AUR#646Russia Outplays Ukraine And Europe; Empire Strikes Back; Re-Emerging Russian Superpower; Russia Must Be Strong; Trojan Gas; Delta To Kyiv

      THE ACTION UKRAINE REPORT – AUR
               An International Newsletter, The Latest, Up-To-Date
                    In-Depth Ukrainian News, Analysis and Commentary

                     Ukrainian History, Culture, Arts, Business, Religion,
        Sports, Government, and Politics, in Ukraine and Around the World       

 
 JANUARY 22: THREE IMPORTANT EVENTS TO REMEMBER
 

    [1] – January 22, 1918: The official date of the proclamation of
    Ukrainian independence.
    [2] – January 22, 1919: The unification of Eastern and Western
    Ukraine into one independent state.
    [3] – January 22, 1933: The secret Stalin/Molotov directive closing
    the border between the Ukrainian SSR and the neighboring Belarusian
    SSR and RSFSR to Ukrainian peasants seeking foodstuffs in Russia
    or Belarus. Same directive isolated Northern Caucasus & especially
    Kuban (2/3 ethnically Ukrainian population) for the same reason.

Ukraine is commemorating only the second date. But the other two must

not be forgotten. [Roman Serbyn (Canada), Infoukes History, Jan 21, 06] 
                           
THE ACTION UKRAINE REPORT – AUR – Number 646
Mr. E. Morgan Williams, Publisher and Editor  
Washington, D.C., Kyiv, Ukraine, MONDAY, JANUARY 23, 2006
                           ——–INDEX OF ARTICLES——–
         Clicking on the title of any article takes you directly to the article.               
Return to the Index by clicking on Return to Index at the end of each article
1.   THE GAS WAR CONTINUES: RUSSIA’S MASTERFUL PLAY
                   Russia outplays Europe, Russia outplays Ukraine
       January 2006 – the month the Russian bear came out of hibernation.
ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY
: Anna Parachkevova, Journalist
Johnson’s Russia List, 2006 – #20, Article 15
Washington, D.C., Sunday, 22 January 2006

2. THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
                   A confident Kremlin is throwing its weight around.
By Owen Matthews and Stefan Theil, Newsweek International

New York, New York, Issue for January 30, 2006

3. THE RE-EMERGING RUSSIAN SUPERPOWER
                                 Is it to be feared or welcomed?
ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY
: Paper By Vlad Sobell
Senior Economist, Daiwa Institute of Research, London
Johnson’s Russia List, 2006 #18, Article 9
Washington, D.C., Friday, 20 January 2006

4 RUSSIA MUST BE STRONG
COMMENTARY: By Sergei Ivanov, Deputy Prime Minister
and Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation
The Wall Street Journal, NY, NY, Wed, Jan 11, 2006, Page A14

5. REMEMBRANCE: MERSHIEWSKY SURVIVED SOVIET-ERA STRIFE
      Bolshevik Revolution, Terror-Famine, Persecution, German labor camp
    
   The only song she learned to sing in English was “God Bless America.”
By Jan Jonas, Tribune Reporter, Albuquerque Tribune
Albuquerque, New Mexico, Saturday, January 21, 2006

6 BETTING ON A GUSHER
Putin believes he can transform Gazprom into a world-class energy company.
By Owen Matthews, Newsweek, New York, NY, Jan. 30, 2006 issue

7. TROJAN GAS
 Commentary on influence of Russian gas in Lithuania, Ukraine, Europe
COMMENTARY: By Valdas Vasiliauskas
Lithuanian Television, Vilnius, in Lithuanian 1013 gmt 16 Jan 06
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Friday, Jan 20, 2006

8. KREMLIN OLIGARCHS
EDITORIAL: Wall Street Journal Europe, NY, NY, Fri, Jan 20, 2006

9 RUSSIA IS IN RETREAT
               Someone is still fighting the cold war, but it isn’t Russia.
ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY
: By Mark Almond, The Guardian
London, United Kingdom, Saturday January 21, 2006

10. RUSSIA AND THE WEST: A COLDER COMING WE HAVE OF IT
 Russia assumes G8 presidency, Putin not the partner West once hoped for

The Economist, London, UK, Week of January 21-27, 2006

11 THE PARADOX OF CORRUPTION
COMMENTARY: By Georgy Bovt, Editor of Profil
Moscow Times, Moscow, Russia, Thursday, January 19, 2006

12. NATURAL GAS CONFLICT RIPPLES BEYOND RUSSIA-UKRAINE
BRIEFING: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)
Washington, DC, Friday, January 20, 2006

13. WEST DOES NOT UNDERSTAND HOW PUTIN’S MIND WORKS
          West forces Russia “play defence” if it is not treated as partner –
INTERVIEW: With Nadia Arbatova, Russian political scientist
By Francesca Sforze in Moscow
La Stampa website, Turin, Italy, in Italian 4 Jan 06
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Thu, Jan 05, 2006

14. LOOKING AT UKRAINE MORE CLEARLY
EDITORIAL: The New York Times, NY, NY, Fri, January 20, 2006

15. POLL SHOWS GAS DISPUTE UNDERMINES UKRAINIAN’S ATTITUDE TOWARD RUSSIA 
Interfax, Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, January 20, 2006

16. RUSSIA STATE TV HIGHLIGHTS POLITICAL CRISIS IN UKRAINE                   
By Stephen Ennis of BBC Monitoring Service
BBC Monitoring Service, United Kingdom, Sat, Jan 21, 2006

17. UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT APPEALS TO POLITICAL RIVALS TO PUT NATIONAL INTERESTS FIRST 
AP Worldstream, Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Jan 22, 2006

18. UKRAINIAN PEOPLE FEEL THEY HAVE NO INFLUENCE ON LEVERS OF POWER
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: By Oleg Kucherenko
Financial Times, London, UK, Saturday, January 21 2006

19. DELTA RECEIVES U.S. DOT APPROVAL TO BEGIN SERVICE BETWEEN NEW YORK AND KIEV, UKRAINE IN JUNE         
PRIMEZONE (PZ), Atlanta, Georgia, Friday, January 20, 2006

20. DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTIONS IN POST-COMMUNIST STATES
     Johns Hopkins University, Intersession 2006, Instructor: Anna Fournier
The Action Ukraine Report (AUR), Wash, D.C., Mon, Jan 23, 2006
========================================================
1
   THE GAS WAR CONTINUES: RUSSIA’S MASTERFUL PLAY
                   Russia outplays Europe, Russia outplays Ukraine
           Far from blunder, January of 2006 will be remembered as the
                  month the Russian bear came out of hibernation.

ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: Anna Parachkevova, Journalist
Johnson’s Russia List, 2006 – #20, Article 15
Washington, D.C., Sunday, 22 January 2006

January has been a chilling month for Russia’s relations with Europe. As
temperatures in Moscow dropped to minus 30 C this week, Russia’s
state-owned energy giant, Gazprom, reduced gas shipments to European
clients due to high domestic demand.

Europe shivered earlier this month, after a gas-price dispute between
Ukraine and Russia disrupted gas deliveries to Europe. The two neighboring
countries later reached a deal that restored supplies, but the signing of
the contracts that will finalize the deal have been put on hold.

In the on-going gas war, Russia has been the one winning so far. Despite
popular perceptions, Russia’s involvement in the gas row was not a blunder
but a masterpiece of foreign policy. As a result, both Europe and Ukraine
have to play by Russia’s rules for the time being.
                              RUSSIA OUTPLAYS EUROPE
Russia’s behavior might be galling to its international consumers, but
Western Europe has few realistic options.  Russia is the word’s number one
producer and exporter of natural gas. According to the International Energy
Agency, it supplies a crucial quarter of the gas that Western Europe
consumes.  The few other countries that could potentially replace Russia as
a supplier don’t have the pipelines to transport the gas or the political
stability to guarantee the deliveries.

Algeria, for example is ranked third in the world in gas production, but
most of its gas exports are already contractually locked to Spain and
Italy. Expanding its gas trade farther into the Europe would require
pipelines for transportation. None exist so far. The only alternative to
Russian gas currently in the planning stages is the Nabucco pipeline which
would move gas from Iran and Central Asia to Western Europe via Turkey
to Austria. But the building of the pipe has been scheduled to start no
earlier than 2011, and its successful completion depends on the approval
of all nations involved.

Furthermore, Algeria’s gas supplying record is not beyond reproach. Similar
to the actions recently taken by Russia, Algeria cut off supplies to Italy
in the 1980s. The rise of Islamic extremism also makes the country seem a
less reliable energy supplier. Since the rise of the Islamic Salvation
Front (FIS) in 1991, the activities of extreme militants had repeatedly
clashed with the government.

Instability due to Islamic radicalism or terrorism also makes the Middle
East, particularly Iran, a potentially problematic supplier. Russia might
not be as secure a supplier after the gas dispute with Ukraine. But it is
at least as safe a bet as Algeria or Iran.  Russia knows this.

Russia, however, does not rely only upon Europe’s lack of alternative
energy sources for leverage. Gazprom further ensured Europe’s
dependence on Russian gas by signing or renewing contracts with all of
its clients before the end of 2005. Some of the contracts expire as late
as 2030.

Similar legal measures were used in Ukraine’s case.

                              RUSSIA OUTPLAYS UKRAINE
Russia played brilliantly against Ukraine before, during, and after the gas
row that hit Europe.

It started in December by snatching a deal Ukraine had intended to sign
with Turkmenistan, Ukraine’s only alternative natural gas supplier. But
long before Turkmenistan began talks with Ukraine, Turkmen President
Saparmurad Niyazov already had its eye on the Western market. With all gas
routes passing through Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Russia, he knew that an
alliance with Russia would be much more beneficial.

President Viktor A. Yushchenko thought Ukraine had signed contracts with
Turkmenistan. Both Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov and Fuel and Power
Minister Ivan Plachkov insisted that they had signed the contracts with
Turkmenistan. Only later in the controversy, it became clear that the
contracts were mere statements of intent. Instead, on Dec. 29, Turkmenistan
promised most of its gas to Russia, thus, tightening the noose on Ukraine.
Three days later, Russia, on its part, tightened the gas screws on Ukraine.

Other observers, claiming that Russia’s recent decision to cut natural gas
supplies was a blunder, in which Russia came out looking like a less
reliable supplier to the powerful European market, make the silent
assumption that Russia didn’t expect Ukraine to siphon supplies intended
for other nations.

That argument is neither substantiated nor logical.  Russia not only
expected but hoped Ukraine would steal the gas. After all, they had done it
many times in the past. Ukraine’s theft would have been the perfect way to
deflect some of the responsibility for the crisis. As for Western Europe,
they can grumble, but little more.

Then came the agreement on Jan. 4, which many wrongly described as a
face-saving measure for Russia, since Gazprom was not able to directly
charge the $230 per 1,000 cubic meters it originally demanded. Russia
could have not realistically expected that Ukraine would agree to pay the
quadrupled price. But starting off with such a high price made any other
offer, even the doubling of the original price, seem like a great deal for
Ukraine. Asking for $230 per 1,000 cubic meters also ensured that Ukraine
would not be able to pay, so that the confrontation escalated to eventually
effect Western Europe.
               RUSSIA WANTED THIS CONFRONTATION
Further, the price agreement signed between the two countries on January
4th undeniably favors Russia in the long run.  Within the framework of the
agreement, Russia has locked in the gas transit tariff paid to the
Ukrainian government for the coming five years.  Ukraine, however, only has
a guarantee that the current cost ($95 per 1,000 cubic meters) of NG it is
purchasing through RosUkrEnergo will remain stable for only six
months.

Come next summer ­ or, more likely, next winter, we could see this
drama play itself out all over again with the same results: Russia with
greater control of the natural gas market, Ukraine paying more for the gas
that it needs for domestic consumption, and Western European
governments even more frustrated in their lack of ability to extricate
themselves from this mess.
                     THAT IS, IF UKRAINE MISBEHAVES .
Russia is motivated by more than economic considerations in the “Gas War”
and none is more important than maintaining Ukraine within its sphere of
influence.  Months ago, Russia was roundly condemned for its heavy-
handed interference with the incipient democracy in its neighbor
interference that led Ukraine to be driven further towards the West.

But as Russia has certainly observed, Kiev’s journey from “Soviet Satellite”
to “New Europe” has been anything but smooth sailing.  Russian observers
must have noted the growing dissention in the ranks of the Orange
Revolutionaries.

They could not have missed the importance of President Yushchenko’s
firing of his Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko last fall.  They knew of the
political resurgence of parties that, given the opportunity, would lead
Ukraine, back towards Moscow.  And, though this has been little commented
upon, they knew well that on midnight of January 1, 2006 the Ukrainian
Constitution triggered provisions which shifted power from the executive
branch back towards the parliament.

In this light, one can easily envision Vladimir Putin himself nodding
slightly and smiling to himself when the Ukrainian parliament fired the
Cabinet over Yushchenko’s objections in the second week of January.
Their justification ­ the gas row with Russia.

