening appears more wary than this (probable) olive branch deserves; however, one member of the North Ossetian parliament expressed annoyance at the fact that the appeal appeared on the Internet before it arrived at his workplace. Perhaps he suspects that the documentıs purpose is more propaganda than regional cooperation.


Meanwhile, security seems to be on everyoneıs mind. Police and other troops are a concrete presence in North Ossetia, (9)  and Ingushetia is reinforcing its border posts. (10)


The federal response to a potential Ingush-North Ossetian conflict remains unclear. President Putin fired his special representative for settlement of the Ossetian-Ingush conflict on 7 October. He also signed a decree to advance the work of federal bodies on relations between the two regions. (11)  Most of Putinıs response to the Beslan crisis, however, seems to have been directed at political reform and threatening speeches about terrorists rather than concrete actions toward prosecuting those responsible for Beslan. A strong assurance by the government (and visible actions) that it is exacting justice may be the response required to prevent those affected by the attack from taking justice into their own hands.


Source Notes

(1)  ³Rodinaıs challenge begins to bite,² Moscow Times, 15 Oct 04 via Lexis-Nexis.

(2)  ³Party membership card number one,² Itogi, 12 Oct 04 via Lexis-Nexis.

(3) ³Russian reform raises spectre of ŒThe Party,ı² Reuters, 13 Oct 04 via Johnsonıs Russia List (JRL) #8408, 14 Oct 04.

(4) ³Russian parties' increasing interest in regional legislative assemblies viewed,² Moscow Nezavisimaya gazeta, 7 Oct 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-1008 via World News Connection.

(5) ³A two-party Duma,² Nezavisimaya gazeta, 5 Oct 04 via Lexis-Nexis.

(6) ³Power vertical: A double-edged sword,² Argumenty i fakty, September 04 via JRL #8379, 24 September 04.

(7) ³MPs in Russia's Ingushetia say conflict with North Ossetia must be prevented,² BBC Monitoring, 12 Oct 04 via JRL #8408, 14 Oct 04. 

(8) ³Russian daily reports on Beslan commission, threats against Ingush,² Moscow Nezavisimaya gazeta, 14 Oct 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-1014 via World News Connection.

(9) Ibid.

(10) ³Ingush Interior Ministry working to prevent unrest in North Caucasus,² Interfax, 13 Oct 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-1013 via World News Connection.

(11) ³Putin fires representative for North Ossetia, Ingushetia,² Interfax, 7 Oct 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-1007 via World News Connection.



By Robyn Angley (







The Russian Federation Defense Ministry has released the specifics regarding the (leaked) plan to cut 100,000 active troops from the armed forces.  In surprising detail, an article in Kommersant on 11 October outlined exactly which units will bear the brunt of this latest force reduction.  Although ³noncombatant² personnel such as club managers, sportsmen, builders and instructors were easy targets, these totaled only 40,000-45,000.  Many of the cuts appear to be an accounting ³smoke and mirrors² play, because they simply transfer responsibility for tasks from the Defense Ministry to other organizations (like transferring the responsibility for storing decommissioned nuclear submarines from the Navy to the Federal Nuclear Agency); it is, nonetheless, obvious that the military would need to find real ways to reduce its manpower requirements.  At the macro level, it appears that the Air Force (cutting 36,000 of their 180,000, or 20%), military construction units (cutting 9,000 troops, or 15%), and the Navy (cutting 17,000 of their 171,000, or 10%) are the big losers.  The railroad troops will lose their independence, and after cutting 2,000 troops, will be moved to the rear forces of the army.  The Strategic Rocket Forces will cut 3,000 of its 149,000 troops and will re-organize to afford more efficiency.  The Space Forces lose only 1,000 billets and are forced to make no major structural changes.  The Ground Forces will cut 20,000 soldiers (only about 2%), nearly 8,000 of them are instructors, who lost positions in the merger of several army educational institutes.  Additionally, a number of the cuts will come by reducing redundancies in headquarters staff positions.  This will be accomplished through a 10% cut across the range of administrative structures. (1)


An article in Nezavisimaya gazeta cited ³authorized sources in the Air Force² as having ³candidly stated that they never anticipated that the Air Force would be subjected to another cutŠ.² (2)  The Air Force loses nearly 175 fixed-wing aircraft, more than 100 of which are third and fourth generation fighters, along with 20 long-range Backfire bombers.  They will also close numerous Mi-8MT and Mi-24 helicopter squadrons; (3)  after years of thin defense budgets, the operational capability of many of these aircraft, and the readiness of their pilots certainly are suspect.  Maintenance has not been kept up and modifications are behind schedule on many of the airframes.  Pilots have been leaving the Air Force in droves. (4)  However, while the Air Forceıs strike and air defense units have been reduced dramatically, it is interesting to note that not one airlift/transportation unit suffered any cuts.  This is very much in line with Defense Minister Sergei Ivanovıs desire to have highly mobile, permanently ready professional forces capable of being deployed to a conflict area on short notice.  Those troops will need aircraft to get them from their garrison location to the action.


