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Security Watch: June 28, 2001

28 June 2001, Volume 2, Number 25
MOSCOW SPLIT ON RATIFICATION OF KYOTO PROTOCOL. Aleksandr Bernitskii, the head of the Russian delegation to the Kyoto Talks and the head of the State Committee for Meteorology, said that Moscow would prefer not to ratify the environmental pact because its conditions "harm Russia and discriminate against its economic interests," reported on 18 June. He said that Moscow will seek an alternative set of agreements. The website noted that this represents a shift in Moscow's position following Putin's meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush. But the same day, the Duma Committee on Ecology adopted a recommendation that Russia accede to the Kyoto protocol even if the United States does not, Interfax reported.

MOSCOW TO CUT NUMBER OF NORTHERN REGIONS ENTITLED TO PRIVILEGES. Deputy Economic Development and Trade Minister Mukhamed Tsikhanov said that Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov has asked him to reduce the number of territories now classified as part of the North and thus eligible for special privileges, Prime-TASS reported on 21 June. Tsikhanov said that it is "abnormal" that 70 percent of the country's territory is now considered "northern" and thereby entitled to aid.

KREMLIN ASSUMES CONTROL OF IMAGE CAMPAIGN. Presidential aide Sergei Yastrzhembskii has said that the presidential administration rather than the Foreign Ministry or the Media Ministry will be responsible for organizing the campaign to improve Russia's image abroad, RBK reported on 18 June.

MORE RUSSIANS BUY MERCEDES-BENZ LIMOUSINES. Nikolai Zubenko, the Moscow representative of DaimlerChrysler, said that his firm sold 1,650 limousines in Russia in 1999 and 2,290 in 2000 and predicted sales will top 3,000 this year, "Izvestiya" reported on 15 June. Zubenko said that these figures do not include privately arranged imports or used vehicles.

DUMA MOVES TO REDUCE ITS CONTROL OVER PRIVATIZATION. The Duma on 21 June approved on first reading a new privatization bill that will end the existing requirement for mandatory Duma approval of privatization projects, Prime-TASS reported. But the deputies did not give up all their powers over that process: they retained the right of veto over using privatization proceeds to fund the budget and over decisions concerning energy and power monopolies.

RUSSIA SWAPS INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY FOR DEBT. Moscow and Rome have agreed to write off $78 million in Russian debts to Italy in exchange for technical documentation on the Russian corporate jet Ya-130, "Vedomosti" reported on 21 June. The paper said that this action may both hurt Russian competitiveness in this area and create a precedent because it is a rare example of intellectual property being swapped for debt.

WARMING U.S.-RUSSIA TIES SAID A MARRIAGE OF CONVENIENCE. Mikhail Margelov, the deputy chairman of the Federation Council's Committee on Foreign Affairs, said that both Moscow and Washington are seeking a marriage of convenience after a period of tensions, "Izvestiya" reported on 19 June. In large part, Margelov said, this reflects more the personalities of the two leaders involved rather than the national interests of the two countries. Presidents Putin and Bush are both pragmatic, non-charismatic leaders, Margelov said. Both have two daughters, both are precise, and both like sports.

PUTIN SAYS RUSSIA WOULD RESPOND TO MISSILE DEFENSE WITH NEW WEAPONS. President Vladimir Putin told American journalists on 18 June that Russia would respond to the American development of a missile defense with new weapons systems, including MIRVed (Multiple Independently-Targeted Reentry Vehicle) missiles, Russian and Western news agencies reported. But he said he is confident that any U.S. system would not have a significant impact on Russia for the next 25 years because of the technical difficulties involved. At the same time, however, the Russian president said that Moscow is prepared for "further discussions so that we will all know what we are talking about." Meanwhile, Duma Deputy Speaker (Yabloko) Vladimir Lukin said Russia needs to coordinate its response to American actions with China, France, and Germany, Interfax reported on 19 June.

EURASIANISM SEEN AS NEEDED RESPONSE TO BRZEZINSKI. A panel discussion organized by the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy has concluded that Russia must adopt Eurasianism as its ideology and become a bridge between the European Union and the new Asian powers of China, Korea, and Japan, "Trud-7" reported on 21 June. Academy of Sciences Far Eastern Institute Director Mikhail Titarenko said that if Moscow does not do so, then "we will not be respected in either the West or the East, and [former U.S. National Security Adviser] Zbigniew Brzezinski will be right about our future disintegration."

PUTIN CONFIRMS MOSCOW WILL SUPPLY IRAN WITH ARMS... President Putin told American journalists that Moscow will provide weapons to Iran, according to the full transcript of the interview they conducted on 18 June as published by the next day. Putin said that these weapons would be of a defensive nature and thus should not disturb Israel or the United States. He said that some of the American objections to Russian sales reflected a desire by U.S. companies to "make deals there." He said that he provided U.S. President Bush with the names of the Americans involved.

