(THE PRESIDENT’S WRONG AND CRIMINAL FOREIGN POLICY)
In their leaflet the nazbols have brought three accusations against Putin of carrying out a dull and sometimes criminal foreign policy. Point 4: “The appearance of American military bases in Central Asia. You let them there after the events of September 11th 2001. You ingratiate yourself with the USA.” Point 6: “ The friendship with the monstrous regime of Turkmenbashi, who banished Russians from Turkmenia.” Point 8: “ The witless interference in the elections in Abkhazia and Ukraine. However difficult it was to spoil the relations with the friendly Abkhaz people, but you succeeded in this. And Ukraine, by your efforts, stands on the threshold of disintegration and civil war.”
In reality earlier crimes in the area of foreign economies can be brought against the president. This is the liquidation of the Russian naval bases in Lourdes (in Cuba) and in Kamran (Vietnam). The president has stated his motive then, during his first presidential mandate: the Russian Federation does not have the possibility to pay a supposedly unbearable rent. In total we were paying 500 million dollars per year. Of course this amount seems huge on the first sight. However it is less than 4% of the amount recently paid by the State Gazprom concern to the private shareholders of Sibneft, in particular to R. Abramovich. From the naval base in Lourdes we were controlling the Atlantic Ocean and we were perfectly close to the United States. If the US had tried to do something we would have had the possibility to respond immediately. From the base in Kamran (Vietnam) we were controlling two oceans: the Pacific and the Indian oceans. Putin’s decision to close down these bases has unquestionably left Russia without the status of a naval power. If Peter the Great has gotten us the status of a naval power at a great cost by making his way to the Baltic and Black Seas, then president Putin has closed this status. By himself.
Even with Yeltsin in the 1990s, having ousted ourselves from Europe and the world we were still remaining a large regional power. In these years the Kremlin was still “a source of legitimacy for the post-Soviet regimes” (expression used by the political scientist S. Belkovsky). “Openly and aggressively anti-Russian rulers (for example Zviad Gamsakhurdia or Abulfaz Elchibey), Belkovsky writes, did not stay in power for long. And the new elected heads of the CIS States were first eager to improve their relations with the big and generous, like grandpa Yeltsin, Russia. Besides, Moscow supported the viability of unrecognized States, guarantying the stability of a three-leveled post-Soviet construction: Russia as the legal successor of the metropolis – other CIS countries – rebellious enclaves with an unregulated status. Under Putin, Belkovsky goes on, the Russian Federation has hopelessly lost its status as the source of post-Soviet legitimacy and turned into the largest piece of yesterday’s great Empire. From the first geopolitical league where regional powers are playing (of the level of India or Brazil), we have passed to the second, where States like Paraguay or Algeria are fighting for a seat in history’s train wagon. (Obviously, the amount of oil and offshore money does not influence the State’s status in this case.) Now to obtain some legitimacy the head of a former allied republic goes directly to Washington and not to Moscow.”
Let us remember the speech made by Vladimir Putin, RF president, right after the grandiose terrorist act of all times and people on September 11th 2001. He has almost started to cry and promised any thinkable help to the United States. Including his influence on Central Asian countries, so that American planes could receive the landing grounds they need to invade Afghanistan where, supposedly, Ben Laden, who is, supposedly, responsible for the bombing of the Twin Towers in New York, was hiding. And he helped them. Four years passed since then and the United States have comfortably settled down in Central Asia. US military bases have appeared in the region’s countries: in Uzbekistan, in Kyrgyzstan and in Tajikistan. The Karshi-Khanabad air base in Uzbekistan, which has strategic significance in the region, was transferred to the Pentagon for carrying out operations in Afghanistan after September 11th and for Washington’s creation of a “global anti-terrorist coalition”. The C-130 squadron, about a dozen Black Hawk helicopters and about one thousand and a half military personnel were sent to Uzbekistan to reinforce the Central Asian flank of the coalition. American military personnel and equipment were dislocated in Uzbekistan according to a bilateral agreement between Washington and Tashkent signed in October 2001. (The same agreements were signed with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan). Although each side has the right to leave the agreement until May of this year, when the Andijan events took place nothing was threatening the US interests in Uzbekistan. The American military presence benefited Tashkent economically – it added 50 million dollars per year to the budget. It had also a political benefit. Uzbekistan became one of the US key partners in Central Asia. In other words, hello, Yankees, goodbye, Russia. All of this was made in accordance with the desire of the Russian president. In other words, in accordance with his desire the United States has received air bases south of Russia. There are only a couple of flight hours for the supersonic bombers from the bases of Karshi-Khanabade (Uzbekistan), Ganci (Kyrgyzstan), Dushanbe (Tajikistan) to Russia’s big cities situated along the border with Kazakhstan, such as Astrakhan, Volgograd, Saratov, Orenburg, Ufa, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Barnaul and others. We don’t need a president like that! – The residents of all these cities must say. He put us under fire. Ok, today the US seems to be friendly, but what about tomorrow?
