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Russia Report: August 9, 2005

9 August 2005, Volume 5, Number 28
By Antoine Blua

Russia and China will hold unprecedented joint military exercises later this month in the Russian Far Eastern city of Vladivostok and in the coastal Chinese province of Shandong and nearby waters. More than 10,000 troops will take part in the drill, dubbed Peace Mission 2005, which will include army, navy, air force, marine, airborne, and logistics units. As their scale suggests, these exercises underscore the growing ties between the two former Cold War antagonists.

Moscow and Beijing insist their joint exercises, scheduled for 18-25 August, are not aimed at any third country. The Chinese Defense Ministry says they are meant to help strengthen the capability of the two armed forces in jointly striking "international terrorism, extremism, and separatism." The Russian military adds another goal: to practice joint action to "settle regional crises."

However, Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer downplayed the practical military objectives of the joint exercises.

"Russia and China are not [military] allies. No one today, be it in Moscow or Beijing, is [telling] us that we will one day decide to fight any third party," Felgenhauer told RFE/RL. "This means that, unlike the maneuvers Russia conducts with Armenia, Belarus, or other members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, or those NATO countries conduct among themselves, the [Russian-Chinese] war games have almost no practical military purpose."

Felgenhauer suggests the upcoming joint military exercise has something to do with allegations that the United States is supporting or even fomenting uprisings in the former Soviet Union. "For Russia, the aim [of these war games] is mainly political," he said. "They are designed to show the United States that [Russia has] allies. After the revolutionary events that took place in Georgia and Ukraine, many people think it is important [to convey this message]."

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 ended decades of hostility between the two neighbors. They have since developed what they call a strategic partnership to oppose what they regard as U.S. domination in global affairs.

Over the past decade, massive Russian arms sales to China have further favored the development of bilateral cooperation. According to estimates of the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, Russia has been delivering an average of $2 billion worth of arms to China since 2000, including fighter aircraft, submarines, and destroyers.

Felgenhauer said this month's military exercises will serve Chinese efforts to develop the best possible relations with the Russian military in order to buy very sensitive military equipments and technologies that Moscow has been refusing to sell so far.

Felgenhauer aded that Beijing is particularly interested in buying Russian-made long-range bombers. He notes that some Russian Tu-22 M3 "Backfires" and Tu-95 C's will take part in the upcoming exercise.

Russian military expert Aleksandr Goltz agrees that the presence of strategic bombers in the drill is not coincidental. "China is the biggest consumer of Russian armament in the world," he told RFE/RL. "But now Russia has exhausted its opportunities for selling jets and ships. There is another choice: to sell nonconventional weapons. And it's not [a coincidence] that strategic bombers are participating [in] these military exercises."

Oksana Antonenko, senior fellow at the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies, said the drill is an important step forward in Chinese-Russian relations. "All their border disputes at the moment are closed. [So] it was possible now to organize joint exercises. And I think in terms of confidence building this is definitely a step forward," she told RFE/RL. "They demonstrate perhaps to the world and more importantly also to both Russia and China that following the settlement of their border dispute in the Far East they are now able to cooperate together."

In early July, Russia and China exchanged ratification documents by their parliaments agreeing to share the last disputed land on the eastern sector of the 4,300-kilometer border.

(RFE/RL correspondent Jean-Christophe Peuch and RFE/RL's Uzbek Service contributed to this report.)

For further coverage of Russia's foreign policy in Asia, see:

Putin Seeks Breakthrough Agreement With Japan

By Julie A. Corwin

9 August marks the beginning of the second decade of the UN's observation of the World's Indigenous Peoples -- an international day created to register concern for the rights and welfare of indigenous peoples.

One of these rights is to speak in one's native tongue. However, some linguists believe that the number of world languages could halve over the course of this century. Scholars estimate that more than 9,000 languages died in the past two centuries as the result of wars, epidemics, acts of genocide, and the process of assimilation, "Rossiya" reported on 11 November 2004. Of the almost 7,000 languages spoken today, half of them can be found in only eight countries of the world; one of these countries is Russia, according to "Rossiya."

