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1. AFP: Prison sentence near certainty for all on trial in Russia: prosecutor.
2. Prime-TASS: Putin calls on authorities to observe law in Chechnya.
3. AFP: Putin says Russian military spending must not hurt economy.
4. Newsweek web exclusive: Eve Conant, Theyre In The Army Now. The Russian military. is trying out an unusual method of caring for destitute boys.
It adopts them
.
5. Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Young Officers Complain of Army Privations in Putin's Presence.
6. ITAR-TASS: Russia Election Commission calls on political parties for cooperation.
7. Moscow Times: Yulia Latynina, United Russia and the Toilet Brush Syndrome.
8. St. Petersburg Times: Igor Leshukov, Record Oil Deal Shows West Now Dancing to Russia's Tune.
9. pravda.ru: Russian Authorities Determined to Control Oil Oligarchs. Vladimir Putin was not really kind to oligarchs during the latest meeting with them.
10. Reuters: U.S. envoy fails to win Russian backing on Iraq.
11. BBC Monitoring: Russian scholar says ex-premier's visit to Baghdad is sign of war.
12. BBC Monitoring: Russian TV commentator makes case for war on Saddam's Iraq.
13. Foreign Affairs: Charles William Maynes, America Discovers Central Asia.

********

#1
Prison sentence near certainty for all on trial in Russia: prosecutor
February 25, 2003
AFP

Less than one percent of trials in Russia end in acquittals, Prosecutor
General Vladimir Ustinov said in an interview published Tuesday.

The number of not guilty verdicts increased in 2002 from the year before to
9,000, or 0.08 percent of all examined cases, Ustinov told the daily Gazeta.
"Considering that before we had none at all, it's a good number," he said.

Last month Russian President Vladimir Putin praised the increase in
acquittals, attributed to a new criminal code that strengthened the rights of
defendants while curbing the powers of prosecutors, which took effect in
July.

According to the code, trials by jury began in certain Russian regions
beginning January 1.

Russia's justice system and prisons, which are plagued by overcrowding and
disease, continue to be harshly criticized by human rights groups and
European observors.

With 630 prisoners for 100,000 inhabitants, Russia has the world's second
highest rate in the world, after the United States.

*******

#2
Putin calls on authorities to observe law in Chechnya

MOSCOW, Feb 25 /Prime-TASS/ -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on
the top officials of law enforcement agencies to assist the general
prosecutor's office in Chechnya, ITAR-TASS reported Tuesday.

He said that officials of the prosecutor's office should take part in any law
enforcement operation to ensure that no state laws, instructions or orders
are violated.

Putin noted that there are still complaints about the violation of civil
rights during law enforcement operations in Chechnya. He said such cases are
always investigated.

He also called on government ministers to reduce the number of road posts and
checkpoints in Chechnya.

He said they were very necessary at the beginning of the Chechen campaign,
and are still important, but they are ineffective in their present condition.

The head of the Chechen administration, Akhmat Kadyrov, said earlier this
month that Chechnya's human rights record would improve once a new
constitution is adopted and federal troops leave the republic.

A referendum on a new constitution keeping Chechnya under Russian control but
moving toward parliamentary and presidential elections is scheduled for March

*******

#3
Putin says Russian military spending must not hurt economy

MOSCOW, Feb 25 (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin told his
government Tuesday that military spending must not burden the economy in
comments hinting at government efforts to cut down on expenses in army ranks.
"Our military spending must not overwhelm the people or prevent economic
growth," Putin told a meeting of Russia's security council in televised
remarks.

Putin said that Russia must "honestly assess the economic potential of the
country," a statement that boosted army reforms back to near the top of
Moscow's political agenda.

Russia has struggled since the Soviet Union's collapse to find a way to slash
the size of its military while investing in new equipment that could replace
run-down machines from the Cold War era.

Putin appointed his close ally Sergei Ivanov as defense minister in 2001,
giving him an assignment to slash the military to size. But analysts say that
Ivanov has run into tough resistance from top army generals.

The Russian leader's comments Tuesday suggested a new sign of political
support for Ivanov's efforts.

"Today it is the quality, rather than the size, of the armed forces that
determines the defensive capabilities of a country," ITAR-TASS quoted Putin
as telling the government meeting.

After the meeting, Ivanov was quoted by Interfax as saying that Russia plans
to start investing in new military technologies in 2005.

The report gave no other details.

*******

#4
Newsweek web exclusive
February 25, 2003
Theyre In The Army Now
The Russian military is trying out an unusual method of caring for
destitute boys. It adopts them
By Eve Conant

The boys asleep in their bunks could be any young teens at summer
camp. But this is no vacation spot. At precisely 6:00 a.m., a Russian army
officer storms in and barks out a wake-up call. Within minutes the boys
have made their beds, pulled on their uniforms and prepared for morning
exercises on the military base of the Kineshma Chemical and Radiation
Defense Regiment.
THE RUSSIAN ARMYlike most militaries around the worlddoesnt
exactly have a reputation for altruism. Indeed, its better known for its
cannon-fodder mentality, brutal hazing, bloated officers corps, corruption
and lack of resources. But the army has also assumed an unlikely social
role: adopting and raising boys whose parents can no longer care for them.
Its a program introduced more from need than desire. In a country
still struggling to overcome the profound consequences of the break-up of
the Soviet Union, Russia is struggling to provide adequate services for the
estimated three million children either orphaned or without proper family
care. One solution: turning at least some of them over to the care of the
military.
Child soldiers have existed throughout history, but Russias current
program dates back to at least the 18th century, when every military unit
had its drummer boy or underage midshipmen. It continued during World War I
and World War II, when many abandoned orphans were simply swept up from the
side of the road and brought into army ranks. Some helped fight against the
Nazis or became miniature intelligence gatherers, while most simply helped
out with odd chores. The tradition became known as syn polka or son of
the regiment. Russia is hardly fighting a world war right now, of course.
But it does have crushing social problems. With the collapse of the Soviet
Union, all of Russia became a social war zone, says Sergey Ptichkin, a
Russian journalist who has written extensively about the revival of the
army adoption system.
Since the mid-1990s the Kineshma base has been taking in boys as part
of an informal agreement with the local mayors office. In May 2001, the
Ministry of Defense issued an order legalizing the son of the regiment
habit, allowing the army to adopt and financially support up to eight boys
per base in all regions of Russia. (There are no similar programs for girls
on the street, whose numbers are significantly lower than those of the
boys.) The boys are supposed to be at least 14, but this base in Kineshma
recently housed a 12-year-old. In order to be adopted by the army, a boy
has to have lost at least one parent and be in a family situation that is
considered untenable. His relatives must agree to let the army take him,
and a child cannot be brought in against his will.
The boys spend their days at school like any child, but their
mornings, nights and weekends are devoted exclusively to military duties.
Eight of the 16 now at the Kineshma base are supported financially by the
Defense Ministry, the rest are supported by the local Kineshma
administration, a manufacturing and textile region that fell on hard
economic times in the mid-1980s. All of the 16 charges know how to use gas
masks, shoot and clean a Kalashnikov, and run in foxholes. Even the
youngest know the basics of how to drive a car. This doesnt fall under
the armys usual responsibilities, admits Nikolai Reznik, the Defense
Ministrys official in charge of all boys adopted by the army.
Inevitably, the program has drawn its share of controversy. Many
critics of the newly legalized practice agree that a military base is no
place to raise young boys. But with other social services for children
overburdened by grave financial difficulties and too many youngsters in
need, the army sees itself as having no choice but to step in. The result
is a state-sponsored military school for orphans, but one that the army
insists in not about training super-soldiers for the future. It is not our
aim that our charges spend the rest of their lives involved with the army,
says Reznik. But it is important, he says, that they become defenders of
the Fatherland, instead of filling the ranks of criminals. For that
reason, Reznik says they are given special consideration for acceptance
into military academies.
This odd military-social experiment has already resulted in more 250
boys receiving official support in army bases across Russia. That figure,
however, does not account for the army bases that also accept boys
financially supported by local administrations. The real figure of boys
that are being raised by the army, even if not funded by them, could be
closer to 500. That number is expected to double in the next few years.
Army officers are tasked with making sure the boys make it to school
each morningafter theyve completed their exercise drills, supervised
vitamin popping and tooth brushing. Since there is little money to go
around for clothes, the boys usually attend classes in their fatigues.
Do they prefer military life? One son of the regiment Sasha Luzin,
15, remembers little of his life before moving into the orphanage system at
age five. My mother came home drunk one night with a man. She locked me in
a closet so I wouldnt bother them. Other memories include beatings and
even more drinking. He is now at the Kineshma base with his close friend,
Yegor Vinogradov, also 15, who lost his mother when he was 5. He and Sasha
spent years on the streets. Although technically registered at an
internator orphanageboth would drink and smoke, and make ends meet by
sneaking into factories at night to steal and then re-sell light metals
like aluminum. An American wanted to adopt me. But I wanted to stay here
in Russia, I dont know anyone in America, says Luzin defiantly.
Taking in a few hundred boys to be raised by the army wont solve
Russias social problems. But the son of the regiment practice is a
small-scale solution that is already showing signs of success. Of the six
graduates at the Kineshma base last spring, four have entered prestigious
military academies and two are studying chemistry.
And between latrine duty and morning drills, theres certainly
plenty of discipline. Some of the younger boys can find it toughespecially
in the beginning. Artyem Yemelianov, who was 13 when he arrived at the base
last year, never knew his father. His mother is sick, he says, pointing to
his head to indicate that she is mentally ill. I drank, I stole, I smoked.
I liked my life, explains Yemelianov, the youngest of the charges in
Kineshma. The army life is proving rough for him. He still likes to color
pictures, a habit that alienates him from the older boys. Patched onto his
camouflage uniform is a marker showing his blood type. His hands are
blistered from morning exercises; his smooth freckled cheeks are still
those of a child. Pokemon, thats what he likes, says barracks mother
Gylnara Ziangirova, a newly-qualified psychologist who visits the boys each
day. Not Kalashnikovs. Sadly for Yemelianov, though, right now his best
option is learning to shoot.

