Russia rejects Powell's criticism, joins forces with Israel

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

HERZLIYA, Israel While rejecting U.S. and EU criticism of its anti-terrorism reforms, Russia plans to adopt Israel's counter-insurgency methods in Moscow's war against Chechen rebels.

Russian officials said the government in Moscow has agreed to increase security cooperation with Israel and focus on counter-insurgency. The officials said the cooperation would include Israeli training and instruction on a range of issues, including aviation security and civil defense.

"We are being helped by your expertise in the field of aviation security," Vladimir Vasilyev, chairman of the Security Committee of Russia's parliament, told Israeli reporters.

Vasilyev and other Russian officials said security cooperation was already taking place, Middle East Newsline reported. They said teams from both countries were arranging meetings in an effort meant to learn the lessons of the Chechen takeover of a high school in North Ossetia in late August. Nearly 400 people were killed in the hostage episode.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, in an interview with Reuters, backed liberal criticism in Russia by saying the changes were "pulling back on some of the democratic reforms".

But Russia's foreign minister said Washington had no right to impose its model of democracy on others.

"First of all, the processes that are under way in Russia are our internal affair," Sergei Lavrov said.

"And it is at least strange that, while talking about a certain 'pulling back', as he (Powell) put it, on some of the democratic reforms in the Russian Federation, he tried to assert yet one more time the thought that democracy can only be copied from someone's model," Lavrov said.

Lavrov met Israeli leaders last week and signed an accord meant to pave the way for a joint effort against Islamic insurgency groups.

"I want to express my support that you're giving us to solve security isues," Vasilyev told Israeli reporters at an international conference in Herzliya, which ended on Tuesday. "We will also continue cooperation in the field of protecting public places and will use Israel's experience. To be smarter and tougher, we will have to prepare our citizens."

Russian officials said Moscow was also examining the Israeli model of a civil guard, or auxiliary police, that can carry weapons and conduct searches.

They said this would require new legislation.

Israel and Russia also agreed to expand their intelligence exchange, particularly in the area of Islamic insurgency movements, officials said.

Officials said Israel would soon send a delegation of intelligence analysts to Moscow.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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