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Security Watch: October 10, 2001

10 October 2001, Volume 2, Number 39
KREMLIN ADVISER EXPLAINS PUTIN'S DECISION TO ALLY WITH WEST. Gleb Pavlovskii, a media and political advisor to the Kremlin, said on 4 October that President Vladimir Putin had changed positions on NATO expansion and support for American antiterrorist efforts because of genuine fears of Taliban threats to Russian security, reported. Pavlovskii said that "for Russia, it is better to have Americans in Uzbekistan than to have the Taliban in Tatarstan." In other comments, he said that Moscow is keeping track of its contributions to the antiterrorist effort and plans to demand that their cost be subtracted from Russia's foreign debts once the "postwar" settlement takes place.

PRO-KREMLIN INTELLECTUALS PROVIDE A BROADER RATIONALE. Political scientist Sergei Kurganyan said on 29 September that Putin is using this crisis to help Russia over "the barrier of globalization," RosBalt reported. Putin can thus strengthen himself and his country in this way. Meanwhile Globalization Institute director Mikhail Delyagin also endorsed Putin's new course: "Globalization is a problem only for the weak and the stupid; for the smart and the strong, it provides a chance. Consequently, Russia is right to join the second group." Meanwhile, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said that "without Russia, it is impossible to build a united Europe or a new world order."

RUSSIA SUPPORTS U.S., U.K. STRIKES. In a statement televised by the national network channels on 8 October, President Putin welcomed the beginning of the U.S.-led military operation against the Taliban and Osama bin Laden. "The terrorists never expected such consolidation of the world community in the face of a common enemy," he said. Putin said that Moscow plans to increase its cooperation with "our European and American partners" in fighting terrorism and providing humanitarian assistance. Meanwhile, Deputy Chairman of the Duma Defense Committee Aleksei Arbatov said that the Taliban must be destroyed as a "nest of terrorism." Russia will give all its political support to the U.S. military operation and direct military assistance to the Northern Alliance, Arbatov told Russian public TV on 7 October.

UNITY DEPUTY SAYS PAST ACTIONS BY MOSCOW, WASHINGTON CREATED SEEDBEDS OF TERRORISM. Aleksandr Gurov, the Unity deputy who heads the Duma Security Committee, said on 1 October that the Soviet Union and the United States must share responsibility for the recent surge in terrorist activities because of their earlier support for national liberation movements, reported. Such movements, Gurov said, are the direct predecessors of today's terrorist networks. He added that the U.S. intelligence community failed to assess the new threat adequately because it continues to view the world through a Cold War prism and sees Russia as a major threat. But in fact, Gurov said, the real threat comes from places like Afghanistan, not least because of the drugs being produced there. Gurov called for all countries to sign an antiterrorist convention. Those who refuse to do so, he said, will be considered "rogue states."

PUTIN TALKS WITH BUSH BEFORE MILITARY OPERATIONS, ALERTS SECURITY AGENCIES... U.S. President George W. Bush called President Putin to inform him prior to the start of the military actions against terrorist networks in Afghanistan and to thank Russia for the contribution its making to the coalition, Russian news services reported on 7 October. Putin responded that the U.S. could count on Russia as a "reliable partner." Putin ordered the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), military intelligence (GRU), and the Federal Security Service (FSB) to be brought up to emergency operational status.

...ORDERS IMMEDIATE HUMANITARIAN AID FOR AFGHANISTAN... President Vladimir Putin ordered Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu on 1 October not to depart on the vacation he had planned to take after his work to help restore flood damage in the Russian Far East, but rather to immediately begin organizing humanitarian assistance to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, RTR television reported. Meanwhile, at its sitting on 4 October, the government of Mikhail Kasyanov allocated from its reserve fund 102.5 million rubles ($3.2 million) and $400,000 for humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, Russian agencies reported. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported the same day that Russian military assistance to the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance will total $30-45 million.

...AND SAYS CIS MUST UNITE AGAINST TERRORISM. Speaking to a meeting of the prime ministers of the member governments of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), President Putin on 28 September said that the CIS must unite to fight terrorism, Russian and Western agencies reported. Putin noted that the organization has made many mistakes in the past but must not make them in the future in the fight against terrorism. For the first time in his presidency, Putin called the CIS countries Russia's "brothers," noting that they share with Russia a common heritage as "multicultural and multireligious" states, and that they all are committed to fighting terrorism, not Islam. The prime ministers in attendance approved a resolution condemning international terrorism and pledging expanded cooperation. Putin for his part asked the CIS countries to make the CIS Antiterrorist Center a reality and added that Moscow will pay 50 percent of the center's budget, RTR television reported the same day.