********

#5
Young Officers Complain of Army Privations in Putin's Presence

Rossiyskaya Gazeta
22 February 2003
Vladislav Vorobyev, Aleksandr Babakin report: "Officers Want To Read More;
But at the Moment, the Money They Have Is Not Enough Even for a
Subscription to Krasnaya Zvezda"

Comrade officers, please would you take your
allotted seats," could be heard at the very moment when journalists were
entering the concert hall of the General Staff building on Znamenka
Street. Yesterday, for the first time in the history of Russia, an
All-Russia Conference of Russian Federation Armed Forces Officers on
Issues of Combat and Mobilization Readiness was held there.
Some 536 officers arrived in Moscow. There were no invitations, so
many men were standing in the aisles. One of the organizers tried to get
those who were standing to leave the hall, by making reference to strict
procedures in the General Staff. But the lieutenants and captains were
made of sterner stuff. "So why did you invite us here? I've crossed the
whole of Russia and I'm not going to retreat now," said one of them. At
that moment the Supreme Commander in Chief, Vladimir Putin, entered the
hall and everyone stood up and the quarrel petered out.
The president went straight to the rostrum. The first thing he did
was to congratulate those present on Fatherland Defender's Day. Then
Putin began talking on some topics that were not at all festive.
According to him "an extremely complex" geopolitical situation has now
taken shape in the world: "The balance of forces has most obviously been
disrupted. A new security architecture has not been created yet. At the
same time we cannot fail to observe the growing aggressiveness on the
part of extremely influential forces in certain countries of the world,
which...gives cause for concern."
It is for this reason that it is necessary to continue the work in the
Russian Federation Armed Forces, the head of state believes, to optimize
the structure and composition of the Army and Navy: "We have some
large-scale work ahead of us in order to reequip the army with new arms
and hardware."
Vladimir Putin spent about an hour at the conference in the General
Staff. It is indeed not easy for young officers to speak from the
rostrum, especially when you have the President sitting behind your back.
Captain Dmitriy Dunayev was the first to approach the microphones after
the head of state. He was so nervous that he tried five times to say
"Comrade Supreme Commander in Chief!" but was unable to enunciate it
properly. All the same, when he had gotten a grip of himself, he began
his account of the difficult lot of army service. Perhaps this was the
most vivid and emotional speech of those that the journalists succeeded
in hearing.
Unfazed by the representatives of the top officer corps sitting
directly in front of him, he told of the difficult housing conditions,
about pay that is increasing far more slowly than the cost of living:
"And so, as a result, some of our female combat friends are preferring to
return home. You know yourselves what this leads to!"
Dunayev asked the President to introduce concessions for servicemen to
purchase military literature, journals, and newspapers. "At the present
time it is hard even to buy Krasnaya Zvezda because of the high retail
price," the captain observed. Incidentally, teachers have such
concessions for the purchase of essential additional reading matter. He
recalled also the calamitous situation in army libraries that have not
received new books and journals for a long time. "And we want very much
to read," Dunayev added.
The army clothing allowance too, in the captain's opinion, leaves
something to be desired. Officers are issued army uniform which they
have to wear in their units and in civilian life. There is not enough
money for civvies. As a result, their uniforms and greatcoats rapidly
wear out which has an adverse impact on the complexion of the army as a
whole. Moreover, you can see bums and drunkards in military uniform
these days. "After this, will people really hold military uniform in
esteem?" Dunayev observed.
Senior Lieutenant Aleksandr Timchenko spoke more about the situation
in the units. His battalion is stationed in Chechnya so he is well
versed from experience in what the daily routine of combat life is like.
According to Timchenko the absence of modern weapons systems is having an
effect on combat readiness. His unit, for instance, is having to make do
with equipment that was manufactured in 1968.
Moreover, the weakness of the training of sergeants is obvious. And
it is, after all, they who are closest of all to the enlisted men.
"Without improving the standard of their knowledge and skills, it is
impossible to strengthen discipline in the military collectives,"
Timchenko believes. An acute shortage of training literature is being
experience3d. At the moment there is just one manual providing a
technical description of the BMP-2 [Infantry Fighting Vehicle] and BMP-3
to go round an entire company. And training posters are used for 30
years at a stretch.
And surely the chief problem is the "poor standard of the new intake."
According to the senior lieutenant, of the 60 recruits who have arrived
for service in his unit, 17 are disposed to abuse narcotics, and 37 have
a negative attitude to military service in general.
Before leaving the conference, the president presented a Gold Star to
Hero of Russia Lieutenant Anatoliy Korobenkov of the Army Special Forces.
The military are not about to say for what specifically the officer has
been decorated. The edict of the head of state merely says :"For courage
and heroism displayed in discharging his military duty."
Before the start of this function the journalists had been told that
no decisions would be made at the conference. The results of the
discussions will be reflected later in various directives and documents
of the Defense Ministry. All the same Putin could not fail to say
something in response to the officers. "You have said things that are
correct. Accurate and true," the president observed.
And then the head of state spent some more time talking with 15
officers. Korobenkov, who had just received his Hero's Star, suggested
that officers be enlisted from permanent combat-readiness units for
selecting personnel for groups that would participate in combat
operations. Putin agreed with this.
The president was also told about how old the equipment of many units
had become. One of the officers compared their rucksacks with "those
with which our grandfathers used to take into the mountains on mountain
marches." Today the military sometimes have to acquire equipment and
communications systems at their own expense and then, in their free time,
refashion these in order to fulfill the tasks they have been set.
Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov replied by saying that in the current year
there will be increased finance for providing the troops with equipment.

*******

#6
Russia Election Commission calls on political parties for cooperation.
February 25, 2003
ITAR-TASS

Head of the Russian Central Election Commission Alexander Veshnyakov called
on Tuesday on political parties to cooperate in forming election commissions
at various levels. He reported that in compliance with new election
legislation, representatives of political parties should comprise at least 50
percent of election commissions at various levels.

Veshnyakov noted that it would be necessary to elect 75 election commissions
in subjects of the Russian Federation between April and August 2003, while
225 constituency commissions would be formed between August 15 and September
15. All of them should be formed with the participation of political parties.
Besides, 94,000 precinct election commissions should be formed a month before
the elections to the State Duma lower house, scheduled for December 14,
Veshnyakov continued. He specially emphasized that political parties should
nominate for election commissions people who can efficiently work.

