DUE TO FAMILY CIRCUMSTANCES

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DUE TO FAMILY CIRCUMSTANCES

Rossiiskie Vesti, April 9, 2003, p. 3

The resignation of Ruslan Tsakaev as interior minister of Chechnya, following the death of OMON commander Musa Gazimagomadov, marks the real start of Akhmad Kadyrov’s presidential campaign. Kadyrov, head of the administration of Chechnya, now has much more solid grounds to count on being able to use the state’s resources in the forthcoming election campaign. However, the Kremlin has not yet decided on its preferred candidate for president of Chechnya.

Tsakaev himself attributes his decision to resign to his disagreement with the Chechen administration’s personnel policy for its interior ministry. Tsakaev said: “In particular, I opposed the recruitment of amnestied separatist guerrillas into the ranks of Chechnya’s police force. In my view, that is unacceptable.”

Shortly before the referendum, Chechnya’s television channel showed footage of a group of 46 guerrillas laying down their arms and surrendering to the federal forces; Kadyrov gave them a warm welcome, promising to protect them from prosecution. Tsakaev has expressed regret that when personnel decisions are made in Chechnya, “leadership positions are frequently filled by people who are far removed from law enforcement work, people with neither experience nor qualifications.” According to Tsakaev, former members of illegal armed formations “have sufficient alternative opportunities to apply their energies to a life of peace.”

Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov took a somewhat distant approach to these events. Gryzlov praised Tsakaev’s performance, noting his role in organizing Chechnya’s interior ministry and his activity during preparations for the referendum; he said Tsakaev had resigned “due to family circumstances”. According to Gryzlov, Tsakaev will be transferred to a job in Moscow. The question of who will become Chechnya’s next interior minister has not yet been considered.

Some observers consider that this event has an obvious political subtext. Kadyrov has started “clearing the field” in order to secure his own victory in the presidential election. Even the tragically coincidental death of OMON commander Gazimagomadov, who passed away on the same day at the Burdenko Hospital, is linked to the ongoing power-struggle between Chechen clans for power and resources. Judging by the latest developments, in the interests of restoring peace and stability in Chechnya the Kremlin is prepared to make some substantial concessions to the clans which have taken on parts of this complex, thankless task. Having backed Kadyrov for the implementation of the constitutional process in Chechnya, Moscow is avoiding any drastic moves which might disrupt the stability of its relationship with him – even though such a relationship doesn’t guarantee complete and untroubled peace for either side.

HOW MUCH FOR YOUR ELECTRICITY?

Rossiiskie Vesti, April 9, 2003, p. 2

There is a great deal of evidence that the infrastructure of the Russian Armed Forces is collapsing. This includes instances of military structures selling electricity, even though the Armed Forces experience electricity shortages – resulting in power outages for missile installations and warships.

For example, electrical utility companies in Primorye (Maritime territory, Russian Far East) were alerted by the fact that although the number of military detachments in their service zone had been reduced, energy consumption for the Pacific Fleet wasn’t falling – in some cases, it was even rising. It turned out that intermediaries, as well as supplying electricity to their own military facilites, were also selling it off on the side to commercial structures – stores, saunas, and so on. Prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation. It would be interesting to know how many other such cases there are for the Armed Forces overall.

ILL-CONSIDERED DECISIONS

Rossiiskie Vesti, April 9, 2003, p. 3

Despite the grandiose scale of recent changes to the security and law enforcement bloc, this Kremlin decision – oddly enough – has turned out to be less than completely thought through in legal and organizational terms.

A special working group is urgently being set up to bring in some fresh ideas; according to some reports, Duma members have been invited to join it. However, none of those legislators have experience in the issues at hand – with the possible exception of Alexei Alexandrov (Fatherland – All Russia faction), and even he is only known for having graduated from the Leningrad State University’s law faculty along with President Putin.

