Thursday, June 30, 2005

House of Friendship

RFE/RL reports that
A court in Finland has sentenced a Russian woman to prison for running a prostitution ring out of apartments owned by the Russian Embassy's trade delegation.

Tatiana Viitanen was found guilty of acting as a pimp by leasing the apartments to prostitutes over a two-year period.

She was sentenced to two years and three months and ordered to pay some $200,000 in damages.

The apartments were allegedly supplied to Viitanen by two Russian officials. But the two did not face trial as they are protected by diplomatic immunity and have since returned to Moscow.

The Russian Embassy website said that some apartments had been "used for criminal activities...which it regrets," but denied any embassy involvement in a prostitution racket.

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From Edwin A. Abbott to Emile Zola, the 1,082 titles in the Penguin Classics Complete Library total nearly half a million pages--laid end to end they would hit the 52-mile mark. Approximately 700 pounds in weight, the titles would tower 828 feet if you stacked them atop each other--almost as tall as the Empire State Building.

Pora To Enter Parliamentary Race

A Kyiv court yesterday ordered the Ukrainian Justice Ministry to backdate the registration of the Pora student movement as a political party. In theory at least, the decision allows Pora, which spearheaded last year’s Orange Revolution that brought President Viktor Yushchenko to power, to take part in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Prague, 30 June 2005 (RFE/RL) – The Pecherskyy district court ruled that Pora should be retroactively registered as a political party as of 24 March 2005.

By doing so, the judiciary is paving the way for Pora’s participation in the upcoming legislative polls due to take place on 31 March 2006. Ukraine’s election law says a political party cannot compete for parliamentary seats unless it is registered at least 365 days before the polls.

Yuriy Polyukhovych is the leader of Pora's Kyiv branch and a member of Ukraine’s Popular Party. In comments made to RFE/RL, he hailed yesterday’s court ruling. “This is a renewal of justice and people are beginning to believe that common sense can prevail," he said. "This ruling shows that the 10,000 signatures that PORA had collected to register as a party were a fair decision.”

Yesterday’s court decision puts an end to a two-month struggle between Pora and the Justice Ministry. Pora had been seeking registration since 24 March, when it held its founding congress as a political party.

Arguing that only one-third of the signatures of support collected by Pora activists could be authenticated, the Justice Ministry first refused to register the student movement. It did so only on 1 June. But the belated decision came too late for Pora, which was effectively barred from taking part in the upcoming election.

Pora leaders have blamed Justice Minister Roman Zvarych for the delay and organized street protests to demand his resignation. Zvarych eventually voiced support for Pora against his own administration. Yet, relations between Ukraine’s newest political party and the Justice minister remain sour.

On 25 June, Zvarych reportedly shunned a planned television debate with Pora leader Vladislav Kaskiv, prompting an angry reaction from the organization. Zvarych was not immediately available for comment today.

Polyukhovych suspects many government officials -- and not only in the Justice Ministry -- are looking at Pora with suspicion. “It seems that in today’s Ukraine, the new government doesn’t want to see young, promising politicians on its side and that’s why we sometimes have to resort to different methods, such as the protests we had to organize when the Justice Ministry absurdly refused to register us, checked our documents four times and finally registered us, but did so on such a date that would have disqualified us from participating in the elections,” he said.

In a speech delivered at RFE/RL’s Prague headquarters earlier this month, Pora leader Kaskiv explained why in his view it is so important that Ukraine’s student movement continues the political fight.

“Today, with [our] new president, Ukraine is a reborn nation," Kaskiv said. "However we understand that this is not a final, [decisive] victory. [It is just] one more chance to become a great European nation with a new outlook and a reenergized people with an outstanding future. This is why we pledge today to not [repeat] the mistakes of the past. Pora will not allow the corrupt political old guard that ruled over Ukraine in the past 14 years to change its course again. We will not allow corrupt officials to seize power in Ukraine by putting on the orange color. Pora will protect the democratic victory of the people.”

Polyukhovych agrees, saying the organization had vowed to keep a watchful eye on the government.

“The situation forces us to participate in [the upcoming parliamentary] elections," he told RFE/RL. "It is especially true for those of us who have shown by their actions -- and not just by words -- that we, the youth, are well organized and capable of toppling any system that is against its own people. This is why Pora, together with other parties, must take part in these elections as they certainly will not be any less important – perhaps they will be even more important – that the last presidential elections in Ukraine.”

Polyukhovych says that provided Pora wins parliamentary seats it will not blindly support Yushchenko’s government, even though Kaskiv currently works as an adviser to the Ukrainian president.

“I believe this may not be necessarily an opposition, but a young, fresh viewpoint that will be heard, if not by the government, then certainly by the people, and if not in parliament, then certainly in local government councils,” Polyukhovych said.

Polyukhovych says Pora has still not decided whether to run for parliament on its own, or in an alliance with other political parties.

Copyright (c) 2005. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

Friends and Enemies

Anne Applebaum, discussing attitudes towards the United States in different countries, population strata and age-groups around the world:
Looking at age patterns in other generally anti–American countries can be equally revealing. In Canada, Britain, Italy, and Australia, for example, all countries with generally high or very high anti–American sentiments, people older than 60 have relatively much more positive feelings about the United States than their children and grandchildren. When people older than 60 are surveyed, 63.5 percent of Britons, 59.6 percent of Italians, 50.2 percent of Australians, and 46.8 percent of Canadians feel that the United States is a “mainly positive” influence on the world. For those between the ages of 15 and 29, the numbers are far lower: 31.9 percent (Britain), 37.4 percent (Italy), 27 percent (Australia), and 19.9 percent (Canada). Again, that isn’t surprising: All of these countries had positive experiences of American cooperation during or after the Second World War. The British of that generation have direct memories, or share their parents’ memories, of Winston Churchill’s meetings with Franklin Roosevelt; the Canadians and Australians fought alongside American G.I.s; and many Italians remember that those same G.I.s evicted the Nazis from their country,too.
The whole article is illuminating and well worth reading.

(via Harry's Place)

A Slap In The Face

Vladimir Socor writes in EDM about how the entire European Union is being insulted by Russia's unilateral decision to reject ratification of the border agreement with Estonia:
On June 27, merely six weeks after signing the border treaty with Estonia, Russia announced that it is revoking its signature, withdrawing from any obligations stipulated in that treaty, and demanding renegotiation from scratch. Those points are contained in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs note, made public that day, along with Ministry comments emphasizing, "Under international law, the issue of delimitation of Russian and Estonian territories remains an open one" (Interfax, June 27, 28). The move also signifies a slap to the European Union, since the Estonia-Russia border forms a part of the EU-Russia border.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov signed the border treaty with his Estonian counterpart Urmas Paet in Moscow on May 18, the Estonian parliament ratified it on June 20, and on June 22 Estonian President Arnold Ruutel promulgated it. However, on June 21 Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs refused to forward the treaty to the Duma for ratification. It vehemently criticized the Estonian ratification law's preamble, which makes references to the Estonian state's uninterrupted legal continuity during the Soviet occupation. Moscow demanded that Estonia give up that preamble in order to have the treaty ratified by Russia. But it did not threaten to cancel the treaty.

A week later, however, Moscow took the escalatory step of discarding the treaty altogether. According to Lavrov, it did so in order to prevent the European Union from interceding with Russia to ratify the treaty. There is no treaty to ratify now, Lavrov gloated in mocking the EU: "They in the EU might have succumbed to the temptation of telling us, well, Estonia has ratified it, even if adding references to ‘occupation,' ‘aggression,' ‘unlawful annexation,' but ratified it anyway … so please show a bit of patience and ratify it on your side, also with some interpretations attached, so that the treaty can enter into force. To stop the EU from falling into this temptation, we have withdrawn our signature. There will be no treaty" (Interfax, RIA, June 27, 28).

Chastising Estonia for "equating [Soviet] liberators to occupiers," Lavrov argued, "It was the Soviet people's victory that gave [Estonians today] the opportunity to play these games and, in general, to speak freely" (Russian TV First Channel, June 27).

The Federation Council's International Affairs Committee Chairman, Mikhail Margelov, blamed "Estonia's nationalist and isolationist voters and their representatives in power" for causing the Estonian parliament to attach the preamble to the ratification law. Margelov used those epithets in the knowledge that the ratification law had passed overwhelmingly with 78 in favor, four opposed, 19 not voting in the Estonian parliament, reflecting a political consensus in the country. The Estonian-ratified border treaty actually confirms Russia's possession of territory taken from Estonia during the occupation.

The Duma's International Affairs Committee Chairman, Konstantin Kosachev, had initially suggested that the chamber could ratify the border treaty despite the preamble to Estonia's ratification law. That document -- Kosachev had pointed out -- did not affect the treaty itself, and could in any case be matched by a unilateral Duma statement as part of Russia's ratification (Interfax, June 21). Now, however, Kosachev rushed to fall into line, on the government's cue: "The Committee, and the Duma in its entirety, unconditionally and unreservedly support the government's and MFA's resolute position." Estonia "just did not want to behave in a civilized manner," he declared (Interfax, RIA-Novosti, June 27). The contention that the three Baltic states are "uncivilized" has figured with increasing frequency in Russia's high-level official discourse this year.

