AKSENENKO NEEDS SOME GOOD PR
Tribuna, April 12, 2000, p. 2
Rumors about a speedy and inevitable dismissal, and even possible legal prosecution for cases connected with corruption, have driven Nikolai Aksenenko to distraction. He and his close retinue preferred not to wait for the results of these rumors – and have launched an offensive.
Aksenenko and his representatives, including his son and nephew, intend to circulate information in business and the media that Aksenenko “was the main collector of funds for Putin’s presidential campaign”. They count on neutralizing the accusations against Aksenenko of commercializing the Roads and Transportation Ministry in favor of his relatives and friends, and intend to improve the minister’s reputation.
CIVILIAN TO BECOME DEFENSE MINISTER?
Tribuna, April 12, 2000, p. 2
The Presidential Administration is working on a plan to divide the spheres of influence of the Defense Ministry and the General Staff. In accordance with this plan, all combat forces, including the troops of the Interior Ministry, are to be subordinated to the General Staff. The Defense Ministry will be responsible for military reform, military structure, and the defense sector – as in the majority of Western countries. If this happens, a civilian may be appointed defense minister.
Vladimir Putin is not yet convinced that such a division of power is advisable. Therefore he decided that Igor Sergeev will retain his post as defense minister. By the way, this was a personal request of former President Boris Yeltsin.
COMMUNIST PARTY MAY BE TRANSFORMED INTO THE PRESIDENT’S PUPPET
Tribuna, April 12, 2000, p. 2
Political advisors have proposed to the Russian president a plan aimed at transforming the CPRF into a social-democratic party of Western type. They say that Gennady Zyuganov should be replaced as leader. The representatives of the “old guard” must be forced out of the party too. Gennady Seleznev, who has proved to be an easily-controlled official, should be entrusted with with the CPRF reorganization campaign.
This would mean that the Communist Party, which remains the most powerful and influential organized political structure in contemporary Russia, would turn into a party loyal to the current political and economic course.
CHECHEN GUERRILLAS PREPARE A COUNTER-OFFENSIVE
Tribuna, April 12, 2000, p. 2
The special services have reports of an immediate intensification of the activity of illegal Chechen armed groups. This includes plans to organize a “spring counter=offensive”. The aim of this is to cause heavy casualties among the federal force. According to the terrorists, this ought to lead to destabilization of the situation on the territory controlled by the Russian government, and force Russia to begin peace negotiations with the Chechen leaders. Chechen field commanders plan to block the federal forces in the Argun canyon.
BASAEV IS PREPARED TO KILL MASKHADOV
Trud-7, April 13, 2000, p. 3
The threat by Lord Russell-Johnson, Chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, to terminate all contacts with Aslan Maskhadov if he does not condemn the terrorist activities of Shamil Basaev, seems to have influenced the Chechen leader.
In his interview on German radio, Maskhadov called Basaev, Khattab, and Udugov (together with oligarch Boris Berezovsky) “warmongers”. He did not apologize to the Dagestani people for the invasion. Nevertheless, he admitted that this action provoked a new armed conflict with Moscow. According to the leader of the separatists, Boris Berezovsky, who allegedly gave Shamil Basaev $1 million, is also to blame for the latest tragedy.
The Russian Defense Ministry viewed the statement of “the president of Ichkeria” skeptically.
Those same criminal forces which currently operate in Chechnya are the most serious threat to Aslan Maskhadov. According to certain reports, neither Khattab nor Basaev intend to surrender. Maskhadov cannot force them to do so, because his personal detachment consists of about 400 guerrillas (the “irreconcilables” have about 2,000-3,000 guerrillas). The leaders of the separatists are prepared to kill their “president” if necessary. Basaev could give such an order. He said recently that he has enough resources to fight on for years.
IMF CHIEF MEETS WITH YAVLINSKY
Komsomolskaya Pravda, April 13, 2000, p. 5
Stanley Fischer, acting director of the International Monetary Fund, who recently visited Russia, implied that Western partners will not work with Vladimir Putin until he forms the Cabinet.
The main point Russian and Western media noted was that Stanley Fischer had lunch with Grigorii Yavlinsky. After the lunch he noted that he has been maintaining professional contacts with the leader of Yabloko for a long time. In addition, Fischer said “Yavlinsky’s economic views are close to mine”. It should be noted that the acting IMF director made this statement on the eve of the next round of negotiations between Russia and the IMF, set for May 7.
The majority of observers consider Yavlinsky a representative of the Russian liberal democratic opposition. After Fischer’s meeting with Grigory Yavlinsky it became clear that the government must take the views of this opposition into consideration. The West is evidently seeking some contact with Russian democracy, trying to forget the Communists like an awful nightmare.
