GENNADY SELEZNEV MAY BE EXPELLED FROM THE COMMUNIST PARTY
Kommersant, April 20, 2002, p. 1
The bureau of the Moscow City Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) decided on April 19 that Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev should be expelled from the party.
CHECHEN POLICE FACE GUNFIRE IN THE CENTER OF GROZNY
Komsomolskaya Pravda, April 20, 2002, p. 2
Only recently, federal servicemen did not take “Gantamirov’s police” seriously – because they did not trust them. But now the situation seems to have changed. From next year, police units from other regions will no longer be sent to Chechnya.
However, among Chechen police officers there are also some who sympathize with the separatist guerrillas and try to harm federal troops. In 1996, when Moscow was celebrating its victory over the separatists, detachments of the Chechen police were formed. However, it was these “policemen” who helped Basaev’s guerrillas break through into Grozny.
But now this situation is most unlikely to be repeated . Information about movements of federal troops is top secret in order to keep it from the guerrillas, and their routes are thoroughly checked for landmines. As for the Chechen police, they can only rely on changing their routes: if they choose one road today, tomorrow they will take some other road. But this information is easily accessible to any spies among them, and they can always inform those who need to know about the planned routes of Chechen police. This is what must have preceded the recent deaths of seventeen Chechen police officers.
Musa Gazimagomadov, commander of the Chechen Special Police Unit, has publicly declared a vendetta against the terrorists.
DEFENSE MINISTER APPROVES ELITE DIVISIONS
Izvestia (Moscow), April 20, 2002, p. 2
On Friday, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov visited the Kantemir Tank Division and the Taman Motorized-Infantry Division of the Moscow Military District. They are considered elite divisions. This trip was the last stage of Ivanov’s inspection of the Army. Soon he will visit the Baltic Fleet.
At the start of his visit the minister asked, “Have you received any new military hardware in the past few years?” The response was not too enthusiastic, since these units have received only a few items. Ivanov explained to journalists, “Most weaponry in the arsenals of the Russian Armed Forces was produced in the 1970-80s. These are good and reliable systems, but today we need weapons suited to modern warfare, like high-precision sniper weapons, rifles, and air defense systems. We will reequip the Armed Forces, despite poor funding. The other important priority is combat training.”
Alexander Skorodumov, Chief of the Main Committee for Combat Readiness, said: “From this year on, not a single commander will dare say that exercises have not been conducted because the Defense Ministry has not provided his detachment with money or fuel. The problem is that junior and mid-level officers have not been taught to conduct exercises on battlefields.”
In general, Sergei Ivanov is pleased with the level and organization of combat training in the divisions. However, he noted that these divisions are not a typical sample of the overall situation in the Russian Armed Forces.
RUSSIA AND GEORGIA EXCHANGING STRIKES
Kommersant, April 20, 2002, p. 1
On April 19, Georgian Defense Minister David Tevzadze accused Russia of concentrating forces near the Kodor Gorge and threatened Russia with a retaliatory strike. However, both Moscow and Sukhumi deny these reports.
The minister considered it suspicious that “Russian peacekeepers are rapidly clearing off the road in this district.” He also said that new military hardware is being delivered from Russia to Abkhazia via the Psou River. According to Tevzadze, Abkhazia is sending additional forces to the Kodor Gorge too. Therefore, the Georgian government “intends to take adequate measures in order to prevent an unforeseen situation.”
Tevzadze’s Russian counterpart Sergei Ivanov has announced in return that there is no concentration of forces there.
Representatives of the headquarters of the Russian peacekeepers have announced, “There are only 32 military personnel in the lower part of the Kodor Gorge. There are no peacekeepers in the upper part of the gorge. The road has been cleared by four minesweepers and one bulldozer. On Thursday, peacekeepers received two BTR-60 armored vehicles, and on Saturday, two analogous vehicles are to be taken to Russia for maintenance. … Thus, the Georgian defense minister is not properly informed about the situation.”
Abkhazia has responded to the accusations too. Its Prime Minister Anri Dzhergenia said, “Abkhazia agrees to inspection of any part of its territory by any observers, from the UN or the CIS. We are prepared to be monitored. Is Georgia also prepared?”