RUSSIA, U.S. COOPERATE TO DISRUPT FINANCING OF TERRORISM. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin said on 28 September after a telephone conversation with U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Kenneth W. Dam that the two countries plan to begin consultations on how they can work together to disrupt the financial base of international terrorism, RBK reported. Kudrin said that Russia's recently approved anti-money-laundering legislation will help Moscow to do so. At the same time, however, Kudrin acknowledged that Russia needs to strengthen that law and possibly adopt others as well as part of this effort. On 29 September, U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton visited Deputy Foreign Minister Georgii Mamedov to discuss the military and political aspects of a proposed international coalition against terrorism, Interfax reported on 29 September.

RUSSIAN ANALYST SAYS ONLY A GLOBAL STATE CAN STOP GLOBAL TERRORISM. Writing in "Obshchaya gazeta" on 4 October, analyst Dmitrii Furman argued that the globalization of terror can be countered by the creation of a global security service, which presupposes moves toward a global state sometime in the future. The alternatives, he suggested, are anarchy and apocalypse.

NEMTSOV SUGGESTS VISA REGIME WITH CENTRAL ASIAN STATES. The leader of the Union of Rightist Forces, Boris Nemtsov, said that he is assured of the necessity to introduce a visa regime with the states of Central Asia, Interfax reported on 4 October. "These states are adjoined to the territory controlled by the Taliban, which is the staunch enemy of Russia," he said. "Moreover, the U.S. retaliatory strike may lead to the consolidation of the Northern Alliance and the Taliban into one entity. It already happened in Chechnya, when the conflicting Chechen clans united once we invaded there," noted Nemtsov. Meanwhile the governors of Komi Republic -- Yurii Spiridonov -- Vologda Oblast -- Vyacheslav Pozgalev -- and Arkhangelsk Oblast -- Anatolii Efremov -- also told the agency that they share the idea of introducing visas with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

SPANISH POLICE LOOKING INTO POSSIBILITY RUSSIAN MAFIA FIGURE SOLD NUCLEAR WEAPON TO TALIBAN. "Vremya novostei" reported on 28 September that Spanish security officials, with support from agencies in the U.S., Great Britain, France, and Israel, are seeking to arrest Russian national Semen Mogilevich, who is reputed to be an organized crime figure and may have some connection to the disappearance of a small nuclear device supposedly lost after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The agencies are concerned that Mogilevich might have sold this portable nuclear weapon to the Taliban.

MOSCOW ANGERED BY U.S. PAPER'S LINKING RUSSIAN MAFIA TO BIN LADEN. The Russian Foreign Ministry on 27 September issued a statement criticizing a report in "The Washington Times" that said there have been links between Russian organized crime and terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, and that these links were exploited in an apparently failed attempt by bin Laden to purchase Russian weapons of mass destruction, RIA-Novosti reported. The ministry said that such reports are clearly intended to undermine Russia's cooperation with the international antiterrorism coalition by casting aspersions on Russia. But at the same time, the ministry said that "if these reports have any basis in fact, then this information should be sent to Russian security services via special channels."

PUTIN SAYS MOSCOW MAY CHANGE VIEW OF NATO EXPANSION IF NATO CHANGES ITSELF. President Vladimir Putin said in Brussels on 3 October that if NATO becomes a political rather than a military organization and if Russia is involved in the discussion of issues pertaining to the alliance, then Russia may drop its opposition to the expansion of the alliance eastward, Russian and Western news agencies reported. But he said that Moscow will not change its opposition if NATO remains as it is. Further, Putin said, the events of 11 September show that the expansion of NATO will not provide genuine security for new members and that Europe needs to "look again at regional security." At the same time, Putin said he welcomes the creation of a special body to develop ideas on the further expansion of Russia-NATO cooperation.

MOSCOW, TEHRAN AGREE TO EXPAND MILITARY-TECHNICAL COOPERATION... Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani arrived in Moscow on 2 October to meet with his Russian counterpart Sergei Ivanov and the two signed a new military-technical cooperation agreement, ITAR-TASS reported. They agreed that both countries have long experience in fighting terrorism, and suggested that they will expand cooperation between their respective country's security agencies. Shamkhani thanked Russia for canceling the Chernomyrdin-Gore memorandum that restricted Russian sales of advanced arms to Tehran. Tehran seeks to buy air-defense systems, Su-30 fighters, K-50 and K-52 helicopters, and T-90 tanks, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 2 October. During Shamkhani's visit, Moscow also agreed to help Tehran fortify its eastern border with Afghanistan.

