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1. AP: Chechen Voters Approve New Constitution.
2. Prime-TASS: Putin says Chechen people voted for peace, integrity of Russia.
3. Los Angeles Times: David Holley and Mayerbek Nunayev, Strong Turnout in Chechnya for Referendum.
4. Washington Post: Martin Indyk, We Forgot the Russians.
5. Nezavisimaya Gazeta: STEERING THE NATION GROWS HARDER WITH EVERY YEAR. Most analysts say Putin faces more complex problems now than in 2000.
6. Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Yevgeny Verlin, AMERICANS INTEND TO LEGALIZE THE KILLING OF SADDAM HUSSEIN. The US wants to legalize the war - Russia will try to oppose these plans.
7. Washington Times/AFP: Matthew Lee, Russian company accused of aiding Iraq against allies.
8. Bloomberg: Russian Company Denies Selling Iraq Jamming Technology.
9. Moscow Times: Matt Bivens, Chechnya: Which Crazy Plan Will Prevail?
10. US Institute of Peace event March 25: CHECHNYAS REFERENDUM: TOWARDS DIALOGUE OR DEAD END?
11. Reuters: Georgia confirms Russia's US spy plane claims.
12. New York Times: Tara Bahrampour, Leningrad's 900-Day Siege Lives Vividly to Its Children.
13. Luba Schwartzman: TV1 Review.
14. Konservator: Armen Asrian and Pavel Sviatenkov, THE END OF THE WORLD. Having started to strive for world domination, America will be unable to stop.
15. Asia Times: John Helmer, Oligarchs: A vulgar repeat of Russian history.
16. Financial Times (UK): Simon Targett, Fighting its risky reputation. A new business survey shows that Russia still has a long way to go to put itself on the investment map.
17. Izvestia: Dmitry Litovkin, POSSIBLE COMPROMISES ON JOINT MISSILE DEFENSE SYSTEM. Russia and the US have not gone far in missile defense
cooperation
.

******

#1
Chechen Voters Approve New Constitution
March 24, 2003
By YURI BAGROV

VLADIKAVKAZ, Russia (AP) - Chechen voters overwhelmingly approved a
constitution that keeps the separatist republic in Russia, officials said
Monday, in an outcome the Kremlin hopes will bring peace to a region
devastated by nearly a decade of war.

Chechnya's Moscow-appointed administration portrayed Sunday's referendum as
a key step in ending the conflict, but opponents said a new constitution
won't bring peace. Human rights groups questioned the validity of a vote
taking place under conditions of war.

With ballots counted from 255 of 418 electoral districts, there were
278,723 votes in favor of the constitution, or 95.9 percent, said Alexander
Veshnyakov, chairman of Russia's Central Election Commission. More than 79
percent of the 540,000 eligible voters cast ballots, election officials said.

Some Chechens said they cast ballots as much out of the sheer desire for
stability as out of any belief the referendum would restore it.

``It's impossible to live without hope; that's why I came here,'' said Roza
Alkhazurova, who voted at one of two polling places set up in neighboring
Ingushetia for the tens of thousands of refugees there.

Legislation setting the stage for presidential and parliamentary elections
in Chechnya received comparable support, the commission said on its Web site.

More than 79 percent of the 540,000 eligible voters cast ballots, it said.

The results ``guarantee the irreversibility of the peaceful political
formation of the republic,'' Russia's minister for Chechen affairs,
Stanislav Ilyasov, was quoted as saying by the ITAR-Tass news agency.

``The Chechen people have determined their fate themselves,'' Ilyasov said.

Sergei Yastrzhembsky, the Kremlin's chief spokesman on Chechnya, told the
Interfax news agency that ``The results of the referendum exceeded the most
optimistic expectations on voter turnout and the level of support'' for the
referendum.

Human rights groups have questioned the legitimacy of any vote held during
wartime, and critics have argued that a new constitution won't end the
conflict and cannot take the place of negotiations with rebel leader Aslan
Maskhadov.

The Kremlin refuses to talk to Maskhadov, who was elected president of
Chechnya in 1997 after a pact ended a 1994-1996 war and left separatists in
charge.

Russian forces returned to Chechnya in 1999 after rebels raided a
neighboring region and after deadly apartment-house bombings in Russian
cities that the Kremlin blamed on rebels. Rebels inflict casualties daily
on Russian forces, who continue to bomb and shell suspected rebel positions
and detain civilians in widely criticized search operations.

Sunday's referendum asked voters to approve a constitution that anchors
Chechnya in the Russian Federation and legislation providing for
presidential and parliamentary elections in the region. Many key questions
remain unresolved, including how much autonomy Chechnya will be given and
when the elections will be held.

Polling stations were attacked in the week before the plebiscite, but
security was heavy Sunday and no major violence linked to the referendum
was reported.

Security concerns kept away some key observer organizations.

Hrair Balian, the leader of a fact-finding team the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe sent to Chechnya, said that ``the
organization and conduct of the referendum were not without shortcomings,''
the Interfax news agency reported.

Thousands of Russian servicemen permanently stationed in Chechnya were
eligible to vote and the vast majority did so, military officials said.

*******

#2
Putin says Chechen people voted for peace, integrity of Russia

MOSCOW, Mar 24 /Prime-TASS/ -- The Russian President Vladimir Putin said at
a government meeting Monday that "the Chechen people had voted for peace"
in the referendum held Sunday.

He said that the results of the referendum were expected to be "positive"
but the reality "exceeded all our optimistic expectations".

He added that those Chechens who had not yet laid down their arms are now
fighting against the will of their own people and that that the referendum
"solved the last problem associated with Russia's territorial integrity".

Putin told the government to finalize its plans for the reconstruction of
Chechnya "in the shortest time possible".

The head of the Chechen administration Akhmad Kadyrov said in his interview
with ITAR-TASS Monday that the referendum results demonstrate that most
Chechens consider themselves to be Russian citizens.

This totally outlaws militants' leader Aslan Maskhadov and other
"extremists" who claim they express the interests of the Chechen people, he
said.

"Maskhadov, (Shamil) Basaev and their hangers-on should be neutralized as
soon as possible", Kadyrov said.

Kadyrov said that he will ask the Russian authorities to let the Chechen
Republic's Interior Ministry head the military operation in Chechnya with
the support of federal law enforcement agencies.

Chechen separatists now have to face the choice of surrendering or being
killed, the presidential representative in the Southern Federal District,
Victor Kazantsev told ITAR-TASS in Rostov-on-Don on Monday.

He said that over 500 Chechens had been freed under an amnesty since
December 1999 when the State Duma, the lower chamber of parliament, adopted
a bill on amnesties for Chechen militants. Over 3,000 people are waiting to
be amnestied, he added.

*******

#3
Los Angeles Times
March 24, 2003
Strong Turnout in Chechnya for Referendum
The new constitution would reassert Russian authority but promote some
autonomy for the republic. Opinion polls predict easy passage.
By David Holley and Mayerbek Nunayev, Special to The Times

GROZNY, Russia -- Voters in war-torn Chechnya turned out in large numbers
Sunday for a referendum on a new constitution designed to thwart hopes for
independence in the separatist republic but pave the way for limited
autonomy and peace.

About 80% of the 540,000 eligible voters had cast ballots by early evening,
far more than the simple majority required to make the referendum valid,
authorities said. Results were not due until today, but opinion polls
projected easy passage.  
 
Voters were asked to approve a constitution that reconfirms Chechnya as
part of Russia and to endorse rules for electing a Chechen president and
parliament.

Russian President Vladimir V. Putin has portrayed the referendum as an
essential step toward peace, reconstruction and the withdrawal of troops
who have been battling pro-independence guerrillas.

A key Kremlin goal is to delegitimize Aslan Maskhadov, who won Chechnya's
presidency in 1997 during a three-year period when the republic enjoyed de
facto independence and is now a top guerrilla leader.