Actually the Americans turned out to be more principled with Uzbekistan than Putin, even in detriment to their own geopolitical interests. After the events in Andijan the US have transferred Tashkent among “suspect regimes”, to the rank of a “corrupted, repressive regime”, which the US does not want to tolerate.
Shortly, about what happened in Andijan. There on May 12-13th the government’s troops opened fire on peaceful residents who demanded social-political and economical reforms. According to the official version 187 “rebels” died. However according to the human rights organizations over 500 people were killed. President Karimov and his regime try to present this massacre as an anti-governmental rebellion. Still people were shot from machine guns. When the United States started to demand an independent investigation about the shooting in Abijan from the Uzbek authorities (in particular severe criticism was heard from the US Senate and from the democrats D. Baden and P. Likhi and from the republicans D. McCain, L. Grem and M. Divine), Uzbekistan’s authorities declared that they give 180 days to the American military to leave the country. The Americans started to negotiate a redislocation to Kyrgyzstan and to the country of Turkmenbashi.
In Russia we know very well about what happens in Turkmenistan. According to the Russian Memorial human rights society the number of political prisoners in Karimov’s country is over 7 thousand people. Torture is widely used. Independent journalists are tracked down and beaten (like National-Bolsheviks in Putin’s country). Nosir Zakirov, correspondent of Freedom Radio, was sentenced to 6 months of detention. Correspondents from BBC, Voice of America, German Wave, many newspapers, journals and Internet agencies have suffered. The BBC broke down and closed its office in Uzbekistan. On September 20th the trial of the people accused of “terrorist acts and other heavy crimes” in Andijan began in Uzbekistan’s Supreme Court. On the first day the defendants have pleaded guilty and on the second they demanded a death sentence (!) In the end of October 2005 the leader of the oppositional Sun Coalition Sanzhar Umarov was arrested. His lawyer arrived to the basement of the police station in Tashkent where he was detained. “He waited a long time before they bring Umarov in the office. Then the police asked Umarov to go down to the basement. When he looked through the window of the cell the lawyer saw the following: Sanzhar Umarov, completely naked, was standing, holding his head in his hands, swinging side to side and did not react to what was happening, Novaya Gazeta told in its 81st issue, 2005. President Putin is glad to strike a smiling pose next to president Karimov on all CIS summits. The official Russia adopted Karimov’s point of view: the death of people on May 13th is defined as an anti-governmental rebellion organized by terrorists. Putin expresses his solidarity with the repressive regime. Still, Karimov’s regime will finally fall and the Uzbek people and Uzbekistan’s following government will look on Russia and Russians like on the allies of a butcher.
But let us return to the American bases in Central Asia. In Kyrgyzstan the US military’s presence is legitimized by a bilateral agreement of October 2001. On November 8th 2005 the Americans held negotiations on the subject in Bishkek. Robert Mueller, FBI director, has heard Kyrgyzstan’s foreign minister Alekbek Jekshenkulov. No, Kyrgyzstan does not intend to say: “Yankees, go home!” to the Americans, Kyrgyzstan wants money, dollars. “The foreign minister noted the need to raise the rent of the Manas airport paid by the American side, to collect a payment for the air-navigation service and also to compensate the environmental damage from the use of the military base, Gazeta writes on 11.09.05. “Besides, it was proposed to increase the taxes, which have not yet corresponded to Kyrgyzstan’s tax legislation. (The 2001 agreement said that the non-residents among the foreign companies are freed from taxes for deliveries of products made on the Ganci US military base (The 376th air-expeditional corps of the US army with units of security and technical service are located on the Ganci base (in the Manas airport). Over 1200 militaries) and as a result the State budget, according to the republic’s finance ministry, has lost about 150 million dollars during the four years of the air base’s exploitation). /…/ Pentagon representatives have expressed their readiness to examine the oncoming financial and legal modifications of the agreement.” The principal phase of the anti-terrorist operation in the neighboring Afghanistan was finished a long time ago, therefore the necessity of a future stay of the American military and their planes in Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia in general is extremely dubious. After Karimov, infuriated by US criticism, refused to give the Khanabad air base to the US, on October 3rd, during his visit to Bishkek, the special representative of the NATO general secretary in Central Asia and Caucasus, Robert Simons, enlisted the support of Kyrgyzstan’s authorities concerning the continued use of the Ganci base. Moreover an agreement was reached about the enlargement of the air base’s military contingent – by transferring there subunits dislocated in Uzbekistan. A week after Simons, Condoleezza Rice arrived in Bishkek and received a confirmation from the president that the military base will be situated in the Bishkek Manas airport until the situation in Afghanistan completely stabilizes. The United States’ desire to have a military springboard is understandable, but it was the witless politician Putin who invited the US army there.
