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Security Watch: October 15, 2001

15 October 2001, Volume 2, Number 40
FIGURES CLOSE TO KREMLIN DON'T EXCLUDE RUSSIAN MILITARY ENGAGEMENT IN AFGHANISTAN. In an interview published by "Argumenty i fakty" on 10 October, Kremlin media adviser Gleb Pavlovskii said a collapse of order in Afghanistan would so threaten Russian interests that Moscow would have to consider using military force to stop that development. Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Boris Mylnikov presented a similar analysis in telephone talks with Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov, Russian agencies reported the same day.

ARBATOV: RUSSIAN MILITARY SPECIALISTS HELP NORTHERN ALLIANCE. Aleksei Arbatov, the deputy head of the Duma's defense committee, has said that Russian military advisers and specialists are working in Afghanistan with the Northern Alliance, "Novaya gazeta" reported on 11 October. Arbatov said the military equipment Moscow has supplied that group is so sophisticated that Afghans lack the training to use it. But a Defense Ministry official the same day denied this claim and reports that Russian soldiers were in Afghanistan.

RUSHAILO SAYS MOSCOW MAY PLAY LARGER ROLE IN ANTITERRORIST COALITION. Russian Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo said on 9 October that Moscow may play a larger role in the antiterrorist coalition in the future, depending on "the degree and quality of understanding" it receives from other countries, RIA-Novosti reported. One form cooperation might take is the formation of a "global antiterrorist front," while another could be the formation of a single antiterrorist system including Russia and the countries of Central Asia, he said. Speaking at an emergency session of the CIS Security Council secretaries in Dushanbe, Rushailo said that any new form of participation should be "codified" in special accords with the United States and should be limited to the duration of the existence of the antiterrorist coalition.

RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS MOSCOW FULLY BACKS U.S. EFFORTS IN AFGHANISTAN. Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov on 9 October told visiting British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon that Moscow fully backs the U.S. strikes in Afghanistan, will not deploy its own forces on the ground, and believes that it would be a mistake to install the Northern Alliance as the government of the entire country, Russian and Western agencies reported. Ivanov added that the fight against terrorism will require more than force. He welcomed the antiterrorist coalition that has come into existence in recent weeks. Hoon, for his part, responded that in his view there is nothing in NATO's charter preventing Russia from eventually qualifying for membership into the alliance.

MOSCOW AND TEHRAN WANT UN TO PLAY LARGER ROLE IN COUNTERTERRORIST CAMPAIGN. Russian and Iranian diplomats in Moscow said on 11 October that their countries want to cooperate in providing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. They also said the United Nations Security Council should play a larger role in this and other aspects of the counterterrorist effort, Russian agencies reported. Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu said the same day that Moscow may allocate additional funds for humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, adding his country hopes to be able to work directly with European countries, the United States, and the UN to organize assistance in territories under the control of the Northern Alliance, ITAR-TASS reported.

RUSSIA AND CHINA AGREE ON FUTURE OF AFGHANISTAN. Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Losyukov and his Chinese counterpart said that they had reached "100 percent agreement" on how to combat terrorism and also what "the post-conflict settlement in Afghanistan" should look like, RIA-Novosti reported on 12 October.

GENERAL DROZDOV PREDICTS A LONG WAR. General Yurii Drozdov, a veteran Soviet intelligence officer who earlier supervised the elite "Vympel" special forces group that stormed the palace of Khafizulla Amin in Kabul in 1979, said in an interview published by "Vechernyaya Moskva" on 10 October that the U.S. faces an uphill and long war if it gets involved on the ground in Afghanistan.

FORMER RUSSIAN COMMANDER IN AFGHANISTAN WARNS AGAINST GROUND OPERATIONS. General Valentin Varennikov, who served as Soviet ground forces commander and chief Soviet military adviser in Afghanistan, said on 8 October that the U.S. must be very cautious in becoming involved in ground operations in Afghanistan, reported. He said the U.S. can more readily achieve "a sort of victory" by starving the Taliban financially and politically. By depriving them of weapons and ammunition, Varennikov said, Washington will be able to force the Taliban to make concessions, but the U.S. should not expect to achieve more than that.

EURASIAN MOVEMENT SAYS ISLAM IS TRUE ANTIGLOBALIST FORCE. Members of the Eurasian Party together with Muslim leaders, diplomats, and Duma deputies from the LDPR held a roundtable in Moscow on "Russia, Islam and Globalization" on 10 October, "Kommersant-Daily" reported the following day. Most participants were sharply critical of the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan and said that Islam is now the most reliable antiglobalist force. Meanwhile, writing in "Nezavisimaya," a leading Russian military strategist and vice president of the Academy of Geopolitics, Colonel General Leonid Ivashov, said United States "staged" the terrorist attack on 11 September to launch its plans to "dominate the globe."

