SUMMIT DRAWS CLOSER
Vek, February 22, 2002, p. 5
The second round of the Russian-American negotiations on questions of anti-ballistic missiles and making new frames of strategic relationships between the two countries in Moscow is over. The American delegation was headed by Senior Deputy of Secretary of State John Bolton. The negotiations went on the instructions of the presidents of Russia and the USA on preparations to the Moscow summit, where they are going to sign a number of important documents. The matter concerns preparing a declaration on new strategic relationships between the two countries and several other documents, usually called agreements, or contracts among diplomats. But, in the words of a top-ranking Russian diplomat, the way they call is not important at all. The most important thing is to ensure that the dialogue between the two states be of a constructive and positive character.
Diplomacy in general, and in particular with such a country as the USA, is a subtle and hard occupation. Two to three pages of text comprise work of a lot of experts. For example, the talks on the START-1 treaty lasted more than a month, while the document was completed over three weeks. This happens only when both the parties have will and desire to reach an agreement.
Something of this kind can happen now, if we accept the pressure of the time factor. That is why Russian and American diplomats select words and expressions so thoroughly, analyzing the course of the dialogue. We have also found out that in the near future Defense Minister of Russia Sergei Ivanov may visit Washington. So, the process is in full swing, so to speak.
When speaking to Russian journalists John Bolton said that the American party would like to see the character of relationships between our countries to be elaborately worked out. Moscow shares this opinion.
KLEBANOV’S POSITION BECOMES LOWER
Obshchaya Gazeta, February 21, 2002, p. 2
Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov, who used to control the defense establishment, military-technical collaboration with foreign countries, the Railroads Ministry, the Telecommunications and Information Ministry, and the Atomic Energy Ministry, has been dismissed. The presidential decree appointed him as Minister of industry, science and technology. What served as the reason for this disfavor?
The ex-deputy prime minister is reproached with his failure to bring establishing of financial-industrial holdings to the logical end. For example, AVPK Sukhoi. It was set up on the instruction of the president, but it failed to integrate the leading aviation plants: in Irkutsk, which carries out export orders for India, and in Komsomolsk-on-Amurm, carrying out a Chinese contract. “The price of this question” is more than $3 billion, which our defense establishment loses. Another example – a contract on building Su-30MKK pursuit planes for China for $1.5 billion, by Klebanov’s decision, went to the plant in Komsomolsk, instead of the Sukhoi design bureau, which will not allow the leading design bureau to concentrate on building a plane of the fifth generation.
An even more scandalous story happened to the export order of China for building 956EM destroyers, which, despite the agreement with China, went to the St. Pteresburg plant, which makes frigates for India (OG 3 and 4). By the way, not only Chinese clients remonstrated against this, but also Indians, who would not like construction of their military vessels being observed by their competitors from China.
There are also other mistakes, made by the former curator of the defense establishment. In particular, he set up five state agencies on armament, and it is not clear whom they will be controlled, after the dismissal of Klebanov, and whom they will coordinate their policies with. It is also unknown, who will control military-technical collaboration with foreign countries, instead of Ilya klebanov. And although the ex-deputy prime minister did not succeed much in this sphere, it is impossible to leave this important source of foreign currency without a responsible person.
According to our experts, Ilya Klebanov often got away with his failures, because Vladimir Putin, who had known him for a long time, supported him. The president of Russia does not like dismissing his friends. But evidently, there is limit to everything.
WE LOVE THE ARMY, BUT IN A STRANGE WAY
Vremya Novostei, February 22, 2002, p. 4
On the eve of the Day of the Defender of the Fatherland, the National Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) questioned 1600 Russians. Their answers to the questions on attitudes toward the army, are given below in percentages, together with the similar polls from 1998. The margin of error in such polls is 4%.
“Do you think there is any other country threatening Russia now?”
Yes, there is: 33% 42%
“Would you like your son, brother, husband or some other relative to serve now in the army? If not, why?”
