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1. Reuters: Russia slams US on Iraq, scorns "liberation" claim.
2. Nezavisimaya Gazeta: BUSH RUNS INTO THE MOSCOW FRONDE FOR THE FIRST TIME. Russia-US relations - accusations, denials, and counter-accusations.
3. Vremya MN: WHAT THE IRAQ CRISIS MEANS FOR RUSSIA. Opinions from the Foreign and Security Policy Council.
4. Interfax: Hussein's resignation can stop war - Gorbachev.
5. Reuters: No hope for Russian firms in post-Saddam Iraq.
6. Interfax: Some 95.97% Chechens back draft constitution.
7. Moscow Times: Nikolai Petrov, What Next? (re Chechnya)
8. Luba Schwartzman: TV1 Review.
9. Reuters: Budget hotel construction boom comes to Russia.
10. Moscow Times: Yulia Latynina, Dedovshchina Sure Beats A Coup d'Etat.
11. New York Times book review: Richard Pipes, Man of Opposites, a Force for Good and Evil. (re Taubman's KHRUSHCHEV)
12. Asia Times: Mark Berniker, Kazakhstan: World's nuclear dumping ground?
13. Vremya MN: Regional Economic Results for 2002, 2003 Forecasts Provided.
14. Trud: THE SECRET OF VLADIMIR PUTIN'S PRESTIGE. "Putin is not God; he is doing only as much as he can," says Mark URNOV.
15. Gazeta: Andrei Reut, VLADIMIR PUTIN HAS ONE YEAR LEFT. New anxiety has gripped the Russian population.
16. Asia Times: Sergei Blagov, Concerns and divisions in Central Asia.

*******

#1
Russia slams US on Iraq, scorns "liberation" claim
By Maria Golovnina

MOSCOW, March 26 (Reuters) - Russia on Wednesday fired a new broadside
against the United States over its military action against Iraq, scorning
claims its troops were "liberating" Iraqis and accusing it of defying world
opinion.

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, using language at times reminiscent of the
Cold War rivalry with Washington, said: "What the United States is doing
challenges not only Iraq, but the whole world."

Addressing parliament as U.S. and British forces pressed forward to
Baghdad, Ivanov said the evidence so far gainsaid U.S. efforts to portray
its troops as a liberating force freeing Iraqis from Saddam Hussein's rule.

"It is already becoming clear how far removed from reality are their
attempts to present military action against Iraq as a triumphant march for
the liberation of the Iraqi people with minimal casualties and
destruction," he told the Federation Council (upper house).

And he counselled Washington and London not to make unsubstantiated claims
to have found caches of banned weapons in Iraq to justify their military
offensive.

"If there are claims by coalition forces about discovering weapons of mass
destruction...only international inspectors can make a conclusive
assessment of the origin of these weapons," he said. "No other evaluation
and final conclusion can be accepted."

Ivanov, mindful of the political capital Moscow has built up with
Washington by backing the U.S.-led war on terror, strove to maintain a
balance in his criticism, saying international relations depended on
Russian and U.S. strategic ties.

"It is the nature of our partnership that allows us to be honest with each
other (and) discuss issues we do not agree on," he said.

But his sharp attack, following President Vladimir Putin's fierce
denunciation at the onset of U.S. military action on March 20, nonetheless
marked another downturn in relations between the onetime superpower
rivals-turned-friends.

PROTECTING TIES WITH U.S.

Putin, who needs U.S. support and investment to turn Russia's economy
round, has fought to protect his newly-forged ties with U.S. President
George W. Bush.

But Russia's opposition to U.S. military action against its former close
economic partner and Putin's call for a rapid end to military action has
brought the relationship under pressure.

Russia, with other U.N. heavyweights France and China, tried unsuccessfully
to stop U.S. military action to topple Saddam.

All three argued for more time to be given to U.N. arms inspectors
searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Baghdad denies holding
any banned arms.

The atmosphere has been further soured by Moscow's suspicions that
Washington will disregard Russia's big economic and oil interests in Iraq
after the war is over and shut it out of the picture.

Highlighting Russia's fears, the head of a Russian state firm with big oil
interests in Iraq said on Wednesday that Moscow had little chance of
getting a slice of the pie after the fighting was over.

"Americans don't need anyone else in Iraq, they will control Iraqi crude
themselves. Nobody will give the green light for Russian or French firms in
Iraq," said Nikolai Tokarev, head of Zarubezhneft, in an interview with
Reuters.

Since the U.S. offensive, the two powers have become locked in a row over
U.S. claims that Russian firms have supplied Iraq with electronic jamming
equipment, night vision goggles and anti-tank missiles that Washington says
could put the lives of their soldiers at risk. Russia denies such
deliveries were made.

And the State Duma (parliament lower house) has delayed a vote to ratify a
U.S.-Russia nuclear arms reduction treaty that would slash numbers of
deployed warheads held by each side.

In a reference to the row over alleged weapons sales, Ivanov bemoaned signs
that Washington was "trying to drag Russia into an information war" on Iraq.

"We hope our U.S. partners are responsible about what they are doing and
that they don't take steps that could hurt our relations," he said.

*******

#2
Nezavisimaya Gazeta
March 25, 2003
BUSH RUNS INTO THE MOSCOW FRONDE FOR THE FIRST TIME
Russia-US relations - accusations, denials, and counter-accusations
Author: Yulia Petrovskaya
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
PRESIDENTS BUSH AND PUTIN SPOKE BY TELEPHONE ON MONDAY, DISCUSSING
IRAQ, ITS HUMANITARIAN PROBLEMS, AND ALLEGATIONS THAT RUSSIAN
COMPANIES SUPPLIED MILITARY EQUIPMENT TO IRAQ. DOUBTS ARE BEING
EXPRESSED ABOUT WHETHER AMERICA'S TRUE "CONCERNS" RELATE TO ANY
EQUIPMENT DELIVERIES WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE TAKEN PLACE.

The presidents of the United States and Russia spoke by telephone
on Monday night. A Kremlin press release says: "During an exchange of
opinions on the situation related to the Iraq crisis, the Russian
president emphasized the humanitarian consequences of the military
action. Having reiterated his previously-stated position on regulation
in Iraq, President Putin stressed the need to avert a humanitarian
catastrophe in the region. The heads of state also discussed a number
of current issues in bilateral relations."
Among these current issues was "the concern of the United States
about Russian companies supplying Iraq with products meant for
military use, including banned equipment," as White House spokesman
Ari Fleischer said at a news conference.
The telephone conversation took place at the initiative of
President Bush; according to Associated Press reports, he "picked up
the phone to rebuke his Russian counterpart for selling arms to Iraq."
Associated Press also described the conversation as "tense".
Putin's press secretary Alexei Gromov told RIA-Novosti that the
president had described US State Department reports of alleged
military supplies as lacking in evidence. Putin told Bush that these
claims "are capable of damaging relations between our two countries".
Gromov noted: "Moreover, questions about analogous problems were asked
in return of the American side, and no answers have been received as
yet."
Meanwhile, the Americans are not prepared to accept Moscow's
verbal assurances that there has been no cooperation with Iraq in
violation of UN sanctions. Citing an anonymous source, Reuters reports
that the US has gone public with its accusations against Moscow after
receiving evidence that there are Russian specialists in Baghdad,
helping the Iraqis use radio-electronic military equipment against the
Anglo-American coalition. Russian firms are also being accused of
supplying night-vision goggles and antitank guided missiles.
Many doubts are being expressed about whether America's true
"concerns" relate to any military equipment deliveries which may or
may not have taken place. What is the real source of this latest
tension in Russian-US relations, and what consequences might the
military equipment story have for Moscow? We asked some experts.

SERGEI KARAGANOV, CHAIRMAN OF THE PRESIDIUM OF THE FOREIGN AND
SECURITY POLICY COUNCIL
This is a display of irritation on the part of the Americans, who
had counted on Russia being more obedient. But the Americans are even
more irritated by the fact that they're starting to fail everywhere,
in all areas - and because the military operation appears not to be
going according to plan. So the United States is putting pressure on
everyone, trying to ensure the best possible political backdrop for
itself. However, it continues to deteriorate.
Yes, this exchange of barbed remarks could lead to a chill in
Russian-US relations. And at that point, the situation gets out of
control, to some extent; even though the Russian government does not
want any kind of chill, as far as I'm aware. On the contrary, while
condemning the current actions of the United States, our government
actually wants to help the Americans end this conflict in a way that
enables them to save face. Even though it's already apparent that the
US has lost the conflict at the media and information level, and is
losing at the political level. Even a military victory might not help.