Replying to Russia's diplomatic note, Estonia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressed the hope that Moscow will once more analyze the Estonian ratification law, and then initiate the procedure of Russian ratification of the border treaty. The Estonian Vice-Chairman of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, Toomas Ilves, and other EP deputies have asked the EU to take a stand in response Russia's decision to withdraw its signature from the border treaty with Estonia. The request points out that Estonia's border with Russia is at the same time the external border of EU, that Estonia needs the EU's support on the issue, and that the entire EU is negatively affected by Russia's unilateral decision (BNS, June 28, 30; see EDM, May 2, 20, June 24).
See also: Russia Denounces...

Rethinking the Vietnam War

The inquiring blog Far Outliers is currently presenting a series of extracts from Michael Lind's Vietnam, the Necessary War, which throws new light on the close relation of the development of the Vietnam conflict to the phases of the Cold War and its dynamics. During the 1960s and 1970s that relation was not generally perceived by the global public at large - for different reasons, it was largely suppressed by both U.S. and Soviet governments. Lind also discovered evidence of another kind of blockage - an unwillingness among the U.S. military leadership when it came to the matter of counter-insurgency tactics, and he notes: "Throughout the Cold War, the U.S. military prepared to fight Field Marshal Rommel and Admiral Yamamato, when it should have been preparing itself in addition to fight opponents like Nicaragua's Sandino and Haiti's Charlemagne."
Unfortunately, the military's response to pressure from the Kennedy and Johnson administrations to master the complexities of counterinsurgency was to dismiss it as a fad. General Lyman L. Lemnitzer, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1960-61, thought that the Kennedy administration was "oversold" on unconventional warfare. General George Decker, army chief of staff in 1960-62, claimed that "any good soldier can handle guerrillas." Even General Maxwell Taylor, who as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1961-64 championed flexible response, claimed that "Any well-trained organization can shift the tempo to that which might be required in this kind of situation." John A. Nagl, a U.S. Army captain and professor at West Point, suggests that "it was the organizational culture of the British army that allowed it to learn counterinsurgency principles effectively during the Malayan emergency, whereas the organizational culture of the U.S. Army blocked organizational learning during--and after--the Vietnam War." During the conflict in Indochina, one anonymous U.S. army officer was quoted as saying, "I'm not going to destroy the traditions and doctrine of the United States Army just to win this lousy war."...
After a look round at other U.S. military problems in the post-Vietnam era, Lind returns to the matter of the anti-communist response, and concludes:
In the final analysis, however, the American public's support for a sound grand strategy of global military containment of the communist bloc by means of flexible response collapsed for most of the 1970s because the U.S. military in Vietnam was too inflexible in its response to the enemy's tactics.

Borozdinovskaya - III

From Prague Watchdog, news that Moscow-backed Chechen Vice-Premier Ramzan Kadyrov is offering bribes to the residents of the north-eastern Chechen village of Borozdinovskaya, who sought refuge in neighbouring Daghestan after the sweep operation on June 4, which ended in the killing of one resident and the forced abduction of eleven others:
People who had fled from the Borozdinovskaya village agreed to return home only with the help of a promise of money made by Ramzan Kadyrov, the Moscow-backed Vice-Premier of the Chechen Republic, stated Natalya Estemirova of the Chechen branch of the Russian human rights organization Memorial.

"Ramzan Kadyrov promised to pay 10,000 roubles to each person who would return to the village [Borozdinovskaya]," Nestemirova said on Wednesday, referring to Akhmed Akhmedov, who is in charge of the camp "Nadezhda", where the refugees have been staying for three weeks.

According to official information, the refugees agreed to return after lengthy talks with Ramzan Kadyrov and Dagestani MP Saygid Murtazaliyev.

About a thousand people from Borozdinovskaya, a village located in northeastern Chechnya and inhabited mostly by ethnic Dagestanis, fled across the administrative border to the refugee camp "Nadezhda" near the Dagestani town of Kizlyar after masked armed people raided their village on June 4, killing one elderly man on the spot and abducting 11 others.

See also: Borozdinovskaya - II

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Death of a Spy

The Telegraph has a column on Melita Norwood, the British KGB agent whose death four weeks ago at the age of 93 has only now been announced:
Mrs Norwood, whose espionage activities were disclosed by Vasili Mitrokhin - a former KGB archivist - in 1999 after his defection to MI6 with a large number of files, died at a West Midlands nursing home almost four weeks ago.

Her family arranged a private funeral service after which there was a cremation.

Mrs Norwood, a committed CND and Communist party member, worked as a secretary for the British Non-Ferrous Metals Research Association, whose "tube alloys" project was a cover for nuclear weapons development.

For 40 years Mrs Norwood, who was given the codename Hola by her KGB spymasters, photographed documents and passed them to her Soviet controllers. The intelligence was passed on to Soviet intelligence officials.

According to Christopher Andrew's book, The Mitrokhin Archive, her treachery placed her on a par with Burgess, MacLean, Philby, Blunt and Cairncross. Prof Andrew, a Cambridge academic, discovered Hola's role while examining trunkloads of documents brought out of Russia by Mitrokhin. His research revealed that she had been recruited as an agent in the NKVD, the forerunner of the KGB, in 1937.

Prof Andrew said yesterday that Mrs Norwood had been an "extraordinaily motivated Soviet agent right to the end of her life".

Removing History

The Russian State Historical Archive on the banks of the Neva in St Petersburg is to be moved. It's a development that is troubling many people who care about Russia's history, and the need to preserve its memory. What's even more disturbing is the way in which fragile and irreplaceable documents and books are being summarily bundled out in order to make space for Putin and his cronies:

The Financial Times reports that
After 170 years of inhabiting the buildings that housed the pre-revolutionary Senate and Synod, Russia's largest and oldest archive, containing 6.5m manuscripts documenting history from Peter the Great to the Bolshevik coup, is being evicted by the Kremlin.

It will be moved to a new location on the outskirts of St Petersburg, while the grand 18th-century buildings designed by an Italian architect to house the archive will be handed over to the presidential administrative department, a powerful organisation that inherited most of the property used by the Central Committee of the Communist party, including sanatoriums, hospitals and hotels.
The authorities claim that the books and manuscripts, which document Russia's real history, and not the pseudo-imperial ambitions of the present government, will be safer in the new building, but these assurances are being met with scepticism by many who are knowledgeable in the field:
Marietta Chudakova, a famous scholar and a former member of Boris Yeltsin's presidential council, does not believe that Kremlin bureaucrats are genuine in their concern for the documents. "It is disgusting that under the mask of 'improving' conditions of the archive, a fine historic building is being emptied for the needs of the Kremlin's power structures. It is one of the most vulgar examples of the action of siloviki[the men of power] and the inaction of the society."
As the article notes, the Historical Archive is not the only Russian heritage site endangered by the redistribution of property in Russia.
Several historic buildings in St Petersburg have already been claimed by members of Mr Putin's entourage. Moscow's Museum of Cinema is in danger of disappearing after its building was sold to an unknown organisation, and the government is claiming ownership of Catherine the Great's estate near Moscow.
The move is likely to harm the archive material:
Nikita Krylov, an archivist at the state historical archive who has organised a voluntary committee for its protection, says there is a double danger in moving the archive. "First, some documents will inevitably perish during the move. Many of them have never been looked at or copied." The second danger is that a change in environment could damage the documents. Mr Krylov says the building possesses a unique microclimate that helps to preserve the documents. "The new building is built from concrete, which is a very aggressive environment for old paper," he says.

Ms Chudakova adds: "The archive of this size should only be moved under the threat of bombing or flooding."
(Hat tip: Marius)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Counting Stars

The results of Norm Geras's all-time favourite movie stars poll are up at normblog.

Affirmative Action

So it happened. Academia accepted its so-called minority students. And after the pool of ‘desirable’ minority students was depleted, more ‘provisional’ students were admitted. But the academy was prepared to do little more for such students. (Getting admitted to college was for many nonwhite students the easiest obstacle to overcome.) The conspiracy of kindness became a conspiracy of uncaring. Cruelly, callously, admissions committees agreed to overlook serious academic deficiency. I knew students in college then barely able to read, students unable to grasp the function of a sentence. I knew nonwhite graduate students who were bewildered by the requirement to compose a term paper and who each day were humiliated when they couldn’t compete with other students in seminars. There were contrived tutoring programs. But many years of inferior schooling could not be corrected with an hour or two of instruction each week. Not surprisingly, among those students with very poor academic preparation, few completed their courses of study. Many dropped out, most blaming themselves for their failure. One fall, six nonwhite students I knew suffered severe mental collapse. None of the professors who had welcomed them to graduate school were around when it came time to take them to the infirmary or to the airport. And the university officials who so diligently took note of those students in their self-serving totals of entering minority students finally took no note of them when they left.

Richard Rodriguez, writing in his book Hunger of Memory (1982) about the introduction of affirmative action in U.S. colleges during the 1960s.

Maiming Protest

The BBC reports that some 180 inmates have slashed their wrists or necks at a prison in western Russia in protest at their conditions:
Doctors have examined the prisoners' injuries at the jail in Lgov in the Kursk region, Russian media say.

Their cuts were not life-threatening, but the examination also revealed that some prisoners had been beaten and tortured, they reported.

Prosecutors have opened a case of alleged mistreatment by prison guards; inmates' relatives staged a protest.

Russia Approves...

