GANTAMIROV IS NEEDED IN CHECHNYA
Trud, June 9, 2001, p. 1
Stanislav Ilyasov, prime minister of Chechnya, says the appointment of a new mayor of Grozny has been postponed. According to Ilyasov, this is connected with “the great number of questions and heightened demands” for candidates. Commenting on Bislan Gantamirov’s performance as mayor, Ilyasov said Gantamirov had done well and “had left in order to take up a more senior role”.
Gantamirov is now in Moscow.
Question: Where do you think you are needed more at present – in Moscow or in Chechnya? If you are offered a job in Moscow, won’t you lose your ties with Chechnya?
Bislan Gantamirov: I would not lose my ties with Chechnya either way, but of course, it seems I am more needed in Chechnya.
Question: Why? Because tensions there are rising?
Gantamirov: Precisely. The situation in Chechnya is very difficult right now. It is reverting to what it was in early 1999. The guerrillas are gathering strength, and they once more have an efficient system for receiving financial assistance. They have also succeeded in establishing international contacts – now they once again have the support of influential international forces.
The bandits are using new tactics. Their numbers have barely been reduced at all, but they have split up into small units, which are still well-coordinated. It must be acknowledged that these tactics have worked: the small bands are less vulnerable to the federal forces, while the damage they do is quite substantial. I’d put it this way: the terrorist formations have now revived, regrouped, obtained more weapons, and are ready for a new round of escalation of military activity.
Question: Do you have evidence of this?
Gantamirov: Of course. By the way, the guerrillas are constantly getting reinforcements from Georgia. Don’t believe the military and the border guards when they say the border with Georgia is securely sealed. That’s not true at all. There is a vast number of secret mountain paths along that sector of the border, and the bandits move back and forth at their leisure. Everyone in Chechnya knows this.
Question: So guerrilla activity may well become more intensive?
Gantamirov: Of course. What’s more, I’m sure they are about to make a transition to active combat. That’s why I think my place is there right now, in Chechnya, among my loyal fighters.
STATE COUNCIL DREAMING OF POWER
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, June 9, 2001, p. 3
Reforms to the Russian political system are giving state officials no peace. Work on components of these reforms is underway in the Kremlin, the Cabinet, and the State Council. At first, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov took charge of developing the overall concept of government reforms. Luzhkov and his colleagues from the Fatherland movement hoped the Kremlin would like their work so much that all forthcoming changes would be based on it. It is said that Luzhkov even proposed to the president that his working group should be renamed “the state-building group”. The Kremlin officials themselves most likely have neither a clear plan for changing the political system nor even the certainty that change is necessary.
The reforms are being pushed from below. At the outset, regional leaders really did have the illusion that the State Council as a government body would have significant influence on government decisions. Their last hopes were shattered about a month ago, when it became clear that proposals from the State Council can’t compete with plans developed by the Cabinet, if only for reasons of status and staff. Regional leaders drew some conclusions from the fact that none of the State Council members working on reforms to the electricity sector has ever been invited to the Cabinet for consultations.
To all appearances, the regional leaders decided to take action by purely bureaucratic methods.
Governor Leonid Polezhaev of the Tomsk region was the first to make a public proposal that the influence of the State Council within the government apparatus should be increased. Polezhaev thinks the work done by the State Council should be continued at the level of deputy prime ministers – which would require creating and staffing some appropriate bodies.
TRADE TIES WITH JAPAN
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, June 9, 2001, p. 3
Relations between Russia and Japan have been developing very slowly for a long time, but now it seems they are set for a qualitative breakthrough. For the first time in 25 years, Russia and Japan are moving toward dialogue on closer cooperation, primarily economic cooperation. An impressive Japanese delegation of 200 people – representatives of major industrial corporations and banks – has spent eight days touring the Russian Far East, Siberia, and the European part of Russia. During this time, the Japanese business delegates were able to learn more about the real state of Russian industry, and meet with regional leaders and Russian business leaders. At the end of the visit, the delegation from the Federation of Japanese Economic Organizations (Keidanren) discussed some important issues in economic cooperation with President Vladimir Putin.
In June, the Japanese Ministry of Economics, Trade and Industry plans to lift a number of restrictions on trade deals with Russian companies. For example, the ceiling on trade agreements lasting less than two years will be raised from 100 million yen to 1 billion yen. It is also planned to permit one-month delays on payments for Japanese exports (ever since August 1998, Russian importers have been forced to pay their Japanese partners immediately).