"After adoption of the constitution, Maskhadov and his entourage will have
zero political status. As of today, they are bandits or terrorists," said
Abdul-Kerim Arsakhanov, chairman of the Central Election Commission of
Chechnya.

Critics, however, argue that the referendum could make peace even more
elusive.

"This war is evil, and instead of holding a phony referendum, all Chechens
should be thinking about how to stop the war," said Movsar Kuduzov, 55, a
former construction engineer who voted against the proposals. "A mere
referendum cannot bring the sides to lay their weapons down. Something more
serious, like negotiations, is needed."

Although Chechens enjoyed self-rule in their Caucasus republic after
defeating Russian troops in a 1994-96 war, Russian forces returned in 1999
and have fought guerrillas since. By official count, about 80,000 troops
and special police are stationed in Chechnya.

"The majority of Chechen people do not want or need this referendum. It is
a big trick," said Markha Salgeriyeva, 47. "No one has been held liable for
all those innocent Chechens who have gone missing. No one has shown to the
mothers of those summarily executed and tortured to death where the graves
of our children are."

But in this war-weary region, many long so deeply for peace that they are
ready to take a chance on a fresh political start.

"I personally fought against the federal troops in the first war and do not
regret it one bit. I still think I did the right thing -- it was my duty,"
said Usman Kerimov, 39. "But today there is only one way out of the
impasse.... We do not have a moral right to continue the war against Russia
because it will bring about the demise of Chechnya. We should lay down
weapons and move back into the realm of law and order. This is the only way
out."

Rebels had vowed to disrupt the balloting, and in the last week several
polling stations came under arson, grenade or gunfire attacks. But
officials of the Moscow-backed Chechen administration dismissed the
incidents as the work of "hooligans."

Sunday's vote was free of violence, officials said.

Khasan Taymaskhanov, who headed referendum preparations, said the lack of
guerrilla attacks Sunday meant that even the rebels realized "there is no
other way for the Chechen republic and the Chechen people but to live with
Russia, to live according to the law."

"It is obvious that if the rebels had wanted to attack polling stations or
commit acts of terror, they would have surely succeeded," he said.

But Pavel Voshchanov, a prominent political analyst, said he saw "no
reasons to believe that the referendum will bring peace to the republic."

There are still guerrillas who "hide in the mountains, live in dugouts
armed to their teeth and do not intend to strike any peace deals with the
federal side," Voshchanov said. "These people are not ready to surrender
their weapons. To them, whether the referendum has been held or not does
not make any difference.... All the talk about the referendum being able to
bring peace, unity and stability to Chechnya is nothing but a myth blown
out of proportion for propaganda purposes."

Indeed, authorities had pushed hard for a "yes" vote, stressing that a new
constitution would be the first step toward bringing life back to normal,
and many voters accepted that argument.

"I want only two things: peace and stability in the republic," said Kheda
Isayeva, 54, an unemployed doctor in Grozny. "I pin my hopes on the
referendum."

Shops were ordered closed Sunday in an effort to boost voter turnout.
Soldiers and police with assault rifles guarded polling places.

Two polling stations were also set up in the neighboring republic of
Ingushetia, where tens of thousands of Chechen refugees live.

Alexander Petrov, an official with Human Rights Watch, said by telephone
from Ingushetia that some might question the official turnout figures.

"Even in Ingushetia, from what we saw, the number of people who came to
vote was much less than 70%," Petrov said. "And this was in a republic
where there are no hostilities. How come in Chechnya, where the war is
still going on, where no one can generally feel safe, where there are human
rights violations, the turnout was nearly 80%? Can this figure be
completely trusted?"

Shamsuddi Suleymanov, 24, an unemployed man in Grozny, questioned why
authorities waged such a high-pressure campaign.

"If they are leaning on us so hard, then there must be something fishy
about it," he said. "This is why I will vote against it. I don't like to be
cheated. Besides, holding the referendum now is premature. They should stop
the war first and pull the troops out. Otherwise, it looks like a public
vote taken in a concentration camp or a prison: 'Anybody against? Those who
are against -- step forward!' We know how these things usually end."

Times staff writer Holley reported from Moscow and special correspondent
Nunayev from Grozny. Alexei V. Kuznetsov of The Times' Moscow Bureau
contributed to this report.

*******

#4
Washington Post
March 23, 2003
We Forgot the Russians
By Martin Indyk
The writer is director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the
Brookings Institution. In the Clinton administration he served as assistant
secretary of state for Near East affairs and U.S. ambassador to Israel.

With our nation at war and our troops risking their lives, it might not be
thought opportune to examine what the Bush administration could have done
better along the way. Nevertheless, having failed to gain a majority in the
U.N. Security Council in favor of the use of force, the United States now
finds the legitimacy of its actions questioned by many in the international
community. What was lost at the United Nations in the days before the war
will need to be regained in coming weeks, because once Saddam Hussein is
gone we will need international support for the transition to stable,
representative government in Iraq. Without it we run the considerable risk
that our well-meaning efforts will come to be seen as a military occupation
to be resisted rather than assisted.

President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair acknowledged this
necessity at their Azores summit. American and British diplomats are now
approaching the Security Council for access to the billions of dollars of
escrowed Iraqi oil-for-food money to feed some 60 percent of the Iraqi people.

If we are to rebuild an international consensus, however, we need to
understand how we lost it. The convenient explanation is to blame the
French, and they certainly deserve all the criticism they are getting for
their determined 12-year diplomatic effort to let Hussein off the hook.

But blaming the French doesn't explain our failure to isolate them -- or
their success in isolating us in the Security Council. If everyone else had
been on board, the French wouldn't have dared block the resolution. The
reality is that the French were in respectable company: The Russians and
the Chinese were also prepared to veto; the Mexicans, Canadians and
Chileans -- our closest friends in this hemisphere -- were not with us.

The failure lay not with the French but with the way we ignored the
Russians. Remember Vladimir Putin? Up until last week, his alignment with
the United States was the single greatest achievement of this president's
personal diplomacy. Despite the Bush administration's trampling of Russian
interests in abandoning the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, Putin made a
personal decision to forge a strategic partnership with the United States.
On that basis, the Russian president was willing to abandon decades of
Soviet and Russian support for Hussein.

In the 1990s such an approach was inconceivable. The Yeltsin government,
under the guidance of longtime Middle East hand Yevgeny Primakov, developed
a strategic as well as commercial rationale for maintaining close ties with
Baghdad. But after 9/11, Putin developed a very different strategic
calculus -- that Russia's future lay in partnership with Washington, not
Baghdad.

It certainly helped that Bush reassured Putin that Russia's commercial
interests in a post-Hussein Iraq would be preserved and showed greater
sympathy for Putin's Chechen predicament. But without the shift in Putin's
strategic conception, the Russians would never have voted for Security
Council Resolution 1441. And that shift made it at least possible for Bush
to have brought Putin around on the second resolution rather than watch him
turn and support the French conception of constraining the American
"hyperpower."

The problem with our diplomacy was not that we tried and failed but that we
didn't try at all -- until it was too late. The Bush administration simply
assumed that Putin was in the president's pocket and took him for granted.
Even last week, when the president appeared to begin the effort to repair
the damage in the Security Council, he chose to fete the president of
Cameroon at a private White House dinner. Where was Putin? Left clamoring
from the sidelines for the president's attention by personally criticizing
our actions in Iraq.

Why is Russia so important? Because effective diplomatic strategy in the
Security Council is based on a simple mathematical calculation. There are
five permanent, veto-wielding members. On Iraq, we go into battle with two
votes (United States and Britain). We need one more vote to have a majority
of the permanent members. Once we have three votes we almost automatically
get four, since China usually sides with the majority. Once we have four,
France is isolated and the nonpermanent members then have the cover to join
with the heavyweight majority. In those circumstances France would not have
dared veto.

