PRIMAKOV: CLOSE RANKS FOR THE GOOD OF RUSSIA
Parlamentskaya Gazeta, August 25, 2000, p. 3
Yevgeny Primakov: “On behalf of the Fatherland-All Russia bloc, I want to say that the Russian submarine tragedy has illuminated the situation in the Russian Armed Forces and the Navy like a bolt of lightning. The Fatherland-All Russia faction thinks that the 2001 budget should be planned with defense spending at 3% of the GDP. Next year this figure should be increased. If the government does not make appropriate amendments to the draft budget, the Fatherland-All Russia bloc will oppose this document. The structure of the military budget should be monitored by the legislature. At the same time, we have to end the practice of using mediator services, which was imposed on the Defense Ministry and leads to enrichment of dealers and corrupt officials.”
WHEN WILL THE SUBMARINE BE RAISED?
Komsomolskaya Pravda, August-September, 2000, p. 2
On Wednesday the Rubin Design Bureau proposed a plan for raising the Kursk submarine by the start of winter. But Admiral Eduard Baltin says this plan is “a statement of a theorist, not an expert”, and the sunken submarine can only be raised by autumn 2001. Seasonal storms will begin in the Barents Sea as soon as September 4 or September 6. Baltin says: “Can we risk the lives of divers?”
Work can begin in April or May next year. Considering that the operation will take no longer than three or four months, the sub will be raised by autumn 2001.
Rear Admiral Mikhail Kuznetsov, Commander of the Vidyaevo submarine base, shares Baltin’s opinion. According to him, not only Russia lacks the equipment to raise the sub from such a depth – even the West doesn’t have the technology. The creation of such equipment will take a long time.
CHECHEN GUERRILLAS SEEK A NEW PATH TO GEORGIA
Izvestia, August 25, 2000, p. 3
On Thursday the federal forces engaged a large group of Chechen guerrillas on the territory of Ingushetia, not far from the Georgian border. As a result of the battle, the group of guerrillas was partially destroyed.
The exact place of the battle has not been revealed, but it is known that federal combat helicopters attacked forested areas near the Targim and Armkhi settlements in the Djeirkhan district of Ingushetia. Considering that this district borders Georgia, it is possible that the battle happened between these two settlements. Otherwise, we have to conclude that the territory of Ingushetia was attacked by the Russian Air Force.
According to presidential adviser Sergei Yastrzhembsky, the Chechen guerrillas who entered Ingushetia belong to the group led by field commander Ruslan Gelaev. On Thursday the federal command received reports that Gelaev’s groups were moving to the Chechen-Ingushetian border. The Chechen guerrillas are now taking a special interest in the Djeirkhan district of Ingushetia, for which there is a pragmatic explanation. It is an open secret that Chechen guerrillas receive supplies from the territory of Georgia; but at present it is rather difficult to reach Georgia from Chechnya. However, there are at least two paths to Georgia from the Djeirkhan district.
A DOMINO EFFECT
Izvestia, August 25, 2000, p. 2
The Armed Forces and security services of Kazakhstan are on full alert. The government in Astana believes it is possible that Islamic guerrillas, now terrorizing Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, could soon break through into the territory of Kazakhstan.
Islamic guerrillas disregard state borders. They are ready to fight on two, three and even four fronts. Their main goal is to destabilize all regimes in Central Asia. They do not focus only on Turkmenistan. Saparmurat Niyazov has managed to reach an agreement with the Taliban, the main “sponsors” of the Central Asian “fighters for the faith”.
Kazakhstan can count neither on leniency, nor on postponement. President Nazarbaev’s regime is on the list of potential targets, as well as the regime of President Islam Karimov in Uzbekistan. Two countries which have always competed for leadership in the region have suddenly become allies.
Meanwhile, the government of Kyrgyzstan has appealed to Kazakhstan with a request for military and technical aid. Kyrgyzstan receives such aid from Uzbekistan. In addition, fighter planes of the Uzbekistan Air Force have been used to bomb the Islamic separatists hiding in the mountains. A new military coalition is being created on the southern border of Russia.
OPERATION "MOST" CONTINUES
Moskovsky Komsomolets, August 25, 2000, p. 1
On Wednesday court representatives visited the head office of MOST-bank in Moscow. They were accompanied by a group of bodyguards from the Moscow Tax Police, called in by the Main Department of Justice in Moscow. A total of about 400 people participated in the operation.
WILL THERE BE FEWER TERRORIST ACTS?
Moskovsky Komsomolets, August 25, 2000, p. 2
During the first ten days of August, there could have been 36 terrorist acts in Russian cities – but all of them were prevented.
This statement was made on August 24 by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov at a meeting of the Federal Counter-Terrorist Commission. The prime minister thinks the public is wrong to consider the state’s battle against terrorism ineffective. The main problem faced by those fighting terrorism is the theft of explosives from Russian factories. Despite this, the situation is improving.
By the way, according to a recent poll done by the National Center for Public Opinion Research, 81% of respondents consider the bomb blast on Pushkin Square a deliberate terrorist act. Only 8% thought this tragedy was part of a gangland war, and 2% thought this was the act of a lone madman. Only 5% of respondents are sure that the law enforcement agencies will be able to find those responsible for the terrorist act.
GENERAL PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE STARTS SUB INVESTIGATION
Izvestia, August 25, 2000, p. 3
On Thursday General Prosecutor Vladimir Ustinov announced the launch of a criminal investigation in connection with the Kursk submarine disaster.
The general prosecutor decided to start the investigation in Severomorsk, where he and Nikolai Patrushev, Director of the Federal Security Service, tried to clarify all the details required to “make such a decision”. It is evident that the general prosecutor considers the possibility of a collision as the top theory for the investigation. The main question is who is responsible. It is possible that a chain of small errors led to this tragedy. It is not out of the question that no one will face criminal charges.