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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 13, 01-01-19

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>

RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 5, No. 13, 19 January 2001


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIA HAILS FRENCH PARLIAMENT VOTE ON GENOCIDE...
  • [02] ...WHILE AZERBAIJAN ACCUSES FRANCE OF BIAS
  • [03] AZERBAIJAN SAYS IT CANNOT MEET RUSSIA'S OIL EXPORT DEMANDS
  • [04] ABKHAZIA PROTESTS RELEASE OF GEORGIAN GUERRILLA LEADER
  • [05] KAZAKH PRESIDENT APPEALS TO OIL CONSORTIUM TO NAME DRILLING OPERATOR
  • [06] KAZAKH ARMS CHIEF ON TRIAL FOR PREDECESSOR'S MURDER
  • [07] KAZAKH PREMIER ECHOES PRESIDENT'S WARNING ON INFLATION
  • [08] KYRGYZSTAN REGISTERS DECLINE IN BIRTHRATE, BUT ALSO IN INFANT MORTALITY...
  • [09] ...IMPLEMENTS REFORM OF HEALTH SERVICE
  • [10] ANTHRAX OUTBREAK REPORTED IN SOUTHERN KYRGYZSTAN
  • [11] NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL VISITS TURKMENISTAN

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [12] KOSTUNICA REVERSES COURSE, WILL MEET WAR CRIMES PROSECUTOR
  • [13] KOSTUNICA RULES OUT TALKS WITH THOSE SEEKING INDEPENDENCE
  • [14] MOSCOW OPENS CONSULATE IN MONTENEGRO
  • [15] KOSTUNICA HOPES SARAJEVO VISIT WILL IMPROVE BOSNIA-YUGOSLAV TIES
  • [16] YUGOSLAVIA TO APPLY FOR WTO MEMBERSHIP
  • [17] NEW SERBIAN LEADERS TO PROSECUTE MILOSEVIC SOON
  • [18] EU SEEKS TO EXPAND OBSERVER TEAM
  • [19] NATO PEACEKEEPERS FIND WEAPONS CACHE IN BOSNIA
  • [20] NATO FINDS NO EVIDENCE OF DEPLETED URANIUM POISONING IN BOSNIA
  • [21] MACEDONIA SIGNS FREE TRADE ACCORD WITH UKRAINE
  • [22] RUSSIA, ALBANIA AGREE TO COOPERATE ON KOSOVA
  • [23] ROMANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT TO EXAMINE RESTITUTION LAW
  • [24] ANTONESCU STATUE GIVEN JUDICIAL GREEN LIGHT
  • [25] ROMANIAN SENATE WORRIED ABOUT COUNTY'S INTERNATIONAL IMAGE
  • [26] ROMANIAN RIVER POLLUTED BY CYANIDE
  • [27] MOLDOVAN COMMUNIST LEADER HEATS UP ELECTORAL CAMPAIGN
  • [28] MOLDOVAN CENTRISTS STILL ENVISAGE JOINT BLOC
  • [29] BULGARIA OVERCOMES RELUCTANCE ON STABILITY PACT
  • [30] BULGARIA PLANS DAMS TO OFFSET DROUGHT

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [31] The Nationality Question And Russian Foreign Policy

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIA HAILS FRENCH PARLIAMENT VOTE ON GENOCIDE...

    The Armenian Foreign Ministry on 18 January welcomed the unanimous vote earlier that day by the lower chamber of the French parliament to recognize as genocide the killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey in 1915. "This move...upholds the historic truth and creates prerequisites for correctly assessing and overcoming the heavy legacy of the past," a spokesman for the Armenian Foreign Ministry told RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau. The French Senate (the upper chamber of parliament) had passed an analogous bill last November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November 2000). LF

    [02] ...WHILE AZERBAIJAN ACCUSES FRANCE OF BIAS

    Commenting on the French parliament vote, Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Vilayat Quliev said in Baku on 18 January that such action by a country that is one of the three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group may adversely affect the search for a solution to the Karabakh conflict, Turan reported. Azerbaijan National Independence Party deputy chairman Ilgar Mamedov argued that France should be required to relinquish its Minsk Group co- chairmanship because of its "pro-Armenian bias." Opposition Musavat Party chairman Isa Gambar, for his part, characterized the vote as "a mistake from both the scientific and historical points of view." He suggested that it will adversely impact French-Azerbaijani relations. LF