Political analyst Yegor Kholmogorov said on Radio Mayak on 27 June that the victory in Iran of ultraconservative and "anti-Western" presidential candidate Mahmud Ahmadinejad is beneficial for Russia as it will bring "not only strategic, but commercial advantages." He added that "Ahmadinejad is a convinced supporter of the development of the Iranian nuclear program and, therefore, [of] cooperation with Russia." Kholmogorov added that Ahmadinejad never would have won the election against Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani without the "shadow" support of the Islamic clerics and the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. As a result of the election, Iran's old religious elite has managed to transfer power to a new one, embodied by Ahmadinejad, Kholmogorov said. He called the transfer of power the "Iranian variant of [the Russian] operation 'Successor,'" in reference to how President Boris Yeltsin transferred power to Putin in 2000. VY

(RFE/RL Newsline, June 28)

Russia Denounces...

More on the issue of the Russia-Estonia border treaty:

The Russian Foreign Ministry sent a letter to its Estonian counterpart on 27 June saying that Russia is recalling its signature from the Russian-Estonian Border Treaty signed on 18 May and will begin the official procedure of revoking it, international media reported. According to the Russian note, the Estonian parliament inserted into the ratification of the treaty some documents that include "unacceptable" legal wording concerning the Soviet occupation of the country and it forcible inclusion into the USSR (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20, 21, and 23 June 2005). Speaking on 27 June in Helsinki, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that "Estonia has not fulfilled its obligations, so we are withdrawing our signature from these [land and sea border] treaties. Of course we cannot talk about ratification at this time because there will be no treaties to ratify. In order to resolve border issues between Russia and Estonia, the two sides will have to restart negotiations," RTR reported. VY

Earlier on 27 June in Moscow, Lavrov also made a statement criticizing Estonia and the other Baltic states for "attempts to rewrite history and to equate the victims and the henchmen, the liberators and the occupiers," RTR reported. "It is worth noting that the victory by the peoples of the Soviet Union gave those making such attempts [to rewrite history] an opportunity to play these games...and even to speak freely," Lavrov said. Observers noted that Lavrov was, in fact, only repeating a statement made on 22 June at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg by Duma Foreign Relations Committee Deputy Chairwoman Nataliya Narochnitskaya (Motherland). VY

Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said his country is "surprised by the Russian Foreign Ministry statement and finds it regrettable," NTV reported on 27 June. "We hope that the Russian foreign minister will once again read the Estonian parliament document and realize that it contains neither territorial nor financial claims to Russia," NTV quoted Paet as saying. He added that Estonia will not change the text of the treaty, which has already been ratified by its parliament. Eero Raun, the press-secretary of Estonian President Arnold Ruutel, said in an interview with on 27 June that Russia does not want to recognize what is already recognized by the rest of the world. "For example, Russia failed to accept that Estonia became a sovereign state in 1918, but the world did," Raun noted. VY

The chairman of the Duma Foreign Affairs Committee, Konstantin Kosachev (Unified Russia), said on 27 June that "Estonia needs the treaty more than Russia does." He added that: "Nobody will rush us to sign it, not to mention to ratify it," RTR reported. The logic of Kosachev's words is understandable, RTR commented. Estonia will not be allowed to join the EU's Schengen zone of open borders until it settles all border issues with neighboring countries. Meanwhile, the chairman of the Federation Council's International Affairs Committee, Mikhail Margelov, said on 27 June that "both Russia and the EU need a stable border, but the law ratified by the Estonian parliament makes the border unstable and we cannot accept that," Ekho Moskvy reported. The deputy chairman of the Duma Foreign Affairs Committee, Leonid Slutskii (Unified Russia), told Ekho Moskvy that "denouncing the treaty with Estonia" is a rare occasion when all deputies, regardless of their political affiliation, will unconditionally support the government. VY

(RFE/RL Newsline, June 28)

Core Concepts

"Managed democracy" is not the only term of official parlance currently decommissioned in the Russian Federation. Writing in EDM, Vladimir Socor discusses some other official linguistic conundrums, and the realities they conceal:
At the Moscow summit of the CIS Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and in its wake, Russian officials have publicly acknowledged the fragmentation of the "post-Soviet space" and announced some corresponding decisions on two levels: the lexical and the political-military (see EDM, June 24 and separate article in this issue).

On the lexical level, the "post-Soviet space" has now officially been taken out of usage. Russian leaders view that former entity as splintered three ways: the Baltic states in NATO and the European Union, six countries in the CSTO, and another six CIS countries pursuing their own course, four of them pro-Western. Thus, "The term ‘post-Soviet space' fails to reflect the existing realities," Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov concluded. CSTO Secretary-General Nikolai Bordyuzha emphatically agreed: "This [post-Soviet space] term is political jargon that we should get rid of. As from today, the term ‘post-Soviet space' is to be removed from all official CSTO documents" (Interfax, June 22).

Such cleanup is a rare occurrence in the vocabulary of Russian political communications. Back in 1997, then-CIS Affairs Minister Anatoly Adamyshyn recognized that the term "near abroad" was an offensive one and announced that it would be discarded. It took several years for that term to disappear from the official parlance. "Post-Soviet space" may linger also.

At the CSTO summit, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov proposed to separate a functional "core" from the rest of the CIS: "We perfectly realize that CSTO is the military-political core of the post-Soviet space. And we are taking steps and measures to develop this system outside the CIS format" (RTR Russia TV, June 22).

Along with the concept of "core," Moscow has introduced the term "zone of CSTO's responsibility and adjacent areas (prilegayushchie rayony)" (Interfax, June 23, 24). Putin himself used this construct during the CSTO summit, in preparation for his meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, which was held the following day. This construct is central to Putin's quest for international recognition of the Russian-led CSTO as a regional security organization, part of a global security system in which Russia would enjoy a sphere of influence and bloc-leader status. The "adjacent areas" are a thinly veiled reference to non-CSTO countries such as Georgia. Moldova, and potentially Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, in which Russia variously claims a monopoly on peacekeeping and conflict-resolution, latitude for "anti-terrorist" actions, and special consideration of Russian interests.

The terms "near abroad" and "post-Soviet space" sought to confer to Russian policy an appearance of multilateralism through CIS institutions. The unraveling of the CIS and the doubtful prospects of the CSTO can create temptations in Moscow to use raw power even against member countries, whether for reasons of geopolitics or internal Russian politics. Thus, writing in the governmental Rossiiskaya gazeta, Vitaly Tretyakov prescribes national irredentism and border revision among 10 steps for Putin to take in order to secure a third term as president of Russia. Tretyakov recommends that Putin should endorse the partial restoration of a Union State, make public his concept for such a state, name its possible members [from among post-Soviet countries], and begin by building a Russia-Belarus union state. Moreover, Putin should announce the goal and possible plans for the "reunification of Russians within one state." This latter recommendation implies border revision in northern Kazakhstan and Crimea at the very least (Rossiiskaya gazeta, June 23).

On the military level, Moscow is now well advanced in dismantling the defense structures of the CIS, hoping to create more effective ones in the CSTO. Russian officials at the summit and afterward explained this trend by noting that certain CIS countries are not CSTO members and aspire to join NATO. Thus, the summit decided to separate the unintegrated CIS Joint Air Defense System (nominally of ten countries) from the integrated CSTO United Air Defense System (planned by six member countries).

The long-idle CIS Staff for the Coordination of Military Cooperation is about to be closed. That Staff's First Deputy Chief, Russia's Colonel-General Ivan Babichev, was appointed First Deputy Chief of the CSTO's Joint Staff at the CSTO summit. The summit also decided to appoint Army General Yuri Baluyevsky as head of the CSTO Staff. Baluyevsky is the incumbent chief of the General Staff of Russia's Armed Forces. Such dual-hatted appointments used to be characteristic of the Warsaw Pact, some of the organizational principles of which were carried over later into CIS military structures. Officially activated in 2004, but not yet fully functioning, the CSTO Joint Staff currently consists of 55 officers and is tasked to develop the CSTO Rapid Deployment Forces.

(Interfax, June 22-25; Nezavisimaya gazeta, June 25)

Vanishing Democracy

In Yezhednevnyi Zhurnal, Yevgenia Albats writes about the new political trend in Russia [my quick tr.]:
Have you noticed that the principal oxymoron (from Greek oxy-moron – “sharp-stupid”) of Vladimir Putin’s first government – “managed democracy” – has completely disappeared from official language? The president himself still occasionally allows himself the amusement of the word “democracy”, enriching political science with notions of its special path of development for Russia, while everyone else, including Vladislav Surkov, the Kremlin’s principal specialist (if we recall his recent interview for Der Spiegel) studiously avoids it. And for this – I write it without irony – we must say a big thank you.

Firstly, with time it will make it possible to level the confusion in the brains of one's fellow citizens, who hear one thing, but in reality observe the direct opposite. Most of them don't know how democracy functions in the countries where it exists, and they judge it according to the precepts of various political technologists, who don’t know either, and who derive their information exclusively from translated texts and fashionable Western clothes boutiques. Secondly, it will make it possible to cleanse the word of all those many stratified layers it has acquired during the years of Russia’s post-communist transformation. Thirdly – and this is perhaps the most important thing – the approximation of official political language to reality makes the closed politics of the Kremlin more predictable.

