Izvestia, February 24, 2000, p.3

Russian law enforcement agencies continue their search for Lieutenant-General Gennady Shpigun, who was kidnapped in March 1999 by Chechen guerrillas. A source in the Interior Ministry told the Military News Agency on February 23 that highly-qualified specialists from several security services are involved in looking for the general. There are reports that Shpigun, who was the envoy of the Interior Ministry in Chechnya, is still alive. According to the source, in the course of the recent raids in the districts adjacent to Dagestan, agents found many places where guerrillas kept hostages: vacant reinforced-concrete vaults, barrels dug into the ground, and other places.


Izvestia, February 24, 2000, p.3

Khumait Daudov, a leader of a Chechen criminal group, has been detained by agents of the Moscow Regional Department for Combating Organized Crime. The press service of the Department told Interfax on February 23 that the criminal group headed by Daudov is suspected of delivering weapons from Chechnya to central Russia. Daudov has been detained by police five times, but he always managed to evade conviction. The Department has also detained Ruslanbek Sambulatov. He is suspected of participating in battles in Chechnya against the federal forces. In particular, agents confiscated a photo dated May 1998, showing Sambulatov together with notorious Chechen guerrillas.


Izvestia, February 24, 2000, p.3

The Gorbunov Kazan Aircraft-Building Plant will supply the Russian Defense Ministry with a new Tu-160 strategic bomber. A representative of the plant told Interfax on February 23 that the Defense Ministry and the directors of the plant have already signed a contract, and the plane will soon be delivered. The Defense Ministry has paid the plant for the plane. According to analysts, the Tu-160 bomber is the most powerful aircraft of its type in the world.


Izvestia, February 24, 2000, p.7

Communications Minister Leonid Reiman reported at a government meeting on the results of programs to control the Year 2000 problem in the Russian Federation.

Mr. Reiman noted in particular that “some executive bodies had to use emergency technical measures when preparing for the beginning of 2000, including switching the date back, manual control of systems, temporary shutdowns of systems, and even switching systems off because they did not have enough money to solve this problem.”

The ministries which used such measures were: the Defense Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the Emergency Ministry, the Justice Ministry, the Tax Ministry, the State Customs Committee, FAGLI, the Federal Security Service, the Foreign Ministry, and others.


Komsomolskaya Pravda, February 24, 2000, p.3

The return of Victor Gerashchenko, chairman of the Central Bank, from Belarus has not cleared up the issue of creating a common Russian-Belorussian currency. The Central Bank told “Komsomolskaya Pravda” that Russia and Belarus will have a common currency no earlier than two or three years from now.

Belarus, which is trying to speed up this process, had to agree that the ruble will become the currency of both countries.

The Central Bank insists that there must be only one issuing center, and it must be located in Russia. Minsk does not agree with this, and asks to be given at least “a small money printing system”.

By the way, the refinancing rate in Belarus is 175% per annum, while in Russia it is 45%. The lower the rate, the more stable the situation. It is no coincidence that the IMF is refusing to lend to Belarus. A Russian loan of $100 million is the last hope for Lukashenko. Belarus is ready to participate in restoring Chechnya in order to get this loan.


Rossiyskaya Gazeta, February 24, 2000, p.1

Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov discussed on February 23 in Perm some topical issues of defense procurement.

Klebanov arrived in Perm with Yury Koptev, Director of the Russian Aerospace Agency, and representatives of certain ministries. At the end of the day the deputy prime minister met with directors of defense sector enterprises.


Moskovsky Komsomolets, February 24, 2000, p.2

Last year the Defense Ministry dismissed 35,000 officers, almost half of whom were lieutenants or captains. More than 13,000 officers refused to extend their contracts with the Defense Ministry; these are people who left the Army voluntarily. At the same time, the Defense Ministry has now reduced the staff of the Army by 500,000 officers.

At present, the normal personnel numbers of the officer corps should be 404,000 officers (in reality it has 363,000 officers, generals, and admirals). It means that 41,000 posts are vacant (11%). But the Defense Ministry is not concerned about this fact. The main thing is that the Ministry has managed to fill staff vacancies for units in the North Caucasus and Yugoslavia.

During last three years 58,000 lieutenants have joined the Army after graduating from military colleges, while 120,000 officers have retired (50,000 of them were lieutenants or captains).