CUSTOMS OFFICERS DETECT RADIOACTIVE MONEY. Customs officers in Tatarstan detained a resident of Uzbekistan who was carrying banknotes with high levels of radioactivity, "Komsomolskaya pravda" reported on 10 October. The officials were concerned that it might be part of a terrorist operation but it turns out, the paper said, that the bill had been marked in this way by law enforcement agencies trying to track organized crime.

RUSSIA TAKING ADDITIONAL SECURITY PRECAUTIONS AT ITS NUCLEAR SITES ABROAD. Atomic Energy Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev told ITAR-TASS on 9 October that the 1,000 Russian workers at the construction site for Iran's nuclear power plant at Bushehr are taking extra security precautions in connection with the U.S. actions in Afghanistan, but he stressed that there are no plans to stop the construction. He added that protection measures also extend to the nuclear stations already built with the help of Russian specialists or where Russians are working as advisers -- including two reactors in Pakistan, three in India, three in China as well as atomic centers in Tashkent and Alma Aty -- RIA-novosti reported.

...AND IN STRATEGIC INSTALLATIONS IN RUSSIA. Law enforcement officials in Moscow on 11 October announced plans to step up security even though a separate meeting of these officers reported that there had been only one terrorist act in Russia in 2001, an explosion at the Belorusskaya metro station in Moscow, Interfax-Moscow reported. Atomic Energy Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev said that the country's nuclear plants are being guarded more closely, "Trud-7" reported the same day. Meanwhile, the Federal Security Service (FSB) conducted exercises to respond to any terrorist seizure of an aircraft, Interfax-Northwest reported. Russia's space program announced that it has increased security at the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, Interfax-Kazakhstan reported the same day.

GOVERNMENT WILL INCREASE FUNDS FOR LAW-ENFORCEMENT, SECURITY. The Russian government wants to increase spending on security and law enforcement by 4.7 billion rubles ($157 million), First Deputy Finance Minister Aleksei Ulyukaev told Interfax on 10 October. The total sum of this provision in the budget should reach 168 billion rubles. ($5.6 billion), including 61.6 billion rubles for MVD, 9.6 billion rubles for the State Custom Committee, and 5.1 billion rubles for the Tax Police. The budget of the Federal Security Service (FSB) is not specified, but a provision suggested an additional 3 billion rubles for new equipment for the agency.

PUTIN WANTS SOBER APPROACH TO PROBLEMS IN CAUCAUSUS... President Vladimir Putin told journalists on 12 October that Moscow will approach the problems of the Caucasus in "a solid, sober, professional, and emotion-free" way, RTR reported. Putin said he is ready for constructive work with all officials there, especially with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze who, Putin added, "knows the problems better than many of us" because he was in the Soviet leadership "when these problems emerged."

...AND THINKS THAT GEORGIA'S EXIT FROM CIS LIGHTENS 'RUSSIA'S BURDEN.' Referring to Abkhazia, President Putin said Russia will honor Georgian government and parliamentary requests to withdraw its peacekeeping troops from conflict zone. "These troops...have a mandate from the UN and CIS, and if the Georgian leadership believe they do not need them anymore, then all the responsibility for situation will be on the Georgian side, while Russia will rid off itself of an additional burden," Putin said. Putin added that, "Russia has no intention of being involved with its troops in conflicts on the territories of third countries." Finally, he said Russia would honor its obligation to evacuate its military base from Gudauty in Abkhazia.

KYIV ADMITS TU-154 WAS HIT BY STRAY UKRAINIAN MISSILE. Russian Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo said at a joint press conference with his counterpart from the Ukrainian security council, Evhen Marchuk, that the Russian airliner carrying Israeli tourists that exploded over the Black Sea was in fact hit by a stray Ukrainian missile, ORT reported on 12 October. Meanwhile, Sibir airline, which owned the plane, said it had filed a suit seeking damages from Kyiv.

LOSYUKOV DENIES TERRITORIAL CONCESSIONS TO JAPAN WOULD SET A PRECEDENT. In a wide-ranging interview with ITAR-TASS on 10 October concerning the status of talks between Russia and Japan on a peace treaty, Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Losyukov expressed "cautious optimism" that those talks may lead to the conclusion of such an accord. At the same time, he dismissed suggestions that any Russian territorial concessions on the southern Kurile Islands would set "a dangerous precedent and trigger a chain reaction of territorial claims to Russia from other countries."

