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1. RosBusinessConsulting: Resources for growth of Russian economy exhausted. (Gaidar)
2. Moscow News: Mother of God Stuck in the Snow. Chingiz Aitmatov, author, philosopher and diplomat, is interviewed by MN's Yuri Vasilyev.
3. AFP: Striking workers across Russia demand higher wages, payment arrears.
4. Moscow News: Teachers Coming Out in Protest. Teachers seek publicity because they are starving. Politicians are doing the same because election time is round the corner.
5. BBC Monitoring: Russian public sector workers carry a coffin protesting over  low salaries.
6. Rossiiskaya Gazeta: Anatoly SHAPOVALOV, U.S. WILL POSSIBLY MOVE ITS MILITARY BASES CLOSER TO RUSSIA.
7. AFP: UN resolution calling for war on Iraq unacceptable: Putin.
8. AP: Russian Lawmaker Says Veto Is Unlikely.
9. The Hindu (India): Atul Aneja, 'Russian plan for Saddam exit' 
10. debka.com: re Primakov visit to Iraq.
11. pravda.ru: Russias Decline Damages USs Interests Directly or Indirectly. That is why use of military force should be considered already today.
12. Paul Backer: About CryoMedica.
13. Washington conference: Beyond Transition to Modernization and Growth: The View from Russia's Best Think Tanks.
14. RFE/RL: Michael Lelyveld, Moscow Testing China's Patience On Oil Exports.
15. Interfax: Media freedom under threat, says Russian opposition party.
16. BBC Monitoring: Time has come to "cash in Latvia's foreign policy dividends" - paper.
17. ITAR-TASS: No more big groups of militants in Chechnya - military  commandant
18. Interfax: 1,660 people go missing during Chechen counter-terrorism operation.
19. Reuters: USTR Zoellick warns Russia to end meat trade hurdles.
20. Kennan Institute event summary: Harmonization of Russian and Ukrainian Textbooks: A New Beginning or a Return to a Lamentable Past? 

*******

#1
RosBusinessConsulting
February 26, 2003
Resources for growth of Russian economy exhausted 

Moscow. Resources for the "restorative" growth of the Russian economy have
been exhausted, one of the leaders of the SPS movement, Yegor Gaidar stated
in his report "The Modern Economic Growth and the Strategic Outlooks for
the Social and Economic Development of Russia". "I am surprised that the
government has pursued conservative economic policies amid high oil
prices," he noted. In Gaidar's opinion, the potential for continuing
structural reforms under conditions of the upcoming war on Iraq and the
following inevitable tumble in oil prices will shrink considerably.
The expert pointed out that Russia was 40 to 60 years behind
developed countries. There are several reasons for this. First, it is a
large share of women employed in manufacturing, which leads to a drop in
the birth rate. In its turn, a decline in the birth rate brings about a
decrease in the share of the working population. Another factor is a drop
in the life expectancy. Additionally, the growth of the GDP is hampered by
an increase in alcohol consumption per capita. An advance of the relation
between pensioners and working citizens hinders the GDP growth, too.
Taking all this into account, Gaidar proposed lines for stabilizing
the economic growth. One of them is transferring to a professional army. As
for increasing the efficiency of healthcare, SPS suggests an opportunity
for an employer and an employee to switch from the state medical insurance
system to private companies. In education, Gaidar proposes to abandon the
rate of 170 free students per 10,000 citizens, which is the basis of the
current educational system. Additionally, he suggests focusing on
increasing the federal educational standard for all Russian schools. 

*******

#2
Moscow News
February 26-March 4, 2003
Mother of God Stuck in the Snow
Chingiz Aitmatov, author, philosopher and diplomat, is interviewed by MN's
Yuri Vasilyev 

Your novel The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years introduced the term
"mankurtism" into Russian. You were the first Soviet writer to talk, in The
Scaffold, about drug addiction. The Cassandra Brand raised the issue of
human cloning and its implications years before the first human clone was
produced. What should we expect from your upcoming book?

I am getting a bit superstitious, so I'd rather not talk about it yet. My
work as Kyrgyzstan's ambassador to the EU takes up all of my time. Most of
my plans do not go much beyond the planning stage. Some time ago I had
excerpts from my yet-to-be-finished novel, The Mother of God in the Snow,
published in the press. My readers have since been asking me, "Where is
your Mother of God?" And I tell them: "Still there, in the snow." And this
is a real drama to me: I have plenty of viable ideas that I am unable to
translate into reality.

Is it because today diplomacy is so much more important to you than
literature that you cannot take a break to finish a novel?

In theory, there is nothing to stop me from doing this. But there is also
the practice, the pragmatism of life. Whereas in the past, a novel was
published in editions of up to three million copies, making it a good
source of income even with the measly royalties of those times, now
printruns rarely exceed 5,000 to 10,000 copies. One has to get on with the
daily grind of everyday life; one has a family to support.

So, is the ambassadorship just a source of livelihood?

Not only that. I got involved with diplomacy at a time when newly
independent states were emerging that lacked representatives to work in the
foreign-policy sphere. On the other hand, my sense of patriotism is a major
factor in this work. I have a pretty good knowledge of Europe, especially
Germany and France, where my books are published and republished. This
facilitates my diplomatic mission.

Should a new law on the Russian language be adopted, would you be prepared
to stop using foreign words like, say, "ecology" and "humanism"?

The hullabaloo that the Russian parliament created around the Russian
language cannot leave me indifferent. We had a similar experience in
Kyrgyzstan, in the early 1990s, when they tried banning words like "radio"
- but, thank God, they thought better of it before it was too late.

Every language should seek to integrate with other languages. In this
sense, Russian in fact serves this integration: By joining it, within the
CIS, we gain extra scope.

It seems that you believe in globalization?

You are probably right. I am not afraid of it.

And of antiglobalists?

Neither. If anything, I feel a little sorry for them: They have yet to
understand that globalization is a new stage of world history. Sure, it is
about moving into new markets, monopolizing the existing markets, and
deriving a benefit from all of this. But globalization is also about the
need to integrate into worldwide civilization despite ideological and
religious differences. Unless we do, we will get stuck in the third world -
perhaps even the fourth or fifth world - regardless of how big or small our
countries may be.

Do you see any impediments in your country's path toward Western-style
globalization? Say, the Chinese influence?

China is a separate and self-sufficient mainland. Yet I am not aware of its
influence as a world factor despite our extensive exposure to it. Moscow is
much farther away from Bishkek than is Beijing, but Moscow is vitally
important to us. We are part of the Eurasian model of thinking.

Eurasianism is a moot concept.

That's right. Even so, our common Eurasian essence is still there. As for
China, imagine that there is a large, magnificent painting: You can admire
it, but you cannot live in it.

I know from experience: My books are published both in Russia and in China,
but I do not know that they have had any response on the other side of the
Great Wall. They may have had some response, but it is still very important
for our culture - I am talking not only about Kyrgyzstan but the region as
a whole - to fit into the Russian context. There is nothing, however, that
links us to China. Strange, isn't it? It is our nearest neighbor, but there
is no link. Yet this is how it is.

Are you not concerned that when China has a population not of 1.5 billion
but two billion, this link will manifest itself through expansion?

By then the world will have worked out certain laws regulating the
existence of nations big and small, so that nobody is absorbed by anybody.
What I am saying is only my own perception - my utopia. But unless we come
to this understanding, we will end up as one homogeneous mass. No one will
benefit from this. In this respect the EU model is the optimal and viable
form of cohabitation of different nations, languages, and cultures. Thanks
to the EU, Europe has been living without wars for more than half a century
now.

You do not see conflicts in Yugoslavia as wars?

