Daily Archives: October 4, 2006

British Shadow Government Calls Russia "Threat to Security" of U.K.

The Beeb reports that British conservatives are beginning to rally against Russian militarism. How long before we hear from today’s Churchill about the Iron Curtain, Part II, that is descending across the continent, starting in Georgia?

The UK underestimates the threat to its future security posed by Russia, shadow defence secretary Liam Fox has warned.

Addressing a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference, Dr Fox claimed Russia was increasing its defence spending this year by 25%.

It was also testing more long range missiles and pouring money into two naval bases in Syria, he added.

That, together with Iran’s military build-up, justified replacing Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system.

Dr Fox said the Tories were committed to replacing Trident nuclear weapons and, with so much uncertainty in the world, he warned against embarking on a “potentially lethal experiment in unilateral disarmament”.

He said Iran and Russia pose the most serious “potential threats to our interests”.


He said Russian President Vladimir Putin had spoken recently “of having armed forces capable of fighting a global, regional and, if necessary, a few local conflicts”.

The shadow minister said he had been “amazed” by how little coverage Russia’s new military build-up has received in the Western media.

He said the country was spending 25% more on defence this year than last year and is testing new inter-continental ballistic missiles, and ordering new frigates for its navy, equipped with cruise missiles.

The Russians have also reportedly invested in two Syrian ports, he added.

If they switch their Black Sea fleet there it would be their first Mediterranean base since the 1950s, said Dr Fox, who repeated his warning in a speech in the main conference hall at the Bournemouth conference centre.


He also said that, along with North Korea and China, Russia had helped Iran to develop ballistic missiles with a range up to 4,000 kilometres which “could attack US and British forces in the region”.

And he warned of the economic power being wielded by Russian gas giant Gazprom, which he said was controlled by “extremely questionable oligarchs and politicians”.

If President Putin went on to be the head of Gazprom after stepping down as Russian president, he would be able to wield a “great deal of influence” over neighbouring states, Dr Fox told the meeting.

“It might turn out President Putin is a cuddly bunny. It might turn out that he is not. We should be in the risk business,” he added.

Murder in Adygeya: Are the Kremlin’s Fingerprints on the Gun?

Reader Jeremy Putley points out that the Jamestown Foundation’s Andrei Smirnov reports in Volume 3, Issue 182 of the Eurasia Daily Monitor newsletter as follows:


During the evening of September 25, Murat Kudaev, head of the Krasnogvardeisk district of Adygeya, a republic in the North Caucasus, was returning home after a meeting of the Adygei government in Maykop, the local capital. When Kudaev approached Adamy, his native village in Krasnogvardeisk district, a police patrol pulled him over to check his identification papers. A uniformed man examined Kudaev’s driver’s license and suddenly pumped two gunshots into Kudaev’s chest and a third into his head. Kudaev died instantly, and the assailants fled in a fake squad car.

Witnesses who glimpsed the killers’ license plate gave the number to investigators from the Adygei Prosecutor’s Office, which reports directly to Moscow and is independent of the local government. However, investigators reacted strangely. The tag — 4406 23 — belongs to Krasnodar krai, the region surrounding Adygei territory. Aslan Shuzzo, a Regnum news agency correspondent in Adygeya, told Jamestown that instead of thanking the witnesses, the officials from the prosecutor’s office called them “insane.” Sergei Zhinzharov, head of the investigation sector of the Adygei procuracy, said that no car had been assigned that particular number. According to Shuzzo, the prosecutor’s office insisted that Kudaev’s killers had three cars, not one, and that a search for those cars was underway in Krasnodar krai. Also, the Adygei Interior Ministry refused to admit that the killers had been dressed in police uniforms, and its spokesman said that there were no real witnesses to the assassination (
Nezavisimaya gazeta, September 27).

Security officials suggested economic motives were behind Kudaev’s murder. Vasily Guk, the Adygei prosecutor’s office press secretary, said that the investigation was focusing on only one scenario: “murder due to his activities as a government official.” Guk theorized that Kudaev had made enemies with his order to stop mining of the sandy gravel in the Laba and Kuban Rivers because of the resulting environmental damage (Kommersant, September 27).

However, some members of the Adygei government, including Minister of Agriculture Shrakhmet Skhalakho and Minister of Economic Development Vadim Zinukhin, as well as Kudaev’s friends adamantly denied that economic motives were behind his assassination. “There is no doubt that this murder has a political character,” insisted Anatoly Osokin, a deputy of the Adygei parliament (Regnum, September 26; Kommersant, September 27).

Kudaev was the principal protégé of Adygei president Khasret Sovmen and the leading candidate to succeed Sovmen when his term expires in February 2007). Moreover, Kudaev was very popular within the republic; under his leadership Krasnogvardeisk district became one of the most developed and prosperous areas of the republic. Sovmen had always held up Kudaev as an example of a good manager. Last April, during the standoff between Sovmen and the Kremlin, Sovmen named Kudaev his successor (see EDM, April 6).

