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Security Watch: October 22, 2001

22 October 2001, Volume 2, Number 41
BUSH AND PUTIN: MORE AGREEMENT THAN DISCORD. Speaking at the joint press conference with U.S. President George W. Bush at the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Shanghai, President Vladimir Putin said he shares Bush's position on global terrorism and that this commonalty can stimulate other agreements in the future, RTR and ORT reported on 21 October. He said Moscow is ready to discuss the ABM Treaty modifications but that Russia still views that accord as "an important element in world stability."

PUTIN, JIANG HAVE SHARED VIEWS ON AFGHANISTAN'S FUTURE. In the joint statement issued after their meeting, President Putin and Chinese leader Jiang Zemin said that they wanted the military actions in Afghanistan to be followed as quickly as possible by a political settlement, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 October. Both said they would like to see a broad coalition in Kabul and noted that their countries are entering the 21st century as "strategic partners in foreign policy as well as economics."

PUTIN PUSHES TRANSIT, ENERGY ISSUES. President Putin said in Shanghai on 19 October that Russia is ready to support stable international energy supplies and transcontinental transit routes, Russian and Western agencies reported.

RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE VETERAN SUGGESTS DIVISION OF AFGHANISTAN. Nikolai Leonoc, the former head of the KGB's foreign intelligence analysis department, said in an interview published in "Tribuna" on 19 October that Russia is in a favorable position because the U.S. and the Muslim worlds are locked in "confrontation." In other comments, he said that Afghanistan might well be divided with pro-Moscow Central Asian countries controlling the North and the U.S. and China contesting for influence in the south.

PAPER SEES HUMAN RIGHTS IN CHINA FALLING VICTIM TO SUMMIT. "Izvestiya" on 20 October said the desire of major powers not to offend China was responsible for the failure of Western governments to speak out in protest over the execution of five "Islamic separatists" in China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region, which is populated mainly by ethnic Uighurs.

RICE SAYS U.S. POLICY IN CENTRAL ASIA NOT DIRECTED AGAINST RUSSIA. In an interview published in "Izvestiya" on 13 October, U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said that American involvement in Central Asia is not directed against Russia, and that the U.S. has "no plans to squeeze Russia out" of that region. She said that Russia has been "a generous partner and good ally" in the fight against terrorism. She indicated that Washington does not exclude possible strikes against Iraq. She added that the U.S. opposes terrorism wherever it is found, including in Chechnya, although she stressed that there are legitimate political issues involved in Chechnya as well.

MOSCOW OFFERS TO HELP U.S. WITH ANTHRAX VACCINE. Health Minister Yurii Shevchenko said on 15 October that his agency is ready to provide the U.S. with vaccines against anthrax should that prove necessary, RIA-Novosti reported. He added that Russia is also prepared to contribute its expertise to American doctors combating such infections. Also on 15 October, officials across Russia said they are taking additional measures to be ready to respond to any use of biological weapons against Russia, Russian agencies reported.

DUMA BACKS PUTIN ON ANTITERROR EFFORT. By a vote of 268 for and 101 against, the Duma on 17 October adopted a resolution backing President Putin's support for the international antiterrorist campaign and saying that "the forms of the participation in the corresponding international efforts must be defined starting from the national interests of the Russian Federation," Russian agencies reported. The Duma also approved on first reading a bill that would allow pensioners to earn income and still receive their pensions; approved on first reading amendments to the Criminal Code; ratified the CIS Collective Security Treaty of May 1992; and discussed again the possible import of spent nuclear fuel into Russia, the agencies reported.

FORMER INTELLIGENCE CHIEF WARNS AGAINST ALLIANCE WITH U.S. Leonid Shebarshin, a former KGB agent who operated in Pakistan, Iran, and India, and the former head of Moscow's foreign intelligence service, said in an interview published in "Vremya MN" on 17 October that there are at present no direct threats to Russia that would justify it subordinating itself to an alliance with the United States. "We should care only about defending our national interests," Shebarshin said. He added that the U.S. has failed to provide proof that Osama bin Laden was behind the recent terrorist attacks.

RUSSIA, EU TO COORDINATE ANTITERRORIST EFFORTS. Oleg Chernov, the deputy secretary of the Russian Security Council, told Interfax on 17 October that Russia and the EU agreed during their recent summit meeting to expand their cooperation in the fight against terrorism. He said that this cooperation will include bringing national legislation into line with each other, assisting in the fight against money laundering, and the development of a precise and mutually acceptable definition of terrorism.

