HEADS OF SECURITY AGENCIES MEET IN KHANKALA
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, May 5, 2001, p. 2
Director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) Nikolai Patrushev, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, and Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov have gathered in Khankala, Chechnya, to discuss coordination of activities of their ministries and agencies.
Security ministers admit that the situation in Chechnya is still difficult and is being exacerbated, and on May 15, Nikolai Patrushev is to report on this situation to the president. In January-May 2001, the FSB has managed to detain many field commanders and guerrillas in Chechnya and block the main supply of foreign funds for the separatists. However, the FSB has not succeeded in another important task: it has not stopped the illicit oil trade, which is the main internal source of revenue for the guerrillas.
FSB officers have discovered that some senior federal officials, including some in the security agencies, protect the criminal business of Chechen terrorists. A few days ago the FSB was forced to destroy some illegal oil enterprises in Chechnya, including the largest refinery in the village of Vinogradnoe and the illegal oil market in Tsatsan-Yurt.
Security ministers also discussed issues connected with detection of location of the main guerrilla leaders, Basaev and Khattab. They are now hiding in the mountains with their gangs. Federal aviation makes air-strikes on their possible locations every day. For this purpose two echelons of bombers have been transported to the military base in Mozdok. However, these strikes only prevent the guerrillas from staying in the same place.
LEONID SLUTSKY ON RESULTS OF RECENT PACE SESSION
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, May 5, 2001, p. 7
Leonid Slutsky, Deputy Chairman of the Duma Foreign Affairs Committee and acting head of the Russian delegation in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), has expressed his opinion about the results of the recent PACE session.
Leonid Slutsky: The Russian delegation took part in all discussions. It worked harmoniously and constructively with other delegates. We managed to introduce considerable amendments to the resolution on the report on transnational economic organized crime in Europe, in which some strange figures were given at first. For instance, it was stated in the resolution that 40% of the Russian economy is controlled by organized crime and that there are 8,000 Russian criminal gangs on post-Soviet territory and abroad. These figures were deleted from the document, as well as the term “Russian Mafia.”
We also managed to insist on there being no increase in the budget of the Council of Europe, which is very important for Russia, since Russia is among the five countries providing the largest financial contribution to activities of the PACE. Besides, it has been decided by the PACE to determine each country’s contribution by its GDP per head.
At the same time, a trend of double standards still persists in the PACE. It was revealed when the Kosovo issue was discussed. According to the official report of the PACE, a mass return of refugees is underway there.
Another success of the Russia delegation is that by the 15th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, Russia was included in the list of countries that have suffered from it. This means that Russia will get financial assistance. The situation with Belarus has also been changed thanks to the Russian delegation. Initially it was stated in the corresponding PACE resolution that financial assistance to Minsk “depended on the political situation there.” However, the Russian delegation considered this item unacceptable. It would be inappropriate to make hundreds of thousands of needy people who suffered from the Chernobyl disaster dependent on the attitude of the Council of Europe toward the Belarussian political regime.
DEMONSTRATION AS A SIGN OF BAD TASTE
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, May 5, 2001, p. 3
The nationwide youth organization Going Together intends to hold a demonstration in support of President Vladimir Putin to mark the first anniversary of his inauguration on May 7. There have not been celebrations of such events in Russia before. We asked some experts for comments on this event.
Georgy Satarov, Director of the Indem Foundation: I think actions of support for the current government are as necessary as actions of protest against it. However, I haven’t heard of any protest actions recently. Producing cult of personality items like the book “Volodya’s Childhood” is very dangerous in Russia, with its personality cult experience. I think such demonstrations should be prevented, even in a delicate or ironical form. If the celebration of the first anniversary of the president’s inauguration is part of a PR campaign launched by the government, irony won’t be enough. There are some other methods for such cases: such PR specialists can be rapped over the knuckles so they won’t do this again. I don’t rule out that Putin likes such actions. He doesn’t even conceal it. But his actions and announcements are contradictory sometimes. On the one hand, he views himself as a top executive employed by the people. On the other hand, he enjoys the signs of people’s love, which is not typical of top executives.