Instead of focusing on Russia we compounded our error by attempting to
bludgeon the nonpermanent members into voting with us. But with the big
five so split, and a majority of them opposed to us, the smaller fry did
not dare to choose sides. And it didn't help that we turned a tin ear to
their concerns, dismissed their efforts at compromise with disdain, and
showed a wooden-headed determination to ignore the impact of international
public opinion on the calculations of their democratically elected leaders.
Little wonder that, despite the investment of presidential prestige, we
started with four votes and ended with four votes.

It's too late to salvage the Security Council consensus that would have
legitimized this war against Iraq. But it's not too late to start
rebuilding an international consensus around the twin objectives of
providing a better, more democratic future for the people of Iraq, and
promoting a more peaceful and safe Middle East. Putin shares those
objectives, not only because of Russia's economic stake in Iraq, but also
because Moscow is keen to be a constructive partner in the effort to put
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the path to resolution.

Pursuing freedom in Iraq and Middle East peace will promote the values that
the rest of the world admires in American foreign policy. We should not
wait for the war to end to begin the effort to rebuild an international
consensus on these bases. And this time, we should start by lining up the
Russians.

******

#5
Nezavisimaya Gazeta
March 24, 2003
STEERING THE NATION GROWS HARDER WITH EVERY YEAR
Most analysts say Putin faces more complex problems now than in 2000
Author: not indicated
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
ON MARCH 26, IT WILL BE THREE YEARS SINCE VLADIMIR PUTIN WAS ELECTED
PRESIDENT. WHEN HAS IT BEEN EASIER FOR HIM TO RUN THE COUNTRY: IN
2000, OR IN 2003? SOME OF RUSSIA'S LEADING POLITICAL ANALYSTS GIVE
THEIR ANSWERS TO THAT QUESTION: GLEB PAVLOVSKY, ANDREI PIONTKOVSKY,
IGOR BUNIN, AND SERGEI MARKOV.

On March 26, it will be three years since Vladimir Putin was
elected president. When has it been easier for him to run the country:
in 2000, or in 2003?

GLEB PAVLOVSKY, EFFECTIVE POLICY FOUNDATION
In 2000 there were very many expectations - some of them quite
fantastic - and leaders with the most diverse views had confidence in
the president simply because they still had no idea what his agenda
would be. On the other hand, Putin was also confident due to
ignorance, to some degree; he had not yet grasped the scale of what
would be facing him. I'm sure he didn't have a sense of that scale
until the Kursk submarine disaster; only after that did he begin to
understand the extent to which infrastructure, work ethics, and
financial systems had been destroyed across virtually all of Russia's
institutions. Putin didn't even have a team back then. His team has
come together over the past three years, shaped by the president's
understanding of who is capable of getting particular things done. He
may have been deluded about some of his old friends, and about the
state bureaucracy as a whole. He may have been deluded about the
condition of the military, the Armed Forces; he didn't know that the
war in Chechnya would last so long... Overall, in my view, Putin was
much more of an ideological optimist in 2000 than he is now. Now he
has a fairly sober grasp of what Russia has and what it lacks.

ANDREI PIONTKOVSKY, STRATEGIC RESEARCH CENTER
It was easier for the president to manage Russia in 2000. Putin
was elected president as a myth. There was a myth about Putin. I am
not using the word "myth" in a derogatory sense, but in the sense of
some kind of phenomenon in the public mind. Our society was presented
with the image of a strong, courageous leader, defending the nation
and the people at a time when they were under threat from armed
terrorists. This election plan proved very successful; a virtually
unknown person not only won the election by a large margin, but became
the national hero who stopped the Chechen terrorists.
Of course, this mythical image gave Putin a great deal of freedom
to act, since he was regarded uncritically by the public, and some
very diverse groups in society saw in Putin whatever they wanted to
see. The patriots and statists saw a strong leader of a great power;
the liberals saw a person who would implement market reforms with an
iron hand. It was an image that suited everybody. But naturally, it
could not last long, since any action alienated some people and was
approved by others. So now we see a Putin who still has a high
approval rating, but is being actively criticized by a great many
political circles. The period of euphoria and delighted adoration has
passed, and now Putin is confronted with serious issues. Putin became
president with virtually no team of his own; the latest personnel
changes show that on the one hand, he has managed to increase the
number of people who are loyal to him, specifically; but on the other
hand, the skills these people have are not enough. We can see that
many of his appointees to important positions have not produced any
impressive achievements thus far.

IGOR BUNIN, POLITICAL CONSULTING CENTER
Vladimir Putin inherited a very difficult legacy: a chaotic
system of state administration, and many conflicts among various
cliques. He needed to build up some kind of system with a single
center, restoring manageability to at least a minimal level. It was
uncertain that high oil prices and the economic growth stemming from
ruble devaluation, which had made Russian goods more competitive,
would last for long. Overall, in 2000 there were many more problems to
solve - but there was less responsibility; because in that period,
solving even one problem - for example, regular pension payments and
wage payments for state-sector workers - already counted as a major
achievement. Now the first layer of problems has been removed; they
have been resolved; and each new task demands great effort. The tasks
have become very much a matter of technique; they are complex and
require finesse, and the cost of each solution is much higher.
Moreover, in 2000 Vladimir Putin was dependent on one team: he was
dependent on "Yeltsin's Family". He could simply take the list of all
basic goals and formulations from the Family team. That was easier.
But now the "St. Petersburg clan" is in constant conflict with the
"Family group". Of course, under these circumstances it is much more
difficult than before to be an arbiter between the clans.

SERGEI MARKOV, POLITICAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE
Of course it's easier to run the country in 2003. In 2000, the
fundamental state institutions had not yet been formed; Putin was
opposed by the oligarchs, both financial and regional. I remind you
that at the time, few believed that the president would succeed in
carrying out regional reforms, breaking the resistance of regional
leaders. Few believed he would succeed in reducing the influence of
the oligarchs. But he did succeed; he made the situation manageable,
and is now the dominant force. Besides everything else, in 2000 Russia
was diplomatically isolated to a significant degree. But now the
president has not only emerged from isolation, but is viewed as one of
the more influential figures in global politics. This, of course,
makes it substantially easier for him to take action at home and
abroad. Moreover, the tasks he faces have changed in nature: rather
than the revolutionary political objectives of 2000, he is now dealing
with fairly routine matters and technicalities.
(Translated by Andrei Ryabochkin)

******

#6
Nezavisimaya Gazeta
March 24, 2003
AMERICANS INTEND TO LEGALIZE THE KILLING OF SADDAM HUSSEIN
The US wants to legalize the war - Russia will try to oppose these plans
Author: Yevgeny Verlin
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
CURRENTLY THE US POLICY FOR LEGALIZATION OF ITS OWN ACTIONS IN IRAQ
IS THE MOST VULNERABLE. RUSSIA IS TRYING TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS
VULNERABILITY. PROBABLY, MOSCOW WILL AGREE TO LEGITIMIZE IT IN
EXCHANGE FOR CONFIRMATION OF ITS CONTRACTS OR TURNING PART OF IRAQ
INTO RUSSIA'S PROTECTORATE.

