UKRAINE WANTS TO COMPROMISE
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, September 11, 2002, p. 1
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatoly Zlenko hopes that in the near future a compromise will be reached with Russia on delimitation of sea borders. Along with that, the minister noted at a press conference in Kiev on September 10 that the present positions of both states are opposed to one another. He also said that Ukraine is striving to agree on the delimitation of not only the floor of the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait, but also the water surface, and to sign a corresponding agreement which would enable the use of the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait for mutual benefit. “In my opinion, this position is rational,” Zlenko stressed. “It is not our intention to build fences; the navigation and fishing will continue,” he added. However, Ukraine and Russia should switch the relationship onto the agreed basis, the minister emphasized.
THE PRESIDENT WORKING IN SOCHI
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, September 11, 2002, p. 2
The Russia-Kyrgyzstan committee on military-technical cooperation was formed in spring. An agreement has also been prepared on the development of Kyrgyzstan’s energy industry over the next decade.
Besides meeting with President Putin and discussing the results of the Russian-Kyrgyz summit meeting, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov has also had his own schedule.
DESERTION OF 54 SOLDIERS AFTER ASSAULT
Izvestia, September 11, 2002, p. 2 EV
On September 10, the Main Military Prosecutor’s Office of Russia instituted criminal proceedings against Major Shiryaev, chief of the headquarters of a formation of military unit 2004, stationed in the North Caucasus military district. He is charged with abuse of authority accompanied by violence. According to the prosecutor’s office, in the course of an administrative investigation Shiryayev beat five soldiers who were soon due to be discharged. The five injured men deserted from the unit and incited 49 more soldiers to desert.
This is an unprecedented case of mass desertion from the Russian Armed Forces. No legal action will be taken against the soldiers: they left the unit in order to complain about the commander’s acts to the superiors.
As we were told at the Main Morale Department, the conduct of privates Krutov, Gursky, Generalov and Gritsenko, whom Major Shiryaev allegedly assaulted, was far from exemplary. Gennady Troshev, Commander of the North Caucasus military district, insists on that; as he said on September 10, “a group drinking binge by the soldiers who were soon due to be discharged, in which they seized armored vehicles, had preceded the desertion. The drunk soldiers assaulted the duty detachment; they were driving a combat reconnaissance personal carrier and didn’t obey to traffic police officers.”
A commission of the General Staff under the head of General Vladimir Novikov, Head of the Army Security Service, arrived in Prudboi on September 10. The commission is supposed to find out the reasons why Shiryayev beat the soldiers.
2003 BUDGET WILL CERTAINLY PASS THE FIRST READING
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, September 11, 2002, EV
The Duma Committee for Taxes and Duties is planning to open consideration of the draft budget for 2003 on September 18-19 and later submit its conclusion to the Duma Council. The Duma will consider the 2003 budget at the plenary meeting on September 25.
The 2003 budget is mainly aimed at servicing foreign debt. In the opinion of Oksana Dmitriyeva, Deputy Chairwoman of the Committee for Taxes and Duties, this position is fundamentally wrong. Most of Russia’s payments will go to the Paris club of creditor nations. Since the money was borrowed by the Soviet Union, in the opinion of Dmitriyeva the Russian government should at least have had this amount restructured long ago, if not written off completely. What is alarming is that most tax revenues will go to the federal government next year, to the detriment of regional budgets: Dmitriyeva says this is the chief flaw in the 2003 draft budget, as well as its two predecessors.
Oleg Morozov, leader of the Russian Regions group, thinks that the 2003 budget is the most “unpleasant” over the past several years. In his opinion, we had a good growth rate, and a budget surplus, and we had formed a financial reserve thanks to high oil prices; but when $17 billion is taken from the budget, it would entail hardships even for a more advanced country than Russia. In his words, a draft budget tailored to a crisis economy – a consumer economy rather than an investment economy – has now been submitted to the Duma. The document makes real use of resources impossible and causes reduction of funding, adjusted for inflation, for some items. Just like Dmitriyeva, Morozov disagrees with the regional element of the budget. In his words, it preserves the so-called “feudal” situation, “when Moscow receives most of the tax revenue and the regions are given the remnants.” The situation will persist until the responsibilities and rights of the federal government and the regions are clearly specified in the legislation. Summing up his statements regarding the budget, however, Morozov said that despite the fact that the 2003 federal budget might be the most tense in the current cycle, on the whole, the conditions to implement it are favorable. In the meantime, the objections of the leader of Russian Regions won’t prevent him from supporting the draft budget on September 25, since rejection of the draft budget might cause a political crisis.