The chairman of the Central Election Commission also claimed that the present
system of election of deputies to the State Duma needs streamlining. He said
this in Rostov-on-Don on February 21 at a meeting of the heads of election
commissions of subjects of the Russian Federation in Southern Russia.

According to the chairman, the proportional system which includes principles
of elections by one-seat constituencies and by party lists, has justified
itself on the whole. However, its main drawback is the closed nature of party
lists for voters.

Veshnyakov stated that this circumstance promotes party corruption, and seats
at the country's main legislative body are just purchased. "The most
interesting thing is that not a single party even tries to deny this," the
chairman added.

For his part, Deputy Justice Minister Yevgeny Sidorenko stressed on Tuesday
that no more than 50 parties can participate in the coming general elections.
"The main political forces have already formed up, and the number of
applications for registration at the Justice Ministry has sharply declined. "

According to Sidorenko, the above parties declared presence of 1,700 their
branches in regions. However, he underlined, only 30 of them officially
confirmed in the ministry the presence of branches in regions.

If everything is relatively clear with parties, inspection of non-government
association can be a headache for the Justice Ministry. Sidorenko reported
that 1,500 non-government associations have registered with the ministry now.
A considerable number of them could not pass re-registration at the ministry,
and there is a threat of their liquidation. He did not call the exact number
of such organizations, noting only that "there is quite a number of them".

Besides, the deputy minister went on to say, organizations, formed according
to professional or confessional affiliation, will not be able to participate
in the elections, as will not organizations where foreigners participate in
their activities.

As many as 38 non-government associations have not struck out the word
"party" from their names, which runs counter to the law. "In the near future,
we shall send notifications, and if requirements of the law are not met, the
ministry "will clear the political field" from such structures," Sidorenko
underlined.

In turn, member of the Central Election Committee Yelena Dubrovina called on
election blocs to fix clearly mutual rights and responsibilities, including
the financial one. If an election bloc does not collect two percent of the
vote, the mass media which offered space in newspapers or broadcasting time,
have the right to exact funds from one of participants - "anyone whom they
find", she stressed.

Speaking of the 1999 parliamentary elections, Veshnyakov noted that over 20
parties and blocs which did not gain two percent of the vote, have not paid
up for TV broadcasting up to this time. According to the chairman, the sum of
debts is very high. For instance an average debt of a party or a bloc totals
30 million roubles.

Veshnyakov emphasized that in principle, debtors may participate in the
coming State Duma elections on December 14. However, none of them, as well as
their successors and blocs which they can join, would not have the right to
free airing. "This will omen the end of them," Veshnyakov stated, noting that
participation in a serious political struggle is impossible without a
possibility of campaigning.

*******

#7
Moscow Times
February 26, 2003
United Russia and the Toilet Brush Syndrome
By Yulia Latynina

The pro-Kremlin United Russia party last week all but announced the start of
its 2003 parliamentary election campaign. At a press conference called for
this purpose, party leader Boris Gryzlov said United Russia planned "to put
in place a system for fielding complaints from each and every citizen." "We
will find the means to put pressure on those sorry administrators who choose
not to respond to the party's inquiries," Gryzlov added. Given that Gryzlov
also heads the Interior Ministry, an organization with long experience in
fielding complaints, his announcement seemed to carry a lot of weight. But
it's just possible that even a campaign strategy as ingenious as encouraging
a flood of denunciations won't do much to boost United Russia's poll numbers.

President Vladimir Putin has the same problem with United Russia that the
Roman emperors had with the army. If you put an incompetent general in charge
of the army, he will lose the battle. If you put a competent general in
charge, he will win the battle, but what's to stop him casting his eye on the
throne afterwards? What do you do with the general? At best, you quietly
sideline him, as happened with Sergei Shoigu. At worst things get ugly, as
they did with Boris Berezovsky, who, as they say, came up with the idea of
the party in the first place. If I were Dmitry Rogozin, currently on loan
from the People's Deputy faction, I would think twice about becoming the new
face of United Russia. After the elections that face might well take it on
the chin.

Apart from that, United Russia is very well designed as an obedient
instrument for delivering votes in the State Duma. This is said to be the
handiwork of Vladislav Surkov, deputy chief of the presidential
administration. It was he who seized the banner dropped by Berezovsky,
securing an absolute parliamentary majority for the Kremlin by merging the
Unity and Fatherland parties on a common platform of doing the Kremlin's
bidding. But the laws of political biology dictate that obedient parties
don't fare well at the polls. Toilet brushes just won't fly.

The president could salvage this situation if he would lend the "United
Russians" a little charisma. But that's not likely to happen. Lending
anything to those people is a dangerous proposition. They'll just drag it
through the mud, break it and then return it insisting it was broken and
filthy when they got it. Just as important, their envious rivals won't allow
it.

The thing is, it's not quite correct to call United Russia the party of the
Kremlin. Experts say that the party is run by a specific clan: Surkov and
Alexander Voloshin. And the Kremlin has many other clans. The top priority of
all these clans is not to ensure an election victory for Putin, but to trip
up the competition. A lot of Kremlin insiders would be pleased as punch if
United Russia falls on its face. "Surkov and Voloshin couldn't deliver the
goods," they'll say. "But we'll make everything right before the presidential
election."

This doesn't mean that United Russia will fail. There are plenty of wonderful
places in our country like Tatarstan and Kalmykia that can be counted on to
deliver 108 percent of the vote for the party of power if necessary. But you
get the feeling that these are the very same places that will generate the
most complaints. What would Gryzlov do, for instance, if he received a
complaint about a regional interior minister offering protection to the
narcotics trade. On the one hand, Interior Minister Gryzlov is bound by his
promise to find some way to lean on the "sorry administrator" in question. On
the other hand, as head of United Russia Gryzlov depends on these same
administrators to deliver the vote.

One last thought. At the same press conference, Gryzlov announced that things
are looking up in Chechnya. "We are seeing an increasing number of political
intrigues in the Chechen republic. People are beginning to forget about blood
feuds, and a normal political situation is taking shape," Interfax reported
Gryzlov as saying. For the head of the main pro-government party, Gryzlov has
an interesting notion of "the normal political situation."

Yulia Latynina is host of "Yest Mneniye" on TVS.

********

#8
St. Petersburg Times
February 25, 2003
Record Oil Deal Shows West Now Dancing to Russia's Tune
By Igor Leshukov
Igor Leshukov is the director of the Institute of International Affairs, St.
Petersburg, a private think tank. He contributed this comment to the St.
Petersburg Times.

AN ambitious deal in the Russian oil sector made the breaking news this
month. British Petroleum, one of the world's energy majors, and a Russian
oligarchic grouping - Alpha Group in cooperation with Access/Renova -
announced their intention to merge their oil assets. The projected company,
tentatively called NewCo, will be the third-largest oil company in Russia,
after Lukoil and Yukos. The deal commits BP to invest $6.75 billion - half in
cash and half in BP shares. This represents a record deal in relation to
foreign investment, representing one quarter of total foreign direct
investment in Russia since 1992.

Most observers are optimistic, noting that the deal reflects a growing
confidence in Russian market. The reputation and courage expressed by BP will
inspire other investors to come in and help realize the Russian goverment's
old dream of fostering economic growth through foreign investment. British
Petroleum, however, agreed to pay a remarkably high price, more than these
assets would likely have brought on the Russian market. The company decided
to buy the assets when world oil prices are high and not low. This seems to
make little business sense, and some analysts suspect that the deal is
politically motivated, representing an indirect payment for Russian
cooperation in relation to the expected war in Iraq. These observations all
seem reasonable, but the most important lesson is different.

British Petroleum has already had one unhappy experience doing business in
Russia. In 1997, it invested in Sidanko but, in 1998, the latter was stripped
of its most valuable assets, and BP lost about $200 million. BP struck back,
using political connections in the United States to block credit to the
Russian company that ended up with the assets in question. Ironically, this
was Tyumen Oil Company (TNK) and its owner, Alfa Group - which has become
BP's strategic partner in the new deal. Apparently, BP understood that there
was nothing personal in what happened. The lesson that BP learned was simple:
If you want to do business in Russia, you need to play by the Russian rules
of the game. BP's investment and the creation of a joint venture means an
impressive surrender by a major international company, and a signal of its
readiness to play by Russian rules.