However, there are still more problems than achievements in economic contacts between Russia and Japan. Even though it was declared at a meeting between Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko and the Keidanren delegation that Russia is becoming a predictable country, with an economy developing according to market laws, there are unusual complications behind the scenes in Russo-Japanese relations.
This is directly connected with resolving the territorial dispute over the Kuril Islands. Although the Russian government has long since acknowledged the existence of this problem, the Japanese position remains hard-line.
TERRORISM ON THE IDEOLOGICAL FRONT
Kommersant, June 9, 2001, pp. 1-2
In Makhachkala yesterday there was an attempt on the life of Magomedsalikh Gusaev, Dagestan’s minister for ethnic policy, information, and external contacts. Gusaev, the chief ideologue of the battle against Wahhabi fundamentalism, is now in hospital.
The Dagestan Prosecutor’s Office has launched a criminal investigation, classifying this as an attempt on the life of a state official. It is working together with the Makhachkala Prosecutor’s Office, where only political motives are being considered for the incident: the attack on Gusaev is being seen as a consequence of his battle against Wahhabi fundamentalism.
In autumn 1999, when guerrillas from Chechnya launched their incursion and Dagestan faced the threat of civil war, it was Gusaev who led the ideological battle against the extremists. The newspapers of Dagestan began to resemble military dispatches, and a Dagestan government website was created as a counterweight to the Wahhabi sites.
Gusaev said: “We need to remember that the enemy is cunning and merciless. He has not been completely destroyed. Bombings and terrorist acts show that his remnants are scattered throughout the Caucasus and Russia. They are still fighting.”
Dagestan’s Wahhabi ideologues – Magomed Tagaev, Bagautdin Magomedov, and the poet Adallo – have called Gusaev their main enemy, while Shari’ah courts have repeatedly sentenced him to death. Gusaev himself has considered such verdicts a positive assessment of his activities.
Actually, there is another theory about what happened to Gusaev. Adilgirei Magomedtagirov, the interior minister of Dagestan, suggested at a news conference that the assassination attempt may be part of an effort to disrupt the upcoming elections of the head of the Dagestan State Council.
PAVEL BORODIN WILL KEEP SILENT AGAIN
Kommersant, June 9, 2001, p. 2
On June 11, Pavel Borodin is due to appear before Swiss investigative judge Daniel Devaud for a second round of questioning. The attorneys of Borodin, state secretary of the Russia-Belarus Union, have advised him to continue his earlier tactics.
Dominique Poncet, Borodin’s attorney: “I have advised him to do so, and I am prepared to explain why. In Russia, Borodin is not being accused of any activity which would result in ‘tainted’ money. However, Swiss Prosecutor Bernard Bertossa and the investigator hold the opposite view. But in our opinion, they have absolutely no evidence. We consider that our client is not guilty of breaking any laws in Switzerland. Borodin shouldn’t have to prove his innocence; those who accuse him should have to prove his guilt.”
CLASH BETWEEN IGOR KOSTIKOV AND ANATOLY CHUBAIS
Vedomosti, June 9, 2001, p. 1
A mud-slinging match has broken out between Anatoly Chubais, head of Russian Joint Energy Systems (RJES), and Igor Kostikov, chairman of the Federal Securities Commission (FSC). Sources in the FSC say Chubais wants Kostikov dismissed – because the FSC is showing too much interest in the results of the latest elections to the RJES board of directors. Chubais supporters say Kostikov is promoting the interests of private companies.
The FSC suspected some irregularities in elections at last year’s RJES annual general meeting. The FSC investigated some details provided by Deputy Energy Minister Viktor Kudryavyi: the number of votes in favor of several candidates was exactly the same. This year, suspicions seem to be based on the fact that only one representative of foreign investors was elected to the board: David Hearn, an executive from Brunswick Capital Management.
After the FSC requested RJES to provide documentation about the voting at this year’s annual general meeting, Anatoly Chubais wrote to Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov. He accused Kostikov of “outright lobbying” in favor of the Panorama registration company, to the detriment of RJES subsidiaries. Chubais noted that FSC member Pavel Ivanov and Kostikov’s adviser Alexei Sharonov had worked for Panorama before joining the FSC.