RUSSIA GETS SUPPORT FROM SOUTH KOREA ON KURILES. Seoul has recognized Russia's rights in the maritime economic zone in the Southern Kuriles, thus ignoring claims by Japan, RIA-Novosti reported on 19 June. Japan has protested the official South Korean Foreign Ministry statement, the news agency said, but Seoul has responded that "the war area of the Southern Kuriles is not controlled by Japan and is fully within the Russian maritime economic zone."

RUSSIAN-NORWEGIAN TALKS MARKED BY DISPUTES. After visiting Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg met with President Putin and other senior Russian officials, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov commented that Moscow "cannot but be worried" by Norway's Globus-2 radar site, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 June. Russia claims that the site is part of NATO's strategic defense system, but both Norway and NATO deny that. The two sides also disagreed on new Norwegian legislation regarding Spitzbergen, with Putin calling on Stoltenberg to take into consideration the 1920 Soviet-Norwegian accord concerning that archipelago. But the two sides did agree to conduct new consultations on the division of energy resources in the Barents Sea.

RUSSIA REGAINS CONTROL OF SEVASTOPOL HARBORS. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said on 20 June that Russia is again in charge of the inner and outer harbors of Sevastopol, RIA-Novosti reported. Ukrainian officials were formerly in control of both. Ivanov's comments came after meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksandr Kuzmuk. The two men also agreed to modernize the Black Sea Fleet and reduce its size, Interfax-Ukraine and "Izvestiya" reported on 20 June.

RUSSIA, U.S. LIBERALIZE SHIPPING RULES. U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and his Russian counterpart Sergei Frank on 20 June signed a bilateral accord that will make it easier for the ships of each country to use the ports of the other, RIA-Novosti reported. Among its provisions is the lowering of the advance notice requirement from seven days to three days.

IRANIAN FIRMS TO HELP REBUILD CHECHNYA. Roza Dzhabrailova, a member of the pro-Moscow Chechen administration, has signed an agreement with the Iranian Engineering Consortium for Iranian firms to help reconstruct industrial and transport facilities in Chechnya, RTR television reported on 18 June.

RUSSIAN FIRMS INVEST IN COLOMBIA. Rosneft announced that it will invest in the Colombia Surorente oil field, Prime-TASS reported on 18 June. Meanwhile, a subsidiary of Russia's AvtoVAZ automaker has opened an assembly line for VAZ-212180 all-terrain vehicles in Bogota, Colombia, ITAR-TASS reported. Meanwhile, on the same day, Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu met with the heads of 15 Latin American diplomatic missions to discuss expanding cooperation, Interfax reported.

CABINET BACKS FLAT TAX ON NATURAL RESOURCES. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin said on 19 June that the Russian government is inclined to back a single flat tax on natural resources in place of the three existing levies, RIA-Novosti reported on 19 June. He said that such a change would boost tax revenues in much the same way that the introduction of a flat income tax has done.

RUSSIAN MISSILES TO BE LAUNCHED FROM FRENCH GUYANA. Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov said in Paris on 20 June that the European Space Agency (ESA) has accepted Moscow's proposal for launching Russian satellites from a pad in French Guyana, Prime-TASS reported. The ESA plans to invest $250 million in the Russian project.

A SECOND ROUND OF GOVERNMENT RESHUFFLING. President Putin appointed Igor Yusupov as the minister of energy, thereby filling a vacancy that had existed since the president fired Aleksandr Gavrin for poor performance in February, wire services reported. A graduate of the Academy of Foreign Trade, Yusupov previously worked in the Russian trade mission in Cuba, the Committee for the Protection of Russian Economic Interests, and the Ministry of Industry. He also worked in the state reserves committee, which has close ties to the secret services. Putin also appointed a veteran apparatchik, Vitali Artukhov, as natural resources minister.

ZHIRINOVSKY WANTS PRESIDENT TO BECOME TSAR. The flamboyant leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, Zhirinovsky proposed some radical changes in the Russian Constitution and the system of political power, Russian websites reported on 18 June. He said that the president should be called supreme ruler or even tsar because president is not a Russian word and he said that the new tsar would serve a nine-year term and be allowed to appoint as his successor anyone who was not a member of his family.

PRIMAKOV SAYS PUTIN DISTANCING HIMSELF FROM YELTSIN. In an extract from his memoirs published in "Trud-7" on 21 June, Fatherland-All Russia leader and former Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov said Putin has distanced himself from the entourage of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin and is beginning to "break down his genetic ties" with Yeltsin himself. Primakov also said that Putin acted clumsily concerning NTV, pushing forward to head NTV people who are not only far from being journalists but who have less than perfect reputations.