Russia has more than 160 nationalities and 101 languages, according to the 2002 census and the recently released edition of "Ethnologue," a reference work cataloguing all of the world's languages. While federal and local policies to promote indigenous languages flourished in the first 10 years after the breakup of the Soviet Union, the population of indigenous peoples in the Russian Federation, and consequently, speakers of its languages have kept declining. What's more, that trend is expected to continue. While it is hard to generalize about a country as large as Russia, the majority of the languages of the numerically small peoples share at least three common problems. First and foremost, their best speakers are in many cases elderly. The younger generation often speaks Russian better than the language of their ethnic group. Two, there is typically little prestige or economic incentive associated with mastering the indigenous languages. Three, federal and/or local programs designed to promote indigenous language use and instructions are often badly funded or nonexistent.

From 2003-04, only 47.5 percent of the children of the indigenous people of northern Siberia and the far east were actually studying their native language in schools, according to the social-science journal "Sotsis -- sotsiologizheskie issledovaniya" of 24 May 2005. In the southern Siberian republic of Buryatia, just 40 percent of local primary schools offer instruction in Buryatian; all teaching at upper levels is in the Russian language. In the republic of Khakassia in 2002, 35 percent of students in the republican capital of Abakan were studying Khakass, according to a paper delivered by Tamara Borgoiakova (sic) of Khakassia State University during an international conference in 2002. But offering indigenous languages in schools doesn't necessarily guarantee that students will use them outside of class. Of the percentage of students studying Khakass in Abakan schools, only 2 percent reported using the language with their parents, 22 percent with their grandparents, and no one reported using it with their friends.

There are any number of explanations for the failure of young people to embrace their ancestors' language. One is lack of prestige. The most fluent speakers of indigenous languages are often concentrated in the villages and rural areas, thus giving the language an association of "backwardness" among urbanites. Perhaps more significant are the greater economic opportunities associated with the dominant language, Russian. However, even the custodians of the Russian language have concerns that the use of their language is declining, particularly in the CIS countries. At a conference in Moscow last June, Deputy Education and Science Minister Andrei Svinarenko attributed the declining interest in studying Russian to Russia's political and economic situation. And if Russian is declining in popularity, we can only imagine how low the status of Khakass or Buryat has fallen.

Of course, Buryat -- with more than 300,000 speakers -- is in much better shape than dozens of other indigenous languages in Russia. Among the 11 languages identified by "Ethnologue" as "endangered" is Southern Yukaghir, a language spoken in northeastern Siberia. In 1859, there were more than 2,000 Yukaghirs, but over the next six decades the population declined rapidly due to epidemics and assimilation. And like so many other indigenous peoples of northern Siberia and Russia's far east, collectivization resulted in cultural discontinuity and further population declines.

From the 1950s to the 1980s, the Soviet government sent all Yukaghir children to boarding schools, where they were schooled in Russian. Today, speakers of Southern Yukaghir number only 30 to 150, all of whom are older adults, according to "Ethnologue." According to "Rossiiskaya gazeta" on 24 December 2002, Russian ethnologists used to joke darkly that for every Yukaghir, there are three academic volumes about their people. The situation is even more dire for the Tundra Ents language of north-central Siberia. Only two or three of its speakers are still alive.

Of course, the poor physical health and dismal living conditions of many indigenous peoples tends to trump all other challenges facing a language's survival. The Tuva Republic has received high marks for its language program, but Tuva is one of the poorest regions in Russia. Tuvin is the language of instruction in 80 percent of elementary and high schools, according to Borgoiakova. In the majority of Tuva homes, Tuvin is the only language spoken. The strong position of the Tuvin language in the republic represents, according to Borgoiakova, "the most successful model of implementation of language law in Siberia." Of all of the numerically small peoples of northern Siberia and Russia's far east, the Tuvins-Todzhentsev had the highest increase in their mortality rate for the period from 1999-2003, according to "Sotsis." Their death rate rose by 150 percent.

In the face of such alarming statistics, concern about language use may seem esoteric. After all, many if not most members of indigenous populations in Russia can speak Russian, enabling them to function in their daily lives and participate in the local and national economy. But language may represent something more than just a means of communication and a window into a culture.

