Analytical Report: December 2011.

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The main events of the month were connected with foreign policy. International activities of the opposition and the authorities directly affect the political situation in the country.

There is a big number of integration initiatives within the framework of the CIS. Of The main attention should be given to efforts to revitalize the actions within the framework of the CSTO. There is overall impression of some urgency, which is initiated by Russia. Taking into consideration the fact that this country is not only an initiator, but also the sponsor of the next integration “step” in the CIS, it’s necessary to think about the reasons for that. They still are not completely clear, but obviously there is a complex of them. Firstly, Russia is trying to take advantage of temporary economic difficulties in the EU, which makes the idea of European integration not very attractive, in order to propose an alternative project, while there is a possibility for that. Secondly, Russia wants to create a defensive alliance, a sort of “cordon sanitaire” along the Russian border in the west and south. Thirdly, the elections and the declining ratings of Putin forced him to seek support among the “pro-empire” electorate. However, as we have noted earlier, a community of regimes, that have no common ideological values and also have questionable legitimacy, can not be sustainable in the long run. In addition, long-term authoritarian leadership style teaches leaders to correlate their actions only to personal interests, making it difficult to coordinate and develop common solutions within the framework of CIS integration associations.

On the other hand it should be noted that in the context of the integration efforts of Russia, Belarusian opposition is disappointed by the absence of strategy on “Belarusian issue” in the West.

Month and was rich in events in the field of national security and defense. Thus, despite claims about the end of the period of military reform, Belarusian leaders continue to optimize the organizational structure of the Army. At the same time shortage of personnel, caused by inadequate size of wages of Belarusian law enforcers, has an increasing influence on the efficiency of the power apparatus of the country. It should be noted that the authorities have sufficient financial resources to solve this problem, but for some reason they don’t do this. In our opinion this is connected with the poor quality of managerial staff of Belarusian State.

The internal situation: the stability of state power. The regime continues to show intransigence and unwillingness to discuss even the possibility of any political reforms in the country. In fact, the Belarusian authorities are in a special situation of “perimeter defense”, when the conflict with the West is predetermined, and at the same time there is no trust to Russia despite the economic cooperation. In general, the stability of power system, constructed by Alexander Lukashenko continues to be high, but only because of the absence of serious external pressure. This situation can not last forever: the financial crisis in the West is mostly speculative, and the electoral campaign in Russia will be over. And then the “Belarusian issue” will again be the focus of foreign players. This can be expected in the second half of 2012. In addition, the arrest of Vladimir Shevtsov, probably indicates a lack of solidity within the ruling group and the need for its consolidation (in differet ways including intimidation).

Perhaps it’s necessary to start to talk about the events of the month from the press conference of Mr. Lukashenka on December 23, 2011. Despite the fact that in general it was a lengthy and uninformative, it’s necessary to admit two main things.

Firstly, it have become completely clear that Mr. Lukashenka is absolutely unable to make agreements and can not be a part of the process of normalization of the political situation. This means that there will not be such process at all, even under external pressure. Alexander Lukashenka is seriously considering himself as a messiah who saved Belarus from the chaos and decay caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union. The role of a supportive external (political and economic) environment in a relatively rapid economic recovery it is not considered by him: to his opinion all the positive results achieved during the last fifteen years, are solely the personal merit of the Head of State. At the same time Alexander Lukashenka is likely to sacralize his own power.

Secondly, the willingness of the authorities to release prisoners on the events of December 19, 2010 was confirmed at the highest level. However, the authorities are trying to save their reputation and give the sentenced the possibility to be released in case they ask for clemency, which would have not only political but also legal consequences, because a petition for clemency means the recognition of guilt by the convict and the clemency does not entail rehabilitation.

It should be recognized that the Belarusian authorities in their confrontation with the West are far from capitulation sentiments. The evidence of this is the termination of the activity of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Belarus. This step is of Belarusian authorities was caused by the position of Germany on Belarusian issues.

