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Security Watch: May 8, 2002

8 May 2002, Volume 3, Number 16
RUSSIAN POLITICAL ELITE REACT TO LEBED'S DEATH. In addition to ordering an investigation into the 28 April death of Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor and former Secretary of Security Council and Russian presidential candidate Aleksandr Lebed, Russian President Vladimir Putin also extended his condolences to Lebed's family and appointed the Secretary of Security Council Vladimir Rushailo to head the Funeral Commission. Lebed, 52, died in a helicopter crash while visiting Khakasia, where his younger brother Aleksei is governor. Seven of the 20 passengers onboard were killed when the copter hit a power line in bad weather. Putin also remembered Lebed as a "soldier and our comrade." Both Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov and State Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev described Lebed as a "colorful" political figure. Mironov noted that although Lebed was a military general, at the same time he struggled to resolve the conflicts in Moldova and Chechnya, reported. Duma International Relations Committee Chairman (People's Deputy) Dmitrii Rogozin said Lebed "was in a difficult period of his life. He understood that he was left without friends and like-minded comrades," reported. And according to Rogozin, Lebed "understood very well that he had not achieved serious results as governor and was facing tough gubernatorial elections in the future." Lebed was perhaps best known in the West for finishing third in the 1996 presidential elections, his assistance to a besieged Boris Yeltsin during the 1991 August coup, and his negotiation of the Khasavyurt agreement in 1996 (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 3, No. 27, 7 July 2000).

LIKE LEBED, OTHER RUSSIAN POLITICIANS WERE VICTIMS OF BAD WEATHER. Lebed was buried with full military honors at Moscow's famous Novodevichye cemetery on 1 May, Russian agencies reported. Russian President Putin, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Patriarch of Moscow and All-Russia Aleksii II, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, and Unified Energy Systems head Anatolii Chubais were all in attendance, reported. According to Interfax, hundreds of people stood near the cemetery gates during the funeral. The previous day, Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu stated that the decoded black boxes show that the reason for Lebed's helicopter crash was bad weather. In June 2000, another maverick Russian politician and world famous optometrist, Svatoslav Federov, died in a helicopter crash. In March, the publisher of several leading investigative magazines, businessman and charismatic public personality Artem Borovik died in a mysterious private jet crash. In both of these latter two cases the official investigation cited bad weather and craft malfunctions as the reasons for the crashes.

VIDEO FOOTAGE FAILS TO DISPEL DOUBTS OVER KHATTAB'S ALLEGED DEATH. On 26 and 27 April, Russian television stations screened video footage allegedly showing the corpse of Chechen field commander Khattab, and the FSB posted on its website ( several photographs of a man bearing a marked resemblance to him being buried. The man had shoulder-length black hair and a beard, and appeared to have lost part of his right hand. But Chechen Security Council Secretary Rudnik Dudaev pointed out to Interfax on 27 April that there are no visible bloodstains on the clothing of the man who features in the video footage, which raises the question of how he died. Chechen administration head Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov, who expressed doubt when the first reports of Khattab's alleged death surfaced on 25 April (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 April 2002), said in Moscow on 27 April that he will not be convinced that Khattab is dead until he personally sees his body.

PUTIN ADMINISTRATION SAYS OFFICER'S CHECHEN ALLEGATIONS FABRICATED. "The New York Times" on 27 April quoted members of the Russian presidential administration as saying that claims by former Russian army Captain Andrei Samorodov about reprisals his unit, the 21st Airborne Brigade, allegedly committed against Chechen civilians in 1999, were fabricated. On 17 March, the paper quoted Samorodov as saying he was threatened when he tried to intervene to prevent summary executions of Chechen civilians, and finally fled Russia and sought political asylum in the U.S. (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 March 2002). "The New York Times" noted that, according to Russian military officials quoted by "Izvestiya" on 19 March, Samorodov was discharged from the military in 1993 and the 21st Airborne Brigade has since been disbanded.