For the EU, this is a sign that the real situation may be unfolding in a
diretction diametrically opposite to the one it had scripted.

The European Commission welcomes an increase in Russian oil and gas supplies
to Europe. Officially, Brussels argues that increased EU-Russia trade in
energy will make Russia compatible with European norms. The relationship
developed in the oil and gas industry will be a positive example to spill
over to other sectors. The BP experience reveals a reality contrary to these
naive expectations. The European business has been forced to comply with
Russian rules.

The Baltic Pipeline System is another example of the same trend. While
offering funding, the EBRD tried to impose some conditions in defense of
European interests, but they were rejected by the Russian side as
unacceptable. The Kremlin then forced private Russian private companies to
pay for the pipeline construction. Today, Moscow is exerting effective exerts
pressure on Latvia to seize control over port facilities in Ventspils. The
European Commission promised Riga that it would work on its side in
negotiations with its Russian partners, but this assistance is unlikely to be
any more effective than that offered by the hand of the EU hand in support of
editorial freedom at NTV a couple of years ago.

The BP deal undermines a key assumption beyond the Western-sponsored policies
of Russia reforms. Since the democratization agenda has been dropped,
increased business interaction remains the only available instrument to
affect the reforms in Russia in a way that would help make the country
eventually compatible with the Western system. Interim results support an
opposite thesis - either do business the Russian way or get out.

The stake on cooperation in energy is doubly misleading. It is not
facilitating the democratic process as small and medium-sized businesses and
the related middle class could do. Furthermore, it preserves the unhealthy
asymmetries in Russian economics in favor of natural-resource exploitation
and export dependence. In the view of liberal economists, this is one of the
main obstacles impeding the Russian reform process. The rationale behind the
BP deal might be easily understood, but it is in clear contradiction with the
EU's declared strategy to see Russia become a liberal democracy and
functioning market.

*******

#9
pravda.ru
February 25, 2003
Russian Authorities Determined to Control Oil Oligarchs
Vladimir Putin was not really kind to oligarchs during the latest meeting
with them

It seems that Russian power industry representatives have had a very
serious perception of an offer from Clearing House chairman, Sergey
Stepashin. The chairman of the Russian Clearing House suggested a change of
the taxation system in the oil industry. Russian oil businessmen have not
shown any reaction to that yet. No wonder, a hurry is not good at all in
this issue. However, there are no doubts that Sergey Stepashin will have to
stand a mass of the so-called ordered criticism on the part of most
respectable Russian media outlets. Dmitry Kozak, the deputy head of the
presidential administration, has already had such experience, after he
suggested the nationalization of Russian oil and gas industry. As a matter
of fact, there is nothing surprising about this: Russian respectable media
outlets are maintained by Russian power industry oligarchs. To all
appearances, Sergey Stepashin was entrusted with announcing the new state
policy towards the Russian business elite.

Indeed, the recent meeting between President Vladimir Putin and members of
the presidential business council was not reported by the media much,
although all those members represented Russian power industries. There was
a reason not to report about that event, though. The president was not
affectionate with the business elite. He was polite, but he was not
affectionate. As soon as Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the head of the oil giant
Yukos, complained of the state oil company Rosneft (the latter got the
possession of the company Severnaya Neft (Northern Oil) from under Yukoss
nose), Vladimir Putin showed the oligarch his place. The president stated
that Rosneft was a state company, which needed to extend its reserves.
After that it became obvious that everyone is equal, although someone is
more equal, so to speak. In addition to that, Putins past statement about
equidistant oligarchs obtained an absolutely different sense. President
Putin did not fail to remind that the company Yukos had serious problems
with taxes. One may say that the discussion between the power and the
national bourgeoisie was over very quickly. It did not even begin.

Everything was sorted out after that meeting. Oil oligarchs problems
became clear: they can neither get oil and gas deposits in their
possession, nor build their own pipelines due to the government impediment
factor. The offensive that was launched by state power industry monopolies
(Gazprom, Rosneft, Transfent) becomes understandable as well.

It goes without saying that Sergey Stepashin is categorized as a politician
of a high level in Russia. He does not need any access to be aware of the
real situation in the country. Furthermore, he perfectly fits for saying
decisively important words, which are not comfortable to be uttered by the
Russian government yet. Every word that Sergey Stepashin said was not said
in vain. Stepashin said in an interview to a television channel (which was
not a pro-presidential channel at all) two weeks ago that oligarchs should
share, or they would be shared otherwise.

A weekend is a good time for releasing a statement, for there will be time
to think it over. The past weekend in Russia lasted for three days instead
of two (Military Mans Day celebrations). This was probably the reason, why
Sergey Stepashin decided to release an important statement. On Saturday,
during his meeting with the deputies of the Kabardino-Balkaria republics
parliament, he told them that Russian major oil companies underpaid
billions of rubles of taxes to the budget of the country every year. As he
said, one should think of introducing rent aspects in order to change the
situation in the Russian power industry. Stepashin added that there would
be no need of millions of fiscal bodies in that case, he said that there
would be no need to look for the disadvantages of the law either. Taxation
is taken out of control with the help of various offshore zones and fake
firms, Stepashin claimed. According to his calculations, it would be
possible for the budget to obtain additional five or six billion dollars
every year.

The head of the Russian Clearing House substantiated his position, taking
account of an opportunity that Russian and foreign liberal media might
accuse the Russian government of the Stalinism retrieval. Such allegations
have already appeared before, against the Russian president. In the words
from Sergey Stepashin, such developed and democratic countries as Norway,
Sweden, Finland, and Argentina have a system of rent payment. The fuel and
energy complex for those countries is a priority both in home economic and
in foreign economic activities. However, none of those countries can be
accused of being authoritarian. Needless to mention that Russia wants to
get in the line with them and to pull up the national bourgeoisie, which
has been governing Russian natural resources in a rather aggressive way.
Russian oligarchs keep on taking money out of the country, thinking that
they can nominate an alternative candidacy to Vladimir Putin at the
up-coming presidential election.

It deems, though, that the whole matter is not like that. It is not about
getting rid of oligarchs, of course. This issue is about establishing the
state control over them. What else can happen on the threshold of the
presidential election? Historians know it very well that ten years after
any revolutionary transformation, a society overcomes the consequences of
that revolution and returns to the old model with new aspects of a new
order. The rest is cast aside. It seems that the retrieval expectations
have grown too long in Russia.

Dmitry Slobodanuk
PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

*******

#10
U.S. envoy fails to win Russian backing on Iraq
February 25, 2003

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Undersecretary of State John Bolton said Tuesday he had
been unable to convince Russian officials after two days of talks to line up
behind a U.S.-backed resolution authorizing force against Iraq.

"I didn't detect any shift in their position," he told a news conference.

"But the nature of diplomacy is frequently that you have to give your message
and receive a message back, and there is further consideration ... Today is
not the first and I am sure it is not the last of the diplomatic discussions."

Russia has backed a French and German counter-proposal calling for U.N.
inspectors to be given at least four extra months to look for weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq.

Moscow has said the inspections, resumed following the unanimous adoption of
a Security Council resolution in November, have produced tangible results. It
has pledged to deploy whatever diplomatic means it can to avoid war.

Bolton said Washington was determined to secure as much support as possible
from the resolution declaring that Iraq had squandered its "final
opportunity" to disarm.

He denied any suggestion that Washington had already decided to launch
military force against Iraq, saying President Bush still hoped to be able to
avoid a war.

"The president has made it very clear that he has made no decision on use of
military force. Our effort remains to find a peaceful solution to the problem
of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction," he said.

"Whatever chance there is, slim though it may be, for a peaceful solution
requires Security Council unanimity or as close to it as we can get. That's
why we're engaged in an extensive diplomatic effort on behalf of this second
resolution."

The United States, he said, had not "written off any votes in the Security
Council and we are working on them all."

The Washington Post earlier reported that Bolton had told the Russian
leadership that the Bush administration had already decided to proceed with a
military campaign whether or not it was endorsed by the Security Council.

Bolton criticized the Franco-German memorandum, saying it would fail to
persuade Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to give up what Washington says are
dangerous weapons.