Some linguists are connecting linguistic diversity with efforts to preserve and understand the environment. Speaking at an international conference in 2002, Tove Skutnabb-Kangas of Denmark's Rotskilde University reported that Finnish biologists recently "discovered" that salmon can use extremely small rivulets leading to a local river as spawning ground, something scientists previously thought was impossible. But the Saami indigenous group has always known this and that the traditional Saami names of several of those rivulets often include the Saami word for "salmon-spawning bed." According to Skutnabb-Kangas, this kind of ecological knowledge is preserved in indigenous languages.

For more on the indigenous peoples of Russia and the rest of the former Soviet Union, see:

"Efforts Under Way To Prevent Extinction Of Shor Language"

"Q&A With Crimea's Mustafa Dzhemilev -- 'How Can We Right The Injustices Inflicted On Our People?'"

"Berlin Conference Focuses On Plight Of Deported Nationalities Of Former Soviet Union"

Russia's Foreign Ministry has announced it will not renew the accreditation of reporters working for the U.S. ABC television network. A ministry statement made public yesterday said the decision was in retaliation for ABC's airing of an interview with radical Chechen field commander Shamil Basaev. The ABC interview was broadcast in the United States and not meant for Russian audiences. But it caused an uproar in Moscow. Basaev has claimed responsibility for multiple attacks against civilian and military targets in Russia. Under domestic antiterrorism legislation, Russian media are barred from interviewing him.

Shamil Basaev is Russia's most-wanted terrorist, with a $10 million bounty on his head.

He has claimed responsibility for some of the worst terrorist acts in recent Russian history, including the 2002 Moscow theater takeover and last year's Beslan school hostage taking that ended in the killing of more than 330 people, most of them children.

The Russian authorities were quick to voice their anger with ABC. On 2 August, the Foreign Ministry announced it would not renew the accreditation of journalists working for the station in Russia, once the documents expire. The ministry said the move was a direct consequence of ABC's interview with Basaev. It said the interview aided "the propaganda of terrorism" and contained direct calls for violence against Russian citizens.

ABC expressed shock. The network issued a statement late on 2 August saying it regrets Moscow's action but that it cannot allow any government to prevent it from reporting the news "fully and accurately."

U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey, speaking on 2 August in Washington, said the United States government condemned actions claimed by Basaev in the strongest possible terms.

"We certainly believe that the actions taken by certain terrorist groups in Chechnya, certainly the actions taken at the school in Beslan and some of the other terrorist activities that have gone on, are absolutely deplorable," Casey said. "We condemned them at the time. We continue to condemn them. We believe that those kinds of attacks on innocents, whether they occur at Chechnya, whether they occur anywhere else in the world are simply unacceptable. They are not a legitimate form of political expression."

But at the same time, Casey said the United States does not believe censoring or punishing the media is legitimate. "I don't think, if in fact, ABC is to somehow be banned from reporting in Russia that that would be a positive statement about freedom of expression," he said.

When ABC aired the interview last week, Ted Koppel, long-time host of the "Nightline" program, emphasized that "broadcasting an interview with someone does not imply any sort of approval of that person or his actions."

Koppel noted that ABC has broadcast interviews with thieves, murderers, dictators, and even child molesters -- always putting the conversation in the proper context. That, he said, is a reporter's job.

The network also offered the Russian Embassy in Washington time on its program, to air its point of view.

Rohan Jayasekera, who works for the British-based Index on Censorship, a monitoring organization that deals with issues of media and government censorship, told RFE/RL that the Russian Foreign Ministry's decision to revoke the accreditation of ABC journalists is a radical step, but it follows an established Kremlin pattern.

"There have been broadcasts by television companies in Britain of interviews with Chechen separatists that have resulted in complaints by the Russian government directly to the Foreign Office and also complaints to broadcasting authorities, complaining about the use of the material," Jayasekera said. "Russia has been determined for some years to use all possible means to silence the broadcast of the views of Chechen separatists, not only in Russia, but internationally as well."

Those complaints have all been politely turned down, with the explanation that in a democratic society, the government cannot influence the work of independent media.