CHINA AND INDIA COULD INVEST IN DEVELOPMENT OF NEW RUSSIAN FIGHTER... Ilya Klebanov, minister of industry, science, and technology, announced on 27 April in Moscow after a meeting of the state military-industrial commission that the body had selected the Sukhoi aviation design bureau as the main contractor for the country's new fifth-generation fighter, reported. According to Yurii Cheryakov, Sukhoi's public-relations director, his company is the first in the history of Russia's military-industrial complex to be granted the right to attract foreign investment for the development and production of a Russian military airplane, "Izvestiya" reported. Cheryakov indicated that the most likely foreign participants in the $1.5 billion project would be major purchasers of Sukhoi fighters, including China, India, Vietnam, and Ethiopia.

...AS INDIA AND RUSSIA TEST JOINT TACTICAL MISSILE. India and Russia successfully tested on 28 April the Brahmos cruise missile, which was jointly developed by the two countries, Western and Russian news agencies reported. The missile was launched from a test site in the eastern Indian state of Orissa, according to the reports. The Brahmos has a range of 300 kilometers and is a product of India's Defense Research and Development Organization and Russia's Mashinostroiyenie, both state-run companies. The missile can be based on ships, submarines, and aircraft and should be deployed by the Indian army in 2004, the Press Trust of India reported the same day.

FSB FOUND SPIES AMONG WESTERN JOURNALISTS... The chief of the Federal Security Service's (FSB) Directorate for Counterintelligence Operations, Lieutenant General Nikolai Volobuev, said in an interview to "Gazeta" on 6 May that his agency exposed spies in the ranks of Western reporters in Russia. According to Volobuev, 31 Western newsmen have been involved in "illegal journalistic activity," whereas 18 of them have been expelled from the country and their exit visas were annulled for five years. Volobuev also said that last year his directorate exposed 80 cadres' officers of the foreign intelligence services and 45 "assets" of western services, including two Russian citizens. Volobuev gave his interview in occasion of the 80th anniversary of his directorate founded as the Counterintelligence Department of one of the predecessors of the KGB and the FSB, the OGPU.

...AND LURKING IN FAR EAST. Anatolii Marenkov, head of the territorial FSB directorate in Khabarovsk Krai, told reporters on 27 April that the intelligence services of foreign countries have been increasing their activities in Russia, including the Far East region, ITAR-TASS reported. According to Marenkov, 20 career officers of foreign secret services were exposed last year among members of visiting foreign delegations. Additionally, 12 foreigners were banned from Russia and several others were expelled.

FORMER KGB GENERAL KALUGIN'S CASE SENT TO COURT... Chief Military Prosecutor Mikhail Kislitsyn announced on 30 April that he has sent to the courts a criminal case against former KGB General Oleg Kalugin, who presently lives in the U.S., Russian news agencies reported. Kislitsyn told journalists that he signed an indictment against Kalugin charging him with "high treason in the form of divulging a state secret." He added that, "Because Kalugin has repeatedly ignored our calls to appear for interrogation and has stated that he will not appear in a Russian court, his case may be heard by the court in absentia." However, Kalugin said that the real reason for the prosecutor-general's action against him might be Kalugin's recent interview on Russian television in which he suggested that the apartment-building bombings in Moscow, Volgodonsk, and Buinaksk in the fall of 1999 might have been carried out by the Federal Security Service (FSB).

...AS ANOTHER RUSSIAN CITIZEN IS SENTENCED FOR ESPIONAGE. Meanwhile, the deputy chief of the Khabarovsk regional FSB investigative department, Aleksandr Karatsuba, said that former Russian army Captain Aleksei Vetrov has been sentenced to a four-year prison term for espionage "for a neighboring country," reported on 28 April. According to Karatsuba, Vetrov had access during his army service to the Komsomolsk-na-Amure aircraft-building plant, which produces Sukhoi fighter aircraft. Karatsuba alleged that Vetrov was recruited by an organization called the Company for the Development of Economy and Technology, which is used as a front by a foreign intelligence service. Vetrov was assigned the codename "Typhoon" and was asked to deliver documentation on Sukhoi's ejection seat before being detained by the FSB. Karatsuba refused to name the country for which Vetrov allegedly spied directly, although he used several euphemisms that seemed to indicate that he had China in mind.