As we see, America consolidated its positions in the Central Asia region and does not intend on leaving. The October blitzkrieg visit of the US State secretary Condoleezza Rice in the Central Asia countries is an illustration of that. In the same way US State secretaries were making visits in “the US soft underbelly” – Latin America in previous times. From now on Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are apparently considered as the US soft underbelly. The United States fixedly watches the events in Kazakhstan, the oncoming elections there. The 201st infantry division of the Russian army is still present in Tajikistan, covering the North path from Afghanistan, but it has an increasingly miserable role. The Tajik side is quietly forcing the Russians out from the region, seduced by the American money and by the fact that today it is Washington that has become the source of legitimacy for the former Soviet republics.
Putin managed to successively lose the levers of political influence on Moldova, Georgia, Belarus and Ukraine. As a result Russia was forced to withdraw its bases from Georgia in three years and for free, while recently the question was to withdraw the bases in eleven years and with a 500-million-dollars compensation from Georgia. The official propaganda explains the conflict between Russia and Georgia by Saakashvili’s pro-American orientation, in real fact a major role was played by the Kremlin’s stupid animosity to the former soviet bosses Shevarnadze and Abashidze and by the Russian side’s silly approach, stubbornness and haughtiness. There is no consequent policy in relation to Georgia (as in relation to the other former soviet republics). If we do not need Georgia, let us take Abkhazia and South Ossetia, while they still want it. If, for some unknown reason, we need Georgia and good relations with it, we have to recognize Saakashvili and work with him on clear bases and conditions. The Russian diplomacy made a fool of itself on the Abkhaz presidential elections, making all the efforts to bring to power a Kremlin’s protégé – a former KGB officer. Abkhazia’s population resisted that. As a result a compromise was reached, Sergey Bagapsh, whom the population wanted, became president and a KGB officer imposed by Moscow became prime minister. Moscow’s awkward violence has infuriated and irritated the Abkhaz so much that more and more voices are heard in favor of keeping independence both from Georgia and from Russia. In the beginning of November Abkhazia’s defense ministry held large-scale exercises for the reservists. The goal of the exercises was “to defend the republic from an exterior attack and to assist the armed forces in repulsing a foreign aggression.” Abkhazia’s foreign minister Sergey Shamba said about this: “Abkhazia does not have to get an approval for its exercises neither from Georgia nor from Russia. We will not ask for their approval in the future either.” That’s right.
It has been ten years now that Russia is reuniting with Belarus. On October 20th 2005 “the commission preparing the Constitutional act of an Allied State announced that the project of the document that declares the alliance’s bases, would be examined by the Supreme Council before November 15th. Then the act will be submitted to a referendum, which will take place both in Russia and in Belarus,” Izvestia writes on 10.21.05. We can rejoice and applaud? Finally two people will merge into one? No, Izvestia explains. “The Constitutional act is not yet the constitution of a united State, but the document of a ‘transitional period’. The commission members draw attention to that fact. Different datelines for the adoption of the principal law are given: from November-December 2006 (i.e. on the eve of the elections in Russia) up to 2008-2010 (in this case it is the ‘successors’ of the actual presidents who will apparently decide its fate). Thus, today the allied State itself is almost virtual and its principal law is temporary.” “Naturally, the deliberate PR-bluffing with the Russian-Belarusian allied State, revived each time another stage of unpopular reforms is planned in Russia, is able to mislead only the most naïve observer,” the political scientist Stanislav Belkovsky that I already cited, notices.