This is a different matter. Yugoslavia has never been part of the EU: It is
on the fringe of Europe. Had Milosevic not given cause for war, there would
have been no war. Now it is too late to speculate on the subject of whether
it should or should not have been bombed. Of course the Yugoslav problem
does affect Europe and the world at large. Nonetheless, the EU gives hope
that similar continental communities will also evolve in other parts of the
world.

Do you get the impression that your mission as a humanist is doomed?

It would not be half so bad if this applied only to my mission. Humanistic
values are in a state of general crisis. Would you say that old authors,
who offered a particular humanistic vision, are in great demand now? I hear
that a certain female thriller writer received a $9 million advance for a
book about Jack the Ripper: This is what foots the bill today. Moreover,
modern religions have become too conceited and patronizing. Religious
consciousness - I am not separating out Islam, Christianity, etc. - is in
crisis. I have no doubt about this.

When did you come to this conclusion?

Last year, when a person who had converted from Islam to another faith died
in one Kyrgyz village, and the relatives carrying his coffin to a cemetery
were blocked by a wild mob of local Muslims. So his relatives had to take
his body to a place several hundred kilometers away to be buried. If we are
unable to make way for each other in death, what about in life then?

MN File 
Fact box
Chingiz Torekulovich Aitmatov, born 1928, to the family of a party
functionary who was executed in 1937; at various times worked as a
livestock specialist, Pravda correspondent, and editor of the Inostrannaya
Literatura monthly; author of Jamila; The White Steamship; Farewell,
Gulsary; The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years; The Scaffold; The
Cassandra Brand, and other novels; since 1990, in the diplomatic service:
Soviet (later Kyrgyz) ambassador to Luxembourg; currently ambassador
extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan to Benelux
and France; opinion polls position Chingiz Aitmatov among the three most
influential politicians in Kyrgyzstan.

********

#3
Striking workers across Russia demand higher wages, payment arrears

MOSCOW, Feb 26 (AFP) - Teachers, health workers and museum employees went on
strike across Russia on Wednesday to demand higher wages and protest about
not being paid on time, Russian media reported.

Workers in 70 of the country's 89 regions joined the strike, ITAR-TASS news
agency reported.

Teachers in the Siberian village of Tayshet were striking to protest late
payments, Channel One television reported, while teachers in Sakhalin, in
the Far East, walked off the job for an hour Wednesday morning in protest,
ITAR-TASS said.

Unions in the Siberian town of Altai said that 100,000 people were set to
join the strike, the news agency reported.

Workers are demanding that government double their pay, or raise it by at
least 1.5 times its current amount, ITAR-TASS said. The government recently
said it would raise salaries by 30 percent to stave off the strikes.

Public sector employees are also seeking payment arrears amounting to 2.5
billion rubles (80 million dollars, 74 million euros), it said.

At the end of last year, back pay owed to public sector workers amounted to
3.44 billion rubles, according to the state statistics committee.

The monthly wage for teachers, health and culture workers averages around
3,000 rubles (95 dollars, 88 euros), unions said.

The Moscow government banned workers in the city from demonstrating, but
they still managed to distribute leaflets at some 60 metro stations around
the city early Wednesday morning, ITAR-TASS said.

*******

#4
Moscow News
February 26-March 4, 2003
Teachers Coming Out in Protest
Teachers seek publicity because they are starving. Politicians are doing
the same because election time is round the corner 

The trade unions are organizing in late February countrywide protests to
draw the authorities' attention to the salary arrears of state-paid
employees, teachers in particular. Some 20,000 people are going to take
part in the public actions in Moscow alone. The situation is made worse by
the fact that the new wage system worked out by the government can lead to
cuts in the already meager incomes of a large section of the population.

Alexander SHISHLOV, chairman of the State Duma Committee for Education and
Science, tells MN's Andrei Stepanov about possible ways of solving the
problems of wage arrears and increasing teachers' salaries.

Why are teachers in many regions not paid their salaries?

Mainly because the local authorities are inefficient and irresponsible.
Another reason is that an ever larger share of revenues goes into the
federal budget; accordingly, less and less money goes into regional and
local budgets.

What is the solution?

The regional administrations must be made responsible for financing the
remuneration of education workers. Amendments to the relevant legislation
were submitted on behalf of the president to the State Duma last December,
and they will be deliberated in March. The amendments specify that if the
municipalities lack the funds to pay wages and salaries, regional budgets
must provide the money. But my view is that we should go further:
Interbudgetary relations must be based on the cost of education per pupil
in the region concerned.

Indications are that the authorities of different levels have not yet
reached an understanding as to what changes have to be made...

A new Concept of the Remuneration System for State-paid Employees, prepared
by the Labor Ministry, is currently under discussion. Its original version
relieved the state of the responsibility for the wage size. The federal
center was going to guarantee state-paid employees only a minimum wage.
Such an approach is unacceptable because it would lead to lower living
standards of state-paid employees in many regions.

We insist that state guarantees must be provided for in the relevant
legislation. This position is supported by the trade unions, by the State
Duma committee I head, by the Yabloko faction and the rest of the State
Duma. Last week the Duma passed a resolution stating that the final version
of the government's bill must lay down legal and financial guarantees of
minimal wage rates and salaries.

What does the government say about that?

There is a good chance that it will accept our viewpoint. The working
versions of the new bill being prepared by the government already make a
mention of state guarantees. And Labor Minister Alexander Pochinok is
backing this approach.

Have all differences been smoothed out?

No. The state budget specifies a 33% rise in the average wage, effective
from October 1 this year. The last pay rise came on December 1, 2001, and
living costs have since gone up considerably. I believe it would be more
appropriate to index wages in accordance with the Unified Table of Rates
before allocating large resources to increase wages; a switchover to the
sectoral system of remuneration (as provided for by the Concept) should be
made after the allocation. A doubling of wage funds could be projected when
drafting the 2004 budget.

That is to say, the salaries of teachers and other state-paid employees
will stay basically the same till the end of this year?

I believe salaries can be increased by more than 33%. But this would
require amending the Law on the 2003 Budget and the government's relevant
bill. The necessary funds can be found because the 2003 budget understates
the prices of the fuel and energy we export.

So the only thing that is lacking is political will on the part of our
country's leadership?

You could put it this way.

Can public protests by state-paid employees change anything?

They can, because in a year of parliamentary elections the deputies cannot
afford to ignore the demands of state-paid employees.

******* 

#5
BBC Monitoring 
Russian public sector workers carry a coffin protesting over low salaries 
SOURCE: TVS, Moscow, in Russian 1400 gmt 26 Feb 03 

Presenter: Angry public sector workers in Murmansk have carried a coffin
with their salaries across the centre of the city. Aleksandr Panin gives
more. 

Correspondent: While officials in the Kremlin are thinking what to do with
money transfers sent to President Vladimir Putin by pensioners in protest
over one-dollar-a-month raise in pensions , public sector workers demanded
today a decent life for themselves and their children. Educators, medics
and cultural workers demanded higher salaries and criticized the government
plan on reforming the payment system shifting the responsibility from the
federal government over regional authorities . The coffin you see now
symbolizes miserable life of public sector workers in Murmansk. The coffin
with in inscription on it "Salary of budgetary workers" was paraded along
the streets. Organizers of the action say they could not find a better
symbol. An average salary of technical staff in Murmansk schools is R1,000
per month . A teacher receives R1,500-R2,000. The government is promising a
30-per-cent pay rise, but prices will also grow by that time. Wage arrears
to Murmansk region educators have exceeded R17m. Schools don't have enough
textbooks and handouts. 

Trade unions find the government plan for payment reform absurd. The
government is just trying to cast responsibility out, so the reform won't
bring positive results, they say. 