PUTIN SAID TO BACK REDUCTION IN TAXES ON PROFITS. Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref said on 20 June that President Putin supports the reduction of taxes on business profits, "Kommersant-Daily" reported. Regardless of whether the final tax rate is cut to 25 percent as the Kremlin wants, or 23 percent as the Duma prefers, Gref said, the reduction will transform Russia from "a tax hell into a tax paradise." But Western analysts said that the rate cut, while likely to pull some capital out of the shadow economy, will not be sufficient in itself to solve Russia's capital flight and tax-avoidance problems.

DUMA APPROVES NEW CRIMINAL PROCEDURES CODE ON SECOND READING. The Duma on 20 June voted 290 to two to approve on second reading a new Criminal Procedure Code, Russian agencies reported. Prosecutors, appellate courts, and law-enforcement agencies opposed the measure because it gives courts, rather than prosecutors, the right to issue arrest warrants and search orders. Prior to the vote on the code, the Duma failed to approve two Kremlin-supported amendments, of which one would have prevented investigators from launching a case without the approval of prosecutors, while the other would have allowed the prosecution to set punishments without court hearings if the person charged acknowledged his guilt. The new code is significantly more liberal than the Soviet-era code it replaces, but human rights groups have noted that it still has many illiberal provisions. For example, it stipulates that the accused must prove his innocence rather than be presumed innocent.

AUDIT CHAMBER SAYS FOREIGN LOANS MISUSED. The Audit Chamber has concluded that loans extended to Russian institutions by international banking institutions were misused, and it has turned over this information to the Prosecutor-General's Office, reported on 15 June. According to the chamber, the Russian Central Bank and the Finance Ministry overpaid foreign consultants, sometimes at the rate of $30,000 a month. The chamber said that the state should be reimbursed some $55.6 million for the misused funds.

SENIOR FSB OFFICER PROVIDED COVER FOR ORGANIZED-CRIME GROUP. A Moscow military court has begun hearing the case of FSB Colonel Igor Kushnikov, who allegedly provided protective cover for the Golyanov organized-crime group, "Versiya," No. 24, reported. In addition, the charges allege that Kushnikov provided operational intelligence to the group to help them avoid problems with the authorities.

CHERKESOV SAYS CORRUPTION OVERWHELMING NORTHWEST. In an interview published in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 19 June, Viktor Cherkesov, the presidential envoy to the Northwest federal district, said that the criminalization of the economy and state structures in his region represents a threat to Russia's national security. He said that "in the district the growth of the shadow sector of the economy and the widening of illegal economic activity is observed" and that "the number of economic crimes registered so far this year is 20 percent more than the same period last year."

SPECIAL SERVICES MARK ANDROPOV'S BIRTHDAY. Senior officials of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and other security services marked the 87th birthday of former KGB chief and Soviet leader Yuri Andropov by placing flowers at his grave at the Kremlin wall, Russian agencies reported on 15 June.

MOSCOW HAS NO COMMENT ON DEPARTURE OF U.S. DIPLOMATS. The Russian Foreign Ministry on 21 June refused to confirm or deny reports that 46 American diplomats who Moscow had ordered in March to leave Russia by 1 July have in fact left the country, ITAR-TASS reported.

PUTIN CRITICIZES SPY AGENCIES FOR 'COLD WAR' MENTALITY. President Putin told American journalists on 18 June that both Russian and American intelligence services continue to be driven by Cold War priorities and "a misunderstanding of both prospects for the development of international relations and the real threats of today's world." He said that the intelligence services of both countries still prefer confrontation to working together against common threats. But he said that U.S.-Russian cooperation on Afghanistan provided a positive example of what might be achieved if they work together on other issues.

...BUT REAFFIRMS PRIDE IN HIS KGB PAST. At the same time, Putin reaffirmed that his work with the KGB in the past served as a genuine education because he had the chance to work with a wide range of completely different people. He also said that the KGB taught him the importance of finding useful partners for joint work.

ACCUSED SPY SUFFERS HEART ATTACK. Valentin Danilov, a Krasnoyarsk scientist who has been accused of spying for China and who on 18 June charged that the Federal Security Services used psychological pressures to try to force him to confess to a crime he did not commit, suffered a heart attack and has been hospitalized, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 June. Danilov remains handcuffed to his bed and under the surveillance of two guards, the news agency said.

