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Security Watch: February 12, 2001

12 February 2001, Volume 2, Number 6
MOSCOW REAFFIRMS OPPOSITION TO U.S. ON NMD... Russian Security Council Secretary Sergei Ivanov told an international military policy conference in Munich recently that American plans to violate the ABM Treaty by pushing ahead with a national missile defense system (NMD) will "destroy the basis of the global security system and push the arms race into space," reported. Ivanov said that if Washington changes course, Moscow is prepared to offer "an appropriate response" to that as well.

...BUT DOWNPLAYS FUTURE ROLE OF CIS. Ivanov also said in Munich that Moscow has "fundamentally changed" its approach to the Commonwealth of Independent States," acknowledging that the "transformation of the CIS into a fully integrated alliance is impossible in the near term," reported. Instead, he said, Moscow intends to promote its own national interests across the region through bilateral rather than multilateral accords.

THE EU AND KALININGRAD'S FUTURE. Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov discussed with his visiting Polish counterpart, Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, the status of the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, Russian and Western agencies reported on 5 February. If Poland and Lithuania are taken into the European Union, Kaliningrad will be surrounded by EU states, but Russian officials have indicated that they want to keep the oblast as a "window" on the European market.

PRIMAKOV URGES MULTIPOLAR WORLD APPROACH... Speaking to the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy, former Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov said that Russia must promote a multipolar world in order to avoid being marginalized by a NATO-centric world, "Segodnya" reported on 7 February. In other comments, Primakov sharply criticized former U.S. President Bill Clinton for taking rather than giving to Russia and called on President Vladimir Putin to break with the forces that made him Boris Yeltsin's successor.

...BUT KARAGANOV ARGUES THAT MIGHT BE COUNTERPRODUCTIVE. At the same session, Council for Foreign and Defense Policy Chairman Sergei Karaganov made a very different argument. Suggesting that the world now is divided among a first world of developed countries, a second world of rapidly developing countries, and those which have been left behind, Karaganov said that Russia must choose between playing a modest role in the first world or seeking to become a leader of the second world. If it chooses the latter, Karaganov said, it will undoubtedly be subject to pressure from the United States. In conclusion, Karaganov argued, Moscow must choose between promoting its national interests or promoting a multipolar world.

ARE THERE MIGS IN AUSTRIA'S FUTURE? During a visit to Vienna, Russian President Putin proposed swapping MIGs for Russia's nearly $3 billion debt to Austria, "Vremya Novostei" reported. Andrei Belyaminov, the chief of Rosoboroneksport, said that eventually Austria might be able to acquire the licenses necessary to produce and then sell its own MIG fighters.

RUSSIA NOW FACES MULTIPLE SANCTIONS. "Argumenty i fakty" reported on 7 February that Russia is being sanctioned by a number of countries for violating international market standards and for engaging in the dumping of its products. Among the countries which have imposed one kind of sanction regime or another on Russia are the U.S., Canada, South Korea, India, Egypt, Turkey, Columbia, and now the EU. In addition, many countries in Central and Eastern Europe as well as Ukraine and Kazakhstan have restricted Russian exports because of dumping. Russian losses are put at $1.5-2 billion a year, the paper said.

PROSECUTORS FAIL IN SWITZERLAND... Ruslan Tamaev, a senior Russian prosecutor, failed to get the Swiss to drop their extradition request for Pavel Borodin, the state secretary of the Union of Belarus and Russia, who remains in detention in New York, Western and Russian agencies reported on 8 February. Tamaev said that no plea bargains had been discussed but rather some arrangement whereby Moscow would guarantee Borodin's appearance. But Swiss prosecutors are insisting, "Segodnya" reported on 7 February, that Borodin "face a Swiss court."

...AND DUMA DISTANCES ITSELF. Meanwhile, on 8 February, the Duma rejected the resolution introduced by Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia faction criticizing the U.S. and describing the arrest of Borodin as "a dangerous precedence in international practice and bilateral relations," reported. Addressed to the U.S. and calling the arrest of Pavel Borodin "a dangerous precedent in international practice and bilateral relations," reported on 8 February. Duma Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Dmitrii Rogozin argued that the parliament must not interfere in what he said was a "legal matter."

A QUIET PRIVATIZATION? Under the terms of a decree signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, Moscow has cut back on the number of enterprises which must remain under state control, Finmarket agency reported on 30 January. Among companies that may now be privatized are nuclear firms, aerospace companies, gun manufacturers, and vodka producers.

PUTIN, KASYANOV CRITICIZE INTERIOR MINISTRY. President Putin on 3 February told officers of the Interior Ministry that they were tied too closely to the criminal world, reported. "If from year to year our citizens are hearing the nicknames of criminal chieftains and nothing happens with them, then there is every basis for thinking that a fusion has taken place between criminal entities and law enforcement agencies," Putin said. Prime Minister Kasyanov told the same group that the Interior Ministry had also failed by inappropriately invading the business world with raids that have come to be known as "mask shows," a term which indicates the contempt in which the ministry is now held. This criticism of the Interior Ministry may be a signal that its boss, Vladimir Rushailo, who is considered to be a Boris Berezovsky loyalist, may soon be replaced.

KREMLIN EXPANDS TAX POLICE FORCE. The Russian government has announced that it will increase the number of tax police to 164,000, of which 163,000 will be in the regions, RIA-Novosti reported on 7 February. Some of these new officers are already at work in the program of intimidation against media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky.