Ninel Chudinova, captioned as chairperson of Murmansk Region union of
educators: They cast out all responsibility for budget workers' salaries
and its raising. Russian Labour and Social Development Minister Aleksandr
Pochinok suggests that small country schools, dilapidated clubs and primary
medical assistance centres should be closed and buses should be bought to
take children to bigger schools. In this country we should have to buy
planes! 

Correspondent: The unions insist that that salaries must be doubled, and
say they won't give up protests. 

*******

#6
Rossiiskaya Gazeta
No. 36 
February 26, 2003
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
U.S. WILL POSSIBLY MOVE ITS MILITARY BASES CLOSER TO RUSSIA
By Anatoly SHAPOVALOV

It is a worst-case situation that we have today - Poland 
acted not as a good neighbor, to put it mildly, when it caused 
so much worry to Belarus and Russia. And not only because no 
one wants to have U.S. air bases close by. It is alarming to 
hear hypocritical arguments in favor of possible moving of the 
bases from Germany closer to the Bug River in Belarus. 

On the day when Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov 
visited Poland, Rossiiskaya Gazeta wrote that during the talks 
with his Polish counterpart Leszek Miller they might discuss 
the problem of moving U.S. military bases from Germany to 
Poland. And so it happened.
"This question is unrealistic. I do not see possible 
arguments, which you (the Polish people and leadership) could 
offer in favor of this," Kasyanov said at a press conference in 
Lodz. "What threats for Poland have appeared? Or for NATO?" he 
asked.
The matter is, indeed, beyond normal understanding.
Evidently it was not accidental that Polish Prime Minister 
Leszek Miller preferred to say nothing in response at that 
press conference. But Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski was 
more talkative. "I resolutely support the plans of moving the 
U.S.
bases to Poland," he said two days after Kasyanov's departure 
from Lodz in an interview with Wprost, a well-informed magazine.
"This will considerably increase our country's security," he 
added.
After that he revealed the plans of the upcoming 
re-deployment. The biggest U.S. air base is to be moved from 
Frankfurt on Maine to Bjala Podljaska, a Polish city merely 30 
kilometers from the Belarus town of Brest. The second air base 
is to be moved from Ramstein in Germany to Minsk Mazowiecki, 
which is 100 km from the Belarus border. The third air base is 
planned to be moved to Powidz in central Poland. All the three 
cities have military airdromes. "The Americans may start moving 
to Bjala Podljaska even today," the city's mayor Henryk Hmel 
said.
The fourth base, where U.S. land and armored units are to 
be stationed, will find a new home in Swietoszow, a town in 
south-western Poland, where the Soviet troops of the Northern 
Group of Forces was stationed in early 1990s.
However, the Polish authorities repeatedly disproved the 
rumors about the displacement of the bases. But, according to 
the Wprost magazine, secret talks on this matter have been 
conducted between the Polish and U.S. authorities for quite 
long. The question was raised, in particular, during the visit 
to Washington by Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski and 
Prime Minister Leszek Miller. Nonetheless, the defense and 
foreign ministers assured that "no talks on the deployment of 
U.S. bases on Polish territory are held." It is likely that 
misinformation was deliberate, though it was impossible to keep 
the cat in the bag for too long. After all, the Polish 
parliament had made amendments in the law on the stay of 
foreign troops in Poland and on their movement about its 
territory. These changes have greatly simplified the earlier 
procedures. There had been no debate on the issue, which 
suggests that pressure, direct or indirect, had been exerted on 
the parliament members.

*******

#7
UN resolution calling for war on Iraq unacceptable: Putin 
February 26, 2003
AFP

Any UN resolution automatically calling for war on Iraq would be
unacceptable, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Wednesday while
welcoming US pressure on Iraq because it was forcing Baghdad to cooperate. 

"We find it unacceptable to adopt a resolution that foresees the use of
force," Putin told journalists after talks with German Chancellor Gerhard
Schroeder. 

He said that Russia's position on the Iraq issue had remained unchanged.
"We must resolve this situation through peaceful means and make sure that
Iraq complies with the UN resolutions," he added. 

"We believe that the potential of (UN Security Council) Resolution 1441 is
far from having been exhausted." 

The resolution, which was adopted on November 8, gave Iraq a final
opportunity to scrap its weapons of mass destruction. 

Putin said, "I think that the pressure that the US is putting on Iraq also
has a useful side and is forcing Iraq to cooperate" with UN disarmament
inspectors. 

"But it is important that we do not cross that line where there can no
longer be a peaceful solution," he added. 

"We think that international inspectors must make precise demands to Iraq
and make sure that they (the Iraqis) comply with them," he added. 

"Much will depend on the responsible stands of Iraq itself. This is why we
intend to continue working with Iraq, to make sure that it conscientiously
complies with the UN." 

Putin said he was optimistic and was not losing hope that there will be a
peaceful resolution to the stand-off between Washington and Baghdad. 

"I have never heard it said by the US president that he wants to have a
war," he said. 

On his arrival in Moscow, Schroeder had called on Iraq to destroy its
Al-Samoud missiles, as demanded by UN weapons inspectors. 

"Iraq must cooperate with all (UN) demands, including the destruction of
its Al-Samoud missiles," Schroeder said, quoted by Russian news agency
Interfax. 

Germany and Russia joined France in presenting a memorandum to the United
Nations on Monday, urging a peaceful disarmament of Iraq through expanded
and intensified UN weapons inspections. 

The memorandum was seen as a counter-proposal to the resolution filed by
the United States, Britain and Spain on Monday, which noted that Iraq has
"failed to take the final opportunity" to disarm and warned of "serious
consequences" if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein fails to meet UN demands. 

The issue is seen as a key test of whether Iraq is fulfilling its
obligation to cooperate with UN arms inspectors investigating its alleged
weapons of mass destruction. 

Speaking after his talks with Putin, Schoeder said Berlin and Moscow were
"united in the fact that Iraq must disarm and that this can be achieved
through peaceful means." 

He said that Germany and Russia were striving for a peaceful settlement to
the crisis "because of our mutual history". 

"Both Russia and Germany know from our bitter history what war is," he
said. "Perhaps this explains why we are cooperating on this." 

******

#8
Russian Lawmaker Says Veto Is Unlikely
February 26, 2003
By KEN GUGGENHEIM

WASHINGTON (AP) - A Russian lawmaker said Wednesday he doesn't believe his
country would veto a U.S.-backed resolution in the United Nations
authorizing the use of force against Iraq.

Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the Russian
parliament's upper house, also said a secretive mission to Baghdad by
former Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov was intended to deliver a
``strong message'' to Saddam Hussein that he must cooperate with
international inspectors.

Margelov said he spoke with Primakov on Friday and does not believe he was
offering exile options to Saddam.

``I don't think that in going to Baghdad, Primakov wanted to save Saddam -
not at all,'' Margelov said in a brief interview after appearing before the
House International Relations Committee.

In the hearing, Margelov defended Russia's support, along with France and
Germany, for giving U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq more time. He also told
skeptical U.S. lawmakers that Iran's nuclear program, which is assisted by
Russia, poses no threat to the United States.

Those positions were challenged by Rep. Tom Lantos of California, the
committee's top Democrat, who returned Tuesday from a trip to Russia.

But Lantos said that after meeting with Russian officials, he was
``convinced there will not be a Russian veto'' of the U.S-pushed resolution
on Iraq.

Asked after the meeting about Lantos' comment, Margelov said ``I don't
think it, either.''

Russia is one of five Security Council members with veto power. It has the
option of abstaining if it disapproves of the resolution but doesn't want
to veto it.