Kudaev was killed just ten days before Dmitry Kozak, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s envoy to the Southern Federal District, was scheduled to come to Adygei to discuss possible candidates for the republican presidency with the local political elite and civic organizations. Both Sovmen and the local parliament could support Kudaev. The parties and organizations that advocate the unification of Adygeya with Krasnodar krai (see EDM, April 29), including the Union of the Slavs of Adygeya and the Party of Manufacturers and Entrepreneurs, could not object to Kudaev either, because of his established reputation as a successful manager. (Advocates of unification cite Adygeya’s economic problems as justification.)

Undoubtedly, both leaders of civic organizations and parliamentary deputies, especially members of the Adygei branch of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, whose members are still loyal to Sovmen, would have nominated Kudaev as the new Adygei president if he had not been killed. However, neither the Kremlin nor Kozak would dare trust a popular candidate nominated by the maverick Sovmen, because it would violate the vertical power principles of Putin and Kozak. A quick survey of the new North Caucasus leaders appointed by Putin this year reveals a string of weak, unpopular puppets totally controlled by Moscow, like Mukhu Aliev in Dagestan, Murat Zyazikov in Ingushetia, or Arsen Kanokov in Kabardino-Balkaria. The likely Kremlin candidate for Adygeya is Ruslan Khadzhibiekov, chairman of the local parliament. The Russian authorities are confident that Khadzhibiekov would accept any changes in Kremlin policy towards Adygeya, and he would never obstruct the republic’s absorption by Krasnodar krai if Moscow ever makes the final decision on this issue.

Despite the prevailing opinion in Adygeya, Kozak’s entourage is unlikely to discover any political motives in Kudaev’s case. A source in Kozak’s apparatus told Kommersant, “According to preliminary data there is no political background to the District Chief’s assassination.” The same source also told Kommersant, “We will not accept any candidate nominated by Sovmen.”

Yesterday, October 2, Kozak visited Maykop to discuss the possible candidates. According to Jamestown sources in the republic, most civic leaders back another term for Sovmen, but these demands are likely to be ignored by Moscow. Russian media sources reported that among the seven candidates mentioned at the meeting, Aslan Tkhakushinov, president of the Adygei Institute of Technology, and Ruslan Khadzhibiekov, who was proposed by United Russia were the only genuine contenders. After the meeting Kozak said that the Russian president would consider all the candidates’ credentials, but Putin seems to have already made up his mind for Khadzhibiekov.

American Parents Save Russian Girls from Horror

The Michigan Daily News reports:

When Russian sisters Christiana Muratova and Alyssia Nikitina lost their mother back in August 2002, their lives took a totally different direction.

That path has led them to Belding.

The girls’ mother was slain in a vicious attack by her boyfriend. They then went to live with Nikitina’s father. Times were not good at the household.

Muratova, now 16, never knew her father. The father of Nikitina, now 15, soon lost custody of the girls due to alcoholism, a common problem in Russia.

The girls were under state care for several years. Their bond of sisterhood was tested when a rich Russian family wanted to adopt Nikitina but not Muratova.

“I didn’t want to be without Christiana,” Nikitina said. “We had always been together through our whole life. She is my sister. You can’t go without your sister. Your heart won’t let you.”

The girls waited for almost year before hearing that an American family, the Andres in Belding, wanted to adopt them. Diane Andres said she had been “touched” when she found Nikitina’s profile online. It said nobody wanted her because she was older.

“I saw that they only adopted babies,” Andres said. “I know what it is like to have older kids. People might think of them as a problem but they need a home just like a baby needs a home.”

The Andres were all set to come to Russia to pick up the girls. But a telephone call in the middle of the night back in June 2005 changed all that.

The adoption would be delayed because the girls were having second thoughts.

“It was a really hard experience,” Andres said. “We were devastated.”

The sisters were scared. They had heard rumors from family members and their community that Americans only adopted Russian children to use their organs for transplants.

“Our director said the people who would adopt us are good,” Nikitina said. “You can trust them, she said. You can trust them.”

So the girls decided to move forward with the process and that trust paid off.

“See, I am still alive,” Muratova said, gesturing broadly. “I am.”

It was with that leap of faith that the sisters came to Belding in September 2005. The Andres family now has grown to include Dave Andres, 54, Diane, 47, 20-year-old Ashley, 17-year-old Matt and the two girls.

The sisters’ first stop after arriving in America was the Twilight Parade during Belding’s Labor Day Homecoming Celebration.

“It was all different,” Muratova said. “We got off the airplane and went to the parade. I thought it was cool. It was my first parade.”

Now, one year later, the girls still are adjusting to their new life. This includes a new language, new culture and new food, among other things.

“In Russia we had more freedom,” Muratova said. “When you don’t have a parent, you go outside all the time.”

“You don’t have to worry that your parents are worrying about you,” Nikitina added.

The Andres’ house has changed with the fresh air the girls have brought in.

“It’s a little more time to get ready in the morning or to go somewhere,” Diane said. “There are a few more expenses, like food. They eat like teenage boys, not girls. That’s good.”