1 October 2001, Volume 1, Number 23
PROFILEIGOR SERGEEVICH IVANOV: A PORTRAIT OF A SURVIVOR When Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov met with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell last month in Washington, the two officials had more in common than might have been immediately apparent. Like Powell, Ivanov, 56, has a lower profile in the Russian cabinet than that of the national security advisor, who is now defense minister, Sergei Ivanov. Like U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, Sergei Ivanov has a closer personal relationship with his boss, Russian President Vladimir Putin, than the more seasoned foreign policy expert, Igor Ivanov. Like Powell, Ivanov has been increasingly marginalized in the foreign policy-making front -- so much so that rumors of Ivanov's imminent departure have been circulating for more than a year. But if Ivanov's future is anything like his past, he is likely to stick around, if for no other reason than because his superiors have apparently always valued have someone like him around, an extremely loyal workaholic.
In September 1998, when Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov was unexpectedly tapped by then-President Boris Yeltsin to be prime minister, Primakov turned to his most loyal deputy, Ivanov, to continue his policies at the Foreign Ministry. Ivanov's connection with Primakov had begun much earlier -- in the early 70s -- when Ivanov worked as a young researcher at the Institute for World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), where Primakov was then deputy director. Ivanov worked at IMEMO after graduating in 1969 from Morris Thores Institute for Foreign Languages, where he studied Spanish and English. After a few years at IMEMO, Ivanov joined the Foreign Ministry in 1973, where he has remained ever since. He spent his first 10 years in the diplomatic service in Madrid, starting out as a trade specialist. He returned to Moscow in 1983 and spent the bulk of the "Gorbachev years" in Moscow. In 1991, when Primakov took over as head of KGB's Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), Ivanov became ambassador to Spain.
After just two years in this position, Igor Sergeevich returned to his hometown, Moscow, to begin one of the most important phases of his career as first deputy foreign minister. It was during this period as first deputy foreign minister that Ivanov oversaw "all diplomatic matters, knowing literally every person and each paper clip of each document," according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 15 September 1998. Ivanov distinguished himself with his administrative and organizational talents and his long hours, working 14-15 hours a day. According to "Who is who," Ivanov served Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev as loyally and faithfully as he did his mentor, Primakov, who was not tapped to head the Foreign Ministry until 1996.
After Ivanov was elevated to head the ministry in which he had labored for so long, some analysts have commented that he has floundered and the ministry itself has drifted in part because of Ivanov's lack of leadership. "Kommersant-Vlast" suggested on 29 September 1998 that then-Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov believed Ivanov would be an excellent foreign minister because he could be relied upon to implement Primakov's agenda. According to the weekly, Ivanov had shown his "absolute loyalty to the chief and an absolute absence of ambition." During his "debut" as foreign minister, Ivanov gave a speech before the UN General Assembly on 23 September, hewing closely to the foreign policy line laid out by his predecessor, Primakov.
During Ivanov's tenure, the Foreign Ministry has suffered a number of blows to its prestige and status. In the Balkans, the Defense Ministry -- not the Foreign Ministry -- has taken the lead in setting policy. In June 1999, Ivanov told the world press that a Russian military deployment to Pristina airport was a "mistake" and troops would be removed. But the troops stayed on, and Ivanov had to reverse himself. More recently, the Foreign Ministry reportedly failed to predict the defeat of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in last fall's elections and failed to establish contacts with the Yugoslav opposition. And in what was taken by some as a sign of his lack of faith in the Foreign Ministry, Putin tapped a non-career diplomat, Viktor Chernomyrdin, to be his special envoy to Kosova. More recently, he named Chernomyrdin to another important diplomatic post, Russian ambassador to Ukraine.
Last April, "Obshchaya gazeta" predicted that Ivanov's tenure as foreign minister would be over mid-May following his return from another trip to Washington. Ivanov, though, has survived to lead another trip to Washington. And while his new colleague at the Defense Ministry, Sergei Ivanov, feels confident enough to adopt a tone at times more hawkish than his president, Igor Ivanov appears to be simply and faithfully following orders. And for Vladimir Putin, that may be enough. (Julie A. Corwin)
ON THE WEB. The Justice Ministry opened a website on Russia's political parties last month at http://party.scli.ru.. Opening of the site was required by the new law on political parties but it is still "under construction," and only two of its four categories, new and documents, have any content. But in the future, it could provide valuable information -- including financial data -- on Russia's political parties. In the meantime, all of Russia's top political parties themselves have their own websites of greater and lesser sophistication. Most have a similar menu of subcategories to choose from, such as news, personnel, regional links, and party programs.