A BUSY SUMMER SCHEDULE
Nezavisimaya Gazeta – Dipkurier, June 7, 2001, p. 9
Even though it’s summer, the diplomatic schedule of the Russian government remains as busy as ever. The highlight of June will undoubtedly be the Russian-American summit in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The following day, June 17, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov flies from Ljubljana to Belgrade.
Among the important visitors expected in Russia is Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, due for talks in Moscow June 17-20. President Thomas Klestil of Austria will be in Moscow June 22-24, and he will also visit St. Petersburg. French President Jacques Chirac will hold talks in Moscow and St. Petersburg from July 1 to July 3. President Jiang Zemin of China is due to visit Russia in mid-July. And President Tarja Halonen of Finland will come to Moscow in September.
THE MILITARY: DREAMS AND REALITY
Versty, June 5, 2001, p. 1
In a poll done by the ROMIR agency, 68% of respondents said that on the whole, they do have confidence in the Armed Forces. Exactly the same percentage of respondents, in a poll done by the Monitoring.ru Group, are sure that the Armed Forces are reliable and capable of defending the country against any external threat.
However, the National Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) asked a more provocative question: would you want any of your family members to become a soldier or officer in the near future? The response was 69% negative. Diverse reasons were given; the most frequent were the danger of being killed or injured in conflict zones (38%), hazing and bullying (30%), bad conditions and poor food (18%).
THE MILITARY GAINS A BRANCH
Nezavisimoe Voennoe Obozrenie, June 8, 2001, EV
In accordance with a presidential decree signed on March 24, the Space Forces split off from the Strategic Missile Forces on June 1 and became an independent branch of the military. Space Forces commander Colonel-General Anatoly Perminov says the new headquarters will take command of the formations and units. Among them are the following: the Testing and Management Center (Golitsyno) which controls 11 measuring stations; the Space Missile Defense Troops (Solnechnogorsk); 14 radar installations (SPRN and KKP); and three space launch centers (Baikonur, Plesetsk, and Svobodnyi).
The Space Forces are continuing to recruit their command personnel (70-80% of them are now in place), who will be based near the Kaluzhskaya subway station in Moscow, in a building formerly belonging to the Military Space Forces.
A commission from the General Staff inspected the new branch as it was being formed. It concluded that despite numerous difficulties, all formations and units are capable of carrying out their duties. According to the commander, one of the priorities for the Space Forces will be to do something about Russia’s military satellites, many of which have exceeded their guaranteed service lifespan. Unofficial sources say there are plans to launch up to 60 new satellites. This would include bringing the satellites in the Glonas navigational system up to the planned number (24 satellites). Nine satellites are required for the space component of the SPRN.
Anatoly Perminov denied that it would be possible to accept help from the United States in repairing and upgrading ground-based radars in this system. He spoke of plans to create mobile radars, which would enable Russia to do without radars which were built in Soviet times and are now located outside Russia. However, Perminov declined to say when SPRN radars located in Belarus, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan might cease to operate.
Analysts note that such radical developments will require dramatic funding increases. It may be that Perminov has received some promises of this kind from the government, since he says funding for the Space Forces in the wake of their split from the Strategic Missile Forces is dozens of times greater than it was in 1998, and double or triple what it was in 2000.
YOUNG COMMUNISTS ON THE MOVE
Patriot, June 5, 2001, p. 3
The Red Youth Vanguard (RYV) has held its third congress in Moscow. This revolutionary youth organization, formed on the basis of the youth branch of the Working Russia movement, has grown substantially over the past five years. The RYV now has branches in 34 of Russia’s regions, and their number is increasing.
The strategic aims of this radical communist youth organization are as follows: to revive the USSR, to restore a socialist state in the form of Soviet power, to return ownership of the means of production to the workers, and to put on trial all those responsible for wrecking socialism and the Soviet Union. The RYV is often referred to as “Anpilov’s Communist Youth League”; it is essentially the youth wing of Working Russia, the Communist Party of Lenin and Stalin.
In the major resolution adopted at its third congress, the RYV noted “the deterioration of the overall political situation in Russia, and the escalation of repressive measures against members of the real opposition”. It set out its main priorities as forming a unified Communist Youth League in Russia, and holding a unifying congress by the end of 2001.