On Primakov's trip, Margelov said that in addition to putting pressure on
Saddam, the trip may have been partly motivated by national politics, to
send a message to Russia's communists that President Vladimir Putin ``has
exhausted all peaceful opportunities to resolve this crisis.''

Primakov was a top member of the communist elite in the Soviet Union. He
made a similar mission in 1991 to try to prevent the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Russia's opposition to war against Iraq and its nuclear assistance to Iran
have added tensions its relations with the United States. Committee
Chairman Henry Hyde, R-Ill., said Russia's Iran and Iraq policies are
``major impediments to good relations between our two countries.''

Both nations, along with North Korea, are part of what President Bush
called the ``axis of evil'' in his 2002 State of the Union address.

Margelov warned lawmakers not to ``oversimplify the situation,'' by using
such terms.

``Simplification can be a serious sin when long-term decisions are at
stake,'' he said.

He said Russia isn't ruling out the eventual need for military action in
Iraq, but believes diplomatic options have not been exhausted. He also said
the United States has not worked with other nations in laying out plans for
a post-Saddam Iraq.

``If we don't preserve the territorial integrity of Iraq, the whole region
can explode,'' he said.

Margelov said Russian's nuclear assistance to Iran was motivated by its own
economic interests. Iran's program is in its early stages and is only for
peaceful purposes, he said.

Lantos and other lawmakers disputed that. ``It is way beyond a germinal
stage,'' he said.

*******

#9
The Hindu (India)
February 27, 2003
'Russian plan for Saddam exit' 
By Atul Aneja 

MANAMA FEB. 26. In holding discussions with the Iraqi President, Saddam
Hussein, over the weekend, the former Russian Prime Minister, Yevgeny
Primakov, may have proposed a realistic formulation that could help in
averting a U.S.-led attack on Baghdad. 

Mr. Primakov reportedly held extensive discussions with Mr. Hussein on
Saturday and Sunday in one of the palaces of the Iraqi President in Tikrit,
north of the Baghdad. For Mr. Primakov, his talks were in some ways a
replay of 1991 when he had been asked to undertake a trouble-shooting
mission by Moscow, to ward off the first Persian-Gulf war. The former
Russian Premier, who was also the one-time chief of the KGB, is a West Asia
expert and is known to be Mr. Hussein's personal friend. 

There is considerable speculation in diplomatic circles in the region about
the specific proposals that Mr. Primakov brought before Mr. Hussein on
behalf of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin. But according to one view,
Mr. Primakov addressed the question of Iraqi disarmament and explored the
possibility of ensuring Mr. Hussein's honourable departure from the Iraqi
centre-stage. Mr. Pirmakov, in his effort to address the question of Iraqi
disarmament and "regime change", started with the assumption that Mr.
Hussein would not accept voluntary exile as an option to defuse the crisis. 

Consequently, diplomatic sources point out that it is likely that Mr.
Primakov exhorted Mr. Hussein to fully cooperate with the U.N. weapons
inspectors so that Iraqi disarmament could be concluded soon. Incidentally,
the U.N. chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix on Tuesday described as
"positive" Iraq's recovery of a R-400 bomb and the receipt of letters,
which could explain the whereabouts of some earlier stocks of Iraq's
biological and chemical weapons. 

The Russian Foreign Ministry in a statement has also said after Mr.
Primakov's departure from Baghdad that there was "a real chance to put a
full stop to the question of Iraq's potential to develop weapons of mass
destruction.'' 

Without seeking his voluntary exile, it is likely that Mr. Primakov
proposed to Mr. Hussein that he could continue as Iraq's figurehead
President for another year. 

But during this time-frame, he should consider appointing a new interim
authority where all Iraqis, including some of those who were at present in
exile, were represented. 

This body, in turn, needed to draft a new democratic constitution and hold
fresh elections. 

Mr. Hussein, after the lapse of a year, could retire by choosing to reside
in one his palaces under an international guard. While his movements
thereafter would become circumscribed, Mr. Hussein's financial assets,
under this arrangement would continue to remain protected. 

Russia is expected to launch a diplomatic offensive to "sell" these ideas,
especially to Germany, France and the United States, in case Mr. Hussein
finds the broad thrust of these proposals acceptable.

*******

#10
debka.com
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report
February 25, 2003

According to DEBKAfiles intelligence and Russian sources, Russian
President Vladimir Putin has stepped into the bipolar crisis over Iraq
between the US-led and French-led world blocs with a dramatic proposition
for averting war. In this approach, he sees eye to eye with the French,
German and Chinese rulers and is eager to consult with the Schroeder on his
new plan. 

But first, he tried selling it to Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein. For this
mission, he fielded one of Moscows diplomatic heavyweights, Yevgeny
Primakov. KGB chief Middle East resident in the 1970s, Soviet foreign
minister and Russian prime minister under Yeltsin, Primakov is also a
longtime close personal friend of the Iraqi dictator from the old days of
the Soviet Union. 

Primakov landed in Baghdad on Saturday, February 22. 

The candy for Saddam in the Russian proposal was that it could provide him
with a lifebelt to save himself from being obliterated; although he would
have to leave Baghdad with his family and ruling clique, he need not be
pushed completely off the Iraqi political map. 

Primakov was understood by our sources to have spent 10 hours on Sunday,
February 23 with Saddam Hussein at his palace in Tirkit, flying home
Monday, February 24, after they met for a final conversation. 

DEBKAfiles most exclusive sources accessed the Putin proposal for Iraq and
reveals its high points: 

1. Acceptance of the plan by Saddam and Washington with UN endorsement
will result in the United States calling off its war offensive against Iraq. 

2. Saddam will be required to immediately dismantle and destroy all his
weapons of mass destruction, that arsenal being checked against Russias
lists and compared with American data. (DEBKAfile notes incidentally that
Russian generals and intelligence chiefs have consistently claimed until
now that Saddam does not possess a single WMD!) 

3. Saddam stays on as president for approximately one year. 

4. In the course of the disarmament process, a transitional government will
be established in Baghdad with no affinity to the ruling Baath or Saddams
ruling circle. It will officiate one year under international oversight,
draft a new Iraqi constitution and arrange a general election. 

5. The election over, Saddam will retire and make way for the newly-elected
regime. 

6. He and his family, together with his top political and military circle,
will move out of Baghdad and take up residence at an internationally
protected palace compound near Tharthar Lake north of Tikrit. He will be
allowed to move in and out of this palace under certain restrictions. 

We have heard that Primakov made it clear to the Iraqi ruler that, despite
some limitations on his movements and those of his entourage, he would not
be a prisoner. He would be allowed to come and go under certain conditions. 

The Russian emissary also emphasized that the fortune Saddam has stashed
away in foreign banks will not be impounded or frozen. In short, Saddam was
given to understand by his Russian visitor that while the regime would pass
out of his hands and that of the Baath to fresh political forces, including
leaders of the opposition who fought his rule, he, Saddam Hussein, would
not be bereft of influence in the country and would retain the financial
wherewithal for being a player in future Iraq politics. 

DEBKAfiles sources have not revealed Saddams reply to the proposal. They
report that Primakov, on his return to Moscow, went straight over to Putin
to brief him on his mission. 

The next day, two Russian emissaries headed out of Moscow to Washington and
Paris to brief Presidents Bush and Chirac and test the water for a sign
that the Putin initiative was worth pursuing. 

Putins plan also came up in the talks US Undersecretary of State John
Bolton held with Russian officials Monday in Moscow, after which he
announced he had been unable to convince his hosts to back the US-led UN
Security Council resolution authorizing force against Iraq. Moscow, like
Beijing, made no promises about applying its power of veto to defeat the
resolution. 

