2 July 2002, Volume 3, Number 24
FOREIGN POLICYRUSSIA GAINS FULL PLACE AT G-8 TABLE... The leaders of the G-7 countries and Russia meeting in Kananaskis, Canada, decided to upgrade Russia's status to full membership in the group by 2006, Russian and Western news agencies reported on 27 June. In addition, it was decided that the 2006 G-8 summit will be held in St. Petersburg. Russia will also host a special meeting of G-8 members in 2004. ITAR-TASS quoted Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as saying that the decision to include Russia among the world's leading powers shows that Russia, under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin, is able to play a full role in resolving global problems.
...AND $20 BILLION FOR STRATEGIC DISARMAMENT. Summit participants also decided to allocate $20 billion over the next decade for the destruction of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons from the strategic arsenal of the former Soviet Union, RIA-Novosti reported on 27 June. The United States will provide half this sum, with the European Union, Canada, and Japan providing the rest. The decision was made not only to speed up the process of dismantling Soviet arsenals, but also to prevent dangerous substances from falling into the hands of terrorists, Reuters reported. Western military experts have long expressed serious concern about the lack of security around storage facilities for weapons of mass destruction in Russia and other former Soviet republics.
PUTIN SAYS HE IS HAPPY WITH G-8 SUMMIT... Speaking to reporters at the G-7 and Russia summit in Kananaskis, Canada, President Putin said he is pleased with the results of the meeting, ITAR-TASS and other news agencies reported on 28 June. Putin said that it was a "summit of like-minded people." He said that the G-7 leaders have accepted his invitation to come to St. Petersburg in 2003 for the city's 300th anniversary celebrations. He also applauded the summit's decision to provide additional assistance for African countries through the New Partnership for Africa's Development. He endorsed the modest debt-relief component of the program, noting that 40 percent of Africa's debt to industrial countries was owed to the former Soviet Union.
...BUT HE UNDERSTANDS ANTIGLOBALISTS. In response to a question about antiglobalization protests, Putin said that one should not be too quick to judge them. "Among [the antiglobalists] are people who are really concerned and their concerns are linked to the problem of opening global markets," Putin said. He said that opening the markets of developing countries must not result in the suppression of their economies. He added, however, that he believes some antiglobalists are mostly concerned with self-promotion and that when protestors break the law, they should be punished.
SECRET SERVICESFORMER KGB GENERAL SENTENCED TO 15-YEAR TERM... A Moscow city court on 26 June sentenced former KGB Major General Oleg Kalugin in absentia to 15 years in prison and stripped him of his military rank and his state awards, Russian and Western news agencies reported. Kalugin was convicted of state treason and subverting the constitutional order and security of the country (see "RFE/RL Security and Terrorism Watch," 9 and 30 May, and 18 June 2002). Kalugin's defense lawyer said the charges were not proven during the brief trial, RIA-Novosti reported on 26 June. Kalugin, who now lives in the United States, has said that the charges against him were politically motivated.
...AS FSB OFFICER LITVINENKO DRAWS 3 1/2 YEARS' PROBATION. On 25 June, the Naro-Fominsk military garrison court sentenced Federal Security Service (FSB) Lieutenant Colonel Aleksandr Litvinenko in absentia to 3 1/2 years of probation for abuse of office and illegal possession of explosives, Ekho Moskvy radio reported. Litvinenko, who lives in Britain, has repeatedly stated that the accusations against him are the FSB's revenge for his charges that the security organs were involved in the 1999 apartment-building bombings in Moscow and other Russian cities (see "RFE/RL Security and Terrorism Watch," 8 April and 1 May 2002). Litvinenko told Ekho Moskvy that he is now writing a book entitled "LOC" (Lubyanka Organized Crime group), in which he describes widespread corruption within the FSB, as well as the agency's links to organized crime.