RUSSIA OFFERS NEW TRANSPORT CORRIDOR: CAPSPIAN-VOLGA-DON-DANUBE. The government of the Russian Federation has offered the European Union a new water-transport corridor from the Caspian to the Danube, Deputy Transport Minister Nikolai Smirnov told Prime-TASS on 13 October.

MOSCOW IS PREPARED TO INCREASE OIL EXPORTS TO KEEP PRICES STABLE. Energy Minister Igor Yusufov said on 9 October that, should there be shortfalls, Russia is prepared to increase its export of oil in order to keep international oil prices stable, Interfax-AFI reported. Yusufov said that such shortfalls could occur as a result of attacks on Afghanistan or other aspects of the international antiterrorist campaign.

KUDRIN WANTS RUSSIA, NOT IMF, TO PROVIDE LOANS TO CIS COUNTRIES. In an interview published in "Novye izvestiya" on 10 October, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin said that Russia can take over the role that the International Monetary Fund and World Bank now play in providing funds to the poorest member countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and thus become a "main creditor."

HEWLETT-PACKARD BEGINS MANUFACTURING COMPUTERS IN RUSSIA. Interfax reported on 10 October that U.S. electronics giant Hewlett-Packard has begun manufacturing computers in Russia. The company said it plans to produce an entire spectrum of personal computers and design larger computer systems on demand. The company estimates it will produce 100,000 computers a year in Russia.

HARD-CURRENCY DEPOSITS INCREASE MORE RAPIDLY THAN RUBLE SAVINGS. Individual bank accounts in hard currencies increased 33.8 percent during the first seven months of 2001, while accounts in rubles increased only 22.7 percent, Interfax-AFI reported on 7 October.

GORDEEV SAYS GRAIN HARVEST WILL BE 83 MILLION TONS. Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister Aleksei Gordeev on 10 October issued what Interfax described as the most precise projection yet of the grain harvest this year: between 82.5 million and 83 million tons. Gordeev also said that President Putin on 9 October approved of adding 4-5 billion rubles ($130-170 million) to the stabilization fund that allows the government to intervene to stabilize prices.

PUTIN TELLS IMF RUSSIA READY TO ACCELERATE DEBT PAYMENTS... President Putin on 11 October told visiting International Monetary Fund head Horst Koehler that Moscow is ready and able to accelerate payments on its debts to foreign countries, Russian and Western agencies reported. Koehler welcomed the move as evidence of Russia's economic progress and growing cooperation with the IMF. The two also agreed on the necessity to reform the Russian banking system. Koehler, for his part, said that Russia has too many undercapitalized banks.

...AS MINISTRY OF FINANCES SAYS IT HAS NO PROBLEMS WITH PAYING OF ITS DEBTS. Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Kolotukhin told reporters during a visit to London that Russia intends to solve the problems of bilateral indebtedness with South Korea, Turkey Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, and China in the next year, according to RIA-novosti on 12 October. Russia also will not ask to restructure its debts to the members of Paris Club of Donors, which should total $44.8 billion on 1 January 2002. Even at the peak of its debt payment schedule in 2003, when it should pay $19 billion, Russia can do this without serious harm to its budget, added Kolotukhin.

RUSSIA SEEKS UNIFIED POWER GRID WITH UKRAINE, BELARUS. LITHUANIA, AND ARMENIA. Viktor Glukhikh, the chairman of a group of businessmen from post-Soviet states, and UES leader Anatolii Chubais are promoting the integration of the Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Lithuanian, and Armenian power grids, RBK reported on 13 October.

MOSCOW WORRIED ABOUT EXHAUSTION OF RAW MATERIAL RESERVES. A State Council working group has released its analysis of the state of Russia's raw materials reserves and concluded that many deposits may be exhausted in the next decade, RBK reported on 12 October. The most serious situation is in the Kola peninsula and the Norilsk mining area, the group said.

PAVLOVSKII PREDICTS MORE INSTABILITY IN PARTS OF CIS. Gleb Pavlovskii, who serves as a media adviser to the Kremlin, told a press conference in Moscow on 10 October that several regions of the CIS are likely to become increasingly unstable, including Central Asia and the Caucasus, Interfax reported. At the same time, he said, "Russia will not play at strengthening the separatist regimes, including Abkhazia." Ethnology Institute Director Valerii Tishkov at the same gathering said, "The new states of the CIS are still insufficiently independently resist the new threats," including the heightening of tensions around Afghanistan.