Jayasekera noted the British government has learned from its own mistakes. Faced with its own battle with terrorism, it tried a form of internal media censorship in the 1980s, in the midst of deadly bombings by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). British television was told to stop airing interviews with members of the IRA and other similar groups. Specifically, a ban was imposed on broadcasting the voice of their representatives. Then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously declared it was time to starve terrorists of the "oxygen of publicity on which they depend."

But as Jayasekera recalled, the policy was discredited and eventually repealed. "This was challenged in various ways by the British media. It made the exercise completely pointless at the end of the run of the system," Jayasekera said. "Actors were being used to overdub the voices of the actual IRA figures themselves. The end result of it was that it was ridiculed around the world for its pointlessness and lack of effect. And so that experience has influenced broadcasters, particularly in Britain, but also further across in Europe."

Ultimately, decisions on whether to give a terrorist airtime should be based on professional criteria, Jayasekera said.

"There's a journalistic decision to be made, a professional decision to be made, as to whether the audience will learn something new about the motivations of an individual, of an organization, especially when the actions of that individual, individuals, or organization have a serious or possibly dangerous effect on their lives. At that point, it becomes a matter of public interest. And [broadcasters] have a duty to report this," Jayasekera said.

In mid-June, RFE/RL correspondent Andrei Babitsky traveled to Chechnya, where he established contact with field commander Doku Umarov, one of only two commanders who have fought with the Chechen resistance since 1995, throughout both wars. Following the Khasavyurt accord that ended the first Chechen war in 1996 and the election of Aslan Maskhadov as president in January 1997, Umarov was named by Maskhadov to head the Chechen Security Council. In that capacity, he intervened in July 1998 to quash an armed clash between moderates and Islamic radicals within Maskhadov's entourage. During the second war, Umarov has commanded the southwestern front, the region southwest of Grozny that borders on Georgia and Ingushetia. Russian officials have branded Umarov, like other resistance leaders, a "terrorist," but he has unequivocally distanced himself from the terrorist atrocities perpetrated by his fellow field commander Shamil Basaev. The interview with Basaev aired by ABC and that with Umarov were both conducted by veteran Russia war correspondent Andrei Babitsky, an RFE/RL staffer, while on leave. (Editor's note: RFE/RL has not yet decided whether, if at all, to broadcast the Basaev interview.) Umarov does not, however, refer to Basaev by name anywhere in his interview with Babitsky.

Babitsky:The war for you has been going on for six years. Don't you think there is any other way out of the situation?

Umarov: At present, as long as we have not completely liberated ourselves from the boots of Russian soldiers, I do not see any other way out, because now no other possibilities remain. More, after all that Russia, the Russian so-called Army has done in this country, I, for one, do not see any other way out. I think that any honest citizen, any patriot of his people, also sees no way out.

Babitsky: Don't you think that a significant portion of the population doesn't want to live outside of Russia -- I mean, the Chechen population?

Umarov: Of course not. Today, if one can speak without looking back, without being afraid that you might be abducted for speaking, that at any moment one might be subjected to the terror that the Russian Army is committing now -- if you take away that fear, I think that about 1 percent of the Chechen population would say that they don't dream of life without Russia. Earlier, under the Soviet Union, when we were one country, maybe. But now, after six years, I think, there are no such people. Today it is simply because of fear, because of the dead-end situation, and because they don't see any future, that there are people who have lost their faith. And these people, in order to secure themselves, save themselves, talk this way.

Babitsky: That's what you suppose. I understand that these conclusions are based on suppositions. But nonetheless there hasn't been a referendum, there hasn't been a chance to express what the people really think about this question.