In December, the information about the arrest of one of the most influential and successful Belarusian businessmen Victor Shevtsov was confirmed. The official reason is a criminal investigation related to the fact of causing material harm to the state on a large scale (the amount is about USD 10-30 million). It seems strange that such a businessman committed such a crime. It’s well-known, the Belarusian law enforcement agencies pay attention to large businesses, especially if their activities affect the property interests of the state. In this case, theft of state property is an act of suicide. At the same time in the business community there are talks that the real reason for the arrest of Mr. Shevtsov are his unauthorized contacts with the Russian authorities.

At the end of April 2011 it was reported that a group of so-called “court businessmen” tried to establish business contacts with representatives of the Kremlin, offering subsequent privatization of state property in favor of Russian investors in case of removal of Russia Alexander Lukashenka from power, the. At the same time Belarusian businessmen had to be mediators: they would provide the initial privatization of state-owned assets at an undervalue, and then planned to sell the companies to Russian investors. First of all, it was about “Belneftekhim”.

Arrest of Mr. Shevtsov is a step towards the consolidation of the bureaucracy and the “court business community” around the regime, and must prevent the acts of disloyalty in the future.

We were unable to confirm from reliable sources the fact of departure of another influential businessman Vladimir Peftiev abroad. However, his stay in Minsk also has not been confirmed.

In light of all abovestated, the statement of EU commissioner Fule on the growth of discontent with the Lukashenka government in Belarus circles, made on December 7, 2011, is quite interesting. Then European politic reaffirmed the requirement of unconditional rehabilitation of all political prisoners. If the question of release from punishment is ready to be decided by the Belarusian regime, the requirement of unconditional rehabilitation is totally unacceptable for reasons of political and legal nature. This explains the pressure on N. Statkevich and A. Sannikov: the authorities strive to make them ask for clemency. In general, Belarusian authorities don’t have much time because of uncertainty related to the internal political situation in Russia after the presidential election.

In these circumstances, the EU shifts the focus from contacts with Belarus authorities to support non-state actors, media and civil activism. In fact, this is a termination of attempts to ensure the loyalty of Belarusian regime through the material factors and the beginning of creating a broad infrastructure of democracy, which, in theory, should ensure the sustainability of the state and transition in the right direction for the EU after the collapse of the existing regime . After losing the war for the minds of Belarusian leaders, the EU hopes to win the Belarusian society. And this, in terms of ideological bankruptcy and collapse of information policy of Belarusian regime is quite an achievable goal, even despite the crisis in the EU. In this case it will be interesting to look at the reaction of Russia: will the formal ally try to create Belarusian partners outside the government. Now Rusia is more likely to work with existing organizations than to launch a new pro-Russian project “from scratch”.

At the same time there are some signs of consolidation of the position of the EU and the U.S. on “Belarusian issue”. However, it should be understood that this consolidation will only be general in nature and it’s impossible to speak of a common policy towards Belarus because of different interests of Western countries. The total rejection of Lukashenka and his political regime does not necessarily mean active actions to offset it, as was in Yugoslavia with Milosevic. So far, the West failed to work out some kind of a common strategy towards Belarus. Moreover, even actively to develop it was not observed. This is due to two reasons:
— Belarus is not a critically important country for any of the major Western powers;
— In general, the West recognizes the fact of Belarus’ being in the zone of privileged interests of Russia.

The latter should be discussed more detailed. Currently, the opinion that Belarus and Ukraine should be recognized as a zone of “responsibility” of Russia has spread in the community responsible for formulating foreign policy of several Western countries. Moreover, the incorporation of these countries in Russia is a positive step: adding new countries, Russia will face the problem of resistance to occupation and the need to provide at least the neutrality of the majority of people. This will require large material costs and military tension, which Russian Federation couldn’t manage with, especially under pressure of Islamic radicals from the south (the direction Afghanistan-Ferghana-Kazakhstan and even Russian Muslim Volga region).

