MODERN EXTREMISTS HAVE THEIR OWN METHODS

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MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti commentator Vyacheslav Lashkul).

Colonel-General Anatoly Safonov has been appointed Russian president's special envoy for international cooperation to combat terrorism and transnational organized crime. Following below is an interview with him.

Question: What is the key difference (other than the occupied post) between the antiterrorist tasks you tackled as deputy foreign minister and your current tasks as the Russian president's special envoy?

Answer: The appointment came under the Presidential Decree "On urgent measures to make the fight against terrorism more effective." These measures are being taken in various spheres: the military, financial, information technology, cultural, etc. The coordination of this work needs to be improved. At the same time, it is important to remove departmental and bureaucratic obstacles to ensure that valuable information is exchanged in good time.

Let us consider the aspect of cutting off terrorism financing channels. It dominates international cooperation today. It was initially difficult to establish such cooperation on the bilateral level and on the level of regional working groups, especially given that terrorists' financial flows were skillfully disguised as donations from various public organizations, private structures or charity foundations. Even when we provided our foreign colleagues with detailed information about specific channels of financing for Chechen terrorists from abroad, they sometimes could not do anything to cut off those channels claiming that it could be done on the governmental level, but when the money was coming as humanitarian aid it was impossible to apply adequate measures. In a bid to change this attitude, we constantly focused our partners' attention on countries and organizations that provided funds for terrorists.

We used state, political and confidential channels to deliver this information and the efforts have finally paid off. Thanks to our efforts, which have been supported by negotiations on the top state level, we have managed to reduce the degree of misunderstanding with Americans and other participants of the negotiation process, including representatives from a number of Arab countries. For instance, we have established productive cooperation with Jordan and Saudi Arabia on some operational procedures.

Q: Will you act simply as a "voice" of the Russian president explaining his ideas and plans during your contacts with various organizations and structures, or do you have a certain freedom of action?

A: This is a case when, figuratively speaking, the "feedback" signals must be as clear as signals coming from the navigator's cabin. Certainly, I will act as a conduit for the president's policy, in the first place. However, he expects objective feedback from me on problems in antiterrorism efforts: what the weak points are, how the most controversial issues can be solved, how the best foreign experience can be applied...

Q: Which countries and organizations are Russia's partners in combating terrorism and transnational organized crime? Are there any positive results of this partnership?

A: At present, I believe, we have established cooperation in this sphere with all countries. Schematically, our partnership is structured in the following manner: cooperation in the framework of the largest international organizations, such as the United Nations, G8, the Council of Europe, Central Asian Cooperation Organization, the CIS and others. Regional and bilateral cooperation has also proved to be effective. The most important task is to make cooperation on different levels supplement each other, to increase the transparency and eliminate antagonisms.

Recently, the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee, currently chaired by Russia's permanent representative to the UN, has significantly increased its effectiveness. The committee has established close contacts with the International Monetary Fund, the Organization of American States, the African Union, the IAEA and the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention. It is worth mentioning that the UN Security Council unanimously adopted at a recent session the Russian draft of a resolution on the fight against terrorism.

After the creation of the CIS Antiterrorist Center, similar structures appeared in the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and in some African countries. Consultations on the level of bilateral working commissions to combat terrorism and organized crime are conducted on a regular basis. More than 20 countries participate in the work of these commissions, including Russia, China, France, Germany, India, Japan and the United States.

Unfortunately, the leaders of several countries even today believe in the existence of the so called "safe havens" - places that terrorists cannot reach. In some of those places medical assistance is provided to Chechen terrorists, while in others, people erroneously discount the possibility of a terrorist attack. Such countries normally harbor the majority of proponents of the so-called policy of double standards.

It is quite obvious that terrorists use their own methods to fight the civilized world. They have invaded the Internet. Or they demand immediate access to news channels while perpetrating an attack. They use these channels virtually free of charge, exploiting the fact that terrorist attacks usually attract extensive media coverage. Extremists use such methods to apply the necessary pressure, spreading panic, horror and fear among the population.

The global community must establish effective cooperation in all aspects of the fight against terrorism and this is the goal we are trying to attain on all levels.

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