Although losing nearly 10% of its authorized manning, the very expensive force structure of the Navy suffers little in the way of substantial cuts.  Nearly all of the personnel cuts will be accomplished through the transfer of several functions to other civilian agencies, similar to the transfer mentioned above regarding decommissioned nuclear submarines.  There was no mention at all about any further cuts in the Russian surface fleet, a fleet that appears to be in a very poor state of readiness, according to the report summarizing the investigation into the sinking of the Kursk. (5)  The absence of surface ships on the list of force structure reductions seems to fall outside of the security strategy being followed by Ivanov and the Defense Ministry.  It is difficult to see exactly how Russiaıs current fleet of nearly 200 surface warships (including cruisers, destroyers, frigates, battle cruisers and an aircraft carrier) fits Ivanovıs concept of how best to meet Russiaıs existing threats. (6)  The only boats mentioned for retirement in this round of force reductions are nuclear missile launching submarines.  The strategic nuclear forces are central to the deterrence that Russia is counting on to maintain security while the armed forces continue to reform into a viable fighting force capable of defending against a large scale attack.  These cuts only make sense in light of the fact that the boats already lack operational readiness due to old age and neglect.  The Project 667BDR (Delta 3) submarines were originally slated to leave service in 2003.  Currently, nearly all of them are restricted to harbor cruises due to their lack of seaworthiness. (7)  They will be retired by 1 January, 2005.  The Project 941 (Akula, or Typhoon as it is known in the West) inventory will be cut in half, leaving only two operational and only one that is, reportedly, capable of firing missiles. (8)  The Project 667BDRM (Delta 4) submarines, operated only by the Northern Fleet, were not cut and continue to make up the heart of the Russian nuclear missile launching fleet. (9) 


Evidently, the Defense Ministry is trying desperately to cut costs in order to press ahead with modernization efforts that have languished due to lack of financing, negligence and engineering failures.  The keel of the first of Russiaıs next generation nuclear missile launching submarine, the project 955 (Borei), was laid in November of 1996, but will not launch until late 2005, and will not become operational for two years after that.  There are plans to have three of these subs completed by 2010.  When the Borei does become operational, it should be equipped with 12 of the new Bulava (MACE)-30 missiles, which are currently undergoing testing. (10)


The same basic strategy of eliminating expired weapons as a cost saving measure to fund modernization is being used with the Strategic Rocket Forces as well.  An entire missile division is being retired or dispersed to other units to replace systems already past their life expectancy. (11)  Savings also will be realized by lowering the alert levels of selected units.  Specific regiments will absorb personnel cuts and then, instead of being ready for action at any moment, will have delays built in, as they take from several hours to several days to become ready.  Other SMF units will simply become storage bases for missiles. (12)  As with the nuclear submarines, these cuts are necessary to make budgetary room for the modernization of the SMF.  The budget for 2005 includes money for another regiment, 6 missiles, and the newest ICBM, the Topol-M (SS-27 is its Western designation). (13)


The Ground Forces see virtually no cuts.  In addition to the military instructors already mentioned, most other reductions in troop strength are simple accounting functions.  The only unit specifically named for reduction is the 98th Airborne Troop Division, which will be reorganized as a brigade in line with Ivanovıs organizational concepts. (14)  The Ground Troops also announced that its new, all-professional peacekeeping brigade would be formed in the Volga-Urals district near Samara, which is close to the military staging airfield of Kryazh. (15)  This announcement also reflects a freedom to act that Ivanov apparently now has, which he did not have prior to Kvashninıs departure.  The stationing of this brigade was an issue on which the Defense Ministry and the General Staff had disagreed; Kvashnin advocated moving the brigade to Kartaly as the most suitable location.  It is true that the Kryazh airfieldıs proposed receipt of the Russiaıs Il-76MD transport aircraft make it an ideal location. (16)


Despite the absence of a detailed study identifying the appropriate force structure to meet the current threat, Ivanov is intent on re-sizing the Russian military and achieving enough economy to modernize and professionalize the force.  The announced cuts are aimed at the most expensive aspects of the defense ministry; the Air Force, nuclear submarines, and the officer corps (the current troop reduction plan also calls for writing off 5,000 generals and other officers who wear the uniform of the Russian Federation armed forces but serve in organizations outside of the military). (17)  Some sources indicate that the Defense Ministry is not hiding the fact that there are more cuts to come. (18)  These recent moves seem to confirm that Ivanov has wrested enough power away from the General Staff and services to affect real change, decisively moving away from the old force structure paradigms of the Cold War.  This is evident especially in the massive cuts in the Air Force.  Rumors also abound within the military departments that Ivanov in his sights has up to 80 more generals, Kvashnin cronies, target for removal. (19)  Now in more control than ever, Ivanov likely will initiate more significant changes in the shape and size of the armed forces in the near future as he continues an aggressive, if frustrating, path towards creating an effective Russian military.  With the current emphasis placed on modernization and acquisition of new armaments, expect future Defense Ministry initiatives aimed at gaining increased control over the military industrial base. 


Tremendous obstacles still must be addressed before the Russian military pulls itself out of collapse.  Problems with quality and quantity of the conscripted force, the persistence of the destructive culture of hazing, crime, and corruption that characterize the Russian military, and the faltering transition to a professional force all must be addressed.  Lots of work lies ahead and it may continue to be extremely slow going.


Source Notes

(1) ³Minus 100,000,² Kommersant, 11 Oct 04; What the Papers Say via ISI Emerging Markets and Janeıs Sentinel Security Assessment – Russia and The CIS from (

(2) ³Russia to Make Further Cuts in Military,² Nezavisimaya gazeta, 12 Oct 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-1012 via World News Connection.

(3) ³Minus 100,000,² Kommersant, 11 Oct 04; What the Papers Say via ISI Emerging Markets.

(4) Janeıs Sentinel Security Assessment – Russia and The CIS – Air Force, from ( posted 15 Jun 04.

(5) Janeıs Sentinel Security Assessment – Russia and The CIS – Navy, from ( posted 03 Jun 03.

(6) Ibid.

(7) ³Newspaper Lists Shortcomings of Russian Navyıs Nuclear Submarine Fleet,² Rossiyskaya gazeta, 29 Jul 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

(8) Ibid and ³Minus 100,000,² Kommersant, 11 Oct 04; What the Papers Say via ISI Emerging Markets.

(9) Ibid.

(10) ³Russiaıs New Nuclear Mace,² RIA Novosti, 29 September 04 via Lexis-Nexis.

