19 November 2002, Volume 3, Number 41
WAR ON TERRORISMFORMER MINISTER PROPOSES PLAN FOR COMBATING TERRORISM... Former Interior Minister and army General Anatolii Kulikov, who chairs the Duma Subcommittee on International Crime and Terrorism, has said he will propose legislation to reform the country's defense and domestic-security agencies to meet the challenge of combating terrorism, RTR and "Nezavisimoe voennoe obozrenie," No. 43, reported on 19 November. Kulikov, who coordinates contacts on these issues with the U.S. House of Representatives, said Russia should revise its legislation in conjunction with the United States so that both countries can operate using the same terms and definitions. He also proposed revising the law on the National Security Council to make that body the main coordinating organ for Russia's antiterrorism operations. Finally, Kulikov proposed creating a strictly centralized command for the joint armed forces in Chechnya with a special first deputy prime minister appointed to control all military and security forces in the republic. "This will help keep the power structures under the control of the prosecutor-general" and prove that "a merciless war has been declared against terrorists and bandits, not against the Chechen people," Kulikov said.
...AS MAGAZINE WARNS RUSSIANS OF THE LONG WAR AHEAD. Russians should brace themselves to live in a state of war for the coming years or even decades, warns an editorial in "Ekspert," No. 41. The magazine notes that Russians, especially those who grew up in the peaceful 1960s and 1970s, now find themselves experiencing considerable shock at the sudden appearance of war. However, citizens should realize that the peace of those decades was the exception rather than the rule, brought on by the "lucky" combination of a politically stable bipolar world and economic prosperity based on high global energy prices. The remainder of the 20th century, the magazine notes, was characterized by war and social instability. It notes the current war in Chechnya is a sort of continuation of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, which began in 1979. The war in Chechnya, the weekly continues, cannot be won even in 30 years as long as the factors underlying it persist.
UPPER CHAMBER APPROVES RESTRICTIONS ON COVERING ANTITERRORISM OPERATIONS... The Federation Council approved on 13 November amendments to the law on the mass media that would regulate the coverage of antiterrorism operations (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 November 2002), RTR and other Russian news agencies reported. According to Interfax, 145 senators voted in favor of the amendments, one voted against, and two abstained. According to RFE/RL's Russian Service, First Deputy Chairman of the council Valerii Manilov told senators before the vote, "With the help of these [amendments], we can increase the effectiveness of the fight against terror and consolidate our society for this fight." In a written message to Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov submitted before the vote, Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii appealed to senators to reject the amendments, writing that they "would create the basis for limiting freedom of speech and persecuting the mass media." He called the language in the amendments "slippery and vague" and said the changes would make it possible for the executive branch "to prosecute any journalist writing about Chechnya or terrorism."
...AND AMENDMENTS TO LAW ON COMBATING TERRORISM. The Federation Council on 13 November also approved amendments to the law on combating terrorism that would authorize the government to refuse to turn over to relatives the bodies of those killed during antiterrorism operations (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 November 2002), RTR and other Russian news agencies reported. Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the council's Defense and Security Committee, said the changes "are a warning to terrorists that the battle against them will be merciless." The vote was 133 for and two against.
DUMA ALLOCATES MORE FUNDS FOR FIGHTING TERRORISM. The State Duma Commission on Classified Budget Articles on 11 November agreed in a closed session to allocate an additional 3 billion rubles ($97 million) to agencies of the Interior Ministry and the Federal Security Service (FSB) to combat terrorism, "Izvestiya" reported on 12 November. The extra money is likely to be compensated by reductions to other defense-related programs, so total expenditures on defense and security remain unchanged in the 2003 budget. According to Duma Budget Committee Deputy Chairman Vitalii Shuba (Russian Regions), the Duma can increase funding for counterterrorism efforts without returning the budget for a vote in its second reading. The Duma will consider the budget in its third reading as scheduled on 22 November.
PUBLIC THINKS STATE IS HIDING SOMETHING... Only 9 percent of respondents to a recent survey believe that the government is telling the complete truth about the casualties of the 26 October storming of a Moscow theater where Chechen fighters were holding about 800 hostages, newsru.com reported on 14 November. The survey of 1,600 respondents in 28 subjects of the federation was conducted by the Agency for Regional and Political Research (ARPI). Thirty-three percent of respondents agreed that "most of the information" about the number of people killed and injured has been made public, while 22 percent said the state has revealed "less than half" the information, and 5 percent said officials have revealed "almost no" information. Newru.com also posted the names of 77 individuals who it claims have been missing since the hostage crisis. The Moscow Prosecutor's Office has said that no one is missing.
