Following yesterday’s meeting of the National Security Council Boris Yeltsin issued a decree on measures for countering terrorism. Clearly enacted first and foremost with Chechnya in mind, the decree orders creation of an antiterrorism coordinating body and tasks Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) with uncovering and liquidating conduits by which financing and weaponry from abroad are channeled to "illegal armed formations" in Russia. It orders the SVR to create within a year a database on terrorist acts and their perpetrators and provides for the creation of special anti-terrorist elements within the SVR and the Interior Ministry, all to be equipped with advanced weaponry and technical means. Comprehensive inspections of weapons factories and ammunitions depots are to be carried out. The decree also apparently orders the mass media to avoid broadcasts or publications that justify terrorist acts and warns against dissemination of information that could be construed as constituting a threat to civilians or military and law enforcement personnel. (3)
Although Russia’s myriad special services have often proven in recent years to be ineffectual, particularly in Chechnya, the terrorism decree appears nevertheless to reflect a further enhancement of their status, strength, and influence. Meanwhile, the provisions on the media could conceivably be used in the current context to suppress reports critical of Russian military actions in Chechnya. These two provisions together, if misapplied, are unlikely to further Russia’s democratic transformation. Finally, the decree signifies Moscow’s insistent claim that Chechen military actions are terrorist in nature and that they therefore justify, as part of the world community’s battle against international terrorism, the most forceful countermeasures.
…As Moscow Lauds Iran’s Anti-Terrorism Battle.