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Security Watch: May 30, 2002

30 May 2002, Volume 3, Number 19
BUSH, PUTIN SIGN ARMS-REDUCTION TREATY, DEFINE NEW STRATEGIC RELATIONSHIP... As expected, U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty on 24 May in Moscow drastically reducing the strategic nuclear arsenals of each country, Russian and Western news agencies reported. The two presidents also signed a joint declaration on the principles of new strategic relations that states, in part: "We are achieving a new strategic relationship. The era in which the United States and Russia saw each other as an enemy or strategic threat has ended. We are partners and we will cooperate to advance stability, security, and economic integration, and to jointly counter global challenges and to help resolve regional conflicts."

...AS BOTH DOCUMENTS HAILED IN RUSSIA... Yabloko faction leader Grigorii Yavlinsky told RFE/RL's Russian Service on 25 May that he considers the declaration on Russian-American strategic cooperation signed last week by presidents Bush and Putin an even bigger achievement than the new strategic-arms reduction treaty that they also signed. The strategic-cooperation document stresses the basic values upon which the bilateral partnership will be built, including freedom and respect for human rights -- principles that rarely figure in the speeches of Russian politicians, Yavlinsky remarked. In addition, the document identifies common threats and enemies and therefore could play a crucial role in advancing Russian military reform by compelling the Russian General Staff to shift its focus away from the historical threat from the West and develop a new concept of national security. Finally, Yavlinsky noted that Putin's domestic policy of "directed democracy" -- including constraints on civil-society institutions -- is in conflict with his progressive foreign-policy course, and this unresolved tension cannot last forever. And the director of the Institute of the U.S.A. and Canada, Sergei Rogov, told ORT television 24 May that, "This treaty is a serious achievement for Russian diplomacy. A few months ago, the United States did not want to take on any legal obligations, and it appeared that the whole arms-control regime would disintegrate."

...BUT NUCLEAR EXPERT SAYS RUSSIA HAS NO CHIPS TO BARGAIN WITH... Major General Vladimir Dvorkin, the director of the Nuclear Strategic Forces Center of the Russian Military Academy in Moscow and a leading authority on nuclear deterrence, said that Russia should be pleased with the new treaty because it codifies the country's nuclear parity with the United States, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 24 May. It also stabilizes U.S.-Russia relations and international security by allowing each side to develop the structure of its nuclear forces as it sees fit, Dvorkin added. He also said that Russia had dropped its objection to the U.S. proposal to store decommissioned warheads simply because it had no leverage with which to bargain. Dvorkin said that it does not matter that the new treaty contains no mechanism for execution and verification, because the countries will rely on the procedures developed for the START-1 accord.

...AND MOSCOW PREPARES TO RENOUNCE START-2 TREATY. Russia is preparing to renounce the START-2 accord in response to the U.S. withdrawal from the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13, 14, 17, 18, and 19 December 2001) and an appropriate statement -- to be issued immediately after the U.S. ABM withdrawal takes effect on 13 June -- has already been drafted, "Gazeta" reported on 23 May. According to the report, the statement -- which has been signed by Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov -- says that Russia ratified START-2 in April 2000 under the condition that the United States also do so and that it agree to abide by the ABM treaty. It goes on to say that since neither of these conditions has been met, Russia is exercising its right to renounce the treaty, according to the newspaper.

PRESIDENTS ALSO SIGN JOINT ENERGY-POLICY STATEMENT... Also as expected (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 23 May 2002), presidents Bush and Putin signed on 24 May a joint declaration on cooperation to ensure the security of the global energy industry and to make energy markets more predictable, Western and Russian news agencies reported. The declaration pledges increased access for Russian energy companies to global markets, as well as investment to modernize Russia's energy sector, ITAR-TASS reported. Furthermore, it pledges cooperation in developing alternative energy sources and energy-saving technologies.