...BUT SUPPORTS STORMING OF THEATER. Two-thirds of respondents in another survey by the Public Opinion Foundation said they believe the government acted correctly to end the October hostage crisis, strana.ru reported on 14 November. Nineteen percent said the government acted ineffectively. The survey of 1,500 adults was conducted on 9 November.
INTERNATIONAL SECURITYRUSSIAN INSPECTOR CONFIRMS LEAKS OF NUCLEAR MATERIALS. Speaking at a Moscow press conference on 14 November, Yurii Vishnevskii, head of the State Nuclear Inspectorate (GosAtomNadzor), said his agency has registered cases of leaks of fissile materials from the country's nuclear facilities over the last decade, newsru.com reported. Vishnevskii said the disappearance of a few grams of weapons-grade materials qualifies as a "leak," as does the disappearance of a few kilograms of low-grade nuclear fuel. Among the installations where leaks have been registered, Vishnevskii named nuclear plants in Elektrostal and Novosibirsk. He added that following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, Russian nuclear facilities set up special antiterrorist barriers.
MOSCOW CONCERNED BY NORTH KOREA'S NUCLEAR-WEAPONS PROGRAM. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko said on 17 November that Moscow is "deeply concerned by controversial statements coming from Pyongyang saying [North Korea] has 'the right' to possess nuclear weapons," ITAR-TASS reported. Russia expects Pyongyang -- which Yakovenko described as "friendly" to Russia -- to comply strictly with international agreements on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, which Moscow considers a guarantor of security and peace on the Korean Peninsula, Yakovenko said.
FOREIGN POLICYBUSH, PUTIN TO MEET IN ST. PETERSBURG AFTER PRAGUE SUMMIT. U.S. President George W. Bush will hold a summit meeting with President Vladimir Putin near St. Petersburg on 22 November, immediately following the historic NATO summit in Prague where several Eastern and Central European countries are expected to be invited into the trans-Atlantic alliance, pronews.ru and other Russian news agencies reported on 17 November. The summit will take place in the St. Petersburg suburb of Pushkin. Analysts expect Bush will continue pressing Putin to accept possible U.S. military intervention in Iraq if the mission of UN weapons inspectors there is a failure. It will be difficult for Putin to resist Bush, who is politically strong following the Republican Party victory in U.S. congressional elections on 5 November, pronews.ru commented. The two leaders will also discuss the Middle East, international terrorism, strategic stability, and a number of bilateral issues. The Kremlin will attempt to convince the United States to add several Chechen separatist organizations to the U.S. State Department list of organizations accused of sponsoring or engaging in terrorism, polit.ru reported.
RUSSIA, FRANCE CONVENE BILATERAL COUNCIL ON STRATEGIC SECURITY. Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov arrived in Paris on 15 November for the inaugural meeting of the Russian-French Security Cooperation Council, Russian and Western news agencies reported. The new body comprises the foreign and defense ministers of the two countries and is modeled on the U.S.-Russian Consultative Group for Strategic Security (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 August 2002). Ivanov said the presidents of the two countries maintain daily contact on security matters, as do the defense ministers and military-intelligence services. He added that the new council will expand the quantity and quality of such contacts.
DEFENSE MINISTER DENIES CONNECTION BETWEEN IRAQ AND INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM. Speaking to journalists in Paris, Sergei Ivanov stressed that Moscow and Paris hold virtually identical views of the Iraq situation, Russian and Western news agencies reported. Ivanov added that Russia has no evidence linking Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime to Al-Qaeda or any other international terrorist organization. "During Russian antiterrorist operations in Chechnya, we have captured citizens of 30-40 countries, but none of them were Iraqis," Ivanov said. "We have no information about the participation of any Iraqi citizen in any terrorist attack."
DUMA REJECTS ANTI-NATO RESOLUTION... State Duma deputies on 13 November rejected a draft resolution that would have called on the government to take countermeasures when NATO expands eastward, polit.ru reported. The failed resolution also called on President Putin to withdraw from the Partnership for Peace program. The draft was sponsored by the Communist, Agrarian, and Russian Regions factions, and its authors suggested that Russia form an alliance of countries that are unhappy with NATO policies. Arguing against the resolution, Deputy Aleksei Arbatov (Yabloko) said the measures proposed by the resolution are very weak and ineffective. He said Russia should demand the Baltic states sign the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) before they join the alliance. The resolution received 171 of the 226 votes necessary for passage.