    [03] AZERBAIJAN SAYS IT CANNOT MEET RUSSIA'S OIL EXPORT DEMANDS

    Natik Aliev, who is president of Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR, told journalists in Baku on 18 January that Azerbaijan cannot export annually via the Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline the 2.2 million tons of crude which Russian officials say is the minimum amount that would render use of that pipeline by Azerbaijan economically viable, Interfax reported. Aliev said the maximum Azerbaijan could provide is 1.7 million tons. Azerbaijan produced almost 15 million tons of oil last year, of which SOCAR produced 9 million. During Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Baku last week, Russian and Azerbaijani officials failed to reach agreement on increasing Azerbaijan's oil exports via Novorossiisk but planned to resume negotiations after three weeks, Glasnost-North Caucasus reported on 14 January. LF

    [04] ABKHAZIA PROTESTS RELEASE OF GEORGIAN GUERRILLA LEADER

    The Foreign Ministry of the unrecognized Republic of Abkhazia has protested the Georgian authorities' decision to release from detention the leader of the "Forest Brothers" guerrilla force, Dato Shengelaia, Caucasus Press reported on 18 January. Shengelaia was arrested in the west Georgian town of Zugdidi in September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 September 2000) but released "on health grounds" late last month. The Georgian newspaper "Rezonansi" quoted him on 11 January as having admitted to the murder of four Abkhaz police officers. Five days later, Caucasus Press similarly quoted Shengelaia as saying "The more Abkhazians I kill, the more pleasure I receive, this gives me a reason to go on living." He also said he receives financial support from the chairman of the Abkhaz parliament in exile, Tamaz Nadareishvili, whom he termed "a real patriot." The Abkhaz statement said Shengelaia's release constitutes a violation of numerous pledges Tbilisi has signed (in August 1997, May 1998, January 2000, and July 2000) to crack down on unsanctioned guerrilla formations operating on the border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia. LF

    [05] KAZAKH PRESIDENT APPEALS TO OIL CONSORTIUM TO NAME DRILLING OPERATOR

    President Nursultan Nazarbaev on 18 January appealed to the international oil companies aligned in the OKIOC consortium not to delay the choice of a drilling operator to oversee oil extraction in the huge Kashagan field it is developing, Interfax reported. Five of OKIOC's nine shareholders -- Shell, TotalFinaElf, ExxonMobil, Statoil, and Agip -- are vying for that position. On 15 January, Interfax quoted OKIOC spokesman Matthew Bateson as saying the consortium plans to select an operator by the end of this month. East Kashagan contains reserves estimated at up to 7 billion tons. LF

    [06] KAZAKH ARMS CHIEF ON TRIAL FOR PREDECESSOR'S MURDER

    The trial began behind closed doors in Almaty on 18 January of Erza Qoshqarbaev, head of Kazakhstan's State Arms Export Company, on charges of organizing the murder of his predecessor in that post, Talghat Ibraev, RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported. Ibraev was shot dead outside his home in Almaty last April. His driver and his deputy's driver were arrested one month later in connection with the killing (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 April and 22 May 2000). Qoshqarbaev was taken into custody in July, but in mid- August police in Almaty claimed that a young man they identified as Ibraev's murderer had killed himself during a shootout in an Almaty restaurant (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 July and 18 August 2000). LF

    [07] KAZAKH PREMIER ECHOES PRESIDENT'S WARNING ON INFLATION

    Addressing a cabinet session in Astana on 18 January, Qasymzhomart Toqaev instructed ministers to monitor carefully the rate of inflation, Interfax reported. "Unjustified growth in prices for food and medical and household services should under no circumstances be permitted," Toqaev said. The previous day, President Nazarbaev had said that price increases in those areas last year had given rise to concern "in every household" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 January 2001). Kazakhstan's National Bank said earlier this month that consumer price inflation in Kazakhstan last year fell to 9.8 percent from 17.8 percent in 1999. LF

    [08] KYRGYZSTAN REGISTERS DECLINE IN BIRTHRATE, BUT ALSO IN INFANT MORTALITY...

