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Russia Report: November 19, 2001

19 November 2001, Volume 1, Number 29

Last week's summit between Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin made important progress on key issues, including nuclear arms reduction, the fight against terrorism, and the strengthening of economic ties between the United States and Russia. It remains uncertain, however, if the improvement of relations between the two countries since the 11 September terrorist attacks is a temporary partnership in the face of a common threat or a strategic shift by Russia toward the West.

Most Russians strongly sympathized with the victims of the New York City tragedies. However, many Russian elites have been surprised by the eagerness with which Putin supported the U.S. war in Afghanistan and continue to regard close cooperation with Washington with suspicion. The Russian military is wary of the deployment of U.S. forces in Central Asia, a region it has long regarded as lying within its sphere of influence. The Russian armed forces have also been disappointed with the practical results of the closer military cooperation with NATO enshrined in the 1997 Founding Act, and insist on the preservation of the 1972 ABM Treaty as a way to preserve the strategic balance with the United States. Russian business interests, especially in the arms sector, clamor for access to lucrative markets in Iraq and Iran, regimes hostile to the United States. Virtually forgotten in the recent publicity surrounding Moscow's closer relations with Washington have been recent Russia's arms sales to those countries. Meanwhile, Russian energy firms resent the U.S. interest in Central Asia's oil and gas resources, which they have long attempted to exploit themselves. Moreover, no matter what their views on specific issues, most Russian elites share misgivings about U.S. primacy in the world and resent their own country's loss of status since the end of the Cold War. What they cannot agree upon is how to reverse that decline.

Putin's authority has never been as unconstrained as his apologists at home and abroad have suggested. He depends for his support on a coalition of Russian elites, including allies in big business, the federal bureaucracy, parts of the security services, and regional leaders. Putin may be in no danger of being ousted -- unlike former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, there is no rival such as Boris Yeltsin waiting in the wings. But the elites limit Putin's freedom of action and his ability to implement policy. Thus, Putin may not always be able to deliver on what he promises. Moscow's stubborn unwillingness to substantially change the ABM Treaty, for example, may reflect less Putin's personal views -- by all signs he does not see a vigorous U.S. missile defense program as a serious threat to Russia's security -- than his attempt to keep a key domestic constituency on board.

Putin's assertive courtship of the West, therefore, is more likely to result in the permanent shift of Russia toward the West if it can quickly bring substantive, rather than merely rhetorical, benefits to key elements of the Russian establishment. In this regard, U.S. promises to speed Russia's inclusion in the World Trade Organization, help reform the country's banking system, and increase direct investment are promising steps.

There remain, however, serious dangers ahead. It will be difficult forging a settlement in Afghanistan that is acceptable both to the victorious Afghan factions, and to regional powers such as Pakistan, Washington, and Moscow, which has strong ties to President Burhanuddin Rabbani. A decision to expand NATO next year to incorporate the Baltic states is likely to raise hackles in parts of the Russian elite, no matter what Putin may think.

Most importantly, the Bush administration, though united behind the military effort against Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, still appears divided between those officials who favor a multilateral approach to U.S. foreign policy and those who want the U.S. to act on its own if doing so would more effectively advance American interests. Last week, for example, the U.S. refused to attend a meeting in New York on the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty, which it has signed but not yet ratified. On the same day last month Secretary of State Colin Powell boasted to the international media about Washington's success at assembling a broad international alliance against terror, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld told the Pentagon press corps that the U.S. was forging not "a coalition," but "many coalitions," which are directed toward purposes decided by the United States. In this regard, a unilateral U.S. expansion of the war again terrorism to include Iraq, a country with close commercial ties with Russia, would shatter Washington's current partnership with Moscow and rapidly return relations to the deep freeze.

Donald Jensen is an Associate Director of Broadcasting for RFE/RL and is a former foreign service officer, who served in the Political Internal Section of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

A TAXONOMY OF THE PUTINISTAS. Two Moscow-based publications carried detailed studies of the current composition of the Kremlin and government under President Putin. Writing in "Vremya MN" on 14 November, Olga Kryshtankovskaya, director of the Center for the Study of Elites at the Institute of Sociology, argues that the events of the 1980's and 1990's led to a period when membership in elites was opened up. The old elite lost control over both the central government and the channels for recruiting personnel for the upper echelons of power in Moscow. (This was much less the case in the regions, where, according to Kryshtankovskaya, almost 80 percent of regional leaders had a past history in the nomenklatura.) However, Kryshtankovskaya concludes that this open period of circulation of the elites has now ended. According to her research on the current elite, the share of the core elite made up of economists and lawyers has declined, while the percentage of military officers has risen, as has the number of business people. Another trend has been an increase in the number of people from the leader's home region. According to Kryshtankovskaya, Putin has advanced a higher percentage of people from his home city to positions of power -- 4.1 percent of the political elite -- than did former President Boris Yeltsin, who named people from his hometown of Sverdlovsk to 2.6 percent of key positions.

