BELARUS: THE WEST CHOSE THE WRONG TACTICS

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BELARUS: THE WEST CHOSE THE WRONG TACTICS

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, November 21, 2002, EV

Every recent foreign policy move by President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus has tended to cause a sensation lately. His personality is an embodiment of a new “iron curtain” separating two worlds – the one controlled by western powers and the one ruled by Russia. It is worth while to note that in fact on no legal grounds the West refused admission to eight Belarussian senior officials. Europe and the United States have begun to check documents of many CIS politicians and statesmen too meticulously. The latter have struck a path to Moscow… Last week Vladimir Putin received his Ukrainian counterpart. Next week the Belarussian president will pay a visit of friendship to the Kremlin. Both Lukashenko and Kuchma arranged the meeting with the Russian president over the phone. Press services of the two presidents emphasize that the ban on the entry of the Belarussian president to 14 of the 15 EU countries is not going to be the key topic during Putin and Lukashenko’s meeting. Like at a meeting with Kuchma, Putin will discuss with Lukashenko economic problems. The presidents will try to solve the problem concerning the terms and the volume of gas supply to Belarus. As for the actions of the European Union, Minsk compares them to “actions of Nazi Germany which burned down cities and killed people to defeat the communism”. Against this background Lukashenko’s forthcoming arrival in Moscow reminds of a cornered man’s behavior. According to some data, Minsk is ready to pass over to Russia on beneficial for the latter terms a few most attractive oil & gas operators, though previously the Belarussian government refused to negotiate privatization of these operators with Russia. For the time being European establishments and western democracies which have politically isolated (both de jure and de facto) a number of disagreeable regimes within the bounds of the CIS have achieved a result opposite to the expected one: all the CIS presidents and their associates feeling somehow the pressure of the West have begun to visit Moscow more frequently. Consequently, Russia’s influence within the scope of the Commonwealth has considerably extended to such a degree that some analysts are speaking about a possibility to create a powerful union of states headed by Russia. The borders of this union will be marked by an “iron curtain”, like in the USSR times. In this case Russia will secure another trump card for the negotiations with the European Union and the United States.

CHINA AND UKRAINE MAKE FRIENDS AGAINST THE WEST

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, November 21, 2002, EV

President Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine has become the first foreign state leader visiting China after a change of the Chinese supreme authorities. The sides signed several intergovernmental agreements, issues of military-technical cooperation being of particular interest. After a meeting with the Ukrainian president the Chinese minister of defense told journalists that in his opinion Kuchma is “a great friend of the Chinese people” and the new government of China will do its best to promote relationships with Ukraine in future. Leonid Kuchma immediately demanded from the Chinese authorities a proof of alleged amicability. BBC has reported that the Ukrainian president asked the government of China to help Ukraine solve the problems concerning accusations of illegal supply of Kolchuga radar systems to Iraq. Being a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China might suggest a new check-up of groundless, in Kuchma’s words, accusations. It emerged, however, that China is not able to help its friend, since the UN Security Council has already passed a resolution not to interfere into Iraqgate and not to recheck uncomforting for Ukraine data. Secondly, due to the scandal around supply of Kolchuga systems to Iraq China had found itself if not under suspicion but the center of close attention of Western powers. The point is that not long ago Ukraine supplied radar systems to China like those delivered to Iraq in 2000. Western weapons experts who have done fact-finding in Ukraine regarding the illegal provision of weapons for the Hussein regime presented an ultimatum to Kyiv to submit Ukrainian-Chinese contracts on the sale of Kolchuga systems. Kyiv refused pleading non-disclosure of its own and others’ commercial state secrets. The West has some doubts whether China was an ultimate receiver of the radar systems in this case. That is why the Ukrainian authorities shared with their Chinese counterparts information that the United States is keenly interested in the whereabouts of the above mentioned radar systems in China and is going as far as to provoke Ukraine to espionage.

DENMARK INSISTS ON LANGUAGE ACCURACY

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, November 21, 2002, EV

Akhmed Zakayev, Aslan Maskhadov’s envoy, who is currently kept in a Danish prison still remains an apple of discord in the relations of Moscow and Copenhagen. The Justice Ministry of Denmark is not satisfied with the additional evidence presented by the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation and testifying to Zakayev’s being involved into terrorist activities. The ministry has claimed that there are some discrepancies between the English and Danish translations of the presented documents. Danish officials hope that Russian prosecutors will submit a new “correct” translation by November 30 and all essential documents relating to Zakayev’s case will be delivered to Copenhagen by the above indicated date in the proper form. Only then the Justice Ministry of Denmark will be able to pass over the documents to the commissar of the Copenhagen Police who will determine whether “the terms of extradition in this particular case conform with the Danish law on extradition”. As we were told in the Danish Embassy in Moscow, Danish minister of justice Lene Espersen informed the consul and the vice-consul of Russia about Copenhagen’s position in this affair. Danish officials believe that “in order to adequately assess the evidence, one needs an accurate translation, especially when the matter is to be brought to court”. It is stressed in the meantime that this problem is not a political one. An official representative of the Justice Ministry, Jacob Sharf, told Ritsau Agency that “for the time being the formal conditions of a request for Zakayev’s extradition remain unfulfilled”. Russia’s consul to Copenhagen, Alexander Kopnin, announced yesterday that he had discussed with the Danish minister of justice “not the evidence to Zakayev’s case and its quality, but technical details and some slight faults of the English and Danish translations”. Apart from that Mr. Kopnin stressed that on the whole Danish officials had expressed their satisfaction with the submitted documents. Meanwhile, a new Chechen forum is opening in Copenhagen. It was organized by the opposition Socialist People’s Party of Denmark, the group of supporters and the committee for defending Akhmed Zakayev. Turkey has been particularly concerned about Chechen affairs against the background of the Zakayev long-standing problem. The Turkish government has banned nine leaders of Chechen separatists, including Movladi Udugov and Ruslan Gelayev, to stay in the country.

RUSSIA’S DEFENSE MINISTRY SEEKS THE IGLA IN FORMER USSR REPUBLICS

Izvestia, November 21, 2002, EV

At yesterday’s meeting of the CIS Defense Ministers Council Russia’s defense minister Sergei Ivanov put forward a proposal to make an inventory of “Igla” portable antiaircraft missile systems in all republics of the former USSR. This check is required because several dozen such systems bearing serial numbers have been captured from militants in Chechnya. The Russian military has compared the serial numbers of the captured systems with those on the systems adopted by the armed forces in the former USSR and now they hope to disclose where and how Chechen gunmen obtain the antiaircraft missile systems.

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