Come March, new parliamentary elections will likely leave Yushchenko a lame
duck, a President with reduced powers, and limited political support in the
legislature.

Recent polls favor a return of former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich,
the Russian-backed candidate in 2004. His victory will likely consign the
Orange Revolution to the dustbin of history.
                                   WHAT LIES AHEAD.
Most likely the next six months will be a time for reflection for all the
parties involved. But while Ukraine struggles to resolve its constitutional
crisis, and Western Europe further puzzles how their former nemesis
could rise so fast after falling so low, Russia will have the opportunity to
calmly plan its next move, and its options are growing.

In the midst of the Gas War, Russia assumed the annual presidency of the
G-8, and despite a few hollow threats, it appears that this important role
is secure.  Russia’s signal to the Western World that it is once again
ready to play hardball, this time with economic rather than military might,
has been heard loud and clear in truest halls of power in the world.

While in early January editors and politicians derided Russia for its
immaturity and unreliability in the world of international capital,
Gazprom’s shares rose 26 percent, and the forecast is for even clearer
skies in coming years.

Russia has clearly demonstrated its skill and its mercilessness by applying
a stick to Ukraine’s backside, and these lessons will not be lost as Russia
renegotiates the price of natural gas with its other former Soviet republics
and the Baltic States.

Russia has dramatically demonstrated its willingness and ability to use its
market dominance to drive its political and economic agenda with both
Eastern and Western Europe, and Russia’s gaze is turning elsewhere.

Currently a pipeline is under construction that will connect Russia and
China, the latter being the largest consumer of natural gas in the world.
And as Moscow pushes further in that direction, a new axis of power
could emerge, radically transforming geopolitics on a global level.

Far from blunder, January of 2006 will be remembered as the month the
Russian bear came out of hibernation.
   -30-
————————————————————————————————-
NOTE: Anna Parachkevova is a winner of the 2005 Phillips Foundation
Gold Journalism Award. She is currently working on a year-long book
project in Moscow. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College.
————————————————————————————————-
Contact: Anna.S.Parachkevova.04@Alum.Dartmouth.ORG
====================================================
David Johnson, Johnson’s Russia List, davidjohnson@starpower.net
www.cdi.org/russia/johnson, Project of the World Security Institute
———————————————————————————————

[return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
2.                               THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
                      A confident Kremlin is throwing its weight around.

By Owen Matthews and Stefan Theil, Newsweek International

New York, New York, Issue for January 30, 2006

No need to call in the Kremlinologists. Russia’s latest messages to the
West and its close neighbors are clear. First came the New Year’s Day gas
war, when Moscow cut gas supplies to Ukraine over a pricing dispute-and
demonstrated to the world that it was ready and willing to use energy as a
weapon.

Then came an essay from Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov entitled
“Russia Must Be Strong,” full of nuclear swagger and warnings that foreign
interference would not be tolerated in Russia’s backyard. And now, as
neighboring Belarus and Ukraine prepare for elections in March, Moscow is
doing everything in its power to ensure that wayward former satellites
return to its orbit.

Delusions of empire? Clearly, after years of weakness, a resurgent Russia
is striking back. “Russia is a very different place from the way we saw it
just three or four years ago,” says Katinka Barysch of London’s Centre for
European Reform. Its rulers believe they don’t need to defer to anyone
anymore, and the reason is obvious.

Buoyed by high oil prices, a booming economy and a hefty 7 percent
budget surplus, Moscow can afford to throw its weight around in a way
it’s been unable to do in a generation. The gas war was a slap not only to
anti-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, but also a signal to
Europe and the world at large: don’t trifle with us.

Sensing this new confidence, Europe has begun to reappraise its powerful
eastern neighbor. Last week all eyes were on the new German chancellor,
Angela Merkel, and her first Moscow meeting with President Vladimir Putin.
Eager to draw a line under her predecessor Gerhard Schroder’s cozy
relationship with Putin, she played up human rights and spoke of German
disagreement with Russia’s bloody war in Chechnya.

Pointedly, she went out of her way to meet with Russian NGOs threatened
by a repressive new law they fear will put many out of business. What’s
more, Merkel has said many times that she wants to bolster ties with
Germany’s traditionally close neighbors in Eastern Europe, who’ve been
openly critical of Schroder’s friendliness with Putin.

Yet Merkel wasn’t exactly tough, either. She “made very gentle and friendly
comments on the situation in Russia,” said Putin. The reason for the
softly-softly diplomacy? Like Schroder, Merkel must ensure continued
supplies of roughly 30 percent of Germany’s oil and gas-not to mention
safeguard trade with Russia’s booming petro-economy, an increasingly
important market for German companies from equipment-maker Siemens to
construction giant Hochtief. Thus Merkel has put the word out to her
advisers: use all channels to prevent any crisis in relations with Moscow,
including activating Schroder’s close personal ties to Putin, sources close
to the chancellor tell

The same goes for the world’s Iran diplomacy. Like Moscow or hate it,
Europe and the United States have little choice but to deal with Russia if
there’s to be any progress in the growing conflict over Tehran’s suspected
nuclear-armament plans. But while Russia’s willing enough to play the
partner, it won’t trim its strategic sails for anyone.

Late last year Moscow unsuccessfully offered Tehran a deal to enrich uranium
at a facility on Russian -soil. Rebuffed, Russia is reluctantly coming round
to referring the matter to the United Nations Security Council. But at the same
time Moscow has ignored calls from Washington to suspend a program of
building civilian power stations in Iran and has been actively marketing
missile defense systems to Tehran.

Russia’s newfound assertiveness is sharply evident in Ukraine, where the
Kremlin seeks to undermine the 2004 “Orange Revolution” that turned out a
Moscow-friendly regime and ushered in a band of West-leaning political and
economic reformers. So far, its major triumph has been to encourage Yulia
Timoshenko, the celebrated “Orange Goddess,” to turn against her former
ally Yushchenko.

Denouncing her as “anti-Russian,” Moscow all but refused to recognize her
appointment as Ukraine’s prime minister initially, pointedly citing criminal
charges pending against her (for alleged bribery of Russian Defense Ministry
officials in 1996) and effectively barring her from visiting Russia even on
official business. But when Yushchenko fired Timoshenko last September,
she was transformed overnight from an outlaw to honored guest. Charges
against her were mysteriously dropped. A visit to Moscow soon followed,
where, according to former Economy minister Sergei Terekhin, she met with
Putin privately.

Suddenly, Timoshenko became Yushchenko’s most vocal critic, accusing
him of corruptly benefiting in the deal that ended the New Year’s gas
crisis-so far without proof. (Amid the hubbub, Kiev and Moscow last Saturday

postponed signing the agreement for another week.) “We regard Yulia as our
ally,” says Sergei Markov, a Kremlin political consultant. “There is nothing anti-
Russian about her.”

Timoshenko has proved a deadly opponent for Yushchenko. The reformist
president’s parliamentary bloc, led by his Our Ukraine Party, is suffering
badly under the assault, polling only 13 percent compared with Timoshenko’s
16 percent-and, worse, trailing far behind his nemesis in the Orange
Revolution, the former prime minister under the old regime, Viktor
Yanukovych, with 31 percent.

 
If Yanukovych’s Party of the Regions wins in the coming parliamentary ballot,
he could again become prime minister or nominate his own pro-Moscow
candidate, effectively sounding the death knell for Orange hopes of political
independence from Moscow. And last week, just to remind Yushchenko
once again who’s boss, Russia suspended imports of Ukrainian meat-another
small turn of the screw.

Meanwhile, what of the EU? During the recent gas war, Brussels showed
itself powerless to help Kiev. “Ukraine hoped that Europe would threaten
Russia with sanctions,” says Markov. “That didn’t happen.” While Europe
willingly embraced the first round of Eastern European nations to break out
of the Soviet sphere, it’s clearly not going further. Preoccupied with its
own problems-high unemployment, low growth, immigration troubles-the
Union is in no mood to contemplate membership for impoverished Ukraine.

And when push comes to shove, Ukrainians know that few major European
nations will jeopardize relations with Russia. “How can we ever beat the
Russian-German economic alliance? It’s worth $36 billion a year,” says
Dmitry Vydrin, a political analyst in Kiev. As for private business, the
doors to investors may be open, but it’s not Westerners who have come in

but Russians. “They are by far the largest group of non-Ukrainian
businessmen,” says Vladimir Zubanov, a pro-Yanukovych deputy. And
with those Russian businessmen, of course, comes political influence.

In the long run, the Kremlin’s use of its energy weapon could backfire.
Russia employed the same tactics in the 1990s with the Baltics. “Cutting
off supplies and forcing us to pay market prices was the best thing that
could have happened to us,” recalls Toomas Ilves, a former Estonian foreign
minister. “It forced reforms and made us more competitive,” not to mention
more independent. But those were the days when Europe was strong and
expanding, and Russia was weak. Today those roles aren’t quite reversed,
but they are clearly very different. And Moscow is ready to take advantage.
———————————————————————————————-
With Corinna Emundts in Berlin and Anna Nemtsova in Kiev
———————————————————————————————
LINK: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10965120/site/newsweek/
———————————————————————————————
[return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
3.               THE RE-EMERGING RUSSIAN SUPERPOWER
                               Is it to be feared or welcomed?

ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: Paper By Vlad Sobell
Senior Economist, Daiwa Institute of Research, London
Johnson’s Russia List, 2006#18, Article 9
Washington, D.C., Friday, 20 January 2006

[1] The Kremlin’s unceremonious treatment of Ukraine during the recent

spat over the price of gas has revived fears of the re-emerging Russian
superpower. Indeed, it could be argued that the growing demand for energy,
along with the deepening instability in the Middle East, has decisively
altered the global balance of power in Russia’s favour. Unsurprisingly,
therefore, Western commentary has been replete with alarmist warnings
against the coming neo-imperialist bully.

[2] This paper shows that these fears are unduly dramatising the actual
situation, as Russia is merely restoring the balance, following a period of
precipitous weakness. At this point, Russia’s stance is purely defensive,
with Moscow being primarily concerned with the maintenance of federal
integrity and stability in its CIS backyard. However, this could change if
the West continues to poison relations by lecturing the Kremlin on how to
manage Russia’s internal affairs and by the promotion of so called “colour
revolutions”.

[3] We argue that the “colour revolutions” cannot be considered as genuine
democratic revolutions. This is because the underlying socio-economic
structures in Russia and the CIS ensure that a nominally democratising
regime change leads to little more than the replacement of one oligarchic
elite by another.

The West should not, therefore, be surprised if Moscow considers such
efforts chiefly as a hostile geo-political strategy, designed ultimately to
gain control over Russia’s resources. Since these revolutions lead to
chronic instability and economic decline, they are an anathema to Russia,
following the tribulations of the 1990’s.

[4] Russia is successfully evolving its own democracy and a market

economy and it will protect the stabilising gains, which have materialised
since the arrival of President Putin. Continued Western incomprehension
would damage mutual relations, with a truculent Russian bully becoming a
self-fulfilling prophecy.
               THE RE-EMERGING RUSSIAN SUPERPOWER
The tensions between Russia and Ukraine at the start of the year have
generated renewed analytical interest in Russia’s re-emerging position as a
superpower, driven chiefly by its actual, or potential, domination of the
global supplies of energy. Along with its role as a swing supplier of oil
(enabling it to manipulate the balance of power between OPEC and the
industrialised consumers), the episode has highlighted Russia’s position as
the pre-eminent supplier of gas. Russia controls a third of global proven
gas reserves, with Gazprom already becoming the dominant supplier in the
EU and Turkey, in addition to Russia’s “near abroad”, including the
energy-hungry Ukraine.

However, the drivers of Russia’s potential for becoming an energy
superpower are not limited to its own resources. An additional factor is
Russia’s near monopoly over the Central Asian export infrastructure, which
remains unbroken by the single Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline (in
operation since May 2005). Furthermore, it has been pointed out that the
continued instability in the Middle East (which some argue has been
deepened, rather than reduced, by the US invasion of Iraq) has boosted
Russia’s position as the aspiring centre of energy geopolitics.

Add to this several other key factors – such as the long-term outlook for
high energy prices, the limited ability of the US and EU to diversify their
supply sources and Russia’s growing ability to play a China and/or Iran
“card” both in energy and geopolitics – and the picture that emerges is one
of a global energy superpower, capable in many ways to counter the might
of present-day sole superpower – the United States.

Furthermore, there have been significant signs that this re-emerging
superpower also means business in the military sphere. Russia has recently
commissioned a new generation of missiles (Topol-M), capable of fitting a
nuclear warhead and able to evade current US anti-missile defence systems.
While not signalling a return to a Cold War style arms race, this
development suggests Russia is no longer willing to refrain from a bit of
old fashioned sabre rattling, when it feels the need to do so.

At the same time, Moscow has notified those who need to know of its
determination to protect its vital strategic interests. While not seeking
to become the exclusive great power player in the former Soviet Union,
Russia has let it be known that it does not regard Western interests in the
region as being on par with its own. It will therefore resist Western
incursion in the area deemed incompatible with the pursuit of legitimate
economic and political objectives.