(11) ³Minus 100,000,² Kommersant, 11 Oct 04; What the Papers Say via ISI Emerging Markets.

(12) Ibid.

(13) ³Russiaıs 2005 Defense Budget Grows, Becomes More Open,² website, 28 September 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets.

(14) ³Minus 100,000,² Kommersant, 11 Oct 04; What the Papers Say via ISI Emerging Markets.

(15) ³Newspaper Reveals Location of First Russian Peacekeeping Brigade,² Kommersant, 18 Oct 04;  BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

(16) Ibid.

(17) ³Russia to Make Further Cuts in Military,² Nezavisimaya gazeta, 12 Oct 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-1012 via World News Connection.

(18) web site, 14 Oct 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets.

(19) ³Russia to Make Further Cuts in Military,² Nezavisimaya gazeta, 12 Oct 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-1012 via World News Connection.


By Jeff Kubiak (





NATO-Russia Council: prospects for cooperation

NATO and Russian defense ministers held an informal session of the NATO-Russia Council in Romania on October 14.  While Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov chose this opportunity to highlight Russia's views of the failures of the Council, he ignored the Council's accomplishments within its very limited mission. According to a NATO press release after the Rome Summit in May 2002, the NATO-Russia Council was designed to provide a mechanism for consultation, consensus-building, cooperation, joint decision making, and joint action for the member states of NATO and Russia on a wide spectrum of security issues in the Euro-Atlantic region.  Additionally, the NATO-Russia Council would serve as the principal structure and venue for advancing the relationship between the two former antagonists. (1)


The creation of the Council seemed like a new start for Cold War foes and a way for NATO and Russia to work together to address 21st century security challenges.   Many defense leaders publicly were optimistic about the fledgling relationship: "We want to build a culture of cooperation," said Aleksandr Alekseyev, one of Russia's envoys to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. (2)  "It is a mark of the political will underpinning the new NATO-Russia relationship that we have been able to get down to real business so quickly and so effectively," said then-NATO Secretary General George Robertson. (3)

"We are confronted with very serious threats to our security," Russian Minister Sergei Ivanov said. "Those threats need to be combated with very different tools than those used during the Cold War." (4)


While the NATO press releases were joint statements, NATOıs and Russiaıs perceptions of the Council were never the same.  Russia viewed the Council as a way to give Moscow a voice in NATO decisions on such issues as terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, arms control, crisis management and military cooperation.  NATO saw the Council as a confidence-building measure, a way to assure the Russians that they have nothing to fear from NATO or NATO expansion.


Despite the differences, two weeks after the new council was established, Russia and NATO agreed on a joint defense regime.  The package included increasing cooperation on countering terrorism specifically for NATO peacekeepers in the Balkans, conducting a joint assessment of terrorist threats to airliners, nuclear power plants and other civilian and military targets, and preventing the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.


Quick start followed by little operational unity

The NATO-Russia Councilıs quick start did not lead to the development of a highly useful or productive military relationship.  Distrust, fueled by deeply ingrained Cold War mentalities and differing expectations, froze the Council in its immature and initial state.   


NATOıs and Russiaıs expectations of the Council appear to have been as different as their perceptions of its mission. The U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Alexander Vershbow, represented the NATO expectation saying, "We should think big for the long term but move step by step in the short term."  "For the first phase,² Vershbow added, "it is better to have a concrete list of modest goals to avoid being disappointed." (5)


Russiaıs view of the limited scope and slow progress of the Council can be summed up by the deputy head of the Moscow-based Institute for Applied International Research, Andrei Zagorsky, who said, "What is most worrying is the lack of any real military cooperation" between Russia and NATO. (6)  Aleksei Arbatov, Deputy Head of the State Duma's Defense Committee, agreed, saying that the much-heralded improvement in NATO-Russia relations had been mostly hype. (7)  "New relations with NATO are contained to high-level summits and meetings, while common programs are rare and lack interest," Arbatov said. (8)


The Council has worked slowly, but a few successes have been achieved over its two- year history.  The Council has:

·        Launched a military-to-military interoperability program to allow Russian and NATO troops to operate jointly.  This program led to a fairly aggressive 2004 schedule of 21 joint exercises, including eight conducted within Russia; (9)

·        Conducted civil emergency exercises in Russia.  With the intended goal of developing a multinational rapid deployment capability for civil emergencies, exercises have been conducted including a chemical attack exercise in September 2002 and a nuclear attack exercise in 2004.  A large-scale civil-emergency planning exercise (850 participants from 30 countries) was completed in Noginsk, Russia. The NRC is currently studying lessons learned; (10)

·        Completed joint assessments of terrorist threats to the Euro-Atlantic Area, including al-Qaida, and the threat of chemical and biological weapons from non-state actors; (11)

·        Cooperated on submarine search and rescue, including actual exercises conducted earlier this year; (12)

·        Conducted a Joint Theater Missile Defense Command Post Exercise in Colorado Springs in March 2004; (13)

·        Agreed to Russia participating in Operation Active Endeavor, NATO's anti-terrorist naval operations in the Mediterranean. (14)   


Overcoming distrust

In the opinion of Vadim Razumovsky, Director of the Institute of Applied International Studies, the most important goal of the NATO-Russia Council is to overcome mutual distrust in relations, however, overcoming distrust has proven to be very difficult. (15)

Current Chief of the General Staff, Colonel-General Yuri Baluyevskiy, wrote in April 2003, ³despite the transformations that have occurred in the North Atlantic alliance under the impact of the dynamic changes of the past decade and its own so-called modernization, it has remained, basically, a military bloc.² (16)  He wrote in the same article, ³it is still our view that the decision on NATO enlargement is erroneous. It will have a negative impact on the general security architecture in Europe, affecting the security interests of a number of states, including Russia's.² (17)