...AS COMMUNIST LEADER ACCUSES PUTIN OF 'TREASON.' Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov said on 12 November that President Putin's recent statement in Brussels that NATO poses no threat to Russia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 November 2002) represents a defeat of the country's foreign policy, RosBalt reported. "It is bitter and strange to hear such a thing from the man who is the supreme commander of our armed forces," Zyuganov said. "It is another step by him toward national treason." Zyuganov also spoke harshly about a recent Russian-EU accord on access to the Kaliningrad exclave, which he said is nothing more than a visa regime. The executive branch made a lot of noise about Russia's position on Kaliningrad, Zyuganov said, but in the end it made a deal that surrenders the country's national interests.
PUTIN, SCHROEDER HOLD WIDE-RANGING TALKS. President Putin on 12 November held talks in Oslo with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Russian and Western news agencies reported. A meeting between the two leaders scheduled to be held in Berlin on 24 October was canceled because of the Moscow hostage crisis. Putin and Schroeder discussed the results of the 11 November EU-Russia summit in Brussels, the situation in Iraq following the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1441, the Middle East, and impending NATO expansion, ITAR-TASS reported. Putin repeated early statements that the conflict in Chechnya is "a domestic problem that Russia should settle independently," while Schroeder expressed support for "the political process with respect to Chechnya." The two men also discussed expanding energy cooperation between the two countries.
PUTIN TALKS ECONOMIC COOPERATION IN NORWAY. President Putin told journalists on 12 November following talks with Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik that they discussed joint projects in the energy, telecommunications, transport, and shipbuilding spheres, Russian news agencies reported. Putin said Norway could be a leading developer of the Stockman natural-gas deposit in northern Russia. That deposit is the largest in Europe and requires up to $20 billion in investment. The president added that negotiating the border between the two countries in the oil- and fisheries-rich Barents Sea is a top priority. "This problem is not new. It emerged when we were children, and [Bondevik and I] agreed to solve it before we retire," Putin said.
POLITICAL ECONOMYGAZPROM TALKS TOUGH WITH MINSK. Speaking at a 12 November Duma hearing on the supply of Russian natural gas to Belarus, Gazprom Deputy Chairman of the Board Aleksandr Zyuganov said his company is dissatisfied with the policies of the Belarusian government, pravda.ru reported on 13 November. Zyuganov told deputies that Minsk is resisting the introduction of market principles. Until recently, Russia sold Belarus gas at a heavily subsidized price of $21 per 1,000 cubic meters. As a result, Gazprom lost $2 billion over the last four years alone. Minsk, in turn, sells the gas domestically for $42 per 1,000 cubic meters. Therefore, Gazprom decided last month to reduce supplies to Belarus by 50 percent unless Minsk agrees to pay higher rates and to give Gazprom a 50 percent stake in Beltranshaz, the state-owned gas-transport company. If Minsk refuses, Zyuganov said, Gazprom will use its influence to support construction of a Northern European gas pipeline across the Baltic Sea and bypassing Belarus (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 November 2002). President Putin discussed such a pipeline during this week's EU-Russia summit in Brussels.
YUKOS PREDICTS IT WILL PROVIDE 25 PERCENT OF CHINA'S OIL IMPORTS BY 2005. Sergei Prisyazhnyuk, Yukos's representative in China, has said that his company will provide about 25 percent of all China's imported oil by 2005, energy.ru and other Russian news agencies reported on 17 November. Yukos will provide most of the oil through the 2,200-kilometer Angarsk-Datsin pipeline, which will be able to handle 20 million tons of oil annually. By 2005, that pipeline, which is controlled by the state-owned monopoly Transneft, will be connected to a network of Chinese pipelines managed by the state-owned Chinese National Petrochemical Company. Yukos is responsible for constructing the 1,450-kilometer Russian leg of the pipeline at a cost of $2 billion. Yukos will also export 3 million more tons of oil annually to China by rail via Mongolia, Prisyazhnyuk said.
