OPINIONS ON THE TERRORIST ACT IN MOSCOW
Parlamentskaya Gazeta, August 10, 2000, p. 1
Duma Deputy Alexander Shokhin: I wouldn’t want to draw any hasty conclusions. The “Chechen lead” should be proved in court. For the time being, there are some details which point to it. There can be no doubt that the terrorist act was arranged to coincide with the anniversary of the unfortunate events of 1999. I’m talking about the Wahhabi incursion into Dagestan, and explosions in Russian cities.
Oleg Nechiporenko, KGB Colonel (retired): It is typical of the series of the latest terrorist acts – be they in Moscow, Volgodonsk, or Buinaksk – that nobody claims responsibility for them. Prior to 1991, in the early phase of development of terrorism, it was certainly different. I mean that terrorists always called the authorities to associate themselves with the explosion, or whatever it was. For the so-called ideological terrorists, terrorist acts are needed to attract general attention to their cause.
World practice of combating terrorism shows that terrorists do keep track of all kinds of anniversaries.
Political scientist Sergei Kurginjan: The authorities, in this case Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and Nikolai Patrushev, head of the Federal Security Service, can easily assume that Chechens are behind the terrorist act.
The counter-terrorist operation began last year as a response to explosions in Moscow and Volgodonsk. If these explosions are continuing, it means the counter-terrorist operation is inadequate. Either the army cannot fight properly – or we are facing an enemy much more formidable than ordinary criminals.
Vladimir Lutsenko, former chief of the KGB antiterrorist directorate: The Pushkin Square bombing was done by professionals. The same ones who are fighting the federal forces in Chechnya now. When the guerrillas hiding in the mountains are wiped out, it will be much better and safer for all of us. We may even see some of them in court. For the time being, however, they are being allowed to slip back into the mountains.
The bastard who planted this bomb did a professional job. He is clearly one of Basayev’s “sleepers” in Moscow.
2001 BUDGET: AN UPDATE
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, August 10, 2000, p. 1
Aleksei Kudrin, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, released the major indicators and features of the 2001 draft federal budget yesterday.
From the financial point of view, the year promises to be difficult. The government will turn its full attention to as-yet-untapped sources of funds to replenish the state treasury. It will try to make the budget deficit-free.
The GDP in 2001 is predicted to be 7.75 trillion rubles, and the annual inflation rate is likely to be 12 per cent. Preliminary calculations show that revenues and expenses of the federal government will amount to 1.187 trillion rubles each. The exchange rate is predicted to be about 30 rubles to the dollar. This means that the Russian budget will amount to approximately $34 billion (in Finland the state budget is $50 billion, and about $70 billion in Norway). Kudrin says that the federal budget’s initial surplus should reach 3.1% of GDP.
At the same, Russia is supposed to make payments on its foreign debts.
OPERATION MERCENARY MOUNTED
Moskovsky Komsomolets, August 10, 2000, p. 3
It happened that Operation Mercenary began right after the blast in Moscow. The operation was planned as a way of preventing “wild geese” from neighboring countries (or Chechnya) from getting into Russia.
Current data from the Interior Ministry’s Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime indicates that most guerrillas fighting in Chechnya are foreign mercenaries – from 15 countries, recruited by Islamic religious organizations. Most of them were trained in camps in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Albania, Lebanon, and mountainous Tajikistan. Apart from Arabs and Afghanis, there are also Slavs. It is easier for the latter to move about Russia without arousing the suspicions of law enforcement agencies. Specialists say that it is these mercenaries who will probably be sent to Russia to organize terrorist acts.
The Interior Ministry plans to close the most likely routes used by mercenaries far from Moscow; specifically, along the borders of Chechnya and in the direction of Asia.
DUMA DEPUTIES PROPOSE TO BRING BACK CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
Izvestia, August 10, 2000, p. 1
On August 9, leader of the People’s Deputy group Gennadi Raikov unexpectedly announced that a group of Duma deputies is advocating lifting the moratorium on capital punishment for major crimes.