In practice this boils down to the promotion of anti-Russian regimes in the
region, through so called “colour revolutions”. Thus, in an unusual move,
Russia’s defence minister, Sergei Ivanov has written in The Wall Street
Journal that the Kremlin’s key objective is the prevention of
Western-fomented regime changes in Russia’s “near abroad” – the CIS.
                  RUSSIA IS RETURNING TO NORMALCY
Should the world be worried? The short answer is no, not in the foreseeable
future; but ultimately perhaps yes. However, the key caveat is that what
happens in the future also depends on the evolution of the West’s own
stance towards Russia. Russia could turn more hostile if the West fails to
recognise its legitimate interests, especially the most fundamental ones,
such as its right to develop its democracy in line with its own cultural
traditions and its right to secure the integrity of the Federation.

The reason for saying “no” is that the presently unfolding restoration of
Russia’s global power is primarily defensive rather than offensive.
Although critics of President Putin’s regime tend to depict the Kremlin’s
concern over the risk of disintegration of the Russian Federation as an
excuse for “authoritarianism”, the fact remains that Russia, unlike any
other country undoubtedly has been facing such a risk. Having shed its
Soviet empire, the centrifugal process continued in the 1990’s, driven not
by the yearning for independence but chiefly by corruption and greed of
local oligarchic mafias.

Russia did not (and still does not) have a modern army able to deter a
potential aggressor, while possessing a lot of exceedingly tempting
resources on its large, and probably indefensible, territory. In addition it

has a long border along the global “arc of instability”, making it vulnerable
more than any other power to the menace of failed states and terrorism.

President Putin’s “authoritarianism”, the clampdown on Western-oriented
“democratic” oligarchs and the greater oversight over the regions may well
look like the traditional Russian paranoia over security. But from Moscow’s
point of view it is better to be paranoid than sorry, a point which surely
would be appreciated by any self-respecting Western planner.

In the Soviet period, security paranoia certainly did serve as a pretext
for imperial expansion and the promotion of communist regimes throughout
the globe. However, the critical condition making this possible was the
existence of messianic communist ideology, which held that the Soviet Union
was engaged in an irreconcilable, epic battle with the capitalist West: as
a bicycle which no longer stands upright when ceasing to move, Soviet
failure to expand, or at least maintain its imperial possessions,
immediately spelled the risk of the entire edifice crashing to the ground
(which, in fact, is what eventually happened in 1991). Today, Russia
(meaning its governing classes, not the fringe politicos) is completely
free from these impulses, with the former superpower continuing to suffer
from a post-imperial hangover.

The apparently unashamed resurgence of Russian power, therefore, is no more
than a recoiling to something resembling normalcy, following a period of
dire weakness in the aftermath of Soviet collapse in the 1990’s. Viewed
from Washington, this can conceivably be regarded as an impudent
re-assertion by a “defeated” former communist superpower, and hence a
menacing and destabilising process. However, it should more realistically
be seen as a natural and healthy development, ultimately actually helping
to underpin the global stability. A persistent weakness and/or
disintegration of the Russian Federation would hardly turn out to be
stability enhancing.
              THE PHANTOM OF “COLOUR” DEMOCRACY
It is a telling indictment of recent regime changes in the CIS (which have
occurred in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan) that they are widely being
referred to as “colour revolutions”, albeit with the strong inference that
“colour” stands for “genuinely democratic” (or at least more democratic
than the ancien regime).

 
If a revolution is being described chiefly in terms of something as superficial
as a colour (or the name of a flower), rather than in terms of an irreversible,
structural change, then it is not really a revolution. The enthusiasts for
colour revolutions may well believe that such fundamental change has taken
place, but these beliefs cannot be sufficiently solidly grounded.

Rather than deep and permanent structural change, the colour revolutions
seem to amount to little more than the replacement of one oligarchic clan
by another, while unfortunately generating a lot of instability in the
process, thereby further impoverishing the liberated masses. Even observers
sympathetic to revolutionary leaders such as President Yushchenko and
Saakashvili might admit that this seems to be the case, with Ukraine having
a particularly bad time of it since its “orange revolution” in late 2004,
as its economy and investor image have nose-dived.

Unlike the developed Western societies, where wealth is relatively well
dispersed, a condition supported by the existence of robust middle classes,
the post-Soviet societies are relatively homogeneous. At the same time,
however, they are heavily skewed, with relatively few fabulously wealthy
individuals uneasily co-existing with the impoverished populace.

This has created a situation in which politics is underpinned chiefly by
conflict among rival oligarchic clans, competing for the available streams
of revenue, rather than by the class-based political parties with competing
worldviews and ideologies. To put it crudely, politics tends to be
essentially gang warfare at its highest level of development, with rival
organisations competing for the control of the state. (Incidentally, in
this environment corruption is an inescapable way of life, rather than an
aberration; conversely, it is the absence of corruption that would be
extraordinary).

A figure such as President Yushchenko in Ukraine may well make a heroic
attempt to push his country beyond the morass of oligarchic politics. But
he has no realistic chance of success, unless he has at his disposal
impressive, Putin-style “siloviki” machinery, ready and able to deploy
methods proportionate to the task.

Since the authentic democratic change had already been accomplished in 1991
with the fall of the Soviet Union, the supposedly democratising “colour
revolutions” can achieve little more than install nominally “genuinely
democratic”, but actually anti-Russian, regimes in the countries concerned.

But whatever their orientation, they must of necessity have been mere puffs
of colourful smoke in comparison with this earthshaking event.

This is not to deny that post-Soviet countries with seriously oppressive
regimes, such as Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and, to a lesser extent, Belarus
do not face the potential for genuine revolutionary change. However, even
in these cases it needs to be acknowledged that regime changes would
inevitably bring chronic instability and/or disintegrative pressure (as in
the case of Iraq, now held together by external intervention, rather than
Saddam Hussein’s terror).
               THE PERILS OF DEMOCRATIC ORTHODOXY
Since countries are (rightly) recognised as having genuine democracy only
when they meet a raft of universally valid criteria, it tends to be assumed
that these exacting standards cannot be met unless countries closely
replicate the models, which have delivered the originals in the first
place. Over time this has matured into a near-orthodoxy, which holds that
the surest path to genuinely democratic outcome is the closest possible
adherence to the Western path – which in practice tends to mean the US

path.

In a similar vein, it is believed that a country can be classed as
democratic even if it actually fails to meet these standards, simply
because it has (for one reason or another) managed to secure a sanction

by the West/US.

In the real world, such attributes of “quality approval” tend to be
dispensed to geo-politically friendly regimes, such as the “colour regimes”

in the former Soviet Union, while being denied to regimes deemed hostile,
or indifferent, to Western interests. “Democratic” thus becomes
synonymous with “Western-oriented” and vice versa.

This kind of thinking and conduct is not only misguided, it is in fact
dangerous. It is misguided because it rules out the possibility that the
same, if not superior, democratic outcomes can eventually be produced by
alternative means, and that genuine democracy can evolve through different
genealogical paths. It is commonplace (for example in engineering or
architecture) that there are different, in fact multiple, solutions to the
same problem, while natural selection is replete with examples of same
complex functions (such as the eye-sight) being delivered by radically
different methods and systems. The imposition of orthodoxy forestalls the
beneficial, free competition among the different solutions and delivery
systems.

The orthodoxy is dangerous because it creates opportunities and incentives
for abuse by the democratic metropolis, with cultural and/or political
imperialism being often concealed under the guise of the promotion of
democracy.
                        RUSSIA’S DEMOCRATIC EVOLUTION
These considerations are significant in the Russian context, as the
building of Russia’s democracy clearly necessitates unorthodox, “out of
the box” thinking and practice, ready to consider alternative and novel
solutions.

Since Russia has traversed a very different path from those of
Western Europe and the US, its political and cultural “genetic make-up” is
too different for it to qualify as the same species (although it remains
closely related to them). This is due to a variety of historical and
geo-political factors, including the Christian schism (with Russia falling
into the Orthodox, rather than the Roman Catholic camp), the Tartar
conquest, Tsarist absolutism and last but not the least the seven decades
of Soviet totalitarianism.

This does not mean that, as is frequently argued, these differences prevent
Russia from developing its own version of democracy. It simply means that
in order to build genuine, truly functioning democracy, Russia must pursue
its own path and must be left at liberty to do so.

Although the Putin regime has been patiently repeating this mantra, its
efforts have unfortunately been ridiculed by mainstream Western commentary,
influential pundits and politicians. It has been assumed that, just because
the Russian progression (inevitably) follows a path not previously trodden,
or not demarcated for it by the West, Russia must be going in circles,
forever stuck in sterile authoritarianism.

Whenever the regime takes steps to ensure stability and federal integrity,
the move is automatically depicted as “increasing authoritarianism”. (At
the same time, the absence of such steps would surely be seen as the failure
to rein in chaos, as was the case with Yeltsin’s Russia in the 1990’s).
Similarly, the defence of legitimate geo-political and economic interests
(such as in the case of Gazprom’s spat with Ukraine) is immediately
interpreted as nothing but crude neo-imperialism.

Yet Russia has unmistakably taken significant strides towards democracy,
and is now light years away from the repressive Soviet system.

Democracy as a system of governance or political culture, is made up of so
numerous building blocks and components, that it would be impossible to
form a consensus as to which is the single most important one. Indeed,
democracy is more than a simple sum of all these constituents, being a
system, as well as an environment, to which they all contribute in their
unique ways.

Nevertheless, for the present purpose it may be possible to suggest that
the irreducible, bottom line of a functioning democracy, is the
population’s ability to peacefully remove a deeply unpopular or widely
hated leader/regime. The other standard trappings of democracy (such as
the free media, judicial independence and the rule of law, competing
political parties and so on) may well be very important, but they are not
indispensable in this ultimate democratic act. (As long as the fundamentals
are in place, the other trappings are bound to prosper, sooner or later).

Whatever one might say about Putin’s “authoritarianism”, it would be
impossible to credibly argue that the president and his regime are in
office against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the population.
In fact, the situation is exactly the reverse, with the president (if not
his government ministers) persistently enjoying very high popularity
ratings.

The exponents of the authoritarian school like to point to alleged
anti-democratic machinations (the use of so called “administrative
resources”, the clamp-down on the opposition and the media and so on).

However, it would stretch anyone’s imagination to believe that these
methods would succeed in compelling the majority of the electorate to
re-elect Putin in 2004 against their wishes. Such a feat would necessitate
terror and propaganda systems equal to those created by Joseph Stalin.

Even granted that no credible rival to Putin emerged (or was allowed to
emerge by the regime), the fact remains that the Russian electorate
exercised a form of plebiscite – it had the option to abstain from voting,
or voting in favour of Putin’s competitors, however unimpressive they may
have been. The electorate will have another opportunity to exercise this
democratic power in 2008, when Putin must leave office.

Furthermore, Putin’s regime, and the political environment the regime has
created, do not inhibit the growth of the middle class and the development
of social stratification conducive to the evolution of civic culture and,
eventually, of genuine political parties representing these diverse
interests.

On the contrary, the regime is promoting such evolution, as it
understands that this is the only guarantee of economic health and
political stability in the long run. The sceptics might argue that these
are mere declarations, with the reality being very different. But, again,
the prevention of social stratification would necessitate the return to the
hugely repressive Soviet system and its destructive, levelling ideology –
which clearly is not happening.

Ultimately, genuine civic culture cannot be somehow manufactured from
above. It has to develop spontaneously from below, and gradually
appropriate political power and responsibility regardless of the wishes of
those at the top.

It is, therefore, reasonable to assume that, as Russia’s socio-economic
structure grows more complex and sophisticated – an outcome no dictator
can prevent – its civic culture will gradually supplant the present day
oligarchic mafias, with class-based political parties making the system
sufficiently balanced and self-sustaining.
THE KREMLIN’S “COLOUR AVERSION” IS UNDERSTANDABLE
Those who recognise the above description of Putin’s Russia as being closer
to reality than the opposing interpretation (namely, that the regime is
building an indiscriminately repressive apparatus, in the service of its
corrupt private interests) would surely understand that Moscow is bound to
resist destabilising “colour revolutions” not only in Russia, but also in
its backyard.

They might also understand that the regime will try its best to protect
Russia’s internal stability, even if these moves appear as authoritarian.
For example, given the regime’s conviction (whether or not misguided) that
such senseless instability is to some extent fuelled by externally financed
NGO’s, it is not surprising that it has taken steps to monitor and regulate
these organisations’ activities and sources of finance.
                RUSSIA’S POTENTIAL FOR ABUSING THE
                          ENERGY WEAPON IS LIMITED
Russia’s return as a serious global player noted at the outset should be
seen in the context of these considerations. Although its economy has been
growing at a fast pace, it suffers from serious structural distortions,
with economic welfare destined to remain well below the developed Western
countries in the foreseeable future. While enjoying areas of excellence
(such as the weapons’ production or aerospace), Russia lags technologically
behind the West in most other areas, and will continue to do so.