Moscow is convinced that despite the fact that the war in Iraq is
already in full swing, the US is still thinking how to make it legal,
though antedated.
For instance, Russian Foreign Minster Igor Ivanov said in his
interview with the Nezavisimaya Gazeta, "Russia will study all the
following resolutions of the UN Security Council on Iraq and will
oppose to both direct or indirect legitimization of the military
operation and further steps which will strengthen the US post-war
settlement in Iraq."
Igor Ivanov explained the nuances of the Russian position on the
Iraqi issue. He strongly disagreed with the opinion that currently it
is too late to stop the war and try resolve the Iraqi disarmament
issue diplomatically.
First, the minister believes, it is harldy possible to say that
the US will be able to win in the immediate future. When the US
started bombing Yugoslavia in 1999 and Moscow tried to stop NATO,
Javier Solana and General Clark told Ivanov in person that the
operation would maximally last a week. In fact, the war lasted 78
days. Ivanov recollects, "I could have lasted longer if different
political combinations did not come into effect. By the time the
agreements were made, the military potential of Yugoslavia had
decreased only by 30-40%".
The minister continued, "Of course the US and Great Britain will
succeed in this military operation - there are no other options.
However, no one knows how the situation around Iraq and on the
battlefield will develop. Besides, it is not known at what stage
Washington will have to involve the political resource have the losses
exceed the calculations of Bush's administration."
The minister is convinced that the political factor may be needed
in the near future. Everyone understands that if there are numerous
victims among Iraqi peaceful residents and if there are large amounts
of refugees, the anti-military movement in the world including the US
will also grow which in turn will complicate the situation for the
White House.
To prove this theory, Ivanov informed about Friday's call of the
US Secretary of State Colin Powell who proposed to Moscow to "start
thinking together how to cooperate in settling Iraq after the war."
According to Ivanov, it was not a "polite call". This proves once
again that as soon as the US will have a chance, it will appeal to the
UN Security Council to legalize its presence in Iraq. The Russian
minister made the aforementioned explanations in the course of his
speech at the annual assembly of the Foreign and Defense Policy
Council in the Moscow region.
Besides, foreign minister said that Russia's opposition to the
US's plans to legalize the military operation will be carried out in
the form of difficult diplomatic work. Russia aims to stipulate its
economic interests in Iraq in upcoming UN Security Council
resolutions, in particular, it concerns fulfillment of prior contracts
by the new regime as well as repayment of Iraq's $8 billion debt to
Russia.
Ivanov is convinced that Russia will have to fight heavily for
fixing its interests in the new Security Council resolutions on post-
war Iraq.
Therefore, currently the US's policy for legalization of its own
actions in Iraq is the most vulnerable. Russia is trying to take
advantage of this vulnerability. Probably, Moscow will agree to
legitimize it in exchange for confirmation of its contracts or turning
a part of Iraq into Russia's protectorate. One way or another, the
political bargaining around Iraq - both in the UN Security Council and
between Moscow and Washington - will continue.
The US has introduced to the Security Council draft humanitarian
resolution on Iraq. The Russian side is consulting the US on this
issue, which, according to Ivanov is further evidence that the US will
be unable to bypass the UN Security Council.
(Translated by Arina Yevtikhova)

******

#7
Washington Times
March 24, 2003
Russian company accused of aiding Iraq against allies
By Matthew Lee
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

     Russian technicians are helping Iraq jam satellite signals that guide
bombs and military aircraft even as U.S., British and Australian troops
advance on Baghdad, a senior U.S. official said yesterday. Top Stories  The
official said Washington had evidence that personnel from a Russian firm
were in Iraq attempting to help set up and operate a system that interferes
with U.S. global positioning technology.
     "The system is complex, and there is evidence that [Russian
technicians] have been trying to bring this system online and help the
Iraqis operate it," the official told AFP on the condition of anonymity.
     "We are extremely upset and have raised this at very senior levels
with the Russians," the official said.
     The official said there was no indication that the Russian government
was involved, but said Moscow had been "extremely unhelpful" in addressing
U.S. concerns.
     The official said Washington had confronted the Moscow-based
Aviaconversiya firm with accusations that it had sold the system and sent
personnel to Iraq, and had been met with denials.
     The firm again denied the accusations yesterday, although it has said
Baghdad had been interested in acquiring the goods.
     "They are just making this up," said Oleg Antonov, the director of
Aviaconversiya. "Let them capture one of our personnel.
     "They won't find any of our technicians in Iraq," he told AFP in
Moscow. "The Americans are trying to find a scapegoat because their bombs
are not falling as accurately as they want."
     The senior U.S. official said however that U.S. intelligence had been
able to match an electronic signal emitted by the system in Iraq to the
system sold by the Russian firm.
     "It emits a signal that is specific to the equipment of this
Aviaconversiya company, and our intelligence people have been able to
identify it," the official said.
     The official confirmed a report in The Washington Post that said
complaints about the sales of jamming devices by the firm had begun in June
2002.
     At the time, however, the official said the Russians denied the
company even existed despite the fact that it maintained an Internet site
and was the subject of extensive media coverage in Russia.
     "It was ridiculous, but now it's gone beyond that," the official said.
     Washington also has protested transactions by two other Russian firms,
one of which has sold anti-tank missiles and another that sold thousands of
night-vision goggles to Iraq, the official said.
     Protests about the Aviaconversiya sales and assistance to Iraq
intensified earlier this month when Russian Ambassador Yuri Ushakov was
summoned to the State Department, the senior official said.
     "Their response so far has not been satisfactory," said Brenda
Greenberg, a State Department spokeswoman. "We hope that the responsible
Russian agencies will take our concerns seriously."
     The official said the last complaint was made Saturday to the Russian
Foreign Ministry.

******

#8
Russian Company Denies Selling Iraq Jamming Technology
Guy Faulconbridge in the Moscow bureau

Moscow, March 24 (Bloomberg) -- Russia's Aviakonversiya Ltd.
said it didn't sell Iraq equipment capable of jamming U.S.
airplanes and missiles, contradicting a Washington Post report.
The Washington Post on Sunday cited U.S. officials as saying
Aviakonversiya sold Iraq technology that jams navigation signals
used by U.S. aircraft, troops and guided bombs and missiles. The
Post quoted an unidentified U.S. official saying the company's
staff were in Iraq advising how to install the systems.
``We have never and are not supplying this technology to Iraq
or Iraqis and we have no one in Iraq,'' said Oleg Antonov,
Aviakonversiya's general director, in a telephone interview. ``The
Pentagon wants to divert attention from the fact that their
missiles aren't hitting the targets and so they pick on us.''
U.S.-Russian relations have cooled after Russian President
Vladimir Putin declined to support the U.S. and U.K.'s war against
Iraq, which owes Russia about $8 billion in debt. Russia, France
and China oppose military action in Iraq.
Putin last week called on the U.S. to stop its war on Iraq,
saying the U.S. is replacing international law with ``the rule of
the fist.'' He accused the U.S. of attacking Iraq without approval
from the United Nations.
Aviakonversiya produces and develops equipment that can jam
communications systems, including radar and wireless
telecommunications, Antonov said.

*******

#9
Moscow Times
March 24, 2003
Chechnya: Which Crazy Plan Will Prevail?
By Matt Bivens

WASHINGTON -- Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov's foreign minister was just
in the United States to present a new peace plan for Chechnya. It did not
offer a single concession: No pledge to disarm, no handing over of the most
bloodstained Chechen warlords, no negotiating on whether Chechnya will secede.

In the past, Maskhadov has insisted everything, including Chechen
independence, was on the table -- so long as peace talks would begin.

Now, however, Foreign Minister Ilyas Akhmadov is calling for Russia to pull
out, unspecified United Nations peacekeeping forces to move in, and a
UN-sponsored tribunal to identify war criminals. In other words, it's a
demand for President Vladimir Putin's unconditional surrender, possibly
including Putin sitting in the UN dock, la Slobodan Milosevic.

Most peace plans, I suggested, are usually more conciliatory. Why doesn't
this one contain any concessions? The Kremlin has made clear it won't
forgive or forget Shamil Basayev's 1995 raid on the southern village of
Budyonnovsk, which culminated in a shoot-out at a hospital that left more
than 100 dead; or the 1999 invasion of Dagestan by Basayev and his ally
Khattab, in which the first shots of the current war were fired.

The U.S. State Department has even asserted (without providing evidence)
that there's a link between Basayev and terrorist groups it says were
involved in the Nord-Ost hostage crisis. Why not put Basayev's fate on the
negotiating table?

Akhmadov's reply was that a UN tribunal could indict terrorists -- on both
sides.

"Believe me, our list [of enemy war criminals] is much longer than theirs,"
he said. "There is General [Vladimir] Shamanov, who organized a massacre in
Alkhan-Yurt. There is General [Gennady] Troshev and General [Vladimir]
Bulgakov who together completely destroyed the city of Grozny, in part by
using illegal fuel-air bombs, killing tens of thousands of civilians."

