A CROSS BETWEEN PRIMAKOV AND KOZYREV, WITH A BRIEFCASE, WEARING A TIE
Novye Izvestia, July 13, 2002, p. 1
To mark the forthcoming bicentennial of the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Public Opinion Foundation has done a special poll. It concluded that most Russian citizens have a favorable view of Russia’s diplomats. Most of them (34% of all respondents, or 71% of those who answered that question) paint an undoubtedly positive image of the modern Russian diplomat.
RUSSIA AND GEORGIA: SECURITY COUNCILS REACH A CONSENSUS
Vremya MN, July 13, 2002, p. 2
For the first time in several years, some positive developments can be discerned in relations between the heads of the Security Councils of Russia and Georgia. Nevertheless, some differences of opinion became apparent after their meeting. How significant are these differences? Comments from Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo and Teimuraz Gantsemlidze, Georigia’s ambassador to Russia.
Vladimir Rushailo: This meeting showed that Russian-Georgian dialogue has started to become more intensive and substantial. We reached agreement on coordinated action by law enforcement agencies and special services, including action in the Pankisi gorge, where the channels of financial and material support must be closed. We are only talking about cooperation; no one is preparing any kind of joint special operations. One of the main topics in our talks was the battle against terrorism, since this is linked to normalizing the situation in the Pankisi gorge, which could make a significant contribution to improving relations between Russia and Georgia.
Teimuraz Gantsemlidze: Both sides were satisfied with the outcome of this meeting. Our special services and law enforcement agencies have been cooperating for some time. We welcome such cooperation and are glad of it. This is in the interests of Georgia.
The problems in Abkhazia were also mentioned at the meeting. Both sides agreed that there is no alternative to a peaceful political settlement here. Granting Russian citizenship to the population of Abkhazia would not make a positive contribution to constructive dialogue between Russia and Georgia. This issue adds an unnecessary and fairly substantial irritant to our relationship. Of course, Russia has said repeatedly that its actions are based purely on humanitarian considerations. We would very much like to believe that, but thus far we have been unable to believe it.
ELLA PAMFILOVA HAS BECOME CLOSER TO PUTIN
Izvestia, July 13, 2002, p. 3
President Putin has signed a decree appointing Ella Pamfilova to head the presidential human rights commission. This post was previously held by Vladimir Kartashkin. Members of the commission learned of the change of leadership from media reports; they described it as “completely unexpected”. Prior to her new appointment, Pamfilova had headed a national union of non-government organizations called Civil Society for the Children of Russia, as well as the Civil Dignity movement.
Ella Pamfilova: “The appointment happened very suddenly, literally within days. The president noted this point, saying he attaches great significance to how well the human rights protection system functions; he proposes taking it to a qualitatively new level. In his view, the existing system is ineffective. The president warned me against taking on more that it is feasible to do, in order that the commission should not be swamped by appeals from members of the public. I would like to emphasize straight away that the commission will not duplicate the role of social welfare agencies.”
According to Pamfilova, the commission will be working with non-government organizations, including regional organizations, which have real-world experience in defending civil rights. Pamfilova plans to start by identifying the issues most in need of attention and problems which people confront on a daily basis.
THE KREMLIN PLACES ITS BETS ON BASAEV’S PEOPLE
Novye Izvestia, July 13, 2002, p. 2
First the former mufti of Ichkeria, Akhmat Kadyrov, was appointed by Moscow to head the renewed (that is, cleansed) Chechnya. Now Abdul-Hakim Sultygov, once an advisor to the organizer and inspirer of the Budennovsk raid, has been appointed as presidential envoy for civil rights in Chechnya.
Not much is known about Sultygov. He gained undergraduate and postgraduate degrees from a college in Moscow in the mid-1980s. Later he worked with Ruslan Khasbulatov, head of the international economics faculty at the Plekhanov Institute, at a time when Khasbulatov was being nominated for the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.
Several years later, Sultygov became an economic advisor to Shamil Basaev, deputy prime minister of Ichkeria.