This diplomatic flurry has encouraged Saddam Hussein to believe he has
between two and three weeks to play with before deciding which way to jump
to survive. Going for him are the Putin plan, the Franco-German
counter-initiative to the US-backed Security Council motion which offers
the arms inspectors another four months for their mission; the Arab summit
convening in Cairo Saturday, March 1 amid sore divisions over Iraq; and
the spiraling controversy between Turkey and the Kurds of northern Iraq,
who threaten to fight any Turkish troops entering Kurdistan. 

In the meantime, Iraq as UK foreign secretary Jack Straw put it
dribbles out concessions, as part of his dilatory tactics. 

*******

#11
pravda.ru 
February 26, 2003
Russias Decline Damages USs Interests Directly or Indirectly
That is why use of military force should be considered already today

It is customary now to speak if not about Russian-American cooperation then
at least about cooperation between the two countries. In fact, there has
been practically no large-scale conflicts between Moscow and Washington
within the past two years. When problems in bilateral relations arise, they
are settled rather quickly, at any case, this is guessed from official
information. However, it is not yet clear how long this cooperation will be
and to what extent it would be important for both sides. With respect to
Moscow, the answer to the question is more or less obvious. It is quite
natural that Russia expects to establish strong and friendly relations with
the USA. Nothing else can be expected in the present-day situation when
America is the only super power. No matter whether other countries like it
or not, but Russia is unable to come into confrontation with Washington.
The only thing Moscow can venture at this moment is to defend its
interests, but it will be possible only as long as these interests are
diametrically opposite to the American ones. Such is the reality, and its
no use to try and find the guilty of this situation. What is more, the
process aimed at restoration of Russias international authority may take
years at best, or even decades. 

To tell the truth, Washington doesnt make a secret if its attitude toward
Russia. The White House certainly stays within the limits of decency and
doesnt allow an obviously mentor tone. But something of this kind still
sometimes happens. What concerns different extra-governmental
organizations, research institutes and foundations, they call things by
their proper names. And while the government has to observe the traditional
diplomatic etiquette and to spare the pride of Russian politicians,
different specialists on Russia (people who used to be Sovietologists
some time ago) suggest different scenarios of Russias development. At
that, these scenarios are mostly pessimistic and say that USs military
intervention is inevitable all the same. 

There are still lots of forecasts regarding Russia as a potential source of
threat to Americas national security (the holy cow of the American
foreign policy) and it is unlikely that they will run short in the nearest
future. These forecasts differ from each other in the degree of their
scientific essence and in open access of all interested people to these
forecasts. 

It is clear that we are hardly likely to learn new ideas of the US
Department of State, the CIA or the Pentagon in this respect, at least we
wont learn them very soon. However, there are rather reliable
organizations, and reports of their analysts can be obtained for a
reasonable payment (or for free at all). The RAND Corporation that
describes itself as a nonprofit organization specializing in improving of
the policy of the American society by means of research and analysis is
one of the organizations of this kind. At that, official proceeds of the
organization for 1999 made up 100 million dollars. 

RAND was founded in 1946 and originally closely cooperated with the US Air
Force (the cooperation is still maintained even now); this organization
covers a wide sphere of interests, including social sciences, technique,
physics disciplines and economics. We should mention that leadership of the
corporation makes no secret of its relations with American special services
that order researches concerning prospects of development of different
countries, certainly including Russia. 

An analytical report by Olga Oliker, Tanya Charlick-Paley, Assessing
Russia's Decline: Trends and Implications for the United States and the
U.S. Air Force published in 2002 was one of such researches. The research
made up a 150-page volume, and there is no need to retell its content as it
is available on the corporations website. However, conclusions reached by
the authors of the research are very interesting. 

They say that Russia shows several signs that traditionally characterize
unsuccessful states. Moscows efforts aimed at restoration of control of
the central authority only demonstrate that majority of this control has
been irreparably lost. The authors say in conclusion that although its
too early to say that Russia may vanish as a state, nevertheless, there
are several signs demonstrating that the decline process is proceeding and
developing: there is no effective economic system in Russia; the merger
between ubiquitous corruption and criminal economy is obvious; state
institutions are privatized and used for the sake of personal security
and enrichment; the army is morally corrupt from top to bottom and its
fighting efficiency is low. 

Consequently, Russias decline directly or indirectly influences Americas
interests, that is why we should presuppose a situation when American armed
forced will be asked for help, and the forces will operate on the territory
of the Russian Federation or in the neighboring regions. Authors of the
report say that for this very reason its important already now to start
preventive planning of further actions and to cooperate with Russian
partners (for instance, exercises can be held in Central Asia or in the
Caucasus region). The US Air Force can already now join the programs for
cooperation between the US Federal Emergency Management Agency and Russias
EMERCOM which would be useful for study of the situation in the country.
But if the Russian-American relations become worse, Air Force analysts
should consider usage of territories of adjoining states as bases for
settlement of crisis situations in Russia. 

Its important to state that the White House usually follows
recommendations from RAND. Although, sometimes conclusions reached by
analysts of the corporation make an ass of the US Government. For instance,
in July 2002, RAND officials issued a report saying that Saudi Arabia was
an active member of all levels of the terrorist network. US Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld even had to tell journalists that the government
didnt share that point of view (the report was produced to the US Council
for Defense Policy). And everybody already knows what serious consequences
in the relations between the USA and Saudi Arabia followed the report. 

After all, we should not take the conclusions reached by RAND analysts too
dramatically. The course of Russias development depends upon the Russian
people themselves. In fact, there are no reasons to give up partnership
relations with the USA only because someone allowed some unpleasant
conclusions. At that, we should keep it in mind that the USA maintains
partnership relations with other countries until they are profitable for
it. We should act the same way. 

Vasily Bubnov 
PRAVDA.Ru 
Translated by Maria Gousseva 

******

#12
From: "Paul Backer" <director@cryomedica.com>
Subject: About CryoMedica
Date: Wed, 26 Feb 2003 

As of 2002, Cryomedica began its operations as Russia's first and only
private stem cell bank.

The bank's sole activity is private storage of umbilical cord blood stem
cells for parents. The purpose of the organization is to give parents in
Russia a "biological insurance" option that has been relied on by over
175,000 parents in North American and Europe. Cryomedica does not sell or
experiment with stem cells and does not accept embryonic stem cells or
other materials for storage.

Over the past decade the use of cord blood stem cells has been reported in
the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, Blood and many other
professional publications. Cord blood stem cells have been used in over
2,000 transplants to give patients hope in combating over 50 life
threatening diseases. Further, stem cells (as recently reported in Lancet)
gives parents, their children and relatives access to gene therapies that
may offer future hope in combating heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and
other chronic illnesses.

The general director of Cryomedica is Paul Backer, an American attorney
with over 10 years of experience in the CEE/NIS including work for the
World Bank, USAID and private companies.

If you have any questions, he can be reached at backer@cryomedica.com, the
company's site www.cryomedica.com.

********

#13
Subject: Beyond Transition to Modernization and Growth: The View from
Russia's Best Think Tanks 
Date: Wed, 26 Feb 2003 
From: "Jennifer Munro" <Jenniferm@iris.econ.umd.edu>

Dear Mr. Johnson:

IRIS will be holding a conference in Washington DC on April 10, featuring
the best of Russia's economic think tanks that we supported over the last
three years. We're planning a second day for the conference on April 10 for
private sector companies and Russian think tanks on trade and investment
opportunities in Russia. A conference flyer is attached and the text
message follows. Of course, we will send an invitation to you shortly, but
we were wondering if you might help us circulate conference information
through your mailing list.