ALEXANDER RAHR, DIRECTOR OF RUSSIA AND CIS PROGRAMS AT THE GERMAN
FOREIGN POLICY COUNCIL, BERLIN
If Bush goes as far as having such a telephone conversation with
Putin, that means things are serious. According to some reports,
America has been using its channels to put pressure on the Russian
government for the past six months, demanding a halt to certain sales
of weapons to Iraq by Russian private companies.
The fact that Bush has gone public with theis could mean that the
Americans are very nervous, since they are not seeing any major
achievements in terms of moving forward in Iraq. Indeed, as the
Russian side says, Washington may now be seeking a scapegoat.
Washington may find it in Russia today, in Germany tomorrow, and in
France the day after that.
On the other hand, we cannot rule out that the Russian government
doesn't know what is going on. Putin himself understands that
everything must be verified. He is not 100% informed about what
private companies are doing, especially in such a complex sector as
the arms trade.

GEORGES LE GUELT, RESEARCH DIRECTOR AT THE INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL
AND STRATEGIC RELATIONS (IRIS), PARIS
I believe the Americans have a grudge against all nations which
prevented them from passing a second resolution on Iraq at the UN
Security Council. Thus, accusations from the American president and
media against certain Russian, Chinese, and French companies are a
characteristic phenomenon. Of course, in my view, this does not
justify the actions of those frims which actually have sold forbidden
equipment to Iraq.
It is also characteristic that the accusations were made via the
media, not via diplomatic channels. This is due to a need to show the
American people that those three countries (Russia, France, and China)
are unreliable. But I think this is a temporary crisis. The United
States is encountering protests worldwide. Washington realizes that
this "United States versus the rest of the world" game cannot
continue; especially if the US runs into difficulties in Iraq or even
in the whole Middle East.
In any case, it is not in the interests of the United States to
exacerbate differences with Moscow. In the long-term prospect, the
common interests between Russia and the US, as well as between France
and the US, will prevail.

GLEB PAVLOVSKY, HEAD OF THE EFFECTIVE POLICY FOUNDATION
This deterioration in relations is localized. Outside this one
issue, there is no deterioration in relations, nor even any
fundamental change in relations.
A localized rift between Russia and the US might have serious
consequences only in the event that the ideology of unilateral changes
to the world order is accepted. At the present stage, this is only a
form of military propaganda. If it disappears with the end of the war
in Iraq, the rift will also disappear. But if Bush goes further,
insisting on his right to redraw the map of the world, then this
problem might be exacerbated, of course.

ALEXEI ARBATOV, DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF THE DUMA DEFENSE COMMITTEE
The whole point is that the operation is not going as the
Americans thought it would. In the military sense, it is still hard to
say; but in political terms, this is already obvious. Steadfast
resistance to the Americans in the UN Security Council by Russia and
France deprived the military operation of legitimacy, and thus of
broad international support. Actually, this circumstance - overlooked
by the media, for some reason - is one of the reasons why the Iraqis
are fighting back so fiercely. They know quite well that there is
limited international support for this aggression, which gives them
added strength and determination. If there was a united international
front, as in 1991, everything would be different. The growing
difficulties are making the Americans irritable and dissatisfied. And
so they've started looking for someone to take it out on...
(Translated by Andrei Ryabochkin)

*******

#3
Vremya MN
March 25, 2003
WHAT THE IRAQ CRISIS MEANS FOR RUSSIA
Opinions from the Foreign and Security Policy Council
Author: Andrei Lipsky
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
THE FOREIGN AND SECURITY POLICY COUNCIL (FSPC) HELD ITS ANNUAL
ASSEMBLY LAST WEEKEND, WITH SOME OF RUSSIA'S TOP POLITICIANS AND
ANALYSTS TAKING PART. THOSE QUOTED HERE, DISCUSSING THE WAR IN IRAQ,
INCLUDE VYACHESLAV NIKONOV, MIKHAIL MARGELOV, ANDREI KOKOSHIN, AND
VLADIMIR RYZHKOV.

The Foreign and Security Policy Council (FSPC) held its annual
assembly last weekend. Russia's top politicians and analysts discussed
a major FSPC report: "A strategy for Russia in 2004: challenges of the
globalized world and national modernization".

WHAT HAS RUSSIA GAINED AND LOST IN THE CRISIS THUS FAR?

Vyacheslav Nikonov, president of the Politika Foundation:
The Kremlin has positioned itself very cleverly - regarding
public opinion in the lead-up to elections, and Russia's Muslim-
populated regions, and a favorable outcome to the referendum in
Chechnya. Russia's position also largely conforms with the prevailing
views of public opinion worldwide. Trust between Russia and European
nations has also increased to some extent, although I would not
exaggerate this. After all, during the period of our partnership with
France and Germany on the Iraq issue, we have not solved any of the
problems which are important for us: Kaliningrad, joining the World
Trade Organization, the Schengen accords. On the contrary -
representatives of Schroeder the social-democrat have proposed setting
up a war crimes tribunal for Chechnya.
Now, our losses. We'll have no standing whatever in post-Saddam
Iraq. The new regime in Iraq, whatever it's like, will not fully take
our interests into account. And there has been some damage to Russian-
US relations, though this is not fatal.

WHAT WILL THE WORLD BE LIKE ONCE THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ IS OVER? WILL
THE EXISTING SYSTEM OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS BE RESTRUCTURED?

Andrei Kokoshin, Duma member:
A huge international crisis lies in store for us, and its nature
is quite different: a serious problem is about to arise, one which has
been overshadowed by the Iraq conflict. This is North Korea. I for one
have no doubt whatsoever that North Korea is moving towards acquiring
nuclear weapons as fast as possible.
I am also almost 100% sure that Japan will acquire nuclear
weapons next. The Japanese essentially already have a missile carrier
- it only needs to be adapted for a nuclear warhead. And according to
some estimates, Japan would be capable of creating a nuclear warhead
within two or three weeks. This would be an entirely new situation; we
would have to deal with it, and we need to prepare for it.
The world has reached a great watershed, similar in many ways to
the events of the early 20th Century. Every nation is concerned about
its own security arsenals. Of course, the joint efforts by Russia,
France, Germany, and China to maintain the standards of international
law and the United Nations are very important. However, at the same
time France is strengthening its positions in North Africa; Germany is
shaping what is described as Mittel-Europa. China is shaping its own
sphere of influence. Russia's only sphere of influence is post-Soviet
territory. The CIS Collective Security Treaty Organization must become
a fully-fledged political-military organization: our partners in the
Collective Security Treaty are seriously discussing this. Against the
backdrop of attempts at radical regime changes in various countries,
for us it would be wisest of all to keep to the path of evolutionary
change.
Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the Federation Council
international affairs committee:
The American plan for post-Saddam Iraq is perfectly clear.
Setting up a provisional administration; then a transition government;
then a referendum, elections, and the formation of a legitimate
government. Right from the moment a provisional civilian
administration is formed, the Americans plan to "return" to the United
Nations. And at this point, substantial opportunities open up for
Russia; that is, we could have real influence over how post-war Iraq
will be organized. Russia, like Britain and Germany, has a fairly good
knowledge of Iraq's political elite: who are the important figures in
the economy, finance, the military, and politics. Hence, we can offer
a unique commercial proposition in the political marketplace. We have
insider information, which we should sell profitably, to protect our
own national interests.
Andrei Kokoshin:
Of course, the Americans won't want to give anyone else access to
the territory of Iraq. But we don't need that. In my view, we didn't
have any economic standing there to speak of before the war; and we
shouldn't have any illusions about gaining any after the war. The
West's major oil corporations have already been working to secure
their interests there. Meanwhile, Russian oil companies still don't
understand how such matters are handled in the rest of the world, or
what methods should be used.
After the war, the Americans will have major problems within
Iraq, in relations with the Arab world, and with the international
community as a whole. And Russian diplomacy could play a significant
role here. It could be one of the initiators in setting the agenda -
this is a very important measure of influence. And Russia could take
part in forming a coalition for post-war regulation; especially since
Europe is now substantially reconsidering its own role in the Kosovo
conflict of 1999. I have heard leading European politicians virtually
repenting for creating a situation that paved the way for what is now
happening in Iraq. A completely new layout of forces is taking shape
around the world. It is radically different from how things were in
1999, when only two nations - Russia and China - were prepared to
condemn the aggression. But now a real coalition, in the interests of
resolving the conflict peacefully and in accordance with international
law, has become broader and stronger.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN RUSSIAN-US RELATIONS

Vyacheslav Nikonov, president of the Politika Foundation:
Relations have suffered, but we don't yet know to what extent.
For example, an emissary of Aslan Maskhadov came to Washington last
week, and was received at a semi-official level. What does that mean?
Over the two weeks before the war, polls showed a 20% decline in
approval of Russia among the American public.

WHAT HAS RUSSIA GAINED FROM COOPERATION WITH FRANCE AND GERMANY DURING
THE CRISIS?