PRIME MINISTER TALKS ENERGY, AIRPLANES IN FRANCE. Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov arrived in France on 17 November for a two-day official visit to Paris and Toulouse, Russian news agencies reported. Kasyanov's talks will center on cooperation in the energy and aviation sectors. "We are discussing such projects as the development of a major oil field on the Barents Sea shelf [and] construction of a Nordic [oil] pipeline across the Baltic Sea," Kasyanov was quoted by ITAR-TASS as saying on 18 November. While in Toulouse on 18 November, Kasyanov was expected to visit an Airbus plant and to participate in a signing ceremony of an agreement to open a joint French-Russian aircraft design bureau in Moscow. Kasyanov was quoted as saying that aerospace cooperation "is the most promising sphere" of bilateral economic relations. President Putin will visit France in the first quarter of 2003, Kasyanov was quoted by ITAR-TASS as saying following his 17 November meeting with French President Jacques Chirac.
RUSSIAN PALLADIUM, PLATINUM EXPORTS FALL. Russia's exports of platinum in 2002 will be reduced to 950,000 troy ounces, compared to 1.3 million last year, gazeta.ru reported on 13 November, citing a report by the U.S. metals company Johnson Matthey. The report further forecasts that exports of palladium will fall by 63 percent compared to 2001 to 1.6 million ounces. Despite the reductions, Russia will remain the world's second-largest producer of these metals, after South Africa.
GOVERNMENT SEEKS FURTHER LIBERALIZATION OF CURRENCY CONTROLS... Addressing a government meeting on 14 November, Prime Minister Kasyanov said existing currency regulations are hindering the development of the economy and making Russia less attractive to investment, abnews.ru reported. He described the regulations as a tall fence cutting off the Russian economy from foreign economies, saying that fence remains too high despite recent moves toward liberalization (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 and 15 October 2002). Russia should shift from permitting hard-currency transactions to simply registering them, Kasyanov said. First Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin announced that by 2007 Moscow will renounce all government mechanisms for regulating the movement of capital into and out of Russia.
...AND DISCUSSES DEPOSIT INSURANCE. At the same meeting, Prime Minister Kasyanov initiated a discussion of a proposed bill on state insurance for individual commercial-bank deposits, polit.ru reported on 14 November. Kasyanov said individual savings are an important tool for developing the economies of Western countries. He called on the government to revitalize the weak banking sector and find ways to turn individual savings into domestic investment. The bill under discussion stipulates a 100 percent guarantee for individual accounts up to 20,000 rubles ($625) and 95 percent coverage for deposits up to 95,000 rubles. Individuals with more savings should distribute their funds among several banks, said Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref.
INFORMATION POLICYFSB CONDUCTS SEARCH AT REGIONAL NEWSPAPER. Local officers of the FSB in Perm searched the offices of the regional newspaper "Zvezda" on 12 November, lenta.ru reported on 15 November, citing the paper's website and the chairman of the local union of journalists, Vasilii Mosiev. According to Mosiev, the FSB also questioned "Zvezda" Editor in Chief Sergei Trushnikov for five hours and forced him to sign a pledge not to discuss the interrogation. According to the "Zvezda" website, FSB officers confiscated documents and computer hard disks. They also interrogated the paper's crime reporter, Konstantin Bakharev. Mosiev said only that the possible cause for the FSB's interest was a series of recent publications on local crime. Meanwhile, NTV reported on 15 November that local tax police in Petrozavodsk searched the offices of the independent newspaper "Guberniya" on 12 November. The paper's editor in chief, Larisa Zhdanova, accused local authorities of trying to prevent the next issue of the paper from appearing because it contains an investigation into how local bureaucrats are using their state-provided apartments.
MAJORITY FAVORS CENSORSHIP DURING HOSTAGE CRISES. Sixty-one percent of Russian citizens believe it is necessary to impose censorship during emergency situations involving hostages, according to a nationwide survey of 1,600 people conducted by the Agency for Regional and Political Research (ARPI), newsru.com reported on 13 November. About 35 percent of respondents oppose censorship in such situations. Meanwhile, Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader and Deputy Duma Speaker Vladimir Zhirinovskii told reporters in Moscow on 14 November that "the state must control all processes in the country -- from the weather to the mass media," RosBalt reported. "Terror is a war in which the front is everywhere. Why in such a war should journalists have unlimited freedom while the rest of the public faces rights limitations?" Zhirinovskii was quoted as saying. "The number of insane people in the country is increasing, violence and debauchery are on the rise, and all this is the work of journalists."
DUMA MOVES TO TIGHTEN CONTROL OVER BROADCASTING LICENSES. The Duma on 15 November approved in its final reading an amendment to the law on the mass media that would authorize the government to withdraw the licenses of broadcasters that do not make full use of the radio and television frequencies for which they hold licenses, polit.ru reported on 16 November. The amendment would also authorize the courts, in addition to the government, to initiate license-withdrawal proceedings against media companies.