During the past year, for example, we have obtained a much clearer idea of what sort of political system the Kremlin is trying to erect and, consequently, how and where we are going to be living. This name of this regime is bureaucratic authoritarianism, and in it all the main decisions are taken and all the country’s main resources are distributed inside a narrow coalition of officials and soldiers – whether from the army, as in quite a few countries of Latin America, or in civilian garb, i.e. representatives of the special services, as was recently the case in Peru, as is the case in Paraguay and, it seems, is going to be the case for us in Russia. Accordingly, the whole of the real political struggle is also taking place within that coalition (hence such a low effectiveness of control), while everyone else is assigned the role of silent observers.
But Albats sees a ray of hope: the situation, she comments, isn't likely to persist for long before public protest begins to make itself heard:
on all the flanks of Russian society - on both the left and the right - young politicians are appearing who, so far at least, are not prepared to play according to the set rules. Consequently there is a source of resistance, and it will grow: as is written on one of the leaflets of the "Oborona" [Defence] youth organization, right underneath a portrait of V.V. Putin: "We've Had Enough Of You!"

Chechnya: The Violence Continues

Prague Watchdog continues to document the attacks, abductions, shoot-outs and "sweep" operations (zachistki) that take place almost daily in Chechnya. The NGO fulfils an important role in reminding the world that, far from being "normalized", as the Kremlin claims, the situation in the republic is one in which Russian federal troops are meeting determined resistance. The terrorizing of the local population by armed gangs under the control of the Moscow-installed government of Ramzan Kadyrov also shows no sign of lessening.

A recent PW report by Ruslan Isayev (my tr.) gives an idea of the daily tension and violence, which are ongoing:

CHECHNYA (June 27) – A "Ural" lorry carrying Russian servicemen was blown up by persons unknown at around 3pm Moscow time this afternoon two kilometres west of the village of Chechen-Aul, a source from the Interior Ministry of the Chechen Republic told our Prague Watchdog correspondent.

Two conscripts were killed and one wounded in the explosion, the source added.

In the Leninsky district of Grozny today, a group of armed persons abducted two local residents – Abdula Bachayev and Ayub Takayev. According to certain information, officials of the Security Service under the command of Ramzan Kadyrov – so-called “kadyrovites” – were involved in carrying out the abduction. The whereabouts of the abducted men is not known.

On the same day, the body of a member of the “Vostok” battalion, Ruslan Ezerkhanov, was discovered by local residents in the cemetery of the village of Kurdyukovskaya in the Shelkovskoy district; the body bore the marks of bullet wounds. The identity of the soldier’s killers has not been established. An investigation is underway.

A group of Russian sappers came under fire from guerrillas on the Gansol-chu - Alleroy highway in the Nozhay-Yurtovsky district. One officer was wounded as a result.

On Friday June 24 an attack on a military convoy of federal forces took place on the southern outskirts of the village of Shalazhi in the Urus-Martanovsky district. Three soldiers were killed, and four were wounded. The attackers hid in the forest.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Carnival of Revolutions

This week's Carnival of Revolutions (No. 7) is up at WILLisms.

Siberian Exile

Siberian exile - a prominent feature of both Tsarist and Stalinist Russia - is to be reintroduced in the Federation:
According to a new decree by President Putin, people from the North Caucasus who are jailed for terrorism will serve their terms in Siberia, RTR reported on 26 June. RTR did not provide the date of the decree or say whether it is classified or not, but mentions that under jurisdiction of the edict are people who are sentenced for
"terror, diversion, rebellion, assault of state bodies, participation in illegal armed formations, hostage taking, and human trafficking." RTR commented that "prisoners accused [or convicted] of terrorism and their accomplices should be separated by thousands of kilometers." VY
(from today's RFE/RL Newsline)

Marshall, Islam, and Iraq

Some interesting comments in today's London Times by Iraq's Prime Minister, Ibrahim Al-Jaafari:

I am not only the first democratically elected leader of an Arab country. I am also the first prime minister in the Middle East to come from a religious, Islamic opposition movement — at the head of a diverse ethnic and political alliance. Embracing diversity within human society is not just a political necessity, it is rooted in my faith. Islam teaches that there is no compulsion in religion and that freedom of choice is divinely granted; it is dictators who need to cater to fanatics in order to stay in power.

Saddam Hussein is a case in point. He passed laws to limit religious freedom and degraded women’s lives. I will reverse Saddam’s legacy and welcome Iraq’s diversity. I welcome the strong contribution that women can make in its workplace and political life, where they make up one third of our National Assembly — more than most Western democracies.

Marshall said: “Our policy is not directed against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos.” Today is the time for a new international Marshall plan towards Iraq and the broader Middle East — directed not for or against any policy but against ignorance, tyranny, hatred and anarchy.

Marshall repaired the decaying infrastructure of Germany after six years of war and 12 years of Nazi rule. In Iraq we have had nearly 40 years of fascist rule and have been in practice at war for half that time. I have seen throughout Iraq the marks of economic collapse and depredation this has left. Iraq today has few English speakers, it has hundreds of thousands of ex-soldiers trained for nothing but war, and its universities — which once enjoyed a worldwide reputation — now lag behind those in the rest of the region. It has debts totalling hundreds of billions of dollars and there has been no investment in its infrastructure for more than 20 years.

Three generations of Iraqis have grown up under a dictatorship, learning to take orders but not take initiatives or responsibility, and educated in religious and political hatred and isolationism. My people are a strong people: their will survived. The marks of Saddam’s brutal and divisive rule, however, will take time to heal. Many of my people, as well as soldiers from the multinational force, are still being killed by terrorism.

The way will not always be easy. I am confident, though, that the prosperous democracies of the world will be as far-sighted today as Marshall was in 1947. Much blood had to be shed, and money spent, before peace was achieved in Europe. In Iraq the fight for democracy has cost hundreds of thousands of lives. In the long run, however, it can secure centuries of peace and prosperity. Iraq’s fight against terrorist networks and training camps, and the poverty and ignorance that supply them, has become the world’s fight for the security of humanity.
(via Harry's Place)

Estonian Foreign Ministry Statement

June 27, 2005

The Estonian Foreign Ministry is surprised by the statement made today by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and regards the Russian side's decision as unfortunate.

The Russian Foreign Ministry sent a note to the Estonian Foreign Ministry, informing of the Russian intention to initiate domestic procedures to exempt the Russian Federation of obligations ensuing from the signing of the Border Treaties with the Republic of Estonia. The Russian Foreign Ministry also expressed the desire to open up new negotiations.

The Russian side has deemed the use of diplomatic channels in clarifying matters, related to this statement, and to their earlier statement as unnecessary. Estonia, on its part, is confident that it has done everything in its power to quickly render the treaty into force.

The Estonian side has repeatedly assured that it has not linked any new issues to the border treaties, and thus, the Russian side's assertion that Estonia has added new aspects to the treaties is ungrounded.

The Estonian Foreign Ministry still hopes that the Russian side will reanalyse the Estonian ratification act together with the documents referred to, and hopes that they will abandon their intended steps, and continue the ratification process.

Tel: (372) 6317 654

Doing It Their Way

Pavel K. Baev, on how Russia is deflecting criticism by the pretence of self-isolation:

The traditional "Russia day" at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is always a lively affair, but last Wednesday, June 22, it came close to full-blown scandal. The 144-page report on Russia's fulfillment of its commitments to this organization contained more than 400 reservations and accusations of violating basic democratic norms (, June 23). The Russian delegation, led by Konstantin Kosachev and Mikhail Margelov, gave a good fight in order to soften this criticism, at times taking a cue from Nikita Khrushchev's behavior at the UN, but also making an emotional plea not to attack Russia that hard on June 22, a day associated with the German invasion in 1941 (Kommersant, June 23). It was all to no avail; the Assembly approved the report and even voted for several amendments requesting the end of financial support to the Lukashenka regime in Belarus and the speedy withdrawal of Russian troops from Moldova, as well as clarifying that the Baltic states were indeed "occupied" (Nezavisimaya gazeta, June 23). In the best traditions of resurrected Soviet diplomacy, Kosachev qualified these amendments as "absolutely unacceptable" (Vedomosti, June 23).

What was remarkable in these heated debates was the lack of emphasis on the traditional issues of human rights violations in Chechnya and the failure to abolish capital punishment, though both were duly reflected in the report. The big issue was Russia's deep retreat from democracy identified in every direction from the squeeze of independent media to the tight state control over the judiciary to the manipulation of elections and even to hazing in the barracks. European parliamentarians were particularly critical of Putin's plan to cancel regional elections and appoint governors by decree, but here the Russian team scored a very important point by making sure that the president's name was not mentioned in this context (, June 23). They may have returned to Moscow feeling they had completed a difficult task, but there are hardly any doubts in any European quarters that Russia's backsliding towards quasi-authoritarianism is not just happening under Putin's watch but constitutes the core substance of his leadership (, June 23).

For the Kremlin, these condemnations are little more than a minor irritant. Defying Western pressure on Moldova, Moscow sent an emissary from the presidential administration to fine-tune a plan for maintaining a Russian military presence in Transnistria (Kommersant, June 23). Its only response to the attack by the Council of Europe was a threat to halve its contribution to the budget of this organization, which now amounts to 25 million euros (, June 23). Moscow has adopted the same tactics of financial pressure on the OSCE and, observing the bitter quarrels in the EU on its budget, has few doubts of its efficiency.

