THE KREMLIN, THE ANNIVERSARY, AND THE SALVAGE OPERATION

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Argumenty i Fakty, No. 33, August 15, 2001, p. 2

August 19 will mark a decade since the coup attempt of 1991. Putin’s staff are advising him to refrain from comments on the occasion. It also appears that the president will not make a personal visit to the Kursk submarine salvage operation (WPS summary).

August 19 will be the tenth anniversary of the day when the State Committee for the State of Emergency (SCSE) tried to overthrow Mikhail Gorbachev and take the Soviet Union back to a time before the reforms. According to our sources, some SCSE members (for instance, Vasily Starodubtsev, O. Shenin, and others) plan to commemorate this date. They are said to be planning a conference in Moscow, including almost the same people as ten years ago.

Meanwhile, the presidential administration is facing a dilemma – should they celebrate or not? And if yes, then how? According to our source, “Putin wants to present himself as a democrat and a follower of Anatoly Sobchak, but on the other hand, he doesn’t want a quarrel with the left.”

By the way, according to the latest polls, support for the Communist Party is now over 40%. Thus, although some representatives of democratic forces are demanding that the president should “be definite”, Putin’s own staff are advising him to refrain from any comments – especially since there is a plausible pretext: his vacation. According to some reports, the president will be away for no longer then 12-14 days.

At any rate, he has an official visit to Finland scheduled for the start of September. Then to Yakutia, where he is to inspect reconstruction work in the flood-ravaged town of Lensk. Meanwhile, at the Defense Ministry they expect the president to visit the Kursk submarine salvage operation. According to rumor, Defense Ministry officials plan to speed up the operation, and suggest that Putin should attend its conclusion. This proposal, however, has not been accepted by the presidential administration, where they are said to be wary of any emergency situations.

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