...GIVING TEHRAN EFFECTIVE CONTROL OF PERSIAN GULF... Russian defense contractors on 4 October finalized contracts with visiting Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani for Tehran to purchase Russian Iskander and Yakhont missile systems, RIA-Novosti reported. These missiles have advanced avionics packages that allow them to exchange information with each other during flight, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported the same day. With these weapons in its arsenal, Tehran will have effective control over the oil transportation routes of the Persian Gulf, the paper said.

� AND REFLECTING MOSCOW'S PLANS FOR STRATEGIC MILITARY ALLIANCE. The military campaign began by the international coalition in Afghanistan will undoubtedly increase U.S. influence not only in Uzbekistan but in all of Central Asia, something that Moscow has always feared, wrote "Nezavisimoe voennoe obozrennie." Why then did Moscow not only revoke its objections, but even make a serious step towards cooperation with the West? asked the weekly. The answer is that in so doing Moscow choose its own track of movement southwards to the Persian Gulf and Arab world, something that the U.S. strongly opposed during the Cold War. However, the new alliance of Moscow with Teheran shows those old perceptions already losing their force.

LUDMILA PUTIN TO DEFEND RUSSIAN LANGUAGE. Ludmila Putin, the wife of the Russian president, has become the head of the Center of the Development of the Russian Language that seeks to promote the use of Russian in CIS states, "Moskovskii komsomolets" reported on 4 October.

LUZHKOV SAYS RUSSIANS LIVE BY CUSTOMS RATHER THAN LAWS. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov said in an interview published in "Obshchaya gazeta" on 4 October that Russians -- both ordinary citizens and officials -- live by customs rather than laws, and that the country needs to develop a legal culture in order to move forward. He said that the absence of law is hindering the development of center-periphery relations, and that within the government some institutions show little or no respect for others.

LIKE PUTIN, DEFENSE MINISTER VISITS PLACE WHERE HE ONCE SPIED. Just as President Putin last week (25-27 September) visited German cities where he once worked as a KGB officer -- a visit that "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 29 September said confirmed his status as "a real political leader" but one that "Kommersant-Daily" said had not yielded "any concrete results" -- so too on 28 September Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov visited Stockholm, from where he was once expelled for engaging in KGB work, "Izvestiya" noted in its report on his visit. Ivanov was in Sweden to prepare for the visit to Moscow of Swedish King Karl Gustav and to discuss the expansion of Russian-Swedish military cooperation, RosBalt agency reported the same day. During that visit, Ivanov urged the development of a new security system in the world, one that would replace most existing institutions like NATO, ITAR-TASS reported on the same day.

CHELYABINSK PRODUCES IRON PUTIN. Workers at a machine-casting construction factory in Chelyabinsk Oblast have prepared the first bust of President Putin done in cast iron, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 1 October. The bust measures 40 centimeters by 50 centimeters and weighs 40 kilograms. The price for the first bust may exceed 40,000 rubles ($1,400), but subsequent casts may retail for only 3,000 rubles. Commenting on the report, Democratic Union party leader Valeriya Novodvorskaya told Ekho Moskvy radio the same day that the bust is a reflection of a "Soviet-type of mentality, an inbred servility that has not gone anywhere." She added that "this is some incredible example of a genetic memory -- it seems that during the times of [former Russian President] Yeltsin, everyone should have forgotten about portraits and embroidered serviettes."

PAPER RECALLS HITLER'S 'MISTAKE' ABOUT RUSSIA. Writing in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 4 October, historian Viktor Anfilov recalled that 60 years ago on that date Adolf Hitler made the fatal mistake of concluding that Russia was about to fall and would "never rise again." But precisely from that moment, Anfilov said, Russian forces dug in and fought back, ultimately winning the war in Europe.

GOVERNMENT DECIDES TO BUILD A BRIDGE TO SAKHALIN. The Russian cabinet on 4 October decided that the construction of a bridge from the Russian Far East mainland to Sakhalin Island is "feasible" and that to this end it will create a construction corporation, 25 percent of which will be under state control, "Vedomosti" reported the same day. The bridge will cost approximately $2.5 billion and will need to be combined with another bridge to the Japanese island of Hokkaido. The bridge project has both supporters and opponents. Sakhalin Governor Igor Farkhutdinov told AK&M agency on 4 October that Russia must complete the 7-kilometer bridge quickly lest China gain control of the East-West transit corridor. But other Russian officials said that once completed, the bridge would reduce traffic through Russia's Far Eastern ports and result in hardships there, Interfax reported.

