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Security Watch: February 5, 2001

5 February 2001, Volume 2, Number 5
PUTIN'S THREE FOREIGN POLICY GOALS. President Vladimir Putin told the foreign ministry staff that their work should be directed to reducing the risks to Russia from integration into the world economy, improving Russia's image abroad, and supporting ethnic Russians in the former Soviet republics. He also said that embassies must work to "protest the interests of Russian businessmen abroad" so that they will feel "at least as good as foreigners do" in Russia. (For more details, see endnote below.)

KURILES DISPUTE SLOWS RUSSIAN- JAPANESE TIES. ITAR-TASS reported on 30 January that Moscow's continuing insistence on no changes in the status of the Kurile Islands the Soviet Union annexed at the end of World War II has forced a postponement and possibly even a cancellation of a summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori. "Vremya Novostei" reported on 31 January that Tokyo wants a pause in the relationship because "Japan does not see much sense in continuing to talk" with Moscow.

BERLIN GOES ONLY HALF WAY TO MOSCOW ON NMD. German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping told his Russian counterpart Igor Sergeev that Berlin is concerned about the possible American deployment of NMD but will not join Moscow in outright opposition to it, "Kommersant" reported on 31 January. Sergeev tried to present Scharping's words as an indication of divisions within NATO on NMD, but the paper suggested that this effort had backfired, just like a similar one with French Defense Minister Alain Richard earlier last month. (See RFE/RL Security Watch, vol. 2, no. 4.)

ARMENIA WANTS RUSSIAN TROOPS ON TURKISH AND IRANIAN BORDERS. Armenian Defense Minster Serzh Sarkisian said that Russia must maintain a military and border-troop presence along the Turkish and Iranian borders of Armenia, "as long as the Turkish threat exists," Interfax reported on 31 January. .

ZHIRINOVSKY DISCUSSES CASPIAN STATUS IN TEHRAN. Duma Deputy Speaker and LDPR head Vladimir Zhirinovsky visited Tehran at the end of January to press the Iranian government to agree with Moscow on the status of the Caspian Sea, reported on 30 January. His host, Iranian interior chief Affair Abdulvakhed Musavi Lari told him that Tehran would like to accept a "new status" for the Caspian in order to keep some outside forces from getting involved and to block those countries in the region which are "hearing voices from NATO."

PUTIN RAISES BORODIN CASE WITH BUSH... President Vladimir Putin asked U.S.President George W. Bush to do whatever he could to secure the prompt release of Pavel Borodin who is being held in New York pending an extradition hearing, RIA-Novosti reported on 31 January. Putin said that he hopes "the situation with Borodin will be resolved with due consideration of both the legal and humanitarian aspects."

...AS IVANOV PRESSES SWITZERLAND... Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov asked his Swiss counterpart Joseph Deiss to respond quickly and favorably to Moscow's request that Berne drop an extradition request to the United States and thus allow Pavel Borodin to return to Russia, Interfax reported on 1 February. Ivanov also met with International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samarach, who knows Borodin from the latter's work in the Russian Olympic Committee.

...AND SELIVANOV NAMED ACTING UNION SECRETARY. Following consultations with Borodin but not with Minsk, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov named Igor Selivanov to be acting secretary of the Russia-Belarus Union state, "Kommersant" reported. The paper said that Moscow is happier with the acting replacement than with the detained Borodin because the latter has sought a larger role than the Russian government wants someone in his position to play.

COURT RULES AGAINST KISELEV. A Moscow city court ordered NTV anchorman Yevgeny Kiselev to publicly retract his statement on the air that Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov had received a luxury apartment from Pavel Borodin as a bribe, according to RIA-Novosti on 30 January. But the court refused to order Kiselev to pay any damages to Ustinov.

MOSCOW CLAIMS VICTORY ON CASPIAN PIPELINE ROUTES... The completion in January 2001 of a new pipeline to Novorossiisk means that Moscow now has the upper hand in dealing with the U.S.-backed Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, reported on 23 January. Indeed, the site suggests, the U.S. has lost a major battle for influence in the region even though American economic interests are protected because of U.S. participation in the Caspian Pipeline Consortium.

