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Week 50, Special Issue 1

"Now serving over 5500 Readers Weekly"

Monday, 8 December 2003

Dear POLARIS Customer,

The NATO School and the POLARIS editors are delighted to offer another, new service to you. On an occasional basis, we would like to provide you with some in-depth information on recent events of major importance. The POLARIS editors, thus, will compile a comprehensive overview of particular issues, which might be of concern to your practical work. We will draw from publicly accessible sources to shade some light on recent developments from the respective points of view. Also, the POLARIS Special Issue will bring to you some impressions on recent developments at the NATO School. We hope the new service will be beneficial for you and your work.

Parliamentary Elections in Russia

Voices from the Press Putin Party Heads for Triumph in Russia Poll

The main pro-Kremlin party easily won the most votes in Russia's parliamentary elections Sunday, according to partial official results, putting President Vladimir Putin on the path to the solid majority he seeks to strengthen his hold on the country. Greater might in the State Duma, Russia's lower parliament house, would make it easier for Putin to push through the sometimes unpopular marketoriented economic reforms he has promised and cut the bureaucracy that stifles Russian growth. It may also let him pass constitutional changes giving him a third term in office. President Vladimir Putin's allies headed for overwhelming electoral victory on Monday, crushing Communist and liberal opponents in a parliamentary poll that changed the political landscape of Russia. It also effectively guaranteed Putin a second term in next spring's presidential election and could even give him enough votes to change the constitution so he can run for a third term. United Russia, the Kremlin-backed party whose main slogan was "Together with the President," won some 37 percent of the vote for the State Duma lower house. Ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky's party -- which invariably backs the Kremlin -- won 12 percent and Motherland, seen by many as a Kremlin creation though it is headed by a former Communist economist, had around nine percent. That, according to official projections, could be enough to give a pro-Kremlin voting bloc in the Duma of two-thirds, enough to change the constitution. The badly mauled Communist Party -- which may have lost half its seats and possibly any real remaining political clout -- called Sunday's polls a farce and accused the Kremlin of fraud. Liberal party leaders, facing political oblivion, said the vote concentrated too much power in the hands of the pro-Kremlin United Russia and of nationalists. "We will have an entirely different political picture in Russia," said Boris Nemtsov, whose pro-business Union of RightWing Forces may scrape only a few seats in the Duma lower house.

The POLARIS Team POLARIS Special content Elections in Russia 1 ­ Voices form the Press ­ 3 ­ Official views ­ At the NATO School

Romanian Minster of Defense visits the NATO School




Managing Editor: MAJ Marcel de Haas, NL AF Editor: Heiko Bubholz, GE-CIV The next issue of POLARIS is scheduled for week 49.

Disclaimer: POLARIS is an open source News-Round-Up. The NATO School [NS] is not responsible for the factual validity of the articles covered in POLARIS. The opinions and analyses expressed in POLARIS are those of the individual authors. Publication of news items does not constitute approval or endorsement by NS, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Partnership for Peace Program or by member- or partner governments. The NATO School respects individual opinions and protects academic freedom.


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The vote showed ex-KGB officer Putin, who has moved to restore central control since succeeding Boris Yeltsin in 2000, was building a strong power base in a country rocked by instability in the early reforming years of the 1990s. Others warned it may give Putin a bit too much power. A big concern has been a Kremlin-led attack on Russia's richest businessman, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, which many fear could herald a bid by hard-liners in Putin's circle to curb business leaders and put the economy under more state control. There was also concern that the virtual disappearance of the two liberal parties would remove a motor of economic reform on Duma committees, affecting plans to tackle administrative reform, healthcare reform and foreign investment legislation. The election inspired little excitement among voters. Turnout was 47.6 percent just before polls closed, significantly lower than the 53.9 percent recorded at the same time during the last Duma vote, in 1999. Security was tightened across much of the country after a bombing attack Friday that killed 42 people on a commuter train near Chechnya. Putin called the attack an attempt to destabilize the country ahead of the election. Many Russians have been losing interest in voting as the forced participation of the Soviet era recedes and disillusionment with today's stage-managed democracy grows. Throughout the campaign, state-run television ceaselessly criticized United Russia's opponents, particularly the Communist Party. The coverage raised concern from the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is monitoring the elections. Turnout for the vote appeared lower than past elections, with many Russians disillusioned. Still, exit polls mirrored the partial count with a big win for Putin and his allies as he heads into a March presidential ballot that seems sure to hand him a second term. The Communist Party, considered United Russia's chief contender, climbed to second place, but continued to face a solid challenge from the flamboyant nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, or LDPR. The Communists forged ahead of LDPR with 12.7 percent of the vote, while LDP saw its support drop as more votes were counted. It had 11.8 percent, according to Lysenko. Russia's two main liberal parties, Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces, known by its Russian acronym SPS, were still below the minimum necessary to enter the parliament as parties. Homeland, a newly formed patriotic party combining communists and nationalists, had 9 percent, Lysenko said. The party is widely viewed as having been set up with Kremlin approval to draw votes from traditional Communist Party supporters. A party needs at least 5 percent of the vote to win any of 225 State Duma seats set aside for parties. The other 225 seats of the State Duma are being decided in local elections being contested by individual candidates. Results from those races are expected much later. Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov dismissed the elections as a "disgusting show ... that has nothing to do with democracy." The head of the party's Moscow branch, Alexander Kuvayev, claimed widespread violations in the capital, including ballot-box stuffing and votes cast for dead people and vowed the party would protest. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) had said the pre-election campaign was marred by pro-Kremlin bias in the media, a charge echoed by many Russian opposition parties and commentators.

