MURDERS IN KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIA TAKE ON A POLITICAL COLORING

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MURDERS IN KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIA TAKE ON A POLITICAL COLORING

Izvestia, September 19, 2001, p. 2

Banker Keram Semenov, deputy chief of the Vozrozdenie (Restoration) oppositional social-political movement, with ambitions to be mayor of Cherkessk, was killed late Monday evening in the center of the city.

By choosing a location outside the office of an oppositional newspaper for this act of violence, those who ordered the murder made it clear: journalists who write incriminating articles about the situation in Karachaevo-Cherkessia may share the fate of the politician. By the way, on February 5 this year a few unknown people in masks, armed with pistols and batons, visited the office of Restoration. That time they only fired a few shots into the ceiling and wrecked computers, while staff were beaten with batons; editor-in-chief Rashid Khatuev was taken to hospital and editor Vladimir Panov was injured less seriously.

BIG DEMANDS

Izvestia, September 19, 2001, p. 3

Any military operation against Afghanistan will inevitably cause a large-scale conflict in the region. Whether the US delivers air strikes or sends in the commandos, it will have to conduct an extensive ground operation. In that case, as Russian military analysts believe, the US can’t get by without the involvement of Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.

The participation of these states in the upcoming operation is necessary because three strategically significant military airfields remained on the territories of these states after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The airfields are located near Mary, Tashkent, and Dushanbe. Out of all these sites, Russia uses the Dushanbe airfield alone. It is clear that granting use of this airfield to the US Department of Defense on a “commercial” basis is out of the question. However, facilities located in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan can be leased.

On the other hand, Washington is also showing interest in Tajikistan, where Russia, in addition to having an airfield and a military base attached to the 201st motorized infantry division, also has a radar station monitoring Afghanistan – the only ground-based reconnaissance facility in the region. Purchasing information from this station will inevitably be part of negotiations between Russia and the US.

First of all, the US command will need guarantees that in case of need, the US Air Force could freely maneuver in the air space of Central Asian states or make emergency landings at their airfields. It is likely that demands for delivering supplies for the US Armed Forces through the territories of these states are being made.

BIRTH OF A COALITION

Izvestia, September 19, 2001, p. 10

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov arrived in Washington on Tuesday. Ivanov’s meetings with Secretary of State Colin Powell and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice are scheduled for Wednesday. President George Bush is expected to receive Ivanov by the end of the day at the White House. The Russian minister’s visit meant to be part of preparations for Russian-US summit meetings: in October in Shanghai, in November at Bush’s ranch in Texas. The script has now been changed: joint efforts against terrorism and Russia’s role in the planned counter-terrorist operation will be the main issues Ivanov is to discuss in Washington.

Washington experts say that Putin may come to Washington in November, where he would be given an opportunity to address Congress and possibly negotiate with Bush. The second option proposed by the US is a general summit of all G-8 leaders, with combating terrorism as the only item on the agenda; and substantial talks between Bush and Putin could take place as part of this summit.

DUMA DEPUTIES WANT TO KNOW A SECRET

Moskovskii Komsomolets, September 19, 2001, p. 2

A new political season opens today. Deputies of the State Duma will gather for the first plenary meeting after the long vacation, in a hall with an unpleasant scent of fresh paint and new carpets.

The meeting will undoubtedly open with a discussion of the global situation in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the US. Duma deputies have invited representatives of the security ministries and the Foreign Ministry to attend the meeting. The deputies want information which is not yet publicly available about combating terrorism in Russia and around the world. The presence of spokespersons for security ministries is considered to be a request to make the discussion closed to the media. Usually it is the left and members of pro-presidential factions who are in favor of closed meetings, but now it’s quite the reverse: the Union of Right Forces is proposing a closed discussion on international terrorism. They think that differences between members of various political forces in the Duma on this issue (especially on Russia’s participation in retaliation actions) are so extensive that they should not be displayed to the whole world.

The Fatherland – All Russia faction still intends to move a declaration of full support for any action takens by President Vladimir Putin as part of the campaign against terrorism. As yet, no one knows what these actions might be. Since members of pro-presidential Duma factions aren’t saying anything specific, it is clear that no decision has yet been made at the very top.

MOBILIZATION OF CIVIL SOCIETY BEGINS

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, September 19, 2001, p. 2

The organizational committee of the Civil Society Forum of held a news conference in Moscow yesterday. Effective Policy Foundation director Gleb Pavlovsky, Media Union Vice-President Elena Zelinskaya, and Duma deputy Vyacheslav Igrunov took part in it.

According to Pavlovsky, the Effective Policy Foundation has joined the forum officially because of the possibility of war between the US and one or more Islamic states, and the question of whether Russia is ready for this (previously, the Effective Policy Foundation had only been “advising” the presidential administration). The possibility of war made Pavlovsky so belligerent that he even called for “raising the issue of introducing censorship or self-censorship for the media community”, saying that “war is war, and there is no need to babble”. Zelinskaya tried to correct him and proposed to raise the issue of journalistic responsibility. However, Pavlovsky refused to change his statement.

It should be noted that in assessing the upcoming actions of the US, members of the organizational committee of the Civil Society Forum expressed a rare degree of unanimity. All participants in the news conference propose that state structures should combat terrorism by any means available, rather than being involved in active military operations. For instance, Pavlovsky intends to assist by creating a new closed structure called the Defense Technologies Center, separate from the Effective Policy Foundation. He also intends to make his skills and experience available to the United States.

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