RTR, Vesti, February 23, 2000, 13:00

The RIA-Novosti news agency, citing law enforcement sources, has reported that an attempt on the life of Vladimir Putin is being organized in St. Petersburg, where the acting president is to attend the funeral of Anatoly Sobchack. From the point of view of the organizers of the assassination attempt, Putin’s visit to St. Petersburg suits their plans perfectly, since the places that the acting president will visit are already known. This was reported by representatives of law enforcement agencies to a correspondent of RIA-Novosti.


Kultura Channel, After the News, February 22, 2000, 21:40

Question: We are meeting on the eve of the holiday of the Armed Forces. The Russian authorities have at last realized that the Armed Forces, armed people are protecting Fatherland and the state must take care about them.

Andrei Nikolaev, chair of the Duma Defense Committee: We in the Defense Committee have set ourselves two very important tasks. First of all, in spring we would like to organize a meeting together with the Federation Council, the Presidential Administration, the Security Council, the government, regional authorities, Constitutional and Supreme Courts in order to assess the situation with legislation in the sphere of defense. In the opinion of many specialists, there is no balanced, coordinated mechanism of security, the Armed Forces, infrastructure, military science in this country today. Actually, over the past ten years we did not manage to create the Russian variant of national security. A number of negative innovations were introduced which called the presence of the military force capable of fulfilling various political tasks in Russia into question. In 2000 we must work out and pass such constitutional laws as Martial Law, the law “On States of Emergency”. In my opinion, it is high time the law “On Alternative Service” were passed. We need an updated law on the Security Council and there are many other issues concerning defense and security.

Q: But first of all you must make society, the government, the Duma, the Federation Council realize our principal task – what we want and what we can defend, and how we can formulate our position in relation to the world. This is where we must begin.

Nikolaev: You have touched upon the most painful question. During the past ten years military specialists have been trying to find an opportunity to specify tasks for the military organization of the state. From my point of view and from the point of view of many experts, the purpose of the military reform must be creation of such military power in the state which would help secure certain political objectives. To my mind, the situation today is as follows: the newly-elected Duma which reflects the current state of society together with the newly-elected president can make up a united consolidated political force which would define these political goals.

The matter is that it is absolutely clear that the Russian Armed Forces in their present state are five or ten years behind more progressive armies of other countries. The future war will be different. We must seriously reconsider the issues of mobilization of both the Armed Forces and the national economy, the potential of the military industrial complex. We must reconsider investments in our fundamental applied science, the elementary basis, modern materials, since today this will define the image of the future armed fight.

There is another important problem: Russia is virtually left without allies. This is true and we must take this fact into consideration. That is why the first step towards, say, Belarus, other states which could become Russia’s allies, is very important for us both from the point of view of securing political objectives and the military stricture of the state.

Q: But we must enlarge the scope of our search for allies. There are approaches which could unite us with the West, the United States, and with Asia, with Japan, but in this relation we must not insist on any kind of confrontation. We must seek ways of cooperation with them.

Nikolaev: You are absolutely right. The world of today is so small that the military sphere becomes a very subtle sphere which requires a correct approach, because any actions will surely cause counter-actions. It’s true, our mistake is that Russia cannot define the sphere of its interests. Russia does not specify those regions which are adjacent to it or are somewhere in Europe, Asia, the Far East and where its strategic interests are located which it intends to promote. These are our political objectives.

In general, no country, even the US which possesses huge military potential, cannot provide itself with weapons in full. The whole world is consolidating its potential, unites its efforts to secure certain achievements, if we talk about know-hows which could be used in the military action. We must have access to modern technologies, the modern elementary base, modern materials. Of course, it depends not only on our political relations, but, to a large extent, on the work of security services. We know that in most states security services obtain the information which can affect the defensive capacity of the country.

Q: At certain crucial moments security services played a substantial role.

Nikolaev: We received up to 80% of revolutionary technologies from special services.

Q: We must not forget about direct cooperation. Otherwise we will hit a wall, sooner or later.

Nikolaev: It is absolutely right. I think, you mean military technical cooperation, united production of arms and equipment. I think there is a great reserve for entering the international arms market and regaining the position we once had, on the other hand, this is an opportunity for using new technologies in our weapons and equipment which could be used by our Armed Forces.

Q: I have always worried much by the problem of atomic weapons, because analysis has always proved that this is not the weapon which could be used for military purposes, in order to reach any military or political goals. The main purpose is still to avoid applying these weapons of mass destruction against any enemy.

