CHECHEN DEPUTY PREMIER ARRESTED
Vremya Novostei, May 28, 2001, p. 1
The Caucasus Regional Directorate of Organized Crime has arrested Khamzat Idrisov, deputy premier of the Chechen government for construction. According to Chechen Minister for Media and Information Vasily Vasilenko, Idrisov is currently in Rostov-on-Don and about to face charges of embezzlement during his tenure as a minister in Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev’s Cabinet. No other details are known at this point.
When Aslan Maskhadov came to power in Chechnya, Idrisov became a farmer. It was Akhmed Kadyrov who brought him back to the power structures. According to available information, Idrisov was one of the candidates for the post of Chechen premier which was eventually offered to Stanislav Ilyasov.
ON DEPUTY PREMIER ILYA KLEBANOV’S VISIT TO ALGERIA
Izvestia, May 28, 2001, p. 2
The delegation Klebanov headed to Algeria was impressive. Ilya Klebanov was accompanied by Deputy Energy Minister Aleksei Miller and executives of Russian oil and gas companies. Miller’s meeting with Algerian Minister of Energy and Mines Shakib Helil resulted in the decision to form a joint working panel to coordinate bilateral cooperation in the oil and gas sphere. Energy ministers of Russia and Algeria will henceforth be meeting regularly.
President Abdelaziz Buteflik of Algeria visited Moscow in April. Then Russia and Algeria signed a declaration on strategic partnership. Algeria is the first African country to sign such a document with Moscow. Russia attaches considerable importance to cooperation with Algeria in fuel matters. Algeria is an OPEC member.
Stroitransgaz Co. is the only Russian company related to the oil and gas complex working in Algeria today.
Russian oil and gas companies are actively expanding to the global markets now. Until now, Africa has remained somehow beyond the sphere of their interests. Not anymore. Slavneft Co. sent its delegation to Algeria a month ago.
At the same time, Russia does not plan to cut down its traditional arms deliveries to Algeria. $600 million worth of arms were sold to Algeria over the last three years and trade turnover between the two countries tripled.
THE UNITED STATES RECOGNIZES SUPERIORITY OF RUSSIAN-MADE ANTI-MISSILE SYSTEMS
Izvestia, May 29, 2001, p. 1
Planning to buy antiaircraft complexes from Russia, Washington hopes to gain access to Russian know-how and therefore advance its own work on the national anti-ballistic missile defense system. The task of persuading Russia to forsake the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense Treaty remains top priority.
Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov: I cannot tie this matter with the problem of deployment of a national anti-ballistic missile defense system by the United States. Even if we reached an agreement on the matter of S-300 complexes, they will not solve the problem. The S-300 is intended for an entirely different set of tasks. In principle, we are prepared to discuss the matter at the commission for military-technical cooperation.
Russian radar equipment for ICBM detection is far ahead of whatever the Americans have come up with so far. Radar systems like that are used in the S-300 and S-400 complexes. Washington is prepared to offer a lot for these technologies.
In return, the United States promise financial assistance in modernization of the missile attack early alert system. Specifically, this has to do with the so called Krasnoyarsk radar installation which the former Soviet Union never completed in the late 1980’s due to pressure from the Reagan administration. The matter of linking the two missile attack warning systems is back on the agenda.
Besides, Washington is allegedly prepared to offer assistance in improving the investment climate in Russia and probably offer direct economic assistance.
Essentially, there is nothing particularly new about the military-technical part of the proposals. The establishment of a European anti-ballistic missile defense system was first suggested by Moscow at the Russian-NATO Permanent Council in Brussels in December 2000. Since then, Washington has regularly returned to the matter of cooperation in the sphere of strategic security provided Moscow agreed to amendments of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense Treaty. The offer, and the condition, stands.
REFORMS COMING UP IN THE HOUSING AND COMMUNAL SERVICE SPHERE
Izvestia, May 29, 2001, p. 4
The third meeting of the State Council will take place today. This time governors will discuss reforms in the housing and communal services sphere.
THE ARMY GOT STUCK IN CHECHNYA
Moskovsky Komsomolets, May 29, 2001, p. 2
Colonel General Gennadi Troshev, Caucasus Military District Troops Commander, has made another attempt to amend the situation. He gave a solemn promise that rank guerrillas who surrendered would not be prosecuted. According to Troshev, a time will come when law enforcement agencies will decide who should be prosecuted and who should not.
