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Security Watch: October 9, 2000

9 October 2000, Volume 1, Number 12


MOSCOW SEEKS TO EXTEND SEA BORDER IN THE ARCTIC. Russia's Natural Resources ministry told RIA-Novosti on 29 September that Russia has the right to incorporate an additional 1.2 million square kilometers of the Arctic continental shelf into its territorial waters. A spokesman said that this extension is based on discoveries by a Russian research vessel far beyond the 200-mile economic zone currently claimed by Moscow. If this claim is internationally recognized, Russia will gain access to enormous oil and other natural resources in the Arctic region. The spokesman said that Moscow would soon hand over all the necessary documentation in support of this claim to the relevant UN committee.

KALUZHNY OPPOSES MOVING OIL THROUGH IRAN. Vladimir Putin's personal envoy for the Caspian region, Viktor Kaluzhny, has voiced strong objections to any north-south oil transport corridor through Iran, reported on 2 October. He said Transneft's effort to promote such a project reflected political rather than economic calculations. But such a route would leave Russia's own refineries operating at less than full capacity and thus would be "very harmful" to the country's national interests, Kaluzhny stressed. He said that he favors the Baltic Pipeline System (BTS), which would bypass the Baltic countries and Ukraine, and the Caspian Consortium (KTK) that Russia dominates. "Only the development of BTS and KTK will create a situation when all of the oil will pass through Russian territory," the presidential representative said.

MOSCOW PUSHES UKRAINE ASIDE ON EAST-WEST ENERGY CORRIDOR. Romano Prodi, the chairman of the European Union, telephoned Russian President Vladimir Putin to say that the EU supports the creation of the east-west energy corridor proposed by Russia, Russian agencies reported on 4 October. Under its terms, Gazprom will sign agreements with major German, French, and Italian concerns to provide gas for 20 years. To support that effort, the two sides will construct new oil and gas pipelines from Russia to Europe. Gazprom Chairman Petr Rodionov told "Vedomosti" on 4 October that this project would require the construction of "at least seven major pipelines both to meet our obligations and to keep Ukraine out of this."

KREMLIN FINE-TUNING FINANCIAL PRESSURE ON MEDIA-MOST. State-owned Sberbank has canceled its credit line to Media-MOST and demanded the immediate repayment of some $100 million in loans, Interfax reported on 4 October. A Sberbank spokesman said that the bank had taken this step because of "growing doubts" about the credibility of Vladimir Gusinsky, an oligarch opposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. A Media-MOST spokesman replied that this decision is entirely political since his company's debts are entirely secured by government bonds. Meanwhile, Gazprom chairman Rem Vyakhirev told "Kommersant" on 4 October that his company is seeking to sell its holdings in Media-MOST to Australia's Rupert Murdoch.

GOVERNMENT PREPARING NEW PRESS LAW. Deputy Media Minister Vladimir Grigoryev told Interfax on 4 October that his ministry has drafted a new mass media law that will replace existing legislation. He said that the drafters initially had tried to amend the 1990 law but then decided, when the number of such amendments reached 80, that it would be better to prepare a completely new law, especially since the amendments would be unlikely to be approved by the Duma. Presumably, the new legislation will reflect the provisions of the new Information Security Doctrine, which, among other things, asserts that "the most realistic way to protect national information security is to modify existing legislation." Any changes would likely call into question one of the most important achievements of post-Soviet Russia, a more open press.

FSB DEFENDS SORM. Sergei Kabanov, an FSB officer, argued in an article posted on that government monitoring of communications under the SORM system would be undertaken exclusively as part of the fight against crime and espionage. He asserted that his agency has stayed within the law and has even become a member of the Russian Association of Document Telecommunications. But he did not mention that almost 50 percent of the crimes against which SORM nominally is directed are not under the purview of his agency.


PUTIN HAILS STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP WITH INDIA... President Vladimir Putin said that the declaration he signed with Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in New Delhi represented a new strategic partnership between the two countries, a partnership based on the congruence of their national and political interests, RIA-Novosti reported on 4 October. Putin told the Indian parliament that both countries now face a common threat from "international terrorism and extremists across a vast region from the Philippines to the Balkans." He added, "Russia has totally reliable information that the same forces and personalities stand behind these extremists."