RUSSIA HOPES UN WILL CONFIRM ITS CLAIMS ON ARCTIC SHELF. Deputy Natural Resources Minister Ivan Glumov told journalists in Moscow on 29 April that his ministry hopes the UN will respond positively to Russia's request to extend its national sovereignty over an additional 1.2 million square kilometers of the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 April 2002), RosBalt reported. Glumov added that the request, which was submitted on 19 December 2001, is substantiated by oceanographic and geophysical research carried out by the Defense Ministry. An affirmative UN decision would increase Russia's hydrocarbon resources by an estimated 4.9 billion tons. It would also "extend the zone of Russia's strategic and military-political interests in the Arctic by extending its jurisdiction and control over [claimed] sea and ocean floor," Glumov noted.

ENERGY MINISTER PUSHES FOR RUSSIAN OIL EXPORTS TO UNITED STATES... Energy Minister Igor Yusufov told journalists after his meeting in Moscow on 26 April with visiting U.S. Undersecretary for Energy Robert Card that present conditions are suitable for Russia to become a permanent supplier of energy to the American market, reported. Moreover, Yusufov said that Russia also wants the United States to "give a signal to the West that Russia is a reliable place for investments in the energy sector." Yusufov also told "Izvestiya" the same day that he and Card share the opinion that "close cooperation in energy supplies is profitable for both national economies and should not be dependent on political factors." Card said he believes that the development of the Russian energy sector has strategic significance for the United States, according to Interfax. Card and Yusufov also discussed the G-8 conference of energy ministers, which opens in Detroit on 1 May and which Yusufov is expected to attend.

...WHILE FINE-TUNING IT'S OIL POLICY WITH VENEZUELA... Yusufov also met in Moscow on 27 April with the secretary-general of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Ali Rodriguez, who is expected to step down soon as the head of Venezuela's national oil company at the request of President Hugo Chavez, RIA-Novosti reported on 28 April. Yusufov and Rodriguez discussed the coordination of Venezuelan oil policy with Russian interests on the world energy market. Adnan Shihab-Eldin, Rodriguez's deputy and the head of OPEC's Scientific Research Department, also briefed Yusufov and his staff on OPEC's vision of the future of the global oil market.

...BUT CALLS FOR COORDINATION OF ENERGY POLICIES WITH WASHINGTON. Russian Energy Minister Igor Yusufov arrived in U.S. said after a meeting with U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney in Washington on 1 May that the energy dialogue between Russia and the Unites States should be of a strategic, long-term character, Russian news agencies reported the next day. According to Interfax, Yusufov praised Cheney's role in developing a U.S. national energy policy, and Cheney applauded Russia's willingness to help stabilize global energy supplies in order to restrict price fluctuations. Yusufov also praised the work done by a bilateral energy commission that was set up last November and is headed by Cheney and Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov. Yusufov attached importance to the fact that the two countries' energy policies continue to be coordinated at this high level. He then traveled on to Detroit for a meeting of G-8 energy ministers.

...AND ADVOCATES RUSSIAN OIL SUPPLIES TO THE U.S. Speaking to reporters in Detroit on 2 May, Yusufov called Russia "a stable supplier of energy to the American market on a permanent basis," reported. Yusufov said that the export of Russian oil to the United States, which previously had been economically unfeasible because of high transport costs, might become realistic if supertankers with capacities from 350,000 to 400,000 tons are used to carry supplies across the Atlantic Ocean. Yusufov met with U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham on 3 May and again on 4 May, but Abraham said that he would not ask Russia to abandon its oil-production cuts, Reuters reported. "We've never, as a matter of policy in the Bush administration, deplored, begged, or cajoled anybody to produce more oil. Those decisions people make based on the market," Reuters quoted Abraham as saying before his talks with Yusufov.