Vladimir Ryzhkov, Duma member:
We shouldn't expect to gain anything. The Moscow-Berlin-Paris
alliance is a complete fiction. This is the combination within the UN
Security Council at the moment; but it might look completely different
tomorrow. Just take up the question of Chechnya alone, and this whole
"axis" immediately falls apart.
Has the Iraq crisis drawn Russia and Europe closer together? No,
it has not. That's because Russia and Europe have almost nothing in
common. Yes, for us they are a very important partner: 40% of our
foreign trade is with Europe. But we are not a partner to them. Only
2% of the European Union's foreign trade is with Russia, and that's an
insignificant figure.
Has it drawn us any closer in terms of values? No, it has not.
That's because Russia's position is based on law - not ethics or
politics. We are standing by the letter of the law. But does this
bring us any closer to the democracies of Europe? Of course not;
because the system of values we are developing in Russia is largely
non-European. It's simply a case of both Russia and Europe condemning
the United States for acting unlawfully in bypassing the United
Nations. That's all. This bears no relation to economic, social, or
cultural integration. All this cooperation will cease with the end of
the war.

DOES THE UNITED NATIONS HAVE A FUTURE?

Yulii Vorontsov, deputy secretary general of the United Nations,
special representative on Iraq:
Yes, the United Nations has been bypassed. But who is to blame
for that? The UN itself? No, those who bypassed it. The effort they
put into securing a UN resolution shows that the UN is not being
written off. They have acted high-handedly, but they will still return
to the UN - including on matters related to Iraq. You will see them
come to the UN and request a resolution on aid in rebuilding the Iraqi
state; they will try to transfer to the UN part of the administrative
functions in the Iraq which they have occupied. It's similar to the
situation in Kosovo: NATO had the military power, but rebuilding the
state and civilian institutions was up to the UN.
But the UN has to be reformed, of course. For example, small and
medium-sized nations ought to be better represented on the Security
Council.
Vyacheslav Nikonov:
I will speak of a paradox. Actually, the United Nations is now
playing a greater role than ever before. During the Cold War, its role
was zero. Only once in all that time did the UN Security Council
authorize the use of force: the mandate given to the Americans for
intervention in South Korea - and the Soviet delegation was absent
from the meeting hall. All the rest of the time, the UN and its
Security Council made no decisions at all - it was a debating club.
After the Cold War, both Operation Desert Storm and the operation
against the Taliban in Afghanistan were sanctioned by the UN Security
Council, including Russia. In the present case, the US has spent a
great deal of time trying to get the anti-Iraq resolution through the
UN Security Council.
Of course, there is a crisis within the UN and the Security
Council; it would be odd to dispute that. But on the other hand, it
would be extremely ill-considered to change the system of the world
order because of the present crisis.
At present, if we set about developing the rules for a new world
order, our role in that process would be proportional to our global
influence and our economic and political capacities. In other words,
we would not be in the top three, but in the top ten at best.
Therefore - yes, it's precisely the existing system which ought to be
reformed; not ruling out reforms to international law.
(Translated by Andrei Ryabochkin)

*******

#4
Hussein's resignation can stop war - Gorbachev

MOSCOW. March 26 (Interfax) - Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's voluntary
resignation can put an end to the military conflict in Iraq, Former USSR
President Mikhail Gorbachev told journalists in Moscow.
"The only way out now is for Hussein to become a peacemaker and step
down," Gorbachev said.
The U.S. led war is "a huge political mistake. It is a blow to the
United Nations, primarily its Security Council and to international law as
a whole," he said.
The United States "may do things they won't be able to cope with. This
is a step towards chaos in international relations and unmanageable
consequences," he said.
In this war, the United States is pursuing its own objectives rather
than the goals of eradicating terrorism and non-proliferation of weapons of
mass destruction, he said.
Moreover, the war showed the double standards of U.S. democracy. "Where
is their touted democracy? Under the banner of protecting freedom and
democracy, they want to 'bring happiness' to one country after another.
What kind of democracy is it if most the UN Security Council members and
the public opinion oppose military action?" he said.
"The UN Security Council should be convened and raise the issue of
minimizing the destruction and bloodshed in Iraq.".
Furthermore, he said that the UN Security Council should be expanded to
include Japan, Germany, and representatives of Africa, Asia and Latin
America.

*******

#5
INTERVIEW-No hope for Russian firms in post-Saddam Iraq
By Dmitry Zhdannikov

MOSCOW, March 26 (Reuters) - Russia has no chance of winning a slice of the
oil pie in post-war Iraq as the United States will want to squeeze all its
rivals out of the region, the head of a state firm with big interests in
Iraq said on Wednesday.

Nikolai Tokarev, head of Zarubezhneft, was sceptical about Russia's -- and
his own firm's -- prospects of keeping existing deals and recouping losses
by invoking international law against a government that might replace
President Saddam Hussein's.

But, he said, nor should the world count on quick rehabilitation of Iraq's
oil industry and abundant exports from a country he believed was on the
verge of civil war and long-term instability.

"There will be nothing good for Russian firms in Iraq," Tokarev said in an
interview.

"Americans don't need anyone else in Iraq, they will control Iraqi crude
themselves. Nobody will give the green light for Russian or French firms in
Iraq."

Russian companies have the most to lose in Iraq should any new government
seek investment from leading U.S. and British oil majors to develop crude
reserves that rank second in the world in size only to those of Saudi Arabia.

The United States has repeatedly said Russian interests in Iraq should be
respected under any new regime. But analysts say this position could change
as Moscow remained among the most ardent opponents of the military campaign
in Iraq.

Zarubezhneft has been working in Iraq since 1967 and believes it knows the
country better than any other Russian or Western oil firm.

In Soviet times, it helped launch Iraq's crucial one million barrel-per-day
Rumaila field in the southeast, which U.S.-led forces said they captured
largely intact this week.

Zarubezhneft has been lifting large volumes of Iraqi crude under the U.N.
oil-for-food humanitarian programme and hoped to develop Iraq's giant West
Qurna field together with Russian oil giant LUKOIL and the smaller
Mashinnoimport.

Last year, Baghdad scrapped the deal with LUKOIL after the firm said it
wanted U.S. guarantees if Saddam was ousted. Iraq said Russian firms would
keep the field and Zarubezhneft could become its operator, but Tokarev said
the deal was over.

"In strict legal terms, the project exists. We could try to challenge it in
international courts, but I see no chance."

"As far as other Iraqi fields are concerned, including Bin Umar, Majnoon
and KSP-6 (near West Qurna), we have definitely lost them, because we never
signed final agreements."

Iraq and Zarubezhneft started talks on the three fields in January and this
came as a shock to French oil major TotalFinaElf, long earmarked for the
$3.4 billion Bin Umar project and another big prospect, Majnoon.

NO PROSPECTS FOR LEGAL SUITS

Tokarev said he believed cash-rich U.S. and British oil firms were bound to
have trouble restoring Iraq's oil industry.

"There will be no big Iraqi crude on the market for a long time and it is a
big question whether OPEC will be able to cover this shortage given the
region's political instability."

"I think Iraq is set to look like a Palestine for a long time with snipers
and suicide bombers. Americans will be simply unable to work there in
normal fashion."

He said it would take years to rebuild an industry destroyed by the war and
by Iraqi sabotage and to replace Soviet-era and Russian equipment with
Western technologies.

Tokarev said any new Iraqi government was unlikely to repay Russia
Soviet-era debts estimated at $9 billion.

"We should not count on this money. Our opponents could well say it was
extended to strengthen Saddam's regime, his army and it is out of the
question to discuss this issue."

He said Zarubezhneft lost $150-$180 million of existing contracts as a
result of the U.S.-led invasion and another $25 million worth of drilling
equipment near Basra.

"Just who are we supposed to sue? President George W. Bush, the U.S. army?
We can't sue the United Nations."

He said the only chance for Russian firms, which hold contracts in Iraq
worth $4 billion, to recoup their losses was to press, along with China and
France, for the United Nations to denounce the military operation as
"aggression."

"Only then would we have the legal right to appeal to international
courts," said Tokarev.

(Additonal reporting by Mikhail Yenukov)

*******

#6
Some 95.97% Chechens back draft constitution

MOSCOW. March 26 (Interfax) - Chechnya's Central Election Commission head
Abdul-Kerim Arsakhanov has announced that 95.97% of Chechens voted in favor
of the draft constitution, 95.4% backed the presidential election law and
96.05% supported the draft law on parliamentary elections.
The turnout totaled 89.48%, Arsakhanov told Interfax on Wednesday.
The figures will be treated as preliminary until the Election Commission
holds an official meeting and signs the protocols, he said.

******

#7
Moscow Times
March 26, 2003
What Next?
By Nikolai Petrov
Nikolai Petrov, head of the Center for Political and Geographical Research,
contributed this comment to The Moscow Times.

During the first Chechen war, Boris Yeltsin asked his advisors what to do
as the 1996 presidential election approached. One told him to make a brief,
dramatic visit to Chechnya, while another told him simply to declare
victory. Yeltsin opted to do both. He won a second term, then pulled
Russian troops out of Chechnya and signed a peace agreement on Chechen terms.

