|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Strategic Triangle Foreign Ministers Meet in Vladivostok
The foreign ministers of the three great nations that former Russian Premier Yevgeni Primakov named as the "strategic triangle" of EurasiaChina, India and Russiamet June 2, in the Russian Pacific port city of Vladivostok. It was their fourth "informal trilateral meeting," as they call the consultations, and the first one to be free standing, rather than being held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly or other multilateral events.
"We attach great importance to this particular meeting," Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh was quoted as saying, in the China Daily. "We together have a population of 40% of the world and we are, I think, 20% of world GDP."
Singh, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing issued a communique, in which they affirmed their nations' "common approach to the fundamental problems of world development in the 21st century." They advocated a "multipolar world," in which the United Nations "ought to play a central role." They agreed on the need to reform the UN, including the Security Council, a statement that alludes to the expansion of the latter. The communique also supported joint efforts against terrorism, "on a long-term and consistent basis, without double standards," and pointed up the importance, within that, of "combatting narcotics trafficking and other cross-border crime."
The last part of the communique dealt with economic cooperation: "The ministers discussed the prospects for economic interaction in a trilateral format. They noted the significant potential for mutually beneficial cooperation among Russia, India, and China in areas such as transportation, agriculture, energy and advanced technologies. The sides agreed that the relevant experts and officials from the three countries could meet to explore the possibilities of cooperation in these and other areas, in order to prepare specific proposals." In that context, they also endorsed holding a trilateral businessmen's meeting in India in March 2006.
China Daily quoted Singh as saying to Lavrov, "Our requirements in the realm of energy are considerable and we look to your country for assistance."
China Daily and Russian media also noted the bilateral talks between Lavrov and Li, where documentation of the Sino-Russian border agreement was exchanged, and the two ministers took up the question of stability in Central Asia. GazetaSNG.ru reported that they stressed the need to strengthen the role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). But Lavrov and Li denied that either China or Russia had been requested by Kyrgyzstan's acting president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, to send SCO or other security forces into his country (as had been reported in various media).
The Vladivostok meeting was covered in all major Russian media. Izvestia today featured the comments of a Russian professor. Mikhail Shinkovsky, who said, "The more often Russia, India, and China meet at this level in a multilateral format, the more realistic it becomes to create a true 'strategic triangle' over the coming 20-30 years."
Moscow Analyst: French 'No' Vote Is Blow to 'Oligarchy'
Sergei Markov, Director of Moscow's Institute for Political Studies, who is also a professor at Moscow State University, head of the National Civic Council of International Affairs, and an advisor to the Russian government, told Interfax May 30 about the French referendum vote against the EU Constitution), "This is the first large-scale victory of the public against the oligarchy of financiers and bureaucracy, that will have serious political implications for the entire Europe." "He's right," Lyndon LaRouche commented on Markov's assessment.
Had the constitution signed by EU leaders last October in Rome, been approved, Europe would have embarked on the path of implementing "an oligarchic hyper-liberal project," Markov continued. Such a course of events "has already shocked Europeans twice, triggering price rises after the euro was introduced, and also in the wake of a considerable influx of migrants from less-developed nations," he went on. "Today, we witness the victory of socialists and left-wingers of every hue, who call for preserving French national identity. Undoubtedly, the events in France will strengthen that coalition throughout Europe, and it will have to be reckoned with. Political forces in Europe are changing."
Finally, Mosnews noted May 30, Markov anticipates certain changes in relationship between Russia and the EU. In particular, the "No" vote is likely to undermine positions of the European allies of Russia's liberal-oriented government officials in charge of economic issues. Furthermore, the EU will no longer be as active in the post-Soviet space as before, he concluded.
U.S. Senators in Uzbekistan
Senators John McCain (R-Ariz), John Sununu (R-N.H.), and Lindsey Graham (R-Fla) visited Uzbekistan at the end of May. They called for the Uzbekistan government to allow an international investigation into the recent violent clashes in Andijon, in the eastern part of the country, which President Islam Karimov blames on Islamic extremists. McCain wants the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to do the investigation. The Senators met with opposition political parties, but Tashkent government officials refused to meet them. In addition, they advised the avoidance of another "popular uprising" by allowing more press freedom, leeway for opposition parties, and economic liberalization.
On June 3, the U.S. State Department issued a warning about terrorist actions against Americans in Uzbekistan: "American citizens currently in Uzbekistan should consider departing Uzbekistan via available commercial options." It went on to name groups active in the region: the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, al-Qaeda, the Islamic Jihad Union, and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement. The statement urged Americans to take precautions, avoid crowds, etc. It authorized all non-emergency personnel to leave with their families.
50th Anniversary of Baikonur Cosmodrome
June 2 was the 50th anniversary of the establishment by the Soviet military of the Baikonur experimental research and space facility in Kazakstan. It was at Baikonur that the first successful intercontinental ballistic missile test took place, in August 1957; two months later, the Soviet Union became the first nation in the world to launch an Earth-orbital satellite, Sputnik. From Baikonur, Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space in 1961, and it has been the launch site for of Russia's space stations, and its missions to the International Space Station. With the Space Shuttle grounded, Baikonur is launching all crew and supplies to the station.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev spent today at Baikonurthe oldest and the largest launch facility in the worldtouring launch sites and spacecraft production facilities, visiting with space specialists, and attending ceremonies. They also signed a joint statement which includes the training of two Kazak astronauts to visit the space station, the launch of Kazakhstan's first satellitethe Russian-built KAZSAT, the opportunity for students from Kazakhstan to study military space subjects in Russia, and the construction of a new launch facility at Baikonur, called the Baiterek complex, designed for the Angara class of rockets Russia is developing. Last year, Russia signed an agreement to lease the cosmodrome from Kazakhstan until 2050, for about $100 million per year, assuring the facility's future.
President Putin recalled the history of Russia's space effort, stating that building Baikonur was an "historic feat," by "a nation that had come through an appalling war, to make huge sacrifices. Baikonur construction was launched a mere ten years after the end of World War II," he stated. "That fact defies imagination."
Also speaking to the press at the Baikonur celebrations, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov emphasized that Russia's position on the placement of weapons in space, now being threatened by the Bush Administration, "has not changed for decades. We are categorically against the militarization of space." But "if some state begins to realize such plans," he continued, "then we doubtless will take adequate retaliatory measures," Ivanov made clear.
The Russian Defense Ministry will move several space programs to the northern cosmodrome Plesetsk, "but this does not mean that we are going to refuse to use Baikonur," Ivanov said. "We want to leave there a military component that must solve defense tasks. There are no plans of withdrawing from Baikonur any of our regiments or battalions."
Russian Children in Crisis
The condition of Russian children is comparable with that after the 1920s Civil War or World War II, when much of the country lay in ruins, Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev told a meeting of ministry officials recently. About 700,000 children are orphans, he said. Two million adolescents are illiterate, and four million use drugs, one of the reasons for an upsurge in AIDS.