President Putin personally signed the order appointing Sultygov as ombudsman. Of course, Putin has to initial dozens of papers every day; he doesn’t have time to study all of them. But surely he has aides for the purpose of preparing important papers and selecting necessary and useful personnel. There seems to be a mix-up in this case. Either the Kremlin has consciously chosen to place its bets on people who worked for the government of self-proclaimed Ichkeria (thus moving in the direction of those who support negotiations with Aslan Maskhadov), or the president is surrounded by incompetent staff.
PLAYING CATCH-UP WITH LUKASHENKO
Izvestia, July 13, 2002, p. 4
In Belarus, the political event of the week was President Alexander Lukashenko’s statement at a Security Council meeting devoted to Belarussian participation in creating “a new architecture of international security” and prospects for relations with NATO. Belarus will expand and strengthen “multilateral international ties”, while continuing to adhere to a multidirectional foreign policy. Lukashenko said he would not be “turning back the political clock”. He considers it unacceptable for Belarus to become “the front-line” or “a line of confrontation”.
Lukashenko said it is impossible not to respond to the expansion of NATO, which is taking place despite the views of Russia, Ukraine, and other neighboring countries. Lukashenko considers that the expansion of military blocs and the appearance of new dividing lines in Europe does not facilitate global security.
Belarussian Foreign Ministry spokesman Pavel Latushko: “The western border of Belarus is already a border with NATO, and it should not become a new dividing line; it ought to be a border of security and trust. The foreign policy agenda of Belarus with respect to NATO will be amended in line with this approach.”
According to official sources, Belarus has been cooperating with NATO since the 1990s on specific programs and in areas of interest to Belarus. In the program for partnership between Belarus and NATO for 2002-03 there are five more points than there were in the program for the previous two years.
The latest statements probably have a direct link with the results of the Rome summit and the creation of the new NATO-Russia Council. And it is very clear that this “turn to the West” is meant to compensate, at least in part, for the political loss of face suffered by the Belarussian government during the recent dispute with Russia.
THE NATO INFORMATION BUREAU
Izvestia, July 13, 2002, p. 4
According to the NATO military liaison mission and information bureau in Moscow, NATO will spend $190,000 this year on developing a social adaptation program for Russian military personnel discharged from the service due to troop strength cuts. Funding has been allocated for the Russia-NATO military social adaptation center based at the Moscow State University of Economics, Statistics, and Informatics.
The center’s director, Leonid Maiorov, confidently listed its first achievements: “Thanks to NATO funding, we have purchased computer equipment, recruited personnel, and launched an eight-page website. Our main purpose is to prepare a reference database on legislation pertaining to social adjustment of military personnel discharged from the service; their retraining and job seeking prospects. Later on, we will also offer information about how they can get housing.”
Rolf Welberts, director of the NATO Information Bureau in Moscow: “This project helps to expand our relations with Russia within the Russia-NATO Council. What’s important is that we are moving from talk to concrete action.”
Peter Williams, head of the NATO military liaison mission in Moscow, noted that the work which has begun is “only the first stage of a fairly expensive process”. His goal is “to attract promising young people into the education process”, and give them confidence that they will find their place in civilian life.
Maiorov: “Our funding will end in February 2003. If more money is available, we will continue our work; if not, we will shut down. But we have already approached those in charge of the program at NATO headquarters, proposing to set up a job retraining center for military personnel. We hope to get a positive response.”
RUSSIAN JOINT ENERGY SYSTEMS BOARD MEETING
Izvestia, July 13, 2002, p. 5
Meeting for the first time yesterday in its new composition, the board of directors of Russian Joint Energy Systems (RJES) elected Alexander Voloshin, head of the presidential administration, as its chairman. Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, who had also aspired to this position, has become the deputy chairman. The board instructed the RJES restructuring committee to complete work on a plan for expanding subsidiaries which will be divided by field of activity in the process of restructuring the electricity sector.
The board approved a resolution on the management of the Federal Distribution Comany (FDC) and confirmed the appointment of senior executives.
Meanwhile, the process of restructuring regional utilities continues.