Russia and NATO conducted their first ever joint naval maneuvers in the Atlantic Ocean in August of 2004.  Just days prior to the exercise, Admiral Vladimir Valuyev, Commander of the Baltic Fleet, commented on Russian television, "Every nation, including Russia, must seek to strengthen its armed forces and its navy. It will come in useful. If NATO behaves peacefully, we'll stick to peacetime tasks. If, however, the situation is escalated, we'll always be ready to take appropriate action." (18)


General Baluyevskiy and Admiral Valuyev are primary players in the Russian military.  Their rhetoric reflects a deeply ingrained view within Russian military circles that continues to portray NATO as the enemy.  Their assessment of the threats faced by the Russian Federation does not take into account the rapprochement between NATO and Russia, nor does it adequately convey our shared 21st century threat environment.  NATO's view is that each successfully conducted joint exercise will continue to erode the "NATO is the enemy" view, especially in the junior officers.



NATO will continue to view the NATO-Russia Council as a confidence-building device more than as a useful institution in itself. The councilıs mandate deliberately has been circumscribed to help ensure that its functioning corresponds to Russia's own readiness to cooperate productively with NATO.  Russia has yet to prove itself a reliable or constructive partner in operational matters.   Practical cooperation in the operational environment has not increased over the past two years, however Russia and NATO have found some common ground and numerous exercises have been completed.  While the current relationship seems much less than Russia originally wanted from NATO, the council does serve as a communications conduit – even if it is currently reserved primarily for exercise development and political propaganda.  Taking the long view, the council has achieved its limited goal of maintaining a working relationship with Russian diplomats while establishing contacts with the next generation of Russian military officers.



Source Notes

 (1) (

(2) "Insiders Question if NATO-Russia Bonding is Little More Than Hype,² 8 Dec 02 via (

(3) "NATO-Russia Meeting Follows on Heels of Deal," The Associated Press, 7 Jun 02 via (

(4) Ibid.

(5) "Insiders question if NATO-Russia bonding is little more than hype," 8 Dec 02 via (

(6) Ibid.

(7) Ibid.

(8) Ibid.

(9) (

(10) (

(11) Ibid.

(12) (

(13) Ibid.

(14) Ibid.

(15) Parlamentskaya gazeta, 11 Dec 02 via (

(16) Military Thought, March-April 2003 via (

(17) Military Thought, March-April 2003 via (

(18) NTV, Mir, 7 Aug 2004 via Eurasia Daily Monitor (Jamestown) Volume 1, Issue 70 10 Aug 04.


By Kyle J. Colton (










2005 will be the year for parliamentary elections in Moldova. There are already fears that the elections will be jeopardized, however, by the current governmentıs harassment of the political opposition, intimidation of local authorities, especially non-Communist mayors, and attempts to control the media. ³The representatives of the prosecutors, police and the center for combating economic crimes and corruption are monitoring the activities of mayors and are making groundless accusations against them. We are now facing the same situation, which prevailed ahead of the 2003 local elections,² said Vasil Balan, the chairman of The National League of Association of Mayors of Moldova. (1) This month, a project called ³Electoral Impact on Good Governance² was launched in the country. The project is designed to support free elections through the local press. The project is funded by the U.S. Embassy in Moldova, the Eurasia Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy and the OSCE Mission to Moldova. The project will be implemented by the Media Impact Agency in cooperation with 16 TV stations and several radio stations, which will broadcast debates and feature programs on various elections topics. (2)



There are growing fears of the possibility of massive disturbances in various parts of Ukraine, both before and after the presidential elections, due to the authoritiesı pressure tactics applied against the population, mass media and the opposition, as well as their possible falsification of the election results. There is even speculation that the military parade in Kiev, which is to take place on 28 October and which is dedicated to the 60th anniversary of Ukraineıs liberation from Nazi Germany, is an excuse to bring troops into the center of Kiev and introduce a state of emergency. (3) The MVD currently is training for possible mass protests and assures the populace that ³methods of suppression of the actions of protest will not be harmful to peoplesı health and are even approved by the Ukrainian Ministry of Health.² (!) (4)


Some pro-Yanukovich press and current Ukrainian authorities are contemplating the possibility of Yushchenkoıs organizing a ³chestnut revolution² in Ukraine. According to Yushchenkoıs alleged plan, the revolt, which is to take place next to the Ukrainian Central Electoral Commission building, will begin right after the elections, the night of 31 October to 1 November.  The storming of the presidential administration is, supposedly, the first step. (5) Whether or not such a scenario is planned or realized, the larger issue of electoral fraud and the legitimacy of the results possibly rending Ukraine between Western and Eastern Sections is a concern. No matter who wins, each candidate has strong enough support to cause major disturbances in the country, which might even be enough to start a civil war.



Elections results

The announcement that Lukashenko ³won² the right to run for a third term with 79.42 percent of the vote came as no surprise in Belarus. As the referendum vote became public, so did the results of the independent poll conducted by the Gallup Organization/Baltic Surveys, which found that only 48.3 percent of the voters approved Lukashenkoıs running for a third term, which is short of the 50 percent requirement. (6) As for the parliamentary elections results, not a single candidate from the opposition managed to obtain a seat in the lower house of parliament.


During the pre-election campaign, opposition candidates were allowed to spend only $440 per person, which was just about enough for 25,000 leaflets. (7) TV debates were limited to 5-minute pre-recorded messages from the opposition candidates. Often, door-to-door campaigning was the only way to reach voters. (8) Closures of newspapers, raids on the apartments of opposition party leaders, numerous arrests and intimidation, in general, of opposition leaders, and finally an outrageous falsification of the elections results led to this inevitable loss for the Belarusian opposition.