However, in a long and detailed article on 13 November, "Kommersant-Vlast" suggests that the view that Putin hires people only from St. Petersburg is "oversimplified." The weekly instead offers a schema of four categories of Putin hires, all of whom have had experience with Putin at different times in his life. First are the "school chums" or fellow alumni from Leningrad State University. The second group is the "Chekists," who worked alongside Putin in the KGB. Some persons, such as presidential envoy to the Northwest federal district Viktor Cherkesov, fall into both of those categories. The third grouping are colleagues from Putin's days as deputy mayor of St. Petersburg. And, the fourth team are persons who are simply from St. Petersburg. According to the weekly, certain members of these groups, who are not particularly well-known to the general public, such as Viktor Zolotov, head of the president's security service, have played an influential role in the Kremlin. For example, Zolotov reportedly lobbied for the appointment of Aleksei Miller to head Gazprom and Georgii Kutovoi to head the Federal Energy Commission. He also supposedly supported the opponents of Unified Energy Systems head Anatolii Chubais's plan to reform that organization. (Julie A. Corwin)

The Petersburg Team of Vladimir Putin

School Chums

Viktor Cherkesov, presidential envoy to the Northwest federal district
Vitalii Mozyakov, deputy interior minister
Nikolai Vanyushin, investigator on especially important cases at the Office of the Prosecutor-General
Yelena Kataeva, deputy natural resources minister


***Sergei Ivanov, defense minister
***Nikolai Patrushev, Federal Security Service director
Sergei Lebedev, Foreign Intelligence Service director
***Viktor Ivanov, deputy head of the presidential administration
Georgii Poltavchenko, presidential envoy to the Central federal district
Yevgenii Murov, Federal Bodyguard Service head
***Viktor Zolotov, head of presidential security service
Sergei Verevkin-Rokhalskii, Federal Tax Police first deputy director
Vladimir Strzhalkovskii, deputy minister for economic development and trade
Andrei Belyaninov, Rosoboroneksport first general director
Sergei Chemezov, Rosoboroneksport general director
Nikolai Bobrovskii, deputy interior minister

Mayoral Team

***Igor Sechin, director of Putin's secretariat
***Aleksei Kudrin, deputy prime minister and finance minister
Dmitrii Medvedev, first deputy head of the presidential administration
***Dmitrii Kozak, deputy head of the presidential administration
German Gref, economic development and trade minister
Ilya Yuzhanov, antimonopoly policy minister
Aleksei Miller, Gazprom head
Viktor Zubkov, chairman of the Committee for Financial Monitoring
Dmitrii Mezentsev, president of the Center for Strategic Research

Fellow St. Petersburgers

Boris Gryzlov, interior minister
Andrei Illarionov, presidential economic advisor
Sergei Stepashin, Audit Chamber chairman
Yurii Lvov, deputy finance minister
Vladimir Kozhin, presidential administration administrator
Igor Kostikov, Federal Securities Commission chairman
Leonid Reiman, communications minister
Yurii Shevchenko, health minister

***indicates those officials considered closest to Putin

Source: "Kommersant-Vlast" 13 November 2001

DUMA FAILS TWICE TO OVERRIDE FEDERATION COUNCIL ON GOVERNORS' TERMS... The Duma on 14 November failed twice to muster the 300 votes needed to override the veto of the Federation Council on a bill passed by the lower house that would have reduced the number of governors who could stand for election more than twice, Interfax reported. The first time, the deputies fell 12 votes short; the second time, 15 votes. As a result, the number of governors who can seek re-election a third time remains at 69, as it was under the previous bill. Only a small number may seek a fourth term. Also on 14 November, deputies approved in its third reading a bill on the indexation of land taxes. Deputy (Fatherland-All Russia) Gennadii Kulik remarked that the current rate of taxation is too low and has not been indexed since 1999, Interfax-AFI reported. JAC

