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Russia Reform Monitor No. 137, May 15, 1996
American Foreign Policy Council, Washington, D.C.


May 7

The Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia's re-named KGB internal security apparatus, publicly accuses Estonia of arms smuggling, and-in the midst of the latest spy controversy with London-claims to have broken up an Irish Republican Army (IRA) weapons shipment from Estonia, TASS reports.

May 8

Moscow's threat to expel nine British diplomats as spies "does sound like Russia has not adjusted to the fact that the Cold War is over and that we're supposed to be on the same side now," British House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman David Howell says in remarks carried by UPI. The Washington Post cites parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee Chairman Tom King as saying that Russian espionage against the United Kingdom "has increased recently."

Russia expels an Estonian diplomat for spying; Estonia announces that two weeks earlier, it had expelled Russian embassy official Sergei Andreev for espionage.

Moscow is beginning to reverse the privatization of certain military plants. A TASS report on Yeltsin's elevation of the State Committee on Defense Industry to ministry rank cites the bureaucracy's chief as saying that one-third of the country's military production enterprises have been privatized, and that the government plans to buy back an unspecified amount of shares.

May 9

Yeltsin's electoral strategy to co-opt the Communists' rhetoric and symbolism is visible in the president's observance of the 51st anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany. He gives what the Washington Post describes as "his first major address from atop Lenin's Tomb on Red Square since the collapse of Communist rule." Correspondent Lee Hockstader notes Yeltsin's election strategy: "to co-opt the Communists' rhetoric . . . and use of patriotic symbols." Official red banners festoon Red Square. Yeltsin reviews senior generals and admirals, addressing them as "Comrade." Hockstader adds, "All that distinguished the Red Square pageantry from that of Soviet times was the absence of missiles, tanks and other big-ticket hardware-too expensive in these times and too unwieldy with so much construction underway in downtown Moscow, the military said."

The World Bank approves a new $300,000,000 loan for an Enterprise Housing Divestiture Project. The FSB vocally backs away from its Cold War-style rhetoric against Britain. The Times of London reports that Sir Andrew Wood, British Ambassador to Moscow, is working to give the Kremlin a face-saving way out.

Yeltsin sends mixed signals about General Korzhakov's controversial statements that the June 16 elections should be postponed. Reuters reports from Volgograd that a journalist asks Yeltsin if there is any split between the president and his security chief. Yeltsin responds, "What discrepancies? He's my subordinate. If we had any discrepancies I would have sacked him immediately." The journalist asks Yeltsin if the election will take place as scheduled. Korzhakov interjects, "They will, they will." Yeltsin continues, "He's in the president's security service and he must obey and listen to the president and not have any opinions of his own on any other issues, he must only carry out his own business. That's it."

The State Department informs reporters that it did indeed complain to the Belarusan Embassy about the arrests of political opposition figures in Minsk.

--J. Michael Waller


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