To put it mildly, president’s Putin personal meddling in the electoral campaign in Ukraine was silly as well. The visit he made there before the elections and his unconditional support of the rather gloomy candidate Yanukovich (two trials and relations with Donbass’ criminal bosses) have polarized Ukraine’s political forces. They have mobilized western Ukraine and led it under Yushenko’s flags. I will explain, why. As all new States that have never had a State system before, Ukraine is experiencing painful sensations each time a big metropolis meddles in its affairs. This is how the “westernizers” have interpreted Putin’s visit and his support of Yanukovich. Literally Putin helped Yushenko to win the elections. And in fact, at a certain moment, by exacerbating the situation with his visit, he led the Ukrainian society (the nazbols are absolutely right!) on the brink of civil war between western and eastern Ukraine. Fuel was added to the fire by the Russian political technologists headed by Gleb Povlovsky who tried to use semi-criminal or even criminal methods during the electoral campaign, the same they use in Russia. Kremlin’s apprehension of the orange revolution is also caused by a sense of deep annoyance for its inadequate, stupid and helpless behavior. Today the Kremlin is spreading its own version of what happened in Ukraine (Maydan, the orange revolution) as a conspiracy organized and paid by the US. While in reality it is the manipulation of the elections according to the Russian model and the interference of Putin and his court political technologists that has caused the outrage of the Ukrainian society. Obviously a man used to solve problems with the use of violence (he has just “solved” the Beslan problem then) Putin would have liked the Maydan problem in Ukraine solved like in Beslan. A little provocation, shots from the Orange ranks at Ukraine’s domestic troops and “forced measures” of the swat teams in return. But the Ukrainians solved their problems peacefully, without bloodshed. From this time the RF president’s principal driving force was the fear of a “Maydan”. Realizing that the police (the Ukrainian and the Russian police have a common psychology inherited from the soviet police) would not shoot at the crowd on the Maydan because they are still under the influence of the soviet, although superficial, admiration of the “people”, Putin has approved the organization of the Nashi. Resorting to semi-military patriotic formations is the first sign of State fascism. You remember how Yakemenko breathlessly described to the students how the victorious soccer fans from Russia are driving out 100 thousand Ukrainians from the Maydan to the Dnieper with plastic chairs and then he mentioned the prison in The Hague where he will be sent. I don’t know if Putin realizes that the creation of semi-military organizations that practice beatings of their opponents, arsons and pogroms is State fascism?
Putin’s group has simply gone mad from the sight of “orange” revolutions. On October 20th 2005, on an official visit, Mister Lavrov said the following, I am citing Kommersant: “Concerning the subject of ‘color revolutions’ that is actually worrying the leaders of the CIS countries, mister Lavrov said: ‘The standardization in any form and the exportation of a certain sort of democracies with the use of force and all sorts of pressure methods are inadmissible. Even more inadmissible and counter-productive are the attempts of so-called regime changes that usually pursue quite defined foreign political goals that have nothing to do with the interests of a stable domestic development of the countries that have become the object of such intervention.” Where do you think, Sergey Lavrov, foreign minister of the Russian federation, has said this? In Askhabad, Turkmenistan’s capital, speaking in the National Institute of Democracy and Human Rights in the presence of the Turkmen president. That’s right. Inadmissible, intolerable and counter-productive are the attempts… Suffer in the stable domestic development of your Turkmenbashi, Turkmen and Russians in Turkmenistan. Belkovsky: “The Kremlin’s achievements in the sphere of defense of their compatriots outside the border are totally absent as well. The persecutions and humiliations to which the overly emotional Turkmenbashi has exposed the Russians were left unnoticed. The discrimination of the Russian minority, composing almost 40% of Latvia’s population sometimes caused a hoarse yelping in the Kremlin but it never ended in any real sanctions or other methods of pressure on Riga. And in a recent friendly conversation with his carefully selected people Vladimir Putin called not to demonize ‘our Latvian friends’.
The Kremlin did not show the slightest interest for the 2002-2004 political battles. Although, if forces loyal to Russia would have taken the power in this country it would have been much easier to solve the difficult problem of Kaliningrad’s transit. But the calls for help made from the other side of the Latvian border were ignored by the official Moscow. Not a single from the enumerated countries orients itself on Russia strategically, Belkovsky goes on. What’s left is of course the menacingly bent gas pipeline, but it’s hard to say that Putin is its creator and the image of an aggressive degenerate from the Kremlin, traditionally attached to the gifts of the pipeline by Putin’s administration does little to contribute to the growth of respect towards Russia in the remote and close corners of its former Empire.” Then Belkovsky concludes: “In the whole, effective geopolitics don’t work out. And those who want to know and understand Putin will never be able to understand his motivations if they don’t learn one simple principle: the RF second president is not a politician by his nature (and even less so an imperialist). He is a normal and typical businessman. And all of his decisions and actions are exclusively subordinated to the logic of big business, which comes down to the extraction of profits.” You could not have said it better.