Fair enough. Chechnya long ago joined the ranks of conflicts with so many
layers of atrocity-as-revenge-for-atrocity that sorting out who's at fault
is probably hopeless while the war rages. It may never be possible. As
Akhmadov notes, even Basayev's 1995 raid on Budyonnovsk followed the
federal government's 1995 massacre in the village of Samashki -- and also
months of militarily senseless carpet-bombing that killed thousands of
children. Such has been the pattern to the present day -- from December's
Chechen terrorist bombing of a government building that killed 70, to the
Russian-organized disappearances of Chechen civilians.

Nonetheless, it's worth considering that while Maskhadov is often harshly
criticized when he is slow to condemn terror attacks -- even though he has
condemned every terror attack, specifically and generally, with direct and
forceful language -- Putin, by contrast, has never acknowledged, much less
condemned, any federal massacre. Instead, he has promoted and decorated
generals who stand accused of them.

Bringing in thousands of UN blue helmets sounds crazily quixotic. Surely it
will never happen while Putin is president. That said, it has seemed to
solve the unsolvable in places like Kosovo and East Timor.

Perhaps the only plan crazier involves forcing the adoption of a
Kremlin-written constitution through a Kremlin-organized referendum held
under martial law. There are no independent publications allowed in
Chechnya, no political assembly or demonstrations.

The outcome of such a sham process will ultimately be what we have now: an
illegitimate Kremlin puppet regime.

I suspect, in the long run, we will ultimately see the Maskhadov-Akhmadov
plan adopted -- as the only way out.

Matt Bivens, a former editor of The Moscow Times, writes The Daily Outrage
at www.thenation.com

********

#10
Date: Fri, 21 Mar 2003
From: Suzanne Wopperer <wopperer@usip.org>
Organization: United States Institute of Peace
Subject: USIP/Chechnya Event

Special Event Invitation from the U.S. Institute of Peace *
For those of you not resident in or visiting the Washington DC
area at the time of the event, PLEASE JOIN US VIRTUALLY, as the
event will be BROADCAST LIVE on our website for remote viewers'
participation, and for use as a distance learning tool See
details at the bottom of this message for more information and
instructions. We hope you will join us, Live or Virtually.

* * * * *
You are cordially invited to a Institute Current Issues Briefing:

CHECHNYAS REFERENDUM: TOWARDS DIALOGUE OR DEAD END?

To be held on TUES, March 25, 2003, from 10:00-11:45am.

As conflict in Chechnya continues, civilian casualties are
rising, rebel tactics and military abuses are
escalating, and dialogue is stalled. A constitutional referendum
on March 23 is timed with a limited withdrawal of Russian troops
from Chechnya. Some hope the vote will contribute to peace and a
restoration of civil society to Chechens, while others reject it
as a disingenous and illegitimate PR stunt. In the aftermath of
the referendum, experts will analyze the outcome and discuss
- Russias goals in holding the referendum, the likely
consequences for Chechnya, and implications for U.S. policy in
the region;
- whether Russian assurances of peace, autonomy, and
reparations for Chechens are genuine; and
- how the Islamization of the Chechen struggle will affect
cooperation in the war on terrorism and
reactions to recent Chechen peace proposals.

Speakers:
ZAINDI CHOLTAEV, Woodrow Wilson International Center for
Scholars, Kennan Center

GLEN HOWARD, American Committee for Peace in Chechnya

MIKE MORROW, U.S. Department of State, Office of Russian Affairs

HIS EXCELLENCY YURI USHAKOV, Embassy of the Russian Federation
(invited)

Moderator:
ANNE HENDERSON, United States Institute of Peace

Please RSVP to (202) 429-3832 line 2, or online at
<http://www.usip.org/forms/cib_20030325_reg.html>. Media
inquiries, please call John Brinkley at 202-429-3824. EVENT WILL
BE BROADCAST LIVE on http://www.usip.org. See instructions below.

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*******

#11
Georgia confirms Russia's US spy plane claims

TBILISI, March 24 (Reuters) - Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze said
on Monday U.S. spy planes were flying regularly over Georgian territory,
confirming Russia's claims of such flights near its border.

"American planes, operating at our request, are carrying out reconnaissance
of our territory to help us fight terrorism," Shevardnadze said in a
national radio address.

Russia, whose relations with the United States have deteriorated over the
Iraq crisis, accused Washington of adopting Cold War practices after
Russian air defences detected a U.S. spy plane flying near the border with
Georgia.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it was the third time since late February
that such flights had been detected.

A Georgian Defence Ministry official contacted on Monday did not rule out
that the U.S. spy planes might cross into Russia's airspace during flights.

The United States sent military trainers to Georgia in May, 2002, to help
reshape its rag-tag army into a force capable of confronting guerrilllas.

The presence of Chechen rebels in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge, which borders
Russia, has inflamed long-standing tensions between the two states, with
Moscow accusing its small southern neighbour of taking insufficient action
to root out rebel bases.

Georgia has ruled out any Russian role in moving against the guerrillas.

*******

#12
New York Times
March 23, 2003
Leningrad's 900-Day Siege Lives Vividly to Its Children
By TARA BAHRAMPOUR

The other day, as war loomed and New Yorkers worried that their city could
be a prime target, Mark Mandelshtam, 74 years old, sat in an apartment in
Midwood, Brooklyn, fingering a small engraved medal. "900 Days, 900 Nights"
it read in Cyrillic letters -- the amount of time his native city,
Leningrad, was under siege by an unseen enemy during World War II.

Mr. Mandelshtam, a great-nephew of the poet Osip Mandelstam, was 13 in
1942. That winter there were record low temperatures, and Leningraders died
by the thousands as Nazis shelled the city and cut off food supplies. While
a young Anne Frank was writing her account of ordinary life under
extraordinary circumstances, Mr. Mandelshtam kept a diary of starvation's
physical and spiritual toll.

Unlike Anne's diary, Mr. Mandelshtam's was not read until 1992, when his
12-year-old granddaughter, Yuliya Chernova, was at his apartment in
Leningrad, now known as St. Petersburg. Seeing her in a melancholy mood, he
pulled out two worn notebooks where, in the sharp, unflinching manner of
youth, he had recorded his family's day-to-day scramble for food.

Soon afterward, Ms. Chernova immigrated to Brooklyn and attended Edward R.
Murrow High School, where she met others whose relatives had survived the
siege, which killed one-third of Leningrad's three million citizens. A
graduate of Brown University who now works for a financial newsletter, she
is interviewing other survivors who live in Brooklyn and hoping to collect
the responses, along with her grandfather's diary, into a book.

Her focus is on people who were children or teenagers during the siege.
Having left St. Petersburg herself at 13, she is acutely aware that
identifying with one's city is an important step for adolescents, who are
just starting to explore the world outside the home. "It's not just the
war, it's coming of age," said Ms. Chernova, a self-possessed 23-year-old
with clear gray eyes. "They're asserting themselves, becoming people,
gaining their identities."

This month she and Mr. Mandelshtam visited the Midwood home of Revekka
Kabalkina, 79, who was a teenager during the siege and whose granddaughter,
Irina Livshits, is a friend of Ms. Chernova. After a snack of salmon
caviar, a delicacy only dreamed of during the siege, the four pored over
old photographs.

Mr. Mandelshtam recalled going to school even as most of his teachers died,
and writing his diary in tiny, cramped letters to conserve paper. His
family was eventually evacuated. But Ms. Kabalkina, 17, was too old to
evacuate; she was assigned to dragging corpses out of apartments.

Since moving here in the 1990's, both miss St. Petersburg and the
recognition that siege survivors receive there.

"In Russia there was much more respect, and privileges," Ms. Kabalkina
said. "Here we get less respect, even from veterans' associations, because
we didn't fight."