Yes, I would: 13% 22%
No, I would not: 84% 72%
Including: (people could choose several variants)
– death/wound in conflicts like in Chechnya: 30% 44%
– violence in the army: 40% 35%
– bad living conditions, malnutrition, threat to health: 21% 23%
– disorder in the army, irresponsible policies of the government toward the army: 25% 20%
– powerlessness and humiliation of the military: 20% 19%
– moral corruption, hard drinking and drug addiction: 19% 16%
– criminalization of the army, involving the military in criminal cases: 15% 10%
– being in the army is wasting time: 11% 8%
– other reasons: 3% 1%
– could not name any particular reason: 7% 5%
– could not decide whether they would like it or not: 3% 6%
Over the past four years Russians have confirmed their opinion that there is a military threat toward Russia, and that the Russian army can protect us from it. At the same time, attitude toward serving in the Russian army has changed only slightly, and most Russian still would like their relatives to serve in the army. However, the shift toward overall favorable attitude toward the army is accompanied by simultaneous increase in popularity of the idea to abolish the universal service and make our army a professional one, which is clear in answers to the following question.
“Do you personally think that we should keep conscription for youths of call-up age, or we should start forming a contract system and man the army out of those, who serve for money?”
We should keep conscription: 38% 27%
We should have a professional army: 53% 64%
No answer: 12% 9%
At the same time, though most Russians considers it important to shift toward professional service in the army, only an insignificant part of the respondents believe that this reform will be implemented in near future.
“In 1996 President Yeltsin issued a decree on gradual abolition of conscription, and transition toward contract service. Do you think the Russian armed forces will become a professional one, and when?”
In a year or two (in 1998 “by 2002”): 6% 5%
In five years: 15% 18%
In a decade: 15% 19%
In more than 10 years: 17% 19%
This is not likely to happen at all: 24% 21%
No answer: 24% 18%
Zavtra, February 21, 2002, p. 1
Files of “muckraking” on the explosions in Moscow and Volgodonsk, September 1999, promised by Berezovsky have been passed over “to be edited” in Washington D.C., London sources report. In this connection, their publication is put off for 1-2 weeks. Among the files are supposed to be photocopies of a number of documents for recruitment of people whose participation in the terror acts is documented. The arrangement of this action is aimed at creation of such an “information bomb” that the danger of its implementation will allow full manipulation of Putin, “if he would like to stay in the Kremlin”, our sources state…
SUBMISSION TO AMERICA
Zavtra, February 21, 2002, p. 1
Lobbies of Russian government bodies are actively discussing Putin’s “new course” consisting in full rejection of own policy, suspension of contacts with Europe and countries of the so-called “third world”, and full submission to American interests. Thus, they state another round of talks on strategic offensive weapons may be marked with a number of unprecedented concessions for the part of the Kremlin. That this is probable can be seen from the press conference on February 18 of Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov and commander-in-chief of the Navy Vladimir Kuroyedov, at which the catastrophe of the Kursk atomic submarine was interpreted in a light advantageous for the American party. Not touching upon ridiculous points like that the mariners could have mistaken a buoy of a foreign submarine for a “giant jelly-fish”, one should mention the naval commanding staff of that time should be under examination now instead of occupying ranking posts in the Federation Council and other state structures, given the uttered version of the catastrophe is true. There has not yet been a convincing explanation to the blitz-visit of the CIA chief to the Kremlin. Putin’s criticism in respect to defense minister Sergei Ivanov on the matter of payment for electricity to RAO UES of Russia can also testify the president has yielded positions to the pro-American lobby (the bloc of Chubais and part of the “family” grouping). The same goes for demoting Ilya Klebanov as deputy prime minister…
CHUBAIS WILL BE PRIME MINISTER
Versiya, February 19, 2002, p. 14
They say the January inflation problem gave rise to another wave of rumors about a Cabinet reshuffle, supposedly set for April-May. A part of Putin’s inner circle views Anatoly Chubais as a candidate for the post of prime minister, sources close to the Kremlin administration say. Among the lobbyists of this candidature are figures such as first deputy chief of the president’s administration Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chief of the administration Dmitry Kozak, and presidential envoy for the the Northwestern Federal District Victor Cherkesov. Chubais is viewed as the main and inevitable counterbalance to “KGB people” in corridors of supreme power. The hero of the rumors himself assumes it is not yet time for him to move to the White House, according to some data.