"Iraq's obstinate refusal to comply actively and fully ... means that
continuing the present scheme, even in some enhanced fashion, is not going to
lead to the result the Security Council has demanded ..." he said.

*******

#11
BBC Monitoring
Russian scholar says ex-premier's visit to Baghdad is sign of war
Source: Ekho Moskvy news agency, Moscow, in Russian 1205 gmt 24 Feb 03

Former Russian prime minister Yevgeniy Primakov's
trip to Baghdad on 22-23 February is "a bad sign". "It indicates that the war
is inevitable," Doctor of History Georgiy Mirskiy, a senior researcher with
the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian
Academy of Sciences, told Ekho Moskvy. He drew parallels with a similar visit
that Primakov made 12 years ago on the eve of the first Gulf war . Mirskiy
believes that a military campaign is imminent and inevitable.

He also believes that Iraq will preserve its integrity after Saddam Husayn's
regime is overthrown. "Nobody is interested in its disintegration, and the
Arab world less than others," he said.

Mirskiy said that the USA and its allies should not hope for support by Iraqi
Shiites. "On the one hand, the Shiites might be willing to join the coalition
in order to carve out a place for themselves in post-war Iraq. On the other
hand, the Shiites have stronger anti-American sentiments than anybody else.
They also stand for a united Iraq," he said.

There is a danger that radical Islamists could replace Saddam and turn Iraq
into a theocracy. "The collapse of a dictatorship is often followed by a
power vacuum and chaos. Everything that has been suppressed for a long time,
gets loose. People begin to settle old scores, crime increases and a rampant
mafia comes on the scene. Bloodshed in Iraq is quite possible as the Kurds
will start to fight the Arabs and Sunni Muslims will stand up against the
Shiites. The only way to avoid anarchy is to establish a regime strongly
backed by the occupying power, Mirskiy said. The post-Saddam authorities
should preserve the national army, he said.

Speaking about the Russian position, Mirskiy said that using the right of
veto in the UN Security Council against the new resolution on Iraq would be
against Russia's interests. The USA will launch the campaign anyway, he said.
Russia would be better to try to retain its positions in Iraq. Mirskiy
recalled that Russian oil companies had invested big money in Iraq, and a
number of projects were pending.

Mirskiy believes that Iraq won't return its old debts to Russia with Husayn
or without him. "We should have forgotten about it long ago," he said.

*******

#12
BBC Monitoring
Russian TV commentator makes case for war on Saddam's Iraq
Source: Centre TV, Moscow, in Russian 1825 gmt 24 Feb 03

A leading political observer has said on a national Russian television
channel that the USA and its allies are right to threaten Iraq's Saddam
Husayn with use of force because that is the only language that could make
him comply with United Nations disarmament resolutions. The following is an
excerpt from the comment by Leonid Mlechin on the Russian Centre TV "Special
File" show on 24 February; Subheadings inserted editorially:

[Special File presenter Leonid Mlechin] It would be interesting to know what
is being experienced by the person who is causing the great powers to quarrel
and row. Schadenfreude, arrogance or maybe, after all, fear? Most politicians
owe something to someone... But not Saddam Husayn. He has achieved everything
by himself, by his own hand, in bloody battle. He probably can hardly
remember a year or even a month when he was worried [about losing power]. His
whole life is one long war...

Saddam's record of ruthlessness

After Operation Desert Storm, his army virtually ceased to exist. His
residences were endlessly bombed. There was a perpetual hunt for him. US
aircraft in total carried out 40,000 sorties; several times they went up in
the air in the hope of destroying Saddam himself. He did not use either the
telephone or the radio so as not to give away his position. Nobody knew where
he would spend the next night: his bodyguards prepared six homes for him
every evening and he chose which one only he would use at the last moment.
Sometimes he chose to sleep in a well-guarded bus on the verge of a desert
road. The world believed that, if he was not destroyed physically, his own
generals would overthrow him. Saddam Husayn had no friends or allies left.
But he survived and once again he has launched a challenge to the whole world.

Saddam Husayn is just about the Arab world's most revered and popular leader.
The Arab states have more educated and clever leaders, but none of them
commands the respect of Saddam...

Soviet leaders [in the Seventies] took a fresh look at Iraq. The name of the
Ba'ath party was translated into Russian and it sounded okay: Arab Socialist
Renewal party. It sounded quite progressive and from then on Iraq started
getting Soviet loans and Soviet arms. In 1979 Saddam overturned the president
and became president himself. The palace coup was bloodless but Saddam then
ordered the arrest of a couple of dozen ministers and had them publicly put
to death. They were people from a clan other than his own. And Saddam - if he
trusts anyone - only trusts people from his own clan...

So how has Saddam managed to rule Iraq for so many years and why have none of
the prophesies of his imminent demise come true? Because Iraqis have given
Saddam their support. He has managed to restore their national pride. And
when Saddam attacked Iran and then Kuwait, many Iraqis applauded him. Saddam
managed to convince Iraqis that they are the best Arabs in the whole Arab
East. Iraq considers itself the leading state in the Arab world. This led to
fierce competition with Egypt which claims the same role. But neighbouring
Syria was most hostile to Iraq although it is the Ba'ath party that rules in
both countries...

Past Saddam threats to use mass destruction weapons

Saddam has fallen out with all his neighbours. When the Iranian Islamic
Revolution took place, Saddam decided that that neighbour was weakened and in
1980 he attacked. He hoped to annex Khuzestan, where 90 per cent of Iran's
oil deposits are located... Initially, Saddam experienced some success but
the Iranians mobilized and went on the counteroffensive. Iraq avoided defeat
in the end only due to its immense stocks of Soviet arms. In 1988 Saddam
warned Ayatollah Khomeyni that he would fire warheads at Tehran with poison
gas, and before that he would bombard the city so that the windows were
knocked out of the houses and so that the gas would then poison as many
people as possible...

The war against Iran which Saddam had started lasted eight years and brought
no result apart from the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Saddam
spent billions of dollars on Soviet weapons but he wanted to own the sorts of
weapons against which there is no defence. The Iraqi nuclear programme began
at the end of the Seventies. There was a secret deal with France about
building a nuclear reactor, acquiring nuclear materials and getting the help
of French nuclear experts. The talk was of the peaceful use of atomic energy
but the Iraqis then proceeded to turn a civilian nuclear programme into a
military one...

Efforts to create nuclear weapons continued in Iraq [after the Israelis
bombed the Iraqi reactor]. In 1991 UN inspectors discovered that Iraq was
further down the road than had been thought. Moreover, chemical weapons were
being stockpiled in Iraq on a massive scale. The UN inspectors uncovered
colossal stockpiles of poisonous substances: theoretically, there was enough
to kill every person living on Earth. Saddam did not manage to kill everybody
in the world but in 1988 he used chemical weapons against a Kurdish village,
killing all 5,000 inhabitants. He did not manage to defeat Iran, and he did
not decide to attack Syria because he knew that the Soviet Union would back
the Syrians.

Without Desert Storm "Kuwait would still be occupied today"

So then he targeted Kuwait, a small and defenceless country that was rich in
oil. Saddam thought that nobody would take Kuwait's side. He had been
preparing to annex Kuwait for a long time... Incidentally, in olden times the
Soviet Union - as a sign of solidarity with Iraq - also did not recognize
Kuwait and did not allow it to join the United Nations...

When Saddam's armies invaded Kuwait on 2 August 1990, everybody said that
there should be talks with him and that diplomatic methods should be used.
Only US President George Bush Snr said that force would need to be used:
otherwise, Kuwait could not be liberated. On the night of 16-17 January 1991,
international forces made their first crushing blow from the air. On 24
February, the ground operation commenced. The Iraqi army was effectively
wiped out in two days. Saving himself from inevitable disaster, the
humiliated Saddam capitulated. On the night of 27 February 1991, Soviet
ambassador Viktor Posuvalyuk was invited to the Iraqi Foreign Ministry and
was asked to convey urgently to the Americans that Iraq had already commenced
its troop withdrawal from Kuwait and that Iraq accepted all the UN
resolutions.

If US President George Bush Snr back then had listened to those calling for
appeasement and for a diplomatic solution, Kuwait would still be occupied
today.