Jennifer Munro
Director of Outreach and Information Services
IRIS Center, University of Maryland
2105 Morrill Hall
College Park, MD 20742
Phone: (301) 405-3721
Fax: (301) 405-3020
http://www.iris.umd.edu

Beyond Transition to Modernization and Growth: 
The View from Russia's Best Think Tanks 
April 10, 2003 in Washington, D.C.; venue to be announced

Sponsored by The Center for Institutional Reform and the Informal Sector of
the University of Maryland and the Moscow Public Science Foundation

Analysts from leading Russian economic think tanks actively engaged in
economic policy debates and providing advice to government officials and
legislators will present their insights on key issues of Russian economic
transition and the prospects of the nations economic growth, institutional
reform, and integration in the global economy. 

The conference will offer a fresh and informative outlook of the present
and near future of the Russian economy in the new global environment. In
addition to covering the politics of the Russian reform, it will provide
the Washington policy community with a unique opportunity to receive...
... a first-hand perspective on Russias international
competitiveness, 
...expected rates and patterns of economic growth, 
...the country's catch-up potential, 
...movement towards sound corporate governance, 
...dismantling red tape, and
...transformation of the social sector. 

Speakers

Russian panelists represent independent policy institutions -- a new,
vibrant part of the emerging policy community in Russia. Their views
reflect professional policy analyses, as well as the experience of keen
observers, advisors, critics and polemists. Conference panels will also
feature prominent Russian policy makers who are think tank counterparts in
the executive and legislative branches of government. Key speakers are as
follows: 

n Alexander Auzan, President, National Project Institute (NPI) -- Social
Contract

n Arkady Dvorkovich, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Economic Development and
Trade of the Russian Federation

n Sergei Vasiliev, Chairman, Committee for Financial markets and monetary
policy, Council of the Federation

n Andrei Yakovlev, Director, Institute for Industrial and Market Studies at
State University  Higher School of Economics

n Yevgeny Yasin, Director, Expert Institute

n Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, Academic Director, Center for Economic and
Financial Research 

IRIS will post details on its Web site at
http://www.iris.umd.edu/adass/proj/russia3.asp. 

Send an e-mail to info@iris.econ.umd.edu to receive further information.

*******

#14
Russia: Moscow Testing China's Patience On Oil Exports
By Michael Lelyveld

China is showing signs of aggravation and impatience with Russia and Japan
over their competing plans for oil pipelines in the Far East. After the
first friendship treaty in 50 years, Beijing is letting it be known that
Moscow should honor its accord to build an energy link from eastern Siberia
to China rather than Japan.

Boston, 26 February 2003 (RFE/RL) -- China is waiting with waning patience
for Russia to end its debate over who will control its oil exports and
where they will go.

In an unusually blunt article this week, the official Communist Party
newspaper, "People's Daily," is drawing attention to the unresolved
question of whether Russia will build an oil pipeline to China, in
accordance with bilateral pacts.

The question has gained urgency for Beijing with concerns about cuts in
Middle East oil during a possible war with Iraq. China gets more than 46
percent of its imported oil from the Persian Gulf, primarily from Saudi
Arabia, Iran, and Oman, according to the Reuters news agency.

Pushed by the same concerns, Japan has tried to convince Moscow that its
eastern Siberian oil should flow through a longer pipeline to the Far East
port of Nakhodka instead. China has grown increasingly upset by what it
calls Moscow's "vacillating" between the two suitors for Siberian oil.

This week, "People's Daily" notes that Russia signed an accord for an oil
pipeline from Angarsk in the Irkutsk region to China's Daqing oil center in
July 2001. The paper said pointedly, "Thus, there should have been no more
suspense regarding who will be the purchaser of oil in [the] Far East."

The report glossed over the fact that the framework agreement for the $1.7
billion project came during President Jiang Zemin's summit with President
Vladimir Putin in Moscow, where the two countries signed their first
friendship treaty in 50 years. But friendship counted for little after
Japan offered to buy one-fourth of its oil imports from Russia during Prime
Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit to Moscow in January of this year.

Japan's tempting bid coincided with an internal battle between Russia's
Yukos oil company, which planned the pipeline to China, and the state
pipeline monopoly Transneft, which backed the Nakhodka route. The
3,800-kilometer alternative would cost a staggering $5 billion, which Japan
has shown some willingness to finance.

Transneft pegged the plan for a privately run Yukos pipeline to China as a
ploy to break its monopoly and argued that Russia's oil should reach
multiple markets from the Pacific port. Transneft has persisted, even
though analysts argued that eastern Siberia does not have the 1 million
barrels per day needed to fill such a long and large line.

After months of conflict, the dispute seemed resolved in mid-February when
the Russian Energy Ministry urged the government to split the difference
between the two plans by building the 2,400-kilometer line to China first
to carry 600,000 barrels of oil per day. Russia would then add a link later
from the Siberian city of Chita to Nakhodka with a 1 million-barrel capacity.

Last week, Japan's Kyodo news agency reported on an interview with
Transneft spokesman Vyacheslav Tarbeev, saying the company now considers
the Nakhodka plan "unprofitable," adding that priority will go to the China
line instead. If that is Transneft's new and final position, it has yet to
be confirmed.

China's comments in "People's Daily" are a sign that it does not see the
matter as settled, and, in fact, it is not. The Russian government is
scheduled to decide the issue at a 13 March cabinet meeting, giving it time
to weigh China's stand. In the meantime, China has agreed to increase its
more costly oil imports from Russia by rail.

Beijing kept largely silent after another affront in December, when the
Russian government sold a controlling stake in the Slavneft oil company and
invited the China National Petroleum Corporation to bid. But the company
was forced to withdraw after the State Duma passed a resolution saying that
foreign attentions were unwelcome. China now seems to be seething over the
suggestion that Russia might jilt it again.

Beijing's patience also seems to be wearing thin with Japan, where China
continues to export small amounts of oil despite its own import needs.
"People's Daily" pointed to Japan's even higher import dependence on the
Persian Gulf, which it estimated at 82 percent.

It also cited unnamed analysts as explaining that the real reason behind
Japan's "enthusiasm" for the Nakhodka pipeline is to gain leverage in its
dispute with Russia over the "northern territories," or what Russia calls
the Kurile Islands. The remark may be a measure of how much China resents
the entire pipeline affair.

Despite the reasons to end the frictions, there may be just as many that
will make it go on.

Under another preliminary settlement proposal, private oil companies like
Yukos would agree to give up their quest for privately run pipelines in
Russia and submit to continued Transneft control in exchange for preferred
access and tariffs, if they invest in the lines. But it is hard to see how
the plan will work, as long as Transneft has the last word.

This week, the pipeline monopoly abruptly turned away 400,000 barrels per
day in Russian oil exports from the Yukos, LUKoil, TNK, and Rosneft oil
companies, the Moscow investment bank Troika Dialog reported. The move is
believed to be tied to backups at Russian ports, but with the exception of
state-owned Rosneft, all the companies have been trying to break free of
Transneft.

The curb, which will cut Russia's oil exports outside the Commonwealth of
Independent States by 13 percent, is hardly likely to end the infighting
with the companies or enhance the spirit of compromise. While China seeks
more energy trade with Russia, it may need more patience than it has.

*******

#15
Media freedom under threat, says Russian opposition party 
Interfax

Moscow, 25 February: The Russian democratic party Yabloko has said that
"freedom of the media in Russia is in danger".

"Another serious step towards curbing freedom of speech was the closure of
Novyye Izvestiya newspaper, whose journalists' view on what is happening in
the country was different from the official one," reads a Yabloko statement
circulated in Moscow on Tuesday [25 February].

The party's members believe that at the slightest sign of the authorities'
discontent, and even without such a sign, media owners dismiss "undesired"
journalists and even entire teams of journalists.

