FINLAND AND INDONESIA BOMBINGS LINKED TO U.S. PLANS REGARDING IRAQ
Zavtra, October 17, 2002, p. 1
As we had predicted, there were terrorist attacks right before the consideration of the issue of Iraq at the UN Security Council: one bombing in Helsinki, another in Bali. However, according to our sources, the explosions were to take place in Berlin and Paris. This must be caused by the fact that special services of the US have been reoriented to a “more plausible” series of smaller terror acts aimed at making people in Europe and Southeastern Asia “understand the danger of international terrorism” and guarantee their support of the aggression against Baghdad.
Although the US Senate has adopted a resolution on supporting the strike on Iraq, our Washington sources report that not everyone in America is sure of correctness of decisions of the UN Security Council. That is why UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Analogous work was performed in the course of the recent visit of Ludmila Putina to Washington for participation in the ceremony of opening of the National Book Festival organized under the aegis of Laura Bush. It is noteworthy that after the end of the festival, the US president himself with his Adviser for National Security Condoleezza Rice met with Ludmila Putina too. Condoleezza Rice confidentially wondered about Vladimir Rushailo’s health. At the same time, the position of Putin himself regarding Iraq seems ambiguous to the West. For instance, after the negotiations with the British prime minister, Putin announced the necessity to assign UN inspectors to Iraq as soon as possible, but then he added that he is “still open” for searches of news ways of solving the Iraqi problem. Experts of the Den security service believe that Putin is just bargaining on the price of his consent to aggression against Iraq. It is also noteworthy in this connection that from all missile carriers missiles were launched toward Kamchatka last week…
KREMLIN WORRIED BY PROKHANOV’S INTERVIEW WITH BEREZOVSKY
Zavtra, October 17, 2002, p. 1
According to our sources close to the Kremlin, the situation in the circle of Russian president Vladimir Putin is extremely nervous after the contacts between Prokhanov and Berezovsky. In this connection, the Kremlin Administration is reconsidering the entire strategy of preparations for elections of the State Duma and president of Russia. For instance, it is planned to replace current authorities of United Russia by well-tested people. First of all, Boris Gryzlov is to be returned to the chairman’s seat. Then the Kremlin will construct new relations with Luzhkov and Primakov and elaborate a “new approach” to the People’s Patriotic Union of Russia.
Zavtra, October 17, 2002, p. 1
According to preliminary data, the countrywide population census, on which about 1% of the federal budget has been spent, has not justified the means. Instead of the three fourth of population that were supposed to participate in the census, only about 40% of Russians participated in it. This fact reveals people’s mistrust for the current system of government and low efficiency of this system. Besides, there is a distinct correlation between people’s socio-economic status and their attitude to the census. Experts of the Den security service pay attention to the fact that the boycott of the census took place without arrangement of patriotic forces, which demonstrates a considerable potential for growth of influence of these forces at the expense of the so-called “protest electorate” in the course of the upcoming election campaigns in 2003-2004.
RUSSIANS ABOUT INTEGRATION
Novye Izvestia, October 19, 2002, p. 1
Among the countries Russia should unite with in the near future the following ones are most often mentioned by people: Belarus (35%), Ukraine (28%), Kazakhstan (11%), and Moldova (9%). Some 18% of participants of opinion polls believe that it is not worthwhile for Russia to unite with any of CIS countries. These data have been provided by the Public Opinion foundation after a countrywide poll conducted on October 12 that involved 1,500 respondents.
According to the poll, 47% of Russians believe that it is necessary for the country to develop its relations with Belarus, 37% of respondents think that it is necessary to develop cooperation with Ukraine, 15% of people mention Kazakhtan, and 12% of Russians are for cooperation with Moldova. The smallest number of Russians suggest that Russian should befriend Turkmenistan (1%). At the same time, 16% of respondents are sure that it is necessary for Russia to develop its relations with all CIS countries.
