ROUNDTABLE CONFERENCE IN MOSCOW

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ROUNDTABLE CONFERENCE IN MOSCOW

Izvestia, October 4, 2001, p. 1

The roundtable conference took place at the Central House of Journalists in Moscow. Representatives of various ethnic-cultural associations discussed the problem encountered in everyday life nowadays, rather than on the political level. The problem is this: visitors to Moscow who happen to lack Slavic features are not accepted, and are actually harassed.

To tell the truth, the problem is not restricted to Moscow alone. Society as such has found itself unprepared for the flood of immigrants into Russia. They stand out, particularly in the provinces.

Polat Jamalov, Secretary of the Moscow Interethnic Conference: But it is precisely in Moscow where absence of Slavic features immediately becomes an irritant…

Magomed Abdulkhabirov, Vice President of the Moscow Center of Dagestani Culture: Society is under a lot of stress now. It is clear that it always easier to provoke people by chauvinistic or religious slogans.

Tension did not escalate in Moscow marketplaces alone. All of Europe condemns the statement of Italian Prime Minister Sylvio Berlusconi concerning the superiority of Christian civilization over the Muslim world. Belgian politicians, for example, say comments like that only irritate the Arab states. There is even the opinion that the anti-Muslim statements may jeopardize productive formation of an international counter-terrorism coalition and alienate the whole Arab world. Other politicians add that “European values themselves do not allow for speculations on superiority of one civilization over others.”

Such statements are unacceptable in a Euro-Asian country like Russia. President Putin sets the example. He said yesterday that we should fight terrorists, not entire countries.

Offended, participants in the conference yesterday never even mentioned the term “political tact” – but that was essentially what they demanded.

ENEMIES OF ANONYMOUS SIGNALS STILL ACTIVE

Izvestia, October 4, 2001, p. 2

This January the Justice Ministry registered Order 613 of the Federal Security Service “On adoption of the Instruction concerning reaction to proposals, statements, and complaints of citizens to state security structures”. Clause 3 of the Instruction actually urges state security structures to register all anonymous reports. Lawyers immediately announced that the order conflicts with the decree of Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR (1998) which banned any response to anonymous signals.

Duma Deputy Sergei Kovalev: It took Russia so much effort to abandon this practice. But as soon as the decision was made to disregard all anonymous reports, we returned to this practice again.

Oleg Nechiporenko, ex-colonel of the Soviet KGB: The use of anonymous reports is a worldwide practice that mustn’t be abandoned. All we need is a qualified structure to sort out such reports.

In April and later in June the Supreme Court confirmed the right of the Federal Security Service to take action on the basis of anonymous reports.

Lawyer Sergei Pashin: As matters stand now, any state security officer could write a report himself and start working on it…

TUNNELS UNDER GROZNY CHECKED OUT

Izvestia, October 4, 2001, p. 2

The federal command does not doubt that the separatists who remain in the capital for terrorist acts have the blueprints and plans of tunnels under Grozny. They also have experience in the use of them. Not so the federal troops. In the past, only the KGB and GRU (army intelligence) had such detachments trained for underground warfare. There are no longer any such specialists in the armed forces. Some may only be found in security structures guarding national leaders. They are unlikely to be sent to Grozny.

Almost all Russian servicemen we approached with this question are sure there must be a lot of guerrillas hiding in the tunnels. Not so long ago a bona fide hospital, with two dozen bunks, all necessary equipment, and a diesel generator was discovered in the basement of a building in Grozny.

RAISING THE KURSK: ADDITIONAL EXPENSES TO BE COVERED BY MAMMOET

Izvestia, October 4, 2001, p. 2

Question: Why another postponement?

Franz van Seimeren, head of Mammoet: The weather forecast was favorable for this week and we hoped to begin lifting the submarine on October 3 or 4. Now, if the weather improves, we hope to lift the submarine this weekend or early next week.

Question: The Russians are paying your company in installments after each phase of the operation. And how are these phases financed?

Franz van Seimeren: Mammoet is paying. We finance the work and when the customer is satisfied with how it has been done, we get the money.

Question: Does this mean the operation may go beyond the initially planned expenditure, as specified by the contract?

Franz van Seimeren: Well, each day in the Barents Sea costs a great deal and we try to do everything as fast as the weather permits. I’m fairly confident that we will not exceed the sum specified in the contract. Otherwise, Mammoet will cover any additional costs.

DEFENSE MINISTRY DENIES RUMORS ABOUT DEPLOYMENT OF SPECIAL FORCES IN AFGHANISTAN

Izvestia, October 4, 2001, p. 3

“Our special forces have not been sent to Afghanistan,” sources in the Defense Ministry say. Colonel Nikolai Deryabin of the Defense Ministry PR department emphasizes that “these reports bear no relation to the true state of affairs.”

An insider says, however, that units of the GRU of the General Staff may assist NATO forces in special operations and search-and-rescue operations on the territory of Afghanistan. “This aid – and we do have this experience – will be given only on request, and only provided certain agreements are made.”

THE US EMBASSY WARNS…

Izvestia, October 4, 2001, p. 10

The US Embassy in Rome has issued a warning about the danger of terrorist attacks against American facilities in Italy. The statement cites information from the US State Department, received from an unidentified secret service.

FOREIGN MINISTER OF GREECE GEORGIOS PAPANDREU: I THINK THE EUROPEAN UNION WILL BE MORE TOLERANT NOW TOWARDS WHAT RUSSIA IS DOING IN CHECHNYA

Izvestia, October 4, 2001, p. 10

Symbolically, these words were not said on a visit to Moscow or in negotiations with a Russian delegation. Papandreu recalled Chechnya while on a visit to Washington. It certainly makes the phrase something different from a diplomatic advance to Moscow.

The Greek minister phrased a serious problem. The European Union’s opinion of the war in Chechnya should be revised in the wake of the September 11 terrorist acts in the Soviet Union.

It follows that Papandreu will also raise the issue in Brussels, at the meeting with his European colleagues. He may not be alone in doing so.

Chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schroeder all but announced at his recent negotiations with Vladimir Putin that Europe had taken “too simplified an approach” to the events in the Caucasus until now. this is the official position of Germany now.

As soon as the first American bombs fall on Afghanistan, Europe will find itself unable to criticize Moscow for Chechnya, much less slap sanctions (even symbolic), or threaten to suspend relations with the Kremlin.

Europe will have to suspend its relations with the United States – or admit that there are different categories of terrorists and victims. In other words, that Europe’s foreign policy is based on double standards.

Europe will never admit to it. That is why the most far-sighted European political leaders are already trying to prepare public opinion for some inevitable evolution in the “Caucasus policy” of the European Union.

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