FEUDING CLANS TO BE RECONCILED IN CHECHNYA
Izvestia, September 11, 2002, p. 3 EV
Akhmed Zavgayev, administration head of the Nadterechny district was murdered on September 10. He was the brother of former Chechen head Doku Zavgayev. The investigating agencies have already said that an act of terrorism is being viewed as the main version.
In the opinion of Abdul-Khakim Sultygov, Special Representative for the Protection of Human Rights in Chechnya, the major share of murders committed in the republic is committed on impulses of vendetta. Therefore, in the near future Sultygov intends for the creation of a special commission, the task of which will be try to reconcile the feuding parties.
Abdul-Khakim Sultygov to Izvestia: “The commission will be under control of the special representative, but its branches will be created in every district, town and settlement. We don’t invent anything new. The commission for the reconciliation of the feuding clans had existed in the Soviet times, when the feud had been considered a vestige of the past. It had been attached to the Council of Ministers of the Chechen-Ingush Republic and membered representatives of religious confessions, leaders of clans, the elders and most renowned people from districts and settlements. This is exactly how it will be now.” In Sultygov’s words, “to reconcile means to converse, look for contiguity points between the parties, persuade, frighten” and, if necessary, help to move people to other districts of Chechnya or even other regions of Russia.
“Corpses of locals are found in Chechnya every day. For the Chechen prosecutor’s office, impulses of these murders remain unknown. The guerrillas immediately take advantage of similar situations, accusing the federal forces of these murders. The federal forces regard these acts as provocative acts on the part of the guerrillas. The majority of murders in the republic, however, are linked with vendetta. One Chechen family of each three is tied with this custom, experts say. There has been no real power in the republic for almost a decade, except the power of crime and the people have got out of the habit that the state is able to protect them. They have been defending and avenging themselves and their relatives. It will be very hard to break this tradition,” Sultygov said.
However, not all Chechen officials agree that vendetta is the chief problem which requires immediate settlement.
“This is not the most acute task of nowadays. The problem of vendetta will only appear as soon as the antiterrorist operation ends, because at present it is hard to carry out any plans of vendetta. This requires ownership and application of weapons, but it is simply dangerous under conditions of permanent sweeps,” Rudnik Dudayev, Secretary of the Chechen Security Council told Izvestia.
From our files:
Vendetta: a custom which had appeared and developed in pre-state societies as a universal method of protecting the life, honor and property of relatives. Having the common basis, the custom of vendetta had several modifications: in some nations it was sufficient to murder a single member from the offender’s clan (not necessarily the offender); in other nations, including the Chechens, vendetta should have lasted until the number of victims is equal in both parties.
POWER IN A LINE
Izvestia, September 1, 2002, p. 5 EV
Exercises involving the Air Force, with the aim of preventing major terrorist attacks, will be held on September 11 in Russia. A “command-staff exercise designated to prevent illegal plane flights capable of inflicting massive casualties and destruction” will be held, Interfax reported, referring to the Air Force Main Command. Tactical exercises involving about 2,000 people, over 30 aircraft and above a 100 other vehicles will be held during the exercises.
Anatoly Kvashnin, Chief of the General Staff sharply criticized the activities of the military commandant’s offices in Chechnya. Speaking at the government conference in Grozny on Tuesday, Kvashnin stressed that the population on the republic is in the “hardest” condition and the task of the military and civil authorities is to alleviate the people’s fates. On September 10, chief of the General Staff met with residents of the Oktyabrsk district of Grozny, anonymously inspected activities of the checkpoints, RIA Novosti news agency said. In the assertion of Kvashnin, he saw how bribes were taken from drivers at checkpoints. The general emphasized a necessity to change the current practice and take severe measures to raise efficiency of the activities of both military commandant’s offices and local authorities.