"Saddam only understands the language of force"

Saddam Husayn only understands the language of force, and he views calls for
talks as a sign of weakness. Incidentally, Saddam was counting back then on
there being no war, and on Moscow defending him. And he reckons on that
today, too. But one must realize that relations between Iraq and the Soviet
Union were never friendly. To put it simply, it was a marriage of
convenience. The two sides were brought together by a common enemy, the
United States of America or the West.

There was an arrogance about Saddam: when he came to Moscow, he looked with a
certain contempt on the Kremlin elders as if to say: if he had had nuclear
weapons, he would long since have used them. The Soviet leaders rightly
feared the unpredictability of Saddam. When he attacked Iran, Moscow
experienced a sense of relief: two dangerous countries were at loggerheads
and the longer they grappled with each other the better. It's quite a
different matter that there is a fairly influential group in Moscow, which
invariably backs Iraq. It consists of those who are linked to Iraq, worked
there or who have friends there. And those who made money from Iraq in the
past few years when people there received Russian delegations most generously
and made gifts to their guests. And those who simply hate the USA and believe
that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

If allowed, Saddam would resume mass destruction weapons programmes

In reality, the interests of Russia in no way are connected with the regime
of Saddam Husayn. He still owes our country some 10 bn US dollars, and he
chose not to return that money when his pockets were full - long before the
introduction of economic sanctions. He will never return that debt. The
restoration of normal political and economic relations with Iraq evidently is
possible only when other people take over from Saddam in Baghdad.

Saddam fears war like death. He understands that Baghdad will be bombed, that
his favourite palaces and his army will be destroyed, and that -just like
during operation Desert Storm - he will have to hide. But he just cannot
stop. Saddam, like many Arab leaders, is irreconcilable and unrealistic:
emotions influence him much more than reason.

Saddam hopes that the Americans at some point will become fed up with it all.
Then he could resume his programmes for creating weapons of mass destruction
and take revenge for all his past setbacks and defeats.

*******

#13
Foreign Affairs
March-April 2003
America Discovers Central Asia.
By Charles William Maynes
Charles William Maynes is President of the Eurasia Foundation and was
Editor of Foreign Policy from 1980 to 1997.
COPYRIGHT 2003 Council on Foreign Relations, Inc.

LONG TIME, NO SEE

Prior to September 11, 2001, the Central Asian states of the former
Soviet Union -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and
Uzbekistan -- might as well have been on the other side of the moon as
far as U.S. policy was concerned. They were and are everything the
United States is not: landlocked, poor, peripheral, fearful,
defenseless, Muslim, and
undemocratic. Today, however, they are high on the U.S. foreign policy
agenda, and America once again finds itself engaged militarily in an
area about which its key officials know little. Almost none speak the
critical languages of Central Asia; all too few have relevant experience
there.

Curiously, as different and remote as the United States and the Central
Asian countries are from one another, their fates have intersected at
least twice before. During the U.S. Civil War, the North's tight trade
blockade on the South had an unexpected
consequence for Russian textile manufacturers: they suddenly found that
they could no longer buy American cotton for their rapidly expanding
plants. On learning of their plight, expansion-minded Russian officials
developed a new rationale for pushing the borders of their empire south:
conquering Central Asia, where cotton could grow, would assist the
industrialization
of modern Russia.

The fate of Central Asia next intersected with the United States a
century later, when, during the Cold War, American policymakers realized
that Moscow was locating its nuclear testing and missile- launch sites
in the region, as far away from prying American eyes as possible. This
prompted renewed U.S. interest in the region. The United States sought
military
facilities in Iran and Pakistan to monitor Soviet activities in Central
Asia. Many pressing for U.S. support of radical Islamic forces during
the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan hoped the religious fervor would
spread into Soviet Central Asia, as indeed it
did. After the fall of the Soviet Union, America's main objective in the
region seemed to be to help the Central Asian states gain sufficient
confidence and stability to prevent any resurgence of Russian influence.

But then came September 11, which abruptly brought the United States and
Central Asia together much more closely and permanently. One of the
world's richest countries, a state so powerful that its military and
economic reach seems limitless, suddenly began to voice greater concern
over developments in one of the world's most remote and powerless
regions. Of course Washington's heightened interest is understandable.
If Central Asian countries take the wrong path, it is feared, they may
willingly or unwittingly provide sanctuary to the kinds of terrorists
that struck the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.

Indeed, given America's new fears and interests, U.S. involvement in
Central Asia is likely to last longer than official statements suggest.
Although the Bush administration promises a timely end to the military
presence there, many believe the United States will remain engaged
through an enhanced political and military presence for years to come;
after all, staying until the "job is done," as the administration has
promised, means rooting out the conditions that breed terrorism in the
first place. And that
formidable goal suggests a quasi-permanent U.S. interest in Central Asia.

In becoming the de facto protector and guarantor of the region, the
United States has an opportunity to play a constructive role that will
further its own interests as well as those of the Central Asian states
themselves. To succeed, however, Washington will need a crash course in
the realities of this complex and troubled region.

THE LAY OF THE LAND

Central Asia is spread over an area roughly a quarter the size of
Russia. The largest country, Kazakhstan, is four times as large as
Texas; Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are each about the size of
California; and the last two, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, are the size of
Wisconsin and South Dakota, respectively. Geographically large, the
region is also becoming more important demographically. In most of
Central Asia, the birthrate is more than 20 per thousand, whereas in
Russia it is a mere 9. Central Asia, at roughly 50 million, is thus
stabilized or growing in demographic weight as Russia's population of
about 150 million
continues to decline.

Economically, the postcommunist era of free markets and globalization
has not been kind to the region. According to World Bank studies,
Central Asia is now much worse off than it was under communism. All of
its five countries have suffered shocking declines in health and
education standards, and all -- except oil-rich Kazakhstan -- have
suffered a disastrous decline in gross domestic product. In Tajikistan,
the GDP today is only 38 percent of what it was in 1990. Kyrgyzstan,
another orphaned republic, now finds its GDP a third lower than in 1990.

Where economic reform has been attempted, moreover, it has caused a high
degree of disruption without much tangible payoff, whereas Turkmenistan
and Uzbekistan have staved off much of the economic disruption suffered
by their neighbors by steadfastly refusing to reform. Uzbekistan, for
example, has managed through intransigence to hold its GDP at 96 percent
of the 1990 level. The likely long-run cost of this decision to protect
the Soviet legacy could be ruinous, however. Little has changed in
Turkmenistan or Uzbekistan since 1990, and although the result may be
less economic disruption in the present, it will also almost certainly
mean less growth in the future. Machinery from the Soviet period is
steadily wearing out. And old markets lost with the disappearance of the
Soviet Union are not being replaced.

Given this unpromising outlook, some see the new American presence as an
unexpected ray of hope. The U.S. military has now stationed 3,000 U.S.
personnel in Kyrgyzstan and 1,000 in Uzbekistan to operate out of local
air bases. The United States provided roughly $580 million in aid to the
region in fiscal year 2002, more than doubling its aid level from the
preceding
year's $250 million. In addition, Washington has dramatically stepped up
its diplomatic involvement by assigning top diplomatic personnel there
and sponsoring high- level visits by members of the Cabinet and
Congress. It is argued that with this new
U.S. commitment, local governments will gain a greater degree of
confidence and security and will have the courage to accept the
political risks that reform entails. This theory is about to be tested.

But what makes change -- or at least a restoration of hope for future
change -- so crucial is the severity of poverty in the region. More than
two-thirds of the Tajik people now live on less than $2 a day. In
Kyrgyzstan, nearly half suffer at that level. A full third of
Uzbekistan's population lives below the official poverty line. Some
might point out that Russia's figures are no better, with a third of its
own people in poverty. But at least President Vladimir Putin has been
able to restore hope in the future of his country, thanks to the
economic reforms he has undertaken. Central Asia, on the other hand, has
much less cause for optimism.

FROM BAD TO WORSE

Against this bleak backdrop, the governments of Central Asia face five
fundamental challenges: identity, development, water, borders, and
security. All are problems that the United States will also be forced to
confront as the now preeminent military power in the region.