...AND MAKE PROGRESS ON TRADE RELATIONS. Russian Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref told reporters on 24 May that the United States will take the necessary final steps toward recognizing Russia as a market economy by 14 June, ITAR-TASS reported. Gref said that such recognition was indicated by the bilateral statement on trade and economic relations that the two presidents signed the same day. Meanwhile, the news agency also reported that the two presidents did not discuss the issue of forgiving Russia's debt to the United States. Bush, however, pledged to continue his efforts to persuade the U.S. Congress to lift the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment. "Russia is building a market economy. We want Russia to be part of the world economy. We look forward to one day welcoming Russia as a member of the World Trade Organization," Bush said, according to AFP. Russian financial analyst Leonid Grigoriev told BBC on 25 May that he sees the failure of the U.S. Congress to lift the Jackson-Vanik amendment as the result of infighting between the Republicans and Democrats in domestic politics, rather than a reflection of America's attitude to Russia. "Once the United States recognizes Russia as a market economy, [the] Jackson-Vanik [amendment] will have lost its meaning anyway," he added.

BUSH PRESSES PUTIN ON TRANSFER OF NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY TO IRAN. President Bush raised the issue of Russia's contributions to Iran's nuclear-power program, which the United States believes is helping Tehran to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, during his Kremlin talks with President Putin, Western and Russian news agencies reported. Putin, however, held his ground, telling a press conference after the talks that the United States had pledged to build a nuclear-power plant in North Korea that is very similar in design to the one Russia is building at Bushehr, Iran. Putin also said that Russia is concerned about U.S. contributions to Taiwan's missile program, ITAR-TASS reported. On 23 May, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported that, according to information obtained by the CIA and Israel's Mossad, an Iranian corporation called SANAM purchased Russian-made laser gyroscopes used for missile guidance.

RUSSIA, NATO FORMALIZE NEW RELATIONS... Russia and the 19 NATO member states signed the Rome Declaration on 28 May, establishing a new mechanism of cooperation between Russia and the trans-Atlantic alliance, the Russia-NATO Council, Russian and Western news agencies reported. "The significance of this meeting is difficult to overestimate," President Putin said. However, he cautioned that the "Rome only a beginning," according to AP. "We must remember that relations between Russia and the North Atlantic alliance have been historically far from straightforward," Putin said. Western leaders hailed the development, with British Prime Minister Tony Blair saying that it "marks the end of the Cold War."

...WHILE GENERAL REMAINS CONCERNED ABOUT NATO... Colonel General Leonid Ivashov, the former chief of the Defense Ministry's Department of Military Cooperation, told "Le Figaro" on 24 May that Russia signed the treaty on reducing strategic capabilities solely for economic reasons, and therefore there is no point in discussing Russian concessions to the United States. Ivashov, who generally advocates a hard-line approach toward the West and who now heads the Academy of Geopolitics, said the treaty enables Russia to maintain "good relations with the United States," and that if Washington ever decides to withdraw from the treaty, it will have to do so through negotiation with Russia. However, Ivashov stressed that NATO is becoming increasingly a political, rather than a military, organization and for this reason he is concerned that the trans-Atlantic alliance may be used as "an American political tool."

...AND NATO LIAISON MISSION UNVEILED IN MOSCOW. NATO opened a liaison mission in Moscow on 27 May in the run-up to the NATO-Russia summit in Rome, Russian and Western news agencies reported. The ceremony was conducted by the chairman of NATO's Military Committee, Admiral Guido Venturoni, and the first deputy chief of the Russian General Staff, Colonel General Yurii Baluevskii, ITAR-TASS reported. The agency reported that the mission will consist of its chief, General Peter Williams of Britain; Colonel Josef Urbanovicz of Poland; three staff officers; and three junior officers. Two members of the Russian Defense Ministry will also be posted there.

