Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 169

The Council of Internal Affairs Ministers of CIS member countries conferred on September 8 in Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan, against the backdrop of the Islamic insurgency in and around that country. Russia’s first deputy minister of internal affairs, Valery Fyodorov, stated afterward that the meeting had “proceeded in a constructive manner on the whole”–a clear hint at frictions. Fyodorov found it necessary to admonish unnamed CIS countries that “no one will be able to sit out the antiterrorist struggle.” The admonition could have had any number of addressees, but one of them must be Turkmenistan, which rejects the premise that Afghanistan constitutes a source of terrorism or of regional instability.

Kyrgyzstan’s President Askar Akaev, receiving the conferees, went out of his way to describe Russia as a “great power”–the latest form of ingratiation by presidents who seek Moscow’s political support against internal challenges. Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi, who hopes to secure a second term of office this coming November against overwhelming odds, described Russia last week as a “superpower” entitled to a commensurate role in the “post-Soviet space.”

The Internal Affairs Ministers’ Council designated a representative to serve as first deputy director of the CIS Antiterrorism Center. That representative is Russia’s Lieutenant-General Anatoly Petukhov, who currently holds the post of first deputy head of the Main Anticrime Department of Russia’s Internal Affairs Ministry. This selection would seem to change the terms of reference for filling top posts at the CIS Antiterrorism Center. With the creation of that center and the appointment of Russia’s Lieutenant-General Boris Melnikov as its head in June of this year (see the Monitor, June 22-23, July 3; Fortnight in Review, July 7), controversy ensued over the selection of the first deputy and deputy heads of the center. National representation was assumed to be the criterion for selection, and some countries wanted non-Russians to be appointed for balance. Petukhov’s designation, however, seems based on the institutional, rather than national criterion, but it still permits Russia to monopolize the leadership of this new structure and it should open the way for other, Russian-chaired CIS bodies–the Council of Defense Ministers, for example, or that of the Border Troops’ Commanders–to designate their representatives for top posts at the CIS Antiterrorism Center on an institutional basis as well, to the detriment of national representation.

During the Cholpon-Ata meeting, Russia’s and Kyrgyzstan’s Internal Affairs ministries signed an agreement on joint anticrime and antidrug operations. The agreement opens the door for the Russian ministry to undertake operations on Kyrgyzstan’s territory with its advance consent (Itar-Tass, KyrgyzKabar, September 8).