Leonid Smirnyagin, the Carnegie Foundation: I think it is not the action scheduled for May 7 but the very mood of Russian society that is dangerous. The public has been overwhelmed by servility since the end of 1999. This trend is extremely dangerous against the background of Russia’s history. As for this action, on the contrary, I think it is very useful. Such actions are ridiculous and turn attempts at a cult of personality into a joke. By the way, Putin doesn’t pay attention to such actions. However, Comrade Stalin didn’t do much to create his cult of personality, but he didn’t protest either.
Mikhail Fedotov, Chairman of the Union of Journalists: I think Russia should have special legislation determining all forms of rituals connected with the top state institutions. Organizing demonstrations for the anniversary of the president’s inauguration is a sign of bad taste. Such measures show that people who organize them lack a sense of proportion, personal dignity, and respect for the president himself. Such demonstration are signs of a lack of culture. By the way, the president has once used one method of preventing such actions. It was during his election campaign, when several professors from the St. Petersburg State University sent an open letter to the government, in which they complained about the TV program “Kukly” (Puppets) using a puppet of Vladimir Putin, saying it was disrespectful. In my opinion, Putin responded appropriately to this letter. He thanked these professors for respecting him so much but told them that the measures they proposed were unacceptable and unworthy. I think the president might well prevent the celebration of the anniversary of his inauguration too.
CIS STRENGTHENS ITS MILITARY CAPACITY
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, May 5, 2001, p. 2
According to reliable sources in the Russian Defense Ministry, on May 18, an ordinary meeting of the Board of CIS Defense Ministers will be held in Baku. There are 23 issues on the agenda concerning military and military-technical cooperation between CIS countries. The results of the command-staff exercises Southern Shield of the Commonwealth 2001 will be summed up. Defense ministers are to consider the draft of the joint program of military-technical cooperation between CIS countries. They will also discuss the work of the military-scientific council of the Headquarters for Coordination of Military Cooperation of CIS countries in 2001, and resolve a number of current issues.
According to our sources, this meeting will be attended by defense ministers of all CIS countries. Our military sources have also denied the rumors about reduction of the Headquarters caused by the fact that analogous bodies have been set up within the Collective Security Treaty.
SENATORS ABOUT FEDERATION
Parlamentskaya Gazeta, May 5, 2001, p. 3
According to the authorities of the parliamentary group Federation in the upper house, it has about 100 members. Its backbone is senators who have recently joined the Federation Council. It also includes some veterans of the upper house: Tula Governor Vasily Starodubtsev, Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev, etc. However, not all members of the upper house support the new entity. Here are opinions of some senators about Federation.
Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov: Groups or factions shouldn’t be set up in the Federation Council. The upper house should represent the Russian state and the interests of regions, not political parties. It is only necessary to support that which is falling down; but the president is in a strong position. Therefore, the purpose of the Federation parliamentary group, declaring support for the president as its motto, is futile. Moreover, the Federation Council as a whole supports the president and tries to efficiently resolve issues connected with fortification of the government vertical.
Yury Spiridonov, President of the Komi Republic: When the new staff of the Federation Council was formed senators noted that it is impossible to set up any factions within the upper house. This political entity may be called whatever it likes, but it’s clear that a faction has been set up in the guise of a parliamentary group. The upper house should be not a politicized body, but a structure of the state power.
Viktor Ozerov, Chairman of the Federation Council Committee for Defense and Security: Support for the president should be based on common sense, not political benefit. I was initially against the new principle of formation of the Federation Council and I don’t understand what the upper house has done that comes into conflict with the state’s interests. I respect new members of the senate, but I’m convinced that the new upper house will be no better than the previous one.
JOINT OPERATION BY RUSSIAN AND ARMENIAN ANTI-AIRCRAFT FORCES
Parlamentskaya Gazeta, May 5, 2001, p. 1
On May 4, anti-aircraft forces of the 102nd missile military base of the Group of Russian Forces in South Caucasus took over joint patrols with Armenian forces. This operation is aimed at defense of the southern borders of the CIS.
Preparations for this event were planned by defense ministers of both countries. It is significant that now that the US administration has said it is necessary to reconsider the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972, the air forces of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan are coordinating their activities in order to start joint patrols of the southern borders of the CIS.
HOW RUSSIA CAN COUNTER THE US MISSILE DEFENSE SYSTEM
Trud, May 5, 2001, p. 4
On May 1, President George Bush announced that the world should give up the logic of cold war and the military doctrine based on the principle of “mutually assured destruction.” In exchange, the US president proposes to develop a new concept of global security combining nuclear weapons aimed both at attack and defense.