Now it is Vladimir Putin's turn to put up a brave front. Three and a half
years ago, on the pretext of enhancing Russia's national security, Putin
launched a "counter-terrorist operation" in Chechnya. The war has dragged
on ever since, flaring up at times, then dying down again. By Russia's own
count, some 5,000 federal troops have died in the fighting and 20,000 more
have been wounded, but Russia's security has not been enhanced. At least
not in Moscow, where more than 100 people died as a result of last year's
"Nord Ost" hostage crisis.

The situation in Chechnya today is a stalemate. Federal troops control
almost the entire region (during the daytime, that is), but the guerrilla
war continues. Moscow's repeated attempts to withdraw its forces from
Chechnya have been hindered by continued acts of terrorism, attacks on
federal forces and the murder of local leaders loyal to Moscow.

The costs of keeping tens of thousands of soldiers in Chechnya far outweigh
the benefits. The army is demoralized. Theft, corruption and looting are
rife. And at the same time, the local population has inevitably become
embittered against federal forces. Attempts to shift responsibility for
"restoring peace" to the regional Interior Ministry have also failed. The
military does not trust the local police force, made up largely of former
Chechen fighters.

A decision was made some time ago to pursue "Chechenization" of the
regional government, and Putin picked former mufti Akhmad Kadyrov to head
the regional administration. Kadyrov fought actively against federal troops
during the first Chechen war before switching his allegiance to Moscow.

The problem is that while Moscow is rightly wary of substantially
strengthening Kadyrov's position, it cannot create institutional checks on
his power. The status quo that has emerged after three and a half years of
fighting suits many on both sides of the conflict -- the Russian generals
and bureaucrats who earn promotions and medals as they sell off the army's
equipment and ammunition and take part in the illegal oil trade; and many
Chechen field commanders who have become accustomed to war after all these
years. For both sides, war is both a business and a way of life.

Putin's decision to hold a referendum on a hastily drafted new constitution
for Chechnya was reminiscent of Yeltsin's declaration, made a decade ago,
that the goal of the first war was "to establish the rule of constitutional
law" in the region. No one had any doubt that the referendum would pass in
a landslide. In 1995, at the height of the first war, Our Home Is Russia,
then the "party of power," collected five times more votes in Chechnya than
it did nationwide. In the 2000 presidential election, at the height of the
second war, there was a nearly 80 percent turnout in Chechnya, of which
more than half cast their ballots for Putin.

For the Kremlin, the landslide "victory" in the referendum was not the main
result -- it was essentially a foregone conclusion. Much more importantly,
Chechen fighters did not make good on their threats to disrupt the vote,
and the Kremlin demonstrated that it has the region under control.

The referendum gave rise to mixed feelings. The military has now ceded the
initiative. Any vote, even a fixed vote, is better than more federal
zachistki. In connection with the referendum, the Kremlin withdrew a couple
thousand soldiers, closed a dozen checkpoints, and gave other indications
of its intention to reduce its military presence in the region.

But the conflict in Chechnya is far too complex to be solved by a
constitution. Does the Kremlin understand this basic fact or has it been
deceived by its own Potemkin villages?

For Kadyrov, the referendum was a big step in his transformation from
Moscow's man in Grozny to becoming the "legally elected" president of
Chechnya. Until recently, the Kremlin seemed unwilling to give its full
backing to Kadyrov. Now, it would seem, the bets are down. Kadyrov's real
strength will increase along with his legitimacy.

In the run-up to next year's presidential election, Putin must demonstrate
the effectiveness of his Chechnya policy. This means that his fate is in
Kadyrov's hands to some extent.

Chechnya is getting a breather. You'd think that would be cause for
celebration. But will this breather be worth the cost? And how long will it
last? Let's say we make it to the presidential election. But what then?

*******

#8
TV1 Review
www.1tv.ru
Compiled by Luba Schwartzman (luba_sch@hotmail.com)
Research Analyst, Center for Defense Information, Moscow office

HEADLINES
Tuesday, March 25, 2003
- Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Defense Minister
Sergei Ivanov to discuss Ivanovs February meetings with soldiers
in the Burdenko hospital and with junior officers at the Defense
Ministry. Ivanov also reported on his visit to the Saratov Nuclear
Center.
- Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky and his associate, Yuli
Duybov were arrested in London and charged with grand larceny
in the LOGOVAZ case. They were released on 100,000 pounds
bail. Berezovsky must remain in Great Britain. His hearing has
been scheduled for April 2nd.
- President Putin met with Upper House Speaker Sergei Mironov
to discuss the situation in the regions, and, above all, housing and
utilities problems.
- Deputy General Prosecutor Vladimir Kolesnikov announced that
two officials from the federal tax police service -- Major General
Sergei Platonov, the deputy director of the main organization-
inspection directorate and Lieutenant Colonel Mikhail Petrovsky --
have been arrested on the charge of bribery.
- The organizational committee of the international Ask for Peace
in Jerusalem project met at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in
Moscow. Members discussed ways of regulating the conflict in
the Middle East, to allow believers of all faith to have access to the
holy sites.
- The working group of the Federation Council is working on the
draft declaration on Iraq. The senators will also ask the Russian
president to create a special crisis group on Iraq, which would
include senators, government officials, members of the presidential
administration and various experts.
- President Putin spoke with US President George W. Bush over
the telephone. He confirmed the findings of the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, which conducted an investigation into the
accusations of Russias selling of weapons to Iraq in violation of
international sanctions and found no proof of such actions. Putin
noted that such accusations can only harm US-Russian relations.
- The National Council for Corporative Management was set up by
the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, the
Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Federal Commission
on Financial Documents. The Council will conduct economical
analysis and make recommendations for legislative changes.
Vladimir Potanin was elected Chairman.
- The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has appealed to Islamic
organizations to participate in the restoration of Chechnya.
- Iraqi Ambassador to Russia Abbas Khalaf visited the Russian
Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In response to President Putins
appeal to the Iraqi government to obey the Geneva Convention on
the treatment of prisoners of war, Khalaf declared that Iraq will
return all British and American prisoners to their homelands after
the war. While military actions continue, however, no exchanges
of prisoners will be made.
- Negotiations on the visa regime for transit through Lithuania to
Kaliningrad were held in Brussels. A simplified visa application
was proposed.
- The Council of the Supporters of the United Russia party was
held in Vladimir. The partys election platform was discussed.
- Hero of the Soviet Union Viktor Karpukhin, the legendary
commander of the Alpha special services grouping, passed away.
- 103 babies were born in Chechnya on March 23rd, the day of the
referendum. According to an order of Chechen Administration
Chief Akhmad Kadyrov, the parents of each baby will receive
10,000 rubles.
- The General Prosecutors office will review the decision of the
Ministry of Culture to transfer the Bremen Collection to Germany.
The collection includes over 360 paintings Captain Viktor Baldin
took out of Germany in 1945.

*********

#9
FEATURE-Budget hotel construction boom comes to Russia
By Julie Tolkacheva

MOSCOW, March 26 (Reuters) -Russian and foreign hotel chains are rushing to
invest millions of dollars to fill the latest market niche to grab their
attention -- budget hotels.

Moscow has lots of top-flight establishments, but few good inexpensive
hotels -- a serious obstacle to the growth of foreign tourism and business
travel.

Other cities often have only dilapidated hotels dating back to the Soviet
era offering poor service and shabby decor.

"Hotels which are currently open for business in large Russian cities do
not come up to the demands of a modern businessman or tourist," Marlena
Hurley, vice president of Delta Capital investment fund, told Reuters.

"Business tourism has been developing strongly in the last several years.
We see the demand as enormous, primarily for business travel."

Hurley said Russia at the moment had only three three star hotels which
come up to Western standards.

Travel agencies complain constantly that a lack of hotels for people with
modest travel budgets is curbing the growth of tourism -- an industry which
has the potential to thrive in Russia.

COUNTRY INN HOTELS TO TARGET BIG CITIES

Delta Capital, a U.S.-Russia fund, has teamed up with Sweden's Swedfund,
Denmark's Investment Fund for Central and Eastern Europe and hotel operator
Rezidor SAS to invest $32 million in building eight three star Country Inn
hotels in Moscow and St Petersburg.

The hotels are to be built within the next two to three years, Hurley said.

Other cities with a population of more than one million may also be
targeted by Country Inn hotels, a brand owned by Rezidor. Each hotel will
have 80-120 rooms, costing $70-90 a night.

Hurley said the partners were in talks with foreign banks for a $40 million
loan to fund a 10-year programme to build 50 of the hotels throughout Russia.

IBIS HOTEL TO OPEN IN MOSCOW

Russia's Sistema group is in talks with France's Accor, which manages two
four star Novotel hotels in Moscow, to build a three star Ibis brand hotel
in the city, where rooms would cost $80-90 a night, said Vladimir
Ilyichyov, Accor's director in charge of development.

"The demand for such hotels is quite high judging by the fact that even
Russian hotels, which provide a low level of service, are often full," he
said.