Nikolaev: I have my own view of atomic weapons. It goes without saying that the country’s nuclear potential is significant in the interests of preventing a war, and, of course, Russia, on its part, must do its best to preserve and keep up this potential. You know perfectly well that the hypothetical use of atomic weapons is possible only if we possess a normal working system of strategic intelligence, a well functioning system of missile attack alert, space defense system and many other components. Unfortunately, these components are in a rather bad state currently, which is why the new issue of the military doctrine includes a thesis about the possibility of our being the first to apply nuclear weapons. This is a dangerous trend. On the one hand, it is a warning for other countries about inadmissibility of an attack, but, on the other hand, this may cause serious distrust for Russia which must secure a counter-attack, according to the previous system of views, that is, in case of attack it will be ready to adequately respond to the threat, using nuclear weapons, if necessary. I agree with you that the nuclear weapon is, in fact, not the means of waging a war. It is a measure of preventing a war.

Q: You see, there is another side to it. It is very difficult to cooperate in the means of attack. It is much easier to cooperate in defensive means.

Nikolaev: If we mean START talking about nuclear weapons, our point of view is well known, I think it is absolutely right, that is adhering to the Missile Defense Treaty of 1972. Life is changing, of course, and threats which appear in connection with proliferation of missile technologies, nuclear technologies, really exist, still this treaty is basic for START-2. Frankly speaking, I was much confused when the US Congress passed the law on creation of a national missile defense system and on the US’ non-alignment to the Convention on worldwide prohibition of nuclear tests which was signed by the US president last summer.


REN-TV, February 22, 2000, 18:40

Vladimir Lukin, deputy Duma speaker: The problem is that no one doubts the fact that Russia is a potential Great Power. Every normal Russian citizen dreams of making Russia a Great Power. Here we have two questions. First – what do the words “Great Power” mean, especially now, at the turn of the century? A Great Power is a state which keeps pace with technologies and civilization principles of the 21st century. This is the most important. Then, a Great Power is a state which enjoys respect of other countries and exerts influence on the world. This causes a question. A strong country, even the strongest, automatically generates a coalition directed against it. This is a law. This is NATO and things like that. As soon as they feel that a country begins to arouse fear, they start looking for methods of restraining it. The traditional method is to create a coalition. Not because these countries are fond of each other, but because they are afraid of something. For instance, at present, the US is ahead of the entire world and arouses if not fear, then certain apprehension in many. And we witness a kind of an anti-American coalition forming. It is informal, but it exists. Europe is displeased with the US and even suggests creation of an integrated economy and unified armed forces.

Q: Still, Europe does not protest against NATO expansion into eastern countries.

Lukin: When I speak about Europe, I mean the continental German-French axis, first and foremost. There exists a very serious potential of discontent in regards to the US. Believe me, Europe and Russia are displeased with the US. So is China. And so is Japan, although it is trying to conceal its displeasure. I don’t need to mention the third world.

So you see that it is a tricky affair – to be a strong state and arouse much fear, this was proved by the Soviet experience, by the way. Therefore, being a Great Power in the 21st century means knowing one’s place in the world, knowing its limits, aspire to maximally extend these limits, but act according to the principle: “Live and let live”.

Q: Do you think Russia’s isolation from the rest of the world possible?

Lukin: It is possible. But everything depends on us. No one is going to build a wall around us. Americans like the Chinese or Vietnamese even less than us. They have a uni-party system, the Political Bureau makes the most important decisions there. And, still, where do they make investments? In China, Vietnam, or Russia? In China and Vietnam, of course, because there is stability there. No one wishes to make investments in Russia, except for some risky, half-bandit guys. We must establish order in our own home, set right our foreign policy. Russia’s current foreign policy can be reduced to the following formula: “We had Leo Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Alexander Nevsky, that is why we are a Great Power. You do not need to mind us much, but call us a Great Power as often as possible.” We get the kicks out of being called a Great Power. This is our foreign policy, to a large extent. As a result, we often take offence. It is not serious. For example, China and India are large countries, they are clever from the political point of view. They have strategies. Their strategy is directed mostly towards modernizing their countries and meeting the standard which makes it possible to enter the 21st century. This requires foreign investments and modern technologies, first and foremost. This means opening the doors.

China or India will never join any blocs. I can reveal a secret to you. When NATO expansion was in full swing, I consulted the Indian ambassador and the Chinese ambassador concerning the following subject: maybe, we should gather together, even if only on the level of international committees, and discuss our problems? They said – no, let us speak one-on-one, first with the Chinese, then with the Indians.

Our task concerns the coalition which now exists, a very strong NATO coalition. It must not be directed against us, it must not be dangerous for us, and it must be turned into a political coalition rather than a military one. Being a political coalition, it must include those factors which are not traditional for NATO, that is Russia, Ukraine, Belarus.