RUSSIA MOVES TO STRENGTHEN SOUTHERN BORDERS. Viktor Kazantsev, the presidential envoy to the Southern federal district, said on 15 October that the Russian government has allocated additional funds to strengthen the country's southern border, Interfax reported. Konstantin Totskii, the director of the Federal Border Guards, said on 13 October that his units have enough forces to repel any incursions across the Tajik-Afghan border.

KVASHNIN SAYS RUSSIAN REGIONS BORDERING CENTRAL ASIA 'NOT SAFE.' General Anatolii Kvashnin, the chief of the Russian General Staff, said in an interview published in "Samarskoe obozrenie," No. 37, that the regions of the Russian Federation "adjacent to the Central Asian states are not safe." He said that was the reason why Moscow decided to have the headquarters of the new Trans-Volga Military District (which was created by the combination of the Urals and Volga military districts on 1 September) further north. In the short term, Kvashnin acknowledged, the decision will be more expensive to implement, but in the long term, it provides commanders with greater security. "Twenty years or so from now, we will see if the decision was correct," Kvashnin concluded.

MVD, FSB EXPECT RELIGIOUS-BASED TERRORISM TO PEAK IN 2002-2003. Analysts at the Interior Ministry and Federal Security Service have concluded that the challenge of religious-based terrorism to the world will peak in 2002 and 2003, "Vremya MN" reported on 16 October. Russia will not remain isolated from such attacks, they warned. Consequently, the analysts are preparing legislation that would set punishments for those who help terrorist groups.

HEALTH MINISTER DOWNPLAYS BIOTERRORISM THREAT. Health Minister Yurii Shevchenko told Interfax on 13 October that the country's health service is on guard against possible bioterrorism threats, but that there was no reason for excessive concern as "we have very good control over the sanitary-epidemiological situation in the country." One day earlier, officials reported that the government's draft budget for 2002 eliminates a budget line for combating bioterrorism (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 October 2001).

PUTIN ANNOUNCES CLOSURE OF SPY CENTER IN CUBA, BASE IN VIETNAM... On 17 October, President Putin announced that by the end of the year Russia will close its electronic espionage center in Lourdes, Cuba, which is jointly operated by the Federal Agency for Government Communication and Information (FAPSI) and the Sixth Directorate of Russian Military Intelligence (GRU), Russian news agencies reported. He said those closures are part of an effort to respond to the changing security environment and to save money. Closing the Cuban site will save Moscow some $300 million a year, Russian news services said, sufficient funds to allow the military to launch 20 spy satellites. Putin also announced that Russia will close its naval base at Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam in 2002, two years before its lease there runs out. That measure, too, will save the Russian government significant sums, Russian news agencies added.

...AS ACTION DRAWS MIXED REACTIONS IN CUBA AND AT HOME. The Cuban government on 18 October expressed its "complete" opposition to the Russian decision to close its electronic listening post at Lourdes, arguing that it will put Cuba's national security "in jeopardy," RIA-Novosti reported. In Moscow, communist and nationalist Duma deputies expressed equal outrage, ITAR-TASS reported. But the Russian Foreign Ministry downplayed the Cuban objections and said that Moscow hopes there will be no adverse consequences for Cuban-Russian relations. The ministry added that Moscow expects the U.S. to respond to Russia's move by closing its listening posts in countries neighboring Russia.

PUTIN, POLISH PRESIDENT AGREE ON COUNTERTERRORISM FIGHT, TRADE. President Putin received his Polish counterpart Aleksander Kwasniewski in Moscow on 15 October for a discussion on combating international terrorism and promoting trade, ITAR-TASS reported. The two agreed on both issues, noting that the fight against terrorism will be successful only if there is a coalition of NATO countries, Russia, and moderate Arab states. Putin accepted an invitation to visit Poland in January 2002, and Kwasniewski said his government will investigate Chechen information offices in Poland to determine whether any of their activities violate the law.

BRITISH DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER WANTS ANTITERRORIST ALLIANCE TO CONTINUE IN PEACETIME. British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said in Moscow on 15 October that he hopes that the international alliance that has been formed to fight terrorism can be broadened and continue into peacetime once terrorism is defeated, Russian and Western agencies reported. He stressed that Britain views Russia as a key partner in this alliance.

KASYANOV, EVANS DISCUSS RECOGNITION OF RUSSIA AS MARKET ECONOMY. Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov met with U.S. Commerce Secretary Donald Evans in Moscow on 16 October to discuss prospects for Russia's recognition by the U.S. as a country with a market economy, Russian agencies reported. Later in the day, Kasyanov traveled to Krasnodar to inspect progress in the construction of the Blue Stream pipeline intended to carry gas from Russia to Turkey along the bottom of the Black Sea, Russian agencies reported.