"There are no (low-grade) hotels at all which could provide service at an
international level in Russia. Judging by the speed with which this sector
is developing in Europe, there is demand for such hotels in Russia."

Konstantin Trubetskoi, an investment analyst at Sistema Gals, Sistema's
construction arm, said the hotel would be located in the centre of Moscow.

"We are planning a hotel and office complex. It will comprise a hotel with
a total area of up to 10,000 square metres (107,600 square feet) and with
about 200 rooms," he said.

RED SQUARE DEVELOPMENT PLANNED

For those with plump wallets a Spanish consortium led by Segura Consulting
Association S.L., is planning a $300 million three-year revamp of a 19th
century building on Moscow's Red Square to include two new luxury hotels.

The Red Square project will include one five-star deluxe hotel with 300
rooms and a five-star hotel with 400, a shopping centre, business centre,
antique shop, jewellery centre and car park.

Jorge Segura Martin, head of Segura Consulting Association, said the
consortium included a building company, two hotel operators and two banks,
including Caja de Madrid, one of Spain's largest.

Project director Alexander Gladyshev said that after renovation and
expansion the complex would cover 85,000 -90,000 square metres
(914,900-968,800 square feet).

MARRIOTT PLANS BUDGET HOTELS IN REGIONS

Russia's Trust and Investment bank has teamed up with Marriott, which
operates several high-class Moscow hotels, to launch an assault on the
regions.

"We would like to cover a certain number of cities," said Dmitry Konov, the
bank's managing director of corporate finance.

"We plan to build three to four hotels within the next 18 months or two
years. And most likely they will not be located in Moscow."

The first of the series of economy and mid-market hotels with about a 100
rooms each, would cost up to $40 million to build. A night there would cost
around $100.

"We plan to start using this money within the next two months," Konov said,
adding that talks on raising a $300 million loan to fund the project
forward were under way.

(Additional reporting by Larisa Sayenko)

********

#10
Moscow Times
March 26, 2003
Dedovshchina Sure Beats A Coup d'Etat
By Yulia Latynina

Last week a group of young men attacked Marina Soboleva, the mother of a
cadet who had complained about dedovshchina -- the hazing of newcomers by
older cadets or soldiers -- at St. Petersburg's famous Nakhimovsky Naval
Academy. The attack occurred shortly after a special navy commission ruled
that no hazing had taken place at the academy. Soboleva's assailants didn't
pull their punches: The elderly woman was left with a broken nose and a
concussion.

Boris Nemtsov recently announced that more than 2,000 men died last year as a
result of dedovshchina in the Russian army. The Chief Military Prosecutor's
Office became rather indignant, and announced in turn that dedovshchina had
claimed 62 lives in 1998, 71 in 1999, 68 in 2000 and 81 in 2001. No figures
were available for 2002. Yet according to confidential Defense Ministry
statistics obtained by the State Duma defense committee, 2,070 soldiers died
in 2002 -- not in combat or training, but during their time off. Of that
number, 325 committed suicide.

So who are the 81 young men who died as a result of dedovshchina in 2001? The
Military Prosecutor's Office classifies victims of dedovshchina as those who
are shot dead. These are usually the dedy (the older soldiers who do the
hazing), murdered on those rare occasions when tormented conscripts are
allocated firearms for guard duty. Casualties of hazing by dedy are
classified as suicides or accidents. In other words, it is a war of
"granddads" vs. greenhorns, and only dead "granddads" are registered in the
dedovshchina column.

The assault on Soboleva illustrates a basic law of Russian society: The army
is manned by the dregs of society. In victorious societies, this situation is
reversed: The social elite is composed of professional soldiers -- knights,
samurai, the nobility. The civilian population -- peasant farmers, serfs and
fellahs -- have always occupied society's bottom rungs.

Russia is the opposite of the Roman Empire, where the army was the elite, and
a career in politics was unthinkable without serving in the military first.
You might object, saying that this is all ancient history, but consider the
case of Israel where even today the army elite becomes the ruling elite.

What do you think happens to a young Russian man who walks into his local
draft board and announces that his father is a member of the Cabinet or that
his mother owns a major company? He is exempted from service on account of
his "flat feet" or some other transparent excuse. A young Israeli whose
father is a minister, on the other hand, is deemed especially qualified for
military service and placed in an elite paratrooper unit.

Our Duma deputies foam at the mouth as they debate the U.S. Army's right to
attack Saddam Hussein. That's a complicated question. But the United States
certainly has the capability to wage this war. What do you think would happen
if our army were fighting in the Iraqi dessert? At what point would it emerge
that all the fuel for the tanks had been sold on the side, or that the
missiles won't fly because their electronic guidance systems have been
stripped and sold as scrap silver?

Endemic theft among the top brass and dedovshchina are simply the result of
the social make-up of our army. The creation of a professional army could
change all this. But a professional army in a weak, corrupt country presents
a danger to those in power. A strategic decision has therefore been made:
Better that they should beat up old women in St. Petersburg and kill them in
Chechnya than start thinking about staging a coup d'?tat.

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

********

#11
New York Times
March 26, 2003
book review
Man of Opposites, a Force for Good and Evil
By RICHARD PIPES
Richard Pipes is emeritus professor of history at Harvard and author of
"Communism: A History."

KHRUSHCHEV
The Man and His Era.
By William Taubman.
Illustrated. 876 pp. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. $35.

At least a dozen biographies of Nikita S. Khrushchev have been published in
Russia and elsewhere along with his memoirs, secretly recorded and smuggled
to the West, and the recently published recollections by his son, Sergei.
But the biography by William Taubman, a Russian specialist at Amherst
College, is the first scholarly study of this Soviet leader based on a
thorough examination of all the existing literature as well as the
available archival sources and interviews with those who knew him.

More than 10 years in the making, this lively narrative is likely to remain
for a considerable time the standard study of the man who in 1956 started
the de-Stalinization that 35 years later ended in the collapse of the
Soviet Union and the dissolution of its empire.

The critical questions concerning this man who succeeded Stalin are how he
came to reach the pinnacle of the Soviet hierarchy and why he, a product of
the Stalinist system and an accomplice in Stalin's terror, turned against
his mentor. He was not only barely educated — "he had problems with
spelling" — but also, in the words of the Russian sculptor Ernst
Neizvestny, with whom he engaged in a public debate on aesthetics, "the
most uncultured man" he had ever met.

Unstable, alternating between euphoria and depression, incorrigibly vulgar,
impulsive in his personal conduct as well as politics, he was the very
antithesis of the proper Communist leader. How did he reach the pinnacle of
power? And why did he decide to expose its most abhorrent sides?

Khrushchev joined the Bolshevik party in late 1918 and made a rapid career
with hard work, an ebullient personality and total loyalty to the party
line. He attracted Stalin's attention with these qualities, the more so
because he posed no threat to the paranoid leader: he not only had even
less education but was five inches shorter. While most of his minions
feared and detested Stalin, Khrushchev actually came to admire him. Having
become in the 1930's Stalin's pet, he enthusiastically participated in his
slaughters. Mr. Taubman details Khrushchev's despicable behavior during
these years, behavior that he later tried to conceal and his son ignored in
his biography. While Stalin was alive, no one exceeded him in loyalty to
the tyrant.

The Communist government established by Lenin made no provision for
succession: one reached the top by conspiracies and by concealing one's
aspirations to power. That is how Stalin did it, and Khrushchev followed
suit. Bolder by temperament than his intimidated Politburo comrades, he
acted more assertively than they after the "Greatest Genius of All Times
and Nations" died in 1953.

In Mr. Taubman's account, on the eve of Stalin's death Khrushchev appears
to have been in a stronger insider position than hitherto suspected, having
attained the second or third place in the Kremlin hierarchy. He
outmaneuvered his rivals in that "like Stalin in the 20's, he identified
his cause with that of the Communist apparatus . . . and made and betrayed
allies."

The tortuous intrigues that enabled Khrushchev, in the best Stalinist
fashion, to eliminate his rivals one by one are described in fascinating
detail and demonstrate how futile it is to study Soviet history "from
below," as the "revisionist" school of historians would have it. In the
Soviet regime the population at large had as much influence on events as
the chorus in a Greek drama.

On the matter of the anti-Stalin campaign, Mr. Taubman is less clear-cut.
One possible explanation of this gamble may have been the fear of the new
leadership — which sanctioned the undertaking — that unless it purged
itself of the taint of Stalinism, and especially Stalin's persecution of
Communists, it could be charged with complicity. Later Khrushchev accused
his rivals of collusion with Stalin while ignoring his own role.

The Yugoslav ambassador cited Khrushchev to the effect that, feeling old
and near death, he felt it necessary "to give an account of what he had
done and how he did it." Yet another explanation may be that Khrushchev and
his associates, having chafed for so long under Stalin's bullying, now took
revenge on their deceased tormentor.