Central Asia today is in the process of etching out a new identity, the
contours of which are still uncertain. Its peoples accepted Soviet
domination only after a bitter resistance that lasted decades. Indeed,
some of the same religious forces that so frighten
local authorities and the West today trace their roots to the earlier
resistance against Soviet power. Furthermore, the wider local
population, now freed from compulsory atheistic secularism, is returning
to its religious roots. Mosques are springing up. Although often funded
by outside benefactors, they fill with local worshippers. Meanwhile, the
countries' rulers, mainly holdovers from Soviet times, are terrified
about such developments, which they poorly understand. Their response
has been repression, which then drives resurgent political Islam
underground, making its true strength harder to gauge.

Western leaders, similarly frightened by the prospect of resurgent
radical Islam, originally hoped that the secular Turkish model would
replace the Soviet one in Central Asia. Indeed, Ankara was encouraged to
make a bid for preeminence in the region. The Western gambit failed
miserably, however. Turkey did not have the resources to play such an
outsized role, and countries in the region would not accept it. Indeed,
far from being a model, Turkey seemed, like the Central Asian states, in
need of massive financial support from others.

The core issue in Central Asia today is how the political order can
accommodate the rise of Islam. At this point, neither the authorities
nor outside powers have an answer or know what this new order will look
like. They have already had one chance and failed to explore its
possibilities: Tajikistan is the only Islamic country in the world that,
after a brutal civil war, established a coalition government with
Islamists in December 1997. Unfortunately, the world largely ignored
this experiment, the success of which could have had profound
implications for the way that the Western world reacts to resurgent
political Islam elsewhere. The United States relocated its ambassador to
a neighboring country for security reasons, and there was no sustained
effort by Western countries to work with the coalition government.
Still, nongovernmental groups working in Central Asia report that today
Tajikistan is one of the more open countries in the region. The Tajik
example could well inform political developments in the region and
elsewhere -- and should help define Western perceptions of Islam.

Further confounding Central Asia's political future is its currently
stalled economic development. For ten years the West has preached the
virtues of the free market to the Central Asians. Western experts have
told local leaders that if they undertake the necessary reforms, Western
investment will follow. Of course, if more far-reaching reforms had been
adopted, the outlook would be better, at least in the longer run. But
there is still little prospect of major Western investment in several of
the countries. The region is too remote, the market too fragmented, and
the future too uncertain. With the exceptions of oil-rich Kazakhstan and
gas-rich Turkmenistan, Western investors have shown little interest in
Central Asia. There are few resources in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and
Uzbekistan is one of only two countries in the world that is doubly
landlocked. (The other is Liechtenstein.)

Any hope that the blessings of the free market will replace any time
soon the subsidies that Moscow once poured into the area is probably ill
founded, at least for the smaller countries such as Kyrgyzstan or
Tajikistan. (Indeed, Kyrgyzstan, which worked so hard to be the first
country in the region to join the World Trade Organization, has seen
little return from this bold step.) Although Uzbekistan has the largest
population among the five states, outside investment is unlikely to
increase there either, even with reform, unless the country manages to
break out of its unusual geographic isolation.

Meanwhile, the region's closed borders and inaccessibility also throttle
development. More liberal economic policies will not compensate
adequately for the limited commercial opportunities that exist under
current conditions. Young people in the region face increasingly bleak
futures. As a result, they tend to emigrate, either physically or
spiritually, and crime and drugs are becoming the preferred sources of
livelihood.

WATER SHOWS THE WAY

There is no magic way out of Central Asia's morass, but two
possibilities offer some hope. One is for some outside power or
international institution to attempt to restore the subsidies that
Moscow once channeled to the region. This prospect seems highly
unlikely, however. The other, more practical, approach would be to find
ways to induce states in the region to open
their borders to mutually beneficial development and commerce.

Such regional cooperation is essential, for example, to dealing with the
region's very serious water shortage. As poor as Soviet water practices
may have been -- and they are widely condemned for the damage that they
did to water levels in the Aral Sea -- the collapse of the Soviet Union
made water management in the region even worse. Suddenly, a single
system became five.

Soviet planners looked on Central Asia as a single unit and, in a
rational manner, accorded low priority to agriculture in Tajikistan and
Kyrgyzstan, where land is poor but water is plentiful. Instead, they
encouraged agricultural development further downstream, where the
reverse is true -- the land is good but the water scarce.

Today, the two upstream states, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, find
themselves the guardians of water reservoirs crucial to their downstream
neighbors. Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are therefore asked to maintain a
system that benefits others more than themselves, and no one should be
surprised that they are reluctant to do so. On their end, the downstream
states that have always received water at no cost fail to understand why
they should now consider schemes to pay for it.

As the water system that the region inherited falls into disrepair,
leakage and evaporation have increased; in response, states now use more
water to compensate for unexpected losses. A drought in recent years has
compounded the problem. Today, the region consumes 150 percent more
water than it should, according to a recent report by the International
Crisis Group.

As burgeoning populations push states to bring more and more land under
cultivation, their water needs will only grow. Between 1995 and 2000,
the states in the region brought seven percent more land under
cultivation using irrigation. And soon there will be another claimant
for the region's limited water. Afghanistan has never drawn much water
from the common river system that divides that country from the rest of
Central Asia. But with peace, the Afghans will surely press for a larger
share.

Making understanding and compromise more difficult is the steady
deterioration of the Soviet monitoring systems. Countries have begun to
question the exact amount of water that their neighbors are using. And
with good reason: Turkmenistan, for example, has sharply increased the
amount of water that it drains from the Amu Dar'ya, with the result that
some provinces of Uzbekistan have not received water in several years.
Indeed, the situation between Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan resembles in
some respects the relationship between Iraq and Kuwait: a powerful
neighbor to the north contending that its weaker neighbor to the south
is unfairly depriving it of an essential natural resource. Under the
encouragement of the United Nations Development Program, the U.S. Agency
for International Development, and other aid agencies, the countries of
the region have opened talks about the water issue. But progress has
been slow due to regional mistrust and the uncertain security situation.

Further contributing to an atmosphere of insecurity are a number of
border disputes. Territorial arguments among nations have a tendency to
lead to war, and in Central Asia, border problems acquire a complexity
seldom seen anywhere else. Central Asia was once a borderless region
where the map lines drawn by cartographers were largely meaningless;
today those lines divide brother from brother. Pieces of one country
remain lodged in another.

Under Soviet nationality policy, a minority language group in one
republic could associate itself with the majority population of another.
Pockets of Tajiks and Uzbeks inside Kyrgyzstan, for example, were thus
considered part of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Their geographic
separation from the "motherland" made no difference in Soviet times
because borders then were only symbolic.

No longer. With independence, impoverished Kyrgyzstan found itself home
to seven ethnic enclaves linked to neighboring states: five to
Uzbekistan and two to Tajikistan. The largest of these, the Uzbek-
populated Sokh, measures 320 square kilometers and is home to more than
40,000 people. Other enclaves, however, are as small as half a town or a
handful of acres. Nonetheless, according to the rules of modern
sovereignty, they are formally part of other states, boasting those
states' flags, currencies, and legal systems. Indeed, some of these
communities follow the time zone of their home country rather than that
of the country in which they are located.

These small ethnic outposts have exacerbated the larger problem of
developing a common loyalty within the new state entities that emerged
out of the shattered Soviet Union. Take Uzbekistan, for example. A large
number of Tajiks live in some of the country's major cities. The central
government in Tashkent is eager to create a sense of loyalty toward the
new Uzbekistan among all the people of the country. But if Uzbekistan
also holds on to Uzbeks living next door in Kyrgyzstan, what message
does that send to the Tajiks and others who live in Uzbekistan proper?
Do they also have a right to maintain a special relationship with their
ethnic homeland?

As if unclear borders were not trouble enough, the new states must also
sort out the problem of economic zones located in one republic but owned
by another. Uzbekistan, for example, has energy leases in neighboring
countries that were signed during the Soviet period. The countries that
now hold the properties under lease feel that Tashkent should pay them a
higher rent for these leases. Tashkent, not surprisingly, feels
otherwise.