...BUT COMPLAINS ABOUT TURKEY, BALTICS. Transneft President Semen Vainshtok told RIA-Novosti on 30 January that Turkey may try to block the export of Russian and Kazakhstan oil by closing the straits on ecological grounds. Speaking at the Davos Forum, Vainshtok said his company plans to increase oil exports to the West to nearly double the current 47 million tons annually once the Caspian pipeline system goes on line next year. To counter that possibility, he called for the construction of a northern pipeline system that will bypass the Baltic states as well.

PUTIN ORDERS ACCELERATED DEVELOMENT OF EAST-WEST, NORTH-SOUTH TRANSPORT CORRIDORS. At the order of President Vladimir Putin, Economic Development Minister German Gref and Transport head Sergei Frank will submit a special report to the Kremlin in Febrary on the two corridors Putin wants to see developed, RIA-Novosti reported on 30 January. The first is an East-West corridor from Japan to Western Europe; the second from northern Russia south to Iran and India.

KREMLIN SETS UP AN ECOLOGICAL MOVEMENT IT CAN CONTROL. The Kremlin has created its own tame ecological movement after abolishing two state ecology monitoring agencies and initiating spy trials against environmental activists, "Itogi" reported on 31 January. "Izvestiya" on the same day suggested that the presidential administration has done so in order to improve Russia's image as one of the worst ecological disaster areas on earth. Without a new image, the paper said, international donors may stop sending Russia money.

REINING IN THE REGIONS. "Vedomosti" reported on 31 January that the Kremlin is considering tying the hands of reigonal leaders by redirecting federal funds that had gone directly to them and passing the money instead through the presidential envoys in the seven super-districts. If this plan is implemented, the newspaper said, the governors will not only lose power but also find that their political futures are severely restricted.

FEDERATION COUNCIL REJECTS LIBERALIZATION OF CRIMINAL CODE. The Federation Council refused to approve a Duma-passed measure that would have reduced pre-trial imprisonments and allowed ombudsmen to visit prisons without advance permission, RTR television reported on 31 January. Council Speaker Yegor Stroev said that the Duma had "twisted the law and offered protection to criminals and murderers." RTR reported that the Office of the Prosecutor-General had lobbied the senators to vote against the measure.

SUCCESSION STRUGGLE BEGINS EARLY IN RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH. Aleksii II's rapidly deteriorating health has opened the struggle over who will be the next patriarch, reported on 31 January. Among those most frequently suggested are Archbishop Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, Archbishop Yuvenalii of Kutitssk and Kolomna, and Archbishop Filaret of Belarus. But President Vladimir Putin appears likely to support Archbishop Vladimir of Ladoga and St. Petersburg, who is a close friend of presidential envoy Viktor Cherkesov, the website suggested.

PROSECUTORS PROMISE TO BE POLITE -- UNLESS CIRCUMSTANCES REQUIRE OTHERWISE. Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov told ORT on 30 January that he had ordered his investigators and prosecutors not to use "coercive methods, if there is no need to do so." Actions which Muscovites now call "mask shows" in which prosecutors use masked and heavily armed men to seize evidence were denounced by President Vladimir Putin.

MOSCOW IGNORES LONDON PROTEST ON SPY BOOK. Moscow's Narodnyi variant publishing house issued the book by former MI-6 agent Richard Tomlinson despite requests from the British government not to do so. Tomlinson, who worked for the British agency in Iran, Moscow, and Kosovo in the 1990s, has compromised the operations of Western intelligence services and given the names of agents in his book. But many in London are especially outraged by his suggestion that MI-6 was involved in the death of Princess Diana. MI-6 officials have said that Russian Foreign Intelligence paid Tomlinson $50,000 for a book that could be used as a retaliation against the revelations of KGB officer Vasily Mitrokhin in a book published in Britain. Several Moscow newspapers, including "Komsomolskaya Pravda," have announced that they will serialize Tomlinson's memoirs.