TRENDS AND IDEASNEW IMAGES FOR BREZHNEV AND ANDROPOV? State-controlled ORT, the country's leading national television channel, on 11 and 12 November broadcast a primetime documentary devoted to the 20th anniversary of the death of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. The film, entitled "Moscow-9," depicted the man who led the Soviet Union for 18 years as a sympathetic and charismatic personality who fell victim to Communist Party leadership intrigues during his long illness toward the end of his life. The film was hosted by Brezhnev's former KGB bodyguard, Major General Vladimir Medvedev, and included documentary footage from the archives of the FSB. "Krasnaya zvezda" on 11 and 12 November published a long interview with former First Deputy Chairman of the KGB Filip Bobkov and KGB General Viktor Sharapov devoted to the 20th anniversary of the ascent of former Soviet leader Yurii Andropov, who succeeded Brezhnev. Both paid lavish tribute to the man whose tenure as head of the KGB was marked by a merciless campaign against dissidents. Bobkov said that Andropov's creation of the KGB Fifth Directorate, which was responsible for combating dissent, was motivated by Andropov's belief that the "war of ideas" must be carried out by specially dedicated organizations.
MOSCOW MAYOR STILL PUSHING DZERZHINSKII MONUMENT. Yurii Luzhkov said on 15 November that he does not need legislative approval to restore the monument to Soviet secret-police founder Feliks Dzerzhinskii to Lubyanka Square, regions.ru reported. In September, Luzhkov created a controversy with his unexpected proposal to restore the huge statue, which was dismantled following the unsuccessful coup attempt against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in August 1991 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 and 17 September 2002). Luzhkov noted that no legal decision had been made to authorize the dismantling of the statue and, therefore, no legal act is required to restore it. Luzhkov did not mention that he was the deputy head of the Moscow City Council in 1991 and personally authorized the crane that was used to bring the statue down.
DUMA APPROVES CYRILLIC-ONLY BILL. The Duma on 15 November passed in its second and third readings an amendment to the law on the languages of the peoples of the Russian Federation, newsru.com and other Russian news agencies reported. The amendment would mandate that the Cyrillic alphabet serve as the basis for the written languages of all peoples of the federation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 February and 6 June 2002). The use of any other alphabet would have to be approved by a special federal law in each case, Interfax reported. Deputy Fendes Safiullin (Russian Regions), who represents a district in Tatarstan, spoke out against the bill, saying that "national alphabets cannot by made uniform" and "there is no precedent [for such a bill] in the world."
EDUCATION MINISTRY FLOATS PLAN FOR ORTHODOX COURSES. The Education Ministry has released a 30-page outline description of a course on Orthodox culture that is being considered for use in the public school system, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 18 November. Education Minister Vladimir Filippov was quoted by Interfax as telling journalists in Novosibirsk that there is "an objective need" to study Orthodoxy in the schools. According to "Izvestiya," presidential envoys Sergei Kirienko and Georgii Poltavchenko are among the state officials who have called for including the study of Orthodoxy in the curriculum of public schools. However, other officials have spoken against the idea. "This document smacks of the Middle Ages and obscurantism. If the Education Ministry considers it necessary to introduce religious studies, the course should include the basics of all religious world views and the history of atheism," government spokesman Aleksei Volin was quoted by "Gazeta" as saying on 15 November. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" warned that efforts to compel religious education might backfire. "In prerevolutionary schools, where Church law was a required subject and lessons opened with prayers, a generation of people was produced that was indifferent to religion and aggressive toward the [Russian Orthodox] Church," the paper commented.
END NOTERUSSIA AND NATO: IN SEARCH OF A NEW DIMENSION
By Victor Yasmann
On 1 November, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov announced that President Vladimir Putin had instructed him to attend the 21-22 November NATO summit in Prague, a historic event that is expected to bless the entrance into the alliance of seven new Eastern and Central European members, including the former Soviet republics of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Ivanov said that he also expects to participate in a foreign-minister-level session of the Russia-NATO Council to be held on the sidelines of the summit, at which the main topic of discussion will be improving cooperation in combating international terrorism.
Ivanov's announcement, emphasizing cooperation in the face of an expansion that Moscow continues to oppose, is typical of the evolution of the Kremlin's attitude toward NATO expansion that began a little more than one year ago, an evolution characterized by a sharp shift from loud protestation to reluctant acceptance and an active search for new forms of cohabitation with the enlarging alliance.