What really matters for Putin and his entourage is striking the correct tone at the forthcoming G8 summit in Scotland. Consequently, Vladislav Surkov, the deputy head of the presidential administration and the main architect of "managed democracy," was recently dispatched with a special PR mission to confirm that the pro-Western orientation was alive and that Putin's brand of authoritarianism was indeed "soft" and "enlightened" (, June 21). Moscow dismisses speculation about its expulsion from this elite club and even finds it appropriate to advance its own criticism of some shortcomings in Western efforts, singling out the "destabilizing" democracy-enforcement efforts in Afghanistan (Kommersant, June 24).

Hydrocarbon power makes Russia so self-confident, and, as the mind-boggling oil prices edge closer to $60 per barrel, it has reasons to believe that its key European partners, which all happen to be importers, would go along with adding a few extra blocs to the Babylonian construct of "a presidential vertical power structure." For that matter, Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, visiting Moscow last week, was so busy with an oil-and-gas agenda that there was no time for mundane matters like human rights (Vedomosti, June 21). Norwegians are so excited about the prospect of becoming minor partners in the development of the giant Shtockman gas field that the warnings from the World Bank about state interference strangling the fledgling Russian market fall on deaf ears (Kommersant, June 21).

There is, however, one more, rather peculiar nuance in Russia's bold rejection of Western criticism – the hidden threat to abandon all attempts to engage with the West and retreat into self-isolation. This anti-globalist attitude has long roots in Russia's tortured history, and there are quite a few outspoken commentators, like Mikhail Leontiev, who seek to exploit the widespread feelings of being treated unjustly for cultivating the philosophy of "our way" (, June 22). These ideas gain in popularity – as a quick opinion poll conducted by the popular radio station Ekho Moskvy has shown. After giving the floor to Rene van der Linden, the chairman of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, to elaborate on the Russian debates, its mostly liberal Muscovite audience was asked: Should Russia remain in the European organizations? Of the 3,765 responses, as many as 41% said "No" (Ekho Moskvy, June 23).

Western policymakers realize that Russia's self-isolation would be a recipe for disaster. Therefore, after devastating criticism of the current course of Putin's "reforms" during recent hearings in the U.S. Senate, the conclusion was reached that the only option is to continue efforts aimed at engaging this disagreeable partner (Kommersant, June 23). What makes the course of self-isolation worrisome is that it appears entirely compatible with internal curbs on democracy. However, in real life, Putin's siloviki have no intentions whatsoever of isolating themselves from Western resorts or bank accounts or elite schools for their children. This bluff would be inevitably called, and perhaps even before the oil bubble bursts.
(EDM, June 27)

Borozdinovskaya - II

Duma deputy Ruslan Yamadayev (brother of Sulim) has given an interview to Kommersant (Russian-language; registration required), in which he talks about the results of the official investigation into the recent "sweep" operation at the Chechen village of Borozdinovskaya, near the border with Daghestan, during which one villager was killed and 11 were abducted. Like his brother, though not so openly, Ruslan appears to be trying to throw suspicion on the villagers themselves. An excerpt:
- Has Sulim Yamadayev already given his statements to the investigation?

- Yes, he talked with the investigators. He said that he never was in Borozdinovskaya, even in peacetime he didn't go there. And he didn't give any orders to his subordinates to do something in the village.

- But then, who did enter Borozdinovskaya?

- The provocateurs, who, as I said, are numerous among the soldiers of official structures.

- So you don't exclude that the representatives of some law enforcement agencies of the republic could have entered there?

- This could have been done by some people from various agencies - legal and illegal. They agreed to do this together, and then they presented it: the Vostok battalion did this. I think, soon we will find an answer to all these questions.

- Was it possible for you to find out something about the fate of those 11 abducted inhabitants of the village?

- No.

- Do you assume that they could be connected to the fighters?

- I don't know. That's why they must be found first. But I know that this wish of the residents of Borozdinovskaya, to be moved into Daghestan, appeared not only because of the last events.

- Because of what else?

- These people want to get some land in a good place in Daghestan and compensation - they live very poorly in Chechnya. How many policemen, imams, heads of administration, who were loyal to Russia, have been killed in Chechnya? Was anyone investigated, did anyone scream or hold meetings? But now, why did they raise such a noise? Yes, because they want to destabilize the situation in Chechnya, in Daghestan, in the North Caucasus.

- What is Sulim doing now?

- Sulim is working, everything's OK with him.

- Have any of his subordinates been detained?

- Why detain them? Because of rumors?

- How in your opinion, will these incidents end?

- I think we ourselves will find those who carried out this action in Borozdinovskaya, and they will be punished, for 100%. But those inhabitants, who hold meetings, they want to get their own way, that they would give to them some land in Daghestan. And until they get what they want, they will not calm down.

(via chechnya-sl: tr. by M.L., minor editing)

Gongadze Case: Pukach "Found"

abdymok reports that
an unnamed israeli official on june 25 confirmed to a daily english-language newspaper in jerusalem that the man who allegedly executed journalist georgy gongadze has been found in israel.

lt. general olexei pukach, former head of surveillance for ukraine’s ministry of internal affairs, could be deported soon, the official told the jerusalem post.
Update: Oleg Varfolomeyev at EDM has more on the background to this story(June 27):
The investigation into the murder of crusading journalist Heorhiy Gongadze apparently suffered a severe setback last week. Secret information about the whereabouts of General Oleksiy Pukach, whom the Prosecutor-General's Office holds responsible for killing Gongadze in 2000, was leaked to the press. It has transpired from a subsequent statement by President Viktor Yushchenko that Pukach may be in serious danger.

After Pukach's brief arrest in October 2003 on orders from Prosecutor-General Sviatyslav Piskun, then-President Leonid Kuchma fired Piskun. Reinstated in the Prosecutor-General's post last December by the courts, Piskun promised Yushchenko that he would solve the Gongadze case. Speaking in May, he said that, in order to find the truth, three things remained to be done: question fugitive security officer Mykola Melnychenko, who claims to have wiretapped a conversation implicating Kuchma in Gongadze's murder; carry out additional tests on Gongadze's body; and find Pukach.

Pukach has been hiding all this time, and it was widely believed he was hiding from justice in Russia, following the example of several of Ukraine's former top officials. But the Ukrainian newspaper Segodnya reported in early April, quoting sources at the Prosecutor-General's Office, that Pukach had become acquainted with a Jewish Diaspora woman and was going to emigrate to Israel with her help. Mainstream media largely ignored the report. But on June 23 Segodnya caused a great sensation by reporting that local special services had spotted Pukach somewhere in Israel on June 17. According to Segodnya, agents of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) and the Interior Ministry hurried to Israel on June 18-19, apparently in order to locate Pukach.

Hardly by coincidence, on June 21 the weekly newspaper Stolichnye novosti ran a long interview with Deputy Prosecutor-General Viktor Shokin, who is the main investigator for the Gongadze case. Shokin said that the two police colonels who had been arrested on the case earlier this year testified that their orders to follow Gongadze on September 15-16, 2000, came from Pukach personally. They said that after they kidnapped Gongadze, Pukach directed the car to his father-in-law's house in Kyiv Region and then to a forest, where he strangled Gongadze and ordered the body burned. Afterwards the body was transported to a different place, where it was eventually found decapitated in November 2000. Asked whether Pukach is still alive, Shokin said that he is hiding abroad: "The SBU and the Interior Ministry are searching for him. Much has been done, but alas…"

Segodnya's sensational leak of June 23 showed that something went wrong in the search for Pukach. President Yushchenko indirectly confirmed the leak, when his press service issued a statement on June 24 saying that Yushchenko wanted "General Pukach to be brought to Ukraine alive," and adding that the investigators had the necessary information on Pukach, which "they have been analyzing for four days now." This disclosure was probably a mistake.

If the investigators were really going to capture Pukach in Israel, the leak may have spoiled everything, either prompting him to flee or, quite possibly, alerting people who might be interested in keeping him silent to go after him. The Ukrainian Interior Ministry and the Prosecutor-General's Office have offered no comment, while the Israeli Foreign Ministry hurried to deny Segodnya's report.

However, the influential Zerkalo nedeli weekly has insisted that Pukach was found in Israel. According to the newspaper, the SBU traced Pukach two months ago with the help of the Israeli special services, even though Pukach had changed his surname. But Segodnya's report and Yushchenko's subsequent statement may have ruined matters irreparably. According to Zerkalo nedeli, information was leaked to Segodnya following a secret meeting at the Prosecutor-General's Office on June 22, at which Israel's request for additional data on Pukach, needed to detain him, was discussed: "The Ukrainian and Israeli special services were shocked upon reading the report." Zerkalo nedeli pointed out that Segodnya's informer had committed a serious crime, and said that the source of the leak must be a deputy prosecutor-general.

The Melnychenko tapes, which the Prosecutor-General's Office views as serious evidence, revealed that the order to do away with Gongadze came from the very top of the Kuchma administration. In one of the secretly recorded conversations, somebody with a voice resembling then-Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko told Kuchma that his "eagles" would deal with Gongadze. The Prosecutor-General's Office has failed to question Melnychenko, who for not quite clear reasons refuses to cooperate with Piskun. Kravchenko was found dead with two bullets in his head in March (see EDM, March 7). If the investigators fail to catch Pukach before it is too late, another very important link to those who ordered Gongadze's murder may be lost forever.