Speaking with survivors has changed Ms. Chernova's perspective on war's
legacy.

"I thought I would learn that it makes them stronger or more ready," she
said, alluding to the war in Iraq and the threat of terror. "But what I'm
finding is it's more difficult for them and more horrible for them, because
they really understand what war is. They've been through

******

#13
TV1 Review
www.1tv.ru
Compiled by Luba Schwartzman (luba_sch@hotmail.com)
Research Analyst, Center for Defense Information, Moscow office

HEADLINES,
Friday, March 21, 2003
- Russian President Vladimir Putin made a new statement about
Iraq. At a meeting with delegates from the member-nations of the
Collective Security Agreement he declared: "The crisis is no
longer a local conflict; it threatens stability in other regions of the
world, including the Commonwealth of Independent States."
- Iraqi Ambassador to Russia Abbas Halaf announced that 36
civilians have been injured in the military operation.
- The Russian State Duma has proposed the introduction of UN
forces into Iraq.
- The first Russian Emergencies Ministry airplane with
humanitarian cargo will arrive in Iraq tonight. Four airplanes with
tents and medical supplies are ready to go.
- Central Electoral Commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov
declared that the events in Iraq may effect the progress of the
referendum on the Chechen Constitution. "The contrast is all too
clear," he stated. "One country solves its problems through
democratic means, while another uses force."
- A group of 26 international observers will travel to Chechnya to
attend the referendum.
- Several hundred Emergency Ministry employees are setting up
communication systems at the voting stations in Chechnya.
- United Russia Party representatives will attend the All-Russian
Pedagogical Congress, which will be held in Kazan over spring
break.
- President Putin signed a decree appointing a number of judges to
regional courts.
- Putin awarded Deputy Director of the Capital Construction and
Restoration Department of RAO UAS Nurdin Usamov with the
Star of the Hero of Russia for his achievements in Chechnya.
- The war in Iraq will not affect the plans of the Russian-American
crew of the International Space Station to enter open space on
April 7-8.

*******

#14
Konservator
March 21, 2003
THE END OF THE WORLD
Having started to strive for world domination, America will be unable to stop
Author: Armen Asrian, Pavel Sviatenkov
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
FROM THE VERY OUTSET, AMERICA'S GLOBAL DOMINION MUST LOOK LIKE
SENSELESS, HYSTERICAL, AND REPELLENT DICTATORSHIP, RATHER THAN THE
WISE RULE OF ENLIGHTENED RULERS. OUR GREATEST HOPE IS THE ACCUMULATING
HATRED OF HUMILIATED STATES AND PEOPLES. IT IS NECESSARY FOR THE
AMERICAN EMPIRE TO ACQUIRE A SOLID REPUTATION AS THE EVIL EMPIRE.

We are now witnessing the construction of the American Empire.
The Fourth Rome is here, and it's America.
In his address to the nation, President George W. Bush declared
that he had made the decision to attack Iraq without the consent of
the United Nations. The UN, which is responsible for upholding peace
around the world, has suffered a fiasco comparable to that of the
League of Nations in the 1930s. Might makes right - just as all this
was intended to prove. The international community's opinion is no
longer of any interest to anyone. Even if opponents of the war do
manage to convene a meeting of the UN Security Council, any anti-
American resolution would be easily blocked by the US or Britain using
their veto power.
Having started to strive for world domination, America will be
unable to stop. Therefore, Russia needs to decide how it will respond
to the new claimant to world domination. There are only two options.
The first: we become part of the new world order. Yes, we do have the
bomb; but our economy is too weak, and that means our place in the new
world order will be at the foot of the table, where we are being
invited to eat. The second option: Russia sets out to oppose the new
world order; but then we should be prepared for the axis of evil to
take a route directly through Russia. Whether we are prepared to
resist that is highly doubtful.
We can clearly see who welcomes the fact that the United States
is taking on the role of unquestoned global leader. These are mostly
nations with a low or medium level of development, awaiting American
hand-outs: the states of Eastern Europe, some of our former satellites
(including the indecently enthusiastic Georgia), Turkey, Pakistan.
They all expect that in return for their support in building the
global empire, the Americans will look after them and offer them some
cookies. Also among US allies are Britain and Spain, which fear the
hegemony of France and Germany in the European Union.
The opponents of American rule are mostly states which have their
own aspirations to great power status. Obviously, these are France,
Germany, China, and Russia. In the new imperial world, there will be
no place for large states. There was a time when America invested in
building up the economies of its opponents, such as Japan or Germany;
but that time is over. These days, states which arouse the displeasure
of the sole superpower are subjected to forcible dismemberment. An
example: the former Yugoslavia, of which only the name remains. But
Russia is too large, in both territorial and political terms. It will
not fit into the beautiful new world. Its place will be at the
periphery of the Empire; and that's a best-case scenario. In the worst
case, it will be compelled to break apart - although we might well
drive ourselves to that extreme even without American help.
Bush's plan for post-war organization of Iraq includes, among
other things, turning it into a federation (or confederacy). The
Kurdish north, the Sunni center, and the Shiite south will gain
elements of autonomy. Given the relations between Iraq's Shiites and
Sunnis, conflict between them can be expected to break out soon.
Iraq's neighbors are very likely to intervene. Iran will have to
support the Shiites in some way, while the Arab nations will support
the Sunnis.
Such a scenario would inevitably put an end to Iraq's present
split personality. On the one hand, it sees itself within the
framework of the Moscow-Yerevan-Tehran strategic vertical structure;
on the other hand, it is making agonizing efforts to reconcile that
status with participation in the horizontal belt of Islamic
solidarity. A serious conflict with its Arab neighbors might
conclusively expel Iraq from that belt (since Iran has long viewed its
Turkic fellow-Muslims only as the historical enemy), turning it into a
reasonable, stable supporter of Russia, no longer with a schizophrenic
split personality. And that would be greatly desirable, for both Iraq
and Russia.
Today's realities dictate only one possible course of action for
"second-rank great powers": express disapproval for and disagreement
with the actions of the United States, more or less loudly - and on no
account allow themselves to be drawn into any form of action, whether
for or against the United States. They should wait, concentrating and
accumulating their strength - until the United States becomes
entangled in dozens of slow-moving, bogged-down conflicts. Imperial
ambitions which are not supported by an imperial culture or imperial
traditions inevitably lead to collapse.
And that's exactly what we want to happen.
In this war, our interests are straightforward. In the military
operation, we want America to make as many incorrect - or rather, ugly
- decisions as possible. It would be fine if Iraq decides to resist
after all. Firstly, any resistance (especially if the Iraqis manage to
kill a few Americans) would send America into hysteria and prompt it
to take more decisive - in reality, erroneous - action (for example,
some new form of brutality). It would be even better if the war became
a catalyst for a harsher political regime within America itself.
Things are moving in that direction anyway, but it would be splendid
if "the sunset of American freedom" (or even the appearance of
freedom) could be as spectacular as possible.
From the very outset, America's global dominion must look like
senseless, hysterical, and repellent dictatorship, rather than the
wise rule of enlightened rulers. Our greatest hope is the accumulating
hatred of humiliated states and peoples. It is necessary for America's
Fourth Rome to acquire a solid reputation as the Evil Empire. And
President George W. Bush has made every effort to ensure that.
Let's recall one fundamental principle. In any conflict, the
opponents are equalized: the more freely America behaves, the more its
unrestrained might will hamper it. In the 1970s, its main enemy was
the relatively civilized Soviet Union; in the 1990s, it was
international terrorism; and now the entire Islamic world could become
that enemy (Saddam Hussein is sending out an appeal to the whole
Islamic world, unashamedly). Any superpower creates an enemy for
itself, and the outcome of their clash is always mutual destruction -
history gives us virtually no exceptions to that rule. Any victory is
illusory, and from the ashes of the battle between two irreconcileable
forces, some third force will arise.
As for who that third force might be - we'll have to wait and
see.
(Translated by Arina Yevtikhova)

********

#15
Asia Times
March 21, 2003
Oligarchs: A vulgar repeat of Russian history
By John Helmer

MOSCOW - The English and North Americans have never been much good at
analyzing Russia, and they haven't gotten better. A long time fighting an
enemy can make you wary, without becoming wise. But in war neither time nor
experience need make any difference to who wins, who loses.