    The birthrate in Kyrgyzstan has fallen by over 30 percent, from 29.3 in 1990 to 21.4 in 1999, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 18 January citing data released by the Health Care Ministry. Infant mortality was 30 per 1, 000 live births in 1999 and perinatal mortality -- 43 cases per 100,000 population. In 1988, the corresponding figures were 53.8 infant deaths per 1,000 live births (the highest indicator of any Soviet republic at that time) and 72 deaths in childbirth per 100,000 population. Almost 90 percent of women in Kyrgyzstan currently suffer from anemia as a result of an inadequate diet. LF

    [09] ...IMPLEMENTS REFORM OF HEALTH SERVICE

    Newly-appointed Deputy Health Care Minister Ainura Ibraimova told a news conference in Bishkek on 18 January that her ministry's primary objectives this year are to continue implementing a reform of the health service, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. She said that the system of compulsive medical insurance pioneered in the Chu and Issyk-Kul Oblasts in 1998 will be extended throughout the country by 2004. The ministry will continue to train family doctors and to implement programs aimed at reducing the incidence of tuberculosis and other diseases. LF

    [10] ANTHRAX OUTBREAK REPORTED IN SOUTHERN KYRGYZSTAN

    Some 145 people in a village in Kyrgyzstan's southern Djalalabad Oblast have contracted intestinal anthrax by eating tainted meat, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 18 January citing the Ministry of Ecology and Emergency Situations. LF

    [11] NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL VISITS TURKMENISTAN

    Meeting in Ashgabat on 18 January with Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov and Defense Minister Batyr Sardjaev, and during a subsequent lecture at the Turkmen National University, Lord George Robertson proposed increased cooperation between Turkmenistan and NATO, specifically in the areas of coping with the aftermath of natural disasters and scientific cooperation, AP and Asia Plus-Blitz reported. Robertson said such cooperation within the framework of NATO's Partnership for Peace program (PfP) would not threaten Turkmenistan's neutral status. According to "Kommersant-Daily" on 19 January, Turkmenistan participates only in those PfP exercises in which no regular troops take part. LF

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [12] KOSTUNICA REVERSES COURSE, WILL MEET WAR CRIMES PROSECUTOR

    Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica told a press conference in Belgrade on 18 January that he has decided to reverse himself and to meet chief UN war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte when she visits the Yugoslav capital next week, Reuters reported. A spokesman for Del Ponte in Amsterdam welcomed this declaration. Kostunica said that he had been induced to change his mind by NATO's use of depleted uranium shells, an investigation into a mass killing in Racak, and the tribunal's use of sealed indictments. He said he wants to discuss these and other issues with Del Ponte. In other comments, Kostunica defended his recent meeting with former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. PG

    [13] KOSTUNICA RULES OUT TALKS WITH THOSE SEEKING INDEPENDENCE

    In the same press conference on 18 January, President Kostunica said that he will not engage in any future talks on the future of Yugoslavia with leaders of republics who seek independence, AP reported. His comments came after talks with Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic failed to produce any resolution on the relationship between Montenegro and Belgrade. "One cannot be equal to two," Kostunica said, adding that "Belgrade will do nothing to prevent those who will rule Montenegro in their eventual secession." PG

    [14] MOSCOW OPENS CONSULATE IN MONTENEGRO

    Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Avdeev has opened a Russian consulate in Montenegro, AP reported on 18 January. Avdeev said that he hopes that "the consulate will help strengthen friendly ties between the Montenegrin and Russian peoples as well as their economic cooperation." Montenegrin Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic said that he hopes ties with Russia will soon rise to "a higher and more substantial level." PG

    [15] KOSTUNICA HOPES SARAJEVO VISIT WILL IMPROVE BOSNIA-YUGOSLAV TIES

    Speaking in Belgrade on 18 January, President Kostunica said that he hopes his visit to Sarajevo on 19 January will promote trust and cooperation between the two countries, Reuters reported. He gave interviews in advance of his visit to the Bosnian Serb newspaper "Nezavisne Novine" and the Muslim Croat paper "Drevni Avaz." His conversation with the latter was a first for a Yugoslav leader. PG