The greatest achievement of Khrushchev's 10-year rule was to dispel the
paralyzing fear that had gripped the country under Stalin. As I can testify
from personal experience, by the early 1960's a certain degree of normalcy
had returned to the Soviet Union, although those who had lived through the
Great Terror of 1937-38 never quite rid themselves of fright. Khrushchev
also closed most of the concentration camps and posthumously rehabilitated
some 20 million of the terror's victims, which, even if it came too late to
benefit them, helped their families. He relaxed censorship and reopened
Russia's contacts with the non-Communist world. All this was to the good.

His foreign policy proved less successful. While proclaiming the doctrine
of peaceful coexistence, he started a strategy of encircling the West
through the third world. In the case of Cuba, that almost led to a nuclear
war. Relations with China, the Soviet Union's most important ally, came
close to the breaking point. Nor were his economic policies more effective.

Khrushchev's fall from power was inevitable, for his increasingly erratic
and authoritarian behavior maddened his associates and disorganized the
Communist apparatus. His ouster was swift and met with no resistance. He
spent his last years in retirement under conditions of house arrest. He
felt deep guilt over the wrongs he had committed and looked forward to his
death. There is something very Russian about this story of crime and
self-inflicted punishment.

Khrushchev was worried about his place in history, hoping that in the eyes
of posterity his good deeds would outweigh the wrongs. Mr. Taubman refrains
from passing judgment but summarizes his impressions of this contradictory
personality like this: "Both true believer and cold-eyed realist,
opportunistic yet principled in his own way, fearful of war while all too
prone to risk it, the most unpretentious of men even as he pretended to
power and glory exceeding his grasp, complicit in great evil yet also the
author of much good."

********

#12
Asia Times
March 25, 2003
Kazakhstan: World's nuclear dumping ground?
By Mark Berniker
Mark Berniker is a freelance journalist specializing in Eurasian political
and economic affairs.

The government of Kazakhstan is moving forward with its proposal to import
radioactive waste from countries that don't want to deal with it. Some
parliamentarians and local political groups, however, are enraged that
Kazakhstan could worsen its own massive radioactive-waste disposal problems
by bringing more toxicity into the country from the outside.

Kazakhstan was long the dumping ground for radioactive waste in the Soviet
Union, with its rich history of innumerable nuclear tests, not to mention the
widespread mining and storing of uranium, plutonium and other highly
dangerous elements. Now, more than a decade after the end of the USSR,
Kazakhstan is going one step farther into the nuclear abyss, as it moves to
import nuclear waste from other countries.

Kazakhstan, to its credit, has moved swiftly to support non-proliferation and
destroyed a variety of weapons and systems on its territory. But the dirty
aftermath of years of neglect now puts Kazakhstan in a position where it has
a horrendous radioactive-waste disposal problem. To make things worse, the
Kazakh government has come up with a truly misguided solution to deal with
the problem.

Officials from Kazatomprom, the state nuclear-energy company, say they want
to import other countries' waste for a heavy fee. But any radioactive
material would have to be transported by rail, perhaps from Europe and on
into Russia and Kazakhstan. The risks are immense, from accidental spills to
terrorists taking control of radioactive-waste-laden trains.

Interfax-Kazakhstan news service on February 3 said Kazakh scientists and
experts expected that the country would need close to US$1.2 billion to
dispose of existing radioactive waste. The article goes on to say that if
Kazakhstan imports 800,000 cubic meters of medium-level radioactive waste
from other countries, it would help to finance disposal of its considerable
toxic-waste stockpiles.

Official data from Kazatomprom claim that Kazakhstan has about 237.2 million
tonnes of radioactive waste, with a total radioactivity level of 15.5 million
curie. In 2001, only $1 million was devoted to cleaning up Kazakhstan's
massive radioactive-waste problem, a drop in the bucket compared with the
more than $1.2 billion it says it needs to deal with the crisis.

"They have a huge problem, and while there is some multilateral assistance
and help from government organizations, the money is not enough to deal with
the magnitude of the problem," said Ken Ley Butler, research associate for
the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, who is following Kazakhstan's
controversial radioactive-waste policies.

Under the rule of Nursultan Nazerbayev, Kazakhstan is far from a democracy,
but the voices of dissent are surfacing on the issue of toxic nuclear waste.
Both environmental advocates and anti-nuclear activists are rising in
resistance to the country's controversial nuclear-power and radioactive-waste
policies.

On March 3, the Kazakhstan-Today news agency reported that Otan republican
political party and the Nevada-Semipalatinsk international anti-nuclear
movement made a statement regarding the import and burying of foreign
radioactive waste in Kazakhstan. The statement said scientists and engineers
of the International Atomic Energy Agency said that "radioactive waste should
be deposited in the country where it has been produced". The anti-nuclear
group is strongly against Kazatomprom's plan to begin importing radioactive
waste into Kazakhstan soon. It says Kazatomprom's designs raise serious
doubts, as "the absence of necessary equipment, technologies and
corresponding specialists raises the issue of the safe functioning of
radioactive burial sites planned by Kazatomprom".

The Kazakh anti-nuclear movement is not only concerned about the obvious
public health and environmental impact on the region, but also the safe
transport and disposal of the imported radioactive waste. The group, in its
statement, also noted that "the increasing threat of nuclear terrorists using
radioactive waste should also be taken into account".

But despite the numerous concerns raised by both domestic and international
observers, Kazakhstan appears to be moving forward with its
radioactive-waste-import plans. But both houses of parliament would have to
approve the new radioactive-waste-import policy, and it is not a foregone
conclusion that political opposition to the measure won't be successful.
Butler said the vote on the policy has been delayed several times, and it is
unclear when it will come up for a parliamentary vote.

"The proponents are going to realize at some point that this is an
unprecedented venture, and that it's not a sound business idea for them,"
Butler said. "Transporting and storing other countries' waste is going to
open up a can of worms."

In a recent article in The Guardian, Sergei Kuratov, chairman of the
environmental group Green Salvation, made a persuasive argument. He said a
government so rich in oil could not say that it lacked the money to deal with
its own radioactive-waste problem.

The government of Kazakhstan with the help of international governments and
multilateral organizations must come to grips with the enormity of
Kazakhstan's domestic radioactive-waste disposal problems. This is the main
issue, and the Kazakh government's dubious radioactive-waste-import policy is
an ugly sideshow that should be tabled. It is to be hoped that
parliamentarians and political opposition will talk some sense into the
misguided Kazakh government. But international pressure could go a long way
to stopping the insanity.

*******

#13
Regional Economic Results for 2002, 2003 Forecasts Provided

Vremya MN
22 March 2003
Article by Kakha Kakhiani: "The Cattle Have Betrayed the Growth of GDP"

Yesterday Deputy Minister of Economic Development
and Trade [MERT] Mukhamed Tsikanov presented the results of the
social-economic development of the Russian regions for last year and made
a prediction for 2003.

The population in almost all the RF subjects (except for 16 regions)
declined last year. A particularly gloomy record was set in 26
territories: the number of deaths exceeded the number of births by 2- 2.9
fold.

Last year the situation in the labor market was somewhat exacerbated,
where for the first time since 2001 the number of unemployed people
started to increase. Tsikanov linked this with the fact that the
"hidden form of unemployment has acquired an open character," due to
increased unemployment benefits. The highest indicators of unemployment
were registered in Ingushetia and the Koryak Autonomous Okrug - 10
percent - and the lowest in Orenburg, Lipetsk, Tver, and Smolensk Oblasts
- 0.7 percent.

The average per capita income of the population differs almost 13-fold.
In Moscow it is R20,240, but in the Ust-Ordinsk Autonomous Okrug - R1577.
The contrast in growth rates is not so striking. Leningrad Oblast and
St. Petersburg are the leaders - 35.6 percent and 31.4 percent
respectively in relation to 2001, while Kalmykia and Ingushetia are the
outsiders - negative 27.9 percent and 26.1 percent respectively.

The situation in agriculture was worse than in 2001. More than 30 RF
subjects did not reach the 2001 level in the volume of products produced,
and the harvest of potatoes and vegetables decreased, as did the number
of head of large horned cattle, hogs, sheep, and goats.

Regarding predictions for 2003, the demographic situation is the worst.
The largest decrease in population is expected in the Northwest, Central,
and Volga districts. The Southern and Urals Federal Districts are
relatively favorable regions, due to the low outflow of people, the high
birth rate, and low death rate.

A record level of unemployment is expected in Siberia, a number of
regions in the Far North, and in Ingushetia, Dagestan, and Kalmykia (3.6
percent in 2003). This is due to the insufficient number of jobs in
these regions and the high share of the able-bodied population.

A growth in the population's real incomes will be observed in practically
all regions in 2003. A growth in industrial production will also be
noted, which, based on the recent more precise prognoses of the MERT,
could average 4.5 percent for Russia.

The highest rates of growth will be in the South, Northwest, and Central
Federal Districts (13.1 percent). The two largest industrial
manufacturing regions - the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug and Moscow -
"will grow" 10 percent.