To the credit of the new authorities in Central Asia, they have not
allowed strains over border disputes to reach the point of open
conflict. True, Uzbekistan, which has the only significant military
force in the region, has occasionally brought military pressure to bear
against its neighbors, but no sustained engagement has taken place.
Nonetheless, the tinder is on the ground. At the beginning of January of
this year, violence erupted in one of the Tajik enclaves in Kyrgyzstan
when Tajiks destroyed a Kyrgyz border crossing and the Kyrgyz retaliated
against a Tajik post. The United States, as the region's guarantor, must
be wary of letting such sparks fly. If a border dispute were to increase
tensions in the future -- as such disputes have done in the past -- the
United States must restrain Uzbekistan, the strongest power in the
region, and not look the other way.

Security in the region is complicated by still another factor: the
unrest flowing out of Afghanistan. Policymakers in Washington might have
feared Moscow's return, but leaders in Central Asia were more concerned
with the arrival of the Taliban. Assuming the Western commitment to
solving the Afghan problem remains firm and begins to bear fruit -- as
yet an uncertain assumption -- the security of Central Asia could
dramatically improve. Such progress would remove some of the arguments
advanced against greater pluralism, more open borders, and easier trade
regimes. At that point, however, the region will face a new security
challenge, this time involving several major powers.

If, as seems likely, U.S. forces remain in the region for the
foreseeable future, it is almost inevitable that tensions among the
larger powers over this presence will begin to grow. A rift is already
evident in the deep resentment that Moscow's decision to bless the
American presence in Central Asia has generated within the Russian
military. But the more serious concern is going to come from China. From
Beijing's perspective, the entrenchment of an American military presence
in Central Asia could appear a form of encirclement. The United States
already has bases in Japan and South Korea and maintains an implicit
security relationship with Taiwan. A growing U.S. military presence in
Central Asia could look to Beijing like a new threat from the east. If
tensions over Taiwan were to grow, Chinese suspicions over the real
American objectives in Central Asia would mount.

It is therefore important that Washington work with Moscow and Beijing
to exclude this region from great-power politics. The three major powers
should strike a clear understanding about what kind of military presence
the United States will maintain in the region. Washington should make
the U.S. presence there more transparent as well as look for ways to
work with the Russian and Chinese militaries to address some of the
other local security threats.

TAMING THE TIGER

Central Asia, an area long on the farthest margins of U.S. interest, is
now at the center of Washington's concerns. The United States has
established a military presence in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan and has
sharply increased aid and diplomatic involvement. Yet it could still end
up riding a tiger. The governments of the region are all authoritarian
and increasingly estranged from their own populations. Washington thus
runs the risk that it will be perceived as favoring these governments
and an unsatisfactory status quo. As currents below the surface carry
these societies closer and closer to their earlier Islamic identities,
the United States may find itself in the position of appearing to oppose
the wishes of the majority of the populations.

There is no easy way out of this quagmire. The principal Islamist
movements in the region advocate policies that seem either otherworldly,
unacceptable, or troubling: otherworldly, when the Islamic Movement of
Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) call for the unification of
the entire Islamic world community under a restored Caliphate;
unacceptable, when the IMU seeks the violent overthrow of the current
government in Tashkent; and troubling, because the ht, although it
advocates the peaceful seizure of power, holds extremely conservative
views about the role of women in society, is virulently anti-Israel,
and has no real program to solve social or other governmental problems.

The United States thus faces enormous challenges and must boldly rethink
the way to engage this region. More precisely, the United States should
consider two strategies: promoting a larger vision of regionalism and
exploring possible ways to reconcile democracy and Islam. Here, a look
back at history provides some insight. Americans like to think that it
was their generosity under the Marshall Plan alone that enabled the
Europeans to stand on their feet after World War II. Yet 80 percent of
the capital invested in the decisive postwar years was European, not
American. Washington's real contribution was in insisting that it would
not provide aid unless Europeans agreed to work together.

The United States and other donors should follow a similar approach in
Central Asia. Just as Western Europeans had, in the end, largely to fund
themselves, so will Central Asians. But Western aid could again be
critical at the margin and, if coordinated, could push the states to
work with one another in a regional context. Up to this point, Western
aid has been parceled out among the various claimants, which denies the
donors regional leverage. And among the five states themselves, most of
the efforts at regional cooperation have been more talk than reality.

For a wider regional effort to succeed, the outside world will need to
stop viewing Central Asia through a colonialist lens. Because of the
struggle between tsarist Russia and imperial Britain, Central Asia was
cut off for nearly 150 years from its cultural neighbors to the south.
Today Central Asia should rightly be seen as a region that reaches
beyond the five states of the former Soviet Union to include neighboring
Afghanistan, Iran, and perhaps even Pakistan. There will be objections
to such a proposal. U.S. policymakers are reluctant to engage Iran
without further reform there. As long as that hesitation remains, a
wider regional approach could start with the five Central Asian states
and Afghanistan, with Iran joining only when ready. Turkey obviously has
a role to play in such an effort, since several of the states in the
region have strong linguistic ties to it, but Ankara these days is more
interested in joining the European Union than in being seen as part of
Central Asia. Pakistan, which offers another outlet to the sea, might
have the same kind of association as Turkey -- an interested friend and
economic partner.

If the United States begins to view the problems of the area from a
wider regional perspective and, starting with the five Central Asian
states and Afghanistan, encourages states to work together, they may all
be able to make more progress in resolving the
many pressing border and water issues they face. Furthermore, in the
broader regional context, the market is larger, the trade roots more
historically based, and the pool of outside money to gain leverage more
considerable.

With Genghis Khan and Tamerlane at the core of local mythology, Central
Asia appears to offer little fertile ground for democracy. The
trademarks of the region are intrigue and military mastery, not
compromise and concessions, and decades of Soviet rule further
entrenched such authoritarian traditions. Yet it would be wrong to
condemn the region to a nondemocratic dungeon, not least because the
majority of its people want to join the modern world. Moreover, the
region already boasts individuals who speak out for greater tolerance,
more freedom, and the rule of law, and they should be encouraged.

Unfortunately, the ground is not prepared for any local reformers to
reach positions of power in the foreseeable future. Work must be done to
reconcile Islam and democracy, and Western countries must make this goal
a priority if they hope to co-exist with the political forces likely to
dominate the region. Here again the West could take a page from its
past. In the postwar period, Western governments attempted to reconcile
democracy and communism by enabling communists to enter the system at
the local level while barring them, at least for a probationary period,
from participation in national government. The entry of communist
candidates into office at the local level introduced them to the
complexities of governing a modern political system. It also confirmed
in the minds of the voters that the communists had no magic answers to
the problems of governance.

In Central Asia, the problem is complex: because the IMU advocates
violence to achieve its ends, it is difficult to feel comfortable
endorsing its participation in the political system. In contrast, the
ht, despite some objectionable features of its platform, does propose to
reach power peacefully. The West should urge the region's leaders to
open local government to electoral challenge and to allow all parties
seeking peaceful change to take part. Perhaps it will turn out that more
radical Islamists enjoy little support. Even if they do garner electoral
support, however, Islamic forces may gradually develop a stake in the
system, so that when they do finally enter national government, it will
constitute an act of inclusion, not revolution.

In all these efforts, Washington must show patience. During the Cold
War, the United States developed long-run policies that took years to
bear fruit. Washington subsidized the study of the Russian and Chinese
languages, for example; it encouraged exchanges, supported the
development of scholarly centers for the study of communist societies,
and was prepared militarily but kept its powder dry. It was cautious in
the use of force and developed programs to reach out to local elites.

The time has come to adopt a similar approach toward Islam, particularly
in Central Asia. Needed are special programs to support American
students in the study of local languages. Western countries should reach
out not only to secular forces with which they are comfortable but also
to leaders who are likely to rise to positions of influence in the
religious parties. Meanwhile, U.S. assistance programs need to avoid the
deadening hand of the region's unreformed governments and reach directly
into local communities.

Such an approach might enable the United States to manage its engagement
in Central Asia more happily than it has managed its presence in many
other parts of the Muslim world. It may well permit the United States to
accomplish through cooperation and diplomacy what it will find difficult
to achieve by force. Finally, it might provide lessons for reconciling
the West and Islam more generally, one of the critical issues of the
age. Now is the time and Central Asia is the place for the United States
to develop a set of policies appropriate to the new challenges of the
post-September 11 world.