    [16] YUGOSLAVIA TO APPLY FOR WTO MEMBERSHIP

    Vice Minister for Foreign Economic Relations Milica Uvalic told a meeting of seven Balkan countries in Geneva on 18 January that Belgrade plans to seek membership in the World Trade Organization, Reuters reported. Representatives of that organization and Belgrade are to meet next week to begin the process, the news agency said. The old Yugoslav Federation was a member, and Slovenia and Croatia are now in, with Macedonia and Bosnia poised to join. PG

    [17] NEW SERBIAN LEADERS TO PROSECUTE MILOSEVIC SOON

    The document outlining the policy plans of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic reported by AP on 18 January said that the new government's aim in bringing Slobodan Milosevic and his confederates to justice is to show "our determination for law and professionalism." Meanwhile, on the same day, Serbian Justice Minister-designate Vladan Batic said that "as soon as the new government is formed, criminal proceedings will be triggered against all suspected leaders of the Milosevic regime." To prevent them from fleeing the country, he said, their passports will be confiscated. PG

    [18] EU SEEKS TO EXPAND OBSERVER TEAM

    Michael Sahlin, the ambassador to Yugoslavia for the current European Union president, told Reuters on 18 January that the EU is discussing with the Yugoslav authorities the possibility of expanding the presence of the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) in areas of conflict between Serbian police and ethnic Albanian fighters. At present, the EUMM has 120 monitors in the Balkans. PG

    [19] NATO PEACEKEEPERS FIND WEAPONS CACHE IN BOSNIA

    A spokeswoman for the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia said that an American-Russian patrol had discovered a significant cache of weapons near Zvornik and would destroy them, AP reported on 18 January. PG

    [20] NATO FINDS NO EVIDENCE OF DEPLETED URANIUM POISONING IN BOSNIA

    Lieutenant Colonel Rodger Rudolph, SFOR's environmental and preventive medicine officer, told AP on 18 January that an investigation in Bosnia- Herzegovina had confirmed that there had not been any significant health hazard for the peacekeepers of the population arising from the use of depleted uranium shells in 1995. He said that someone who remained one meter away from such a shell for a year would be exposed to less radiation than he would receive from the internationally accepted safe exposure standard for the general public. PG

    [21] MACEDONIA SIGNS FREE TRADE ACCORD WITH UKRAINE

    Macedonian Foreign Minister Ljubco Georgievski signed a bilateral free trade agreement with visiting Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yushchenko, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 18 January. Yushchenko stressed that this was the first such accord reached by his government with a state "beyond the borders of the post-Soviet space" and said that Kyiv will promote Macedonian efforts to join the Black Sea Cooperation Council. PG

    [22] RUSSIA, ALBANIA AGREE TO COOPERATE ON KOSOVA

    Following 16-17 January meetings with visiting Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Avdeev, the Albanian government released a statement on 18 January saying that "despite continuing differences," Moscow and Tirana "are inclined to search for mutually acceptable paths of the resolution of the Kosova crisis," Interfax reported. PG

    [23] ROMANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT TO EXAMINE RESTITUTION LAW

    The Constitutional Court will examine on 7 February the appeal of the Greater Romania Party against the recently-approved restitution law, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 18 January. The appeal was supported by 79 deputies, 29 more than necessary for convoking the court in line with existing legislation. MS

    [24] ANTONESCU STATUE GIVEN JUDICIAL GREEN LIGHT

    A court of justice in Iasi on 18 January gave the Cluj municipality permission to proceed with the construction of a statue of Romania's wartime fascist leader Marshal Ion Antonescu, Mediafax reported on 19 January, citing the Cluj-based Hungarian daily "Szabadsag." The municipality decided to erect the statue in November 1999, but the decision was appealed by then Cluj county prefect Vasile Salcudean. The case was moved to Iasi, after extreme nationalist Mayor Gheorghe Funar and local councilors challenged the objectivity of the Cluj court. The decision to erect the monument was backed not only by Funar's supporters, but also by the center-right parties represented on the town's council (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 November 1999 and 3 April 2000). MS

