Sunday, August 3, 2008

Window on Eurasia Shorts for August 3 – Part I

RUSSIA’S ANSWER TO BILL GATES SPEAKS. Vladimir Yevtushenkov, whose ten billion dollars in wealth is based not on raw materials but on control of telephonic and other forms of communications and on the development of high-technology innovations, gave a major interview to “Argumenty nedeli,” in which he expressed his dislike of the word oligarch – even though as the weekly put it, he is currently the only really rich Russian whose wealth is based not on natural resources or political power and thus a possible model for the rise of a new kind of Russian businessman in the future (

MOSCOW LIKES ITS NEW REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN, REGIONS DON’T. The collegiums of the Regional Development Ministry has approved a new draft concept for the development of regional policy in the Russian Federation, but that concept paper has sparked sharp criticism in the regions and especially in Siberia and the Far East, according to regional specialist Dmitry Verkhoturov ( The latter see its call for greater regional specialization as a way of preventing Russians east of the Urals from escaping the dominance of the raw materials sector and its suggestion that the regions must become more financially independent as an indication that Moscow has no intention of engaging in the kind of inter-regional transfer of resources on which Russian development has depended in the past.

MOSCOW MILITARY OBSERVER PUBLISHES ORDER OF BATTLE FOR GEORGIA. Anatoliy Tsyganok, one of Moscow’s most distinguished specialists on military affairs in the post-Soviet states has published a detailed order of battle for Georgia, showing just what units and what kind of units are immediately available to the various sides if the situation there descends into open conflict (

PAY ARREARS STILL A MAJOR PROBLEM IN DAGHSTAN. Although the Russian government has trumpeted what it says in the fact that Russian enterprises are now paying their employees on a timely fashion, in Daghestan wage arrears now stand at 13.9 million rubles (600,000 U.S. dollars), a situation that is exacerbating social tensions in a republic already racked by the collapse of public services like heat and electricity and by extremist groups in the countryside (

ORTHODOX CHURCH BUILDING PILGRIMAGE CENTER IN KAZAN. The Moscow Patriarchate has begun construction of a pilgrimage center on the grounds of the Bogoroditskiy monastery in the capital of Tatarstan. That monastery is where the symbolically important Kazan icon of the Mother of God was acquired and where, when it was built in 1579, constituted a major affirmation of Russian and Orthodox control over a Turkic and Muslim center which fell to Moscow only 27 years earlier (

RUSSIAN ARMS SALES ABROAD FACE MOUNTING PROBLEMS. Kremlin claims that Russia is now selling more arms abroad is at best a short-term phenomenon, as more and more potential purchasers complain and even file suits about the low quality and long details in delivery of Russian military equipment, according to analyst Ruslan Saidov. Indeed, he says, that recent growth in sales has been to countries which have nowhere else to turn and that these countries will go elsewhere. “Five to ten years from now,” he writes, Russia will finally lose such purchasers as India and China” (

ONLY TEN PERCENT OF LENIN’S BODY IN THE MAUSOLEUM IS REALLY HIM. Vladimir Medinskiy, a United Russia Duma deputy, said that the Russian government may soon decide to bury the founder of the Soviet state in large measure because what is now on display in the Red Square mausoleum is “not more than ten percent of his body” and thus removing it to a cemetery should not be a problem (

OTHER POLITICAL GROUPS FOLLOW ‘NASHI’ IN SETTING UP SUMMER CAMPS. Russia’s anarchists and communists are setting up their own summer youth camps modeled on the one the pro-Kremlin youth group has organized and that has attracted so much media attention ( The appearance of such camps could point to a much more contentious fall in Russia’s cities.

RUSSIAN SOCIETY HAS FORGOTTEN THE LESSONS OF ITS ‘LONGEST WAR.’ Even as Russian officials suggest that the United States and its NATO allies are making the same mistakes in Afghanistan that the Soviet Union did in the 1980s, Moscow military historian Vladimir Popov argues that “Russian society has forgotten the lessons of its own longest war” – its effort to establish control over the North Caucasus since the 18th century, one that its members mistakenly believed ended 144 years ago when the Circassians were expelled to Turkey (

TORTURE IN UZBEKISTAN NOW PART OF THAT COUNTRY’S POLITICAL SYSTEM, UN EXPERT SAYS. Matthew Pringle, coordinator for the program of the Association for Preventing Torture in Geneva and an advisor to the United Nations, said that “torture in Uzbekistan” is now a regular part of the criminal justice and political system there (

RUSSIA’S TRANSFER OF LITTORAL LAND TO CHINA SPARKS SHARP DEBATE. The Russian government’s decision to hand over to China several small islands and river littoral land has sparked a sharp debate between those who believe that this accord will open the way to greater cooperation between the two countries and those who fear that China and perhaps Japan and other countries will soon make additional demands. For a survey of this debate, including some links to key documents, see

TURKMENS SHOW WHAT A REAL STRUGGLE AGAINST CULT OF PERSONALITY LOOKS LIKE. Since the death of Saparmurat Niyazov, officials there have pulled down “dozens of monuments” to the late dictator and removed his image from television broadcasts and his writings from many schools (

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