BEREZOVSKY WILL NOT LEAD LIBERAL RUSSIA
Inostranets, February 19, 2002, p. 7
The Liberal Russia movement will be transformed into a party at a with regional branches in 58 regions, says Sergei Yushenkov, one of the leaders of the future party. This means the movement will meet requirements of the new law “On political parties” and it will be registered as one.
However, the new party may have trouble with finance. In this connection, Yushenkov remarked: “The new law on political parties agrees with the structure of a totalitarian state and is aimed at making parties obedient to power. A liberal party opposing the power may not count on financial resources from administrative structures. Insofar as a liberal party conducts a transparent policy in respect to its funding sources, I can say Boris Berezovsky pays from a third to half of the party costs. We also have other sponsors among large businesspeople opposing the power who do not yet wish their names be called”.
At the same time, Yushenkov denied the rumor that Berezovsky would be the leader of the created party. This is “total nonsense”, in his words, since “the principle of building a liberal party is to have no centralized leader”.
THE POOR MAKE 34.8 MILLION IN RUSSIA
Literaturnaya Gazeta, February 20, 2002, p. 2
In Russia today, there are 34.8 million people living below the poverty line. This is about 24% of the population. The average subsistence minimum is currently 1,574 rubles a month. These are the figures based on results of the fourth quarter of 2001. Results of the fourth quarter 2000 are said to have been “somewhat worse” – then, 26.9% of Russians had incomes less than the subsistence minimum. Poverty remains one of Russia’s greatest problems, for a low consumption level hampers economic growth and reforms.
ALLIES WILL PAY FOR ARMS
Argumenty I Fakty, N8, February, 2002, p. 24
Afghanistan does not need supplies of new armament, says defense minister Sergei Ivanov said. There are “piles” of arms there from the time of active fight against the Taliban. In that period, Russia regularly supplied the Northern Alliance with T-55 tanks, D-30 howitzers, BM-21 volley fire systems, mortars, grenade cup discharges, and, of course, Kalashnikov sub-machine guns. Experts estimate this military assistance in $35-40 million. The new Afghan army needs primarily spares parts and logistics. However, they would also like to get Mi-24 and Mi-8 helicopters, military-transportation aircraft, armored personnel carriers, and military-engineering machinery. “One need not puzzle over the question who will pay,” Afghan defense minister Mohammad Fahim stated during his official visit to Moscow. The US and allies have recently provided $50 million to create and equip the Afghan army. There will no free supplies this time, according to reports from the Russian General Staff.
PRIMAKOV MADE AN OFFER TO KORZHAKOV
Argumenty I Fakty, N8, February, 2002, p. 2
It looks like there has been a sudden turn in the career of Alexander Korzhakov, previously the chief of the president’s security service and now a Duma deputy. Newly-made president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Yevgeny Primakov made an offer to him he will hardly be able to reject. Namely, to head the direction of “economic security” in the post of vice-president.
The milieu of Korzhakov does not deny the fact of the offer. However, there is a piquant detail in this story. Long before this rumor leaked through, a similar maneuver had been made by Korzhakov’s former deputy, a not unknown Mr. Rogozin who was famous for making astrological forecasts for Yeltsin. General Rogozin heads today the board of the Agency for Economic security attached to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Although the latter has by now been thought a wholly civil body, it seems to be transformed into a new workplace for former chiefs of special agencies, in the spirit of time.