    [25] ROMANIAN SENATE WORRIED ABOUT COUNTY'S INTERNATIONAL IMAGE

    The Senate on 18 January overruled a decision of the former cabinet headed by Mugur Isarescu to donate 30 exhibits owned by former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu to a French museum that runs an exhibition on the personality cults of former communist leaders, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The senators said the donation would have "further contributed to the deterioration of Romania's image abroad, which is already badly damaged." Also on 18 January, the government dismissed Constantin Badea as head of the official news agency Rompres, which was recently placed under governmental supervision. As grounds for the dismissal, the cabinet cited a report by state auditors claiming mismanagement of funds and Badea's purchase of costly sophisticated equipment that laid idle. Badea, who was appointed Rompres head by former Premier Victor Ciorbea, said no such audit was carried out, and challenged the cabinet to release it for publication. MS

    [26] ROMANIAN RIVER POLLUTED BY CYANIDE

    The Siret River in northeastern Romania has been polluted by cyanide, with levels 130 times above the norm being registered in its waters and thousands of fish dead. Romanian Radio on 19 January said the pollution was caused by the Falticeni-based Metadet company, whose industrial wastes infested the Siret tributary Somuzul-Mare. Last year, a Baia Mare-based company in northwestern Romania caused severe pollution of the Tisa (Tisza) River and the Danube. MS

    [27] MOLDOVAN COMMUNIST LEADER HEATS UP ELECTORAL CAMPAIGN

    Party of Moldovan Communists (PCM) Chairman Vladimir Voronin on 18 January accused the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) of being biased against his party. The accusation follows the CEC's decision to reject Voronin's demand that the commission register the PCM at the head of the list of parties competing in the February ballot. Voronin accused CEC chairman Dumitru Nedelcu of corruption and Nedelcu's deputy, Nicolae Telveco, of inefficiency. Voronin also claimed that President Petru Lucinschi has a vested interest that the Popular Party Christian Democratic (PPCD), whose policies favor reunification with Romania, gain parliamentary representation. He said that without the PPCD, Lucinschi can count only on the Braghis Alliance, and that will not be enough to ensure that he is in a position to "continue to juggle deputies," Infotag reported. MS

    [28] MOLDOVAN CENTRISTS STILL ENVISAGE JOINT BLOC

    Thirteen political formations have thus far been registered by the CEC to run in the 25 February ballot, but some of these are still negotiating the possibility of running on a joint ticket. The Democratic Party on 18 January said it is still hoping that a center-right bloc will be formed before the 25 January deadline for registering competing lists. The Party of Democratic Forces' (PDF) Valeriu Matei said that the PDF is ready to negotiate the formation of such a bloc, despite having already registered with the CEC. Also on 18 January, Transdniester Supreme Soviet chairman Grigorii Marakutsa said it is "unlikely" that the separatists will allow polling stations on the territory they control. He said that, as in previous elections, buses may be organized to transport those willing to cast a ballot in the Moldovan contest. MS

    [29] BULGARIA OVERCOMES RELUCTANCE ON STABILITY PACT

    Seven Balkan countries, including Yugoslavia, signed in Geneva on 18 January an agreement to promote freer trade in preparation for their joining the EU, Reuters reported. The meeting took place under the auspices of the Brussels-based Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe and was attended by ministers or deputy trade ministers from Albania, Bosnia- Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, and Yugoslavia. Diplomats said Bulgaria had not been keen to join the initiative but had been "persuaded" to do so by the pact's coordinator, Bodo Hombach. Hombach told journalists in Geneva it would be "a grave error" for any country in the region to believe it could move towards joining the EU "without taking account of its neighbors." The signatories pledged to prepare by June a "memorandum of understanding" covering specific actions to liberalize and facilitate trade. MS

    [30] BULGARIA PLANS DAMS TO OFFSET DROUGHT

    Bulgaria plans to build six new dams in 2001 to overcome water shortages caused by droughts. Environment Minister Evdokia Maneva told journalists the costs of the dams are about $22 million, and they will help supply water to 450,000 people who currently ration its consumption because of the severe 2000 drought. The five dams will be built by 2005, Reuters reported. MS

    [C] END NOTE

    [31] The Nationality Question And Russian Foreign Policy

    By Paul A. Goble

    A Russian foreign policy analyst has urged Moscow to use its nationality policies at home to promote its foreign policy goals. But he has warned that the Russian government must at the same time take into consideration certain foreign policy challenges when dealing with its domestic ethnic minorities.