Troshev: I am calling on everyone. Return to your households. Sign a letter that you surrender and hand in your automatic rifle. That’s all.
Essentially, what the general offers guerrillas is an amnesty.
The state has already proclaimed some amnesties in Chechnya. Some extremists did surrender and returned to their homes but seeing that the state was not going to do anything about their employment, they returned to the gangs again.
According to Troshev, there are about 1,500 guerrillas in Chechnya today. Valery Manilov, Senior Deputy Chief of the General Staff, gave the same estimate almost a year ago. It follows that the number of new recruits in illegal armed formations match the number of the guerrillas who surrender or get killed in combat.
ON THE THREE-DAY VISIT OF RUSSIAN PARLIAMENTARIANS TO CANADA
Parlamentskaya Gazeta, May 29, 2001, p. 1
The delegation of Duma deputies was headed by Chairman Gennadi Seleznev. It met with Prime Minister Jean Cretien, Chairman of the House of Commons Peter Milliken, Senate Chairman Dan Hase, and activists of the Canada-Europe and Canada-Russia parliamentary groups. The discussions were mostly centered around development of Russian-Canadian parliamentary contacts and the role of parliaments in the solution of the most pressing problems.
The discussions were centered, in particular, around three groups of issues: global strategic stability, trade and economic contacts between the two countries, and efforts of parliaments in settling local conflicts.
The Russian delegation emphasized that strategic stability on the global scale is jeopardized by Washington’s plan to deploy a national anti-ballistic missile defense system regardless of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense Treaty. The Russian delegation made it clear it expected support from the parliament of Canada regardless of the fact that this country was forced to take the opinion of its southern neighbor into account.
When local conflicts were discussed, Canada predictably touched upon Chechnya. “Chechnya is our pain and our tragedy,” Seleznev emphasized. He said, however, that the offensive in Chechnya should be taken for what it actually is, a counter-terrorism operation. “No state will tolerate on its territory a nest of international terrorism like Chechnya,” he said.
AN INTERVIEW WITH SWEDEN’S AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA SVEN HIRDMAN
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, May 29, 2001, pp. 1, 7
Sweden is currently chairing the European Union, therefore it is in charge of the negotiations over the future of Kaliningrad region.
Question: Mr. Ambassador, what is the position of the European Union with regards to the Kaliningrad problem? Has it changed with Sweden’s assumption of the chairmanship of the European Union?
Sven Hirdman: The West viewed Kaliningrad as a military base threatening all of Europe until the middle of the 1990’s. The position of the European Union with regard to Kaliningrad was based on this assumption. Seven years later, this position has radically changed.
First and foremost, Russia’s role in the foreign economic policy of the European Union increased. Trade between the European Union and Russia has been growing. More and more European and Swedish companies need a stable presence in Russia. As far as I know, the European Union accounts for 40 of Russia’s foreign trade. It is clear that all these factors have changed the perception of the Kaliningrad problems in the European Union.
Three years ago the Russian government approached the European Union with the proposal to begin negotiations over Kaliningrad region in the light of the planned expansion of the European Union. Brussels agreed. There were some doubts at first. Perhaps, it is better to talk to the regional authorities directly, we thought.
Question: All the same, the Western media constantly speculates on the split of the Kaliningrad region from Russia or on some “joint jurisdiction” of the European Union and Russia over the enclave. Moreover, they even refer to some officials and to alleged consultations with Moscow and Kaliningrad…
Sven Hirdman: Sweden has always considered Kaliningrad region an integral part of the Russian Federation. I want to emphasize that the “Kaliningrad negotiations” today do not, I repeat, do not dwell on any amendment of the status of the region. I do not think this position is going to change when the European Union is chaired by Belgium and then by Spain and Denmark.
Yes, we know of the publications in the British, American, and German media to the effect that Russia will have to “share” its sovereignty in Kaliningrad because of its debts to the Paris Club and Germany. There are some politicians even in Russia who think that the problems of this westernmost enclave cannot be solved without granting it sovereignty. But the European Union is not discussing these issues with Moscow or Kaliningrad.