THE COUP FALLS THROUGH
Moskovsky Komsomolets, November 12, 1999, p. 2
On November 11 a majority in the Federation Council repelled a covert attack by the Kremlin and its loyal senators against Speaker Yegor Stroev.
It all began with a discussion of apparently innocuous amendments to the length of terms in office. The issue is that the exact terms in office for the speaker of the upper house of Parliament, his deputies, chairmen of commissions, etc. are still not defined. Some senators have long been dropping hints about Stroev’s over-long stay in the post of speaker. Why does the Kremlin dislike Stroev so much? Because the speaker always takes an independent stand. He did not unconditionally support the pro-Kremlin Unity movement, did not stand up for Skuratov’s dismissal, etc.
On November 11 some active players entered the field, namely Ingushi President Ruslan Aushev, who has always been reputed as an opponent of Stroev, and Chukotka Governor Nazarov, a zealous member of Unity. These two senators suggested introducing amendments to establish specific limits to terms in office for the top authorities of the Federation Council. According to the proposed amendments, the post of speaker can be held for two years, while his deputies and chairmen of committees are limited to one year. In the end, the sides reached a compromise according to which the restrictions on terms in office for leaders of the upper house will be directly correlated with senators’ positions in regions, i.e. if a senator is not re-elected in his region, he will have to resign his post in the Federation Council. And if he gets re-elected, he must also extend his term in the Federation Council position. In addition, if a senator initiates the speaker’s dismissal, the motion must get the support of two-thirds of the Federation Council, rather than a simple majority. Naturally, the pro-Kremlin senators are bound to lose in that case, for they will never manage to find such a number of Stroev opponents in the upper house.
FOREIGN MINISTRY SENDS A PROTEST TO PARIS
Izvestia, November 12, 1999, p. 2
In one of our previous issues we reported about an audience the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs had granted to Ilyas Akhmadov, a personal friend of field commander Shamil Basaev and a participant in the terrorist raid on Budennovsk. On the evening of November 11 we received a report that the French ambassador to Russia had been summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry, where Russian diplomats conveyed to him an emphatic protest against Mr. Akhmadov’s stay in Paris. Senior Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Avdeev “viewed the audience granted to Basaev’s emissary by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs as an unfriendly act toward the Russian Federation and actual complicity in the actions of Chechen separatists and terrorists”. Avdeev warned the French side against “attempts at intervention in Russia’s internal affairs”.
WHO WILL DECIDE SKURATOV’S FATE?
Trud, November 12, 1999, p. 1
In a request to the Russian Constitutional Court, the upper house of Parliament expressed doubt as to the legitimacy of the head of state’s having temporarily suspended Yury Skuratov from the post of general prosecutor without prior consultations with the Federation Council. The president, in turn, continues to insist on Skuratov’s dismissal.
In several days we will learn the Constitutional Court’s decision on Skuratov’s case. However, the court will apparently have to consider this case several more times. While the Constitutional Court was considering the legitimacy of the temporary suspension of Skuratov from his post, the Federation Council was overcoming the president’s veto of the law in accordance with which the general prosecutor must be sworn in before the upper house of Parliament at the moment of assuming office. President Yeltsin motivated his veto of the law by the fact that the Russian Constitution does not stipulate the Federation Council’s right to swear in the general prosecutor. However, the senators disregarded the president’s opinion.
The possibility cannot be ruled out that these actions of the Federation Council will prompt the Kremlin to protest against the law in the Constitutional Court.
IMF DEMANDS PEACE SETTLEMENT IN CAUCASUS
Rossiyskaya Gazeta, November 12, 1999, p. 2
November 12 is the last day of the IMF delegation’s work in Moscow. However, the negotiations are becoming less economic and more political.
Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov told our correspondent that the main problem currently concerning the IMF is the Chechen war. Along with many international organizations, IMF representatives believe that Russia must settle the military conflict in the North Caucasus as soon as possible. The IMF demands that no part of its loans to Russia be spent on the Chechen war. However, it is not entirely tactful, to say the least, to make political demands from Russia. The Chechen problem is Russia’s internal affair. Finally, the IMF is an exclusively financial organization and its charter does not stipulate setting any political conditions for borrowers.
Most likely, the IMF delegation and the Russian government will come to terms after all. According to Senior Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko, there is hope that as soon as mid-December Russia will receive the second installment of the IMF loan.
RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT MEETS TO DISCUSS FOREIGN LOANS PROGRAM
ORT, Novosti, November 11, 1999, 15:00
The Russian government has decided this year to refuse $229 million in foreign loans, according to documents prepared for the government meeting on November 11, which considered the draft foreign loans program for 1999.
At the same time, Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov stated that budget revenues have increased in 1999, and the government can now allocate additional funds to urgent problems.
Kasyanov said: “In 1999 we expect to receive additional budget revenue of 85 billion rubles, 20 billion of which should be used for creating a primary surplus, 15 billion rubles should be used for either indexing or covering the exchange rate difference when making budget payments in foreign currency. The remaining 50 billion rubles are those additional funds which will be used to finance various sectors of, primarily, social services and the economy.
SHOIGU ANNOUNCES TERMS ON WHICH NEGOTIATIONS WITH GROZNY ARE POSSIBLE
ORT, Novosti, November 11, 1999, 15:00
Emergency Minister Sergei Shoigu, who is now in the Krasnodar Territory, has listed terms on which the federal authorities may possibly open negotiations with Aslan Maskhadov, President of Chechnya.
Shoigu said: “It seems to me that Grigory Yavlinsky sees a need to stop all actions immediately and open negotiations. In such a situation I would like to note that a similar proposal has already been received from the government, which stated the sole precondition for any other activities – the surrender of terrorists and bandits. If we are currently tending to be merciful again, if we have during last several months forgotten Buinaksk, Volgodonsk, Kaspiisk, explosions in Moscow, over 1,500 abducted people… I think the federal authorities are doing their best to open negotiations.”
LATEST REPORTS FROM THE CHECHEN FRONT
ORT, Novosti, November 11, 1999, 12:00
During the operation of the federal forces in the south-eastern suburbs of Gudermes, over 50 guerrillas from the assault detachment of Ruslan Gilaev have been killed. The remaining guerrillas have moved into the forest, where they have come under artillery fire, as reported by the temporary press center of the Eastern military group in the North Caucasus.
The guerrillas remaining in Gudermes have used civilians as intermediaries, applying to the command of the federal forces with a request for opening negotiations. According to the press center, the guerrillas are sustaining huge losses in all directions. The federal forces are preparing to carry out a special operation to destroy the rest of the bandits in the suburbs of Gudermes. During the past day, the guerrillas have made several attempts to escape from the blockade. They lost several dozen soldiers. The residents of Gudermes are demanding that the remaining bandit formations leave the city.
On the western front near Bamut some 150 guerrillas, 20 vehicles, 2 anti-aircraft defense systems and an ammunition dump were destroyed by artillery fire.
According to reports of the federal forces, panic is growing among the guerrillas. Separate remnants of the bandit forces are moving toward Grozny and southern districts of Chechnya in small groups.