KALUGIN APPEARS AS WITNESS IN TROFIMOFF TRIAL. Retired KGB General Oleg Kalugin testified on 20 June in the espionage trial of former U.S. Army Colonel George Trofimoff, ITAR-TASS reported. "Rossiiskaya gazeta" commented the same day that "some people in our country still feel compassion for a defector like Kalugin, who continues to betray his former colleagues, including a poor old man like Trofimoff, even though many CIA and Western intelligence officials have negative views about him." Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (FSB) counselor Vadim Kirpichenko told on the same day that Kalugin outranks Trofimoff and therefore, by testifying, he is in fact incriminating himself.

RUSSIA TO MODERNIZE ALGERIAN AIR FORCE, SELL OLD MIGS TO BURMA. The Chkalov aircraft works has signed a $120 million contract with the Algerian air force to modernize 22 Su-24 tactical bombers, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 June. The accord was signed at the Paris Air Show. Meanwhile, the MiG corporation has agreed to sell a group of used MiG-29 fighters to Burma for $130 million, "Vedomosti" reported on 19 June. That sale is greater than the company's total sales in 2000.

SKRUNDA RADAR REPLACEMENT SITE OPERATIONAL. The Space Forces command said that the new strategic radar site "Volga" in Barnaovichy, Belarus, is now operational, the Military News Agency reported on 19 June. That facility is intended to fill the gap in Russia's early warning system that emerged after the closure of the Skrunda site in Latvia in 1998.

SCANDINAVIANS INVESTING IN RUSSIAN PRESS. Ogvind Nordsletten, Norway's ambassador in Moscow, told RIA-Novosti on 16 June that Norwegian and Swedish firms are preparing to invest in "Izvestiya," "Komsomolskaya pravda," and other Russian press outlets. He noted that Sweden's Modern Times Group has already purchased 75 percent of the shares in Moscow's Daryal-TV.


By Paul Goble

Sixty years ago Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, an event sparked a war which continues to be the source of unity, pride, and even identity for Russians but the legacy of which frequently puts Russia at odds with her western neighbors.

For Russians, the conflict that began on 22 June 1941 is perhaps the one historical event that all Russians agree upon. Not only did it restore a kind of normalcy to life under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, but its costs -- more than 25 million dead -- and the emergence of the Soviet Union as a world power as a result mean that the conflict -- which Russians still call the Great Fatherland War -- remains central to their lives.

In advance of the anniversary this week, a poll found that three Russians out of four believe that 22 June should be declared a day of national mourning. The media and scholars have focused on the Soviet and by implication the Russian contribution to the war effort. Indeed, the Russian government recently announced plans to begin organizing a celebration in 2005 of the 60th anniversary of Hitler's defeat.

For East Europeans, in contrast, the eastern front of World War II between Germany and the Soviet Union has a very different meaning. Across this region, many people focus less on the conflict itself than on the prewar events that made that war possible and on the postwar settlement that left them under the control of Moscow for more than 40 years.

On the one hand, East European historians continue to focus on the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. That accord, which allowed Hitler to launch World War II, also permitted Germany and the Soviet Union to divide up Eastern Europe, a process that cost the three Baltic countries their de facto independence.

On the other hand, these same historians and many East Europeans focus on the consequences of the Soviet victory in Eastern Europe. That event in their eyes allowed the Soviets to replace the Germans as the occupiers of their countries. Because of that, many in this region have a somewhat different view of what the Soviet Union did at the end of that war than do many in Moscow.

Not surprisingly, Russians are often infuriated by the expression of such views by East Europeans in general and by people from the three Baltic states in particular. Earlier this week, in an interview published in the Russian military newspaper "Krasnaya zvezda," Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Avdeev said that Russians today feel what he called entirely justified anger at the way some in Eastern Europe now discuss World War II.

Avdeev said that in those countries, there are now "influential forces interested in creating an image of Russia as a country "not only with an unpredictable past but also with an unpredictable present and future" and as a country whose totalitarian and imperial past make it even now "incompatible with European values."

In the course of doing so, the Russian diplomat added, they go even further and imply that those living in these countries who fought against the Soviet Union on the German side were "freedom fighters," thereby attempting to defend as patriots people who in fact were traitors, and that "our warriors were occupiers" -- when in fact the Soviet troops were liberators.

In both Russia and Eastern Europe, history remains very near the surface and an active player in current history. Consequently, this debate about World War II is unlikely to be left to the historians for some time to come. Instead, the passionately held convictions and beliefs of each side are certain to define their attitudes to and hence relationships with the other.

Like its Soviet predecessor, the Russian authorities continue to insist that with regard to World War II, no one will forget and nothing will be forgotten. They are certainly right to say that, but the inability of people to agree about the past almost certainly points to more disagreements ahead, despite the fact that both sides do agree that the defeat of Hitler was absolutely necessary.