Under these circumstances, the Kremlin is bound to remain preoccupied
with the preservation of the Federation’s integrity and security, not
imperial expansion. Russia actually is not a budding superpower – it is

merely a former superpower re-emerging as a credible, equal partner of
the other global powers – the US, EU and China.

Like any other power in its predicament, Russia is undoubtedly using its
“energy weapon” to the best of its ability to advance its geo-political
interests. It could hardly be doing the opposite – unless the world has
entered a blissful state of all-round altruism. Yet even with its control
over CIS transport infrastructure and influence over the use of CIS
resources, there is a limit on how far, and how effectively, this weapon
can be used.

Over the long term, the markets will tend towards a broad balance between
the supplier and consumer – excessive Russian power, and/or an abuse of
that power for geo-political ends, would accelerate efforts to diversify
supplies and/or develop alternative sources of energy.

It must also be remembered that, while the consumer becomes dependent on
supplies, the seller gets accustomed to the inflows of revenue. Ultimately,
it is in Russia’s, as well as the West’s, best interests that the
relationship is balanced and well insulated from potential abuse, with each
party having in place a diversified system of buyers/suppliers.
               RUSSIA’S RE-EMERGENCE IS A CORRECTION
                         THAT SHOULD BE WELCOMED
It is in Western interest to accept – in fact, to welcome – the
re-emergence of Russia as a Euro-Asian power, even if it means having to
deal with a difficult and un-obliging Moscow. Surely, internal and external
weakness in the large territory of the Russian Federation, with its
considerable natural resources and energy, would spell global instability
in the long run. Power vacuum is a potentially destabilising and dangerous
condition.

It is conceivable that Western and domestic proponents of “colour
revolutions” in the CIS, and eventually in Russia itself, might have
precisely these objectives in mind. That is to say, that, under the guise
of “genuine democracy”, Russia and the CIS become governed by oligarchies
taking cues from the Western capitals, ultimately from Washington. This, at
any rate, is how Moscow sees it – not without some justification. If this
is the case, then the world could indeed be faced with an increasingly
suspicious and hostile Russia, ready to use its energy weapon in anger,
while allocating more of its windfall proceeds to re-armament.

The present analysis has argued that major, self-contained civilisations
such as Russia (or China), can build democracy only by their own internal
dynamics. It has also pointed out that identical, if not ultimately
superior, outcomes may materialise through unorthodox paths and systems.

The fear of the resurgent Russian bully stems from the disbelief that this
can be the case. It also stems from the fear of the unknown, as never in
modern history has the world had to deal with a former totalitarian
superpower, returning to the stage as a fundamentally reconstructed, but
increasingly confident, player.

As long as these Western fears and incredulity persist, and as long as they
continue to translate into pressure for a “colour revolution” in Moscow,
the Russia-Western relationship will remain poisoned by mutual distrust.
The re-emergence of the Russian bully could then become a self-fulfilling
prophecy.  -30-   

————————————————————————————————-
Contact: vlad.sobell@dir.co.uk
LINK: http://www.russiaprofile.org/cdi/2006/1/20/3094.wbp
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4.                                 RUSSIA MUST BE STRONG

COMMENTARY: By Sergei Ivanov, Deputy Prime Minister
and Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation
The Wall Street Journal, NY, NY, Wed, Jan 11, 2006, Page A14

MOSCOW — National security is a crucial task for Russia, a country so
greatly endowed with territory and natural resources. Our military strategy
is, therefore, focused on creating the ability to respond to the external,
internal and cross-border challenges of the 21st century.

We have seen a steady trend pointing at a broader scope of use of military
force recently, not least because more challenges to national security have
emerged. Chief among them is interference in Russia’s internal affairs by
foreign states — either directly or through structures that they support —
and the attempts of some countries, coalitions and extremist terrorist
organizations to develop or gain access to weapons of mass destruction.

We must also be prepared for the possibility of a violent assault on the
constitutional order of some post-Soviet states and the border instability
that might ensue from that. Arms and drugs trafficking and other kinds of
cross-border criminal activity must be closely watched.

None of these threats shows any sign of abating. Everyone knows that
when it comes to war and conflict-prevention, Russia always goes first
for political, diplomatic, economic and other nonmilitary means. But
maintaining a robust military capability is clearly in our national
interests.

The primary task for the armed forces is to prevent conventional and nuclear
aggression against Russia. Hence our firm commitment to the principle of
pre-emption. We define pre-emption not only as a capability to deliver
strikes on terrorist groups but as other measures designed to prevent a
threat from emerging long before there is a need to confront it. This is the
guiding principle of the profound and comprehensive modernization of our
armed forces. The actual level of combat readiness and effectiveness hinges
on how successful this upgrade will be.

Russia is not itching for a future war. War is never by choice. Right now,
there is no conflict or dispute outside the country that could be seen as a
direct military threat. However, to ignore the future is irresponsible. We
need to look several moves ahead — on all levels, from future military
planning to a strategic vision of the future of armed conflict. We need to
consider the implications of the so-called “uncertainty factor” as well as
of the high level of existing threats.

By uncertainty we mean a political or military-political conflict or process
that has a potential to pose a direct threat to Russia’s security, or to
change the geopolitical reality in a region of Russia’s strategic interest.

Our top concern is the internal situation in some members of the
Commonwealth of Independent States, the club of former Soviet republics,
and the regions around them.

What would a modern fighting force look like? Our best option is a mobile
force in which the air, and probably space, component will be a decisive
factor in success. What is also clear is that the winner in a future war
will be capable of forming an integrated, real-time intelligence picture and
be able to adjust plans for the use of military power in real time in
accordance with a rapidly changing environment.

In short, Russia needs a military ready to deal with an armed conflict of
any conceivable kind and prevent any aggression or power play against us

and our allies. We understand that solving all problems related to the
modernization of the armed forces will take time. The Military Development
Plan for 2006-2010 is being devised right now, but the top priorities are
already clear.

[1] The first is to maintain and develop a strategic deterrent capability
minimally sufficient for guaranteed repulsion of contemporary and future
military threats. At the end of last year, we deployed another strategic
missile regiment armed with silo-based Topol-M (SS-27) systems; more road
mobile Topol-Ms (SS-X-27), currently unmatched by world rivals, this year;
and the Project 955 Borei Yury Dolgoruky strategic nuclear-powered submarine
armed with the Bulava-30 (SS-NX-30) sea-launched ballistic missiles within
several years. And this is just the top of the list.

Needless to say, these are not aimed at any particular target. We have
always honored our commitments and will do so in the future, including those

made in line with treaties and agreements made with the U.S. on reductions
and limitations of strategic offensive weapons, which stipulate a reduction of
our nuclear capability to 1,700-2,200 warheads.

At the same time, Russia does not intend to give up its nuclear capability
as it is still a key deterrent and a crucial instrument in protecting our
national interests and achieving certain political objectives.

[2] The second priority is the development of conventional forces —
high-alert units in the army, air force, navy and airborne force, manned
only by professional soldiers, that will form the backbone of deployable
task forces. These are being upgraded with airlift capabilities. All this
explains the need for rearmament, new military acquisitions, support for
R&D projects, and the optimization of the national defense industry to
find a balance between a commitment to arm the Russian military and an
opportunity to export arms to countries not subject to U.N. sanctions.

[3] The third priority is the development of combat training. In the Russian
armed forces, the number and level of large-scale exercises has grown to
more than 50 this year. The most significant were tactical and theater-level
exercises in the Russian Far East, Central Asia, China and India that
enabled our military to network with foreign counterparts in simulating
counterterrorist and other peacetime operations. We will continue to hold
joint exercises with countries interested in global stability, including
partners from the Atlantic Alliance, the Collective Security Treaty
Organization and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. We are also
ready to run peacekeeping operations mandated by the UN or CIS.

We are not saber-rattlers. Russia’s political and military leaders perceive
the use of force as a last resort, to be used only when and if all other
channels are hopelessly congested. Cooperation with international
institutions helps promote a foreign policy agenda, though unfortunately it
does not provide absolute security guarantees. For those, a state needs a
highly effective military capability. Russia deserves a fighting force of
the 21st century, a force that will look into the future but will at the
same time continue its glorious military tradition.  -30-
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5. REMEMBRANCE: MERSHIEWSKY SURVIVED SOVIET-ERA STRIFE
      Bolshevik Revolution, Terror-Famine, Persecution, German labor camp
       The only song she learned to sing in English was “God Bless America.”

By Jan Jonas, Tribune Reporter, Albuquerque Tribune
Albuquerque, New Mexico, Saturday, January 21, 2006

When Natalia Mershiewsky left Eastern Europe in 1950, she carried a tan U.S.
Army surplus trunk lined with newspapers printed in Ukraine. In 1961, she
received her citizenship papers signed by President Kennedy. The only song
she learned to sing in English was “God Bless America.”

On Jan. 10, Natasha, as she liked to be called during the last few years of
her life, died in her sleep at Casa de Reina in the Northeast Heights. She
was 93. Mershiewsky had survived the Bolshevik Revolution, the Terror
Famine in Ukraine, a life of religious persecution and a German labor camp.
She practiced her faith in God no matter where she was.

Born Aug. 26, 1912, in Kharkhov in the Russian empire, Natalia Saveliovna
Khatshchenka Mershiewsky arrived during the reign of Tsar Nicholas II. As a
girl, the Bolshevik Revolution and subsequent formation of the Soviet Union
was the first of several events that dashed her from one horrific situation
to another, said the Rev. Chris Zugger.

He became a close friend of Mershiewsky in the last 20 years after he
became leader of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Byzantine Church, where
she worshipped beginning in 1974, when the church started.

From 1929 to 1932, Josef Stalin forced peasants living in Ukraine, then
called the “bread basket of Europe,” to give their grain to the government.
Historians differ on his motive, but the result was the Terror Famine,
during which at least 5 million people died of starvation. Some estimates
are as high as 10 million to 14 million.

Mershiewsky was rescued by Armenians who lived in Kharkhov. She was
taken to Armenia but returned to her hometown in the late 1930s.

The population of Kharkhov was about 500,000 then. Only one Orthodox
church had survived the Communist persecution. She and her sister, Vera,
would ride three street-car lines to attend liturgy.

Communist party members often stood outside the church, spitting, cursing
and singing obscene songs during the service. “God was very important to
her,” Zugger said. “Communion was very important to her.”

Mershiewsky survived those years only to be propelled into World War II.
Her two brothers were conscripted into the Red Army in June 1941 and killed
in the Battle of Kursk in 1943.

As the Germans moved into Ukraine, gangs of SS members would storm
through the city, slaughtering Jews in the streets. They were not so
delicate as to send them to concentration camps. They killed all they could
find, Zugger said. “It left a terrible impression on her,” Zugger said.

In 1943, a few months before her brothers died, Mershiewsky received a
notice to report to the Gestapo. Because refusing would be dangerous to
family members, Mershiewsky did as she was told.

She was put into a box car on a train with a few thousand other women and
men and taken to a labor camp in northern Germany.

She was put into barracks with others from the Soviet Union and Poland.
She told Zugger the building was rundown and snow would come through
the roof and walls. Some of her fellow laborers froze to death.

As the war wound down, people in the camp thought they would be killed
like the Jews, but British troops liberated Mershiewsky’s camp.

She was about to be forced into another situation. About 8 million people
had Soviet citizenship. Stalin wanted them repatriated, so the Americans and
British forced them back into the Soviet Union. Mershiewsky had married a
man with Polish papers. That protected her.

In 1950, as part of a United Nations refugee program, she and her husband
came to America to live in Arizona and later New Mexico. Within five years
after her first husband’s death, she married Alex Mershiewsky in
Albuquerque.

Both were widowed. Zugger said Mershiewsky had come to her one day and
said: “God says in the Bible it is not good for man to be alone. I am alone.
I want to marry you.” After her husband’s death in 1989, she remained a
widow. She had no children.

When Natalia Mershiewsky arrived in America with her
3-foot-by-18-inch-by-8-inch trunk, she carried a few clothes, some religious
icons and her prayer book. It was all she had.

At the end of services for her, the congregation sang “God Bless America.”
The small, worn, black prayer book printed in Russian was buried with her
on Jan. 13.   -30-
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http://www.abqtrib.com/albq/nw_local/article/0,2564,ALBQ_19858_4405713,00.html
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6.                                  BETTING ON A GUSHER
Putin believes he can transform Gazprom into a world-class energy company.

By Owen Matthews, Newsweek, New York, NY, Jan. 30, 2006 issue

Vladimir Putin is betting big on oil and gas. for the first time in its
40-year history, the state gas giant Gazprom plans to allow foreign
investors to buy its stock directly, perhaps as early as the end of January,
on the St. Petersburg Stock Exchange.

