GEORGIA DIDN’T EVEN WARN RUSSIA
Moskovskii Komsomolets, March 7, 2002, p. 4
No one has tried to find out what’s happened in relations between Moscow and Tbilisi, but the past week has shown that Moscow has started employing various tools to achieve its goals. The arrival of five American instructors in Georgia was not the primary reason for Moscow’s anger. What the Kremlin really minded was that Tbilisi had not even considered it advisable to warn its northern neighbor of its intentions. At the same time, this has a practical relevance for us. No one can say what Chechen separatist commander Gelayev will think when he hears that the Americans have arrived. He is quite likely to rush across the border with Russia. And of course, we need be ready beforehand.
This was what President Putin told President Shevardnadze at their private meeting, according to our sources. The conversation was quite blunt. As far as we know, Putin stated the following: Georgia has every right to select its strategic allies on its own. However, Tbilisi always ought to be Moscow’s partner. If it is not a partner, it can only be an enemy; and that is wrong. Tbilisi was tactless in not warning Moscow. It actually denied Moscow’s partnership. This means that Shevardnadze, a very experienced politician, proved absolutely incompetent.
This may be the first time in a decade that Moscow is trying to be coordinated and use a diversity of tactics in its methods of influencing another nation. This fact in itself is worth noting, even if it has had little success.
KLEBANOV PROMISED TO CUT DEFENSE SECTOR BY TWO-THIRDS
Izvestia, March 7, 2002, p. 2
A Central federal district conference was held yesterday in Yaroslavl, to discuss the main directions for developing the defense sector in the district. It was attended by Georgy Poltavchenko, presidential envoy for the Central federal district, and Ilya Klebanov, minister for science, industry, and technology. Klebanov made the first comment on his dismissal as deputy prime minister, saying his response to the change in his career had been positive.
This is the fourth conference in two months on reforming the defense sector in the Central federal district. Klebanov attributed this attention to the issue to the fact that the defense sector is the only area of industry which the state is really taking charge of restructuring. Although Russia should enter the new economy with a restructured Russian Joint Energy Systems and Railway Ministry, it is their task to restructure themselves, the minister said.
“The state acknowledges that the state of the defense sector is very problematic, and threatens national security,” Klebanov stated.
By 2006, only 251 out of 781 enterprises related to the defense sector will remain. This considerable reduction will be done because many of the entrprises are operating at only 5-7% of capacity. The state can’t afford to create a fifth-generation fighter. Kelbanov thinks this problem can only be solved by making use of the Sukhoi concern’s exports.
When asked why he had been dismissed as deputy prime minister, Klebanov said: “The president told me to focus on fundamental things – industry, science, and the defense sector. My response to this is very positive. I have been given an opportunity to devote myself fully to the cause I have worked for all my life.”
PROSECUTOR WILL CONSOLE HIMSELF WITH $175,000
Izvestia, March 7, 2002, p. 3
Pavel Borodin’s attorneys received a surprising document from Switzerland on March 5: Geneva prosecutor Bernard Bertossa was writing to inform them that investigations into the criminal case against Borodin, state secretary of the Russia-Belarus Union, had been called off.
“Pavel Borodin has not yet read the resolution of prosecutor Bertossa,” said Russia-Belarus Union press secretary Ivan Makushok. “He is currently in Minsk and may make a statement for the media after he returns to Moscow.”
“Bernard Bertossa has written to say the criminal case against Pavel Borodin is closed,” said Eleonora Sergeyeva, Borodin’s lawyer. Borodin has been instructed to pay a fine of about $175,000. Sergeyeva said the resolution does not mean Borodin was found guilty – only a court can do that. “We have two weeks to appeal against the prosecutor’s resolution. However, as yet I cannot say if such an appeal will be lodged,” said Sergeyeva.
The resolution of Bernard Bertossa contains at least one point which arouses a number of questions from the defense team. When, and to what extent, are the Swiss prosecutors going to return the bail deposited by the lawyers to free Borodin? Bail amounted to $3 million.
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, March 6-12, 2002, p. 3
Herman Gref, economic development and trade minister:
“The measures announced by President Bush with respect to imported steel and steel products were predictable. However, we had thought Russia would not find itself on the list of countries to which these measures will apply’ there are legal motives for this. We signed an agreement with the Americans, saying that only a drastic increase in Russian steel supplies may be grounds for introducing sanctions and protective measures. There has been no such increase on the Russian for the last decade. I think we will continue consultations with the Americans, so that our legal basis can be taken into account.
I must say: everything that concerns measures for veterinary inspection of poultry meat is entirley unconnected with the U.S. administration deciding to introduce 30% tariffs on steel producy. This is a purely technical matter for the veterinary service of the Russian Federation. It does not at all concern our bilateral relations and cannot be viewed as a retaliatory measure.”
THE PRESIDENT’S E-MAIL ADDRESS
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, March 6-12, 2002, p. 3
The Federal Agency for Government Communication and Information (FAPSI) will test the president’s new website, after which it will be available for public access.
The presiden’t new website will be tested and inspected using FAPSI equipment. FAPSI experts will test the capacity of the site and design its pages, with security as a priority.
Putin’s existing website is one of the busiest, the president’s press service noted. The so-called “special products” enjoy particular popularity, specifically those providing supplementary information for Putin’s visits abroad and his meetings with leaders of G-8 countries.