CHECHNYA RECRUITS VOLUNTEERS

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CHECHNYA RECRUITS VOLUNTEERS

Izvestia, November 24, 1999, p. 2

Volunteers for the “Chechen front” are being actively recruited in the countries of the CIS, in Europe, and in the Middle East. About 1500 mujaheddin from Bosnia, the Lebanon and Pakistan are ready to set off for the Caucasus. However, the inflow has been temporarily suspended because of tougher entry procedures at Russia’s borders with Georgia and Azerbaijan. According to Izvestia’s data, a detachment of 300 volunteers, who took part in the Kosovo operations on the Albanian side, is being currently formed in Turkey. One of the places through which the guerrillas are planning to enter Chechnya is the Georgian village of Shatily, close to the Russian border.

ANOTHER HEARING FOR NIKITIN

Trud, November 24, 1999, p. 1

Protestors gathered again on Tuesday morning around the St. Petersburg municipal court. Several dozen people came to support Alexander Nikitin, the famous sailor-environmentalist, who is accused of treason, revealing a state secret, and forging documents. The legal proceedings began in October 1995 on the basis of Nikitin’s report for Belluna, a Norwegian environmental organization. The report says: “The Northern fleet poses a risk of radioactive pollution in the region.” Nikitin spent several months in prison, and was released due to the intervention of US Senators; he later gave a written undertaking not to leave Russia. The court is closed to the media and the public. It will probably take the court two or three weeks to make its decision.

A year ago, the hearing of the case was postponed “due to new circumstances”. On Monday Nikitin held a press-conference where he once again emphasized that he was not guilty. According to him, he used only open sources in his report, and revealed no secrets. He also thinks that nothing new could have appeared in the case since the last hearing. His lawyers are threatening to take action against false witnesses, and confirm that “certain secret orders of the defense minister” on the basis of which Nikitin is accused, are invalid, since they have never been published.

GLOOMY PROSPECTS

Parlamentskaya Gazeta, November 24, 1999, p. 1

According to the opinion poll by the ROMIR independent research center, the majority of Russians (more than 80% of the population) believe the West is being unfriendly toward Russia. 41.1% of respondents think that the West is trying to turn Russia into a Third World country, making it dependant on the developed countries. 37.5% of respondents have an even worse opinion: they believe that Western countries want to destroy Russia, and annihilate it as an independent state. The opinion poll covered 1500 people across 40 Russian regions.

CHUBAIS TO CAMPAIGN FOR PUTIN

Moscovsky Komsomolets, November 24, 1999, p. 2

Anatoly Chubais is prepared to join Putin’s campaign headquarters. In his words, if Putin calls on him, he will do everything to support Putin. So, the prime minister should send out an invitation. There is no doubt it will be sent, since Anatoly Chubais is considered to be one of the best election strategists and organizers: in other words, a tasty morsel. Boris Berezovsky said, recalling the election campaign of 1996, that Chubais was the “specialist, employed by oligarchs.” Currently the director of Russian Joint Energy Systems (RJES) is busy with other problems: supporting the Union of Right Forces in the Duma elections. Obviously, new political battles await him in the future.

TOO LATE FOR MANY PUBLIC ORGANIZATIONS

Moskovsky Komsomolets, November 24, 1999, p. 2

There are many public organizations (NGOs) in Russia – over 1,000 national ones, and over 30,000 regional ones. All of them, including those protecting human rights, were to be re-registered by the summer of 1999. The procedure seemed to be quite comples, so to help citizens protect their rights the Duma decided to extend the re-registration deadline until June 1, 2000. But the bill has been declined by the Federation Council: senators suspected human rights groups of wishing to control their work. The groups who decided to re-register in the very last days were punished for the delay. Taking into consideration the “tender love” of local administrations for human rights activists, it is obvious that the re-registration in question is nothing but a convenient filter for eliminating the most disagreeable groups. Local justice institutions used the most insignificant pretexts to refuse to re-register organizations. For example, they suggested that the words “human rights protector” should be removed from the name of the organization. Even in Moscow, about two-thirds of public organizations found themselves “thrown overboard”. At the same time, various political parties and movements, including ones like Spas, easily surmounted all the obstacles. There are not many formal grounds for shutting down a public organization; and a refusal to re-register is not one of them. Therefore all the organizations continue working, but not quite legally. So legal proceedings are inevitable, and, as human rights groups think, this will cost the Rreasury much more than prolonging the re-registration.

VOLKOV CAME FOR THE "MUTUAL AID DECADE"

Komsomolskaya pravda, November 24, 1999, p. 2

Nikolai Volkov, an investigator of Russian General Prosecutor’s office, has come to Switzerland for 10 days. The main goal of the trip is to attend the questioning of witnesses in the Aeroflot case. The proceedings concern money-laundering and misuse of the airline’s funds. The Moscow guest has already met Felix Bentziguer, the acting General Prosecutor of Switzerland, and officers of the Federal Police Department. However, according to the words of Dominic Raymond, the official representative of the General Prosecutor’s Office, the case of Aeroflot is not the only one which will be discussed. There will be exchanges of information concerning other cases in which the Swiss are helping their Russian colleagues. In particular, Volkov will have to discuss in Bern some questions concerning Mabetex, in spite of the fact that the case has been passed to Ruslan Tamaev. The new investigator is eager to visit Switzerland too, but as Dominic Raymond reports, the date of his visit has not been set yet.

PUTIN CHAIRS MEETING OF SECURITY COUNCIL

NTV, Segodnya, November 23, 1999, 12:00

On November 23, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the Security Council. The meeting was dedicated to problems of the Navy. The president had told Putin to conduct a meeting on this very topic because the Russian Navy is considered to have approached a certain danger point, which must be harmful for its combat readiness.

PUTIN MEETS WITH SELEZNEV

ORT, Novosti, November 23, 1999, 15:00

On November 23, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met with Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev. According to the Duma Press Service, the meeting was dedicated to economic issues, the current situation in Chechnya, and the upcoming speech of the prime minister in the Duma, scheduled for November 24.

FATE OF ORT DECIDED

NTV, Segodnya, November 23, 1999, 12:00

November 23 began in the Duma with a discussion of the fate of the ORT network. The Liberal Democratic faction and Our Home is Russia demanded that the Duma decision which allows the State Audit Commission to freeze ORT’s accounts be revoked. The State Audit Commission complained that ORT had obstructed examination of the company’s activities. The Communists supported the State Audit Commission. Representatives of the Liberal Democratic faction and Our Home is Russia say that the Duma’s decision was made with violations of the Duma Regulations: while many deputies were not present, their opponents had used their poll cards. The aforementioned factions persistently demanded that the vote be repeated.

The discussion gradually went beyond the framework of common parliamentary disagreements about the Regulations.

In the course of the discussion it was decided that it was necessary to vote on including a new draft decree in the agenda, that would revoke the previous one. But the Duma majority remained intransigent: only 135 deputies voted for including the decree on the agenda, whereas it is necessary to collect 226 votes. Representatives of the Liberal Democratic faction and Our Home is Russia announced that they were leaving the hall, which exacerbated the situation even more.

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