RUSSIAN ARMY RUNS SHORT OF CONSCRIPTS
Izvestia, April 13, 2000, p.1
The Defense Ministry has started the spring conscription campaign. It is supposed to recruit reserve officers in addition to ordinary soldiers.
Colonel-General Vladislav Putilin, Chief of the Mobilization Department of the Russian General Staff, answered the questions of journalists on Tuesday. He admitted that the Chechen war is having an impact on the conscription campaign. He said: “Earlier we had the possibility to choose, but currently our choice is limited.” Three months ago the Defense Ministry was trying to prove quite the opposite.
As it turned out, this year the number of conscripts is lower than the Defense Ministry needs. The Army also lacks officers.
SHAIMIEV DID NOT MEET WITH UDUGOV
Izvestia, April 13, 2000, p. 2
“Nezavisimaya Gazeta” reported, citing reliable sources, that President Mintimer Shaimiev of Tatarstan held an unofficial meeting with Movladi Udugov in the United Arab Emirates. The subject of the meeting was a political settlement of the armed conflict in Chechnya.
Rafael Shakimov, Shaimiev’s advisor for political issues, has denied these rumors: “I spoke with Mintimer Shaimiev, and he told me that no such meeting had taken place.”
It is well known that during and after the first Chechen war, Tatarstan participated in the political settlement of the conflict in the North Caucasus. Under the current circumstances, Tatarstan cannot act as a mediator; but if the federal center begins negotiations, it would be reasonable to use Shaimiev’s peacemaking experience.
DUMA DEPUTIES ON THE RESULTS OF THE PACE SESSION
Independent Television, Segodnya, April 12, 2000, 12:00
On April 12 the Duma debated a draft resolution on the results of the visit of the Russian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The initial draft of the resolution, which was approved at a meeting of the Duma Council, contained a rather harsh statement: “The unreasonable position of the majority of PACE members has seriously complicated the relations of the Russian Federal Assembly with this organization. Under the current circumstances, the Duma considers the participation of its deputies in PACE meetings and committees to be inappropriate.” Today the deputies received a revised draft of the resolution, in which the position of the Duma is stated more mildly. “Sanctions against Russia are unacceptable. The renewal of full-fledged cooperation will become possible only after this discriminatory decision is reconsidered.”
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, LDPR leader: “This statement is too mild. We should have sent them an ultimatum. We should have stated that we will not attend their sessions any more, and will not pay dues. This does not mean that we refuse membership in this organization. Russia is a member of the Council of Europe. But we should have taught them a lesson. They have defamed us. It turns out that they are on the side of the bandits.”
Alexander Shishlov, Yabloko faction: “We believe this resolution should be completely revised. In its present form, it essentially announces that the Duma will no longer participate in the PACE. Therefore, we propose to postpone debate on this issue until Friday, by which time it may be presented in a constructive rather than confrontational way.”
Sergei Yushenkov, Union of Right Forces: “In my view, this resolution omits any mention of the objective circumstances which led to the events at the PACE session. And it says nothing about what the Duma intends to do to resolve the problem. A full debate on this issue, with representatives of the Foreign Ministry and other parts of the executive invited, would help us establish the real reasons for the failure of the Russian delegation at the PACE session.”
Vladimir Semenov, Unity faction: “Allowing the Duma to be represented by Zhirinovsky and Zyuganov, on the one hand, who only arouse repulsion in Europe – and Kovalev, on the other hand, who will end up getting us thrown out of Europe – this can’t go on… they’re been going there year after year, and things only get worse. Russia should be represented in Europe by someone new. These should be young deputies, who would show Europe a new Russia.”
Gennady Seleznev, Duma Speaker: “Currently the PACE has to think about how to rectify its mistake. If the PACE does not change its mind, the Russian deputies will not attend the next session.”
PUTIN CONGRATULATES RUSSIAN COSMONAUTS
ORT, Novosti, April 12, 2000, 12:00
April 12 is Cosmonauts’ Day. Vladimir Putin met in the Kremlin with a group of Russian cosmonauts. He stated at this meeting that the development of the Russian space program will be discussed at a meeting of the Security Council.
CHECHEN GUERRILLAS RETURN TO GROZNY
Russian Television, April 12, 2000, 13:00
Two headless bodies of Interior Troops servicemen were found in Grozny on April 12 and identified. According to the Interior Ministry, they are Private Shilov and Sergeant Candipula. They were taken prisoner during a battle on January 27 and have been listed as missing in action since that time.
In the meantime, some Chechen guerrillas are returning to Grozny in the guise of civilians.
Each day the number of officers of the law enforcement agencies is increasing in Chechnya. Step by step, the Army is withdrawing its forces from the republic. Even the Air Force of the Federal group is not as active as it was before. Over the past 24 hours fighters and helicopters have flown only 19 combat missions. Nevertheless, they have destroyed four large groups of Chechen guerrillas.