COURT ACQUITS GRU OFFICERS IN JOURNALIST'S MURDER. A Moscow district military court on 26 June completely exonerated Colonel Pavel Popovskikh, an officer of the Military Intelligence (GRU), and five of his comrades who had been accused of the 1994 murder of "Moskovskii komsomolets" journalist Dmitrii Kholodov, Russian and Western news agencies reported. Kholodov died on 17 November 1994 after opening a booby-trapped briefcase that he believed contained documents relating to malfeasance in the Defense Ministry. According to the prosecution, Popovskikh and the other defendants prepared the booby trap with the encouragement of former Defense Minister Pavel Grachev. However, the court ruled that prosecutor Irina Aleshina failed "to present proof of the defendants' guilt or to assemble such proof during the court hearings." Meanwhile, former Deputy Prosecutor-General Mikhail Katushev, who was in charge of the Kholodov investigation, said that Popovskikh told him during the investigation: "Yes, we are guilty, but then why don't you arrest Pavel Grachev," strana.ru reported on 28 June. Aleshina and Kholodov's relatives have said that they will appeal the verdict.
IMPOVERISHED GUN PRODUCERS CONVICTED. A closed session of the Tula Oblast Court sentenced two leading local weapons designers, whose names were not disclosed, to three years in prison for illegal arms production, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 June. The two men were arrested a year ago by the local office of the FSB on suspicion that they had made five pistols with silencers and a machine gun, which they hoped to sell for $800 each. Both men worked on a team that produces the "Groza" machine gun that is used by the Russian secret services, and both earned 2,000 rubles ($64) a month.
MILITARYDEFENSE MINISTER SAYS RUSSIA WILL NOT RESUME NUCLEAR TESTING. Speaking to journalists on 27 June during a visit to the nuclear-test site at Novaya Zemlya, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said that Russia will not resume nuclear testing, which it stopped in 1990, Interfax and other Russian news agencies reported. However, he said that "non-nuclear experiments" would continue. Ivanov said that since the cessation of nuclear testing, Russia has conducted 132 hydrodynamic tests to simulate nuclear explosions. He also said that he is concerned by the miserable conditions of troops stationed at Novaya Zemlya and pledged that there will be no cuts in their numbers or funding.
DUMA ADOPTS TOUGH VERSION OF ALTERNATIVE CIVILIAN-SERVICE LAW. The State Duma on 28 June approved in its third and final reading a law on alternative civilian service including hard-line amendments proposed by the General Staff and strongly opposed by liberal deputies and human rights activists, Russian and Western news agencies reported. One amendment removed a provision that would have allowed those fulfilling alternative service to do so near their homes. Another demands that conscripts prove their moral convictions require them to complete alternative service rather than be inducted into the military. A third amendment strikes down the right of conscripts to choose whether to complete their alternative service at civilian or military installations. Deputies rejected, however, a military proposal that alternative service last four years. The bill stipulates a maximum term of 3 1/2 years for alternative service
WORLD'S BIGGEST SUBMARINE REENTERS SERVICE. At a ceremony in Severodvinsk on 26 June attended by Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, the Typhoon-class nuclear submarine "Dmitrii Donskoi" was received back into service, "Rossiiskaya gazeta" reported. The "Dmitrii Donskoi" is the largest submarine in the world. According to David Pashaev, director of the Sevmash shipyard, the submarine has a displacement of 49,800 tons and is armed with 20 heavy intercontinental ballistic missiles. The "Dmitrii Donskoi" was commissioned in 1982 and has been undergoing extensive modernization for the last 12 years.
BOEING IN TALKS TO BUILD NEW PLANE IN RUSSIA. Speaking at a press conference in Moscow, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow said that U.S. aviation giant Boeing is in negotiations with Russia's Sukhoi design bureau to develop a new airliner in Russia, nns.ru reported on 27 June. According to Vershbow, the new airliner will be completely designed and produced in Russia for export. Vershbow emphasized that Boeing has invested large sums in recent years in Russia's aviation sector, hiring many specialists and creating a large number of jobs. "We are seeking to create opportunities in which all sides win," Vershbow said.