RESISTING U.S. HEGEMONY
Zavtra, April 18, 2002, p. 1
The failure of the pro-American coup d’etat in Venezuela and the triumphal return of Hugo Chavez to Caracas prove that any country is able to be a success if it actively resists US hegemony and the undermining activities of the US secret services. Announcement of a new president from the Venezuelan tycoons by the military caused a surge of resentment among the poorer sectors of the population, and despite the counteraction of the military units, the people went out on the streets and occupied the presidential palace and the parliament building. As a result, a number of the military changed their mind and released the president. Thus, the US attempt to decrease oil prices failed. It is important that the Kremlin media – in particular, the Ivestia newspaper – were very glad about the overthrow of Chavez, and cheerfully announced the impending fall of oil prices, which is very damaging for the Russian budget. The Izvestia editor-in-chief is close to President Putin and must have been reflecting the presidential views on the budgetary balance in Russia. However, the victory of the mass movement in Venezuela demonstrated to the Communist Party and other oppositional forces that it is possible to win if pro-American forces are resisted, openly and en masse….
ISRAEL, LEBANON, SYRIA
Zavtra, April 18, 2002, p. 1
According to our Jerusalem sources, the rapidly increasing tension on the Israeli-Lebanon border agrees with the intentions of Ariel Sharon to attack Lebanon in order to cause a direct confrontation with Syria. The continuation of the Israeli military operation in Palestine, as well as polarization of the relations between US, Europe and the Arabian East are bringing to null the possibility of a US military operation against Baghdadi in the next two months. Meanwhile, Sharon suggested that Israel should participated in the US’s attacking Iraq, which is to be combined with aggression against Syria in late August – early September, however, the obvious failures of the US forces in Central Asia and Latin America raises doubts about the ability of the Pentagon to capture or eliminate the present political leadership of Iraq.
GUERRILLAS IN CHECHNYA
Kontinent, April 16, 2002, p. 11
Extremist leaders in Chechnya are recruiting young people into the illegal armed formations. According to the regional headquarters for managing the counter-terrorist operation in the North Caucasus, the bandits mostly appeal to the financial interests of young people. Besides, the extremists are also trying to recruit Chechens who live outside Chechnya – in particular, according to our data, the addresses of Aslan Maskhadov calling to return to Chechnya in order to fight against the federal forces are being spread among the Chechen diaspora in Azerbaijan. However, the majority of refugees refuse to join the guerrillas. In these terms, emissaries of guerrillas are trying to put pressure on the diasporas and even threaten some of their members with physical violence.
According to the same source, the “leadership of guerrillas is still trying to contact the US government, seeking support in fighting the Federal Forces in Chechnya.”
THE CHURCH IS TO TAKE CARE OF THE HOMELESS
Vek, April 19, 2002, p. 2
Leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church have prepared an appeal to the federal government, requesting support for their initiative: construction of orphanages and children’s homes by churches and monasteries.
RUSSIANS ARE LEAVING THE BALKANS
Nezavisimoye Voennoye Obozrenie, April 19, 2002, p. 2
The number of Russian peacekeepers in Kosovo will soon be halved, only 600 servicemen will stay there. The border and outposts that at present are controlled by the Russian military are to be transferred to the units of the international police and the local law enforcement bodies. The equipment of the Russian contingent is to be also transported to Russia. Besides, the 1st separate airborne brigade of the Russian Land Forces is to be decreased to 270 people by the beginning of May. The first echelon is to leave Bosnia for Russia on April 22.
WILL OSAMA BIN LADEN COME TO SIBERIA?
Obshchaya Gazeta, April 18, 2002, p. 8
It is generally believed that Osama bin Laden is impossible to catch. Some are convinced that the Saudi Arabian has long since died, others believe that he is more useful to those who are chasing him when he is free. A number of Asian states are usually mentioned as possible places of bin Laden’s refuge, in particular, Afghanistan. In fact, the notorious millionaire was a dangerous guest for the Talibs. Pakistanis the second possible refuge, as the positions of the Islamic fundamentalism are much stronger there and the tribal priorities prevail there. However, Pakistan is also a dangerous place for bin Laden, as the Pakistan pro-American authorities would arrest him at the very first chance. Actually, not a single country is able to give shelter to bin Laden without taking a risk of the most serious consequences.
In particular, the media wrote a lot that bin Laden could get to Chechnya, but why? It is a dangerous and unpredictable republic. Recently, the Russian Security Council declared another possible shelter for bin Laden, Siberia, where he could arrive from China. Of course, Osama bin Laden in a Russian warm hat and quilted jacket would look very picturesque, but Siberia is no worse than Chechnya. By the way, about six months ago Pakistan police and the military were convincing that bin Laden had gone this way.