ALEXANDER VOLOSHIN HAS NOT REACHED ASIA
Izvestia, January 18, 2002, p. 3
Yesterday’s one-day visit by head of the presidential administration Alexander Voloshin to Yekaterinburg was officially called an “inspection”. It was a continuation of inspecting the effectivenss of new government representations – in all the seven presidential envoys in the federal districts of Russia.
At the same time, the clipping service of the envoy to the Ural federal district announced that Alexander Voloshin arrived in Yekaterinburg by invitation of the envoy Pyotr Latyshev. The reason remains a mystery. Press were not invited to any meeting with the representative of the Kremlin.
What the civil servants were talking about behind the closed doors has been imparted rather stiffly: they have summed up the results, analyzed experience of carrying out tasks, set by the president, set priorities for the future. In contrast to expectations, Voloshin did not assess anything, and preferred just to listen.
The sitting with heads of all the federal structures of the district went by in the same mysterious way. The clipping service of Latyshev suspects that the matter concerned “questions of ensuring national security, law and order across the territory of the district”. Reasonable enough, considering that the Ural federal district has the highest crime rate in Russia.
THEY PROMISED NOT TO USE BRUTE FORCE
Trud, January 18, 2002, p. 1
The authorities of North Osetia have made a decision not to use force against participants in unsanctioned demonstrations in Vladikavkaz, organized in support of presidential candidate Sergei Khetagurov.
According to local law enforcement structures, the former head of the republican government, now a businessman, Khetagurov violated a number of requirements while being registered as a candidate. In particular, he is said to have two passports and to have stated that he lives in Vladikavkaz, though he has been living in Moscow for several years. The question of possible refusal to register his candidacy was brought up at the Supreme Court of North Osetia.
Supporters of Khetagurov started holding rallies in the capital of the republic. “Those two thousand people whom they have managed to gather at the central election committee represent the limit,” said head of the presidential office Lev Dzugaev. He stressed, “We have information that people have been paid to participate in these demonstrations.”
Head of the Central Election Committee Alexander Veshnyakov, criticizing the situation in the republic, said that the candidate for president should defend his rights in court, not in the street. The election for president of North Osetia is scheduled for January 27.
STUDENTS TO SERVE AS PRIVATES
Moskovsky Komsomolets, January 18, 2002, p. 2
The General Staff has invented a curious method of recruiting troops. The, the ministry has suggested that the government reduce the number of higher educational institutions having a military chair and training reserve officers.
Our attempts to find out how many higher educational institutions will be deprived of military chairs and when it will happen have been a failure: the General Staff’s Main Department for Organization of Mobilization has refused to discuss this topic. However, it is easy to guess that the defense Ministry is trying to gain two aims at a time by this. First, in this case a lot of “privileged students” will have to “do the time” in the Army for a year and a half as privates instead of becoming reserve officers. Second, military personnel managers will get some room for maneuvering in the light of the upcoming personnel cuts in the Armed Forces. It is well known that to reduce the number of military officials is a painful and practically hopeless business. It is much easier to sacrifice officers teaching in civilian educational institutions. Although they are not that numerous, they will “save” several hundreds of military officials.
SEARCH OPERATIONS BRINGING NO RESULTS
Moskovsky Komsomolets, January 18, 2002, p. 2
Since there have been a lot of complaints about search operations by federal troops in Chechnya, it has been decided to start so-called “address checks” involving elders and representatives of local administrations.
Over the past 24 hours, Chechen guerrillas have fired on units of the federal troops seven times. As a result, nine federal soldiers have been killed and three wounded. The guerrillas follow the same pattern: first a mine explodes along the road, then the convoy comes under fire from the nearest building or some other refuge.
For instance, a convoy of 16 trucks and three armored vehicles, delivering food, was attacked in the town of Vedeno. The mine was planted in an earthen barrier along Lenin Street at a height of 1.5 meters. In Urus-Martan a mine was placed in a roadside kiosk.
Since such explosions have become part of life in Chechnya, it seems that federal troops do not know how to counter these techniques used by the guerrillas. Thus, Russian boys will go on dying there.
RUSSIAN BORDER GUARDS WAITING FOR THE TALIBAN AND MONEY
Izvestia, January 18, 2002, p. 2
On January 17, the last day of his visit to Tajikistan, Federal Border Guard Service (FBGS) chief Konstantin Totsky announced that he does not rule out a breakthrough by the Taliban from Afghanistan into Tajikistan in the near future. Totsky is known as a very cautious person who does not make statements without having some evidence. Meanwhile, he mentioned this possibility twice in the past week.
The Russian-Tajik treaty on Russia guarding the Afghanistan-Tajikistan border expires in January 2003. According to Russian Ambassador to Tajikistan Maxim Peshkov, this treaty will be automatically prolonged if neither side refuses to carry out its duties six months before the expiry date. We have already reported that the possibility of the US military presence in Central Asian countries after the end of the anti-terror operation in Afghanistan is quite a realistic prospect. In this case Totsky’s announcement is meant to make it clear for Russia’s CIS allies that they will not do without Russian border guards.
The second reason is financial. Although Russia and Tajikistan are to pay 50% of the fund of Russian border guards each, Tajikistan has never paid more than 15% of this sum. Recently, its share dwindled by 4%. It is not ruled out that Totsky wanted to indicate to this budget “hole” to the Tajikistani government.