|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Kissinger, Shultz Visit Moscow
The JP Morgan Chase International Council, chaired by Bush Administration Svengali George Shultz, met in Moscow the week of Oct. 10. Also in the Russian capital for this session of the think tank, which is linked to the flagship Anglo-American investment banking house JP Morgan Chase, was Henry Kissinger.
JP Morgan Chase President and CEO William Harrison, who attended the Council event, had a separate working meeting Oct. 12 with Alexei Miller, head of Gazprom, the Russian natural gas monopoly. JP Morgan Chase was one of six large foreign banks that arranged a $12 billion loan to Gazprom for the acquisition of the Sibneft Oil Company, finalized last month (as a commercial loan, not a direct investment or takeover).
Also on Oct. 12, Shultz and Kissinger met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who had just seen Shultz in California in September, when Lavrov spoke at Stanford University. At the Oct. 12 meeting, Lavrov said afterwards, he briefed the two senior oligarchs on the conference he had just attended in Paris, called "Whither Russia?" According to other reports, Lavrov at that conference strongly asserted Russia's vital interests in Central Asia.
Kissinger was received alone by President Vladimir Putin on Oct. 13 at the Kremlin. It was their fifth tete-a-tete since 2001, including a 2003 visit by Putin to Kissinger's Manhattan apartment. Kissinger also addressed an audience of Russian political scientists, on the dangers of nuclear proliferation.
Russian North Caucasus Attacked Again
Guerrillas attempted on Oct. 13 to storm police, Internal Affairs Ministry, and Federal Security Service buildings in Nalchik, capital of Kabardino-Balkaria in Russia's North Caucasus region. Fighting took place in the city of 235,000 people throughout the day, leaving 12 civilians, approximately the same number of security forces, and several dozen guerrillas dead, according to Russian TV reports. Unlike a similar raid in Nazran, Ingushetia, in June 2004 (where weapons were seized for later use in the Sept. 2004 Beslan school massacre in North Ossetia), most of the buildings were not taken over, though the attackers temporarily seized the first floor of a police station and held hostages for several hours. Federal forces said they had the situation under control by evening.
President Putin took a partially televised briefing on the situation from First Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Alexander Chekalin, who then told reporters that Putin had ordered Nalchik sealed off, to prevent guerrillas from escaping. Deputy Prosecutor Victor Kolesnikov, Presidential Representative for the Southern Federal District, and Chief of the Armed Forces General Staff Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky were among those giving televised updates during the day. Early on, Chekalin's statement that the raid might have been a diversion to allow a leading Chechen separatist commander to escape from the area, led to rumors that Field Commander Shamil Basayev was on the scene, but Kolesnikov denied this story.
Based on interrogation of captured guerillas, Kolesnikov announced that the attack was the work of the Jamaat Yarmuk group of the "Wahhabite" Anzor Astemirov, founded by the late Muslim Atayev, an associate of Basayev. Strana.ru reported that Jamaat Yarmuk has been linked with the Moscow apartment bombings of 1999, attacks in Ingushetia in 2002, and last December's raid on the Kabardino-Balkaria anti-narcotics agency. The Chechen separatist site kavkazcenter.com, meanwhile, claimed that the fighters were from "the Kabardino-Balkar sector of the Caucasus Front."
In recent months the British press, in particular, has kept up a drum roll of articles about the coming, allegedly inevitable explosion of the entire Russian North Caucasus. The region has long served as a detonator of the manipulated clashes, identified in Lyndon LaRouche's 1999 video, "Storm Over Asia."
Russia Demands Extradition Of Chechen Separatist
Britain must take the "necessary measures" against Chechen separatist leader Akhmed Zakayev, who is in Britain, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated on Oct. 14. Lavrov spoke after the British news agency Reuters published a wire quoting Zakayev, who justified the terrorist attacks in Nalchik as "a legitimate military operation which took place in the framework of the Caucasus front." Zakayev told Reuters the Russians could expect more attacks. "This is definite. There is a clear understanding among the Chechen leadership ... that a change in the situation can only come about if it responds adequately to Russian policies."
The British government has been protecting Zakayev, ignoring Russian requests that Zakayev be extradited to Russia to face terrorist charges, with Britain's Ambassador to Moscow, Tony Breton, recently insisting Russia had to provide more "proof" that Zakayev is a terrorist. The Russian government responded swiftly to this flagrant justification of terrorism: "This propagandist of terrorism, this terrorist instigator again expressed public support for terror, for the barbaric actions of the militants in Kabardino-Balkaria. Once again, he openly and blatantly called for violence, for killing Russian civilians," Anatoli Safonov, the Russian Presidential Envoy for International Cooperation in Combating Terrorism, said in a commentary on the Russian Foreign Ministry's website.
Foreign Minister Lavrov told reporters in Moscow that Zakayev's statement violates at least two United Nations Security Council resolutions, and "goes beyond all limits of law and morals, and we hope the necessary measures will be taken in regard to him." On Oct. 5 in London, Russian President Putin and British Prime Minister Blair had issued a joint statement of commitment to collaborate in combatting terrorism.
Eurasian Bridge Conference Focusses on Roads.
The biggest recent conference on the "Eurasia Bridge" concentrated on building an international "superhighway" as the modern Silk Road, but did not discuss the much more important and viable infrastructure needed for this project, which, considering the huge distances and incredible terrain of Eurasia, would have to be high-speed rail. The Third Euro-Asian Road Transport Conference was held in Beijing the last week in September. On Sept. 27, a motorcade of trucks began a 21-day trip from Beijing to Brussels, on "the Asian-Europe Continental Bridge," China Economic News reported. This is the first cross-continental cargo container road transport project between China and Europe.
Transport Ministers from 16 countries, including China, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Czechia, Georgia, Greece, Iran, Kazakstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Turkey, Ukraine, and Vietnam met in Beijing. They called for "strengthening mutual cooperation in road infrastructure and transport, further developing road infrastructure" and other measures to enhance trade and transportation.
China Economic News quoted EU Transport and Energy Minister Enrico saying that almost 73% of goods are transported by road in the EU, and this is a model for Asia, especially as an alternative to transport which has to use overloaded seaports and airports. Rail was not mentioned. He stressed "independent transport services," although with some regulation of standards. The Transport Ministers, also unfortunately, concluded that, due to the poverty of many nations in Asia, they require support from international organizations and international financial institutions in order to go ahead.