This month’s offer was to be the first step in a campaign to make Gazprom
the ExxonMobil of Russia, one of the world’s great energy companies.
Indeed, Putin had installed his old friend Alexey Miller, 43, as CEO of
Gazprom in 2001, with a mandate to rid the former state monopoly of the
privateering, corruption and cronyism that had overtaken it after the fall
of the Soviet Union. And Miller and his new lieutenants have vowed to

make Gazprom “the largest energy business in the world” by 2010.

It certainly has the potential. Gazprom is the top global supplier of
natural gas, controlling 16 percent of the known reserves, and a top-20 oil
company. It’s aggressively expanding into lucrative new markets in Western
Europe with a $5 billion new pipeline project under the Baltic, and eying
schemes to export liquid gas to the United States.

Just two weeks ago Gazprom shares rose 23 percent, on news of rising world
energy prices. Yet even so, its market capitalization is just $1.3 million
per billion barrels of proven reserves (compared with $17 million at
ExxonMobil), making it one of the cheapest energy stocks in the world.

The Gazprom discount is a function of politics and Putin. Investors will
remain wary so long as he treats Gazprom above all as a tool for enforcing
his political will, rather than a real private company, in the Western
sense. For all Putin’s efforts to reform Gazprom, a recent spat with Ukraine
demonstrated that the company is still run as a branch of the Kremlin.

On New Year’s Day, in an attempt to force Ukraine to pay full European
market prices for its gas-and, diplomats say, to punish the Orange
Revolution that brought an anti-Russian team to power in Kiev-Gazprom shut
off Ukraine’s gas supplies. European customers farther down the pipeline
immediately felt the pressure drop and complained loudly. Within days a
complex deal with Ukraine restored pressure, and though both sides claimed
victory, the damage was done.

Russia’s reputation as a reliable energy partner was shaken-and with it,
Gazprom’s ambition to become the country’s first brand-name multinational in
good global standing. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice criticized
Russia for the “politically motivated” cutoff and warned that if Moscow
wants to be “a part of the international economy” it should “play by its
rules.”

Gazprom says that’s unfair. “It would be naive to think that economic issues
can be separate from politics,” says Alexandr Medvedev, Gazprom’s deputy
CEO. “Lenin used to say that politics is a concentrated expression of
economics.”

Perhaps. But most investors hardly see Lenin, the late father of Soviet
communism, as a guiding light for modern multinationals. “Can you imagine
ExxonMobil or Chevron switching off the pump to Canada or Mexico because
these countries disagreed with Bush on Iraq?” asks Karina Litvack, head of
governance at F&C Asset Management in London. Gazprom is about to go on
worldwide sale at a time when its senior managers seem sharply at odds with
the free-market world view that dominates global financial markets.

Putin has been trying to have it both ways, pushing Gazprom to attract
foreign money without loosening Kremlin control. Miller, an economics Ph.D.,
worked alongside Putin in the early 1990s in the office of leading reformer
Anatoly Sobchak, then the mayor of St. Petersburg.

Ever since, say investors, Miller’s been doing a good job of cleaning up the
monopoly’s endemic corruption and inefficiency, stamping out the kind of
asset stripping that placed Gazprom execs among Russia’s richest men. And
Miller is popular among the new generation of Westernized young managers
he brought in with him-several have framed beer ads on the walls of their
offices in Gazprom’s giant skyscraper on the outskirts of Moscow,
proclaiming it’s miller time!

But according to a source close to the Gazprom senior management, who did
not wish to speak on the record, Miller couldn’t have tackled the old
Gazprom regime on his own; Putin also had a hands-on role in the makeover:
“Putin runs Gazprom in critical situations, and makes many of the day-to-day
decisions too.” All top managers have been personally appointed by Putin,
and all major projects, especially those involving negotiations with Europe,
are Kremlin-approved.

Putin has also begun to seek out famous Western names to help make over the
image of Russian energy businesses: former U.S. Commerce secretary Donald
Evans turned down an offer, but former German chancellor Gerhard Schroder
now heads a Baltic pipeline project for Gazprom.

According to a source close to Gazprom, Schroder was in regular touch with
Putin through the Ukraine crisis, and even placed calls to Polish President
Aleksander Kwasniewski and Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko to urge a
speedy resolution.

To Vadim Kleiner of Hermitage Capital Management, the biggest current
foreign investor in Gazprom, the Kremlin role is both perfectly legit, since
the state remains the largest shareholder, and an improvement over the old
Gazprom regime, which managed the company “as a private vehicle for benefits
and assets divestitures to the relatives of management.”

Now, reckons Eric Kraus, the American chief strategist at Moscow-based
SovlinkSecurities, Gazprom “is increasingly being run as a for-profit
operation.” Miller has launched a legal campaign to regain gas fields lost
by Gazprom in dodgy sell-offs between 1997 and 2001; so far, nearly three
quarters of the lost assets have been recovered. And gas supplies to
international clients (other than Ukraine) are now delivered directly by
Gazprom, rather than by shady middlemen as in the past.

Overall, the company is “speeding up the move toward getting full market
value for its gas in the former Soviet markets,” says Anatoly Romanovsky,
Hermitage’s investment director.

Russian investors certainly agree-corporate Moscow is rolling in oil
dividends, and a lot of those rubles have been pouring into Gazprom. The
company’s shares have risen from 51 cents to $8.44 since 2000, and spiked
recently due in part to Russia-based investors’ buying the stock in
anticipation of the first broad sales to foreigners, says Pharos Russia Fund
president Peter Halloran.

Mainly, says Halloran, “everyone wants to be in energy stocks now.” Gazprom
stock is now available to foreigners through special American Depository
Receipts issued by the Bank of New York, but will soon go on sale through
St. Petersburg and ultimately on international exchanges such as London.

Not so long ago Gazprom seemed an unlikely candidate for foreign sales of
any kind. Considered a Russian national treasure and strategic asset, it was
defended by a “ring fence” of protectionist barriers, backed by the
increasingly nationalist regime of President Putin (who reportedly aspires
to lead Gazprom when he retires). Yet the ring fence was recently ripped
down, out of necessity.

Though Gazprom has begun to talk of charging market rates, less than a
quarter of its gas is now sold at the market price of about $230 per
thousand cubic meters. The rest is sold cheaply inside Russia and former
Soviet republics, and Gazprom needs money. Simply to maintain current
output, Gazprom officials say, they will need foreign investment of $173
billion to $203 billion over the next 15 years.

It’s still not clear how much foreign money will be forthcoming. There are
plenty of doubters. Roland Nash, chief strategist at Renaissance Capital in
Moscow, says the market has priced in the “ring-fence removal,” leaving
Gazprom poised for a fall: “The company has a lot of issues, such as huge
cost overheads which it has been unable to cut.”

Jerome Guillet, a banker who worked with Gazprom in the 1990s, says the deal
with Ukraine “is obviously shady” because Ukraine will buy not from Gazprom
but from RusUkrEnergo, the last in a line of shell companies that traded on
the difference between low gas prices in the former Soviet Union and the
higher European price. “What is obvious is that these deals are not driven
by the best interests of Gazprom or of Russia, but by the interests of
people in power in both” Russia and Ukraine, says Guillet.

Those doubts are mirrored by Western governments. European energy

officials are rethinking their growing reliance on natural gas, and Russia as
their gas supplier of choice. Many Europeans note that Putin, the 2006
chairman of the G8 group of industrialized nations, wants energy security to
top this year’s G8 agenda.

But energy markets won’t be more secure if Gazprom remains a political
cudgel for the Kremlin. Gazprom officials complain that their embargo on
Ukraine was misunderstood-all they wanted was a fair market price-but even
investors who are buying the stock don’t buy that argument. How can they,
when Putin still calls the final shots? (With Anna Nemtsova in Moscow)
———————————————————————————————-
LINK: http://msnbc.msn.com/id/10947039/site/newsweek/
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7.                                       TROJAN GAS
   Commentary on influence of Russian gas in Lithuania, Ukraine, Europe

COMMENTARY: By Valdas Vasiliauskas
Lithuanian Television, Vilnius, in Lithuanian 1013 gmt 16 Jan 06
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Friday, Jan 20, 2006

There is a strange war, which has been going on for a year, but has not been
noticed by society. Lithuanian people do not care about it. In other words,
it does not matter who wins – heating prices will not go down. They can only
go up.

The Labour Party (DP) has already forgotten its promise to lower the cost of
heating by 20 per cent. Now it is only concerned about the excessive fees of
Gazprom’s intermediaries in Lithuania. That is why the Natural Gas Bill,
which allegedly is meant for regulating gas prices, is being pushed.

The silent, unannounced war over the Natural Gas Act amendments began
between [Prime Minister] Brazauskas and [Labour Party Leader] Uspaskich

last spring and produced the first crack in the concrete block of the ruling
coalition. During the summer, Uspaskich was attacked by problems that
ended in his resignation from government posts.

It looks as if the Labour Party’s leader bought the story that Gazprom’s
representatives in Lithuania are behind these scandals, and the initiators
of the amendments started targeting their profits.

Now, after resting and regrouping, Uspaskich started to tackle this law,
which became the war hatchet. Does society profit from this fighting? Maybe
it is merely a fight between two predatory interest groups, who are fighting
like hungry rats?

It is similar to the situation in Ukraine, where the “gas princess,” Yulia
Timoshenko, succeeded in creating a constitutional crisis. The former prime
minister of Ukraine, who has been chased away from the gas pipe, is now
playing a destructive role in Kiev, just as Kazimiera Prunskiene [Lithuanian
agriculture minister] did in 1990-1991 in Vilnius – the same mysterious
visits to Moscow, sneaky stabs in the back of the country’s leader.

Of course, no one could say that the natural gas supply agreement between
Russia and Ukraine is transparent or at least easy to understand. Where did
the intermediary, RosUkrEnergo, which is controlled by Russia’s
Gazprombank together with an Austrian bank, come from? Why could not
Gazprom sell the cheaper Central Asian natural gas to Ukraine directly,
without any intermediaries?

We could answer this question if we knew why Gazprom needs the
intermediary – Dujotekana – in Lithuania. Because the Kremlin has always
been a fan of the unitarian state, it uses the same methods everywhere.

The same corrupt system of kickbacks exists in Lithuania. In Ukraine. In
Central Asia. Now it seems, in Western Europe, too. It is no accident that
Putin’s daughters Katiusha and Masha vacation with the kids of Italian Prime
Minister Sylvio Berlusconi, and the Kremlin host’s personal property has
been equated to the property of the British Queen.

Is it not the same threat that the great Ronald Reagan, the US president who
died in 2004, discerned 20 years ago? The then Big Seven (G-7) met in 1985
and debated how to diversify the energy sector by replacing oil with natural
gas, thus reducing dependence on OPEC’s dictatorship.

Reagan, however, categorically rejected this plan of the Europeans, because
the purchasing of the Soviet Union’s natural gas would have to be increased.

He rejected it not only because gas would have improved the deteriorating
financial situation of the “evil empire.” Already back then, in 1985, Reagan
warned about Moscow’s plans to make Europe dependent on cheap gas.

For that reason, Reagan used an embargo of the American natural gas drilling
technologies against the Soviet Union. He also forbade the European partners
to sell gas-drilling machinery if it contained American-made components.
Back then, in 1985, the United States, for the very first time, seriously
disagreed with its allies in Europe.

It is worth remembering that the same year KGB Major Vladimir Putin was sent
from Leningrad to Dresden and welder Viktor Uspaskich was transferred from
Belarus to Lithuania to construct a pipeline in the Panevezys Region. Later
he was transferred to Finland to make that country addicted to Russian gas,
too.

After the Russo-Ukrainian gas war, the Europeans realized that cheap Russian
gas is Trojan gas. Did they wake up too late? If Europe had heeded Reagan’s
warning about this Trojan horse, Lithuania would not have the problem of
Uspaskich and the Labour Party today. Approval of the Natural Gas Act and
the [proposed] Informatics Ministry would signal Uspaskich’s entrenchment in
Lithuania.
  -30-
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8.                                      KREMLIN OLIGARCHS

EDITORIAL: Wall Street Journal Europe, NY, NY, Fri, Jan 20, 2006

On taking power, Vladimir Putin promised to strengthen rule of law and to
fight corruption. The Russian President hasn’t exactly made progress on
either front. But the Kremlin did manage to hobble some of its leading
private businessmen (a.k.a. the infamous “oligarchs”) and reassert its
control over the economy.

Six years into the Putin era, the oil, gas, media and metals sectors are
dominated by the state. Interestingly, new revelations suggest a connection
between one of Mr. Putin’s close associates and a struggle for control of
the country’s phone industry.

Last month, the Journal reported allegations that Telecommunications
Minister Leonid Reiman helped a Bermuda-based mutual fund gain control
over a string of Russian telecommunications assets worth over $1 billion.
Mr. Reiman at the time called the allegations reported by the Journal
“incorrect” and “false.”

The Bermuda entity, IPOC International Growth Fund, Ltd,, is being
investigated in Western Europe in connection with possible money
laundering. That grew out of its dispute with Russia’s Alfa Group over
control of a stake in Russia’s third largest telecom, OAO Megafon.