RUSSIA PROTECTING ITSELF AGAINST FOREIGNERS
Novye Izvestia, October 19, 2002, p. 1
The other day, the Russian Cabinet published a regulation restricting the freedom of movement of foreigners in the country. The six lines of Regulation No. 754 of October 11, 2002 stipulate introduction of “a list of territories, organizations, and objects, which may be visited by foreigners only if they have a special permission.”
The list comprises 11 items: “closed” territories, zones of mass infections diseases and intoxications, military bases and other military objects, frontier zones, places of ecological calamities, objects connected with state secrets, etc. As a matter of fact, this document was made for the sake of one single item: according to Item No. 6, foreigners must not visit “zones of performance of counter-terrorist operations.”
RUSSIA MAY ENTER GEORGIA BY ONE KILOMETER
Kommersant, October 19, 2002, p. 3
On Thursday evening, in Yerevan, at the summit of heads of frontier agencies of CIS countries, Director of the Russian Federal Frontier Service Konstantin Totsky and Chairman of the Border Guanding Department of Georgia Valeriy Chkheidze signed a protocol on joint patrolling on the Chechen, Dagestani, and Ingushetian parts of the Russian-Georgian border. The preliminary agreement on this decision was made by Russian President Vladimri Putin and his Georgian counterpart Eduard Shevardnadze at their meeting in Chisinau.
Commenting on this document, General Chkheidze confirmed that Russia is getting the right to conduct radar and air surveillance over Georgia if Tbilisi gives its assent to it. Joint military operations are envisaged in case of finding Chechen gunmen near the border. But the operation may be conducted only in the vicinity of the border, no more than by one kilometer inside Georgia.
Chkheidze has made it clear that the protocol does not concern the situation in the Pankisi Gorge. There joint groups of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Georgian State Security Ministry will continue working there disclosing and detaining Chechen gunmen pretending to be peaceful civilians or refugees.
SERGEI MAKAROV APPOINTED COMMANDER OF GROUP OF FORCES IN NORTH CAUCASUS
Kommersant, October 19, 2002, p. 3
Lieutenant General Sergei Makarov, Deputy Commander of troops of the North Caucasus military district, has been appointed commander of the Joint Group of Federal Forces in the North Caucasus. Makarov has succeeded Vladimri Moltensky, who has been appointed senior deputy commander-in-chief of the Ground Troops.
Makarov was born in 1952. He has been serving in the Armed Forces since 1970. Before 1992, he was a commander of a training tank regiment in Chechnya. Then he headed the 135th separate motorized-infantry division in the city of Prokhladny, Kabardino-Balkaria. He participated in the first Chechen war. In 1998, after graduation from the Military Academy of the General Staff, he was appointed representative of the Russian Defense Ministry at the headquarters of the deputy commander-in-chief of the Internal Troops of the Interior Ministry in the North Caucasus. In October 1999, he took the office of deputy commander of the East operative group of forces in the North Caucasus. In January 2000, he was appointed commander of this group. Then he became commander of the 20th army and deputy commander of troops of the North Caucasus military district. He also performed duties of commander of the Joint Group of Federal Forces in the North Caucasus during the leave of Vladimri Moltensky in July-August 2002.
ELECTRICITY SECTOR REFORMS
Itogi, October 15, 2002, p. 10
Anatoly Chubais is celebrating a victory: the electricity sector reforms he initiated have been approved by the Duma. According to the restructuring plan, Russian Joint Energy Systems (RJES) will cease to exist – electricity generation companies will be privatized, while the distribution networks will remain in state hands.
Duma members did not vote unanimously on the six bills in the “electricity package”, but the result was convincing enough. Only Yabloko and the Communists voted against – and they’re the sworn enemies of Chubais, who wouldn’t even give him a good word, let alone vote for his bills.
But the vote doesn’t reflect half of the rocks below the waterline which the RJES chief had to navigate. The Cabinet’s bills were even opposed by some ministers.