PUTIN PLEASED WITH IRANIAN TIES AS MOSCOW OFFERS TEHRAN PLANS FOR NEW NUCLEAR REACTOR. President Putin said on 17 October that Russia is pleased with the development of bilateral ties with Iran, ITAR-TASS reported. The same day, Russian officials presented the Iranian government with a feasibility study for the construction of another nuclear reactor in Iran, Russian and Western agencies reported the same day.

TENGIZ-NOVOROSSIISK PIPELINE BEGINS OPERATION. The Caspian Pipeline Consortium loaded its first oil tanker at the sea terminal in Novorossiisk reported Prime-TASS, 15 October.

RUSSIA SEES PIPELINES TO CHINA OPENING NEW CHANNEL FOR EXPORTS. Energy Minister Igor Yusufov told the leaders of Russia's largest oil companies on 15 October that the construction of a pipeline from Siberia to China will open "a new eastern track" for Russian exports that will within a decade bring revenues comparable to those Moscow now receives from Europe, RBK reported. Yusufov added that Chinese oil consumption will -- according to the most conservative estimates -- exceed the demand of all other Asian countries put together, and, after the construction of this pipeline, Russian sales can account for at least half of China's energy market, "Vedomosti" reported the same day.

EBRD TO HELP FUND PUTIN'S TRANSPORT CORRIDORS. Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref said on 18 October that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will provide Russia with a loan of 800 million euros ($719 million) to develop the North-South and East-West transportation corridors being lobbied by President Putin, RBK reported. Beginning in 2003, he said, the EBRD plans to invest 1 billion euros ($910 million) in Russian transportation systems every year.

MOSCOW WORRIED ABOUT EXHAUSTION OF RAW MATERIALS. A special working group of the State Council on 12 October released a report saying that Russia faces the rapid exhaustion of its raw materials and that this problem is compounded by the inefficiency of the processing sector, RBK reported. In the Kola Peninsula and the Norilsk region, the report said, existing mines will be exhausted within the next 10 years. The report also said that greater efforts must be made to locate new raw material reserves. The same day, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said Russia must transform the structure of its exports because the country cannot rely "for many years" on the export of oil, gas, and metals to pay its way in the world, Russian agencies reported.

PUTIN SEES RUSSIA BECOMING A MAJOR GRAIN EXPORTER. President Putin said on 12 October that Russia had a better harvest this year because of the restructuring of agriculture "carried out in recent years," Interfax reported. He said that this increase shows that "the laws of the market slowly but surely are beginning to affect the agricultural sector as well." He added that Russia "step by step" will reacquire its status as a major grain exporter. At the same time, Putin pledged that the government will continue to invest in agricultural infrastructure to ensure further improvement.

PAVLOVSKII WANTS STATE, SOCIETY TO BE MORE CLOSELY LINKED. In an interview published in "Rossiiskaya gazeta" on 12 October, Gleb Pavlovskii, the director of the Effective Policy Foundation and a close Kremlin media adviser, said Russia's government "is structurally isolated from society" and has been so since 1991. He said "civil society has existed in our country for a long time," noting that "I have been working and living within it for at least 30 years." He said that steps like the convening of the Civil Forum next month can help to create conditions in which society will "be able to realistically aspire to equality with the state -- which is not the case at present." As that happens, Russian citizens will cease to be "a society of passive consumers" and become partners with the state to the benefit of both.

LINGUIST SAYS NON-RUSSIAN LANGUAGES THREATEN STATE. Irina Khaleeva, the head of the Moscow Language University and the Russian rapporteur on language problems at the Council of Europe, said in an interview published in "Rossiiskaya gazeta" on 16 October that the increased status of non-Russian languages within the Russian Federation in general, and especially of the Tatar and Bashkir languages in their titular republics, threaten to destroy Russia just as nationalism earlier destroyed the Soviet Union. She said that Russia must protect itself by making the Russian language the state language of the country.

PUTIN REORGANIZES HIS CABINET... President Putin on 17 October abolished the Ministry for Federation Affairs, Nationalities, and Migration Policies, transferring responsibility for migration to the Interior Ministry, Russian agencies reported. Putin also fired Industry and Science Minister Aleksandr Dondukov and asked Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov to fill that role as well. Moscow commentators suggested that the first move shows that there is no longer any threat to the integrity of Russia, reported the same day. Dondukov's sacking, the website suggested, points to greater presidential attention to the needs of science.