Reuters, AP & Radio Free Europe 8-Dec-03

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Offical Views OSCE · State Duma elections well organized but failed to meet many international standards

The State Duma elections on 7 December failed to meet many OSCE and Council of Europe commitments, calling into question Russia's willingness to move towards European standards for democratic elections, concludes the International Election Observation Mission (IEOM) in a statement, issued today. Over 500 international observers from 42 countries monitored the voting and counting from Vladivostok to St. Petersburg. The pre-election process was characterized by extensive use of the state apparatus and media favouritism to benefit the largest pro-presidential party, reflected in voter apathy. "Given that procedures on election day were conducted in a technically correct way, it is even more regrettable that the main impression of the overall electoral process is of regression in the democratization process in Russia," said Bruce George MP, President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, appointed by the OSCE Chairman in office as the Special Co-ordinator for the Short-term observers. "We hope that improvements will be made within the next few months to ensure that the upcoming presidential elections will come closer to meeting international standards." David Atkinson MP, Head of the Parliamentary Delegation of the Council of Europe, added: "The Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly delegation welcomes improvements in the conduct of these elections in line with our recommendations four years ago. However, we are very concerned at the unfair practices, which have benefited one party. Real political competition and choice for the voters are indispensable elements in a true democratic election process." Professor Rita Süssmuth, Head of the Long-term Observation Mission, deployed by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, said: "We have serious concerns regarding the lack of media independence. State media failed to provide balanced coverage of the campaign and considerable pressure was exerted on journalists, which restricted information available to voters to make an informed choice. Steps should be taken to develop the state broadcasters into a truly independent public service." Election day proceeded in a generally calm and orderly manner. International observers assessed the conduct of voting as positive in an overwhelming majority of polling stations. However, irregularities were noted in regard to the protection of the secrecy of the vote, while other problems were noted during the counting process. The OSCE and the Council of Europe will continue to follow the process closely and stand ready to assist the authorities and civil society of the Russian Federation in continuing to improve its democratic process.

OSCE 8-Dec-03

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At the NATO School

The Romanian Minister of Defence addresses the NATO School

The Commandant of the NATO School, Colonel Mark P. Sullivan, was honoured to welcome the Minister of Defence of Romania, His Excellency Mr. Ioan Mircea Pascu on 5 December 2003. The Minister gave a key-note speech to students from the NATO European Security Cooperation Course. The audience comprised students from 31 nations, amongst them students from Israel, Jordan, Russia and Serbia and Montenegro. Opening with a reflection on Romania's Security in the early 1990s, Professor Pascu identified that the main challenge of those days was to strike, and then keep, a dynamic balance between internal and external transformation. Since then, despite internal reforms, Romania has been a net provider of "consumer security", rather than a "security net consumer". Romania's goals have been in concert with those of NATO: The Projection of security and prosperity throughout the EuroAtlantic Region by means of NATO and EU enlargement. All this has been while NATO itself has been transforming, from an alliance (collective defence) to a security organization (crisis management), and while the EU has also been transforming: from an economic into a political-military organization (crisis management). The Anglo-French decision of Saint Malo in 1998 had the advantage of putting the European defence policy and capability on track, but equally, risked of putting the entire endeavour on a competitive path with the US. The question is whether the EU ­ which must increase its investment in defence to establish credibility in this area ­ decides to do it within the NATO framework or within the EU. Through both NATO and EU integration, Romania enters a geo-political space dominated by consensual politics and shared democratic values. Consequently, Romania seeks "complementarity" between NATO and EU defences and broadly sees its NATO mission as a contribution to the security of Europe. Romania's contribution draws on its geographic location, national potential and regional relationships (western Balkans, Black Sea, Ukraine and Russia). In concrete terms, the "Berlin plus" agreement provides the basis to span both requirements; NATO and EU. Romania cannot afford the luxury of having two sets of forces and planning. Furthermore, Romania brings to both the Alliance and the Union a wealth of knowledge and experience in its region of the world, a modern highly trained armed force, and a deep commitment to Peace and Freedom. This makes Romania both a powerful ally and friend who will strengthen both organizations.

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