Yesterday, the Journal reported that records obtained by a German
prosecutor show that Mr. Reiman’s own lawyers have admitted that Mr.
Reiman is the true owner of IPOC and stands to gain financially from
companies accused of stripping Russian telecom assets. Mr. Reiman is
not charged with any crime. Investigators are probing the possible role
played by Commerzbank and others in facilitating the complex transfer
of funds from Russia through a series of offshore havens to Bermuda.

A close friend and confidante of Mr. Putin back from St. Petersburg, Mr.
Reiman followed the future President to Moscow in 1999, and soon took
up the top government post overseeing the telecommunications sector.

If the information uncovered in the international laundering probes is
accurate, one can fairly say that contrary to conventional wisdom, the
Putin government does tolerate oligarchs — so long as they’re on its own
payroll
.  -30-
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9.                                  RUSSIA IS IN RETREAT
Gas blockade fiasco highlighted the march of the west into eastern Europe 
     and beyond. Someone is still fighting the cold war, but it isn’t Russia.

ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: By Mark Almond, The Guardian
London, United Kingdom, Saturday January 21, 2006

What did you do during the new cold war? Blink and you missed it. On New
Year’s Day, Russia was an energy superpower with its icy grip around western
Europe’s gas pipes. Alarmist strategists reported that Moscow was on the
march. Estonia or Poland may be in Nato and the EU, but they were perilously
vulnerable to energy blackmail. The Russian president was portrayed as a
judo blackbelt with a chess grandmaster’s geostrategic grasp.

The murky Swiss-based arrangements for divvying up the compromise price
agreed between Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled gas company, and its
Ukrainian partners cannot disguise the reality that Russia lost out in the
quarrel. The EU rallied against its major energy partner, and behind
Washington.

Despite Vladimir Putin’s climbdown, inveterate cold warriors warn that every
step back by the Kremlin is a prelude to a lunge for the west’s throat. Once
it was Stalinists who saw every western action as sinister. Sixty years ago,
Averell Harriman, the US ambassador to Moscow, asked the diplomat Maxim
Litvinov what the American government could do to reassure the Soviets of
its intentions and got the reply: “Nothing.”

Today, victorious cold warriors refuse to accept the Soviet Union collapsed
under Gorbachev. By portraying Putin as a terrifying spook, they have
elevated a minor KGB operative into Karla with nobs on. The real reason for
Putin’s rise was his diligent service with the corrupt mayor of St
Petersburg, Anatoly Sobchak, and then Boris Yeltsin’s “family”.

Many Russians hoped for something better after the years of decline under
Gorbachev and Yeltsin. But, though Putin has paid pensioners and teachers on
time, Russia has continued its geopolitical shrinkage under his rule. Every
time there is a crisis in the former Soviet Union, we hear dark warnings of
Brezhnev-style interventions – and each time the anti-Russian side wins.
Think back to the Rose revolution in Georgia in 2003, or to Ukraine in 2004,
or to Kyrgyzstan last year.

A Russian friend joked ruefully that in the 90s Russians had got used to
Yeltsin blustering against western double standards after a few doubles. But
at least he was a drunken clown. To be ruled by a sober clown such as Putin
is beyond a joke.

Many ordinary Russians had hoped to see in Putin what western neocons

claim to fear: a cold-eyed defender of Russia’s national interest, playing the
Great Game for his country rather than his cronies’ bank accounts.

The fiasco of Russia’s gas blockade of Ukraine suggest he is no poker
player. If he thought possession of gas and oil reserves would give Russia
the whip hand, he miscalculated basic realities.

Iraq’s bitter experience before and since 2003 shows that fossil fuels are
no use if you cannot export them. Export or die is the watchword of
energy-rich states. Insurgent attacks on pipelines in Iraq reminded America
that Kiev, not the Kremlin, controls the bottleneck of Russian energy
exports.

Ukraine’s Orange revolutionaries repaid their western sponsors by switching
the direction of the Odessa-Brody pipeline to suit US strategy last year.
Around the same time, America and Britain were gloating over the completion
of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline that cut Russia out of Caspian oil exports.

Next they announced a trans-Caspian pipeline to suck central Asia’s gas
westwards without passing through Russia, let alone paying Putin transit
fees.

The west is making the running in global pipeline politics, not the
Russians. In reality, the west advances as Russian troops retreat from the
Caucasus and central Asia. Gazprom is upping prices to ex-Soviet republics
to compensate for Moscow’s loss of geopolitical clout.

The new Russian elite craves acceptance by the west, which is why hosting
the G8 summit in his native St Petersburg is so important to Putin. He
visibly preens himself when he is with George Bush. Scarcely veiled threats
from America to cancel Russia’s G8 status over the gas dispute sent the
Kremlin into a tizzy.

That a prestige project such as the G8 chairmanship should trump other
priorities shows Putin is no grandmaster of realpolitik. In the run-up to
G8, Russia can be kept in line by threats of a boycott, for instance if it
protests at western intervention in the March elections in Belarus, almost
Moscow’s last ally, and Ukraine.

Putin’s own position weakens as Russia’s global role wanes. His bitter
enemies, such as the London-based oligarch Boris Berezovsky, are preparing a
few embarrassing stunts and surprises for Putin before he stands at the head
of the receiving line in St Petersburg. Russia may have invented agitprop,
but the western sponsors of people power know that an international summit
is the perfect media window for trouble; tarnishing Vladimir’s big day out
won’t be difficult.

Someone is still fighting the cold war, but it isn’t Russia. The chill wind
that has been blowing towards the Kremlin for decades is still coming from
the west.
  -30
———————————————————————————————
Mark Almond is a lecturer in modern history at Oriel College,

Oxford, UK. Contact: mpalmond@aol.com
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10. RUSSIA AND THE WEST: A COLDER COMING WE HAVE OF IT
   Russia assumes G8 presidency, Putin not the partner West once hoped for
 
The Economist, London, UK, Week of January 21-27, 2006

MOSCOW – A POSSIBLY apocryphal story has it that, in the 1980s, Soviet

troops in East Germany had to attend sessions of political instruction.
Insubordinate air-force officers would skip the indoctrination and congregate
at the buffet, where an ingratiating KGB man would try to wheedle them back in.
The officers called him the “head of the club”. His name was Vladimir Putin.

Twenty-odd years later, the KGB-man-turned-president is head of another
club: the G8 group of rich countries, whose presidency Russia assumed at
the start of the year. Not so long ago, the idea of Mr Putin presiding over
a gathering of free-market democracies might have seemed optimistic, but
not altogether implausible. Yet, even before the gas-to-Ukraine squabble
that marked the start of the year, Russia’s membership of the G8 was
looking hard to reconcile with its trajectory under Mr Putin. Russia’s
relationship with the West has changed, incrementally but surely, for the
worse. Why?

The true transformation may have taken place not inside the Kremlin but in
foreign perceptions. Like Russian voters, foreign leaders were at first
beguiled by Mr Putin’s difference from his predecessor, the erratic and
unpredictable Boris Yeltsin. Mr Putin was sober, business-like, apparently
reliable and impressively committed to macroeconomic stability.

Andrei Illarionov, a maverick liberal economic adviser to Mr Putin who
finally resigned in December, bewailing a decline in political and economic
freedom, identifies the start of the Yukos affair in July 2003 as a key
turning-point. But in fact the tendencies that have been causing
international concern to mount during Mr Putin’s second presidential term
were evident throughout his first, in 2000-04: harassment of uppity
tycoons, centralisation of political power and suppression of an
independent media, not to mention the brutal war in Chechnya.

In the rose-tinted years, some western diplomats mistook what now looks
like a tactical decision-Mr Putin’s embrace of the United States after
September 11th-for a strategic one. As circumstances changed over the
years, old KGB instincts returned to the fore. In foreign-policy terms,
that has meant a zero-sum attitude to diplomacy; the pursuit of great-power
status, especially via energy exports; and a propensity to believe that the
rest of the world thinks and acts in just the same way. Russian
interference in the Ukrainian elections of last winter suggested that Mr
Putin sees the democratic process merely as a way of legitimising power,
not as an end in itself; it also disillusioned westerners who still hoped
that revanchist domestic policies could be separated from foreign policy.

None of which means that Russia and the West can never work together.
Indeed, they are trying to do so over Iran. Russia’s commercial interests
in Iran’s civilian nuclear programme notwithstanding, the Kremlin’s
attitude to Tehran, says Rose Gottemoeller, a non-proliferation analyst at
the Carnegie Moscow Centre, is “changing fast”. Apart from anything else,
as more countries get the bomb, Russia’s own cherished nuclear status
becomes less valuable. Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, this week
emphasised the primacy of the non-proliferation regime, and the moratorium
on Iranian uranium enrichment. Mr Putin revived the offer of a joint
Russian-Iranian enrichment programme on Russian territory; the Iranians
said they were considering it.

But there are differences of interest, even over Iran. For the Russians,
the crisis represents an opportunity. As Bobo Lo, of the Royal Institute of
International Affairs in London, puts it, Russia has a taste for
“controlled tension”: diplomatic situations short of conflict, in which
Russia’s membership of the UN Security Council gives it extra clout, as in
the run-up to the Iraq war. That influence is diluted if the Russians
merely go along with the Americans and Europeans, or if the tension
dissipates quickly. Such considerations may explain why Mr Lavrov argues
that imposing sanctions on Iran is “in no way the best, or the only, way to
solve the problem.”

The new-year gas row is unlikely to be the only source of friction between
Russia and its G8 partners in the months before their July summit in St
Petersburg. There will be parliamentary elections in Ukraine in March:
although it increasingly looks as much a corruption scandal as a political
spat, the gas dispute has contradicted the idea that the Kremlin has
“accepted defeat” in Ukraine. Also in March there is a presidential poll in
nastily authoritarian Belarus, where western advocacy of free elections
will once again be interpreted in Moscow as impudent meddling in Russia’s
“near abroad”.

The pattern of western responses to Mr Putin now seems set: intermittent,
mild public rebukes (such as the scolding by Condoleezza Rice, America’s
secretary of state, over the gas affair) balanced by conciliatory photo
opportunities. To students of diplomatese, the public mentions by Angela
Merkel, the new German chancellor, of Chechnya and the government’s
restrictions on non-governmental organisations, during her visit to Moscow
this week, hinted at a welcome stiffening of Germany’s approach.

Yet despite pressure from some American congressmen, there is little
appetite to embarrass Mr Putin in St Petersburg. Mr Illarionov argues that,
by attending the summit, the seven other world leaders will be seen as
giving their “stamp of approval” to Russia’s recent behaviour (though he
glumly admits that there is not much they could do to change it). “That is
not the impression we want to leave,” says one American official, arguing
that to isolate Russia would only make things worse.

Further ahead loom Russia’s own parliamentary and presidential elections,
in late 2007 and early 2008. “Elections in a non-free country, as Russia is
today, don’t matter much,” sniffs Mr Illarionov. In foreign-policy terms,
he may be right: the successor chosen by Mr Putin is likely to offer the
same combination of prickliness and occasional pragmatism. (His nearest
rival may be a strident nationalist, just the sort of bogeyman Mr Yeltsin
used to conjure up to persuade voters and foreign interests to stay behind
him.)

One leading contender for the top job is Sergei Ivanov, now defence
minister and deputy prime minister, and another Russian politician who
looks more western than he is. In a recent article in the Wall Street
Journal, Mr Ivanov noted the emergence of new threats to national security
that might require military action. “Chief among them,” wrote this ex-KGB
man, “is interference in Russia’s internal affairs by foreign states.”
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11.                         THE PARADOX OF CORRUPTION

COMMENTARY: By Georgy Bovt, Editor of Profil
Moscow Times, Moscow, Russia, Thursday, January 19, 2006

A lot has been written about the recent gas deal that Gazprom reached with
Ukraine, but most of it only proves that no one has the slightest idea what
really happened. Everyone arrives at different numbers, and everyone has a
different estimate of how much money will be siphoned off under the deal.
No one has the slightest doubt that huge sums will disappear, however.

To the outside observer, public reaction to the deal in Russia must have
seemed highly peculiar. If an agreement this murky, dubious and
nontransparent had been reached in a country with freedom of speech and
at least a minimal system of checks and balances among the branches of
government, it would have resulted in an enormous scandal, a huge public
outcry, a parliamentary inquiry and, most likely, high-level resignations
and high-profile court cases. But not here.

It came as no surprise that the State Duma kept quiet about the deal. The
current Duma always keeps its nose clean in such situations. The opposition
also found nothing objectionable in the deal that it could turn against the
Kremlin in order to make a little political hay.

Some in the press did point out the exceedingly strange terms of the deal,
but in this country reports like these have a negligible impact on public
opinion. This passivity, which pervades Russian society, has come to be
taken for granted to such an extent that it almost feels indecent to write
about it. Almost.

Practically no one votes in local elections any more, and soon they’ll stop
voting in federal elections too. People boast about their lack of interest
in politics. They don’t read the papers. Television programs dealing with
politics and social issues have been pulled because of low ratings.