PUTIN TELLS COMPATRIOTS THEY ARE PART OF RUSSIAN NATION. Speaking at a Congress of Russian Compatriots in Moscow on 11 October, President Vladimir Putin said that "compatriots" is not a legal or ethnic category but rather a spiritual one and includes millions of Russians, Germans, Jews, and Tatars. He added that compatriots living in different countries should help Russia to become integrated into the world community; the national success of their historical homeland would thus become a personal success for each of them, he said.

PAVLOVSKII SAYS SOCIAL GROUPS MUST ABSTAIN FROM PROTESTS IN FACE OF TERRORIST THREAT. Kremlin media adviser and the head of the Fund for Effective Policy, Gleb Pavlovskii, told a press conference on 10 October that Russian society and the Russian state must consolidate to confront new conditions in the world following the 11 September terrorist attacks on the U.S. He said that social groups must refrain from engaging in the kind of protest actions they have used in the past, Interfax reported. He also suggested that the antiterrorist coalition will lead to the formation of new international alliances.

SIBERIAN REGIONS BRACE FOR REFUGEE FLOWS THROUGH CHINA, MONGOLIA. The migration service in the Irkutsk Oblast is stepping up measures to stop the illegal migration of citizens from Afghanistan because some experts are predicting a higher flow of refugees through China and Mongolia and via flights that stop in Irkutsk, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 10 October. Afghan refugees have managed to enter the territory of Irkutsk's neighbors, the Republic of Buryatia and Chita Oblast, by train and automobiles, according to the agency. Migration controls are going to be strengthened at those regions' airports, train stations, and highway borders, the agency reported. Regional officials in other parts of Russia -- even in the Far North -- have recently called for tighter migration controls and the introduction of a visa regime with Central Asian countries (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 11 and 3 October 2001).

'KURSK' MAY FINALLY YIELD ITS SECRETS. Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov said on 9 October that officials have determined that the cause of the "Kursk" accident was a torpedo explosion, but he added that "so far we cannot understand why the torpedo exploded," Russian and Western agencies reported. He said that engineers and scientists will examine the "Kursk" once it reaches land, and he reiterated that there is no risk of radiation during this operation. The "Kursk" was still in tow on 9 October from where it sank to Roslyakovo on the Kola Peninsula. Meanwhile, a poll conducted by ROMIR-Gallup International and reported by Interfax the same day showed that 66.1 percent of Muscovites back the raising of the submarine.

RUSSIA READY TO MODERNIZE MALAYSIAN AIR FORCES. After opening a military exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, Russia is very hopeful about taking part into the modernization of Malaysian Air Forces by selling its Mig-29, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 11 October.

PUTIN CALLS FOR END OF SPECULATION ON LAND ISSUE. President Putin told a meeting in Orenburg of the presidium of the State Council on 9 October that Russia must improve its agricultural sector by encouraging more investment and better management of land use, Russian agencies reported. He also said that the state needs to combat the shadow economy in agriculture because thefts are making it difficult to build a state grain reserve even at a time of bumper crops. At the same time, he called for an end to "speculation" about the Duma-approved Land Code, which "does not have any effect on agricultural land." He said the best solution of the land question would be to allow normal market relations but that Russia is not ready for the buying and selling of agricultural land. He suggested that officials should consider certain zoning regulations that might allow the transfer of title without giving owners the right to do whatever they wanted with land.

FEDERATION COUNCIL APPROVES LAND CODE. Despite the presence of picketers outside, the Federation Council approved by a vote of 103 to 29 (with nine abstentions) the Land Code previously passed by the Duma, Russian and Western agencies reported. It allows the buying and selling of a small portion of the country's land. Federation Council Chairman Yegor Stroev said the move will reduce criminal activities involving land by setting up common rules, ITAR-TASS reported. Meanwhile, Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref said the same day that the government will now begin drafting legislation allowing for the buying and selling of agricultural land, Interfax reported. The upper chamber of the parliament also approved extending the presence of peacekeepers in Bosnia through August 2002.

PUTIN WANTS TO DELETE TREATIES WITH CONSTITUENTS OF FEDERATION. Vladimir Putin is resolute to eliminate all treaties and agreements between the federal center and constituents of the Federation completed in the Boris Yeltsin epoch, "Izvestiya" reported on 11 October. The newspaper quoted a protocol of a meeting of a federal commission in which Putin demanded deleting from the previous treaty all provisions questioning the overriding superiority of federal laws or simply containing "declarative, but legally meaningless" provisions. Putin requested that the job be finished by the middle of next year.

FSB SUPPLIES OLD ICONS TO NEW CHURCH. According to an article in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 10 October, the Federal Security Service (FSB) has provided some old icons to Moscow's newest Russian Orthodox Church, which is named for those martyred by the Soviet state.