RUSSIA TO RAISE OIL-EXPORT TAX. Russia plans to increase oil export duties to $20.4 per ton, more than twice the current $9.2 per ton, Prime-TASS reported on 29 April. The decision was made at a meeting of a government commission responsible for protecting Russia's foreign trade, Finance Minister Aleksii Kudrin said. At the same meeting, the government commission decided to scrap a 3-5 percent export tax on ferrous metals, according to Kudrin. The commission also decided to lower export duties on liquefied gas from 40 euros ($36.16) to 20 euros per ton, RIA-Novosti quoted commission secretary Andrei Kushnerenko as saying the same day.

ON CHORNOBYL ANNIVERSARY, RUSSIAN REGIONS REMEMBER... On the 16th anniversary of the disaster at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant on 26 April, environmental activists organized protests in Russian cities against plans to import spent nuclear fuel into Russia, RFE/RL's regional correspondents reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 April 2002). In Obninsk, the public organization Union of Chornobyl together with the local branch of Yabloko organized a picket and gathered signatures to send to the State Duma.

...AND CHALLENGE PLANS TO IMPORT SPENT NUCLEAR FUEL. In Sochi, Krasnodar Krai, protestors carried signs saying, "We don't need a new Chornobyl, we need a clean country." Last year, the krai's legislature expressed its opposition to plans by the Atomic Energy Ministry (MinAtom) to use Novorossiisk as a transit port for nuclear waste from Bulgaria. And in Vladivostok, about 100 people gathered in the city's main square despite not having received permission for the demonstration from the mayoral administration. Local environmental activist Boris Preobrazhenskii declared that in Primorskii Krai several potential Chornobyls exist: some 100 kilometers from Vladivostok there are dozens of nuclear submarines, and this year MinAtom plans to construct two special terminals for receiving radioactive waste from Japan.

RUSSIA TO SUPPLY INDIA WITH TWO NEW NUCLEAR REACTORS. Atomstroieksport, the construction department of the Atomic Energy Ministry, has signed a contract to supply two new reactors for India's Kudankulam nuclear power plant in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, and reported on 27 April. Under the terms of the $294 million deal, an Atomstroieksport subcontractor, United Machine-Building Works, is due to deliver the reactors and the other equipment in 2005.

PUTIN ASKS DUMA TO ADOPT BILL ON EXTREMISM. President Putin submitted a bill to the State Duma on 29 April that would create legal, administrative, and financial penalties for organizations engaged in extremist activities, Russian news agencies reported. The bill includes amendments to the Criminal Code that would make establishing or participating in an extremist organization an offense punishable by two to four years in prison. The bill would also criminalize any public calls for extremist actions and impose bans on certain kinds of professional activities for members of extremist groups. Furthermore, it would amend the law on money laundering that would put extremist activity in the same category with organized crime and open the financial activities of extremist groups to special state scrutiny, according to on 30 April.

PUTIN CONGRATULATES CHIRAC ON ELECTION WIN. President Putin said that French President Jacques Chirac's "resounding victory" in France's 5 May presidential election "will open up new possibilities for developing bilateral relations," Interfax reported. In a congratulatory telegram to Chirac, who was re-elected with about 82 percent of the vote, Putin said "Russia knows you as a sincere friend of our country who has done much to bolster the multifaceted relations between Russia and France," the news agency reported, citing the presidential press service. "We view our strategic partnership with France as a vitally important factor of international stability and security," Putin wrote.

RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER MEETS WITH RUMSFELD... Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov told journalists in Moscow on 29 April that Russia recently submitted to the United States several new proposals that Moscow hopes could form the basis for future strategic-arms reductions, reported on 30 April. Ivanov added that he received a positive reaction to the proposals from U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who made a stopover in the Russian capital after a tour of several Central Asian states and met briefly with Ivanov at Sheremetevo Airport on 29 April. also commented that the Russian military is so eager to secure a formal treaty during the summit with the United States between U.S. President George W. Bush and President Putin later this month that would grant Russia the status of an equal partner that the Russian side will have to make additional compromises.