********

#14
Trud
No. 54
March 26, 2003
[translation from RIA Novosti]
THE SECRET OF VLADIMIR PUTIN'S PRESTIGE
"Putin is not God; he is doing only as much as he can,"
says Mark URNOV

On March 26 three years ago Vladimir Putin was elected
president of Russia. How has Russia and Putin changed in the
past three years? Mark URNOV, board chairman of the Centre of
Political technologies, talks with Vladimir IGNATOV.

Question: The public trust for the president is stable at
approximately 80%. But does this favourable figure include an
element of social "compliment"?
Answer: It has nothing to do with compliments. The high
level of public trust for the current president is a
combination of several factors. The first is contrast. Yevgeny
Primakov had a high rating when he was appointed premier. The
people loved him as the saviour from chaos, which everyone
expected to grip Russia after the default. And when Putin,
lively and energetic man who speaks clearly and even wittily
and acts resolutely, appeared on the Russian political Olympus,
the public trusted him because he presented a striking contrast
to his predecessor, an old, ailing and inconsistent leader.
Later that high tonus of public trust was kept up and
reinforced by the actions of the new president, designed
eventually to strengthen the integrity of the state and
prosperity of the citizens. He has largely healed us of the
complex of inferiority created by what many people saw as the
shameful end of the first Chechen campaign. The economy started
growing and wages and pensions were paid on time. Putin was
seen as the man who is restoring the country. The public
remembers Yeltsin's rule as the time of destruction, while now
the overwhelming majority of the people see the current stage
as the time of development and revival, despite numerous
difficulties. A recent proof of this is the results of the
referendum in Chechnya.
The second factor is closely connected with the first one.
It is the absence of alternative, a comparable rival, such as
Zyuganov was for Yeltsin. Viewed against the background of
Putin's incredible popularity, all other contenders for the top
post look like gnomes. There is simply nobody who could really
compete with the president.

Question: A small "personnel revolution" took place in
late March 2001, when Vladimir Putin replaced the heads of
several power departments. He did it again in mid-March 2003.
What was the reason for these recent reshuffles and
liquidations?
Answer: In my opinion, these reshuffles are nothing more
than the streamlining of the management system. Rumours about
the revival of the KGB and a regime of personal power make me
think about neurotic ravings.

Question: On the one hand, Putin regularly criticises
radical liberals who call for quick reforms, calling them
"Bolsheviks." On the other hand, he has set down to fundamental
and rather liberal market reforms. Do you see a contradiction?
Answer: Not at all. The worst thing imaginable for any
country is an ideologically consistent power. We Russians have
suffered from this evil and North Koreans are still suffering
from it. The supreme executive authority in any normal state is
a pragmatic authority. The advocates of quick reforms claim
that everything must be changed now, that a good master never
cuts off the tail of his dog by parts. But when the executive
authority takes its time contrary to these ideological
concepts, this does not mean that it rejects reforms. The thing
is that an effective power also faces another task, which is no
less important than reforms. It is the task of minimising
social tensions, which changes inevitably provoke. Stability in
conditions of reforms is a major value, just as reforms are.

Question: The president outlined his version of the
national idea in his address to the Federal Assembly as
"competitiveness and effectiveness of the country." Is Putin
pursuing an effective domestic policy and effectively competing
on the world scene?
Answer: Certainly, if we compare his efforts to those of
the first president of Russia. Boris Yeltsin could not clearly
formulate the strategy and tactic in the past years of his
presidency for health reasons. Everybody knows that several
groups with common interests ruled the country, while in
foreign policy Yeltsin was seen as a man with whom it was
impossible to negotiate. The current president is a quite
effective and predictable partner of the leaders of great
powers.
As for changes in the internal situation, we see the
decline of pessimism and entropy in Russian society. On the
whole, Putin is not God; he is doing only as much as he can.
Moreover, personally, I think that the results we have scored
are larger than we could expect. Relations with regions are
being changed;
taxes are being reduced; humane changes are underway in the
judicial system; and the improvement of the Russian army has
been launched.

Question: Under Putin, the State Duma expressed a desire
to collaborate with the executive power, for the first time in
our post-Soviet history. What is the secret of Putin's
influence?
Answer: As you know, the Duma relies on the opinion of
voters. If Putin's rating equalled not 80% but 4% (Yeltsin's
rating in the past few years of his rule), the deputies would
have acted differently with regard to the executive power. When
the power has the support of the public, standing in opposition
to it means losing voters. According to the studies of the
Centre of Political Technologies, a considerable part of the
electorate of nearly all parties demands that the parties for
which they vote maintain constructive collaboration with Putin.
Even the electorate of the Communist Party, let alone the SPS
supporters, demand this.

Question: Do you think Vladimir Putin has changed as a man
in the past three years of presidency?
Answer: I don't see deep changes. Even his appearance has
hardly changed.

********

#15
Gazeta
March 26, 2003
VLADIMIR PUTIN HAS ONE YEAR LEFT
New anxiety has gripped the Russian population
Author: Andrei Reut
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
THREE YEARS HAVE PASSED SINCE VLADIMIR PUTIN BECAME PRESIDENT OF
RUSSIA. ALTHOUGH HIS RATING IS STILL HIGH, THERE ARE SOME DISTURBING
TRENDS: FEWER PEOPLE HOPE HE WILL BRING ORDER TO RUSSIA. POLITICAL
ANALYSTS ARE SAYING THAT PUTIN PAYS FOR HIS HIGH RATING BY
PROCRASTINATING OVER REFORMS.

Three years have passed since Vladimir Putin became president of
Russia. His popularity rating is still high, although fewer people
hope that he will bring order to the country. Political analysts are
saying that Putin is thus paying for his high rating by
procrastinating over reforms. This will not affect the results of the
presidential election of 2004 in any way.
Over the three years of Putin's presidency people's trust for him
has only increased. According to the National Public Opinion Research
Center (VTsIOM), in 2001, 70% of respondents trusted him completely,
while in February 2003 this figure was already 74%. Slightly under 20%
of respondents still do not trust him. The only time when VTsIOM did
not publish Putin's rating for some reason was in August 2000, when
the catastrophe of the Kursk took place and the president continued
his rest in Sochi. This was the president's main blunder.
People are attracted by the president mostly because he is an
"energetic, resolute, and a strong-willed person". Almost half of
respondents said this in 2000, although only 40% of them think so now.
Not all ratings of Putin are growing, however. In 2000, his
policy regarding Chechnya was approved by 21% of respondents, whereas
in late 2002 this figure was only 8%. The number of people thinking
that the president does not have a distinct strategy has considerably
increased: from 4% to 8%. At the start of his presidential career,
only 3% of people suspected him of links with corrupted bureaucrats,
while at the end of 2002, 6% of respondents suspected Putin of this.
At the same time, the number of people to whom Putin's appearance
appeals is increasing. In 2000, 8% of respondents thought him
attractive, while this winter the number of respondents who were of
this opinion was 16%. Currently, 35% of respondents describe their
attitude toward the president as "liking", while at the start of his
presidency this figure was 29%.
Rises and declines of the president's rating are connected with
political events. For instance, after the catastrophe of the Kursk,
the number of those certain that Putin would introduce order to the
country decreased from 25% to 19%, and by the end of 2001 this figure
was again 25%. However, this rating started to decline then until it
reached 18% in December 2002. Political analysts call this fact "new
anxiety".
From the very beginning, Putin's popularity has been based on
people's belief that he will make the life better. The standard of
living has slightly improved but not so much to make people's belief
maintain these ratings at such a high level.
Vladimir Putin seldom crosses public opinion or elite groups.
This is an obstacle to structural and administrative reforms. Dmitry
Orlov, Deputy Director of the Center for Political Strategies, has
said in his interview to "Gazeta" that Putin should devote his second
presidential tenure to stricter reforms. Otherwise, industrial
catastrophes will take place in Russia, and the presidential rating
will decline.
Question: What has Putin been most successful with?
Dmitry Orlov: The main achievement of President Putin is the
alteration of the essence of the administrative system in Russia. Back
under Yeltsin, this system was aimed at reproduction of itself and
catering for its own needs, but now its work is oriented to needs of
economic growth.
Of course, a great administrative reform is still to come, as
well as destruction of the bureaucratic machine that has remained
unchanged in the provinces. However, the orientation of the
administrative elite is qualitatively different today.
Question: The administrative reform is being prepared by the
government. Does it manage to do it?
Orlov: I'm convinced that Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov does
not agree with the president's ideas regarding the administrative
reform. When he tried to call the reform "administrative tuning" last
year, he expressed his position quite openly. His current aspirations
to display his fervor and readiness for reforms do not seem sincere to
me. Kasianov is an inert person in this connection, and many ministers
and other bureaucrats are oriented to him.
Question: What other Putin's achievements do you think are
important?
Orlov: Putin managed to arrange a relatively effective government
vertical, put an end to separatist spirits, and create institutional
conditions for economic growth. Institutes, chiefly tax ones, serve as
an effective instrument of influence over economic growth. It is clear
that the structure of economic growth is greatly dependent on oil
prices and post-default load of productive capacities, but the
government's aspirations in this field are obvious too. Another
achievement of the president is his conciliatory work with public
opinion. He tries never to irritate people. A long time has passed
since Russia had a leader who counted with public opinion. This policy
cannot be called illiterate. After all, the government exists to
satisfy people's needs.
Question: Putin's hobby horse is foreign policy. Has he gained
success in this field?
Orlov: Among Putin's merits is Russia's qualitatively new place
on the international arena. Now Russia is certainly a European state.
President Yeltsin was viewed as some sort of "big bear" with a few
democratic words and unpredictable behavior, and he was not integrated
into the international system of decision-making. As for Putin, the
strict bargaining he conducts on concrete economic problems
corresponds to standards adopted by Europe. Putin has revived the
foreign policy based on Russia's national interests. In the 1990s, we
heard a lot of explanations of Russia's foreign policy, from humanist
values to preservation of strategic partnership with the US. Gorbachev
and Yeltsin did not think fighting for Russia's interests essential
for some reason. Putin does it, and he does it skillfully. We have
long needed a politician who would bargain for every single dollar.
Putin is just the person.
Question: What about economic achievements?
Orlov: The president's main problem in this field is that the
economy is developing by inertia. Of course, some reforms have been
conducted, but the most acute problems, such as reformation of the
energy sector, housing sector, Gazprom, and taxation of oil companies,
are still unsolved. They are unsolved for the reason that we have
mentioned as a merit: his orientation to public opinion. Besides, he
does not want to strictly oppose a number of elite groups. The fact
that reforms are not conducted is extremely dangerous, since it may
cause man-caused catastrophes. This problem is going to become more
acute by the end of the decade. So far, the president can act
sequentially, but later he may be urged by concrete situations
regardless of public opinion.
Question: When should reforms be started to avoid catastrophes?
Orlov: I think they should be started no later than the beginning
of Putin's second presidential term.
Question: You've said that Putin does not want to quarrel with
elites. How serious are disagreements between elite groups?
Orlov: This is the problem that is going to become more and more
serious. Putin's team is ill-matched, and it is tolerant of the
"family" group, and these facts threaten his political future.
According to opinion polls, people constantly complain about people
who were near Yeltsin and whom people do not want to see near Putin.
Sooner or later Putin will have to respond to this challenge. However,
he will need a lot of will for this, since the "family" group is very
strong in the administrative and political spheres.
Question: Putin's ratings are stable and high. Does his
popularity really remain so high?
Orlov: Putin is the president of hope, and this hope is beginning
to gradually melt. The so-called "new anxiety" is becoming a problem
for him, which is reflected in opinion polls. A recent poll conducted
by the Public Opinion Foundation showed that people answer the
question if their expectations from Putin's policy are satisfied in a
different way. The number of those who are satisfied is only 11%
larger than the number of those who aren't. About a year ago, this gap
was 30%. Of course, this must worry the president. People are saying,
"We believe you and trust you, but show us some concrete results after
all!" sooner or later this "new anxiety" may be replaced by negative
attitudes, especially is the president refrains from taking active
measures.
(Translated by Kirill Frolov)