Numerous violations of international norms haunt these parliamentary elections and the referendum. The most compelling evidence was obtained by the leader of the United Civic Party Anatoli Lebedıko, who took photographs that showed a pile of ballots with the ³Yes² column already marked off. (9) These ballots were given out to the elderly, who came to vote before the election date. Many voters testified that when they arrived at the polling, their names simply were not included in the lists. In one of the apartment buildings in Minsk, residents of fifteen apartments were missing from the voter lists. (10) In one village, a voter was given the passport of his neighbor, who died several years ago, and was ordered to vote using this document. Numerous instances where voters were given 2-3 ballots per person were also common. (11) No wonder turnout at the majority of polling stations in Minsk exceeded 100 percent, according to the United Civic Party report. (12) Information that election stations were not locked up for the night came from independent observers, says the Charter97 website. Representatives of the ³law guarding² organs allegedly were present at the polling stations at night, which is in direct contradiction to electoral law. At some polling stations, seals on voting boxes were damaged. (13) Election committee members carried on despite such outright violations of election norms – of course they were paid twice their daily salary for their work on elections day. (14)



Every day since the announcement of the elections and referendum results, protests have taken place in Minsk. More than five thousand protesters went out onto the streets on 18 October. The protesters, who carried placards reading: ³Lukashenko Lost!², ³Victory!², ³No!² and ³Down with Lukashenko!², demanded Lukashenkoıs resignation and the cancellation of the parliamentary elections results. (15) The militia hemmed in the crowd, not allowing the protestors to move along roads that lead to Lukashenkoıs administration building. More than 60 people have been arrested and jailed since the protests began.


International reaction to the elections

Both the United States and European Union expressed sharp criticism of the elections in Belarus. George Bush signed the ³Belarus Democracy Act² on 20 October, which calls for sanctions against Belarus should the Belarusian authorities continue to persecute the opposition and the media, refuse investigations into those who have ³disappeared² for political reasons, etc. This document has serious consequences for the Belarusian authorities, such as restrictions on travel to the United States and a reduction of financial aid from international financial institutions. (16) The European Union expressed deep concerns about Lukashenkoıs use of violence against the opposition and called the situation in Belarus a process of ³further self-isolation.² (17)


Russia and the CIS, on the other hand, did not find any violation to have taken place during the parliamentary elections and the referendum.  Russian observers defended the election results, claiming that the vote showed authentic support for Lukashenko. (18) CIS observers declared that: ³The elections in Belarus were democratic, free, conscious and legitimate.² (19)


Future of Belarus

Belarus is going slowly down the path of complete isolation. The country is stuck in the ³bright past,² a distortion of even socialist reality. The administration clearly fears democratic processes deeply enough to choose isolation from the West over the possibility of losing control. Perhaps pressure from the East, as well as the West, would bring a more positive result for the majority of Belarusian citizens.


Source Notes

(1)  Chisinau Infotag, 13 Oct 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-1012 via World News Connection.

(2)  National Democratic Institute, 14 Oct 04 via (

(3)  RFE/RL Newsletter, Vol. 8, No. 197, Part II, 18 Oct 04.

(4)  Ukrainskaya pravda, 19 Oct 04 via (

(5)  Rossiyskaya gazeta, 15 Oct 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

(6)  RFE/RL, Vol 8, No. 197, Part II, 18 Oct 04.

(7)  Novaya gazeta, 18 Oct 04 via (

(8)  Ibid.

(9)  Charter97 website, 17 Oct 04 via (

(10)        Charter97 website, 17 Oct 04 via (

(11)        Charter97 website, 17 Oct 04 via (

(12)        Ekho Moskvy news agency, 18 Oct 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

(13)        Charter97 website, 17 Oct 04 via (

(14)        Charter97 website, 17 Oct 04 via (

(15)        Charter97 website, 17 Oct 04 via (

(16)        NIS Observed, Western Region, Vol IX, No. 16.

(17)        Charter97 website, 21 Oct 04 via

(18)        ANSA English Media Service, 18 Oct 04 via Lexis-Nexis.

(19)        Belarusian Radio, 18 Oct 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.


By Elena Selyuk (






The Beslan incident revisited and revised

Although more than one month has passed since the Beslan tragedy, the details of the incident are still shrouded by Russian political double-speak and bureaucratic secrecy.  When the hostage crisis ended with hundreds dead, the Russian authorities portrayed the anti-terrorist assault as an unplanned operation of last resort.  Officials claimed that the mysterious blast inside the school building, combined with terrorists shooting at the escaping children and adults, compelled the Russian Special Forces to conduct a rescue attempt.  However, recent reports by military analysts and first-hand observers, along with survivor testimony counter the official version of the story.  These accounts indicate that the Russian military knew a terrorist attack was to occur in North Ossetia and should have been prepared both tactically and strategically to handle a Beslan-type scenario.  When the militants stormed the school in Beslan and caught the Interior Ministry troops in the North Caucasus unaware, the Kremlin, in an attempt to contain the incident, ordered the emergency anti-terrorist command unit in Beslan to end the crisis at all costs.  Due to the poor planning and heavy-handed execution of the mission, the civilian death toll was much higher than envisaged.  The Russian government, being fully aware that its inept handling of the terrorist attack was a major factor in the death toll, has taken great pains to hide the exact details of the operation from Western journalists, the domestic public and human rights organizations.    