...AS HE ARRIVES IN WASHINGTON FOR SUMMIT PREPARATION. Upon his arrival in Washington on 1 May, Ivanov said the goal of formalizing nuclear-arms cuts for the next decade by the time of the U.S. -Russian summit in Moscow and St. Petersburg at the end of this month is "entirely realizable," RIA-Novosti and Reuters reported on 2 May. Although he said that the final documents might not be completed by the time of the summit, he added that, "We are in the mood to have these documents ready."

RUSSIAN AND U.S. PARLIAMENTARIANS AGREE ON COOPERATION. Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev, who is visiting Washington D.C., and U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert signed a memorandum of cooperation between the two legislative chambers on 1 May, ITAR-TASS and RIA-Novosti reported. Seleznev also discussed with U.S. lawmakers cooperation in fighting against international terrorism, as well as the situation in Iraq and the Middle East. After his talks, Seleznev told journalists that American representatives had proposed an interparliamentary conference in Moscow with the participation of parliamentarians from Russia, the United States, and the European Union, as well as representatives from Israel, Palestine, and Arab countries.

RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS WITH IRAQI COUNTERPART. Igor Ivanov said on 29 April after a meeting with Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri in Moscow that Russia is maintaining "an active political dialogue" with Baghdad and "is confident of the possibility of a political solution to the Iraq problem," RBK reported on 29 April. Ivanov added that Russia is interested not only in maintaining the "high standard of relations between the two countries, but also in upgrading it further." However, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow, speaking at a press conference in Moscow, said the United States is counting on Russia to put pressure on Saddam Hussein to adhere to UN resolutions, RIA-Novosti reported on 30 April. Vershbow stressed that for more than 10 years the Iraqi leader has refused to comply with the UN resolutions and that for more than four years Iraq has refused to accept international weapons inspectors. "We are losing patience with respect to Saddam Hussein's regime," Vershbow remarked.

ANTI-CATHOLIC DEMONSTRATION IN MOSCOW. About 1,500 people took part in a demonstration in Moscow on 28 April against the Roman Catholic Church that was organized by the small, pro-Kremlin groups People's Party of the Russian Federation and the Union of Orthodox Citizens (SPG), Western and Russian agencies reported. Demonstrators carried placards reading "For Faith, Truth, and Fatherland," and "No -- to plans for the international exploitation of Russian resources." Speaking at the demonstration, SPG leader Valentin Lebedev called for the introduction in schools of a new subject called "Foundations of Orthodox Culture" and for increasing the presence of the Russian Orthodox Church in the military.

COMMUNIST LEADER BACKS ANTI-CATHOLIC PROTESTS. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov said on 29 April that he supports parishioners of the Russian Orthodox Church who held protests against what they called Roman Catholic expansion in about 20 Russian cities and towns on 28 April, Interfax reported. Zyuganov said the Communist Party supports any action aimed at preserving Russian traditions, culture, and spiritual values. Zyuganov said the Russian Orthodox Church, the military, and the so-called "patriotic movement" are all coming under increased pressure.

PROSECUTOR-GENERAL WARNS ABOUT WIDESPREAD CORRUPTION IN RUSSIA. Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov has sent his office's annual report about the state of law and order to the legislature and the president, Russian news agencies reported on 30 April. In the 33-page report, Ustinov sharply criticizes law enforcement agencies and especially the Interior Ministry (MVD) for its ineptness in combating corruption. The report states that while the MVD knows about widespread corruption among state officials, including holders of the highest offices, most anticorruption investigations deal only with lower-level corruption. The report noted that only 1 percent of corruption cases involve state officials. In addition, the report claims that although corruption is endemic throughout the state apparatus, the most massive corruption-related violations in 2001 were found in the Defense Ministry, the Science and Industry Ministry, the Transport Ministry, the Natural Resources Ministry, the State Property Committee, and the state-controlled companies Gazprom and Rosvooruzhenie.