It should be noted that the government’s clampdown on freedom of the press
is only partly responsible for the cancellation of these programs. After
all, even the large conservative sector of the population that might be
expected to tune into programs with a pro-government slant has shown no
particular interest in political programming.

What we have as a result is a social paradox. On the one hand, when
sociologists ask people what concerns them about life in this country and
what they think is hindering Russia’s development, the overwhelming
majority cite corruption, especially in the government, and the
bureaucracy. Yet on the other hand, when Gazprom brazenly cuts a
shady deal with Ukraine, the public couldn’t care less.

Quite the opposite, people are quietly pleased, as indicated by the rapid
spread of jokes about sticking it to the gas-hungry Ukrainians. By the way,
these jokes are also popular on the Internet, which is generally considered
the domain of the more progressive elements in Russian society.

The point is that the public, which never tires of criticizing the
bureaucrats and high-ranking corrupt officials in the government, has
itself grown so accustomed to permanent, everyday corruption that it now
feels most comfortable living in these conditions. Having lost track of the
moral and ethical principles that once guided his actions, the average
Russian long ago got used to wheeling and dealing over the most
insignificant things in order to get around the law.

In their defense, people commonly observe that it’s impossible to play by
the rules in this country. The average Ivan has no choice but to shuck and
jive, grease a few palms and dodge taxes by insisting that he really does
live on the miniscule above-board income that he reports to the government.

There’s a lot to this explanation, of course. Many Russian laws, rules and
regulations seem to have been designed with the express purpose of lining
the pockets of our public servants. But we all know perfectly well that
people will prefer to bend the rules even when there’s no compelling reason
to do so.

The kickbacks and straight-out theft of taxpayer money that we all assume
will occur when Gazprom’s deal with Ukraine goes into effect are simply the
norm in Russian business. And the discrepancy between laws on paper and
in practice is a hard-and-fast rule in every aspect of Russian life.

Russian folk sayings are often revealing, and there is one of real wisdom
for us today: “The fish rots from the head.” Indeed, the head of Russian
society rotted a long time ago. What we’re reluctant to admit at this stage
in our development is that the whole fish is now rotten, right down to the
tail.
  -30-

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12. NATURAL GAS CONFLICT RIPPLES BEYOND RUSSIA-UKRAINE

BRIEFING: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)
With: Clifford Gaddy, Taras Kuzio, Roman Kupchinsky
Washington, DC, Friday, January 20, 2006

WASHINGTON – The crisis over supplies of natural gas to Ukraine by
Russia that erupted on New Year’s Day has implications that spread well
beyond the borders of these two countries and will impact both economic
and political policymaking throughout Europe.

That was the consensus of three briefers who addressed different aspects
of the Russia-Ukraine gas conflict during a briefing yesterday at RFE/RL’s
Washington office.

[1] Clifford Gaddy, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution
outlined what he described as Russia’s “grand energy strategy,” in which
Ukraine is perceived as merely an obstacle frustrating Russia’s energy
ambitions in wealthier Western Europe and therefore a non-entity in
Russia’s broader strategic planning.

According to Gaddy, Russia’s strategic goal as regards energy is to
maximize the role of its own energy resources in the world energy
markets, so as to increase its geopolitical influence.

To do this, it must reduce competition and maximize dependency
on its own energy resources, as well as ensure a stable supply. Ukraine,
Gaddy said, is a hindrance to the latter. That Russia raised Ukraine’s gas
prices was inevitable from an economic standpoint, Gaddy argued. By
doing so, Ukraine’s demand for gas would decrease, thereby freeing
more supply for Europe.

[2] Taras Kuzio, a Visiting Assistant Professor at George Washington
University and recognized expert on Ukraine, rebutted Gaddy’s argument,
claiming that Russia’s actions evidenced a complete lack of geopolitical
strategy and resulted in strong denunciations by Western countries and a
loss of political allies in Ukraine.

According to Kuzio, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s desire to have a
deal signed by the January 4 European Union energy summit outweighed
his hope of reinforcing opposition to Ukrainian President Viktor
Yushchenko during the run-up to Ukraine’s March 26 parliamentary
elections.

Kuzio argued that Yushchenko gained most from the agreement, both
domestically and internationally. The events showed him to be a competent
leader able to navigate and overcome crisis, whereas Russia came off as
a bully and a threat to Europe’s energy supply.

[3] Roman Kupchinsky, RFE/RL Coordinator of Corruption Studies,
in his review of the situation did not full agree with Kuzio’s assessments

of Yushchenko or Ukraine.

He outlined three major problems that are feeding the conflict between
Russia and Ukraine over gas.

   [a] The biggest, he argues, is that the state-owned Russian gas giant
   Gazprom holds a monopoly on natural gas sales outside of the CIS.
   [b] Kupchinsky also decried Ukraine’s consumption of natural gas,
   terming it “out of control.”
   [c] Corruption is also a major factor in the conflict, Kupchinsky said,
   although the extent to which it taints the deal struck between Russia
   and Ukraine remains unknown.

One of the major questions concerning this agreement, according to
Kupchinsky, is why Gazprom’s export manager Alexander Medvedev and
Putin insisted on including the little-known intermediary firm RosUkrEnergo,
which under the deal will be the party actually selling gas to Ukraine.

While Yushchenko has defended the company, its role in the agreed
procedure for future gas sales, said Kupchinsky, leads to suspicions of
“a crooked scheme.”  -30-
———————————————————————————————–
From Martins Zvaners, ZvanersM@rferl.orghttp://www.rferl.org
———————————————————————————————–
[return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
             Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.
========================================================
13. “WEST DOES NOT UNDERSTAND HOW PUTIN’S MIND WORKS”
             West forces Russia “play defence” if it is not treated as partner

INTERVIEW: With Nadia Arbatova, Russian political scientist
By Francesca Sforze in Moscow
La Stampa website, Turin, Italy, in Italian 4 Jan 06
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Thu, Jan 05, 2006

MOSCOW: The West’s mistake? “You do not understand Vladimir Putin,”

said Nadia Arbatova, director of the Institute of European Political Studies
at the Academy of Sciences in Moscow and head of the Russia in a United
Europe Committee.

Much listened to in the Kremlin, but often tending in the opposite direction
compared to the ideas of the presidential administration, Arbatova is
convinced that too many post-Cold War prejudices are still enduring between
Russia and Western democracies, and that the gas war with Ukraine – which
broke out at the same time as the first Russian presidency in the history of
the G8 started – has shown once again how much certain attitudes inherited
from the past are hard to kill.

[La Stampa] Nadia Arbatova. Is Moscow’s decision to shut off the gas taps

to Kiev a response to the Orange Revolution?
[Arbatova] I believe the question has to be framed in a broader context.
Moscow has not reacted against the legitimate desire of the Ukrainians to
choose their own leader, nor can it be said that cutting off the gas to Kiev
is the direct consequence of the waving of flags in Maidan [(Independence)
Square] a year ago.
Instead, Russia is worried about the enlargement of NATO to countries
traditionally in its sphere of influence and especially the fear of
remaining excluded from the big alliances.
It is pointless to deny that Moscow has special interests in the former
Soviet republics – that that is certainly not a crime – but my impression is
that the Western democracies have refused to accept this reality as a given
geopolitical fact.

[La Stampa] Who has erred more in this negotiation?

[Arbatova] There have been mistakes by both sides. From the beginning, Kiev
showed itself reluctant to accept an increase based on the new laws of the
market – to which, in contrast, it gave its approval when it obtained the
status of market economy from the European Commission – and Russia, on
the other hand, made a mistake in not understanding that Kiev needs time to
build a stable economy.

[La Stampa] You must admit that interrupting the supply of gas is not a way
to facilitate a calm resumption of the negotiations on the prices. How do
you think it will be possible to go back to sitting down around the same
table?

[Arbatova] What for the Western countries constitutes a reason for outrage
does not have the same importance, for example, to the Ukrainians
themselves, who in fact responded with the same language, illegally
withdrawing gas, as they have always done in the past.
I understand the bewilderment of the West, but this is about different
languages, which have to do with a long history of bilateral relations and
which cannot be replaced overnight by systems imported from Washington or
Brussels. We can debate ad infinitum about which of the two systems is the
best, but in the meantime why not recognize that there are, first of all,
two different systems.

[La Stampa] So you believe that the negotiations will resume as if nothing
had happened?

[Arbatova] I think precisely that. Of course, now we are in a delicate
phase, where many sensitivities have been hurt, and there has been a
succession of mistakes by both sides, partly because at stake in this
negotiation is not only the question of the price of gas, but the future
balance between Moscow and Kiev.
It is necessary to decide what type of relationship we want to have, whether
based on the laws of the market economy or on other political objectives. If
Ukraine wants to be completely independent of Moscow, then I believe it is
necessary to give it enough time.

[La Stampa] Russia has just assumed the presidency of the G8, and many
Western leaders think that Putin wants to play the energy card to put a new
power politics into operation.

[Arbatova] Russia is important for Europe and for all countries, but I
believe that the system of relations must now set itself a further goal. If
the West continues to perceive Russia as a threat, it is obvious that the
Russians will be forced to play defence; if, on the other hand, there is the
political will to start thinking of Russia as a partner, to involve it in
the decisions in an equal manner, then it is necessary for the West to
change its attitude towards Moscow.   -30-
——————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
14.                   LOOKING AT UKRAINE MORE CLEARLY

EDITORIAL: The New York Times, NY, NY, Fri, January 20, 2006

The plight of Viktor Yushchenko in Ukraine reminds us of other politicians
in the post-Soviet world who raised large expectations in the West only to
disappoint in the end. Perhaps it’s time to take a more realistic look at
what’s going on in the former Soviet Union.

At the time of Ukraine’s so-called Orange Revolution in 2004, many in the
West saw largely what they wanted to see: a people rising up against
corruption, manipulated politics and crude Russian pressures in the name of
moving closer to democracy, free markets and the West. Mr. Yushchenko,
survivor of a dastardly murder attempt, and his running mate, Yulia
Tymoshenko, were the stars.

Vladimir Putin of Russia was the villain who was scheming to deny the
Ukrainian people their freedom. What the West chose not to see was that Mr.
Yushchenko is more a technocrat than a leader, and that Ms. Tymoshenko
was at best a tactical ally whose suspect fortune and populist politics were
bound to come in conflict with Mr. Yushchenko’s plodding pragmatism.

More to the point, many in the West chose to overlook the fact that Ukraine,
like most other former Soviet republics (with the exception of the three
small Baltic states), remains intricately intertwined with Russia and the
other republics. In Ukraine, part of the Slavic core of the old Soviet
empire, half the residents still identify closely with Russia, both
ethnically and nationally.

So to believe that Mr. Yushchenko could single-handedly shift Ukraine into
the Western orbit was naïve. Not only was Russia interfering, but Europe
was, and is, far more interested in Russian gas than in Ukrainian democracy.

Fifteen years on, the dismantling of the Soviet state is a work in progress
and politics is still largely a bald power struggle, with countless players
and alliances. In Ukraine, thousands of candidates and 45 parties are
slugging it out for 450 seats in the March 26 parliamentary elections.

It is typical, and predictable, that incumbents have pounced on Mr.
Yushchenko for having been forced to accept doubled gas prices from
Russia. Oddly enough, Mr. Putin is achieving what Mr. Yushchenko failed
to do. By punishing Mr. Yushchenko for trying to pull Ukraine away from
Russia, Mr. Putin is pushing Ukraine away from Russia.
-30-
———————————————————————————————–
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/20/opinion/20fri3.html?emc=eta1

——————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
15.   POLL SHOWS GAS DISPUTE UNDERMINES UKRAINIAN’S
                               ATTITUDE TOWARD RUSSIA 

Interfax, Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, January 20, 2006

KYIV – A public opinion poll indicates that the attitude of almost one third
of Ukrainian nationals towards Russia worsened after the gas dispute.

“In the poll, 26.2% said that, before the gas conflict, they had a good
attitude towards Russia but it worsened after the dispute,” Yury Ruban,
head of the National Institute for Strategic Studies, told a Friday news
conference in Kyiv.

Meanwhile, “41.7% continued to hold the same good attitude towards
Russia, while 9.4% remained undecided,” he said.

The poll was taken on January 15 in eight regional capitals where 8,000
persons were interviewed on the streets.

In Ruban’s opinion, the poll indicates that Ukrainians support the efforts
of the authorities to settle the gas dispute but not the radical actions
some political forces suggest.

Asked about the main reason for the gas conflict, 29.9% said it was
Russia’s desire to influence the outcome of future parliamentary elections
in Ukraine.  -30-
——————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
16. RUSSIA STATE TV HIGHLIGHTS POLITICAL CRISIS IN UKRAINE
                        
By Stephen Ennis of BBC Monitoring Service
BBC Monitoring Service, United Kingdom, Sat, Jan 21, 2006

Russian state TV and pro-Kremlin pundits have emphasized the seriousness of
the political crisis that has arisen in Ukraine following the gas dispute
with Russia. They have highlighted President Yushchenko’s weakness, and have
suggested that the Ukrainian president’s inability to control his government
and lesser officials is an important factor in the continuing row over the
stewardship of lighthouses in Crimea.