Due to the so-called “imperial overreach” Russia wil be defeated and weakened so strong, that it will lose not only Ukraine and Belarus, but also will face a situation, when it will not be able to maintain their own state without external assistance. Moreover, the assistance will be needed at any conditions and most preferred will be just suggestions from the Euro-Atlantic community. In fact, we are talking about dismantling the remnants of the Russian Empire by the hands of Russian imperialists. With the help of of Belarus and Ukraine.

If previously we could confidently speak about the inevitability of the resumption of confrontation between Russia and Belarus shortly after the presidential elections in Russia, in the present the situation is not quite straightforward. Mass protests that followed elections in the State Duma, led to two important implications. Firstly, a large part of the Russian authorities is confident that the protest movement in Russia is fueled by the West in order to destabilize the internal situation in that country. Therefore, Russia should try to organize and lead a coalition of countries, which can be roughly considered to be anti-Western. The most natural partners of Russia in this case are the autocracies of the CIS. However, the latter require substantial financial support that Russia may provide to them (now). And apparently, is ready to provide it.

Secondly, the claims and actions of representatives of Western countries contribute to increase of anti-Western and enforcement sentiments and among the Russian ruling class, which naturally leads to the support of foreign regimes that also have not good relations with the Euro-Atlantic community. It’s necessary to admit that during the formation of so-called “protective block”, Russia is interested in the ideological allies. Alexander Lukashenka is not one of them, an alliance with him in terms of Russia is forced only by the absence of other partners for cooperation in Belarus. Thus, the threat of a conflict between Minsk and Moscow is not removed, but is likely to be delayed. And the conflict has the potential to occur in a much more rigid forms than ever before, if Moscow decides to create a new partner in Belarus.

On December 21, 2011 Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus Alexander Kalinin said that Mr. Lukashenka has instructed to refrain from the sale of large state enterprises temporarily. Ostensibly, this is connected to the unfavorable market conditions, when the cost of Belarusian assets is low. Recognizing the economic side of things, it should be noted that the Belarusian government and public services economic sector is not just the largest but also the main employer. The dependence of the employees on the state in many parts of the country is almost absolute. Dismissal of the opponents is used as part of the mechanism of suppression of political activism and protection of the existing system by the regime.

In the absence of national private investors who can take part in the privatization of large state companies, there is a high probability of acquiring the assets of Belarusian companies by foreign investors (especially Russian ones). And the impact of Belarusian authorities on their personnel policies will certainly be weaker. Thus, large industrial enterprises’ becoming non-state owned at some point may deprive the authorities of status of major employer, and save workers from the threat of politically-motivated dismissals as well as activate their expression of opinion. In fact, the Belarusian authorities are also considering the massive privatization at the terms of the threat of political destabilization of the state.

The internal situation: the opposition and protest movement. Overall, December was marked by debate within the opposition on the possible participation in the forthcoming elections to the House of Representatives in 2012. At the present time a tendency to boycott the elections if the authorities do not meet the demands of the opposition is dominating.
The second significant event was the visit of the leaders of several opposition organizations to London.
Also it is necessary to pay attention to the very difficult situation, in which is the leader of the BCD B. Rymashevsky.

From 13th to 15th of December delegation of Belarusian opposition visited London at the invitation of the British Foreign Office. The delegation consisted of representatives of the parties (the BPF, United Civil Party and BCD) and civil campaigns (“Tell the truth!” and “European Belarus»). It should be noted that the meeting was not attended by representatives of the “Movement For Freedom”, claiming to unite the national-conservative spectrum of Belarusian political field. According to available information, the visit has not led to any concrete results and had a protocol and exploratory nature.

Also it should be noted that during the meetings, the campaign “European Belarus” presented its leader Andrey Sannikov as undisputed leader of the opposition movement, which, to put it mildly, isn’t true. However, “European Belarus” has strong positions in London and Washington. This was achieved by establishing contacts with representatives of the creative circles in the U.S. and Britain, with the help of which the direct communication with politicians and officials of these countries was established.

