18 June 2003, Volume
PUTIN DISCUSSES MIDDLE EAST 'ROAD MAP' WITH BUSH...
President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President George W. Bush spoke by telephone on 9 June to discuss the "road map" for Middle East peace and agreements reached during Bush's recent meeting with the Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers, RIA-Novosti and ITAR-TASS reported. The Russian and U.S. leaders stressed their satisfaction at the start of a constructive process and their devotion to realizing the goals set out in the road map, the news agencies reported. Putin and Bush also discussed the agenda for their coming summit in September....AND TALKS PEACE WITH ISRAELI, PALESTINIAN LEADERS...
In a "follow-up to his discussion with the U.S. president," Putin telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the new Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, on 10 June and asked them to refrain from violence, according to the presidential press service website (http://www.president.kremlin.ru). He urged both men to work toward the rapid realization of the latest peace initiatives. Putin also spoke with the head of the Palestinian National Autonomy, Yasser Arafat, on 10 June and told him that Russia, a co-sponsor of the road map for peace, has done its utmost to promote peace in the Middle East, according to RIA-Novosti. Putin urged Arafat to maintain his pledges to combat terrorism and not to hamper the peace process....AND WITH JEWISH REPRESENTATIVES.
President Putin also discussed the road map for Middle East peace in a meeting at the Kremlin on 10 June with leaders of the Jewish community in the United States, newsru.com reported. Participants included Jewish leader and philanthropist Ronald Lauder, American Jewish Congress head Jack Rosen, and "U.S. News and World Report" Editor in Chief and Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Mortimer Zuckerman. Putin reportedly told them that he believes maintaining religious balance and concord in Russia is his "top priority." He also conceded there are "problems in that area," but added that Russia has many Jewish cultural centers and sites "of which it can be proud."PUTIN QUASHES SPECULATION OF KALININGRAD 'TRADE.'
Speaking at the Kremlin on 11 June with officials who conducted the 2002 census, President Putin dismissed a suggestion that Moscow might be willing to surrender Russia's rights to the Kaliningrad Oblast in exchange for writing off foreign debt, RTR reported. "Russia does not trade in its lands and never will," Putin said. Putin noted that there is a Russian naval base in Kaliningrad, adding that it will remain there. He added that transit issues with respect to Kaliningrad are "solved in principle, but some technicalities remain." Putin also said Russia has resolved the problem of its foreign debts.RUSSIA SAYS IT WILL NOT SEND PEACEKEEPERS TO IRAQ.
Answering a question posed by Russian journalists in Brussels on 12 June regarding the possibility of Russia cooperating with the United States in Iraq as it has in the Balkans, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Russia will not send peacekeeping troops to Iraq, newsru.com reported. Ivanov said there is no parallel between the situations in Iraq and the Balkans, and that Russia's mandate for its peacekeeping operations in the former Yugoslavia was set up in a format that is not applicable in Iraq.FOREIGN MINISTER WARNS OF NEW EUROPEAN DIVIDE.
Igor Ivanov said on 11 June that Russia, EU member states, and EU candidate countries share an interest in preventing the disruption of traditional contacts between Russia and countries that join the EU, ITAR-TASS reported. Speaking at a ministerial session of the Council of Baltic Sea States in Pori, Ivanov said Russia, along with current and future EU states, must reject the creation of new dividing lines in Europe. "If we fail to disentangle a knot of serious problems by [the expected accession of EU candidate states on] 1 May 2004, all sides will suffer a loss," Ivanov reportedly said.
PUTIN CELEBRATES RUSSIAN INDEPENDENCE DAY...
President Putin started a new Independence Day tradition on 12 June by receiving representatives of all 89 federation subjects on Moscow's Red Square, Russian news agencies reported. In previous years, celebrations had a less official character. Breaking with decades-long Soviet and Russian security precautions, Putin also allowed jets to fly over Red Square for the first time since the 1950s. The jets released white, red, and blue smoke to create the Russian tricolor. Addressing the audience, Putin said that Russia greets this year's holiday as "a unified country that sees its possibilities and is confident of its own forces," RTR reported. "A country like Russia can be only a strong country," he said....AND SAYS RUSSIA WANTS APPROPRIATE ROLE IN THE WORLD.
Speaking the same day at a Kremlin reception to an audience that included Russia's first president, Boris Yeltsin, and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Putin said, "Russia cannot claim any special way [of development], but it can claim a place in the world and a view of itself that is appropriate to its rich history, the creative potential of its people, and its enormous size," strana.ru reported.DEFENSE MINISTER PRAISES RUSSIA-NATO COOPERATION...