(Interfax-Ukraine, May 27; Stolichnye novosti, June 21; Segodnya, April 7; June 23; LIGABiznesInform, June 23;, June 24; Moskovsky komsomolets, Zerkalo nedeli, June 25)

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Books from Finland

Books from Finland magazine 2/2005 is published this week. The issue includes translations of work by Raine Mäkinen, Juha Seppälä and Pentti Haanpää, as well as some of my own translations of poems by Catharina Gripenberg and a profile of her work by Finland-Swedish critic Bror Rönnholm. There are also essays and book reviews, though the online version of the magazine contains only a selection of these.

Back to 1979?

Reuters has the latest official Russian statement on the "war on terror":
(June 25) Russia is prepared to use warplanes to destroy terrorist bases abroad, Air Force commander Vladimir Mikhailov was quoted as saying on Saturday. "As for terrorists and our fighter jets, if we have high-precision weapons and know the whereabouts of a terrorist gang, why not smash it, even if it's outside Russia?" Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Russia's Baltic Annexation

Russia's Baltic annexation
Written by David Ferguson in Brussels
Wednesday, 22 June 2005

"It is especially important for the Baltic nations to feel sure that the tragedies of the past will never happen again. This will be possible if the Russian Federation, as the legal successor to the Soviet Union, would accept assessments given by the European Parliament and other democratic bodies as to the occupation of the three Baltic States," said Estonian MEP Tunne Kelam.

Kelam, together with MEP Vytautas Landsbergis, Lithuania's first president following independence from the Soviet Union, is behind a draft resolution up for consideration at the ongoing Brussels plenary session of the European Parliament. "As the three Baltic States remember the 65th anniversary of their occupation and annexation by the Soviet Union, the solidarity expressed by the European Parliament strengthens consolidation of the European spirit," said Landsbergis.

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were annexed from 15 till 17 June 1940 The occupation of the three Baltic States was a direct result of the 23 August 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact providing for the three countries' division into zones of 'influence'.

The right-of-centre EPP group in the European Parliament sent a communiqué expressing "... their deep regret that the 1940 illegal occupation resulted in the total extinction by brutal force of state structures and civil society of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, wiped these three member states of the League of Nations from the political map of Europe for half a century and caused massive terror, suppression of basic human rights as well as innumerable human tragedies and damage."

The draft resolution comes at the same time as the pan-European institution, the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, debates Russia's record on human rights. The Council of Europe's 630 members, who hail from national parliaments in the 46 member states including Russia, are likely to give the Soviet Union's legal successor short shrift at the Parliamentary Assembly's Summer Session. "We are concerned about the apportionment of powers which, because of the further development of Putin's 'controlled democracy', is threatened by strong power wielded from the top down," said German Socialist Rudolf Bindig.

"The death penalty has still not been formally abolished. The Yukos case with the condemnation of Mikhail Khodorkovskii has again raised doubts about judicial independence. The Kremlin is constantly extending its influence over television and the press," continued Bindig. Together with British Conservative David Atkinson, the German Socialist presented a report on Russia today in Strasbourg.

(via MAK)

EP on Baltic Annexation

EP on Baltic annexation
Written by David Ferguson in Brussels
Wednesday, 22 June 2005

"For half a century, they lost their human rights and suffered terror and deportations," said European Parliament President Josep Borrell. Opening the Brussels plenary, Borrell recalled that it was 65 years ago, in June 1940, that three new Member States of the EU - Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia - lost their independence after occupation by the Soviet Union.

"In these difficult times for the EU, we should recall the accession of the Baltic states to the EU, convinced this would help build their freedom and prosperity," Borrell said. "We should now proceed to work together in building a united Europe based on shared values. This must be based on respect for human rights and it requires constant vigilance. Those who forget history risk repeating it."

Borrell's opening statement comes as the Parliament considers a resolution by Estonian MEP Tunne Kelam, together with MEP Vytautas Landsbergis, Lithuania's first president following independence from the Soviet Union. The draft resolution calls for "...the Russian Federation, as the legal successor to the Soviet Union, to accept assessments given by the European Parliament and other democratic bodies as to the occupation of the three Baltic States."

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were annexed from 15 till 17 June 1940 The occupation of the three Baltic States was a direct result of the 23 August 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact providing for the three countries' division into zones of 'influence'.

(via MAK)

Opinion 193


OPINION No.193 (1996)
on Russia's request for membership
of the Council of Europe

1. The Russian Federation applied to join the Council of Europe on 7 May 1992. By Resolution (92) 27 of 25 June 1992, the Committee of Ministers asked the Parliamentary Assembly to give an opinion, in accordance with Statutory Resolution (51) 30 A.

2. Special guest status with the Parliamentary Assembly was granted to the
Russian Parliament on 14 January 1992.

3. Procedure for an opinion on Russia's request for membership was interrupted on 2 February 1995 because of the conflict in Chechnya. On 27 September 1995, with the adoption of Resolution 1065. procedure was resumed on the grounds that Russia was henceforth committed to finding a political solution and that alleged and documented human rights violations were being investigated.

4. The Assembly has followed the events of December 1995 in Gudermes and the recent events in Pervomayskoye with deep concern. It firmly condemns the taking of hostages as an act of terrorism and a flagrant violation of human rights, which no cause can justify. At the same time, it considers that the Russian authorities did not show sufficient concern for the safety of the hostages. The apparently indiscriminate use of force cost the lives of many innocent people and violated international humanitarian law. The Chechen conflict cannot be resolved by the use of force. There will be no peace. in the region, nor an end to terrorist attacks, without a political solution based on negotiation and on European democratic values.

5. The Assembly notes that political, legal and economic reforms have been sustained. The legal system continues to show shortcomings, as noted by Council of Europe legal experts (7 October 1994). Nonetheless, there is progress towards a general awareness of - and respect for - the rule of law.

6. Assurances of continued progress were given to the Council of Europe by the President of the Federation, the Prime Minister, the President of the Duma and the President of the Council of the Federation in their letter of 18 January 1995.

7. On the basis of these assurances and of the following considerations and commitments, the Assembly believes that Russia - in the sense of Article 4 of the Statute - is clearly willing and will be able in the near future to fulfil the provisions for membership of the Council of Europe as set forth in Article 3 ("Every member of the Council of Europe must accept the principles of the rule of law and of the enjoyment by all persons within its jurisdiction of human rights and fundamental freedoms. and collaborate sincerely and effectively in the realisation of the aim of the Council..."):

i. Russia has been taking part in various activities of the Council of Europe since 1992 - through its participation in intergovernmental "co-operation and assistance" programmes (notably in the fields of legal reform and human rights), and through the participation of its special guest delegation in the work of the Parliamentary Assembly and its committees;

ii. "political dialogue" between Russia and the Committee of Ministers has been established since 7 May 1992;

iii. Russia has acceded to several Council of Europe conventions, including the European Cultural Convention;

iv. the following legislation is being prepared as a matter of priority, with international consultation, on the basis of Council of Europe principles and standards: a new criminal code and a code of criminal procedure; a new civil code and a code of civil procedure; a law on the functioning and administration of the penitentiary system;

v. new laws in line with Council of Europe standards will be introduced: on the role, functioning and administration of the Procurator's Office and of the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights; for the protection of national minorities; on freedom of assembly and on freedom of religion;

vi. the status of the legal profession will be protected by law: a professional bar association will be established;

vii. those found responsible for human rights violations will be brought to justice - notably in relation to events in Chechnya;

viii. effective exercise will be guaranteed of the rights enshrined in Article 27 of the constitution and in the law on freedom of movement and choice of place of residence;

ix. conditions of detention will be improved in line with Recommendation A (87) 3 on European prison rules: in particular, the practically inhuman conditions in many pre-trial detention centres will be ameliorated without delay;

x. responsibility for the prison administration and the execution of judgements will be transferred to the Ministry of Justice as soon as possible;

xi. the state and progress of legislative reform will permit the signature and ratification, within the indicated timetable, of the European conventions listed hereunder in paragraph 10;

xii. the Russian Federation will assist persons formerly deported from the occupied Baltic states or the descendants of deportees to return home according to special repatriation and compensation programmes which must be worked out.

8. With a view to the fulfilment of these assurances and respect for these commitments, the Assembly resolves to establish - with the close co-operation of Russia's national parliamentary delegation - its own parliamentary "advisory and control" programme under the authority of the committees responsible for the implementation of Order No. 508 (1995) on the honouring of obligations and commitments by member states of the Council of Europe. This programme will complement, and not prejudice, the monitoring procedure under Order No. 508 (1995).

9. As a contribution to long-term assistance and co-operation, the Assembly welcomes the European Union / Council of Europe joint programme for the strengthening of the federal structure and of human rights protection mechanisms and for legal system reform: particular attention should also be paid to support for, and the strengthening of, non-governmental organisations in the field of human rights and to the establishment of a civil society.