...AND CALLS FOR ADDITIONAL SPENDING ON DEFENSE. Putin also said on 17 October that the military budget must be significantly expanded both to modernize weapons and improve pay, and thus allow Russian security forces to respond adequately to the challenge of global terrorism, Interfax reported. He indicated that military reforms will have to be revised to ensure that the security and defense agencies will be in a position to do more with less, and that those who remain in the smaller but more effective services will receive greater pay and benefits.

PUTIN WANTS BUDGET TO REMAIN IN BALANCE. President Putin told government leaders on 15 October that "absolute priority should be given to the principle that all expenditures should be covered by understandable and clear sources of revenue. No spending should be planned over and above the revenues that we are going to receive," ITAR-TASS reported. Duma deputies, for their part, called for additional spending on defense and security, and some expressed the hope that the military budget itself will become more transparent, Ekho Moskvy reported the same day.

FORMER FSB OFFICER NAMED DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER FOR COUNTERTERRORISM. On 12 October, President Putin named Anatolii Safonov as deputy foreign minister overseeing international cooperation in counterterrorism, Russian and Western agencies reported. Safonov in 1994-97 served as first deputy director of the Federal Security Service with responsibilities in domestic security.

INTERIOR MINISTER WANTS TO CONTROL MIGRATION. Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov said on 12 October that he has proposed to the government that control over migration issues be put under his ministry as part of a broader effort to tighten control over illegal migration, Interfax reported. He said that there are now 5 million illegal immigrants and so many kinds of registration documents that these people often find it easy to procure fake registrations. The same day, Konstantin Kosachev, the deputy chairman of the Duma International Relations Committee, pointed to a potentially serious problem for Russia. He said that at present, there are some 23 million blank passports still held by non-Russian countries in the CIS, the news agency reported. Both Gryzlov and Kosachev called for speeding up the introduction of new passports in Russia in order to prevent the influx of more illegal immigrants.

'NOVAYA GAZETA' REPORTER FLEES TO AUSTRIA. Anna Politkovskaya, a "Novaya gazeta" journalist who has attracted attention for her reporting on Russian human rights abuses in Chechnya, has fled to Austria, "The Moscow Times" reported on 12 October. Politkovskaya received death threats after she published a story suggesting that Russian troops rather than Chechen militants shot down a helicopter that was carrying two generals (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 September 2001), one of whom Politkovskaya told "The Moscow Times" was carrying documents concerning the conduct of Russian troops in Chechnya.

DUMA BACKS PRESIDENTIAL CITIZENSHIP BILL. The Duma on 18 October voted 273 to 117 on first reading in favor of a Kremlin-backed citizenship bill that will increase the residency requirement from three to five years and add some additional restrictions, RTR television reported. But before showing its support for this measure, the Duma defeated a Communist-offered citizenship bill that would have extended Russian citizenship to people living in the self-proclaimed republics of Abkhazia, Transdniester, and South Ossetia.

RESTRICTS ADVERTISING ON RADIO AND TELEVISION... Three-hundred and thirty-one Duma deputies voted on 18 October on second reading in favor of amendments to the current advertising law that severely restricts the amount of advertising that can be carried on radio and television programs, RIA-Novosti reported. The bill prohibits all advertising on children's programs, religious broadcasts, and during movies. It also bans the use of running advertisements during movies. Vladimir Yevstafiev said that the legislation represents "a serious economic blow" to the Russian media.

PROSECUTORS ACCUSE RAILWAYS MINISTER OF ABUSE OF OFFICE. Russian prosecutors have accused Railways Minister Nikolai Aksenenko of abuse of office, Russian agencies reported on 20 October. Prosecutors indicated that this is only one high-profile case they are working on.

...AND SUBPOENA BEREZOVSKY. The Office of the Prosecutor-General has put embattled magnate Boris Berezovsky on the federal wanted list, his lawyer told Interfax on 19 October.

SIBERIAN AIRLINES SUES UKRAINE OVER DOWNED AIRCRAFT. On 15 October, lawyers for the Sibir airline which owned the passenger jet accidentally shot down on 4 October by a Ukrainian missile over the Black Sea announced that they have filed an initial $10 million suit against the Ukrainian government, RIA-Novosti reported. The lawyers said that Ukrainian claims of poverty are not convincing, and that attorneys will file more damage suits in the future on behalf of the families of the passengers and crew.

COMPUTER CRIMES MORE THAN DOUBLE IN MOSCOW OVER ONE YEAR. Moscow Interior Ministry officials said that the number of crimes involving illegal access to computer information has more than doubled in the past year, Interfax reported. They added that telephone piracy and other electronic crimes have shown similar increases.