FSB ADOPTS NEW RULES FOR SECRETS INFORMERS. The FSB has adopted a new interagency policy to enhance work with its network of secret collaborators, reported on 3 February. The new policy calls for the recruitment of more such contacts in order to compete with the better-budgeted services such as the taxation police.

RUSSIA LOSES $15 BILLION A YEAR FROM CORRUPTION... Duma Security Committee Deputy Chairman Anatolii Kulikov said that corruption is costing the country approximately $15 billion every year, RIA-Novosti reported on 28 January. He added that more than 40 percent of private and some 60 percent of state-owned firms are now controlled by organized crime, with the figure in the banking sector reaching 85 percent.

...BUT FSB OFFICERS PROFIT FROM THESE LOSSES. Among those participating in corruption are the officers of the FSB, "Novaya gazeta" reported on 29 January. The paper said that entire teams of officers are involved in criminal enterprises, while other officers are collecting bribes and protection money from otherwise non-corrupt firms.

JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES GO ON TRIAL IN MOSCOW. In a move lawyers described as out of medieval times, a hearing on the registration of the Jehovah's Witnesses opened in a Moscow courtroom on 6 February, RTR reported. Even though more than 300 Jehovah's Witnesses congregations are registered elsewhere in the Russian Federation, prosecutors said that the group was involved in "inciting religious hatred and destroying families." The case had been in recess for two years to allow officials to research the religious community.

PUTIN BRINGS SCANDAL FIGURE BACK INTO KREMLIN. President Putin has appointed Nazir Khapsirokov as an aide to presidential administrator Aleksandr Voloshin, reported on 5 February. Khapsirokov was fired last year from the procuracy for suspected corruption, and earlier he was involved in a variety of Yeltsin-era Kremlin scandals, including the ouster of former Prosecutor-General Yurii Skuratov. Khapsirokov, who was a Komsomol secretary in Karachai-Cherkessia, has close ties to both Pavel Borodin and Boris Berezovsky.

DUMA GIVES PRELIMINARY APPROVAL TO PARTIES BILL. By a vote of 280 to 109, the Duma on first reading approved the Kremlin-introduced bill on political parties and rejected four alternatives, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 February (see "RFE/RL Security Watch," Vol. 2, No. 4, 29 January 2001). The measure was supported by the pro-Kremlin Unity faction, Vladimir Zhirinovsky's LDPR, and Fatherland-All Russia. Yabloko deputies, the Union of Right Forces (SPS), and the Communists voted against. One deputy commented that the vote recalled the observation made by Soviet trade union leader Mikhail Tomsky about Stalin's political system: "in the USSR, there can be many parties, as long as on is in power and the others are in prison."

THE 'BLACK HOLES' OF THE RUSSIAN ECONOMY. The Audit Chamber has identified a number of "black holes" in the economy into which budget money and economic activity are drawn but from which they never return, "Komsomolskaya pravda" reported on 31 January and 6 February. Among the worst is Chechnya -- where Moscow has supposedly "spent" $3.5 billion in reconstruction but where there is little to show for such funding. Another "black hole," the chamber said, is the military, where, as the newspaper put it, Russian generals complain that the defense budget is now less than Turkey's but they nonetheless find a way to live in world-class private mansions.

AUDIT CHAMBER OPENS ITS SITE. The Audit Chamber has launched its website (, chamber head Sergei Stepashin told journalists on 5 February. The new site contains both monthly bulletins and reports about individual audits. But it does not contain anything about annual audits of monopoly firms like Gazprom, Unified Energy Systems, or ORT.


By Victor Yasmann

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian political elite has been searching for a definition of what their country is or should become. Among the definitions which have attracted support are the ideas of Eurasianism, especially in the formulation of Mikhail Delyagin, who heads the Institute of Globalization, and who has adapted the early 20th century ideology to today's economic and political realities.

In its current issue, "Sovershenno sekreto" published an excerpt from Delyagin's latest book. He argues that "in the modern world, nobody needs Russia and most view it as an obstacle to their interests." Delyagin continues that "Russia is tolerated only because her destruction might create greater dangers than her continued existence." Under such circumstances, Delyagin argues, Russia must promote "superficial friendships" with others as dangerous as it is, lest Russia slip even further behind.

Such a strategy is required because Russia must attract massive capital investment, something it cannot do on its own. But it is unlikely to succeed because the government cannot yet create the conditions or build the infrastructure which make investment possible, let alone profitable. And consequently, Russia must involve itself in global megaprojects like the east-west and north-south corridors President Vladimir Putin has been promoting.

Such a project, however, will benefit not only Russia but Europe and China, as well, and allow Russia to serve as a link between the two new powers. And that link, as tenuous as it may appear today, Delyagin argues, will eventually allow Russia to return to the world as a power of the very first rank.

But that is not a sure thing, Delyagin suggests, especially since the new international division of labor imposes requirements that Moscow can neither ignore nor easily meet. Its enormous size and its severe climate make it inherently less competitive than most other countries in either the developed or developing world.

That situation means, Delyagin continues, that Russia must become a "smarter country," using high educational standards to become the supplier of "intellectual resources for transnational corporations." By sending its scholars and experts abroad, Russia will thereby secure both its own development and meet the challenges of the new globalism.

However utopian these ideas, as outlined by Delyagin, may appear, they in fact form the intellectual foundation of many of the policies of Putin and thus are an indication that Putin's approach is not the simple pragmatism many have argued or a restoration of the past as others have claimed.