We can say that for the «European Belarus» visit to London has become the most successful: Mr. Sannikov was presented as a symbol of struggle against the regime, staunch fighter for democracy and a martyr of the system. In this case, it should be noted that, despite the small number of Sannikov’s team, through harmonious and skillful actions they can achieve their goals where larger opposition groups are helpless. In fact, the «European Belarus» is the only opposition organization, which has its own source of information on a national scale — the web-site “Charter 97”. Despite its blatant scandal and odium character, the resource is quite popular. However, this does not negate the fact that because of small number of members “European Belarus” has more weight outside the country than inside Belarus.

Following the meeting, we can say that the EU doesn’t have any clear strategy on “Belarusian issue”. Confirmation of the latter is that the a new plan to promote democratization in Belarus, promised to be implemented on November 29, 2011 by EU Commissioner Fule ultimately transformed into a set of vague promises of increased support for advocates of reform and increase funding for civil society structures.

The main news of the month can be considered a kind of isolation within the opposition, which the leader of the BCD B. Rymashevsky is in. The reason for it was testimony against presidential candidate Mikalay Statkevich during the criminal proceedings on the events of December 19, 2010. The leader of the BCD actually accused Statkevich in efforts to capture the power.

During the month in Belarusian opposition media there was a discussion regarding the participating in the National Assembly elections in 2012. It can be noted that at the moment there is no common position of the main opposition organizations. Thus, UCP supports the position of the BCD and is likely to boycott the elections if the authorities don’t take steps to normalize the political situation. Several other opposition organizations follow the tactics of participation in the election campaign, seeing it as a mechanism of providing the information to the voters as well as a necessary element of propaganda. At the same time local opposition activists are trying to work out a single position in their regions.

Thus, On December 26, 2011 it became known that in the Gomel region the opposition organizations could reach consensus on their participation in the elections. The requirement to authorities consist of two points: release of political prisoners and the inclusion of the opposition members in the election commissions. In case the authorities fail to meet them, the opposition activists plan to launch a campaign on boycott of the elections. Gomel opposition activists also agreed to the principle of participation in the election: “one opposition candidate for a congressional district”. It should be noted that earlier the agreement on the division of districts between opposition organization was often violated, especially in Minsk.

Economic situation. In general we can say that in December,  the official policy for the coming year, aiming at maximum preservation of the current economic system, was finally developed. No conceptual plans of some transformations have been worked out, and the main hope for further development is associated with improvements in terms of gas and oil contracts with Russia, as well as with the project of construction of Belarusian nuclear power plant at the expense of the Russian loan. Moreover, even in the optimistic scenario of economic development, the problem of the negative balance of payments is being diminished, but not fundamentally solved.

In December, with almost a 2-month delay, the plans on macroeconomic policies for 2012 were adopted. In general, as noted in the previous review, the plans are quite eclectic, and include hards measures preventing economic growth (balanced budget, substantial cuts in state programs and emission reduction to Br $ 7 trillion.), slight increase in income, inflation targeting at the level of 19-22% and a positive balance of foreign trade at the level of 2,3-2,7% of GDP, positive interest rates and optimistic plans for growth. The sources of growth are likely to be received from concesions, made by Russia on gas and oil (total estimated in the amount of USD 3-4 billion in 2012) and from reduced material and energy consumption of production.

The plans are intended to be realized with the help of monetary instruments and tighter government regulation in certain areas (adopted legislation to regulate trade margins, limiting and monitoring the dynamics of prices of basic consumer goods, a tax on the disposal of imported equipment, stricter regulation of importers). However, most experts agree that the government’s plans for economic growth hardly can be implemented. The potential growth of GDP in the optimistic scenario is assessed to be at the level of 1.5-3%.

Therefore the most likely is the situation, when the government continues to pursue a moderately strict policy, combining market and administrative measures, and the plans for economic growth will in fact fail. At the same time within a given paradigm administrative management activities are likely to strengthen during the year.

At the moment the shortages of removed reserves is not one of the most pressing issues. By the beginning of the month the available reserves (more than USD 7,3 billion to IMF methodology, or about USD 9 billion on the national basis) were increased by addition to them of the syndicated loan funds of the Savings Bank and EDB to “Belaruskali”, of which USD 800 million were used to purchase government bonds, as well as the next tranche of the AF EurAsEC loan in the amount of USD 440 million allocated after completing the requirements to raise the refinancing rate and to remove noncore assets from the balance sheet of National Bank.