10. The Parliamentary Assembly notes that the Russian Federation shares fully its understanding and interpretation of commitments entered into as spelt out in paragraph 7, and intends:

i. to sign the European Convention on Human Rights at the moment of accession; to ratify the Convention and Protocols Nos. 1, 2. 4, 7 and 11 within a year; to recognise, pending the entry into force of Protocol No. 11, the right of individual application to the European Commission and the compulsory jurisdiction of the European Court (Articles 25 and 46 of the Convention);

ii. to sign within one year and ratify within three years from the time of accession Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights on the abolition of the death penalty in time of peace, and to put into place a moratorium on executions with effect from the day of accession;

iii. to sign and ratify within a year from the time of accession the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;

iv. to sign and ratify within a year from the time of accession the European Framework Convent ion for the Protection of National Minorities; to conduct its policy towards minorities on the principles set forth in Assembly Recommendation 1201 (1993), and to incorporate these principles into the legal and administrative system and practice of the country;

v. to sign and ratify within a year from the time of accession the European Charter of Local Self-Government and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages; to study, with a view to ratification, the Council of Europe's Social Charter; and meanwhile to conduct its policy in accordance with the principles of these conventions;

vi. to sign and ratify and meanwhile to apply the basic principles of other Council of Europe conventions - notably those on extradition; on mutual assistance in criminal matters; on the transfer of sentenced persons; and on the laundering, search, seizure and confiscation of the proceeds of crime;

vii. to settle international as well as internal disputes by peaceful means (an obligation incumbent upon all member states of the Council of Europe), rejecting resolutely any forms of threats of force against its neighbours.,

viii. to settle outstanding international border disputes according to the principles of international law, abiding by the existing international treaties;

ix. to ratify, within six months from the time of accession, the agreement of 21 October 1994 between the Russian and Moldovan Governments, and to continue the withdrawal of the 14th Army and its equipment from the territory of Moldova within a time-limit of three years from the date of signature of the agreement;

x. to fulfil its obligations under the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE);

xi. to denounce as wrong the concept of. two different categories of foreign countries, whereby some are treated as a zone of special influence called the "near abroad";

xii. to negotiate claims for the return of cultural property to other European countries on an ad hoc basis that differentiates between types of property (archives, works of art. buildings, etc.) and of ownership (public, private or institutional);

xiii. to return without delay the property of religious institutions;

xiv. to settle rapidly all issues related to the return of property claimed by Council of Europe member states, in particular the archives transferred to Moscow in 1945;

xv. to cease to restrict - with immediate effect - international travel of persons aware of state secrets, with the exception of those restrictions which are generally accepted in Council of Europe member states, and to facilitate the consultation of archives kept in the Russian Federation;

xvi. to ensure that the application of the CIS Convention on Human Rights does not in any way interfere with the procedure and guarantees of the European Convention on Human Rights;

xvii. to revise the law on federal security services in order to bring it into line with Council of Europe principles and standards within one year from the time of accession: in particular, the right of the Federal Security Service (FSB) to possess and run pre-trial detention centres should be withdrawn;

xviii. to adopt a law on alternative military service, as foreseen in Article 59 of the constitution;

xix. to reduce, if not eliminate, incidents of ill-treatment and deaths in the armed forces outside military conflicts;

xx. to Pursue legal reform with a view to bringing all legislation in line with Council of Europe principles and standards: in particular, Presidential Decree No. 1226 should be revised without delay;

xxi. to extend its international co-operation to prevent - and eliminate the ecological effects of - natural and technological disasters;

xxii. to sign and ratify within a year from the time of accession the General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Council of Europe and its additional protocols;

xxiii. to co-operate fully in the implementation of Assembly Order No. 508 (1995) on the honouring of obligations and commitments by member states of the Council of Europe, as well as in monitoring processes established by virtue of the Committee of Ministers' Declaration of 10 November 1994 (95th session);

xxiv. to respect strictly the provisions of international humanitarian law, including in cases of armed conflict on its territory;

xxv. to co-operate in good faith with international humanitarian organisations and to enable them to carry on their activities on its territory in conformity with their mandates.

11. The Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers - on the basis of the commitments and understandings indicated above:

i. invite the Russian Federation to become a member of the Council of Europe;

ii. allocate eighteen seats to the Russian Federation in the Parliamentary Assembly;

iii. guarantee that the Organisation's means and capabilities, in particular those of the Assembly and of the human rights institutions, are increased to meet the consequences of these decisions, and refrain from using the Russian Federation's accession to reduce the contributions of states which are already members.

(via MAK)


On June 4 a "sweep" operation (zachistka) - of a sudden and savage type that occurs in Chechnya almost daily - was carried out in the village of Borozdinovskaya in the northeastern part of the republic by a group of armed law enforcement agents whose identity has not so far been established. The raid, in which one villager was killed and 11 were abducted, triggered the exodus to neighbouring Daghestan of several hundred local families, many of whom are Avars, an ethnic minority mainly represented in Daghestan.

On June 22 Dmitry Kozak, Putin's special envoy to the Southern Federal District,made a visit to Borozdinovskaya and, in an unusual acknowledgement of the arbitrary suffering inflicted on local civilians during the past six years of war, callled the raid "an act of sabotage directed against Chechnya, Daghestan, and Russia," and vowed that those responsible would be apprehended and punished. He has since laid the blame for the raid on the Vostok unit, which is part of the 42nd Russian army and is comprised mostly of Chechens. But Vostok's commander, Sulim Yamadayev, has claimed that his forces were not responsible for the reprisals.

From an RIA Novosti commentary:
The immediate consequences of this act can be very serious indeed. A new epicenter of inter-ethnic tensions can emerge in the Russian North Caucusus, like the one between Ossetians and Ingushes, when not separate groups of gunmen but a significant part of the population are ready to take part in the hostilities. However, so far the authorities are able to contain the conflict within more or less acceptable limits, preventing it from escalating. To do so they have to return the Avars home quickly, to ensure their relative security, to complete the investigation and name the offenders, as well as to pay compensations to the victims and help them to improve their living conditions. Mr. Kozak is trying to push the authorities in that direction.

Yet even if this task is solved, there will be another large set of problems left, concerning those who carried out the cleansing in Borozdinovskaya, as well as dozens and hundreds of similar operations in other Chechen villages.

Even if Moscow decides to at least reprimand the organizers of these cleansings, it will seriously jeopardize the fragile stability in the republic. Many representatives of the federal center openly call fighters of pro-Russian Chechen units bandits. As a result, the central authorities find themselves in a very unenviable situation: on the one hand, they are trying to stop cleansings, on the other, they put up with them.

After the tragedy in Borozdinovskaya, the Russian Prosecutor General's Office launched criminal proceedings on charges of kidnapping and extortion. Vladimir Kalita, deputy military prosecutor of Chechnya, maintains that investigators "are shooting off weapons and identifying them."

Meanwhile the Avars who left Borozdinovskaya refuse to return home even after their meeting with Mr. Kozak. They refused to talk to a special state Chechen commission set up to look into the incident. They agreed to negotiate their return only after the 11 people who had disappeared during the cleansing are returned.

Mr. Kozak says "the North Caucasus will perish in flames if people start re-settling in line with ethnic principles." He and the Chechen authorities are trying their best to persuade the villagers to return home.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Beslan: Still No Answers

From an interview with Yury Savelyev, a member of the Federal Parliamentary Commission and State Duma deputy from the Rodina party, who told Kommersant/Vlast correspondent Viktor Khamraev that parliamentarians have still not been able to find answers to the key questions about the Beslan tragedy:
“Many deputies believe that the purpose of the investigation is to establish a direct connection between the event and the actions of the authorities.”

”We are actually working on that – we're trying to identify a direct connection. We have the testimony of witnesses about an explosion. But we have other evidence, for example, on the use of a flame thrower against the terrorists. Either the explosion or the flame thrower could have caused the school to collapse, either from the blast wave or from a fire. At the same time, the official investigation has established two facts. First, the majority of people died because they were buried under the collapsed roof. Second, most died from burns, not from the blast.

“So was a flame thrower used?”

“The commission is inclined to believe that one was used. Our task now is to answer the question of the appropriateness of using flame throwers. It seems to me that this will be the only answer to questions that Beslan residents never stop asking us at each meeting.”

Pew Poll

From RFE/RL, a report on a new poll by a private American research body, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. The poll's findings seem to contradict Vice President Dick Cheney's confident reply, when asked about the impact of the Iraq war and the Guantanamo controversy on world opinion: "Does this hurt us from the standpoint of international opinion? I frankly don't think so."
The survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, finds that America's reputation has suffered as a direct result of the invasion of Iraq, the U.S. conduct of that war, and the overall war on terrorism.

In fact, poll respondents in 11 of the 16 countries surveyed voiced one particularly surprising attitude, according to Andrew Kohut, the director of the Pew Center. "Perhaps one of the most striking findings in the survey is that China now has a better image among the publics -- European publics -- than does the United States," he said.

Kohut told a Washington news conference that his poll found that the image of the United States has not improved in the past two years in Western European countries, where there was significant opposition to the Iraq war. It also found that the opinion of America has remained poor in many Muslim countries included in the survey.

On a positive note, the survey found attitudes toward the United States were more favorable in the former Soviet bloc nations of Poland and Russia, as well as in India and Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation. Indonesia was the recipient of hundreds of millions of dollars in aid after the tsunami of 26 December.

Europe Without The EU

AT EDM, Igor Torbakov considers Russian schadenfreude at the collapse of the European Union's self-confidence:
Irony and satisfaction – these are two emotions with which most Russian policymakers and analysts observe the acute identity crisis that the European Union currently finds itself in. Against the backdrop of the Commonwealth of Independent States' inglorious demise, the steady growth of the EU was seen – until very recently – as a veritable triumphal march. For some observers, the rich bloc was an organization that "had no neighbors but only future members." But the collapse of the negotiations on the EU budget following the sorry failure of the bloc's Constitutional treaty has revealed, many international commentators contend, the EU's deep "systemic crisis" that, in its turn, sparked a heated discussion on the future direction of Europe.