Umarov: I participated in the first war. At that time, as you know, there was an opposition -- [former Checheno-Ingush Obkom First Secretary Doku] Zavgaev or [Grozny Mayor Beslan] Gantamirov, many names and people who considered themselves part of the intelligentsia and who stood on their principles, who really did not envision life either with Russia or without Russia. That is a fact. I know because I was also from a family of the intelligentsia and I know how my father thought. But now that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and his gang -- which he brought in, armed, and let loose -- have come to power, after that, that opposition, that intelligentsia, doesn't think of life with Russia. They only dream of getting rid of Russia, that it would be better to be subjected to anyone else, if only those barbarians were gone. Those people who did not support us during the first war, who were actually ready to stand with weapons against us, those people have preserved their sense that they are ready to lay down their lives for an idea. Now these people are ready to fight against Russia, against these.... I have spoken a lot to these people. These people give us much more support than those people who supported the revolutionary processes, supported our course. But now they are broken by the terror that has been created by the structures of the FSB [Federal Security Service] or the structure of Putin's administration, perhaps. Everything they are doing in Chechnya is done to break the human spirit, to make people lose their humanity. And they are having considerable success with the horrific things they are doing to people. From futility, when a person thinks he has no way out, when a person thinks only about getting enough to eat, when he is placed on the edge of survival, when a person sits and waits for his monthly welfare. And he knows that if they don't give it to him, then he can't buy any bread, if they don't give him his compensation payment, then he won't have a roof over his head. These days you can get people to do or say anything if you have strength, power, and money.

Babitsky: It doesn't seem to me that there is much hope that the war will end. There is no chance of you winning it as a military conflict. What are you hoping for?

Umarov: We are believers. A person without faith is not a whole person. We are on Allah's path; it is a sacred path for us. So we are obligated to perform the jihad. Today there is a superpower that the entire world believes cannot be defeated militarily -- that idea also needs to be analyzed. But until there is a regime change [in Russia], until sensible people come to power, until then there will not be an end to the war. But there is no such thing as dead-end situation. Our situation is not as bad as some people think. Our situation would be bad if it was 2000 and the rule of Putin was just beginning. But I think that the times are changing, that every rule comes to an end, and that his epoch is ending, sensible people will come to power. Such a regime, such an empire sooner or later must come to its end. But to stop now, to bow down and live with those people is practically impossible. No self-respecting person could do it. Those people who are afraid, who don't have the force of will to proceed down the road of freedom for their people, that person -- if he respects himself -- cannot live with those people. Because they leave him no dignity.

Babitsky: How correct is it to say that in the forests there are no longer any people who are not motivated by radical Islam, who are not trying to establish a Shari'a-based state, a Shari'a-based legal system, who reject the traditional Chechen way of life?

Umarov: That is an FSB fantasy. Ideological work has come to the forefront during this war. This is the ignorant thinking of Kadyrov's clan, because Kadyrov considered himself a traditional Muslim. A Muslim, any Muslim, any person must live according to some law. And if a Muslim lives according to Shari'a, then Shari'a forbids him from goofing around or smoking or doing such things, then I consider that good. But I, for example, came to this war as a patriot. The switch to war happened in Moscow and when the occupation began, I understood that war was inevitable and I arrived as a patriot. Maybe at that time I didn't know how to pray, I don't remember. Now, they say I am a Wahhabi or a follower of radical Islam. That is laughable. I have a whole front. I go along that front and I don't see people fighting to bring to the world Wahhabism or terror. The whole world is just clinging to those two words.

Babitsky: Let's talk about terrorism. Your commander Shamil Basaev planned and carried out several terrorist acts. To justify himself, he wrote in one letter that Allah gives one the right to take away from someone what he has taken from you.

Umarov: In any case, we do not have that right today. If we were to use those methods, then I think not one of us would be able to return as normal humans.

Babitsky: There were terrorist acts in Beslan, in Moscow, and the responsibility for that blood lies both with the Russian authorities and with the entire Chechen resistance. Does that mean that such acts have been acknowledged, have been granted moral legitimacy by the Chechen resistance?

Umarov: No, in the eyes of the resistance such operations have no legitimacy. We ourselves were horrified by what they did in Beslan. Because we know the concrete facts of what our people hoped for, how it all began.

Babitsky: Well, no matter what they hoped for, it is obvious that kidnapping children means putting their lives in great danger.

Umarov: That is a fact. Definitely, if one knows what to expect from the Kremlin. I, for example, knowing [President Vladimir] Putin, knowing his team -- it is a fact that on the first day one could have expected that this would be an enormous threat for the children. And that's how it turned out, that's how the operation ended up.