The opponents of Chubais claim that the reforms will be reduced to handing out the most attractive assets in the electricity sector to a small circle of people; they predict uncontrolled electricity price rises. Supporters of the reforms point to the fact that in other countries, electricity is a sector of industry like any other, with competition. They say the reforms will lead to the creation of a civilized electrical energy market. They also say that restructuring does not involve the threat of rising tariffs: enterprises will become more efficient, reducing their overheads.
Actually, the Duma did not believe the last argument. The state retains the power to set limits to electricity tariffs.
At the same time, a ban has been introduced to fan-pattern power cut-offs. After that, even the Moscow mayor’s team, predominantly “anti-Chubais”, commented in satisfaction: “All the anti-social elements of the reforms have been eliminated. If this is a victory for Anatoly Chubais and Herman Gref, we’re ready to accept such defeats every day.”
UNITED IN FEAR
Novaya Gazeta, October 14, 2002, p. 9
The latest polls done by the National Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) indicate that only around a third (37%) of adult Russian citizens (their children or grandchildren) have access to a good education; a quarter (25%) have access to good health care; and a fifth (19%) can find work in the field they were trained for.
If people have enough money, their chances of a good education rise to 71%; health care availability rises to 52%, and the likelihood of working in their chosen field rises to 42%. On the contrary, for those who can’t even afford enough food, the figures fall to 18%, 12%, and 8% respectively.
Clearly, Russia is far from the ideal of equal opportunity for all. Nevertheless, one fairly relevant opportunity is practically the same for all Russian citizens. Almost all of us are equal in the face of the danger of becoming a victim of terrorism.
Four out of five Russian citizens (78%) fear becoming the victim of a terrorist attack. This fear is somewhat lower among people of high social status (71%) and high consumer status (66%), as well as among people aged 18-23 (70%). However, even in these more secure or more carefree social groups, only a minority do no fear terrorism.
Education level has little effect on fear of terrorism: for high-school dropouts it is 75%, and for college graduates it is 82%. It’s not the actual danger that is rising here, but the awareness of danger.
It appears that the division of our society into rich and poor, which has increased over the past decade, has done away with the remnants of its “moral-political unity”. Perhaps this has been replaced by unity in fear.
THE REGIONS WILL LOSE THEIR MINERAL DEPOSITS
Rossiiskie Vesti, October 16, 2002, p. 3
There seems to have been a new twist in the recent intrigues over mining licenses. The president and prime minister have been drawn into the affair. This happened at a recent Cabinet meeting, which discussed improvements in the process of issuing licenses for extracting natural resources. The discussion was prompted by proposals from the Natural Resources Ministry to amend some of the existing system. How this will be done remains an open question – whether it will be a new code on natural resources, as the Natural Resources Ministry proposes, or amendments to existing legislation.
But some fundamental differences have already developed in the approaches to solving this problem. According to the Natural Resources Ministry, the present system of “two keys” in granting mining licenses needs to be substantially “modernized”. Under the existing system, the regions – that is, the regional leaders – are full participants not only in the process of granting licenses, but also in the process of revoking them; but according to our sources, the plan is to reduce the role of the regions to “consultation”. The Natural Resources Ministry considers it feasible, even essential, to introduce the concepts of federal, regional, and local significance in relation to deposits.
However, the presidential administration’s commission, chaired by Dmitry Kozak, says that all natural resources apart from generally-distributed ones (sand, gravel, and so on) ought to be considered federal property.
Either way, independent analysts believe there is a substantial threat to regional interests in the field of mineral deposits.
And what of the regional governments? What do they think of the prospects for this mild solution to the “key problem”? According to Alexander Belyakov, chairman of the Duma natural resources committee, around 80% of the regions have responded negatively to such bills. The regions also fear being left out of the “license redistribution” process; over the years they have spent working with the usual range of mining companies, a certain pattern of relations has formed between them, which currently satisfies both sides. However, according to our sources, the regions also see some need for change. The new political hierarchy of governance implies some economic changes as well. The most important of these involve natural resources. Actually, the real lawmaking clashes over a code on natural resources still lie ahead, and they will take place in both houses of parliament – but probably not before the next Duma election.