The size of the accumulated reserves still does not correspond to a safe level by international standards, but it (taking into account planned borrowing and selling of government property) was sufficient to service foreign liabilities (repayment of medium-and long-term public debt is estimated at about USD 1.6 billion), to cover the projected current account deficit (about USD 1.4 billion), and to manage the currency market (foreing currency market is now a source of replenishment of gold reserves. The National Bank since the beginning of a single session has purchased about USD 300 million) in 2012. As a result, the size of the gold reserves in 2012 (even without the possibility of IMF credit, allocation process of which is currently frozen) is expected to be about USD 6.1-7 billion. And the average exchange rate in the budget project is about 9150 rubles/USD.

In the current situation the banking sector, which continues to be influenced by the consequences of the devaluation and the subsequent rapid “cooling” of the economy, is of greatest concern. The main risks for banks are the risks of outflow of deposit liabilities (the problems of even one small bank can cause a chain reaction) and the risks of the fall of credit assets quality (the proportion of troubled assets has exceeded 4.3%, which is still below the present standard 8%, but is very close to the norm active until 2010, which was 5%). At the same time in conditions of limited state financing of the economy, and significant growth rates for commercial loans (up to level 50-60%) level of “bad” assets in 2012 is projected to be at 10-12%.

The process of economic restructuring goes extremely slowly. In fact, “small” privatization failed. According to a three-year privatization plan in 2011 state-owned shares of 180 companies (the total value of Br 1.3 trillion) were supposed to be sold. As the result, 225 auctions were held throughout the year, where shares of only 140 public companies were selling. And shares of only 38 companies were sold, which is 4.7 times less than the programmed number. The total amount of Br 170 billion was got by selling the shares, which is 7.6 times less than the expected nominal revenues.

The government’s proposals to change the mechanism of the privatization of small and medium-sized enterprises, to increase its flexibility, particularly with regard to the evaluation of enterprises, were rejected by the Administration of the President. So far the creation of holding companies in the facilities of ministries and concerns hasn’t give visible effect. The fate of the Development Bank (an organization formed on the recommendations of the IMF to arrange the financing for government) programs is also not clear. This institution should formally start its work in 2012, but the problem of transferring to it the assets of state banks is not yet resolved.

The situation in the field of national security and defense. In general, the end of the year was rich in events that affect the national security of our country. First of all, we should note the increased cooperation in the field of security with the CIS countries, and a decision to replace leaders of the Interior Ministry, which is the largest security agency of the country.

In December Russia provided to Belarus the first 4 combat vehicles of short-range anti-aircraft missile systems (hereafter SAM) «Tor-M2», which was received by 120 anti-aircraft missile brigade of the West tactical command. The alleged total number of combat vehicles was not reported, but earlier there were reports that the delivery of a division of SAM «Tor-M2» was planned to be completed in 3 years. Usually a division consists of 3 batteries, i.e. Belarus is likely to receive 12 launchers. However, this number averaged and can be much bigger. Thus, in two divisions of SAM S-300 PS, provided by Russia in 2005-2006, there were 48 combat vehicles. In general, the fact of the supply of new weapons can be evaluated positively, but the statements of Belarusian military leaders that the National Army’s combat capabilities will increase significantly due to new air defense missile systems should be regarded critically because of the very small quantity of new combat vehicles.

Belarusian military still hope to get also tactical missile systems (hereafter referred to TMS), “Iskander” in the future. Most likely, it could be an export version of the TMS “Iskander-E” with a range of 280 km. However, the need for these particular systems is quite questionable, as we pointed out in the article “Long hands are short” because of their small range. Delivery of the same weapons with greater range of action is contrary to international obligations undertaken by the Russian Federation. The only viable option seems to be the rent of the modification of TMS “Iskander” with a range of 500 km, which the Russian army is supplied with («Iskander-M» or «Iskander-K»).