One of the first independent accounts that contradicted the Kremlinıs version of the Beslan incident was an editorial by military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer. (1)   Felgenhauer traveled to Beslan from 1-5 September and related that he had noticed helicopters appearing in the schoolıs vicinity 17 minutes after the assault began. According to Felgenhauer, this occurrence is inconsistent with the governmentıs story, as it usually takes at least half an hour for a helicopter to warm up its engine.  Other indications that preparations for the assault were underway on the morning of 3 September are that the fenced off area near the school had been expanded, and that local hospitals were told to prepare for a large influx of patients.  In addition, some of the survivors told Izvestiya that the first blast came from somewhere near the gymnasiumıs porch and not along the schoolıs inner wall as was claimed by Russian Special Forces and government officials. (2)


On 13 October, Novaya gazeta obtained information from sources within the Investigation Commission of the Russian Federal Assembly.  According to the sources, tanks and armored vehicles were transported to the schoolıs vicinity on 2 September.  Moreover, several casings from rocket-propelled flame-throwers were found on the roof opposite the school.  Finally, some witnesses claim that a rocket-propelled grenade destroyed one of the walls of the gymnasium, while flame-throwers were used to set the roof of the school on fire at the onset of the attack. (3) The information in the Novaya gazeta story indicates that Russian special forces launched a planned attack, which ignored the possibility that some of the hostages might perish during the assault.  In the wake of the Novaya gazeta article, the parliamentary Commission officially stated that the Russian forces had used ³tanks, flame-throwers, and grenade launchers² during the assault. (4) 


While both articles suggest that Russian authorities were planning an assault on School Number #1, further evidence indicates that the Russian military knew a terrorist attack was to occur in North Ossetia.  In an 18 October Izvestiya editorial, Lieutenant General Yevgeni Abrashin, first deputy commander of the federal interior troops in the North Caucasus, criticizes the Russian political and military establishments for not averting recent terrorist attacks in Grozny, Nazran and Beslan. (5) Abrashin claims that Federal forces failed to heed warnings of potential terrorist attacks, engage in preventive operations, or perform adequate follow-up or clean-up operations after both Kadyrovıs assassination in Grozny and the raid in Nazran.  The Beslan tragedy could have been prevented if security officials had learned from the Ingushetia raid and organized check-points for vehicles, monitored roads by helicopters, and carried out a massive clean-up of ruined buildings in the suburbs of Vladikavkaz and Beslan.  While an Interior Ministry regiment was formed in Ingushetia following the events in Nazran, Abrashin asserts that the unit was not large enough to prevent militants from staging the Beslan attack.  During the alert, every military unit should have been put on duty, something that was not done.  Abrashinıs editorial is even more damning in light of a 19 October public statement made by Putin aide Aslanbek Aslakhanov to the effect that Russian authorities had received advance warning of a raid into North Ossetia. (6) Although the authorities did not believe a school to be a viable target, they viewed the seizure of a theater or cinema as a possibility.  Aslakhanov and Abrashin indicate that, although the Federal forces in the North Caucasus were aware of an imminent terrorist attack, the Russian authorities did not take the necessary tactical or strategic military steps to prevent a potential assault. 


Additionally, although the Russian government knew the terroristsı demands, it chose not to negotiate with the militants but opted to launch a futile rescue mission.   In Shamil Basaevıs letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Basaev demanded the recognition of the independence of Chechnya and the withdrawal of Russian troops from the republic.  He offered in exchange to stop all anti-Russian activities in the Caucasus and to close all terrorist training camps.  Basaev also promised that an independent Chechnya would become a member of the CIS and join the Collective Security Treaty. (7) Putin effectively answered Basaev by stating in his 2 September speech that he would never ³endanger the fragile balance in the North Caucasus² by recognizing Basaevıs claims. (8) The assault on the Beslan school occurred the next day, suggesting that authorities were already preparing for the operation and had no intention of cooperating with Basaev. Basaev clearly has placed himself solidly in the category of terrorists, with whom the Russian government will not negotiate; The Kremlin, therefore, may have assumed that the repercussions from dealing with Basaev would be far worse than the backlash from launching a poorly executed rescue operation in Beslan.  Moreover, if the Russian government had negotiated with Basaev, it would have deprived itself of its most convenient political black-sheep, leaving Putin to find another ³blame- magnet.²


Can Alkhanov sideline Kadyrov?

Upon his return from the PACE session in Strasbourg, President Alu Alkhanov began forming his cabinet.  On 13 October, Alkhanov requested that outgoing Prime Minister Sergei Abramov head the new government. (9)  Abramov announced on 14 October that all key figures from the previous cabinet, including First Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Eli Isaev, and the ministers of economic development, industry, and agriculture would be reappointed to the same posts. (10)  Any changes to the composition of the government would be ³purely cosmetic² according to an interview Alkhanov gave to Nezavisimaya gazeta on 15 October. (11)  These reassignments reflect Alkhanovıs desire to avoid alienating any powerful Russian or Chechen politicians and risk a debilitating power struggle. 


While Alkhanov is consolidating his government and building a loyal power structure, he also is trying to sideline his younger rival Ramzan Kadyrov.  Kadyrov derives personal power from his command of a ³presidential security force² estimated to number between 2,000-8,000 men.  Acting on a proposal from Alu Alkhanov, Dmitri Kozak, Putinıs envoy to the Southern Russia Federal District, named Chechen First Deputy Ramzan Kadyrov as his adviser on security issues. (12)  Although Kadyrovıs appointment as Kozakıs aide appears to underscore Kadyrovıs ³elevated status,² in reality, the new job will require Kadyrov spend a good deal of time outside of Chechnya.  (Kozakıs headquarters are in Rostov-na-Donu.) (13)  That, in turn, would provide Alkhanov with the opportunity to strengthen his position without the risk of being undercut by the punitive actions of Kadyrovıs security guards.  Alkhanov has already taken measures to restrict Kadyrovıs use of his force against the Chechen civilian population, as indicated by Alkhanovıs condemnation of Kadyrovıs operation in the village of Novye Atagi.  When Kadyrovıs security guards cordoned off Novye Atagi for three days to conduct a search for resistance sympathizers, searching every home and corralling all males between the ages of 14-16 into a barbed wire enclosure, Alkhanov dispatched officials to order Kadyrov to desist.  Alkhanov subsequently warned that such ³egregious² human rights violations are likely to undercut the populationıs support for the pro-Russian Chechen leadership. (14)  As it is highly unlikely that the populace would ever support any Russian sponsored Chechen government, Alkhanovıs interests lie in undercutting Kadyrovıs power.  


