A PERSONAL AFFAIR
Izvestia, September 29, 2001, p. 5 EV
Uzbekistan has confirmed its intention to let the US use its air territory if a counter-terrorist operation in Afghanistan goes ahead, as Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov announced on Friday. This announcement proved that there serious political disagreements between Central Asian members of the CIS and Russia.
The special position of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan regarding the revenge operation against Afghanistan prepared by Washington has been contradictorily estimated in Russia. On the one hand, both these states are included in the CIS. Besides, Dushanbe and Moscow are linked by the Collective Security Treaty. Therefore, Russia is not indifferent about these countries military assistance to this or that country. The attempt to regulate the situation by means of Secretary of the Security Council Vladimir Rushailo has had no results.
On the other hand, the independent position of Dushanbe and Tashkent has a weak point. According to the Collective Security Treaty, Moscow will have to defend Central Asian countries if Talibs attack them. However, officials of the Headquarters for Coordination of Military Cooperation have told an “Izvestia” correspondent that not only central Asia countries but also Russia have a right to act on their own. For instance, Russia is free to decide on the extent of its assistance to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan if Talibs attack them.
RUSSIAN TANKS MOVING TO AFGHANISTAN
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, September 29, 2001, p. 1
Minesweepers of the 201st motorized-infantry division located in Tajikistan have constructed pontoon bridges across the Pyandj River for delivering ammunition and military hardware to the forces of the Northern Alliance. The bridges are constantly fired by the Taliban, and some missiles get to the Tajik territory.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov rules out the possibility of sending Russian servicemen to Afghanistan.
RUSSIA TO BE INCLUDED IN COMMON LEGAL FIELD
Novye Izvestia, September 29, 2001, p. 2
On October 4-5, justice ministers of 43 countries included in the Council of Europe (CE) will meet in Moscow. They will consider the issue of international terrorism. Observers from the US, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Vatican will attend the meeting along with Europeans. Besides, the justice ministers will discuss issues related to imprisonment and the role of the state in organization of the work of the penitentiary system.
Meanwhile, the CE is studying the draft laws that will make the basis of the judiciary reform in Russia. CE experts are estimating amendments to the Criminal-Proceedings Code, the statuses of judges and lawyers, and the correspondence of crimes to punishments for them, as Director of the CE Legal Committee Guy de Velle has stated. Later the CE will inspect the program of the reform of local government in Russia.
Deputy Director of the Presidential Administration Dmitry Kozak announced at his meeting with journalists in Strasbourg, “We present our ideas, concepts, and draft laws to the CE so that they corresponded to international standards. European conventions stipulate a uniform legal space from Reykjavik to Vladivostok. Currently, if a federal law in Russia contradicts some international agreements, it is altered as a rule.”
Mr. Kozak also said that Russia and the CE have the same approach to the upcoming judiciary reform. The only thing left is to elaborate more precise formulations of draft laws and decrees, especially in the field of detailed determination of activities of investigators and prosecutors.
Asking the question of “Novye Izvestia,” Dmitry Kozak admitted that some measures proposed by the judiciary reform evoke a lot of arguments in Russia. They mainly concern the proposal to cancel the prohibition of investigation operations regarding judges.
Besides, Mr. Kozak approved of the fact that the Duma has adopted in the first reading the draft law depriving prosecutors of the right to take money from private organizations for their services.
PARLIAMENT FOR UNION
Vremya MN, September 29, 2001, p. 3
The development of union relations between Russia and Belarus has finally entered a new phase. Chairman of the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation Alexander Veshnyakov has announced that in March 2002, the house of representatives of the parliament of the union is to be elected. Many experts both in Russia and in Belarus believe that all elections, from local to parliamentary and presidential ones, should be conducted simultaneously. Veshnyakov has made it clear that there are enough legal grounds for this combination. However, he doubts the sensibility of this measure. Besides, Duma deputies came to the conclusion during their consideration of the draft law on elections that there is no point to combine the election of the Russian-Belarussian union parliament with other Russian and Belarussian election campaigns.
STROEV DISPLEASED WITH LAND CODE
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, September 29, 2001, p. 2
Federation Council Speaker Yegor Stroev is displeased with the draft Land Code that will be discussed by the Federation Council on October 10. In particular, the speaker has noted that he and his allies from the Federation parliamentary group are indignant at the fact that the draft code has not been properly coordinated with regions. In this connection the speaker has announced that that the Federation Council will reject the draft Land Code on October 10 and will suggest setting up a coordination commission to continue the work on this draft code. According to the speaker, over 40 regions have expressed their proposals about this draft code.
SMALL KNOT IN LARGE GAME
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, September 29, 2001, p. 5
The geopolitical situation in the world after the terror acts in the US has been radically altered. Currently, NATO and the US are getting ready to expand to the post-Soviet territory more intensively under the plea of combating international terrorism.
In this connection the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Trans-Dniester region will irretrievable destroy the balance of forces in the entire Black Sea region. This situation is extremely profitable for the US.