On December 7, 2011 the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus hosted a meeting of the permanent seminar on the development of the technology of unmanned aircraft systems (hereinafter referred to as UAS) and their component parts. The main objective of the seminar is to organize the cooperation of scientific institutions and industrial companies in the field of research, design and development of the UAS for the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus. The event was attended by academics, representatives of the Ministry of Defense, the State Border Committee, Ministry of Emergency Situations, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Energy, as well as organizations and industrial enterprises.

It should be noted that 2011 was a watershed in many ways during the development of domestic UAS and their practical use by the concerned departments. However, the attention given by the military leaders to this area of military-technical policy is exaggerated. The fact that the unmanned aircraft, although it has great potential, is a subsidiary element yet. The efficiency of the UAS depends on the technological level of the enemy, which was demonstrated by the history of American secret interception of Iranian drone — scout. Despite the widely advertised success of the Americans using UAS in their military operations, there is no information about their losses, which is quite alarming. In fact, today we can only say that the UAS can perform support functions and can not replace traditional weapons systems of Belarusian Army quickly.

On December 9, 2011 in Minsk, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Police Colonel Poluden was detained and then arrested. Subsequently he was charged with the crime of corruption. It’s necessary to admit, that this event isn’t connected with some clan wars among Belarusian leaders.The situation is simple. Mr. Poluden had repeatedly come to the attention of special services in connection with corruption and abuse of power. But he was defended by minister Kuleshov, who is currently unable to lead the Ministry of Internal Affairs in connection with a serious illness. After the arrest of Mr. Poluden at the central office of Ministry of Internal Affairs a comprehensive inspection is being held by security forces.

In private discussions, the inspectors reported that they had the task to hold the “cleansing” among the leaders of the Ministy of Internal Affairs. A prosecution of the First Deputy Minister, Head of Criminal Police, Colonel Pekarsky can’t be excluded as well. In our opinion there are several reasons for the replacement of police leaders:
— Ministry of Internal Affairs, being the biggest law enforcement agency of the country, is the least popular at the same time. So, the prosecution of senior managers in the Ministry in connection with corruption can increase the rating of Mr. Lukashenka. Here we can talk about the effort to start some kind of an anti-corruption campaign, which in 1994 brought Mr. Lukashenka to the President chair;
— Totally eliminating any possible disloyalty of MIA leaders, it’s necessary to consider, that in the conditions of expected conflict with the Russian authorities it is necessary to consolidate the power block by replacing the loyal people by the super loyal ones;
— The situation with corruption and abuse in MIA is actually more awful and requires decisive and tough actions, which, incidentally, refers to the entire state apparatus.

On December 12, 2011 Military Collegium of the Supreme Court in a closed session considered a criminal case against the former commander of the Air Force and Air Defense, Major-General Azaronak. According to the verdict of the trial he was found guilty of an act of corruption and sentenced to nine years in prison. It seems quite strange that a year has passed since his arrest, and investigators have proved the guilt of General only in one episode. At the same time the material values of the imputed size of bribes were not found. It seems that the prosecution of Azaronak is related to his claim to the post of Minister of Defence, which eventually was won by Mr. Zhadobin. And it was a kind of punishment for a loser.

The assumption, that the removal of Mr. Azaronak was made by some authorities to gain control over some military airfields outside the control of customs and border officials in order to organize contraband, seems far-fetched. The point is, that the Belarussian army is in the area of attention of military counterintelligence of KGB, and the concealment of contraband may be possible only in case the KGB is ordered not to react to it. And such order may be given only a limited number of senior officials, who can’t be interfered by Mr. Azaronak in any way.
On December 16, 2011 it was announced that on the basis of two battalions of electronic warfare (hereafter EW) of air defense it was planned to create a separate regiment. This will help to optimize the expenditures and increase the combat capabilities of the unit. This event is a part of the reorganization of command units of electronic warfare. This is also connected with the problems solved by the EW offices: improvement of technical intelligence, the providing the forces with radio-electronic means, automation of management processes in the Armed Forces, development of management systems, ect. Beginning from November, the Office of the EW General Staff is working in a new organizational structure.