...BUT RAISES SOLDIERS' PAY. State Duma deputies approved on 15 November in the third and final reading a bill limiting TV and radio advertising during children's, educational, and religious programs. Ads may not last longer than 20 percent of total airtime, and the interval between each commercial should total at least 15 minutes. The bill amends Article 11 of the law on advertising, according to ITAR-TASS. On the same day, deputies approved in the first reading a presidential bill reforming the system by which the military is paid cash allowances. As of 1 July 2002, military personnel will receive 86 percent more money than they make now, according to Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Kudrin. In addition, military salaries will no longer be any lower than those of public sector employees. The bill passed with 249 votes in favor, 131 against, and two abstentions. JAC


Name of Law___________Date Approved______# of Reading

On advertising___________15 November___________3rd

On allowances for military___15 November__________1st

On the indexation of_______14 November___________3rd
the rate of taxes on land

COMINGS & GOINGS SHIFTED: Deputy Aleksandr Shimanov, formerly of the Union of Rightist Forces faction, has joined the Unity faction, Interfax reported on 13 November. Deputy Anatolii Kulikov, former interior minister, who had been independent has joined the Fatherland-All Russia faction along with deputy Aleksandr Fedulov, formerly of the Unity faction. According to Interfax, OVR now has 48 members.

LAUNCHED: Deputies launched a new interregional faction called Electronic Russia, which will be led by deputy Aleksandr Shubin (Union of Rightist Forces). Some 36 deputies have signed up as members.

POLITICAL CALENDAR 19 November: Deputy foreign and defense ministers from Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Tajikistan to meet in Moscow to discuss Collective Security Treaty

19-21 November: Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo to visit France

21 November: Jordanian King Abdallah II to meet with President Putin in Moscow

21 November: CIS Council of Defense Ministers to meet in Moscow to discuss military cooperation and arms supplies

21 November: Duma to consider judicial reform legislative package in its second reading

21 November: Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov to address Duma on efforts to combat corruption within government ministries

21 November: Justice Minister Yurii Chaika to address Duma on the prison system

21-23 November: NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson to visit Russia

21-23 November: A joint working group composed of members of the Federation Council and State Duma will meet in Moscow with members of NATO's parliamentary assembly

22 November: Cabinet will discuss tariff policy for 2002

26-27 November: International roundtable on trade and economic cooperation with Iraq to be held in Moscow

26-28 November: Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail will visit Russia

28 November: Trial of former military journalist Grigorii Pasko to resume in Vladivostok

28 November: Federation of Independent Trade Unions to hold congress in Moscow

28-29 November: Joint Working Group on Chechnya of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the State Duma to hold session in Strasbourg

30 November: CIS summit to be held in Moscow

30 November: Duma will consider 2002 budget in its third reading

End of November: Fatherland to hold an all-Russian congress of agrarians, according to TV-Tsentr on 3 August

End of November: IMF mission will visit Moscow

December: Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov to visit Brazil

Early December: President Putin to visit Greece, according to Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov

1-3 December: Constituent congress of the united party of Unity, Fatherland, and All-Russia

6 December: Russia-NATO Joint Permanent Council to hold regular meeting in Brussels

10 December: State Duma to consider Labor Code in its second reading, according to Interfax on 13 November

10 December: U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to meet with his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov in Moscow

10 December: The working group on Russian entry into the World Trade Organization will hold a session in Geneva

15 December: Muslim religious holiday of Ramadan ends

15 December: Deadline by which the government should examine a strategy for developing Siberia, according to presidential envoy to the Siberian federal district Leonid Drachevskii on 6 November

16 December: Presidential elections in Altai, Chavash, and Komi republics

19 December: Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov will address the State Duma on measures that have been taken to increase security on Russia's passenger airlines

20-21 December: An international conference on the topic of "Islam against Terrorism" will be held in Moscow, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 October

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

13 January: Presidential elections in Kabardino-Balkaria and Adygeya

16-17 January: President Putin to visit Poland

27 January: Presidential elections in North Ossetia

February: Newly established committee for financial monitoring will begin working, according to Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin on 1 November

February: Spain's Crown Prince Felipe will visit Moscow

March-April: Russia will issue up to $2 billion in Eurobonds, according to Vneshekonombank head Andrei Kostin on 15 November

April: Gubernatorial elections in Penza Oblast

May: Russia-EU summit to be held

9-16 October 2002: All-Russian census will be held.