RUSSIA, INDIA, AND IRAN INITIATE NORTH-SOUTH TRANSPORT CORRIDOR. The September 2000 agreement between Russia, Iran, and India creating the North-South transport corridor came into effect on 21 May, Russian news agencies reported. Transport Minister Sergei Frank met in St. Petersburg this week with his Iranian counterpart Akhmad Khorram and Indian Maritime Minister Vedprakash Goel, after which Frank said the treaty should enhance the flow of goods from the Persian Gulf, India, and Pakistan through Iranian ports on the Caspian Sea and, from there, through Russia to Scandinavia and Central Europe, RIA-Novosti reported. The new corridor should cut transport time by about 15 days compared to the conventional route through the Suez Canal, reducing transportation costs by about 30 percent, Frank said. "The new transport corridor is, in fact, an old, forgotten one. In the Soviet era, the USSR transported up to 5 million tons of cargo from Iran on its railways [each year]," added Frank.

KALUGIN GIVEN RESPITE BY MOSCOW COURT. A Moscow city court postponed until 4 June its hearing of a case against former KGB General Oleg Kalugin, who has been accused of high treason, Russian news agencies reported on 27 May. The case against Kalugin, who was once deputy chief of the KGB foreign-intelligence unit and responsible for the service's internal security, was initiated by the Main Military Prosecutor's Office and accused Kalugin of compromising several KGB agents and operations in the United States. In particular, Kalugin said on Soviet television in 1991 that the KGB helped to organize the killing of Bulgarian dissident Georgii Markov, who was poisoned in London in 1978. He also testified as a witness last year in a trial against retired U.S. Army Colonel George Trofimoff, who was later sentenced to life in prison for spying for the Soviet Union. Kalugin, who now lives in the United States, has refused to appear in the Russian court, saying that the accusations are a vendetta by his former service. Kalugin's lawyer, Yevgenii Baru told "Izvestiya" on 27 May that the trial in absentia is the first in Russia in many years and that the KGB successor services are trying to complete it quickly before the new Criminal Procedures Code, which will ban such trials, comes into effect on 1 July.

FSB OFFICIAL MURDERED IN KALMYKIA... Naran Dzhengurov, a senior officer in the regional office of the Federal Security Service (FSB) in Elista, was murdered on 26 May, Western and Russian news agencies reported. According to Interfax, the 34-year-old officer was found shot and stabbed in his BMW. Although no motive for the killing has been determined, ITAR-TASS reported that Dzhengurov had been organizing an operation against a major local criminal gang.

...AS BORDER GUARD GENERAL DIES OF BURNS. Vitalii Gamov, the border guard general who was badly burned when unknown assailants threw Molotov cocktails into his Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk apartment on 21 May (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 May 2002), died on 28 May in a Sapporo, Japan, hospital, Western and Russian news agencies reported. Gamov, 39, had been taken to the hospital to undergo a skin-graft operation, but he died before the procedure could be carried out. His wife, Larissa, was also badly burned in the attack and is now being treated at a hospital in Tokyo. The Foreign Ministry expressed gratitude for Japan's assistance in securing treatment for the Gamovs. The same day, the head of the Federal Border Guard Service, Konstantin Totskii, reported that 11 border guards were killed and 38 wounded in the line of duty over the last year, Interfax reported.

ZHIRINOVSKY PROPOSES INCREASE IN STATE SECURITY APPARATUS. In reaction to the attempted murder in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk of the Federal Border Guard Service's General Gamov, State Duma deputies from the left factions proposed summoning Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov and Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov to report on measures being taken to combat crime and corruption and to ensure public safety, reported on 22 May. Meanwhile, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, used the opportunity to propose "dramatically enlarging the organs of state security and increasing the salaries of its officers by a factor of 10." However, the Duma rejected Zhirinovsky's proposal and decided to hear reports from Gryzlov and Ustinov in October, as had already been scheduled. "By the time Gryzlov and Ustinov appear here in October, five more generals will have been killed," Zhirinovsky commented, according to the website.