RUSSIA TAKES STEPS TOWARD PROFESSIONAL ARMY. Major General Valerii Astanin, spokesman for the General Staff, has announced that this summer the Russian Army will begin the transformation of the 76th Pskovskaya Airborne Division to a professional-contract basis, polit.ru reported on 28 June. This measure will cost the military 2.67 billion rubles ($90 million) and, if successful, is expected to speed the transformation of other army units. Meanwhile, Major General Aleksandr Lentsov, the commander of 98th Ivanovskaya Airborne Division, has announced that the units of his division will be sent to Chechnya to replace soldiers of the 78th Airborne Division in accordance with the project, according to polit.ru.
COMMANDER OF BLACK SEA FLEET SUES HEAD OF RUSSIAN NAVY. The commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Vladimir Komoedov, has filed a lawsuit in a Novorossiisk military court against the commander of the Russian Navy, Admiral Vladimir Kuroedov, "Izvestiya" reported on 28 June. Komoedov is challenging the "inappropriate actions of the Navy commander" in dismissing Komoedov from service last month for "health reasons." Komoedov is asking the court to nullify Kuroedov's order, arguing that although he does have minor health problems, he was dismissed for clashing with his superior. Komoedov has reportedly criticized Kuroedov on several occasions after the latter made several arrangements with his Ukrainian counterparts concerning the Black Sea Fleet while ignoring the opinion of its commander. Meanwhile, Vladimir Pchelkin, the head of the Novorossiisk garrison court, said that although litigation between two admirals is very unusual, Komoedov's lawsuit complies with acting legislation and the court will hear the case.
INTERNAL SECURITYDUMA GIVES FINAL APPROVAL TO ANTI-EXTREMISM BILL... The State Duma on 27 June adopted in its third and final reading a controversial bill on combating extremism (see "RFE/RL Security and Terrorism Watch," 12 and 25 June 2002) that includes in its definition of extremism any actions that impede the functioning of the federal authorities by force or other illegal means, ntvru.com and other Russian news agencies reported. The bill contains prohibitions on "extremist activity" and "extremist organizations," which it defines as any organization so recognized by a court. If the bill becomes law, it will be the first time that Russia has outlawed the use of Nazi symbols, the promotion of any kind of ethnic or religious hatred, and the bankrolling of any such activity.
...AS BILL CONTINUES TO RAISE QUESTIONS... A number of the provisions in the anti-extremism bill continue to concern human rights activists. One of the most controversial sections is the ban on "inciting any social animosity," which activists fear could be used to crack down on trade unions or other kinds of social activity or protest. The bill also imposes strong restrictions on Internet providers that activists feel could be easily used to restrict many forms of political expression. Likewise, activists are concerned by one definition of extremism that includes the phrase "any attempt to humiliate human dignity."
...AND PUZZLE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES. Law enforcement officials who will be charged with enforcing the bill if it becomes law expressed bewilderment over some of its language, ntvru.com reported. Larisa Maslennikova, deputy director of the Interior Ministry's Research-Organizational Directorate, said that her agency considers the bill "too abstract." The bill "does not contain definitions of the subject and the object of extremism and, therefore, cannot be enforced," Maslennikova said, according to the website.
MIGRATION SERVICE REPORTS ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION. Deputy Interior Minister and Federal Migration Service head Andrei Chernenko said on 28 June that Russia has become a transit point for illegal immigrants on their way to Western and Central Europe, Russian news agencies reported. He added that there are currently 1.5 million to 5 million illegal immigrants in the country, and that in some Russian regions immigrants have formed "ethnic communities that have begun to displace the indigenous population." He also said that the illegal immigrants are "supplying members to criminal organizations." In addition, he claimed that fighters from militant armed organizations from Islamic countries are residing in some large Russian cities. Chernenko said that in an effort to stem illegal immigration, the Interior Ministry has created a unified national system for controlling immigration and has strengthened its contacts with the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
POLITICAL ECONOMYRUSSIA INCREASES VOLUME OF OIL EXPORTS... Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko announced in Moscow on 25 June that Russian oil exports in the third quarter of this year will rise by 2 million tons per day in comparison with the previous quarter, RIA-Novosti reported. Meanwhile, LUKoil head Vagit Alekperov predicted that world oil prices will drop by the end of the year and will stabilize around $20 to $21 per barrel, polit.ru reported the same day.