How can Russia counter the new global threat? Senior Deputy Chief of the General Staff Valery Manilov announced recently that “Russia has enough resources to counter this threat.” Former defense minister Igor Sergeev has mentioned several programs developed in the Soviet Union aimed at neutralizing a missile defense system. According to Sergeev, it is not difficult to use these programs now. Summing up all announcements of the Russian military on this topic, we have come to the conclusion that there are two ways of preventing the new “Star Wars.”
According to Major General Vladimir Belous, Professor of the Academy of Military Sciences of the Russian Federation, the cheapest way is to equip the Topol-M monoblock ground-based ICBMs with three blocks each. The general is sure that START II does not prohibit designing ICBMs with separable warheads capable of individual targeting.
According to the General Staff, if the US goes ahead with missile defense, Russia will have to increase the number of Topol-M missiles to 700 and equip each one with three warheads by 2010.
The second way of stopping a potential enemy in this field is creation of effective means of countering missile defense systems during a missile’s trajectory. For instance, it is possible to construct stages of active barriers to detection and targeting systems. It is also possible to construct heavy decoys that should conceal the actual missiles in the air. Such decoys resemble large caliber artillery missiles. They withstand great heat, do not burn up in the atmosphere, and fly alonside the missile. If there are a lot of such decoys, it is easy to confuse any computer targeting system.
FIRST DAYS WITHOUT "COFFIN PAY"
Izvestia, May 5, 2001, p. 4
For the Chechen guerrillas it’s business as usual during the May holidays: night and day, federal forces come under fire and explosions do not stop. According to official data, about 20 Russian servicemen have been killed in the past few days, and there are casualties among employees of the new administration and civilians.
Combat pay has not been paid to servicemen in Chechnya since May 1. Servicemen call it “coffin pay.” A new system of payments has been established.
As soon as combat pay was canceled, many contract servicemen broke their contracts. In the 42nd motorized-infantry division alone some 2,000 people have resigned, which is almost one-third of the staff of the division.
Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov has explained that the system of payments has been changed because there is no large-scale fighting in Chechnya. His deputy Lubov Kudelina has admitted that this may lead to a large outflux of contract servicemen, but said that this situation cannot be changed. However, not all military personnel agree with her. A senior military official says: “Unfortunately, a number of decisions made or approved by Kudelina prove that she is acting is favor of the Finance Ministry rather than the Defense Ministry.”
There is also another viewpoint on the current changes. On October 1, 2000, it was decided that combat pay would only be paid for specific dates when servicemen took part in fighting. The calculation of additional service periods was based on these dates too.
Officers of a mobile detachment of the Interior Ministry told us: “We’ve been paid only for five to seven days in March, although we take part in fighting every day. We patrol every night,and escort various vehicles every day. There haven’t been a single day when our troops have not been not attacked. The guys that are to substitute for us are saying that they have nothing to do in Chechnya anymore. They won’t come here, that’s all.”
Deputy Speaker of the Duma Boris Nemtsov has supported Russian servicemen: “It is inappropriate to divide troops in Chechnya into those who take part in eliminating gangs versus others. There is a guerilla war in Chechnya, and therefore everyone serving there is in danger. And all of them should be financially supported, without exception.”
MINISTRIES CAN ALSO MAKE MISTAKES
Finansovaya Rossia, No. 16, May, 2001, p. 3
According to the Economic Development and Trade Ministry, in the first quarter of 2001 GDP growth amounted to an annual 4.2%, which makes it possible to hope that by the end of the year growth will really be no less that 4%, as predicted. However, no one can be completely sure about any figurse. For instance, recently, the Economic Development and Trade Ministry understated GDP growth in 2000: it was actually 8.3%, not 7.7%. It looks like we are re-writing history…
RUSSIA INCREASES TRADE WITH CHINA
Finansovaya Rossia, No. 16, May, 2001, p. 3
In the first quarter of 2001, Russian-Chinese trade turnover was $1.8 billion. The development of the Russian-Chinese trade relations has been very rapid lately: over the past year trade turnover has almost doubled. At the same time, Russian exports to China grew faster than imports from China. As a result, Russia has moved from tenth to ninth on the list of China’s major trade partners.