PUTIN’S SEVEN SAMURAI
Moskovsky Komsomolets, May 19, 2000, pp. 1, 2
The provinces are now full of life. The seven newly-proclaimed “capital cities” of Russia are waiting for the president’s decision. The person who will occupy the seat in Nizhny Novgorod, and control around ten adjacent regions, has already been determined. It is Sergei Kirienko, leader of the Union of Right Forces faction in the Duma. Boris Nemtsov will apparently take Kirienko’s place in Parliament. Yegor Gaidar, another potential candidate for faction leader, has categorically refused to take this post.
As for the other new administrative districts, there is still some suspense about their future. The north-eastern zone will apparently be controlled by Putin’s friend, Federal Security Service General Cherkesov. It is also rumored in the Kremlin that none of the current governors will become a presidential envoy. The candidacy of Valery Zubov, a former governor of the Krasnoyarsk Region, is unlikely to be approved, although Deputy Director of the Presidential Administration Surkov is said to be promoting him. Dmitry Kozak, who has not been appointed as general prosecutor, or Security Council Secretary Sergei Ivanov, may be appointed as presidential envoy in the central region, which will have its capital in Moscow.
GENERALS OF THE OLD STANDARD
Moskovsky Komsomolets, May 19, 2000, p. 2
On May 18, President Putin appointed new heads of security agencies. However, this event did not result in any surprises, since practically all of them have retained their positions (Defense Minister Igor Sergeev, Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo, Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu, Justice Minister Yuri Chaika, Federal Security Service Director Nikolai Patrushev, Director of the Federal Tax Police Vyacheslav Soltaganov, Director of the Federal Border Guard Service Konstantin Totsky, General Director of the Federal Agency for Governmental Liaison and Information Vladimir Matyukhin, Federal Construction Service Director Nikolai Abroskin, Director of the Federal Service of the Railroad Forces Grigory Kogatko, etc.). The novices on this list are Andrei Chernenko, the newly appointed Director of the State Courier Service, and Yevgeny Murov, Director of the State Guard Service.
WHY BASAEV NEEDS AN AMNESTY
Parlamentskaya Gazeta, May 19, 2000, p. 4
On May 15, the amnesty for participants in illegal military formations in Chechnya expired. Colonel General Valery Manilov, Deputy Chief of the General Staff, asserts that at least 2,500 people took advantage of the amnesty; among them there were even former members of Aslan Maskhadov’s government. To cut it short, the measure has been a success.
However, according to official statistics, only 130 guerrillas had been amnestied as at May 15. Thus, the results of the amnesty are not as brilliant as we would like them to be.
However the opinions of Moscow politicians may differ, practically all of them have agreed that there was no sense in prolonging the amnesty.
UNDER THE WATCHFUL EYE: AMERICAN RADAR IN NORWAY
Izvestia, May 19, 2000, p. 4
Friendly relations between Moscow and Oslo could be spoiled by the argument surrounding the Globus-2 radar installation located close to the Russian border, in the settlement of Varde. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov stressed after talks with his Norwegian colleague: “I would not like this issue to become a problem in our relations.”
Both sides have agreed to “conduct expert consultations,” but these will hardly eliminate all Moscow’s objections to this project. The fact is that according to Russian experts, this American radar, which is to start working in October 2000, violates the Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense Treaty of 1972.
According to our sources in the Russian Defense Ministry, Globus-2 is able to monitor 35,000 square kilometers of north-western Russia, including all launches of ICBMs from Plesetsk space center, the Barents Sea, and the Nenox testing area. In other words, the radar is able to function as an early warning system, which comes into conflict with the basic terms of the ABM Treaty. This document bans construction of such installations beyond the territory of the US or Russia.
The construction of the radar in Norway is a worrying sign in the context of US plans to extend its anti-missile defense system.
Moscow opposes these plans. And the problem is not a lack of trust, but violation of one of the main international treaties, the ABM Treaty of 1972, which the Russian Foreign Ministry calls the cornerstone of global security.
SHAIMIEV SHOWS UNDERSTANDING
Izvestia, May 19, 2000, p. 2
President Mintimer Shaimiev of Tatarstan, just back from Vladimir Putin’s meeting with regional leaders in Moscow, gave journalists his point of view on the current innovations in the state power system: “It is necessary to understand the current situation in the state power system. As a matter of fact, power has been lost on all levels throughout the Russian Federation.” Shaimiev agrees that it is necessary to modify the system of state regulation; in particular, to replace regional leaders in the Federation Council with some other people. Shaimiev reported that at the talks with Putin he proposed to establish a kind of consultative body consisting of regional leaders, which may be called the State Council. In his opinion, this measure is necessary for the consideration of vital issues.