...AS LUKOIL WANTS TO PUMP OIL FROM BALTIC SEA. LUKoil's Alekperov announced at a 24 June press conference in Moscow that his company will begin oil production on the Baltic Sea shelf next year despite protests by local environmentalists, nns.ru reported on 26 June. Alekperov also said that the oil reserves in this area have been estimated at 24 million tons and that LUKoil has already began construction of an offshore platform in the Baltic. Oil exploration in the Baltic Sea was interrupted in 1985 under pressure from Lithuanian ecologists, whose republic lies close to the production area. Now Lithuanian environmentalists have called on the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to stop providing loans to LUKoil until the company halts the project.
MOSCOW SEEKS SIGNIFICANT INVESTMENT IN ANGOLA. Russian companies Gazprom, LUKoil, and Yukos are seeking to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the Angolan economy, according to Aleksei Chepa, the head of a Russian-Angolan fund, polit.ru reported on 28 June. Chepa said that the Russian energy giants would like to raise Angola's daily oil output to 1.5 million barrels, as well as invest Russian capital into the country's diamond industry. Chepa noted that Russian companies await the quick adoption of new Russian legislation that will stimulate investment abroad. According to a law currently being drafted by the Russian government, the definition "investment abroad" will be replaced with "private investment," thus radically simplifying the process of investing in foreign business.
CENTRAL BANK MULLS TRANSFER OF MORE OF ITS RESERVES TO EUROS. Central Bank Chairman Sergei Ignatiev told journalists on 29 June that the share of euros in the country's foreign-currency reserves could be increased as a result of the euro's recent strength against the U.S. dollar, but stressed that the bank has faith in the U.S. currency, RIA-Novosti and other Russian news services reported. Ignatiev noted that most of Russia's foreign-currency assets are currently held in dollars, and that time is needed to decide whether more holdings should be converted to euros.
CRIME AND PUNISHMENTDOGGED BY CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS, FORMER OFFICIAL DUBBED SENATOR. Federation Council members confirmed on 26 June former First Deputy Finance Minister Andrei Vavilov as the representative for the legislature of Penza Oblast, Russian news agencies reported. Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov told reporters that all of Vavilov's documents were in order and that Penza Oblast's prosecutor had found nothing wrong with the procedure under which Vavilov was elected. Vavilov has been named in numerous corruption investigations stemming from his time in office under former President Boris Yeltsin, and senators had earlier voted at the request of Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov to postpone endorsing his mandate (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June 2002). As a senator, Vavilov will enjoy immunity from prosecution. According to "Izvestiya" on 26 June, Vavilov has already tendered his resignation from the board of directors of Severnaya Neft. Meanwhile, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" quoted political scientist Iosif Diskin as saying at a recent meeting at Moscow's Aleksandr House that "the Federation Council has gone from being a house of lords to a house of valets, serving regional elites and oligarchs."
FELON-MAYOR TO SEEK OFFICE ONCE AGAIN IN NIZHNII NOVGOROD. Former Nizhnii Novgorod Mayor and convicted felon Andrei Klimentiev announced on 26 June that he intends to participate in the upcoming mayoral race in that city, Interfax-Eurasia reported. Klimentiev won the last mayoral race, but was later arrested and served time after being found guilty of fraud and bribery. Incumbent Mayor Yurii Lebedev was elected in make-up elections after Klimentiev's incarceration. More recently, Klimentiev participated in the July 2001 gubernatorial elections, but failed to qualify for the second round. At the time, analysts claimed that the Kremlin's main aim in that race was to ensure that Klimentiev didn't win.
TRENDS AND IDEASMOSCOW WESTERNIZES ITS SUBWAY. The Moscow city administration has decided to translate all the city's subway signs into English, including maps of the system and in the cars, Russian news agencies reported on 26 June. Explaining the measure, city officials said that the step was taken to ensure the "comfortable stay for the millions of foreign tourists and guests of Moscow." Ironically, the subway system built in Stalin' s time and which even once bore the name of one of his close henchmen, Lazar Kaganovich, was considered the antithesis to the Western way of life and a proud achievement of socialism.