As we predicted, there were no unexpected developments at the board meeting; Voloshin was elected chairman. That is what most analysts had predicted. Our source among senior RJES executives says that most of them are satisfied with Voloshin as chairman; and RJES CEO Anatoly Chubais says this is the best possible choice.
ANTI-SEMITISM IN UKRAINE
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, July 13, 2002, p. 2
A proposed bill on deporting all Jews has been published in Ukraine – in “The Idealist”, a Lvov-based newspaper which promotes radical right-wing views. Among the “undesirables” are two presidents: Leonid Kravchuk and Leonid Kuchma. Others in line for deportation include: Viktor Medvedchuk, head of the presidential administration; Nikolai Zhulinsky, former deputy prime minister for cultural affairs; Yuri Kravchenko, former interior minister; Alexander Kuzmuk, former defense minister; Deputy Speaker Alexander Zinchenko; former prime minister Valerii Pustovoitenko; former deputy prime minister Julia Timoshenko; former deputy prime minister Vikotr Pinzenik, the initiator of Ukraine’s economic reforms; Taras Chornovol, son of Rukh founder Vyacheslav Chornovol; Viktor Yushchenko, former prime minister and head of the Our Ukraine parliamentary faction; and others.
The publication of a bill on deporting Jews is a logical continuation of what the Russian Duma has discussed. Since the right wing came to power in Ukraine, headed by Viktor Yushchenko, inter-ethnic strife in Ukraine has increased. But even Yushchenko, elected by the voters of Western Ukraine, never suspected there would be demands for his own deportation.
The bill clearly sets out the priorities: “Power in Ukraine should be in the hands of the titular ethnic group – ethnic Ukrainians.” And everyone else is garbage, to be “swept away by history”.
These fascist calls for action have come at a time when Kiev has decided to aspire to NATO membership. This is no coincidence. The right-wing radicals don’t want to see Ukraine move toward the West. They want to stew in their own juices and cook up the image of “a common enemy”. Members of parliament, many of whom are on the “deportation list”, are not fighting the right-wing radicals. The leftists don’t want Ukraine to join NATO either; and their attitude toward such moves by the right is based on “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.
RUSSIA DEFINES FUNDING TERRORISTS AS A CRIME
Kommersant, July 13, 2002, p. 2
President Putin has signed a law ratifying the UN convention on countering the funding of terrorism. The convention requires nations to define those whose money is used for killings with the aim of intimidating citizens and governments as criminals. The Financial Action Task Force, which is still treating Russia with suspicion, demanded the ratification of this convention.
RUSSIA WILL JOIN THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION
Parlamentskaya Gazeta, July 13, 2002, p. 3
Russia will become a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). This was the conclusion of academics and managers who took part in a round-table conference in Moscow on July 11. The conference, organizaed by the Supreme School of Economics and “Expert” magazine, was the first on the topic of “Transnationalization of the Russian economy: issues and prospects”.
Russia’s entry into the global market is a major problem in itself, and is accompanied by a vast number of associated problems.
Professor Yevgeny Yasin, research director at the Supreme School of Economics, expressed the view that any nation which closes itself off, isolating itself from the outside world, is missing out on a great deal. Moreover, entering the global market is a legal form of transferring Russian capital abroad, which should also bring in revenue for the state.
Sergei Karaganov, head of the Foreign and Defense Policy Council, focused on other – no less interesting – aspects of the process of Russia’s accession to the WTO. It is essential for adaptation to the culture of business. Becoming part of the global economy will also stimulate the development of new advanced technology and industry sectors.
Conference participants agreed that President Putin and the government are correct in seeking to use every opportunity to get on board the ship of the global economy. However, Russia’s major form of capital – human resources, without which it will be difficult for Russia to find its niche in the global marketplace – still appears to be underestimated. More spending is required, primarily in the area of education, which also needs to go through the internationalization process.
This idea was developed by Yevgeny Satanovsky, president of the Russian Jewish Congress. An entirely new workforce is required for expansion into the global marketplace, with a different level of training.
Conference participants also discussed the process of attracting additional labor power from other CIS nations. This process is underway, which already makes Russia’s policies transnational.