The statement also voices concern over similar trends in the regions,
"which view what is going on at the federal level as a signal to attack
independent journalists".

"The area of freedom in Russia's information space is shrinking," the
statement reads.

The party believes these trends might intensify in the run-up to the
elections.

The statement was signed by the Yabloko leader Grigoriy Yavlinskiy.

******* 

#16
BBC Monitoring
Time has come to "cash in Latvia's foreign policy dividends" - paper 
Source: Diena web site, Riga, in Latvian 25 Feb 03, p 2

President George Bush's promise to Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga
on her recent US visit to discuss the hurtful Russian blockade of oil
transit through Latvia with Russian President Putin may seem surprising
unless viewed as a mark of gratitude for Latvia's staunch support on the
Iraq issue, writes Maris Zanders in an article entitled "Time has come to
cash in Latvia's foreign policy dividends" published by the Latvian
newspaper Diena web site on 25 February. President Vike-Freiberga appears
to be taking on the mantle of the departed Czech President Havel as the
designated US partner in dialogue for Central and Eastern Europe, Zanders
concludes, and thus is a powerful foreign policy factor for Latvia.
Following is the text of the article; subheadings inserted editorially:

Political leaders often defend the interests of their country's businesses
abroad; the most influential countries also traditionally give direct
economic backing to their foreign policy allies, but the situation is very
rare in which a country expresses willingness to help a foreign policy ally
in the defence of its economic interests in a third country. However
essential Turkey is as an ally to the Americans, and however essential the
construction of the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey oil pipeline once was to the
Turks, the US intervention in Transcaucasian political processes in this
context was relatively small. That is why the support expressed by US
President George Bush (at his meeting with Latvian President
Vike-Freiberga) to discuss the "Ventspils blockade" [the Russian oil
pipeline monopoly's refusal to allow oil to be piped to the Latvian port]
with the Russian leader, Putin, is so surprising.

Latvia is bargaining in big-power politics

Of course one might surmise that Bush simply wanted to express his sympathy
with Latvia's support on the question of the Iraq conflict one more time
and in another form. It costs nothing to make promises, and moreover there
is not the slightest guarantee that Putin will pay any serious attention to
Bush's recommendation. It is also possibly a question of a short-term
tactical "gift" in the context of the Iraq conflict; in other words, it is
not worth counting on the short-term interest and support of the US
administration (examples are not hard to find: the USA provides various
economic benefits to Jordan and Egypt in exchange for the tacit support or
neutrality of those countries in the context of the campaign to topple
[Saddam] Husayn).

Of course one must also assume that Latvia's economic interests in this
situation are only a little cog in a bigger wheel. It is no secret that
France's more conciliatory stance on Iraq is dictated by the interests of
French firms in that country. For example, the French TotalFinaElf is
making claim to processing from two oilfields in Iraq: Majnun (20m barrels)
and Nahr Umar (6m barrels). In principle one might imagine that an
agreement is being reached between the USA and Russia which, to put it
vulgarly, might be described like this: the USA attacks Iraq, in exchange
for Russia's silence it gives the Russian oil concerns these intended
French projects and, in addition, asks it to no longer economically plague
its trusted Baltic allies... [newspaper ellipsis] It sounds like another
turn of conspiracy theory, but this version is likely enough.

However it may be, Bush's statement is interesting as a sign that Latvia
has attained that position in the family of other nations where it can
exchange its foreign policy allegiance for economic aid or, to put it
simply, our voice in the international arena costs something. I understand
that such a claim sounds cynical, but firstly we shouldn't idealize
international relations at all, and secondly national interests are after
all primary, and a certain pragmatism in their name is permissible.

President is Latvia's diplomatic trump card

Latvia will quite soon be a member of the EU and NATO. Another factor that
is probably ingrained in the long term is the difference of opinion between
the USA and various of its NATO allies. The USA and the old Europe have
differences not only about Iraq, but also about Iran, North Korea, China,
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and these discussions may also take on
the heat of the Iraqi dispute. So Latvia's opinion will be significant in
the future. Of course, one mustn't get carried away with bargaining. For
example, in the event that the USA decides to carry on punishing the
countries in the "axis of evil", we shouldn't hinder the Americans' efforts
in Iran for the sole reason of getting the help of Germany (which has
economic interests in Iran, unlike the USA) to influence Russia's behaviour
over Latvia's gas.

In defending its interests, Latvia does not have to fall for such
combinations, because we can "play" at a higher level, especially since we
have such an influential argument at our disposal as Vike-Freiberga. It is
characteristic of US foreign policy, as a great power, that it groups its
partners by region, and in a particular region it designates one of the
leaders of a country for dialogue (Egyptian President Husni Mubarak in the
Middle East, Mexican President Vicente Fox in Central America, and so on).
In Central and Eastern Europe the partner in dialogue was to a great extent
the Czech leader Vaclav Havel. Since his departure from the political
stage, Vike-Freiberga is in fact the most acceptable claimant for the post
- the first among equals. It is possible that Bush's gesture in connection
with Latvia's transit business is proof of such a view of the situation. If
so, we can conclude that Latvian foreign policy has achieved a
qualitatively new level, favourable to us.

*******

#17
No more big groups of militants in Chechnya - military commandant. 
February 26, 2003
ITAR-TASS

There are no more major groups of militants in Chechnya. All terrorist
attacks have been committed by small, scattered groups, Chechnya's military
commandant, Lieutenant-General Yevgeny Abrashin told reporters in Grozny on
Wednesday. 

He said the offices of local military commandants, originally answerable to
the Defense Ministry, have been re-subordinated to the Interior Ministry.
Since January 1, 2003 all offices of military commandants have been manned
by Interior Ministry troops. General Abrashin said the federal forces were
putting an end to mop-up operations, because "they have caused nothing but
material damage and moral harm. " 

There have been no mop-up operations in lowland Chechnya for two months
already. 

Roadblocks will be removed from the streets in the center of the Chechen
capital Grozny by March 5-6, General Abrashin said. 

Measures to optimize roadblocks in Chechnya were ordered by President
Vladimir Putin. Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov controls progress in the
work personally. The purpose is to reduce inconveniences for the residents
of big cities and major rural communities. 

There are a total of 60 roadblocks in Chechnya, two-thirds less than last
year. This time their number will be reduced by 20 percent. 

Interior troops that will remain in Grozny will be used only in case of
emergencies, such as operations to detain armed criminals and militants. 

Law and order will be maintained by police. 

The Ministry of Economic Development and Trade told Tass the social sphere
in Chechnya had been restored. For the first time in recent years Chechnya
in 2002 had a consolidated 20 billion-ruble budget. Delayed social benefits
for the past two years have been paid out. 

Four offices address the problems of social insurance of the aged, the
disabled and orphaned children. 

Two rehabilitation centers for children under age are about to open in the
Nadterechny district and Argun. 

Chechnya currently has 68 hospitals, 32 outpatient clinics, and 175 first
aid stations. 

Classes at the 456 secondary schools, 28 evening schools, 19 vocational
schools and consultation centers at colleges are attended by 225,000
students. 

In the meantime, Chechnya is preparing for a referendum on a new
Constitution, due March 23. 

According to the Finance Ministry, 56. 7 million rubles has been sent to
Chechnya to finance the referendum activities. Preparations have been
smoothly-going so far, the chief of Chechnya's electoral commission,
Abdul-Kerim Arsakhanov said. 

An opinion poll has found that 96 percent of Chechnya's residents who have
the right to vote know about the referendum and are familiar with the basic
ideas of the draft Constitution. 

A group of technical experts from the OSCE and the Council of Europe
arrived in Russia earlier on Wednesday to look into what was being done in
Chechnya to prepare for the voting. 