WOMAN INJURED BY ANTI-SEMITIC BOOBY-TRAP. A woman was seriously injured outside of Moscow on 27 May when she attempted to remove an anti-Semitic sign along a highway, ORT and other news agencies reported. Tatiana Sapunova, 28, was driving with her daughter when she noticed a sign reading "Death to yids" and stopped her car to remove it. When she touched it, a homemade explosive went off, causing severe burns and injuring her eyes. The supreme rabbi of Russia, Adolf Shaevich, told RTR television the same day that the Moscow Jewish community will do everything possible to help Sapunova, who is currently hospitalized. Earlier this month, reported the circulation in Moscow of a 10-ruble banknote defaced with similar anti-Semitic slogans (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 May 2002).

FOREIGN MINISTER, DIPLOMATS DISCUSS SKINHEAD PROBLEM... Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov met on 18 May in Moscow with representatives of the foreign diplomatic corps to discuss their concerns over racially motivated violence and the skinhead problem in Russia, Western and Russian news agencies reported. Ivanov pledged that all complaints will be thoroughly investigated and that all inquiries from diplomats will be forwarded to law enforcement authorities, AP reported, citing Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko. The meeting apparently came in response to a threatening e-mail message sent in April to embassies declaring a "war against foreigners" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12, 16, and 17 April 2002). In recent weeks, officials from President Putin to Prosecutor-General Ustinov have spoken out against lackadaisical efforts to combat the problem. Yakovenko also said that the Interior and Education ministries will also step up their efforts in this sphere, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 May. "The problem of skinheads is a common problem of both Russia and other states, and we should fight it together," Yakovenko said, according to ITAR-TASS.

...AS GOVERNMENT MOVES AGAINST NATIONALIST NEWSPAPER. The Media Ministry intends to sue "Limonka," the newspaper of the National Bolshevik Party headed by writer Eduard Limonov, and to close it down, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 May, citing Deputy Press Minister Valerii Sirozhenko. According to Sirozhenko, the ministry issued its second warning to the newspaper on 17 May for violations of the mass-media law. He said the second warning was for "materials calling for changes in the constitutional system by force and propagating war" that were published in three issues last year, the news agency reported. The paper's first warning came earlier last week for materials "instigating social intolerance and strife" that were also published last year, the news agency reported. Limonov has been held in custody since October 2001 on charges of organizing an illegal armed formation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 October 2001).

CORRUPTION CONTINUES TO TAKE HUGE BITE OUT OF RUSSIAN ECONOMY... Presenting in Moscow the results of a two-year study of corruption, the director of the INDEM think tank, Georgii Satarov, said that Russians pay about $37 billion each year in bribes and unofficial fees, a sum that is roughly equivalent to the revenue portion of the 2002 federal budget and equals about 12 percent of the country's gross domestic product, Russian news agencies reported on 22 May. Satarov, a political adviser to former President Boris Yeltsin, said that the study, which was funded by the Danish government via the World Bank, demonstrates that corruption remains a formidable element of the Russian economy. About 90 percent of the bribes are paid by businesses, with roughly 75 percent going to low-level local officials, although Satarov said that many bribes are then passed on to more highly placed officials. Among the leading "corruption services," the study named export licensing and quotas, state budget transactions, tax transfers, customs duties, privatization deals, and the servicing of regional debts to the federal budget. Although corruption has a long history in Russia, Satarov argued that it has increased massively in scale and become much more cynical in form during the postcommunist period.

...AS RUSSIA HOPES TO REPATRIATE MONEY LAUNDERED IN SWITZERLAND. During the recent visit of a delegation from the Russian Audit Chamber to Geneva, investigators showed a keen interest in repatriating Swiss bank deposits that allegedly stem from several money-laundering cases from the 1990s, "Le Temps" reported on 21 May. "We are talking about a sum of at least 300-500 million Swiss francs [$190-316 million]," an unidentified Geneva lawyer with whom the Audit Chamber has had contacts told the newspaper. Moscow is especially interested in a controversial deal involving Angolan debt to the Soviet Union that was carried out by then-Deputy Finance Minister Andrei Vavilov, and an estimated $300 million belonging to Russian businessman Sergei Maiorov, who allegedly illegally transferred these funds out of Russia.