...BUT MOSCOW HAS NO ILLUSIONS ABOUT INDIAN ELITE'S ORIENTATION... According to the pro-Kremlin website, globalization has changed the mindset of India's ruling elite and thus made it a less dependable ally of Russia. This reorientation in views has also changed the relationships within the Russia-India-China triangle. At the base of this change, the website said, is India's increased involvement as a major producer of computer software, disillusionment of Indian ruling elites in the socialist economic model, and their rising appreciation of Western values.

...AS FSB BRINGS SECRECY TO INDIA. During Putin's visit to India, the Russian Federal Security Service signed an accord with the Indian Ministry of Internal Affairs on "the mutual protection of classified documents," the Russian government's press office said on 3 October. The unusual accord obligates the two sides not to provide any secret data to a third party, thereby making Russian secrets into Indian ones and potentially turning an Indian citizen familiar with Russian documents into a criminal in his own country.

MOSCOW SHIFTS ITS POSITION ON TALIBAN. Russian Security Council Secretary Sergei Ivanov told ORT television on 1 October that Moscow is now involved in unofficial talks with the Taliban. He made clear that the Russian government views the Taliban as the most important force in Afghanistan, and he said that Moscow has rejected requests from its former anti-Taliban coalition for additional weapons. Ivanov acknowledged that Putin aide Sergei Yastrzhembsky's visit to Pakistan was dictated by Russia's desire to find a modus vivendi with the Taliban. "Moskovskie novosti," no. 39, reported that Beijing had helped arrange the Yastrzhembsky visit.


MILITARY ANALYSTS LIST THREATS TO RUSSIA. "Krasnaya zvezda" reported on 29 September that the Russian military doctrine has led the country's military analysts to divide threats to the country into seven categories. Among them are international terrorism "as in Chechnya and Daghestan," the struggle for spheres of influence in the former Soviet republics, U.S. and NATO assertiveness, advanced weapons systems, large conventional armies, organized criminal groups gaining access to weapons of mass destruction, and extremist and religious threats to the integrity of the Russian Federation.


CENTRAL BANK DECEIVED THE STATE WITH GKO. reported on 4 October that the country's audit chamber has discovered that the Russian Central Bank hid its profits from the government during a restructuring of debt. According to the Audit Chamber's Ella Mitrofanova, the Central Bank understated its profits on the exchange of GKO bonds by $1.73 billion. She said that her agency has asked President Vladimir Putin to introduce new regulations prohibiting the Central Bank from using what she called "non-standard" accounting methods.

GREF PROPOSES ECONOMIC LUSTRATION. Economic Development Minister German Gref has proposed establishing a register of businessmen and managers who have led their companies into bankruptcy, "Kommersant" reported on 3 October. Such individuals, Gref believes, should not only bear administrative and criminal responsibility but should be banned from future business activities. "In most countries, managers who fail ruin their reputations; but in Russia, those who repeatedly cheat the state are treated as national heroes," Gref said. But he acknowledged that such a measure would have little meaning until the Russian economy is completely deregulated.


KASYANOV CHANGES OLIGARCHS. Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov has excluded from the new Council for Entrepreneurship most of the businessmen oligarchs who played a key role in the administration of Boris Yeltsin. But to judge by the list of new members published by "Vedomosti" on 3 October, the premier has included a number of old oligarchs who have been loyal to President Vladimir Putin (Pyotr Aven, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Oleg Depipaska, and Kakha Bendukidze) but added new and lesser-known oligarchs to the body. Among the latter are Troika-Dialog President Oleg Vyugin, ALROSSA President Vyacheslav Shturev, and Sukhoi chief executive Mikhail Pogosyan.

KIRIENKO SAYS LAWS TO CORRESPOND SOON. Sergei Kirienko, presidential envoy to the Volga super-district, told ITAR-TASS on 4 October that he expects to bring regional legislation into line with federal law in the near future, even though he pointed out that his region, which includes Tatarstan, has more variations than any other region. "If the Northwest super-district reported 30 discrepancies between regional and federal laws, we have over 600," he said.