A common observation about Russian political parties is that they are weak and based on a single personality rather than a coherent political program. And at least some of the parties' websites would appear to illustrate this idea. For example, in terms of graphics, it is hard to tell that there is anyone else in Yurii Luzhkov's Fatherland other than Yurii Luzhkov, or in Yabloko's case, Grigorii Yavlinskii. The website for Union of Rightist Forces (SPS), which has at times been riven by leadership struggles, appears to give its top personalities equal time. While the photogenic leader of the SPS faction Boris Nemtsov is featured prominently, the pictures of the group's other leaders also flash by periodically, even the distinctly unphotogenic Duma deputy Yegor Gaidar and the unpopular Unified Energy Systems head Anatolii Chubais. And unlike Yabloko's site, which provides a link from the home page to www.yavlinskii.ru, SPS's site does not link to www.nemtsov.ru. The website for the Liberal Democratic Party is focused both on the images and sayings of its leader, Vladimir Zhirinovskii. It even has the unique feature of songs both by and about Zhirinovskii. And you can read the lyrics or listen to them. JAC
COMMUNIST PARTY OF RUSSIA: (http://www.kprf.ru/) This party's site has a more international flavor with links to various sites around the world. It interestingly also has more content in English than the so-called pro-Western groups, such as Yabloko and SPS.
UNITY: (http://www.edin.ru/) The pro-Kremlin Unity party has one of the thinnest sites in terms of quantity of content. And although it has pledged to forge a common course with the Fatherland party, neither site provides links to each other.
FATHERLAND: (http://www.otech.ru/news.phtml) A good site for photos of Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov.
PEOPLE'S DEPUTY: (http://www.nardep.ru/) This group's website makes no secret of its allegiances. It provides a links to www.kremlin.ru, and the photo archive for group leader Gennadii Raikov includes one snapshot of him standing next to President Putin or at least a life-sized cardboard cut-out of Putin.
YABLOKO: (http://www.yabloko.ru/) Perhaps reflecting the tenuous nature of the ties formed with SPS, this site provides a link not to the Union of Rightist Forces's main website but to the site of its Duma faction, http://www.duma-sps.ru:8082/.
UNION OF RIGHTIST FORCES: http://www.sps.ru/sps/
LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF RUSSIA: http://www.ldpr.ru/
PARTIESKREMLIN, FATHERLAND, TO TURN NEW ATTENTION TO FARMERS. Despite the sometimes dramatic conflict over the issue in the State Duma, the Land Code is expected to pass quickly through the Federation Council on 10 October (see "RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly," 25 June 2001 and 16 July 2001). The pro-Kremlin Federation group, which at least according to its organizers numbers more than 100 people, has already declared that its members will vote for the bill. Steve Wegren, a specialist on Russian agriculture at Southern Methodist University, told RFE/RL that there is basically no reason for it not to pass it, since the most contentious issue -- the sale of agricultural land -- has been taken out. "This is an innocuous document," Wegren said, "It is a codification of the status quo: Land sales have been going on since 1994, and they number hundreds of thousands every year."
Of course, that doesn't mean that some harsh words won't be exchanged. The Communist Party is still planning to hold a nationwide protest against land sales on 5 October. And party leader Gennadii Zyuganov promised last month that he would file a complaint with the Constitutional Court about the illegal way in which the bill was rushed through the lower house. But the Communists and leftist agrarians may want to save their strength for the bigger battle looming ahead.
Fatherland-All Russia (OVR) faction leader Vyacheslav Volodin announced on 27 September that his group will introduce a bill on the sale of agriculture land within the next three to four weeks. Earlier, Agriculture Minister Aleksei Gordeev pledged that the government would submit its own draft legislation on this subject in the fall. According to Wegren, "now the question is will the Communists will be able to muster enough support and create enough coalitions to block this effort." With a bill on the sale of agricultural land and plans to launch a new agrarian movement within the Fatherland party (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 August 2001), the Putin administration is continuing a policy of challenging the Communists and other left parties on their traditional turf, that is, rural communities. According to Wegren, Putin's approach to the rural electorate is completely different than that of his predecessor, former President Boris Yeltsin. Putin "wants to revitalize the rural sector and agricultural production," while Yeltsin's intention was to "write off" rural communities: "They're all old, we don't care about them and we don't need them," Wegren said.