FSB OFFICERS EXTORTING MONEY FROM EXPORTERS. "Novaya gazeta," no. 4, reported that some officers from the FSB are extoring money from the most profitable exporting companies, sometimes to the point of driving them into bankruptcy. In one case, the paper reported, FSB Lieutenant Colonel Mikhail Guseinov offered "protection" to timber exporting gaint Eksportles. Initially, Guseinov requested a million dollars for "the needs of the FSB leadership." Then, through blackmail and intimidation, he gradually imposed his control over the company's decision making, effectively destroying the company.

CRIMINAL CASE AGAINST ORDZHONIKIDZE. MVD Investigative Committee Deputy Chairman Sergei Novoselov said that his agency has opened a criminal case against two deputies of Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov for embezzlement, RIA-Novosti reported on 31 January. One of them, Iosef Ordzhonikidze, was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt last December. At that time, he was in charge of Moscow's hard currency accounts (See RFE/RL Security Watch, vol. 1, no. 23.)

MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF AFGHANISTAN VETERANS LEADER. Valery Radchikov, the former head of the Fund for Afghanistan Veterans who was accused but not convicted of murdering 14 of his comrades, died in a car accident on 31 January, ORT reported. The colonel, who lost his legs in combat, came to wide public notice when he took advantage of tax exemptions issued by Boris Yeltsin to earn billions of rubles on exports. In 1997, he was tried on charges that he had killed his predecessor in the organization as well as 13 other people, but in December 2000, the Russian Supreme Court overturned the verdict and ordered a new trial. Radchikov's lawyer, Gulmira Orozalieva, told ORT that the death of Radzikov now was "very convenient" for investigators since he recently appealed the Russian Supreme Court finding to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.


By Victor Yasmann

On January 26, President Vladimir Putin told the staff of the Russian Foreign Ministry what kind of foreign policy he wants and how he expects them to promote his goals. But precisely because he delivered a tour d'horizon-type speech, Putin gaave only the broadest outlines of his specific intentions.

He said that Russia's strategic goal is integration into the world community in such a way that Russia will benefit rather than suffer. But because the process of globalization is so rapid and unpredictable, Putin said, Russian diplomats must concentrate on "forecasting and predictions" rather than analysis of the past.

Putin said that Russian diplomats must steadfastly defend Russian national interests because when they do, Russia can win. He pointed to the fact that the U.S. has not yet introduced NMD as a kind of victory for Russian diplomacy. At the same time, he suggested, Russia must come to terms with both NATO and the possibility of its further expansion because the alliance remains "a real player in European and world politics." Consequently, Russian diplomats must promote Russian security by building up ties with the alliance.

Concerning Russia's relations with the European Union, Putin said that Russia will not try to join but that it must seek to improve the "quality" of ties with the EU. Moreover, it must be concerned with what EU expansion into Eastern Europe and the Baltic region will mean. He called on the diplomats to use Moscow's improved relationship with Poland as a model for the other states involved.

Putin said that Russia inevitably must focus on its immediate neighbors, the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States. But here too, Putin said that Russia must defend its own interests rather than the interests of all these countries as a whole: "We do not need integration as a process or slogan," he said. "We need only the kind of integration which brings us benefits." And among the most important of these is to defend the interests of ethnic Russians and of the Russian language and culture in these countries.

But Putin's central and perhaps most important directive was that Russian diplomats must work to improve the image of Russia, to engage in "a struggle for public opinion" in all the countries with which Moscow has relations. And he called for the diplomats to use "all possible levers," including work with the mass media and public organizations. And at the same time, Putin said that Russian diplomats must promote the interests of Russian business and the interests of business in Russia's regions in their dealings with foreign countries.

In this, as in all the other areas he discussed, Putin's approach appears to combine both some things reflecting a new national pragmatism and others drawn from Soviet-style methods of the past.