Raikov hopes that the initiative will be debated at the very first Duma session after the summer recess. According to Raikov, “now that explosion are rocking central Moscow”, the regime should act more resolutely.
The idea of lifting the moratorium is not new, and the latest blast in Moscow has just been the last straw.
Raikov: It is time we restored order. This lawlessness in Russia should be ended.
The initiative may indeed find support. Blood on Pushkin Square should put an end to Russia’s policy of appeasing Europe and the rest of the world. By the way, other countries – which are closely watching democratic changes in Russia and extolling liberal values – do use capital punishment in some cases.
RUSSIAN REGIONS ON GUARD
Izvestia, August 10, 2000, p. 2
The police in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region were put on round-the-clock alert on August 8. Residents are advised to always carry some ID. Trade from stalls is not to be restricted.
Law enforcement agencies in the Rostov region, close to Chechnya, have been on round-the-clock alert since July 3. Streets are patrolled, marketplaces and vital facilities (including the Rostov nuclear power plant) are heavily guarded.
Three armed Chechens were arrested on August 8 in the Saratov region. A body search produced 150 grams of explosives with an electronic detonator, a radio, a grenade, and a Makarov handgun.
Operation Whirlwind-Antiterror was mounted in Nizhny Tagil and Nizhny Novgorod.
The former town of Arzamas-16, now known as Sarov (a nuclear center), is also heavily guarded and patrolled.
In Yekaterinburg, government buildings were declared to be vital facilities, and are watched night and day by law enforcement agencies.
AMAN TULEEV IS NOT WITH BEREZOVSKY
Izvestia, August 10, 2000, p. 3
Governor Aman Tuleev of the Kemerovo region is denying reports that he has consented to join Boris Berezovsky’s proposed opposition movement.
The Kemerovo governor calls reports that he allegedly decided to join the opposition Berezovsky is trying to form “misleading, with undertones of a political provocation.”
Tuleev: Berezovsky did drop by during a break at the latest Federation Council session, and asked for something to eat. I gave him a sandwich, but not my consent to join any opposition to the president.
According to Tuleev, the appeal from Berezovsky and his sympathizers – eatured in this newspaper on August 9 – is “incomprehensible”, “a composite of generalities.”
Tuleev “resolutely condemns all attempts to form any opposition to the policy pursued by the president” because he “fully shares Putin’s conviction in the necessity of restoring order in Russia, and a radical fortification of the executive power hierarchy.”
The governor is confident that “any attempt to force on Russians some kind of gubernatorial opposition to Putin’s course toward reorganization of the state will only impede Russia’s emergence from the crisis, distract public attention from urgent tasks, and wreck the moral-political consolidation of society.”
NO RADICAL CHANGES EXPECTED AT THE TOP OF THE DEFENSE MINISTRY
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, August 10, 2000, p. 2
Military sources say that at the next Security Council meeting, where the issue of the condition of the Armed Forces and major directions of their structure and development until 2010 will be discussed, Vladimir Putin will back the military’s proposal to boost arms spending to 3.5% of the GDP. No radical changes in the top echelons of the Defense Ministry are expected.
The source: Now that the “war” with governors is starting, the president has to be sure that he can rely on the Armed Forces. He does not need new enemies among generals…
Sources say that the president gave his consent to cutting strategic nuclear forces to 1,500 warheads. Moscow will be discussing this particular figure at negotiations with the United States over parameters of START III. The Strategic Missile Forces will be reduced, and the development of the strategic nuclear forces will be focused on their naval component. Navy Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Kuroyedov may soon be promoted to some eminent post in the presidential administration or in the Security Council, and will handle issues of strategic nuclear planning at sea.
Hostilities in southern Uzbekistan once again confirm that the General Staff is correct to promote deployment of an additional 50,000 strong contingent of the Russian Ground Forces in the south of Russia by 2003.
PUTIN SIGNS TERRORISM LAW
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, August 10, 2000, p. 2
President Vladimir Putin has signed a federal law “On ratification of the European convention on preventing terrorism”.