This evolution got under way in the wake of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, when Putin signed up with the U.S.-led antiterrorism coalition. Most notably, Putin consented to the presence of U.S. forces in Central Asia in preparation for a strike against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Evidently, the tangible threat of terrorism from Russia's south compelled Putin to overcome Moscow's traditional suspicion of U.S. and Western intentions in this region. As a popular Russian comedian said at the time, "Better the Americans in Uzbekistan than the Taliban in Tatarstan."
Obviously, another element in this change of heart was Moscow's awareness of its own weakness. In an interview on 14 May with the RosBalt new agency, Kremlin-connected political consultant Gleb Pavlovskii explained that Russia has only two options when it comes to defending its territory and national security from the threat of international terrorism. It could try to build up its own military response in partnership with the very weak states along its southern perimeter in competition -- or even confrontation -- with the United States and the West. In this case, the Kremlin would have to count on "incompetent regimes in Central Asia and the Caucasus, which at best would be unreliable allies and, at worst, outright foes." If these countries tried to abandon Russia's orbit, the West would most likely back them and not Russia, Pavlovskii pointed out.
Russia's other choice, in Pavlovskii's analysis, would be to boost its defenses by adopting policies aimed at reducing outside threats and increasing cooperation with the United States and other powerful Western countries. This option appeared more practical because of repeated U.S. and NATO overtures for cooperation and an existing NATO cooperation mechanism, the Partnership for Peace program. Pavlovskii argued that this strategy would not only enable Russia to address possible threats to its southern perimeter but also to enhance its security in the West through expanding contacts with the United States, NATO, and the European Union, contacts that would take the form of "mutual agreements and obligations."
"We chose the second course, and that was the right choice," Pavlovskii concluded.
Russia's evolving attitude toward NATO expansion was given new impetus by the signing of the U.S.-Russian Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty in May and the creation the same month of the NATO-Russia Council during the alliance's Rome summit.
In the early stages of this evolution of attitude, Putin frequently faced and faced down strong anti-American and anti-NATO sentiments from within Russia's political and military elites. Now, however, as the Prague summit nears, a significant shift in these sentiments can be observed. Sergei Karaganov, chairman of the influential Defense and Foreign Relations Council, typifies this shift. Speaking to journalists during an international conference titled "NATO-EU-Russia: Together Against New Threats to International Security" in Prague on 14-15 November, Karaganov declared that every Russian nationalist today -- and he considers himself a nationalist -- "must be a Westerner and must do everything possible to promote Russian integration with NATO and the EU." He argued that military-strategic cooperation with the West has increased Russia's role in the international arena far beyond any that its diminished economic power would justify. This is especially true for South Asia and the Middle East, where Russia's alliance with the United States has unexpectedly revived Russia's tangible levers of political influence.
For Russia, Karaganov continued, this alliance with the West -- in the broad political sense that includes Israel, Japan, and even China -- means standing together with the world's richest and most progressive countries rather than with the poor and miserable. This status is important for Moscow not only in terms of its international status, but because two major conflict faults run right through Russia: the "clash-of-civilizations" fault line between the West and those parts of the Islamic world that are using religious fanaticism to resist modernization and the conflict fault line between the rich and the poor.
This second fault is particularly worrisome for Russia, in Karaganov's view. He said that many Islamic extremists tolerated for about 20 years a growing gap between the rich and the poor before taking action. The younger generation in Russia has already been watching this process for 12 years, Karaganov warned, and might not wait much longer. Therefore, the government must work quickly to create economic conditions that will counter despair and give young people hope for their futures. In any case, however, the government will not be able to provide such hope for all young people, so the state must also take extraordinary measures to prevent Russian extremists from allying with international terrorists, as well as to safeguard the country's nuclear-power plants and chemical- and biological-weapons installations.
Karaganov views cooperation between Russia and NATO as a fact of life that must be faced. However, he believes that NATO needs a new mission, as the justifications of containing the Soviet Union and protecting Western Europe from Communist expansion have vanished. He noted that in recent years NATO has adopted some new inter-European functions such as containing "nationalism" and bolstering the military-political link between the United States and Europe. Both of these functions, especially the second, are beneficial to Russian national interests. Even more important for the future of Russian-NATO ties, however, are the development of strategies and doctrines addressing joint peacekeeping operations and shared international security concerns such as combating international terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and drug trafficking, Karaganov said.