At the same time, they have warned, Yushchenko’s attempts to retain power by
means of a constitutional referendum could lead the country into an even
deeper political crisis.

                             [STATE-OWNED CHANNEL ONE]
According to state-owned Channel One, the political crisis provoked by the
Ukrainian parliament’s decision to sack Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov’s
government came from the realization that despite all the talk of
compromise, Ukraine had come off worse in the gas dispute with Russia.

“A few days after the agreement all doubts were dispelled: however you add
it up, Gazprom, and that means Russia, will receive several times more than
last year, and the Ukrainian economy will get its first lesson in
independence from politics. And Ukrainian politics, in turn, has already
been hit by a crisis,” presenter Petr Tolstoy told viewers of Voskresnoye
Vremya on 15 January.

Voskresnoye Vremya went on to stress the seriousness of the political crisis
caused by parliament’s decision to dismiss the government over the oil deal
with Russia, likening it to Russia’s constitutional crisis in 1993. “There
is no lawful way out of the situation. The deputies have sacked the
ministers, but they do not have the right to appoint new ones.

The president is speaking about a violation of the constitution, but the
only body that can confirm this is the constitutional court, which does not
exist at the moment. And the judges of this court are appointed, or rather
not appointed by the deputies,” the correspondent explained. “Ukraine’s
system of government is locked into a vicious circle,” he stressed.

Speaking on Channel One on 17 January, pro-Kremlin commentator Mikhail
Leontyev gave an even more tangled picture of the Ukrainian political
malaise. “So, in Ukraine we have a nominal president, who does not recognize
parliament, which is the same one that allowed him to come to power by
unlawful means; we also have a temporary government that is not recognized
by parliament and as many as two serving prosecutor-generals, whose job it
is to uphold a non-existent legality,” Leontyev told viewers.

The commentator suggested that the root of the malaise lies in the decision
to hold an “unconstitutional” third round in the 2004 president election.
“As the Ukrainian revolutionaries were warned, where you have a third round,
a fourth, fifth and sixth round will follow,” Leontyev remarked, adding that
the task of the remedying the situation will be far from easy. “Once you
leave the field of legality, it is very difficult to return there, even if
you very much want to,” he stressed.

For Leontyev, the current row with the Russian Black Sea Fleet over
lighthouses in Crimea is further evidence of Ukraine’s political malaise.
“This is not a conflict between Russia and Ukraine, it is the collapse of
Ukrainian statehood,” the Channel One pundit stressed. After all, Leontyev
went on, Yushchenko had recently promised Putin to settle issues involving
the Black Sea Fleet by negotiation.

“But the thing is that Yushchenko is unable to stop Foreign Minister Borys
Tarasyuk from making inflammatory remarks, to stop maritime officials from
provoking an armed conflict or port officials from settling the fate of an
international agreement in a village court,” the pundit explained.

                         [STATE CHANNEL ROSSIYA (RTV)]
Speaking on state channel Rossiya (RTV) on 16 January political commentator
Vyacheslav Nikonov also drew attention to Yushchenko’s inability to enforce
his authority. “Yushchenko has a weak grip on the Ukrainian political system
and the Ukrainian political elite, and even the local elite in Ukraine.

It cannot be ruled out that we are dealing in Crimea with a local initiative
by the local authorities, which were appointed by Kiev, but are now behaving
independently, and which are not directly expressing the official government
line,” Nikonov said.

Nikonov’s fellow pro-Kremlin commentator, Sergey Markov, told the same
programme that the lighthouse row had come about because “a number of
nationalist politicians are trying to provoke conflict with Russia” for
their own electoral ends.

[FOREIGN MINISTER TARASYUK CALLED A RUSSOPHOBE]
The following day on Moscow-government-owned Centre TV, Markov said
that the lighthouse row is “a piece of provocation by a particular person,
Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk”, who Markov described as a “well-known
nationalist”. “The sin that lies at the door of Viktor Yushchenko is that he
appointed this Russophobe to a key post,” Markov continued.

Concerns about the confusing signals coming out of Ukraine over the
lighthouse dispute have also been raised at official level. Russian Foreign
Minister Sergey Lavrov was shown on RTV on 16 January expressing
bewilderment at the lack of clarity shown by the Ukrainians.

“It is difficult for me to understand who is behind these events, and who
speaks for Ukraine on this issue,” Lavrov told a news conference in Moscow.
Two days later RTV showed Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin
remarking on the “elements of decentralization and desynchronization” in
Ukrainian foreign policy.

Russian state TV has also been highly critical of Viktor Yushchenko’s
proposal to hold a referendum to block the constitutional reform agreed in
the wake of the Orange Revolution, and which would see real power
transferred from president to prime minister.

RTV pointed out that Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine is trailing badly in the polls
behind his arch-rival Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, and that the
referendum is a desperate bid by Yushchenko to remain in power.

“Things have come full circle,” Vesti Nedeli anchorman Sergey Brilev noted
on 15 January. “Just as ex-President Kuchma thought constitutional reform
could be a way of hanging on to personal power, so now it appears that
President Yushchenko has the idea that he can hang on to power by holding a
referendum on that same reform”.

What is more, accusations that Yushchenko is behaving like Kuchma and has
betrayed the revolution have resulted in a “complete split” in the Orange
ranks, Vesti Nedeli correspondent Ilya Kanavin remarked.

According to Channel One’s Voskresnoye Vremya, Yushchenko is in a no-win
situation. “For Viktor Yushchenko the reform is now tantamount to the loss
of power, and to turn his back on it would be to break his central promise
and to lose face,” correspondent Petr Kosenko told viewers on 15 January.

Moreover, as Ukrainian speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn told Channel One on 17
January, Yushchenko’s attempt to hold a referendum on political reform could
have extremely damaging consequences for the country. The speaker explained
that a referendum is a “very sharp instrument” that can be used in a number
of ways. It could cause “destabilization” and even the “fragmentation of the
country”, Lytvyn warned.

A similar prognosis was offered by Channel One pundit Mikhail Leontyev.

“Any result of a referendum in geographically polarized Ukraine, and all the
more a positive result, will mean the further disintegration of the country into
pieces,” Leontyev pointed out. “They will be lucky if it is only two
pieces,” he added.

Leontyev ended his commentary on Channel One on 17 January by echoing

a statement made the same day by Russian Defence Minister Sergey Ivanov
about the conduct of guards at Black Sea Fleet facilities in Crimea. “We
have to be vigilant and cold-blooded, and act in accordance with guards’
regulations,” Leontyev stressed

RTV explained that acting in accordance with “regulations” implied that if
warnings are ignored, guards should shoot at intruders, though the channel
emphasized that both sides would surely be doing all they can to avoid such
a turn of events. And, indeed, pundit Sergey Markov told Centre TV on 17
January, Russia must be restrained and not give in to provocation in the
dispute over lighthouses. After all, the pro-Kremlin pundit concluded, in a
couple of months the current regime in Kiev will no longer be in power.
——————————————————————————————-

[return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
17.   UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT APPEALS TO POLITICAL RIVALS
                       TO PUT NATIONAL INTERESTS FIRST 

AP Worldstream, Kiev,Ukraine, Sunday, Jan 22, 2006

KIEV – President Viktor Yushchenko on Sunday called on political rivals to

put their love of Ukraine ahead of political disagreements amid continuing
deadlock with lawmakers over their vote to dismiss his Cabinet. Yushchenko
ignored the vote earlier month, but the move by parliament has called into
question the legitimacy of the administration now governing this ex-Soviet
republic.

“Don’t trample on Ukraine. Let her rise from her knees – even if only just
one centimeter,” Yushchenko said at commemorations marking Unification

Day – the anniversary of a short-lived 1919 attempt to created an independent
Ukrainian state. Ukraine only gained real independence with the 1991 breakup
of the Soviet Union.

The spat with lawmakers followed a bitter price dispute with Russia over
natural gas supplies, which resulted in a nearly twofold increase in import
costs for Ukraine.

Yushchenko’s political opponents have condemned the deal as a betrayal of
Ukraine’s national interests. Yushchenko’s government insists it was a fair
compromise, and has accused opponents of using the issue to destabilize the
country ahead of the March 26 parliamentary elections.

“Everything we are talking about … should be looked at from the
perspective of Ukraine’s independence,” Yushchenko said. The Ukrainian

leader said that he was ready to compromise with parliament, saying “we
don’t need it but the nation does.”

Parliamentary leaders said earlier that such a compromise would require

the dismissal of some members of Yushchenko’s Cabinet.  -30-
——————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
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18.     UKRAINIAN PEOPLE FEEL THEY HAVE NO INFLUENCE
                                      ON LEVERS OF POWER

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: By Oleg Kucherenko
Financial Times, London, UK, Saturday, January 21 2006

Sir, My thanks for your accurate and impartial article “Kiev in a squeeze”
(January 16). You are right – Ukraine’s young democracy is in danger.

My family and I – as well as many thousands of Ukrainians – took an active
part in the Orange Revolution and it was our victory. But now the Ukrainian
people are in a very complicated situation.

The president has no more power under new legislation and therefore the
regular Ukrainian people will elect members of a future parliament which is
largely corrupt. It seems we have no instruments to influence those in
power.

That is why I consider that stronger support from the European Union and

the US is crucial and why I think that globally known newspapers such as
the FT should publish more articles about Ukraine.

Oleg Kucherenko, Marketing Manager,
Institute of Reproductive Medicine, Kiev, Ukraine
——————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
19. DELTA RECEIVES U.S. DOT APPROVAL TO BEGIN SERVICE
           BETWEEN NEW YORK AND KIEV, UKRAINE IN JUNE
         
PRIMEZONE (PZ), Atlanta, Georgia, Friday, January 20, 2006

ATLANTA – Delta Air Lines has received the final U.S. government approval
required to add 11 new routes between the U.S. and destinations across
Europe and the Middle East this summer, paving the way for Delta to offer
customers more flights and destinations across the Atlantic than any other
global airline by June.

With this new authority, Delta plans to offer customers non-stop flights
five days per week between New York’s John F. Kennedy International
Airport and Borispol Airport in Kiev, Ukraine, effective June 5, subject to
Ukrainian government approval.

“Kiev will be the latest destination in Delta’s expansion into the key
business and leisure markets of Eastern Europe,” said Bob Cortelyou, Delta’s
vice president of Network Planning. “Delta will be the only U.S. carrier to
serve Kiev, and business travelers on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as
friends and family of Ukrainian heritage in the United States, will look
forward to this new non-stop service between New York-JFK and Kiev.”

Delta’s new service between New York-JFK and Kiev, Ukraine, effective
June 5:
 Flight         Departs                                  Arrives
 ——         ————————-                ——————–
  88            New York-JFK at 5:40 p.m.    Kiev at 10:25 a.m.
                  June 5                                    June 6
 ——         ————————-               ———————
  89(note)    Kiev at 12:35 p.m.                 New York-JFK at 4 p.m.
                  June 6                                   June 6
 ——         ————————-               ———————
In addition to the new Kiev service, beginning this spring Delta will
provide service from New York-JFK to Budapest, Hungary; Dublin and
Shannon, Ireland; (subject to foreign government approvals), and
Manchester, England, in addition to the 16 non-stop transatlantic routes
already served by Delta from New York-JFK.

Delta is a founding member of SkyTeam, a global airline alliance that
provides customers with extensive worldwide destinations, flights and
services. Customers can check in for flights, print boarding passes and
check flight status at delta.com.  -30-
——————————————————————————————–
[return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
20. DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTIONS IN POST-COMMUNIST STATES
     Johns Hopkins University, Intersession 2006, Instructor: Anna Fournier

The Action Ukraine Report (AUR), Wash, D.C., Mon, Jan 23, 2006

WASHINGTON – A new course is being offered by John Hopkins
University (Homewood Campus). The course is entitled, “Democratic
Revolutions in Post-Communist States.”

The course examines the new phenomenon of democratic revolution in
countries previously under communist rule. It focuses on the 2004 Orange
Revolution in Ukraine with special attention to what allowed this revolution
to be successful and prospects for the future.

The course then examines the possibilities of democratic revolutions
elsewhere among the former Soviet republics using the Ukraine experience
as a guide.

Major topics addressed in the course include: Transition vs. Revolution
models of change, the rise of mass organization under repressive regimes;
causes of the revolutions (from corruption, to the clash of civilizations,
to the development of nationalism/civil society, to the American plot
model); factors in the revolutions peaceful outcomes; trajectories of
post-revolutionary societies, and conditions necessary to the spread of
this phenomenon elsewhere in the region.

The course will likely be offered again at Johns Hopkins during the summer
session. For further information, please contact Anna Fournier, e-mail:
afourni2@jhu.edu.  -30-
——————————————————————————————-
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