KHATTAB REMAINS IN CHECHNYA
Vremya Novostei, November 26, 2001, p. 3
The federal command in Chechnya has denied reports that notorious warlord Khattab left the on Bin Laden’s orders and traveled to Afghanistan to take the command of Taliban resistance. According to Federal Security Service, Khattab and some other field commanders did appeal to international extremist organizations like Moslem Brothers, their sponsors, for assignment to Afghanistan or other regions. According to operational information, Khattab and his followers are exhausted by the hostilities and do not want to spend the winter in cold mountainous camps in Chechnya. All the same, they were not allowed to leave Chechnya, Russian secret services say. “According to available information, Khattab is still in Chechnya”, a Federal Security Service officer says. “He is going to remain here for as long as money from the Moslem Brothers continue to come. It’s a kind of business for him”. Secret services also say it is difficult nowadays for separatists to get to Afghanistan, where the Taliban is defeated again and again. Besides, security at airports in Russia and all neighboring countries is tight in the wake of the September 11 terrorist acts.
ALEXANDER VESHNYAKOV ADDRESSES THE CIS PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY
Kommersant, November 26, 2001, p. 2
Veshnyakov ascribed the necessity of the convention to the fact that observers appraise democratic nature of elections as they see fit, on the basis of a great deal of various documents. At the latest presidential election in Kyrgyzstan, for example, observers did not like the demand that candidates for president know the Kyrgyz language, while a similar provision in the electoral legislation of the Baltic states is never objected to. Veshnyakov also defended President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, who last September “invited 700 foreign observers to the polling stations and was accused of lack of transparency all the same. At the same time, foreign control is out of the question, say, in Poland or Great Britain.”
RUSSIA IN SEARCH OF OIL ALLIES
Izvestia, November 27, 2001, p. 2
The interest in the Consortium is ascribed to the fact that American companies are also involved in the project where 24% belong to Russia. Attending the ceremony is unlikely to be what Abraham is really after.
It was OPEC ministers who visited Moscow recently, this time a representative of the opposing side is paying a visit. Abraham meets with his Russian counterpart Igor Yusufov and with Deputy Premier Viktor Khristenko tomorrow which means that Russia’s policy in the world oil markets will be inevitably discussed. Russia needs to know what America is under the circumstances, friend or foe.
NIKoil analyst Gennadi Krasovsky says Russian and American economies are so intertwined nowadays that Cold War terms no longer apply, but the price war on OPEC deprives Russia of the hard currency it needs. “Russia exported 125 million tons last year and got $24 billion. It will export 135 million tons this year for only $23 billion. A war on OPEC will mean problems with economic growth, lower gold and hard currency reserves…”, he says.
Valery Nesterov, an analyst with Troika-Dialog, is of the opinion Russia should be loyal to America and Europe under the circumstances…
On the other hand observers comment that Abraham is not important enough a figure to make decisions like that. His department does not wield that much clout in oil policy in the United States.
MIKHAIL GORBACHEV HOSPITALIZED
Izvestia, November 27, 2001, p. 3
Mikhail Gorbachev, ex-president of the Soviet Union and leader of the Social Democratic Party of Russia, was hospitalized supposedly to the Central Clinical Hospital. Representative of PR department of the Gorbachev Foundation say Gorbachev “did not feel well” and was offered hospitalization during the regular medical examination. Sources cannot say what is wrong with Gorbi but say there is nothing extraordinary about the whole matter.
CHANGES IN THE WIND?
Tribuna, November 27, 2001, p. 2
Political scientists and journalists with connections in the upper echelons of power promise reshuffle soon. One again, impeding resignation of Deputy Director of the Presidential Administration Alexander Voloshin, the Kremlin’s long-timer, is predicted.
According to one hypothesis, Vladimir feels its time to do away with what he inherited from President Boris Yeltsin by way of key personnel. Putin has already rid himself of a lot of Yeltsin’s proteges, removing them from their positions. They re not key figures, however, – just ministers, deputy ministers, and heads of structures of the presidential administration. Key officials have to be dismissed for Putin to feel himself finally free of the Family’s clout.
There is another hypothesis as well. Detectives investigating the cases of Boris Berezovsky constantly encounter the name of Voloshin. Law enforcement agencies are particularly interested in Berezovsky/Voloshin joint business ventures of the 1990’s. The matter concerns Sibneft auctions for example. Its shares were sold for a song when Voloshin was head of the Federal Securities Corporation and as such lobbied Berezovsky’s interests successfully. The Auditing Commission says the scheme was pulled off by companies controlled by Berezovsky and Roman Abramovich.
Voloshin all but became the oligarch’s personal agent then. Among other things he helped Berezovsky sell AVVA concern’s stock to the Chara bank for $5.5 million. Chara eventually burst leaving its customers with nothing to show for their investments which ended up on Berezovsky’s bank accounts.
Elected the president, Putin promised to deprive oligarchs of the opportunity to rule the state. He kept the promise with regard to business tycoons. It is time to deal with their patrons now.
There is another factor making it difficult for Voloshin to retain his post. Putin’s new team (Gryzlov, Ivanov, Patrushev, Rushailo, and others) consider him a stranger. Voloshin and Gleb Pavlovsky are associated with intrigues. Putin himself likes openness. Ergo: he needs a new director of the presidential administration.
TERRORIST FINANCIAL CHANNELS CLOSED
Trud, November 27, 2001, p. 2
Washington’s abandonment of the policy of double standards has an invigorating effect on the international public opinion. The meeting of Group 20 finance ministers (leaders of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank were present there as well) in Montreal resolved to unearth and freeze terrorist bank accounts all over the world. The decision was made to publish lists of terrorists and the amounts frozen there every month. Canada has already frozen 28 suspicious accounts to the tune of $344,000. Countries of the counter-terrorism coalition arrested bin Laden-related bank accounts with $56 million on them all over the world.
Every country is recommended to establish its own financial intelligence structures to investigate suspicious operations and inform analogous services abroad.
All these measures have already had a positive effect on the state of affairs in Chechnya. Secretary of the Security Council Vladimir Rushailo says, “Financial assistance to hitmen in Chechnya is not what it used to be by a long shot, thanks to coordinated activities of the international community.”
Separatists in Chechnya are left without finances nowadays because of the efforts of the international community and effectiveness of the federal forces in Chechnya. Not so long ago secret services detained a courier in the Shali district with $30,000 for Shamil Basayev. According to Russian intelligence, Chechen separatists are mostly sponsored by Moslem Brothers international terrorist organization operating under different covers in many countries.
Separatists in Chechnya are in real trouble now. Trapped in the mountains, they are short of food and medicines. They are forced to barter warm clothing and munitions for food. All of that probably explains their decision to get down into the plains and disappear in settlements to continue the mine war on the federal forces.