    Writing in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 12 January, Igor Igoshin argues that those who view Russia's numerous ethnic issues as a purely domestic affair are deeply mistaken because "a number of foreign policy goals critically important for Moscow are connected in the closest way with the nationality question," the term Russians have used since the 19th century to denote interethnic issues.

    Igoshin identified four such foreign policy issues. Two of these involve situations in which he argues the Russian government can use ethnic issues to promote its own agenda. The other two confront Moscow with challenges it can meet only if it understands their implications for domestic interethnic relations and responds appropriately both at home and abroad.

    The first of these issues, Igoshin says, involves "the support of the Russian-language population in the former Soviet republics." This is in the first instance a moral and ethical requirement because these people who were native to Russia were "practically thrown to their fates" in the early 1990s.

    But, he adds, "this problem has another side as well." The Russian- speaking communities in many of the former Soviet republics form "a significant portion" of the population -- in Latvia, for example, some 34 percent in 1991. Such diasporas, Igoshin suggests "are capable of becoming a serious internal political factor in former Soviet republics which will have a positive influence on the relations" between these countries and Russia.

    He pointedly notes that there are "many such examples" of diasporas having this effect: "The Jewish community of the U.S., which is much smaller in size, has exerted through pressure on the government the most powerful support of Israel over the course of several decades." Russian-speaking groups abroad, Igoshin says, are fully capable of playing the same role in what he calls "the near abroad."

    Moreover, the use of such groups in this way, he suggests, is something Russia can do "despite the widespread view" that its foreign policy is weak. Russia's economic presence, its ability to direct the flow of goods across some countries but not others, and its ability to conduct propaganda, Igoshin argues, enable Moscow to have an impact on Russian communities abroad and, through them, on the governments of the countries in which they live.

    The second of these issues, again one where Moscow can use its ethnic policies to promote its interests, involves the possible unification of Russia and former Soviet republics into a single state. One such example is Moscow's ongoing efforts to form a new union state with Belarus. Obviously, Igoshin says, not all countries of the region are interested. Those that are are likely to become more so, he continues, if Moscow recognizes that "the nationality question is one of the capstones" of such a process.

    To the extent it acknowledges this fact, Igoshin argues, "a most important task for Russia is the formation of conditions which will assist the further improvement of relations between the peoples of Russia and the states with which unification is really possible." Igoshin does not draw the obvious corollary that Moscow will have less interest in doing that with groups whose co-ethnics outside of Russia are not interested in unity.

    The third area where Russia's nationality question takes on a foreign policy dimension, albeit a more defensive one, concerns what Igoshin calls "the sharpening of tensions in the southern direction," the rise of Muslim groups which threaten Russia's interests in Central Asia and the Caucasus.

    He says that this threat to ethnic harmony within Russia is potentially so great, as Chechnya has already shown, that Moscow must be prepared to counter it even with non-diplomatic means, including the actions of special services, military actions, and so on. Failure to do so, Igoshin says will mean that it will be "simply impossible to defeat national extremism in Russia" itself.

    And the fourth area he identifies is also one in which Igoshin argues nationality policy must play a role: countering what he suggests is "the extraordinarily complex problem" likely to arise in Russia's Far East. "The active resettlement into Siberian regions of representatives of neighboring states with more dense populations" -- by clear implication, the Peoples' Republic of China -- presents a threat to Russian control.

    Indeed, he suggests that this influx of outsiders could lead to a situation envisaged by the old Soviet anecdote about a future BBC report that there has been "a stabilization of the situation on the Finnish- Chinese border."

    On the one hand, Igoshin's argument is little more than a revival of an early Soviet approach in which the nationality question was always linked to colonial issues, and a restatement of the frequent observation in other countries that foreign and domestic politics are inevitably interrelated -- especially as societies become more open.

    But on the other hand, the appearance of this argument in such explicit form now suggests that Moscow is increasingly open to the possibilities of using ethnicity to promote its goals, but also increasingly concerned that others may use ethnicity against Russia itself.

    19-01-01


    Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
    URL: http://www.rferl.org


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