MOSCOW SELECTS U.S. COMPANY FOR 'KURSK' RECOVERY. The Russian government has decided to contract with Halliburton AS for recovery of the 118 sailors lost in the "Kursk" disaster, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 October. Russian media outlets commented that the decision was as much political as economic, pointing out that until recently Dick Cheney, the U.S. Republican Party's vice presidential candidate, headed that firm.

MILITARY, SECURITY RETIREES FORM PARTY... Mikhail Moiseyev, the former Soviet general staff chief, has founded a political party called Union which already has attracted the allegiance of military and security officers in 47 regions, "Vek" no. 39 reported. He said that his party understood the important role that military officers could play in politics, pointing to the work of Ataturk in Turkey and Pinochet in Chile. He said his party at present was open only to veterans rather than to those on active duty. The latter, he said, are "our reserve."

...SEEK RELEASE OF KHOLODOV MURDER SUSPECT. Another veterans group, this one uniting former airborne troops, appealed to President Vladimir Putin to release on bail former Airborne Troops Intelligence chief Pavel Popovskikh, who has been charged with the murder of journalist Dmitry Kholodov in 1994, "Kommersant" reported on 30 September. Among those signing the open letter was former Defense Minister Pavel Grachev.

The Bear And The Eagle

By Victor Yasmann

Maksim Kalashnikov's first book, "The Broken Sword"(1998), won him a reputation as the Russian Tom Clancy. In that book, he lamented the end of Soviet power and Moscow's loss of the Cold War. Now, Kalashnikov has released a new book, "The Battle for the Heavens," which argues that war with the United States is "inevitable" because Washington is striving for what Kalashnikov calls "a world dictatorship" which only Moscow can prevent.

Perhaps the most significant aspect of his new book on resisting this "U.S. dictatorship" are Kalashnikov's quotations from the writings of Mikhail Delyagin, someone who at first glance would appear to be the very antithesis of Kalashnikov himself.

A former associate of reformer Yegor Gaidar, a speechwriter for Boris Yeltsin, and current director of the Institute on the Problems of Globalization, Delyagin nonetheless is saying things that Kalashnikov finds attractive. He is especially intrigued by passages in Delyagin's report to the government describing Russian foreign policy today as the strategy of the weak. [The unclassified portions of Delyagin's essay were published by "Moskva" no. 9 (1999).]

In the passages cited by Kalashnikov, Delyagin argues that "Russia cannot now allow itself the luxury of confronting the U.S. and NATO unless it becomes the victim of direct aggression." And because that is so, Delyagin continues, Russia must work now to create "an informal strategic alliance with Europe, Southeast Asia, Japan, and China while yielding to stronger countries the painful role of serving as the direct competitor with the United States."

Moreover, Delyagin continues, Russia must eschew "official" anti-Americanism even though under current conditions "Russian anti-Americanism is objectively supported." But such a policy, Delyagin argues, is "destructive and even ruinous for those who advocate it." Instead, Russia must appear to be cooperative while conducting a covert foreign policy that will allow Moscow to advance its interests without appearing to challenge the United States directly.

Kalashnikov also quotes Delyagin about the impact of globalization on Russia. Russians cannot escape globalization, Delyagin says, but "the hyper-competition that globalization generates makes it impossible for Russia to grow either on the basis of its domestic markets or those" beyond the borders of the former Soviet Union. As a result, Moscow must -- in his view -- link all the CIS countries ever more tightly to the Russian Federation in order to help power the revival of the Russian economy.

But such efforts, too, Delyagin says, must be concealed from the outside world lest the West learn of the "dependence of Russia" on it and thus be tempted to exploit it. Consequently, he says, Moscow must seek to "keep, use, and expand economic, political, and cultural ties, including with NATO aggressor countries, in order to allow Russia to restore its penetration of the third world.

In the West, many people gain their understanding of geopolitics from reading the novels of Tom Clancy. In Russia, many are doing the same thing reading the works of Kalashnikov -- but the picture of the world he paints, with the help of his unlikely ally Delyagin, suggests that the Russian reading of the current international system is very different than the one Clancy's fans would recognize.