RUSSIA SINGS A DUET
Moskovsky Komsomolets, August 13, 1999, p.2
Sometimes scandals take place even in noble families and end in divorces. If politicians made up a family, then scandals, as a rule, would happen close to elections. The Voice of Russia movement has not been able to avoid this eventuality.
“Moskovsky Komsomolets” already reported that six parties and organizations which are members of the movement announced at the beginning of the week that the Political Council of the movement had decided not to form a coalition with the Right Cause and New Power movements. (As is known, leader of Voice of Russia Samara Governor Konstantin Titov has expressed the wish to form a united electoral bloc with Right Cause and New Power more than once, and that that is also exactly what the Kremlin would like to see.) On Thursday, politicians and social activists who did not wish to unite with the right announced that Voice of Russia wants to run in the elections together with the Fatherland – All Russia bloc.
This means that henceforth Russia will have two “voices”, since Titov has stated that he, together with the regional part of the movement and several other organizations, has another opinion regarding electoral alliances.
RUSSIA DOES NOT INTEND TO BUY FOOD GRAIN IN 1999
Izvestia, August 13, 1999, p.1
This year Russia will not by food grain from abroad, since it is planned to purchase 8.1 – 8.6 million tons of fodder grain, stated First Deputy Food and Agriculture Minister Anatoly Mikhalev on August 12 at a briefing on the results of a meeting of the government dedicated to the harvest campaign, reports Interfax.
Based on the results of the discussion, acting Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered that the needs of the agricultural complex be financed within the framework provided in the 1999 budget. Moreover, he promised to provide fuel and lubricants within the framework of the agreement concluded with oil companies. Furthermore, a decision was made to decrease tariffs on railway transportation of fodder and seeds during harvesting time. According to Mikhalev, the government also decided to establish a reserve fund with 1.2 million tons of grain in 1999.
PUTIN GOES TO SIBERIA
Izvestia, August 13, 1999, p.2
On August 13, Vladimir Putin will participate in the Tomsk meeting of the Siberian Agreement Association, which unites almost two dozen regions. The visit to the meeting of the influential association, which includes the Krasnoyarsk region, the Khanty-Mansiysk and Yamal-Nenets autonomous districts, the Kemerovo region, etc. was for Sergei Stepashin when he was prime minister. The fact that Putin did not change Stepashin’s scheduled lists of meetings shows that he is attempting to retain the economic course of the previous government and simultaneously make his first acquaintance with the regional elite, the mood of which one cannot fail to be influential on the eve of elections.
Among questions for discussion are: preparations for winter, crime in non-ferrous metals, the destiny of Western Siberia’s numerous embezzlers of treasury money, and, finally, the estimates for the 2000 budget and the future financial relations between the federal center and the regions.
The government, which will soon be formed anew, managed to make good preparations for its upcoming communication with governors. On the eve of his visit, Putin held a meeting of the presidium of the government dedicated to problems of the harvest and preparations for winter, and the day before that he conducted a discussion meeting on the 2000 budget, during which he approved on the whole of the parameters of the document: revenues of 742 billion rubles, expenditures of 803 billion rubles, deficit of 58 billion rubles, inflation of 18-20%, the average price of the dollar 32 rubles. By the time Putin’s plane was ready to leave for Tomsk, a definitive draft budget was supposed to have been received by the White House from the Finance Ministry. The government intends to consider it at a meeting on August 19. Thus, federal executives are betting that the new prime minister will be approved by next Monday.
To all appearances, Putin will communicate with governors from this very position. However, many regional leaders are dissatisfied with the financial document which is being prepared. They assume that the budget once again resembles a “typical document from an accountant’s office which does not reflect the current situation.” As stated Valery Zubov, former Krasnoyarsk Governor and currently a professor at Krasnoyarsk State University, “The Finance Ministry simply did not take into consideration the importance of political factors this year and did not come up with anything new. However, there is no room for maneuvering either: we lack revenues again, and the only thing left is to follow in the footsteps of previous governments and cut off expenditures on the regional level as well.”
PROSPECTS OF THE FORMER PREMIER
Independent Television, August 12, 1999, 12:00
It is rumored that Justice Minister Krasheninnikov may be dismissed soon. It is not certain, but possible, that Putin has signed all necessary documents concerning his dismissal.
It is also possible that Sergei Stepashin will be appointed general prosecutor.
FIRST DECISIONS OF THE GOVERNMENT
ORT, Novosti, August 13, 1999, 15:00
Deputy Agriculture Minister Anatoly Mikhlev has announced the decisions made at the first meeting of the government. The government intends to insist that the cartel agreement be fulfilled. The agreement was signed by Stepashin’s government with leading oil companies. As is known, the agreement is aimed at controlling oil prices. If the agreement is fulfilled, the price of gasoline necessary for harvesting will not rise, and consequently the prices for wheat will not rise either.
NEW ELECTORAL BLOC
Independent Television, August 12, 1999, 15:00
Leader of the Agrarians Mikhail Lapshin has stated that his movement may join the Fatherland-All Russia bloc. The new bloc may end up having a rather intricate name: the Primakov-Fatherland-All Russia-Agrarian Party.