Babitsky: In the period between the wars, this place was governed by banditry. Various groups kidnapped people and introduced slavery into everyday life. How do you assess that period? As far as I understand, such charges have been leveled against you. (Editor's note: Doku Umarov has often been accused of involvement in kidnappings during the period between the wars.)

Umarov: I was secretary of the Security Council, and I had to constantly -- in order to avoid a civil conflict, like the one that happened in [July 1998 in] Gudermes -- I therefore had to constantly deal with [field commander Arbi] Baraev and [field commander Ramzan] Akhmadov, with the Ingushetians, and with [former Ingushetian President Ruslan] Aushev. Maskhadov sent me everywhere. Because of these contacts, I began to be accused of this. But I always -- when these accusations reached this level, when Maskhadov said at the Security Council that I had been accused -- I said, "Here is my statement, but a person's guilt can only be established in court. If I am guilty, I will not lift a finger to defend myself. Prove it and that's all But what people say -- that is slander, and it isn't for me. Just give me a fact. Without facts, a person can say, looking at a horse, "there is a goat." Kidnappings, chaos -- all that happened. But you look around today -- those people who flourished in the slave trade -- where are they now? The main bandit, Movladi Baisarov -- where is Baisarov today? Where is Yamadaev, where is his deputy today? [Editor's note: There were seven Yamadaev brothers, and it is not 100 percent clear from this context which one Umarov was referring to, but he probably had in mind Ruslan Yamadaev, who now represents Chechnya in the Russian State Duma.] You say "slavery" in reproach, but things never got to the point where people were selling corpses. And now, when there are 100,000 Russian troops here, they are selling corpses. And they are stealing so that they can murder and sell the corpse. That is the scale of what is happening.

Babitsky: In November there are supposed to be elections to the Chechen legislature. Do you think that this will lead to yet another quasi-governmental structure or can it be an authoritative organ of power?

Umarov: No self-respecting person will participate in these elections. They won't vote and they won't run. This will be yet another structure that will sit at the Kremlin's trough, a simple fiction. Although, perhaps, because of competition among themselves for these positions, they will create an appearance, they will create the impression that they have formed parties for these elections.

Babitsky: Ramzan Kadyrov says that sooner or later he will cope with the resistance. Is it true that the actions of his forces have been as successful as he says?

Umarov: His masters in the Kremlin keep summoning him and saying: "Come on, let's put down our weapons and take up shovels. There are no results from you, from your army. You are just spreading drugs and terror among the people." And every time the masters pull his strings, he shows up with 100 mujahedin who have surrendered, a bunch of captured weapons, several of Basaev's arms, and some of Umarov's left legs.

Babitsky: Nonetheless, it remains a fact that after all these years of fighting, the federal forces and Kadyrov's units have managed to liquidate a significant portion of the old command group.

Umarov: That is life. Tomorrow, I might be gone. That is life -- we are not immortal, we are not gods. Life goes on. We are old and have to give up our places. There are several young people climbing up toward each of our places and waiting for their turns to take these places. There is no such thing as war without loss. So, Maskhadov and others have left on the road to Allah. Sadullaev took Maskhadov's place. He's 38, young, smart, and full of energy. Tomorrow, perhaps, one of these young people might take my place. Someone might come along who will be even better than I am. But by comparison now, what is the difference, what has been broken? The losses have been big. In general, before Maskhadov's death, I didn't really notice them, but simply the death of Maskhadov was a great loss. But for every commander who has died, someone has appeared immediately -- maybe I'm not being fair to the dead -- who was young and energetic and who made you forget the loss. You don't forget, of course, your brothers, your friends, that they existed. But their places have been taken by eager, energetic people.

Babitsky: In general, if you compare things with the first years of the war or the situation as it develops from year to year, is there a kind of dynamic, an order to the development of the mood of the entire conflict?