Due to historic circumstances, the Trans-Dniester region is a geopolitical knot that the US intends to cut as soon as possible. America’s blade will vivisect living people, but their lives and rights are of no importance for the superpower, since they are not residents of Washington or New York.
The special parliamentary commission for regulation of the situation in the Trans-Dniester region visited the region in early September and intends to report on results of its work in the near future. Since the Russian Parliament is concerned about Russia’s interests in CIS countries, it is worried about the US’ attack on these interests performed within the current Big Game.
One of the elements of this game is the new economic, political, and information blockade of the Trans-Dniester region arranged by official Kishinev. The first month of the economic blockade alone cost the Trans-Dniester region $4 million. Chairman of the parliamentary commission Georgy Tikhonov send a message to Russian president Vladimir Putin on the very first working day of the Duma. The message states: “The current relations between Moldova and the Trans-Dniester region is dangerous for local people, including 80,000 citizens of the Russian Federation living there. Moldova has threatened all the agreements on normalization of relations between Tiraspol and Kishinev that have been made by now.”
In the light of the hasty destruction of Russian weapons and the unofficial reduction of the number of the joint group of the Russian Army the situation in the Trans-Dniester region is rapidly developing without any security guarantees for the Trans-Dniester region. However, this situation is also connected with Russia’s security in general, and so it should not be considered by a Russian parliamentary commission alone. The executive branch should also pay attention to the situation in the region.
The parliamentary commission is of the opinion that the measures taken by Moldova are not prepossessing for Moldovan-Trans-Dniester negotiations, and the attempts to destroy the basis of peace regulation of the situation are throwing the regions nine years back. Thus, Moldova is frustrating Russia’s peacekeeping achievements in the Trans-Dniester region. According to Duma deputies, “the current situation in the Trans-Dniester region is seriously damaging Russia’s interests.” That is why they decided to appeal to President Putin to take part in resolution of this situation.
CIRCUMSTANCES REQUIRE ACTIONS
Vek, September 28, 2001, p. 3
Perhaps changes in the style of resolving the Chechnya problem have become possible due to agreements reached between Russian and US presidents. Russia supports US military action against the Taliban and is essentially taking part in it. A statement about granting use of airspace solely for transporting humanitarian aid cannot deceive anyone: just try checking what US planes are carrying – milk and tinned meat, or ammunition and soldiers?
Is it possible to perform search and rescue operations without engaging specialists on Afghanistan, of whom Russia has more than enough? We do not know thus far what Russia will receive in exchange: US’s pressure on Europe to write off a part of Russia’s debt, assistance with joining the WTO or something else. It seems, however, Russia has already received an opportunity to act in Chechnya freely. Russia’s support for the US was linked in President’s Putin speech with a message to Chechen separatists. The challenge is to use the time Russia has been given to settle the Chechen problem with maximal efficiency and avoid making serious mistakes once again. We do not have much time. In a month or two, at most, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will again be looking at Chechnya in order to protect rights of the bandits and search for a peace settlement with the terrorists. Main bandit groupings and their leaders must be destroyed by that time. It is not quite clear whether the army and special services would have enough resources and personnel for this, and would the Kremlin have enough political will.
OSAMA BIN LADEN REMEMBERS ABOUT RUSSIA
Obshchaya Gazeta, September 27, 2001, EV
Nobody has claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks on the US, which makes even the most focused retribution action senseless. Quite possibly, an attack on the US is a debut, an outset of a multi-step combination, which may bring the following results.
Russia could get a war on two fronts, and could easily fail to withstand it; whereas Central Asian states may be involved in a prolonged war. Both Russia and these states are not rivals to main exporters of energy resources to world markets any longer. Finally, a negative stir raised around the situation in Chechnya and Central Asian states may cause a collision of Russian-US interests. An abovementioned version may seem to be fantastic, but in accordance with it, it would turn out that a crime committed in the US was planned by people, who had set specific and rather real targets, and not by an irrational fanatical terrorist. Such an explanation for the recent events is more rational and scary.
RUSSIANS WON’T SUPPORT PUTIN IF HE INVOLVES RUSSIA IN RETALIATION
Zavtra, September 27, 2001, p. 1
As results of secret opinion polls and Internet analysis show, over 83% of urban residents in Russia oppose any form of Russia’s participation in “Retribution Strikes” against Afghanistan and the Taliban. Fewer than 10% of respondents do not support the slogan “World War III – Without Russia”; so, if the Kremlin wants to join the US “war of the 21st century”, this move might collapse Putin’s popularity rating to the extent of a mere statistical detail. Similar moods have also been observed in Western Europe…
CHINA DISAPPROVES OF PUTIN’S LATEST STRATEGIC MOVE
Zavtra, September 27, 2001, p. 1
Chinese superior officials express their strong disapproval of Putin’s latest strategic move, our Beijing sources report. In this connection China’s political and military leaders have been discussing variants of response measures which would hamper development of US military bases in Central Asia and Afghanistan – which could become the major sequel to the retaliation initiated by Washington…