MOSCOW'S EU ACCORDS APPEAR VERY PROFITABLE. One result of the Russia-EU summit this week was an agreement on a joint program of nuclear research under the terms of which the European Union will give Moscow a grant of 700 million euros ($630 million), RIA-Novosti reported on 4 October. In addition, the EU agreed to have Russia become a participant in the European global navigation system Galileo, a $26 billion project intended to compete with the U.S.

FIRST RUSSIAN GAS ARRIVES IN HOLLAND VIA YAMAL-EUROPE PIPELINE. Gazprom's press service announced on 1 October that the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline has become operational and that the first Russian-produced gas has arrived in the Netherlands, Prime-TASS reported. This year, the press service said, Russia will ship 1 billion cubic meters, a figure that will rise to 4 billion cubic meters per year by 2005. That will mean that Gazprom will dominate the Dutch gas market, the press service said.

KOSTIKOV SHOWS U.S. INVESTORS RUSSIA'S DRAFT CORPORATE GOVERNANCE RULES. Igor Kostikov, the chief of Russia's Securities Market Committee, has shown American business people the draft Russian corporate governance code, RBK reported on 3 October. Kostikov said that this document more than anything else should serve to attract more foreign investment to Russia.

RUSSIAN CIVILIAN AIRCRAFT CRASHES IN BLACK SEA. A Russian Tu-154 on a course from Tel Aviv to Novosibirsk exploded and crashed into the Black Sea on 4 October, Russian and Western news agencies reported. Most of the 76 people on board were Israeli tourists, and no one has been found alive. President Putin said that he "does not exclude" that the explosion and crash may have been the result of "a terrorist act," and that he has ordered Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo to head a special investigative committee. FSB chief Nikolai Patrushev said that the investigation is focusing on the possibility of terrorism. Meanwhile, CBS reported that a Pentagon source said there is reason to believe that the aircraft was shot down by an errant missile from a Ukrainian military exercise, but Ukrainian officials denied this immediately, Russian and Western agencies reported.

ZYUGANOV SAYS PUTIN EVEN MORE CYNICAL THAN YELTSIN. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov said on 1 October that President Putin is even more cynical than was his predecessor Boris Yeltsin, RFE/RL's Russian Service reported. He noted that Putin is apparently willing to send Russian forces into Afghanistan even though the army is bogged down in Chechnya. And he condemned American plans to conduct "acts of revenge" in Afghanistan. At the same time, Zyuganov condemned Putin for his liberal economic policy, and said the Communists plan to launch street protests over the next month. Meanwhile, "Zavtra" reported on 27 September that secret opinion polls now show that over 83 percent of urban residents in Russia oppose any form of Russian participation in an antiterrorist strike in Afghanistan.

DUMA APPROVES 2002 BUDGET ON FIRST READING. The Duma on 28 September approved on first reading the government's draft 2002 state budget by a vote of 262 to 125, with two abstentions, Russian agencies reported. A second reading is scheduled for 19 October. The budget calls for revenues of 2.1 trillion rubles ($71.9 billion) and spending of 1.9 billion rubles. It assumes that Russia's GDP will rise 4.3 percent in 2002, that inflation will average 10-13 percent, and that oil prices will not fall significantly. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kudrin told the deputies that President Putin and Prime Minister Kasyanov want the Duma to pass the budget without significant changes.

PEOPLE'S DEPUTY GROUP BECOMES PEOPLE'S PARTY. Gennadii Raikov, the leader of the pro-Kremlin Duma People's Deputy Group, announced on 28 September that his group has transformed itself into a new countrywide People's Party, reported. The new party, which held its constituent congress the same day, adopted a program that calls for the restoration of state control over natural monopolies and of central planning of the economy. commented that the emergence of this pro-Kremlin group suggests that President Putin is completely disappointed with the Union of Rightist Forces and sees Raikov's group as a "pocket" ally.

COMMUNISTS FORM UMBRELLA 'RUSSIAN PATRIOTS' GROUP. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation and its allies held the inaugural congress of a new 'Russian patriots' group on 30 September in an effort to form a common front on the left against the policies of President Putin, ITAR-TASS reported. The group's member parties agreed to field a single candidate for most offices, including president. A poll conducted by VTsIOM and reported by Interfax on 30 September suggested that the Communists would garner a greater percentage of the votes -- 35 percent -- than any other party if parliamentary elections were held today. In addition, the participants adopted a resolution criticizing Putin for participating in the U.S.-led antiterrorist coalition and called American charges against bin Laden "unsubstantiated."