Umarov: At first, if you analyze things, on some level, on the level of ideas it was as if they were establishing order or taking revenge for the offended honor of Russia. Or it was clear that they were carrying out some sort of ideological program because of the abductions of people, the cut-off fingers. In his soul, every Russian soldier felt responsibility. Now there is none of that. It has been lost. Now the majority -- because they don't extend the contracts, because they don't pay what they owe-- they have to bring in against their will.

Babitsky: The fact that Kadyrov's forces are now going after relatives -- does that hold young people back?

Umarov: Actually this has exactly the opposite effect on young people. Now I face this issue myself. This winter, my aunt and my wife's brother went missing. I don't know -- maybe they were killed, maybe they weren't. And two relatives from Itum-Kalinskii Raion. They took someone's wife and six-month baby. They took someone's father or brother. Because they have been taken, I don't see fear, neither in words or conversation. On the contrary, I see aggression. All this is Allah's will and we have to accept it calmly.

Babitsky: What can you say about the losses suffered by the Russian side and Kadyrov's units?

Umarov: A week ago in the Itum-Kalinskii Raion, one group destroyed two armored personnel carriers and passersby blocked the road. Civilians weren't allowed through. They counted more than 30 bodies. That was a simple diversionary action. We have learned to attack quickly and move on. They are trying to conceal their casualties. One GRU [military-intelligence] group between the villages of Malii Kharsinoi and Staryi Kharsinoi, there are two villages there and we were there recently. One GRU unit had 39 members and we destroyed 38 of them. The one who survived was made a Hero of Russia, but they didn't announce it anywhere. And that, by the way, is the GRU. They collected their weapons, but didn't make any announcement. With Kadyrov's men, it isn't always to hide their losses but just to get rid of a problem. Quick burials and that's it. No one is going to run to local or raion councils and report that someone has died. Among Kadyrov's forces, some, fearing reprisals, maybe they went along for money, even their parents don't try to publicize their losses or keep an accounting. But their losses are greater.

8 August: Nizhnii Novgorod Governor Gennadii Khodryev's term will officially expire. Moscow Vice Mayor Viktor Shantsev expected to succeed him.

12 August: Fifth anniversary of the sinking of the "Kursk" submarine.

26 August: CIS summit to be held in Kazan.

September: First-ever Sino-Russian military exercises to be held on the Shandong Peninsula.

September: New U.S. Ambassador to Russia William Burns will take up residence in Moscow

1 September: Date by which President Putin has ordered the government to submit its plans for the elimination of the estate tax, the simplification of individual tax declarations, and the simplification of the requirements for real-estate purchases.

3 September: First anniversary of Beslan school tragedy.

5 September: Fall plenary session of the State Duma opens.

21 September: Federation Council reopens.

1 October: Date by which President Putin has ordered the government to submit its economic-development plans for the Far East, the North Caucasus, and Kaliningrad Oblast.

4 October: President Putin to visit London for Russia-EU summit.

23 October: Referendums to be held in Kamchatka Oblast and the Koryak Autonomous Okrug about the merger of the two federation subjects.

9 October: State Duma by-election in single-mandate district in Rostov Oblast.

23-26 October: Third anniversary of the Moscow theater hostage crisis.

25 October: Second anniversary of former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovskii's arrest at an airport in Novosibirsk.

1 November: Public Chamber expected to hold first session.

1 November: Date by which President Putin has ordered the government to submit its proposals for limiting foreign-capital participation in the defense sector and strategic-resource development.

1 November: Date by which President Putin has ordered the government to submit its proposals for judicial reform and combating crime, especially terrorism.

Second half of November: Chechnya to hold legislative elections, according to pro-Kremlin Chechen President Alu Alkhanov.

1 December: Date by which President Putin has ordered the government to submit its plans for reducing traffic accidents, alcoholism, and drug addiction, as well as its proposals for improving health care.

1 December: Date by which President Putin has ordered the government to submit its plan to increase state-sector wages by 50 percent within three years.

28 December: Federation Council will hold its last session in 2005.

2006: Russia to host a G-8 summit in St. Petersburg.

1 January 2006: Date by which all political parties must conform to law on political parties, which requires at least 50,000 members and branches in one-half of all federation subjects, or either reregister as public organizations or be dissolved.