Viktor Cherkesov isn’t pleased with what he had inherited either, even though he has already reported to the president on taking up his new position. First of all, Cherkesov was shocked by the self-seeking attitudes he found among Federal Tax Police Service personnel. That is why he wants to do some serious weeding in the recently-disbanded FTPS, selecting only the least corrupt staff for his new agency.

Moreover, the president’s advisors have already pointed out that the technical participation of the FSB in providing the Vybory vote-counting computer system for the elections could lead to undesirable reactions, both in Russia and abroad.

STATE DEBT

Rossiiskie Vesti, April 9, 2003, p. 5

According to the Finance Ministry, Russia’s state debt as at January 1, 2003 was $144.9 billion, or 4.6057 trillion rubles. This is approximately 42.4% of the GDP. The debt situation has changed for the better in recent years; in 2000, state debt was 101.6% of the GDP.

The state’s foreign debt as at January 1, 2003 was $123.5 billion, or 36.2% of the GDP, having fallen by 30% compared to the start of 2000.

PRESSURE ON RUSSIA OVER IRAQ

Zavtra, April 10, 2003, p. 1

US national security advisor Condoleezza Rice visited Moscow. American military unites attacked a convoy of Russian diplomats being evacuated from Iraq. There have been “problems” in negotiations on Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization, and a customs scandal in Britain involving S. Bogdanikov, head of the Rosneft oil company. All these events are interlinked: they represent both a show of force and a warning to the Kremlin that it must cooperate with Washington and London on issues of “post-war regulation in Iraq”.

The “persuasion” of France and Germany at the recent NATO summit in Brussels serves the same purposes.

The timid response of the Foreign Ministry, which declared that Russian Embassy staff had been “caught in the crossfire between Iraqi and coalition forces”, is at odds with the facts – according to reports from New York, subsequently supported by the statement of Russian ambassador to Iraq Vladimir Titorenko. According to our sources, Titorenko’s diplomatic career may be considered finished, due to a drastic rise in pro-American attitudes among Russia’s leaders.

POSSIBLE PERSONNEL CHANGES IN THE SECURITY COUNCIL

Zavtra, April 10, 2003, p. 1

The Kremlin is continuing to promote opponents of “Yeltsin’s Family” within federal government bodies. Following Valery Zorkin’s promotion to head the Constitutional Court, the latest Putin appointee is Valentin Stepanov, who was prosecutor general until October 1993: by Putin’s decree, he has now become the deputy of Vladimir Rushailo.

According to our sources, this is the prelude to Rushailo’s dismissal as secretary of the Security Council. Back in 1999, Rushailo was Putin’s undeclared yet serious rival for the status of Boris Yeltsin’s successor; Rushailo also has close contacts with some figures in the present US administration (including Condoleezza Rice). According to our sources from among Yeltsin’s close associates, Yeltsin has been heard to say on more than one occasion that he “brought the wrong person to power in the Kremlin”.

NO ROOM FOR BEREZOVSKY IN THE MEDIA INDUSTRY

Zavtra, April 10, 2003, p. 1

The Prosecutor General’s Office has announced the start of a criminal case against Igor Golembiovsky, former general director of the Novye Izvestia Publishing Group and editor-in-chief of the “Novye Izvestia” newspaper, as well as his deputy, Sergei Agafonov; they are accused of “premeditated bankruptcy”. According to our sources in the law enforcement agencies, this announcement is linked to attempts by Golembiovsky and Agafonov to make a comeback in the media industry (this involves the “Resonance” newspaper project) with the support of Boris Berezovsky.

According to the same sources, charges against Golembiovsky may be dropped if he gives evidence against the “fugitive oligarch” whose extradition from Britain is being requested by the Prosecutor General’s Office. Efforts to “unify” Russia’s media before the elections, currently being made under the overall direction of the presidential administration, may soon affect other publications controlled by Berezovsky: primarily the “Kommersant-Daily” and “Nezavisimaya Gazeta” newspapers.

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