WE DON’T WANT TO ARM THE CHINESE
Izvestia, May 31, 2002, p. 2
On May 30 Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov arrived in Beijing on an official visit. According to our sources in the Defense Ministry, there is no question of any new military-technical projects with China thus far. “Our position envisages balanced trade-economic relations between the two states,” the sources said and added: “They only want weapons, rejecting any substantial civilian economic projects.”
An awareness of the “China problem” has spread to all ministries and departments in the Russian government, including proponents of the “multi-polar world”. Although this is not stated publicly, senior state officials admit off the record that seven to ten years from now, the “Far East problem” will become the key issue for Russia. “Can you imagine – 1.5 billion armed Chinese along our border,” both the military and diplomats said with a shudder in their voices.
CIS: THE CONCEPT NEEDS TO RIPEN
Izvestia, May 31, 2002, p. 4
Prime ministers and foreign ministers of CIS nations met in Moscow on May 30. The future of the CIS was discussed all day at the President Hotel, where foreign ministers gathered in the morning and prime ministers arrived closer to evening.
The foreign ministries of CIS nations have to shape the new concept, with Russian experts given the leading role. An official summit of CIS member nations is scheduled for October, and by that time all ideas should be set out in a single document. Matters haven’t progressed as far as practical work – the Russian Foreign Ministry has been awaiting proposals from its counterparts.
Judging by topics of yesterday’s meetings, consolidation of the security aspect is among the possible components of the new concept. Both prime ministers and foreign ministers mentioned a program of military-technical cooperation, and joint anti-terrorist activities. Summing up the meeting, Igor Ivanov said that this might “considerably increase the anti-terrorist resources of the CIS.” However, it is hard to devise anything new to consolidate the CIS, since the topics which are most attractive for the participants have already been relegated to “subsidiary” organizations (the economy to the Euro-Asian Economic Community, and security to the Collective Security Treaty).
Before the meeting at the President Hotel, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov met with the prime ministers of Kazakhstan and Ukraine. The main topic of discussion was Nursultan Nazarbayev’s idea of abolishing protection measures within the framework of the Euro-Asian Economic Community; this primarily concerns the metals industry in Ukraine and Kazakhstan. This idea is not gathering any strong support in the Russian government; yesterday Kasianov spoke diplomatically of the need to analyze all proposals thoroughly, rather than abolishing anti-dumping measures.
PILOTS ARE DEPENDENT
Trud, May 31, 2002, p. 2
On May 30, following some categorical and unfounded assertions in the media, the Prosecutor’s Office of the Krasnoyarsk territory was forced to issue a special statement about the investigation into the crash of a Mi-8 helicopter in which Governor Alexander Lebed was killed.
Natalia Gubanova, Deputy Prosecutor of the Krasnoyarsk territory, said the preliminary inquiry has not yet found enough evidence to bring charges against anyone.
In the meantime, the dispute over who was to blame for the disaster is still heated in Krasnoyarsk. Vadim Vostrov, a member of the regional parliament, expressed his view of the accident: “Look at those events in simple, human, terms, not through the official commission; surely the pilots themselves were not responsible for the decision to fly in such bad weather.” According to Vostrov, he knows of instances when Governor Lebed spoke to pilots as follows: “These are my orders. We shall fly, and I’ll take responsibility for it.” This was how things were when the flight with Lebed on board took off from Norilsk.
Valery Khayryuzov, first-class pilot and consultant to the Duma press service, confirmed this idea: “Pilots are dependent; they have a task they need to accomplish. However, they couldn’t refuse the governor, they could not refuse to fly.”
THE RED STAR OF COMMERCIAL FORTUNE
Moskovsky Komsomolets, May 31, 2002, p. 2
A memorandum on the investment potential of the Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) newspaper has been submitted to Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov. It is proposed to commercialize the military publishing house. There are already some contenders for this rather tasty morsel (the value of the issue is fluctuating around $100 million): the OLMA-PRESS publishing house has submitted a corresponding counteroffer. Within the Defense Ministry, the attitude toward commercializing its newspaper is ambivalent: relatively new personnel, who have transferred from the intelligence agencies since Sergei Ivanov’s appointment as defense minister, support this initiative; while army generals, who understandably believe that the proposed new “Krasnaya Zvezda” will be entirely indifferent to military problems, oppose the move.
Curiously enough, former defense minister Pavel Grachev is involved in the move to commercialize the newspaper. According to our sources, he is a member of a team of possible purchasers of the military-oriented newspaper, and he has the backing of Chief of the General Staff Anatoly Kvashnin (who has the ultimate authority over “Krasnaya Zvezda”).