Special units to counter cyber threats are created in the Belarusian Army. In general, the need for it is obvious. But the difficulties that will face the military leadership are obvious as well: it will be extremely difficult to complement the troops with high quality specialists because of low wages for military servicemen. Today, a professional in the field of information technology in the civilian sector can claim for wages 6-7 times higher than the officer’s wages. A factor of patriotism can not be counted upon because of the ideological weakness of Belarusian regime. In fact, two ways of bringing of specialists of required level to the military service seem possible:
— Creation of a separate system of payment, not connected with the Army;
— Involvement of people who have committed crimes in the sphere of high technologies, the so-called “deal with the justice system”.

On December 19, 2011 in the Kremlin the summit of the Eurasian Economic Council, during which the problems of response to “crises and economic pressure” were discussed, was held. At the meeting Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan have agreed on a joint action algorithm for such crisis situations. At present, the elements of economic sanctions (but inefficient) were implemented on Belarus by the West. However, it seems that Russia and Kazakhstan do not exclude the possibility of economic pressure on them. In the foreseeable future, such steps of the West can only be associated with the upcoming presidential elections in Russia and the parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan.

On December 20, 2011 in Moscow the meeting of the Collective Security Council (CSC) of the CSTO was held. It was dedicated to the optimization of the military and military-technical cooperation, responding to emergencies, struggle against drug trafficking and terrorism. It is interesting to note that the meeting was attended by President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov, whose position is quite special. Unlike the most previous ones, this meeting can be characterized as ritual and protocol one. CSTO leaders have identified the priority areas of the organization for 2012. At the meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization 35 issues were considered, which resulted in 23 documents adopted (including the placement on the territory of States — members of the CSTO of military facilities by non-members). Also the list of measures aimed at creating a system of information security in the interests of the CSTO member-states was approved. This point should be described more precisely.

It is well known that during the so-called “Arab spring” the fall of political regimes was preceded by their defeat in the information space. Moreover, it was the Internet, that was initially the main tool for organizing, coordinating and management the protesters. And many regimes in the CIS countries “tried on” the situation. According to our sources, in Russian government it is widely believed, that external actors and especially the U.S are involved in the organization of protest actions of the Russian opposition supporters, followed by elections to the Duma. Moreover, active information and financial support of the Russian opposition (in the broadest sense, including non-political organizations and independent media) by American institutions during the presidential election and predicted protests after them is expected.

At the same time in 2011 the actions aimed at destabilizing the situation in Kazakhstan became extremely active: there were attempts to provoke a clash between the Kazakhs and the Slavs accompanied with an outbreak of Islamist terrorist activity. Speaking about the latter it is necessary to admit the high level of combat training of the troops “Dzhundal-Caliphate” (“Soldier of the caliphate”). All this is an additional argument of supporters of the theory of external conspiracy against the ruling regimes in the CIS (especially Russia). Russia, despite the rhetoric of its leaders, continues to be in a weakened state. Destabilization of the situation in the Central Asian CIS countries, which can be expected after the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan could spill over to Muslim regions of Russia, which for the latter would mean a war on its own territory with disastrous consequences.

The only appropriate response to this might be the formation of a kind of “Holy Alliance” which has protective goals. Only Russia could be an undoubted leader and sponsor of such a union. However, it is wrong to assume it as an attempt to establish Russian hegemony: the influence of Russia in the post-Soviet space is reduced (this was particularly demonstrated by the presidential elections in Transnistria). Nowadays, Russia has only two really effective ways of influence: the financial and military-technical ones. However, the latter can be eliminated by the free transfer of surplus of weapons of NATO contingent in Afghanistan to the armies of the Central Asian states. In our opinion the suspicion about the U.S. position and the uncertainty in the preservation of long-term influence in the CIS countries are the major causes of forced integration in the framework of CIS sponsored by Russia.

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