Kremlinology was a wartime industry, and like the gathering of battlefield
intelligence or the production of ordnance, it was only as good as its
impact on targets, and the collateral damage. The Kremlinologists were
bound to fail at long-term prediction. They weren't capable of detecting
underlying causes or trends. They never got close.

Since 1991, the journalists who have replaced the Kremlinologists -
especially those who worked for the so-called journals of record of London,
New York and Washington, and their bastard offspring, The Moscow Times -
began the tale of the Russian oligarchs with a colossal mistake that they
still haven't corrected, more than a decade later. The oligarchs, they
claimed with all the excitement of a cub reporter hoping for a Pulitzer
prize, were a brand-new Russian phenomenon. But the oligarchs aren't new.
They aren't originally or uniquely Russian either.

To begin, it's necessary to go back in Russian time, following the only
American analysis of Russia that gets close to the truth, Woody Allen's
film Love and Death.

Set in the time of Napoleon's march on Moscow, Woody's character is Boris
Dmitrievich Grushenko, the frail third son of provincial landowners who is
reluctant to follow his two brawnier brothers into the Russian army, still
less into battle with the French.

"What's the difference if Napoleon wins?" Boris asks, suggesting that
replacing Tsar Alexander I with Emperor Napoleon might not be a bad thing;
and in any case wasn't worth risking his life to stop. "Ooohhh!" gasped a
group of fellow Russian officers. "You wouldn't want to be forced to eat
French food, would you? Not with all those heavy cream sauces."

If you believe the elements of the Russian press feted by Western embassies
in Moscow, and echoed by Western journalists, that's the trouble with
Russia today. One tyrant has replaced another, they claim; the only
difference between them is that Russia is eating better, at least compared
with 1998. The line of criticism is that President Vladimir Putin is
nothing more than Boris Yeltsin, with a coating of barnaise.

Sociologically speaking, there's no doubt that Putin's approval among
Russian voters tracks very closely with how well they are eating. But more
surprising is the fact that Putin's trust rating among voters is often
higher than his approval. In other words, Russians expect Putin to do
better in future than he is doing at the moment. When trust sinks below
approval, this is the signal the voters see good but little alternative in
the future.

At the same time, the dwindling of voter support for the pro-Kremlin
factions in the Duma, and the rise of support for the Communist Party - the
preoccupying political problem for the Kremlin between now and the
presidential election of 2004 - show that the Russian electorate doesn't
believe Putin can manage to do better by himself, by feats of political
willpower motivated by what is right and good for Russia. The voters
suspect, as they have always suspected since 1991, that the oligarchs -
those with the cash to corrupt, and the power to control - can bend Putin
to their will, not the other way round.

To prevent that, Russian voters back the president against the oligarchs.
To hedge against the likelihood he will fail, they back parliamentary
opposition on the left. This balance of power has been the basic conception
of Russian democracy, as the voters have understood it; and when the
balloting has been relatively free of manipulation and fraud, they have
voted for it consistently since 1991. This was what Yeltsin's attack on
parliament in 1993; his rewriting of the constitution; and his election
tactics of 1996 all aimed to destroy.

His failure was Putin's opportunity. But as we all know, Yeltsin didn't
fall. He was persuaded to step down. The terms of that power transfer meant
that those with wealth and political influence - identified as oligarchs in
public opinion - were granted the status of co-guarantors and collateral
holders for the Kremlin. In his first term Putin has been able to do no
more than pick off the two oligarchs who made themselves easy targets,
because their media had the weakest of financial foundations, and were the
most directly threatening to the Kremlin - Vladimir Gusinsky and Boris
Berezovsky. In their arrogance and folly, that duo also missed the
opportunities to save themselves with Putin.

Viewed sector by sector of the economy, the signs are there that not all
wealth has been able to buy the protection of the state, let alone dictate
state policy, as compradors, the Hispanic name for oligarchs. There has
been a partial cleanup of the corruption that has plagued arms trading,
railways, ports, shipping, vodka production, customs collection, meat
importation, diamond sales and the precious metals trade.

In oil, gas, steel, aluminum, timber and pulp, telecommunications and auto
production, there is much less clarity of outcome, and hence considerable
doubt about presidential policy. The only way to judge what the oligarchs
are up to is industry by industry, case by case. Is Kremlin policy a case
of sureness of purpose meeting weakness of means? Or does vacillation and
insecurity produce indecision? Russian insiders can't answer with more
confidence than foreign outsiders, because the game is far from being
played out.

In the climax of Love and Death, Woody Allen's Grushenko becomes embroiled
in a plot to assassinate Napoleon. The wily French fool him with a double,
and in any event Grushenko isn't ruthless enough to kill.

Grushenko is nabbed and sentenced to be shot. He believes that an angel of
God will appear to say that he will be pardoned at the last moment, but
that doesn't happen. His lawyer wins him an hour's stay of execution, and
Grushenko can't negotiate out of his date with the Grim Reaper. It's an
unhappy ending for Grushenko, but not exactly pessimistic for Russia.

"What's it like to be dead?" Grushenko's love Sonia asks his ghost. "You
know the chicken at Tressky's restaurant?" he replies. "Well, it's worse."

And the message for Russia, says Woody in the epilogue: "Don't think of
death as an end. Think of it as a very efficient way of cutting down on
expenses."

If this is to be the metaphorical, commercial or literal outcome of Putin's
policy for the oligarchs, Russian voters should continue to trust him for a
good while yet. But since it was, and remains, the oligarchs and their
political placemen who continue to run the Finance Ministry, it is just as
likely they will continue deciding whose deaths are most efficacious for
cutting down on expenses. It's possible that the election campaign of 2003
and 2004 will sharpen public focus on this choice, but even if it does, the
outcome is unlikely to be decisive. In Love and Death, who is it that ends
up dead at the end?

Twenty-seven years after Napoleon left Moscow, in the middle of 1839, a
Frenchman named Astolphe de Custine arrived in the city. He spent 10 days
there; Napoleon had spent 34. But Custine also visited St Petersburg,
Yaroslavl and Nizhny Novgorod for a total of 78 days. If you count the time
Napoleon spent on Russian territory from his first frontier crossing to the
last, the days add up to 165. Napoleon produced a good many dispatches and
letters about Russia, most of them preoccupied retrospectively with his own
mistakes and misjudgments. (The biggest of them, he concluded later, was
that he "should have married a Russian".)

With less than half the time Napoleon had at his disposal, and none of his
staff intelligence, Custine - alone, and without being able to speak a word
of Russian - produced a study of Russia so accurate Alexander Herzen, the
19th century Russian philosopher, called it the most intelligent ever
written. George Kennan, the American diplomat who created the rationale of
American Cold War policy, called it the best on the Russian condition that
had led to the Russian revolution. In Russia, Custine's book was banned by
the Tsar until 1910, and then banned again after the revolution. The
penalty fitted the crime - Custine understood too well what was happening,
and anticipated too precisely what would transpire, so the book should
cease to exist, at least in Russia. It's been forgotten almost everywhere
else.

When Chrystia Freeland, a Canadian who was the Moscow correspondent of the
Financial Times from 1995 to 1998, came to rewrite all she had misreported
for her newspaper, she couldn't manage to define the men she called the
oligarchs, except to name them, and describe what they looked like to prove
how close she had been able to get to them.

"The oligarchs," Freeland wrote in a book published in 2000, "wear $100,000
wristwatches and their wives wear $100,000 fur coats. They travel in
motorcades of armored Mercedes and Jeeps, employ small armies of
bodyguards, and maintain a collection of homes. They spend $1 million on a
birthday gift for a helpful politician as casually as you or I would send a
card to a friend."