Sergei Ivanov, who arrived in Brussels on 12 June to take part in the 13 June NATO-Russia Council meeting, told Russian journalists that he will broach the topics of combating terrorism, joint peacekeeping efforts, and military-technical cooperation, Russian and Western news agencies reported. Ivanov said the first year of the NATO-Russia Council was very successful, as both sides achieved concrete results in developing operative compatibility and in preparing an agreement on the joint use of military air transport. He also stressed the importance of Russia's cooperation with NATO in Afghanistan and said the worsening situation there calls for more intense cooperation, as it directly affects Russia and its allies in Central Asia. In addition, he noted the positive role NATO has played in facilitating Russian military reform....AND VOWS TO ADDRESS FURTHER EXPANDING MILITARY COOPERATION.
Immediately upon his arrival in Brussels, Defense Minister Ivanov met on 12 June with his U.S. counterpart Donald Rumsfeld to discuss the possibility of expanding cooperation in combating terrorism, the nonproliferation of weapons, and other defense and security issues, RTR and RIA-Novosti reported. According to Russian media, Ivanov told Rumsfeld that Russia is prepared to cooperate with the United States in developing an antimissile defense system. He also extended an invitation to the U.S. Navy to participate in Russian military exercises in the Pacific Ocean this August. Ivanov also reportedly told Rumsfeld that although Russia's and the United States' positions on global affairs do not always coincide, it is important for the two sides to demonstrate mutual trust and a willingness to compromise in order to continue to strengthen cooperation.
RUSSIA, PAKISTAN AGREE TO COOPERATE AGAINST TERRORISM.
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told journalists on 15 June that he and Pakistani Foreign Minister Mian Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri had agreed during talks that day in Karachi to coordinate their countries' efforts within the framework of the international coalition to combat terrorism, Russian media reported. The cooperation will focus on, but not be limited to, combating terrorism and drug trafficking from Afghanistan, Ivanov said. He added that he is ready to mediate between India and Pakistan if the two countries ask him to do so. Asked whether Russia will supply weapons to Pakistan to balance its considerable sales to New Delhi, Ivanov demurred. "This question presupposes a military solution to the conflict, and we stand for a peaceful resolution," he said. Pakistan is the first stop on Ivanov's tour of Asia, which will also include visits to India and Cambodia.PEOPLE'S DEPUTY INTRODUCES BILL TO BAN BARGAINING WITH CRIMINALS.
Duma Deputy and Security Committee member Gennadii Gudkov has introduced a draft law that would prohibit the fulfillment of political demands by criminals, including the payment of ransom in order to free hostages, Russian media reported on 11 June. Gudkov said the bill's wording is tough but would save lives in the long run, since potential hostage takers would realize that their demands cannot be met. Gudkov said Russia and Israel should lead a global initiative to ban the payment of ransom for people taken hostage by terrorists.MOSCOW OBLAST GOVERNOR'S TERRORISM WARNING OFFERED, THEN WITHDRAWN.
Boris Gromov said on 10 June that he has "serious" information suggesting that unspecified individuals are planning major acts of terrorism during Russian Independence Day celebrations and the following weekend, according to Russian news agencies, but his office backpedaled later the same day to downplay the warning. Gromov, a retired general, reportedly said the attacks might target celebrations in schools and other places where youngsters are gathered. Lenta.ru reported later in the day that his office staff effectively withdrew the warning, adding that Gromov never made the information public. But a TV Tsentr news report clearly showed Gromov issuing such a warning, adding that federal officials should be alerted if such information exists. If not, TV Tsentr commented, Gromov should have found a way to encourage vigilance from local law enforcement behind closed doors.FSB HEAD CITES INTELLIGENCE GAPS REGARDING SUICIDE BOMBERS.
Speaking during joint Russian-Ukrainian antiterrorism exercises in Kerch, Ukraine, Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Nikolai Patrushev complained on 10 June of a failure by foreign security services to provide adequate "preemptive information" that might help thwart suicide bombings in Russia, ITAR-TASS reported. "Suicide bombers are not trained on the territory of Russia," he said, "and for this reason, interaction with security services of other states becomes very important for the FSB. We will fight this evil together." He added that "there are difficulties for us just in receiving...preemptive data, as analysis of terrorist acts that are being investigated or have been prevented shows those suicide bombers are trained abroad," according to ITAR-TASS. Patrushev, who heads Moscow's "antiterrorism operations" in Chechnya, said the use of suicide attackers "is an exceptionally dangerous and very urgent problem." Patrushev rejected the possibility of a "Palestinian scenario" in Chechnya, saying the Russian secret services "will not allow it." He added that Moscow will work to improve the socioeconomic situation in Chechnya to usher in a general normalization, the agency reported.
FORMER INTELLIGENCE OFFICER CONVICTED OF SPYING FOR UNITED STATES.