KAMCHATKA RESIDENTS SUFFERING FROM POWER CUTS
Trud, May 19, 2000, p. 2
For the second day in a row, there have been power blackouts lasting 13-15 hours in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. People are lighting fires in their yards in order to cook food. Because of the current fuel shortage, hot water and central heating are disconnected too. In the near future the city administration will switch on the lights in the city for only 90 minutes a day.
Kindergartens are closed on the Kamchatka Peninsula. Industry and business are completely paralyzed. The energy supplies for a number of military sites have also been discontinued.
Such a strict regime will last on the Kamchatka Peninsula until May 22-23, when the tanker Kolchinsky arrives in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Currently, the tanker is being loaded in the port of Nakhodka in the Primorye Territory.
WE NEED A CONGRESS OF ALL PEOPLES OF CHECHNYA
Trud, May 19, 2000, p. 2
Mr. Aslambek Aslakhanov, Chairman of the national public organization Union of Peoples of Chechnya, believes “it is necessary to talk with Maskhadov.”
“Trud” has interviewed him on this matter.
Question: What measures should be urgently taken?
Aslambek Aslakhanov: I believe it is necessary to urgently convene a congress of all peoples of Chechnya in the republic itself: in Old Atagi, Gudermes, or Shali. Representatives of all Chechen diasporas located in Russian regions, as well as Russian refugees from Chechnya, should take part in it.
The people themselves will decide on their future, and nobody will dare ignore their viewpoint, since the most respected people will take part in the congress.
Q: But will separatist leaders listen to them?
AA: I believe they should also take part in the congress.
Q: But Maskhadov will hardly dare to appear in public; he is a guerrilla leader, who is wanted by the federal forces.
AA: Maskhadov has not stopped seeking contacts. The other day, his representatives contacted me and asked to meet with him. I accepted the proposal and in a few days I will go to Chechnya. I have a right to this, as a Russian citizen, a Chechen, and the leader of a public organization that has 800,000 members.
Q: What issues do you intend to discuss with Maskhadov.
AA: We are going to discuss priority issues. He convinced me previously that he hates Shamil Basaev and Khattab, saying they are enemies of the Chechen people. So let him publicly disassociate himself from the bandits, and take the side of the federal forces, helping the government to banish the terrorists from Chechen land. As for the federal authorities, they should give Maskhadov some guarantees of security, at least for the period of the congress.
PRIME MINISTER ALLOWS RUBLE TO FALL
Komsomolskaya Pravda, May 19, 2000, p. 2
When Mikhail Kasianov was appointed prime minister, he announced in the Duma: “Strengthening the ruble is not in the interests of the Russian economy.”
If this announcement by Kasianov is a signal for the beginning of a new currency policy, Russian oil and gas exporters are to be congratulated, since their revenues will rise. The lower the ruble, the more rubles may be received for the same trading operation. And it will be easy for the government to meet its tax collection targets in this situation. But as for average Russians, the decrease of the ruble exchange rate does not bode any good for them.
However hard Russians curse their currency for its constant fluctuations, there is at least one country where the ruble is treated with respect. That country is Belarus. The other day, Moscow and Minsk agreed to make the ruble the uniform currency for the entire union state by January 1, 2005. If this happens, the actual status of Belarus in the union state will not differ greatly from that of Russia’s seven federal administrative districts which are currently being created by Vladimir Putin.
KAZAKH GAS TO GO TO EUROPE VIA RUSSIA
Tribuna, May 19, 2000, p. 1
President Nursultan Nazarbaev of Kazakhstan met with Gazprom head Rem Vyakhirev in Astana yesterday. They discussed issues connected with this company’s activities in Kazakhstan.
Not long before the meeting, Rem Vyakhirev met with Kazakh Prime Minister Kasymzhomart Tokaev. They agreed to establish a Russian-Kazakh joint venture. The Kazakh side in the joint venture will be represented by the state enterprise KazTransGaz.
Kazakhstan is hoping that Russia will help it to implement a number of important projects which entail deliveries of Kazakh gas to European markets, to China, as well as replacing deliveries of Russian gas to the Kustanai and Aktyubinsk Regions of Kazakhstan by gas from the Karachaganak condensed gas field.
Gazprom will provide project managment assistance to Kazakhstan in the construction of the gas pipeline to Astana.