Russian pundits were quick to seize on the opportunity to advance their favorite thesis that the notion of Europe is much broader than what is represented by the 25-member organization. But Russia's political class itself appears divided over which course toward Brussels Moscow should now take. The stronger nationalist-minded school of thought advocates a tough line seeking to "recoup" the perceived geopolitical losses during the previous period of Russia's strategic retreat. The minority liberal faction, on the other hand, suggests the current situation opens up a window of opportunity for true cooperation and rapprochement with Europe.

The EU's present-day troubles, Kremlin-connected strategists argue, stem primarily from the dizziness from success and sheer greed. The political thinkers steeped in the traditions of Russian and Soviet empires know all too well the potential dangers of imperial overstretch. In their opinion, Brussels, whose appetite was whetted by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of a geopolitical vacuum in what some Russian analysts call the Great Limitrophe – the band of lands squeezed between the former Soviet domains and Western Europe – embarked upon the path of an extremely ambitious eastward expansion. This large-scale integration program has recently been described by one Kremlin pundit as the "[Brussels] elites' game in the United Europe as a superpower which was about to start the world-wide planning of its policies and engage in big-time geopolitics and global geopolitical games."

The aggressive enlargement strategy, however, has proved to be a recipe for disaster, some Russian experts contend. First, the EU simply overestimated its absorption capacity and – with last year's big-bang accession of 10 new mostly East European members -- swallowed a chunk it could not digest. Second, the elites' grand designs appear to have clashed with the masses' desires as most Europeans, one commentator notes, loath the attempts at building a federal Europe and "want to live in a normal national and sovereign environment."

It would appear that, geo-strategically, Moscow felt uneasy about the EU's eastward expansion mainly for two reasons. On the one hand, Russia was clearly excluded from the political process of fashioning a United Europe. But on the other hand, the issue of where the EU's ultimate eastern limits lie remains moot. For many members of the Russian security community, such a situation was quite uncomfortable. "On Russia's borders there emerges a super-state – the only political entity in the modern world that is so elusive about the question of where its final frontier will run," notes the preface to a recently published book with the telling title: The Project of Europe Without Russia.

Russia's nationalist political thinkers predict the EU will likely follow in the footsteps of the former USSR and ultimately unravel if the bloc continues its policy of "reckless expansion." They argue that Brussels should understand that it cannot bear the burden of responsibility over the "entire sphere of European civilization" and would be well advised to see that there is another influential player with whom the responsibility has to be shared. "Europe's future lies not in the boundless expansion of the EU…but in the creation of two unions – a West European one and an East European (Russian) one – which would balance each other and compete in a friendly way," one commentary asserts.

For their part, Russia's liberal pragmatists within the foreign policy community say that Schadenfreude at EU's current misfortunes is plainly out of place. This faction, particularly the experts from the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy, say the Russian political class can draw some useful lessons from bloc's crisis. First, as the weakened Europe is unlikely to successfully play the role of the global geopolitical leader in the near future, it might become even more interested in developing political and economic relations with Russia. Second, of the two models of future EU development – a quasi-federation and an association of states bound together by a set of common rules, values, and single currency – it is the second one that is much more feasible now. But such a configuration of the EU makes it possible for even Russia to join in some distant perspective as, geopolitically, Russia, too, cannot go it alone, given its sharply diminishing population and shrinking share of the global GDP. Third, Moscow should make use of the ongoing search for the EU's new development strategy and revise its overall relationship with the bloc. The starting point would be the preparation of a long-term treaty on cooperation and rapprochement that would replace the fuzzy and "semi-fictitious" four common spaces.

(Rossiiskaya gazeta, June 2, 21; Trud, June 15;,, June 16;, June 17)

Fallaci Reconsidered

Harry's Place has an interesting discussion of the pros and cons (mostly the latter) of Oriana Fallaci's view of contemporary Europe:

I've read her two post 9-11 books, Anger and Pride and the Force of Reason, and while she makes a strident criticism of Islamism she goes beyond a political attack on a political movement to make alarmist generalisations about Muslims in Europe. She also argues for a reinforcement of Christian values in Europe as a way of countering what she sees as an impending Islamic takeover.

If you haven't read her books (and I'm not recommending you should) there is a taste of her views in a sycophantic interview with Opinion Journal today:

"Europe is no longer Europe, it is 'Eurabia,' a colony of Islam, where the Islamic invasion does not proceed only in a physical sense, but also in a mental and cultural sense. Servility to the invaders has poisoned democracy, with obvious consequences for the freedom of thought, and for the concept itself of liberty."

....The increased presence of Muslims in Italy, and in Europe, is directly proportional to our loss of freedom."

The phrase Eurabia is one you can find on a number of, usually right-wing American, blogs which promote the idea that our continent has been 'invaded' as part of a Muslim plot to take over Europe, impose Sharia law and force non-Muslim Europeans into a servile state of dhimmitude. It is a conspiracy theory albeit one that is given a certain credence in parts of the media as you can see in the writings of Melanie Phillips and Mark Steyn.
Both the post and the comments are well worth reading.

The Acid Bath

At Pearsall’s Books, a post that takes exception to Noel Ignatiev’s book How the Irish Became White, and the thesis that‘s implied in its title. I recently came across the following passage in an essay by Richard Rodriguez – “The Third Man” – which I believe is worthy of reflection:
The price of entering white America is an acid bath, a bleaching bath – a transfiguration – that burns away memory. I mean the freedom to become; I mean the freedom to imagine oneself free.

The point of Noel Ignatiev’s How the Irish Became White (by distancing themselves from black) may be extended to any number of other European immigrants to America. How the Germans became white. How Sicilian Catholics became white. How Russian Jews became white.

Extended even to non-Europeans: How my mother and father became white. My Mexican parents were described as White on their citizenship papers by an unimaginative federal agent. (An honorary degree.)

Who can blame the Irish steward or the Sicilian hatmaker for wanting to be white? White in America was the freedom to disappear from a crowded tenement and to reappear in a Long Island suburb, in an all-electric kitchen, with a set of matching plates.

I grew up wanting to be white. That is, to the extent of wanting to be colorless and to feel complete freedom of movement. The other night at a neighborhood restaurant the waiter, after mentioning he had read my books, said about himself, “I’m white, I’m nothing.” But that was what I wanted, you see, growing up in America – the freedom of being nothing, the confidence of it, the arrogance. And I achieved it.

Growing up an honorary white – which meant only that I was not black – I never wanted to be black (Elvis Presley wanting to be black), such was their white freedom! White, which began as an idea of no color; which defined itself against black and was therefore always bordered with black; white in America ended up as freedom from color – an idea of no boundary. Call me Ishmael.
There’s a lot more on this controversial topic in the book – Brown - The Last Discovery Of America (2002) – from which the passage is taken, and I think that much of it is relevant to the present debate in the U.S. – and also in Europe – on immigration and culture.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Moscow and the PACE

From today's RFE/RL Newsline:

PACE CALLS ON RUSSIA TO 'IMPROVE DEMOCRACY'... The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) in Strasbourg "urged Russia to improve its democracy, calling for more power for the Russian parliament,pluralist and impartial broadcasting and normal conditions for civil society" in a resolution passed on 22 June, according to a statement on the assembly's website ( The PACE also warned that solutions to Russia's problems "should be in line with Council of Europe principles," the statement said. "In order for democracy to function properly, power must not only be vertically reinforced but also horizontally shared," the PACE stated in reference to Kremlin-backed reforms approved in the fall of 2004, adding that Moscow should "adjust the direction" of recent reforms. The group also urged that "significantly" more Council of Europe assistance be granted to Russia to help it honor its commitments. The PACE resolution specifically called on Russia to abolish the death penalty, withdraw its troops from the breakaway Transdniester republic, and bring to justice those responsible for human rights violations in Chechnya. AH

...AS REPORT CONDEMNS RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, DEMANDS ACTION... PACE rapporteurs on Russia Rudolf Bindig and David Atkinson harshly criticized Moscow for a perceived lack of compliance with the commitment to human rights it made along with membership in 1995, reported. Bindig and Atkinson also noted a slowdown in the democratization process in Russia in recent years. "The fact is that Russia is not yet a free democracy," RFE/RL's Russia Service quoted Atkinson as saying. The report also noted that the main threats to democracy in Russia remain the conflict in Chechnya, corruption and "dubious privatization deals." RFE/RL reported. VY

...PROMPTING VEILED THREAT OVER MOSCOW'S PACE CONTRIBUTION. The head of the Russian delegation to the PACE, Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Konstantin Kosachev (Unified Russia), expressed disappointment with the assembly after passage of the PACE resolution on 22 June, RTR reported. He called some wording in the document "absolutely unacceptable to Russia," according to RTR, singling out for mention a reference to the "Soviet occupation of the Baltic states." Kosachev then said Russia's financial contributions to the PACE are excessive and noted that Moscow could decide to halt such payments. "That is neither our sanction toward the Council of Europe nor an expression of disappointment, but a realistic evaluation of the situation," he said, according to RTR. Council of Europe Secretary-General Terry Davis countered by saying the same day that "it is Russia's own business to decide what financial contribution it will make to the organization," RTR reported. Davis also asserted that "neither Russia nor Latvia is responsible for the misdeeds of past regimes," RIA-Novosti reported. Russia contributes some 28 million euros ($33.76 million) annually to the Council of Europe's budget, putting it among the top five contributors. VY