Abkhaz elections:  What a messŠ

The 3 October Abkhaz presidential elections have created a political deadlock in the break-away republic that threatens to catapult the region into civil confrontation.  On 11 October, Central Election Commission (CEC) officials declared Sergei Bagapsh the winner of the vote, amid widespread allegations of electoral fraud.  Raul Khajimba, the pro-Moscow candidate, refused to admit defeat and appealed to the Abkhaz Supreme Court to cancel the CECıs decision.  Outgoing President Vladislav Ardzinba deepened the crisis by trying, without success, to resolve the dispute in Khajimbaıs favor.  On 12 October, the incumbent leader slammed the CECıs decision to appoint Bagapsh as ³absurd² while accusing the CEC of being an ³agent² of Tbilisi. (15) Ardzinba then called on parliament to dismiss the Abkhaz Prosecutor-General, Raul Korua, who had supported the validity of Bagapshıs election victory. (16) The parliament responded by urging the general Abkhaz populace and the representatives of the presidential candidatesı campaign staffs not to foment the situation, refrain from mass actions, and wait for a definitive decision from the Supreme Court. (17)  Ignoring the parliamentıs heed to caution, the outgoing president denied printing privileges to four independent newspapers that had supported Bagapsh throughout the election campaign. (18) 


In an attempt both to wrest control from Arbinza and to appeal to the Abkhaz populace, Bagapsh called for an all Abkhaz National Convent rally from 14-16 October. (19)  A convent is a ritual gathering of ethnically pure Abkhaz community elders that is used to appoint tribal or political leaders.  By specifically calling for a ³convent² as the venue by which to legitimize his presidential nomination, Bagapsh is designating himself as an ethnically and culturally ³pure² Abkhaz citizen capable of pursuing the regionıs interests.  Significantly, Bagapsh used the cultural setting of the convent rally to align himself politically with Russia.  On 14 October, Bagapsh declared that, ³Abkhaziaıs pro-Russian orientation is the choice of the Abkhaz peopleŠ² and that he was interested in strengthening ties with Moscow. (20) Bagapshıs rhetoric towards Moscow reflects his desire to repudiate Khajimbaıs accusations of his pro-Georgian leanings while also initiating a rapport with the Kremlin.   


Meanwhile, on 11 October, the Abkhaz Supreme Court considered Khajimbaıs petition for a new vote, but judicial proceedings were interrupted when Khajimba supporters challenged the impartiality of the judges assigned to hear the case. (21) On 12 October, four members of the CEC resigned, including its chairman Sergei Smyr, claiming that they were illegally pressured by Bagapsh and his supporters. (22)  Following the resignation of four of its members, the CEC was left without a quorum, and thus could not participate legally in the courtıs review of Khajimbaıs appeal.  The disputed presidential vote was thrown into deeper uncertainty on 18 October, when Abkhaz Supreme Court Chairwoman Alla Avidzba announced her resignation, and Abkhaz Supreme Court member Giorgi Akaba was appointed to preside over the trial. (23)  At present, the Supreme Court has not reconvened to deliberate Khajimbaıs complaint, leaving the political fate of Abkhazia hanging in the balance.



Source Notes

(1) Novaya gazeta, 2 Oct 04; What the Papers Say via ISI Emerging Markets.

(2) Izvestiya, 4 Oct 04; WPS; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets.

(3)  Novaya gazeta, 13 Oct 04; WPS; via BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets.

(4)  Independent News website, 24 Oct 04, see ³Flamethrowers Used at Beslan Siege.²

(5) Izvestiya, 18 Oct 04; Johnsonıs Russia List #8421, 20 Oct 04.

(6) Chechnya Weekly, 20 Oct 04, Vol. 5, Issue #38; Jamestown Foundation.

(7) See NIS Observed: An Analytical Review, Caucasus Report, 15 September 04, Vol. IX, # 16.

(8)  Interfax, 3 Sept 04 via ISI Emerging Markets.

(9) Itar-Tass, 13 Oct 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets.

(10) Interfax, 14 Oct 04 via Lexis-Nexis.

(11) Nezavisimaya gazeta, 15 Oct 04; WPS; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets.

(12) Ria Novosti, 19 Oct 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

(13) Novaya gazeta, 21 Oct 04; WPS via ISI Emerging Markets.

(14) RFE/RL Caucasus Newsline, 19 Oct 04.

(15) Eurasianet Website via (, 20 Oct 04, see ³Abkhazia Debacle Presents Russia with Difficult Decision.²

(16) Civil Georgia Website via www., 14 Oct 04, see ³Abkhaz Prosecutor General Backs President Elect.²

(17) Itar-Tass, 15 Oct 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets.

(18) Imedi TV Tbilisi, 16 Oct 04; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.

(19) (, 14 Oct 04, see ³Bagapsh Supporters Rally In Sokhumi.²

(20) (, 14 Oct 04, see ³Bagapsh Claims Pro-Russia Course.²

(21) Agence France Presse, 12 Oct 04 via ISI Emerging Markets.

(22) (, 19 Oct 04, see ³Abkhaz CEC Members Admit Election Results are Illegal²; Itar-Tass, 21 Oct 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-1021.

(23)  Rossiyskaya gazeta, 20 Oct 04; FBIS-SOV-2004-1020 via World News Connection.


By J. Ariela Shapiro (






Crisis of legitimacy?