KREMLIN WANTS TO CREATE LOYAL CENTER-RIGHT COALITION. "Versiya," No. 39, reported that the Kremlin appears to be behind the creation of a new political force called "For Civil Society," which is being led by presidential media adviser Gleb Pavlovskii, as part of its effort to create a completely loyal center-right coalition. Such a grouping, the journal said, will have the effect of pushing the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) and its informal ideologist Anatolii Chubais to the extreme right of the political spectrum and thus marginalize both it and him.

ECONOMIC CRIME IN TIMBER INDUSTRY COSTS MOSCOW $1 BILLION A YEAR. Officials of the Federal Tax Police (FSNP) said on 4 October that a variety of economic crimes in the timber industry are costing the Russian budget approximately $1 billion a year in lost revenues, reported. FSNP Director Mikhail Fradkov said that the scale of the timber black market and illegal exports of lumber have reached threatening proportions, particularly in the Komi and Karelian republics and in Arkhangelsk Oblast.

MOSCOW MINT OFFICE UNDER INVESTIGATION. Russian prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into the operations of the Moscow Mint, whose officials are suspected of embezzlement during the minting of Indian rupees, "Vremya novostei" reported on 1 October. The investigators are looking into both the disappearance of several million dollars that the Indian government paid the Moscow operation to mint its money and also the disappearance of two tons of special metals intended to be used for the Indian coins.

SHAREHOLDER LAWSUITS TO FREEZE COMPANY ASSETS PROHIBITED. The Russian Supreme Court has ruled that shareholders may not bring lawsuits in courts of general jurisdiction to freeze the assets of companies of which they are part owners, RBK reported on 4 October. Only the arbitration courts will have the power to make such rulings. Novgorod Governor Mikhail Prusak called the decision "extremely important" and called for changes in bankruptcy laws so owners cannot use their provisions to declare a profitable company bankrupt.

SHUTOV TRIAL FINALLY BEGINS. The trial of former St. Petersburg legislator Yurii Shutov began on 1 October, Russian agencies reported. Shutov is accused of committing 15 serious crimes, including arranging the murders of the chairman of the board of Menatep-St. Petersburg, Dmitrii Filipov, and St. Petersburg city administration official Yevgenii Agarev (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 February 1999). Shutov was first arrested in the case in February 1999, RFE/RL's St. Petersburg correspondent reported. The correspondent also reported that some confidential sources believe that Shutov was involved in organizing the murder of State Duma deputy Galina Starovoitova. But above all, Shutov is known as the author of two books containing devastating criticisms of the first liberal mayor of St. Petersburg and Putin's mentor, Anatolii Sobchak, as well as Putin himself.

PUTIN SAYS DRUG PROBLEM THREATENS RUSSIAN NATIONAL SECURITY. Speaking to a special meeting of the Russian Security Council on 28 September, President Putin said that the drug problem in Russia has become so serious that it threatens the country's national security both directly and by providing funds to terrorists, RTR reported. Other participants in the meeting noted that almost 20 percent of Russian draftees have used drugs, that there were 243,000 drug-related crimes last year, that some 12,000 of these crimes were committed by organized gangs, and that the illegal drug business now amounts to approximately $1 billion a year. Meanwhile, ITAR-TASS reported the same day that there are now five major channels of the international drug trade affecting Russia -- the Baltic, the Western, the Caucasian, the Central Asian, and the Russian Far East. Interfax reported the day earlier that Russian and Tajik officials have agreed to step up bilateral cooperation in the fight against the influx of drugs from Afghanistan.

SAGALAEV ANNOUNCES PLANS FOR NATIONAL NETWORK OUTSIDE OF MOSCOW. Yurii Sagalaev, the head of the National Association of Broadcasters, said in an interview published in "Trud" on 4 October that he is organizing a new national television network that will not be based in either Moscow or St. Petersburg. He said that such a network is needed because the most interesting developments in Russia are taking place in the regions.

A NEW FACE FOR 'NEZAVISIMAYA?' APN reported on 28 September that the new management of Moscow's "Nezavisimaya gazeta" plans to seek a broader audience by cutting analytic materials and increasing the amount of news and the number of illustrations, including some in color. The new team also plans to increase space for advertising and cut two-thirds of the paper's special thematic analytic supplements.