A Moscow military court sentenced Aleksandr Zaporozhskii on 11 June to 18 years in prison for spying for the United States while he was a colonel in the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), NTV and ORT reported. Meeting in a closed-door session, the court also stripped Zaporozhskii of his military rank and state honors. The prosecution claimed that Zaporozhskii approached the CIA in 1995, when he headed an SVR counterintelligence unit responsible for infiltrating the U.S. intelligence community, with an offer to cooperate, according to NTV. Zaporozhskii compromised SVR operations and agent networks in the United States and "seriously damaged Russian intelligence," according to the prosecution. FSB spokesman Sergei Ignatchenko said Zaporozhskii was lured to Russia from his home in Maryland in 2001 "in a unique FSB operation" to secure his arrest. Zaporozhskii's lawyer, Maria Veselova, said her client maintains his innocence, adding that the military court did not provide direct evidence to support the indictment. NTV reported that the court proceedings and verdict are classified, adding that Zaporozhskii's sentence is longer than the 16 years requested by prosecutors
PUTIN URGES EXPANDED GLOBAL ENERGY DIALOGUE...
President Putin on 15 June presented the first Global Energy Prize to U.S. professors Nick Holonyak and Ian Douglas Smith and Russian Academician Gennadii Mesyats at a ceremony held at the newly refurbished Konstantin Palace near St. Petersburg, Russian media reported. The $900,000 prize was created last year by Gazprom, Yukos, and Unified Energy Systems (EES) with the goal of becoming the equivalent of a Nobel Prize in the field of energy. At the presentation, Putin stressed that, as a leading player in the field of global energy, Russia has created this award to recognize excellence in the areas of energy conservation and energy science. He called for expanding the global energy dialogue to promote economic growth and to help resolve numerous acute international problems....AND CALLS FOR STABLE PRICES AND EXPANDED MARKETS.
During his remarks at the ceremony, which was attended by executives from the leading Russian, U.S., and European energy companies, President Putin warned about the danger of a global energy crisis resulting from the inefficient use of energy resources, RTR and RosBalt reported on 15 June. He said that Russia, with its huge energy resources, can serve as "an important link in global energy security." He noted that Russia supplies 16 percent of the European Union's natural gas and 20 percent of its oil, and said these figures will increase markedly in the immediate future. Russian companies are also making headway into new markets in the United States and the Far East, as well as developing new energy reserves in Siberia, Sakhalin, and the Russian sector of the Caspian Sea. Putin added that Russia is interested in predictable, stable oil prices and the further development of production-sharing legislation. He said that foreign energy companies should have the same rights on the Russian market as Russian state-owned and private companies. Gazprom CEO Aleksei Miller, EES Chairman Anatolii Chubais, Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovskii, and LUKoil head Vagit Alekperov were among the energy executives who attended the ceremony.SCIENTISTS SET UP COMMITTEE TO PROTECT RUSSIA'S NONRENEWABLE RESOURCES.
Duma Deputy Sergei Glazev (Communist Party) announced on 10 June that a group of left-wing scientists have formed the Committee for the Protection of Russian Citizens' Rights to Mineral Resources, RIA-Novosti reported. The group aims to plead the case that Russian mining companies are usurping national resources that rightfully belong to the entire country, said Glazev, who will chair the committee. Russia's mineral and other nonrenewable resources are worth some $50 trillion-$150 trillion, Glazev said, adding that the export of such commodities represents two-thirds of the country's exports. The new committee will seek to publish precise profit figures of the companies that currently benefit from those resources, and propose ways that those funds might be redistributed in high-tech industry. The group will back initiatives such as new export taxes, environmental taxes, and increased payments for the industrial use of water. Glazev said the committee, of which he is chairman, includes Duma Deputy and Nobel Prize winner in physics Zhores Alferov (Communist Party) along with Dmitrii Lvov, who heads the economic department of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
FEWER REGIONS NECESSARY BECAUSE OF NATO ENLARGEMENT?
Pskov Oblast legislative speaker Yurii Shmakov said on 10 June that the number of regions in Russia will be reduced sooner or later; however, historical experience from the Soviet period shows that enlargement proceeds according to the wishes of the center, not the regions, regions.ru reported. He also noted that the question of enlargement is necessary from the point of view of Russian national security. According to Shmakov, Moscow should be interested in having a strong region on its border with future NATO members such as Latvia and Estonia. Also on 10 June, Dmitrii Kozak, head of the presidential commission delineating the responsibilities of various levels of government, said that the federal authorities cannot in principle influence the process of enlarging Russian regions, RIA-Novosti reported. Kozak noted that the Komi-Permyak Autonomous Okrug itself had suggested the pending merger with Perm Oblast (see "RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly," 4 June 2003).