In the month since Kazakhstanıs parliamentary elections, there has been a considerable degree of activity, all of which serves to undermine the countryıs ³democratic² image. Both the electoral process and the results have been criticized harshly, not only by the OSCE, but also by Kazakhstanıs opposition groups. (1)


Immediately after the elections, Ak Zhol announced that it would be filing suit with the Kazakh Supreme Court in an attempt to overturn the polls. At the same time, Ak Zhol, Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan and the Communist Party announced their intention to organize a massive nationwide protest against the results. (2) As yet, there have been no reported rulings on the lawsuit from the Supreme Court, nor has any news regarding the protests emerged. (3) Despite their seeming failure to organize a major protest, Kazakhstanıs opposition groups clearly have not been inactive.


On 13 October, Asylbek Kozhakmetov, head of the political council of Ak Zhol held a press conference in Almaty. He stated that Democractic Choice of Kazakhstan and Ak Zhol were holding ³vigorous consultations² to determine the possibility of a merger between the two parties. The purpose of such a merger would be to propose a joint Presidential candidate to stand against President Nursultan Nazarbaev in the Presidential elections, due to be held in January 2006. (4)


The move towards a merger seems to be one that has wide approval: on 15 October, Akezhan Kazhegeldin, Kazakhstanıs exiled former Prime Minister, published an open letter in Respublika. Kazhegeldin argued that the next 14 months would prove decisive in showing whether Kazakhstan moved fully towards Democracy or ³authoritarian dictatorship.² (5) He stated that, in his view, the recent elections in Kazakhstan had been the least ³free and fair² in the countryıs history. Kazhegeldin claimed that in order to prevent a full-blown dictatorship, the opposition groups in Kazakhstan should immediately merge around the leadership of Ak Zhol in order to defeat Nazarbaev in 2006. Finally, Kazhegeldin intimated that he would be willing to join a united opposition party. (6)


It is not clear whether Kazhegeldin published the letter with an altruistic motive of offering advice to the opposition, or whether he received news of the talks and published the letter with the intention of putting himself forward as the joint partyıs Presidential candidate in 2006. Such a development is unlikely to concern Nazarbaev deeply: in the last Presidential polls (which also were criticized by the OSCE), Nazarbaev garnered 78.3% of the vote. The most recent election has shown that Nazarbaev is prepared to do anything to keep his grip on power and to maintain Otanıs majority in the Majlis. At this point in time, the most realistic question is not whether Nazarbaev will win the election, but what his margin of victory will be. 



Kyrgyz-Russian relations

In mid-October, several high-level Russian officials visited Kyrgyzstan for talks. First, on October 12, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov traveled to Bishkek. During his stay, he met both with President Askar Akaev and Prime Minister Nikolai Tanayev, as well as his counterpart, Askar Aitmatov. (7) According to reports, the central point of discussion was the possibility of increasing cooperation on defense issues between the two nations: Lavrov informed Akaev of Vladimir Putinıs decision to continue providing Russian military equipment and assistance at extremely favorable (Russian internal prices) terms. (8) A further topic discussed during Lavrovıs visit was the issue of Kyrgyzstanıs debt. Prime Minister Tanayev apparently requested that Russia speak for Kyrgyzstan at the Paris Club in order to help reduce its national debt.


At the same time Lavrov was in Kyrgyzstan, Russiaıs Interior Minister, Rashid Nurgaliev was also in Bishkek to meet with his counterpart to discuss increased cooperation on counter-narcotics, organized crime and anti-terrorism. (10)


CACO Summit

In May of this year, the Central Asian Cooperation Organization, apparently at the instigation of President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan, offered Russia full membership in the group. (11) On Monday, 18 October, the heads of state of four Central Asian Republics (only Turkmenistan is not a member) and President Putin met in Dushanbe. The leaders of the Republics held a joint news conference, to welcome Russia into the fold. Specifically, President Karimov noted that the Republics had ³always recognized Russiaıs historic and strategic interests in the region.² (12) He further noted that it was in Russiaıs interests that the settlement of outstanding disputes (such as water rights, energy, as well as security concerns) be resolved by ³joint efforts.² (13)


The most important results of the summit were the decisions to create a common Central Asian market and to increase Russian investment in the region. Secondly, the heads of state agreed to expand their cooperation with regards to security issues. In relation to those issues, the Presidents decided to order their respective security services to work together in drawing up a list of terrorist organizations, which are to be banned on each otherıs soil, and to coordinate operations against those groups. (14)

The next summit of CACO will be held next summer in Kyrgyzstan.


While cooperation with Russia is nothing new for the Central Asian states, the level of discourse seems to have increased in recent months. The United Statesı attention has of late been focused more on Iraq and the Middle East and less on Central Asia. The reduced interest in Central Asia on the part of the U.S. has been noted by President Putin, who seems determined to take advantage, and is attempting to regain, or increase, once more Russiaıs power and influence in the region.


Source Notes

(1) See NIS Observed: An Analytical Review Volume IX Number 16 (15 October 2004).

(2) Ibid.

(3) Ibid.

(4) Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Newsline Vol. 8, No 196, 15 Oct 04.

(5) Ibid.

(6) Ibid.

(7) Kommersant, 13 Oct 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(8) Ibid.

(9) Kabar-Daily News, 12 Oct 04, via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(10) Kabar-Daily News, 20 Oct 2004, via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(11) Moscow ITAR-TASS in English, 0812 GMT, 18 Oct 2004; FBIS-SOV-2004-1018 via World News Connection.

(12) Ibid.

(13) Tajik Radio First Program in Tajik, 18 Oct 04; BBC Monitoring via ISI Emerging Markets Database.

(14) Moscow ITAR-TASS in Russian, 0728 GMT, 18 Oct 04; FBIS-SOV-20041018 via World News Connection.


By Fabian Adami (

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