*******

#16
Asia Times
March 26, 2003
Concerns and divisions in Central Asia
By Sergei Blagov

MOSCOW - In the wake of the military onslaught to oust Saddam Hussein,
governments in Central Asia have tightened security precautions. These
states are wary of the conflicts potential consequences, yet disagreements
among them emerge on whether to back the US-led coalition, or stick with
the Russian critical position.

Although no fears have been voiced so far over the possibility of the war
directly affecting Central Asia, the relative proximity of the region to
Iraq makes authorities concerned about some related problems. Central Asia
governments have ordered the police to reinforce security around US and
British embassies and other diplomatic facilities. Moreover, Kazakhstan has
announced that it has increased the monitoring of the countrys airspace,
and in Kyrgyzstan officials have announced that security measures around
the US military air base Manas near the capital Bishkek have been
strengthened. The base is used for US troops operating in Afghanistan.

So far, Tajikistan remains the only Central Asian state to directly
criticize the coalition, calling the attack against Iraq a "failure in
diplomacy". A commentary broadcast on state-controlled Tajik radio after
American-led forces started the offensive towards Baghdad said, "There is
no evidence of the Iraqi leaders cooperation with international
terrorists." The radio commentary also depicted the Iraq offensive as a
"mistake", well in line with Russian President Vladimir Putins statement
on March 20, which also described the war as a "big mistake".

No big wonder that Tajikistan backed the Russian anti-war stance since the
Tajik regime still largely depends on Russian military backing. Some 20,000
personnel of the 201st Division and border guards are currently stationed
in Tajikistan.

Tiny mountainous Kyrgyzstan has taken a pacifist approach. It advocates the
soonest end of the war on Iraq, Kyrgyz deputy Foreign Minister Zheyenbek
Kulubayev has announced. However, Kyrgyzstan will not authorize the use of
the Manas base for strikes against Iraq, Kulubayev was quoted as saying by
the RIA news agency.

Kyrgyzstan also expressed concern about undesired population movements
triggered by the fighting. Kyrgyz security council head Boris Poluetov
reportedly expressed concern about an "uncontrolled influx of citizens from
neighboring countries", RIA reported. Poluetov added that border controls
had been boosted to guard against illegal migration.

Kazakhstan allowed the US-led coalition to use its airspace as part of the
military campaign in Afghanistan. However, the economic repercussions of
the Iraq war may also be painful for Kazakhstan - the state relies heavily
on the development of hydrocarbon resources.

Therefore, Kazakh authorities have voiced concern about a potential
medium-term drop in global energy prices. A significant drop in the price
of oil and gas could cause a budgetary crisis for the Kazakh government.
According to a presidential press service statement, Kazakh President
Nursultan Nazarbayev has instructed officials to develop contingency plans
to cushion the potential blow to Kazakhstan caused by volatile energy
prices. On March 25, Putin had talks over the phone with Nazarbayev to
discuss Iraq and they reportedly pledged a shared position.

Kazakhstan did voice concern over the split in the United Nations. The
Kazakh Foreign Ministry said in a statement that "a dangerous tendency
towards a split and the absence of a common stance on the Iraqi situation
have appeared in the world community. Kazakhstan adheres to the principled
position of support for the UN, and stands for resolving key international
problems only within the framework of that organization."

However, Kazakhstan has refrained from an outright pro-peace statement that
might be interpreted as directed against the US. For instance, Kazakhstan's
Foreign Ministry has accused Saddam Hussein for the start of a new war.
"The responsibility for the latest developments lies with Saddam Hussein,
who has failed to provide convincing evidence of his country's
disarmament," the ministry said in a statement.

The strongest of America's backers in Central Asia has been Uzbekistan.
President Islam Karimov has voiced support to the coalition military action
in Iraq. Uzbek television, in a documentary broadcast, compared Saddam to
former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. Moreover, there have been reports
that Uzbek censorship did not allow any anti-war coverage in domestic media
outlets.

It is understood that Tashkent backs Washington in the hopes that their
support will be rewarded with increased levels of American aid. "Uzbekistan
supported the US war on Iraq because Uzbek leadership is interested in an
increased American role in Central Asia," argues Konstantin Zatulin, head
of the Moscow-based CIS Institute. The one-sided Uzbek position may be
attributed to the fact that Uzbekistan is one of the regions leading
recipients on the US military aid.

Before the start of the war, Turkmenistan had tentatively backed
Washingtons stance over Iraq. Earlier this month, Turkmen President
Saparmurat Niyazov stated that Turkmenistan followed the US course of
action, notably in terms of protecting the Turkmen minority in Iraq.
However, as the war started Turkmenistan, which describes itself as a
neutral state, has largely refrained from commenting.

Arguably, Moscow might have wanted to step in and discourage Turkmenistan
from backing the war. On March 25, Putin had talks over the phone with
Turkmen President Niyazov to discuss Caspian and energy cooperation. The
Kremlin press service did not mention any discussions relative to Iraq.

In the meantime, Russian observers warn that the Iraqi crisis could have a
negative impact in an already volatile region. In the longer term, the war
on Iraq will inevitably affect internal stability and economic security of
Central Asian states, argues Yevgeny Kozhokin, head of the Moscow-based
Institute of Strategic Studies. Weakening the UN, the guarantor of the
state sovereignty principle, could prove detrimental for the interests on
Central Asian states, which do not possess any significant armed forces, he
said.

Therefore, at least three Central Asian states are wary of the US
unilateral approach on Iraq, yet all three countries want to avoid
alienating the US. These states have either close relationships with
Russia, or, like Kazakhstan, may be dealt an economic blow from the war in
Iraq, hence their concerns over the Iraq crisis seem to be growing. In the
meantime, debate over the war seems to deepen divisions in Central Asia, a
trend unlikely to increase stability in the region.