The Council of Europe coordination center in Moscow has told Tass in
Chechnya the experts will seek to find out how favourable the situation is
for the referendum. 

CU Human Rights Commissioner Alvaro Gil Robles believes a constitutional
referendum is one of the ways of achieving a settlement in Chechnya.
Speaking during his recent visit to Russia he said the referendum must
start a political dialogue that would let the Chechen people decide what is
to be done to restore peace. 

The head of the Muftis' Council of Russia, sheikh Ravil Gainutdin told a
news conference in Moscow the referendum would not bring about a solution
of the region's problems overnight. However, he is certain that the
referendum and subsequent elections would lay the groundwork of a solution
of the conflict in Chechnya. 

********

#18
1,660 people go missing during Chechen counter-terrorism operation

GROZNY. Feb 26 (Interfax) - A total of 1,178 criminal cases have been
opened into cases involving missing people in Chechnya since October 1, 1999. 
"Some 1,660 people are believed missing. This includes civilians, law
enforcement officials and servicemen," Chechnya's Prosecutor Vladimir
Kravchenko told Interfax on Wednesday. 
Kravchenko noted that "all these cases are being investigated. None of
them have been closed." "Work on each case continues until the whereabouts
and the fate of the missing people are established and until those
responsible for these incidents are found," the prosecutor noted. 
"Twenty-nine cases with abduction charges filed against rebel group
members have already been sent to court," he said. Among them is the case
opened into the kidnapping of Medicines Sans Frontieres member Kenneth
Gluck. "Two rebels will go on trial in this case," he said. 
The prosecutor noted that police have also established the suspects in
the abduction of Druzhba (Friendship) humanitarian organization head Nina
Davidovich and in some other incidents that have received wide public
response. 

*******

#19
USTR Zoellick warns Russia to end meat trade hurdles

WASHINGTON, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Russia, with its barriers to meat trade,
could ruin its chance of winning quick membership to the World Trade
Organization and is courting U.S. trade retaliation, the top U.S. trade
official hinted on Wednesday.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick told a congressional committee
that Moscow's obstructions to U.S. poultry and other meats were "a bad
sign" that could complicate Washington's efforts to promote Russia joining
the WTO.

"Unfortunately, Russia's actions on poultry and other meats have sent a
negative signal about the seriousness of its commitment to join the WTO,"
Zoellick said in prepared testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee.

"If Russia continues down this path, it risks losing the benefits of WTO
membership and even current levels of market access for its exports," he said.

At the end of last year, Russia announced new quotas on foreign poultry,
beef and pork, a move that was seen as retaliation for new European Union
limits on cheap wheat from Russia and Ukraine.

While U.S. government and industry officials have said imposing the quotas
runs counter to WTO agriculture goals, they have been much more vexed by
Russia's continuous challenges to the safety of American poultry plants.

Russia, the largest market for low-priced U.S. chicken leg quarters, bought
1.1 million tonnes of the product in 2001.

The value of poultry trade in 2002 was down about 40 percent, however,
after Russia twice shut down U.S. imports, citing concerns about their safety.

The U.S. industry said Russia's moves were simply an attempt to protect
domestic poultry producers.

Another disruption in trade could come this spring, as exporters face a May
31 deadline for getting new safety certificates for U.S. poultry plants and
Moscow has not yet indicated the licenses will be forthcoming.

Toby Moore, a spokesman for the U.S. Poultry and Egg Export Council in
Atlanta, said without such assurances, U.S. shipments could grind to a halt
by early April.

Twenty-four U.S. agriculture groups on Feb. 14 wrote a letter to President
George W. Bush urging his administration to look into trade retaliation
against Russia.

In his testimony to Congress on Wednesday, Zoellick did not embrace the
industry groups' call to action. But he issued a warning: "My own view is
we need to get things opened up for these producers, or else we need to
look at all the options that we have to let them (Russia) know what the
other side of the coin looks like."

The Bush administration holds one of the biggest keys to Russia's entry
into the WTO. Unless the United States grants "permanent normal trade
relations" status to Russia, its membership likely will not advance.

But first, Congress must remove Russia from the provisions of a Cold War
law that linked trade to the former Soviet Union's restrictive emigration
policies.

Efforts in Congress to lift the "Jackson-Vanik" law for Russia were
thwarted last year by the poultry trade dispute.

On Wednesday, Zoellick again urged Congress to take up the matter, saying
failing to do so was "to Russia a sign we think the Cold War is still going
on."

******

#20
Kennan Institute
event summary
January 30, 2003
Harmonization of Russian and Ukrainian Textbooks: A New Beginning or a
Return to a Lamentable Past? 

In a recent seminar at the Kennan Institute, Frank Sysyn, Director of the
Peter Jacyk Centre for Ukrainian Historical Research, University of
Alberta, and Sergei Zhuk, currently a Title VIII-Supported Research Scholar
at the Kennan Institute, discussed the recently established commission on
the harmonization Russian and Ukrainian textbooks. Sysyn explained the
historical background to the harmonization movement, and noted that
President Kuchma's creation of the joint Russian-Ukrainian harmonization
commission along with other decisions stirred controversy in Ukraine. Zhuk
provided background regarding the paradoxes of Soviet and Russian
historiography and discussed the Russian view on harmonization.

Sysyn discussed the recent opposition to President Kuchma's establishment
of the harmonization commission. He explained that in an open letter
released to the public, the Ukrainian intelligentsia argued that the
decision to have a joint commission came out during the so-called year of
Ukraine in Russia, and that because it is obvious this was a politically
motivated decree, it is not the appropriate basis for discussing textbooks.
Opponents argued that the heads of the commission would be the vice
premiers of the two countries, neither of whom were historians and
therefore quite incapable of dealing with history textbooks. 

Sysyn stated that he is not fundamentally against the idea of a
harmonization process, however he is concerned about who is carrying out
the commission and when it is being done. He explained that the current
Ukraine-Polish commission on harmonization has worked quite effectively.
Historians and scholars discuss and debate various topics, and while there
is not always agreement overall it seems to effectively be moving forward.
Sysyn noted that the situation between Ukraine and Russia is very
different. Russia has a government that has not fully accepted Ukrainian
independence and Russian scholars, in contrast to Polish scholars, have
only just begun to examine Ukrainian historical issues seriously. In
addition, Ukraine is "economically weak and politically unstable, and it
has a government whose authority is questionable to say the least."
Finally, Sysyn concluded, there are many unresolved questions within
Ukrainian society. He explained that most societies in Europe have codified
national myths, however, in Ukraine, there are varied and sometimes
conflicting views of past, and therefore an internal Ukrainian dialogue is
needed. 

Zhuk discussed trends in Russian historiography and Russian textbooks. He
explained that the prevailing view of provincialism plagued early attempts
to revise history textbooks. Zhuk noted that the first, but highly
unsuccessful, attempt to publish new textbooks for schools in Russia took
place in 1988. Subsequent mass publications of various history textbooks
created problems for the centralized state education system that had always
followed one theoretical framework and one textbook. He continued by
stating that textbooks on Ukrainian history have tried to incorporate
details of the Ukrainian past, but many aspects of the Soviet legacy still
exist in history textbooks. 

According to Zhuk, theoretical and professional debates over
center-province relations have complicated the recent efforts to harmonize
Russian-Ukrainian textbooks. He concluded that the prevailing provincial
view limits dialogue on the harmonization of history textbooks, and "the
apparent theoretical and professional provincialism and isolation of the
post-Soviet historians after the collapse of communism combined with the
new conditions of nation-making will push them further in the direction of
nationalism and unfortunately, cultural provincialism."