To Freeland, her predecessors and successors, this combination of wealth
and political corruption was the Vogue magazine version of power -
seemingly big, mesmerizingly new. By making that newsworthy, the reporters
have made themselves reputations, as well as money.

But in 1839 Custine had already met the Russian oligarchs - the
concessionaires, compradors and title-buyers of the time - disdained their
celebrity, and saw through the captivating show. "Such ill-bred and yet
well-informed, well-dressed, clever and self-confident Russians," he
reported in his Letter 19, "tread in the steps of European elegance,
without knowing that refinement of habits has no value except as it
announces the existence of something better in the heart of its possessor.
These apprentices of fashion, who confuse the appearance with the reality,
are trained bears, the sight of which inclines me to regret the wild ones:
they have not yet become polished men, and they are already spoiled savages."

Here they are - the old become new again.

*******

#16
Financial Times (UK)
March 24, 2003,
Fighting its risky reputation
A new business survey shows that Russia still has a long way to go to put
itself on the investment map
By Simon Targett

Russia faces an uphill struggle to convince the Anglo-American business
elite that it is ready to receive western capital.

That is the tough message delivered by SRU, a market research and
consultancy group, and Expert Information Group, a Moscow consultancy, in a
report to be presented today at a London conference. The conference on
Russian corporate governance is supported by FTfm and the International
Corporate Governance Network.

In a survey of 30 business leaders, fund managers and journalists - who did
not have a particular expertise in Russia - the two organisations found
that the former superpower is still viewed as a "wild west" frontier state
that has made little progress since the 1998 economic crisis.

Peter Wallis, SRU's managing director and co-author of the report, says
that Russia remains "off the investment map". He was astonished to find
that, during a series of wide-ranging interviews, Russia was only mentioned
as "an aside" or after prompting.

"Russia wasn't put either in the 'we must be there' category or the 'never
in a million years' category," says Mr Wallis. "It was in a 'no-man's land'."

Mr Wallis says BP's purchase of a 50 per cent stake in a new oil joint
venture, TNK-BP, did not herald a sea-change in western perceptions of
Russia. "If you're an oil producer, you have to go where the oil is," he
says. "But the vast majority of people we spoke to have choices - and they
remain very wary."

The report found that Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, was admired for
stabilising the country.

But there is concern that the "Putin effect" is too reliant on his
political survival. "You can't be sure the changes are rooted," says one US
investment banker, quoted in the report.

Russia's regime was compared unfavourably to China's - at least for the
purposes of investment.

"China has aimed for effective economic liberalism combined with no-change
political authoritarianism." says Mr Wallis, "while Russia - disastrously
encouraged by the West - is seen to have done the opposite."

Another problem is the endemic corruption and lack of respect for the rule
of law. "The picture of a corrupt society dominated by criminals emerged in
practically every interview," according to the report.

"This (has) acted as a major disincentive to every kind of possible
involvement" in the country.

One chief executive of a UK manufacturer said: "We wouldn't touch Russia
with a 10-foot pole. There's no respect for the law there - and it's
physically unsafe for western managers."

A UK business editor retold the story of undesirable business practices
that could - if attached to UK or US companies - cause considerable damage
to a company's media profile. "Some of our respondents told terrible
stories - often at second hand - of Russian experiences," says Mr Wallis.

A UK investment banker said: "If you're doing business in Russia, you have
to check your partners out very carefully. You can't take anything on
trust: they could be gangsters."

There are also fears that there is suspicion of popular capitalism and
little evidence of entrepreneurship.

"The problem is that there's no experience of democratic capitalism," said
an editor of a US business magazine. "Russia went straight from a feudal
monarchy to a particularly brutal Communist regime." Another observer said
there had been little social progress during the 20th century, saying that
Russia was "as unsustainably polarised in wealth as under the Romanovs".

Yet, for all the wariness, leading members of the Anglo-American
establishment believe that Russia does - or, rather, must have - long-term
potential. "People thought it was amazing that a country that was the
backdrop of every big news story 20 years ago has just sort of evaporated
from everyday concerns," says Mr Wallis.

"It used to be important, so people think there must be something there:
but what is it?"

Russia's key attractions are its population and resources. There remains a
widespread view that the country's people are well educated - particularly
in science and technology.

Its natural resources are also seen as a plus - although not universally
so. "Oil is not necessarily on my list of investment advantages," one
investment banker said. "Oil has been an impediment to sustainable
development in Africa, Asia and the Middle East - where this advantage (has
been) squandered through waste and corruption."

To realise its potential, Russia - in the view of the respondents - needs
to strengthen its institutions and ensure that no-one stands above the law.

"The real test for the government," according to the report, "is seen as
its ability to restrain the Russian mafia and the business oligarchs."

That won't be easy - and it explains why investors and companies are
playing "wait-and-see" with Russia and, in the meantime, entering Hungary,
Poland and the Czech republic.

These countries, says Mr Wallis, are "the sleeping beauties" of eastern
Europe. "They have all the characteristics of western bourgeois societies."

"Why go to Russia," said the chief executive of a UK retailer, "if you can
get everything you want in Hungary or Poland?"

*******

#17
Izvestia
March 24, 2003
POSSIBLE COMPROMISES ON JOINT MISSILE DEFENSE SYSTEM
Russia and the US have not gone far in missile defense cooperation
Author: Dmitry Litovkin
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
CURRENTLY, THE LEVEL OF TRUST BETWEEN RUSSIA AND THE US IS NOT HIGH
ENOUGH TO CREATE MISSILE DEFENSE SYSTEMS TOGETHER; THERE ARE SOME
LEGISLATIVE OBSTACLES AS WELL. HOWEVER, RESOLVING THESE PROBLEMS IS
JUST A QUESTION OF TIME.

Almost a year of work at the Russia-US group which has studied
the missile defense system issues did not bring to a great success.
Joint scientific-research works, the Center for Missile Launch Data
Exchange, carrying out Russia-US joint training on repulsing missile
attacks has not transformed into signed contracts to create any
elements of the possible missile defense system. The reasons are not
only military-strategic prejudices but rather commercial issues. A top
US military confessed in his interview with Izvestia, "The US is
extremely interested in the development of Russia-US bilateral
cooperation in creation of the missile defense system. The only things
that hinders the development of cooperation is the unconcealed
concerns of industrialists that the joint work will inevitably lead to
transfer of technologies."
Vladimir Dvorkin, expert of the Center for Political Research
(PIR-Center) says, "The most realistic direction for cooperation is
establishment of a joint low-orbit informational satellite system for
the national missile defense system. Russia can substantially reduce
the expenses for its creation by providing heavy missiles withdrawn
from the Russian Armed Forces for launching observer satellites into
orbit. The development of such a system and its mutual operation could
become the most important military-political move and a visual
evidence of irreversibility of the Russia-US military strategic
partnership."
Washington seems to be ready to develop other directions as well.
A source of Izvestia in the US military department said that the US is
interested in the maximal closing of its early missile launch warning
stations to potentially "aggressive states". Pentagon does not have
enough information from exchanging info with Russia. That's why the US
quite seriously considers the possibility to rent Russian territories
for building its own radio-location stations.
The Russian Defense Ministry refuses to comment on such ideas.
At the same time, Moscow and Washington have a mutual agreement
on cooperation in creation of a common information space to control
missile launches. On the other hand, the agreement has a reservation:
each country has an autonomous control center. Besides, each party is
planning to develop offensive missile interception systems without
looking back at the partner.
Currently, the level of trust between the two countries is not
high enough to mutually create missile defense systems; there are some
legislative obstacles as well. In particular, according to Stephen
Redmaker, US Deputy Secretary of State for armament control, who
recently visited Moscow, Russian taxation for joint projects hinders
their development. However, the American expert believes that
resolving these problems is just a question of time.
(Translated by Arina Yevtikhova)