Now, one of Yeltsin's former agriculture ministers, Viktor Semenov, together with other members of Fatherland, plan to organize a congress at the end of November to forge a new agrarian movement within Fatherland-All Russia. (Semenov is currently a member of OVR's Duma faction.) Despite the recent split, in which some of its more leftist members quit, the old Agrarian Party under Mikhail Lapshin's leadership has not managed to shed its public image of being a kind of quasi-communist, backward-looking organization. During the 1999 State Duma elections, OVR formed an alliance with the Agrarian Party, but now Fatherland, which has formed an alliance with the pro-Kremlin Unity party, is trying to widen its appeal to the rural population. According to Wegren, Fatherland's move poses a serious threat to the future of the Agrarian Party, since it is clear that of the two, the Kremlin will give its support to Fatherland, thus making the Agrarian Party increasingly irrelevant. (Julie A. Corwin)
DUMA...DEPUTIES GIVE LAND CODE FINAL NOD... State Duma deputies passed the Land Code in its third and final reading on 20 September. Although the third reading is usually a ceremonial one, Communist Party leaders had been hoping to at least postpone the vote and tried unsuccessfully to get the code of the agenda of the Duma's first plenary session (see item above). Agro-Industrial Group leader Nikolai Kharitonov declared that "this is a historic decision, it is necessary to take it without noise and shouts." But they were unsuccessful and on 20 September, 257 deputies voted in favor, with 130 against, and one abstention. JAC
...AND RAISE BENEFITS FOR VETERANS, STUDENTS. Deputies also voted on 20 September to pass in the first reading amendments to the laws on veterans and state pensions which widens the definitions of those persons eligible to receive WWII veterans' privileges. The vote was 205 in favor. Also approved were changes and amendments to the Criminal Code increasing the penalties for crimes committed during the buying and selling of stock. The vote was 295 in favor with two abstentions. Also approved in the first reading was a bill amending the law on education, guaranteeing some 192 scholarships for higher education institutions for every 10,000 members of the population. JAC
Name of Law_____________Date Passed_________# of Reading
Land Code_______________20 September________3rd
Criminal Code____________20 September________1st
(criminal responsibility for
stock market crimes)
On education____________20 September_________1st
On veterans_____________20 September_________1st
On state pensions in_______20 September_________1st
DEPUTIES BACK PUTIN'S POLICY TOWARDS TERRORISM... Deputies responded to the 11 September terrorist attacks in the U.S. by adopting on 20 September a resolution expressing support for President Putin's actions. That resolution, which was proffered by the Fatherland-All Russia faction, attracted 246 votes in favor and only six against, according to ITAR-TASS. Deputies had wanted to pass a broader antiterrorism resolution, but this effort was stymied by the submission of additional amendments by various factions, which International Affairs Committee Chairman (People's Deputy) Dmitrii Rogozin said his committee would need more time to examine. Union of Rightist Forces faction leader Boris Nemtsov spoke out for Russia "openly and clearly saying we are with Europe and U.S.," while Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii suggested that Russia should work out a counter-terrorism plan of operation with the U.S. taking into account Russian interests. JAC
POLITICAL CALENDAR October: Agrarian Party to begin gathering signatures to support holding a nationwide referendum on the buying and selling of land, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 5 September
October: Government will submit law on investment of pension resources to the State Duma, according to Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matvienko
2 October: EU-Russia summit to take place in Brussels
5 October: Nationwide protests will be held against the possible buying and selling of land, according to Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov in "Sovetskaya Rossiya" on 22 September
5 October: Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov to visit Moldova
6 October: Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin to participate in G-7 finance ministers meeting in Washington, D.C.
7 October: State Duma by-elections will be held for the single-mandate districts in Amur and Arkhangelsk oblasts. Two seats were vacated when former State Duma deputy Leonid Korotkov was elected governor of Amur and deputy Aleksandr Piskunov was named an auditor at the Audit Chamber
10 October: Federation Council will consider Land Code
11-12 October: A congress of Russian citizens living abroad will gather in Moscow; President Putin to speak, according to ITAR-TASS on 20 September
13 October: Fatherland will hold a congress to reorganize the movement into a party
14 October: State Duma by-elections will be held in a single-mandate district in the city of St. Petersburg for the seat vacated by Audit Chamber head Sergei Stepashin
Middle of October: State Duma will consider a new version of a law on reforming the election system, according to Central Election Commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov on 11 September
Middle of October: U.S. Secretary of Commerce Don Evans will visit Russia, according to ITAR-TASS on 19 September
20-21 October: President Putin will take part in the ninth informal summit meeting of the Asia Economic Cooperation forum in Shanghai, according to ITAR-TASS on 2 July
25-29 October: Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio will visit Russia
27 October: Unity party to hold its third congress in Moscow
28 October: Gubernatorial elections in Orel Oblast
29 October: Espionage trial of political scientist Igor Sutyagin to resume in Kaluga Oblast
End of October: French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin to visit Moscow
November: Federation of Independent Trade Unions to hold congress in Moscow
November: Unity and Fatherland to hold unification congress in Moscow
16-17 November: Civic Forum, a gathering of more than 250 NGOs, to be held in Moscow
30 November: CIS summit to be held in Moscow
End of November: Fatherland to hold an all-Russian congress of agrarians, according to TV-Tsentr on 3 August
1-12 December: International chess championship to be held in Moscow, according to "Kommersant-Daily" on 15 August
16 December: Presidential elections in Chavash Republic
23 December: Presidential elections in Sakha Republic
28 December: Duma's fall session will come to a close, according to ITAR-TASS on 13 July
January: Presidential elections in North Ossetia.