BASAYEV WANTS TO GET TO THE MOUNTAINS
Tribuna, December 16, 1999, p. 1
The criminals are trying to find safe paths leading from Grozny to the mountains.
Withdrawal of the gangs from Grozny is said to be the reason behind aggravation of relations between Shamil Basayev and Aslan Maskhadov. The former insists on the retreat into the mountains, fearing a siege and citing the lack of ordnance and food. Maskhadov in turn says that the siege will be lifted because of the pressure of the international community and is confident that Moscow will be forced to negotiate.
Judging by the actions of the reconnaissance teams answerable directly to Basayev, he may give the order to get out of Grozny literally any moment. The military does not rule out the possibility of a diversion (blowing up canisters with toxic substances) so as to distract the federals and give the guerrillas a chance to break through the ring and escape into southern Chechnya.
ST. PETERSBURG GOVERNOR YAKOVLEV COMPLAINS TO THE PRESIDIUM OF THE SUPREME COURT
Tribuna, December 16, 1999, p. 1
Vladimir Yakovlev wants the decision of the Russian Supreme Court revoking gubernatorial election in St. Petersburg nullified, according to Director of his PR Department Alexander Afanasiev.
The situation in St. Petersburg is aggravating. More than a hundred rallies take place in the city every day, their participants back up the governor and demand the election on December 19. Tens of permanent pickets with the same demands were organized along the Nevsky Prospekt.
According to the latest reports, representatives of the Central Election Commission are urgently flying to St. Petersburg to handle the matter on the spot.
Deputies of the municipal legislature who caused all this stir are uncomfortable now: signatures are being collected throughout the city under the petition for disbandment of the legislature.
Under the law, organization of the referendum requires 65,000 signatures on the petition. Judging by the speed with which the signatures are being collected and by the moods in the city (most residents consider the legislature a bunch of useless no-goods), the there will be many more of the signatures and the referendum will be organized soon indeed.
IOSIF KOBZON COLLECTS
Komsomolskaya Pravda, December 16, 1999, p. 2
Yesterday, the Presnya Court in Moscow refused to consider General Albert Makashov’s lawsuit against Iosif Kobzon and all but recognized the general as the anti-Semite he actually is.
Makashov filed a lawsuit against Kobzon when the latter had refused to attend sittings of the parliament explaining that he was loath to sit in the same hall with Makashov (everybody remembers the latter’s phrase about “the Jids”). The prosecutor’s office did not find anything anti-Semitic in Makashov’s words then and the general attacked.
THE STAGE WILL REPAY ITS SALARIES DEBTS TO STATE SECTOR EMPLOYEES BY APRIL 15, 2000
Komsomolskaya Pravda, December 16, 1999, p. 3
Vladimir Putin’s government set this date at its session. The Finance Ministry and the Labor Ministry are in trouble because as of November 1, 1999 the debts totalled 7.3 billion rubles. The money has to be find somewhere. For the time being, state sector employees are regularly paid only in seven regions of the country even though financial aid to all regions and Federation subjects was upped in the fall.
A year ago the government approached all regional leaders and suggested spending at least 40 per cent of their region’s budgets on salaries. Nevertheless, only one ruble out of every three is spent on salaries these days. Where is the rest of the money? Governors will have to answer the question to Putin directly who intends to call them from Moscow, today.
In 2000, the government intends to set aside to the regions a sum 23 billion rubles larger than what they got in 1999. In return it wants the regions to be more responsible.
AEROFLOT DEMANDS A CHECKUP
Izvestia, December 16, 1999, p. 2
Stockholders and employees of Aeroflot are appealling to the president, chairman of the government, and chairman of the Federation Council to check the work of their board of directors.
The appeal states that administration is leasing expensive foreign equipment. To be more exact, with the state guarantees the Aeroflot bought four Boeing-767s, ten Boeing-737s, and leased two Boeing-777s (the most expensive airliners in the world, $150 million each). The Russian government exempted these deals from the requirement to pay customs duties to the tune of approximately $400 million.
POLITICAL COUNCIL OF THE FATHERLAND – ALL RUSSIA ALLIANCE APPEALS TO THE PRESIDENT
TV-Center (3rd Channel), “Sobytia” program, December 15, 1999, 14:00
Alexander Vladislavlev, Chairman of the Political Council of the Fatherland – All Russia alliance, sent an open letter to President Yeltsin.
Vladislavlev writes that founding fathers of the movement Fatherland are advocates of the reforms who nevertheless have their own opinion on the development of the market reforms. That is why the Fatherland cannot understand the campaign initiated in the media against the movement. All these efforts should have better been spent on combating the forces of the past, according to the letter.
According to Vladislavlev, the alliance will poll enough votes all the same, campaigns against it or not, but the country may actually miss its chance to make a breakthrough to supremacy of the law, public consent, democracy, and civilization.
GENERAL PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE RESPONDS
Russian Television (RTR), “Vesti” program, December 15, 1999, 13:00
Deputy General Prosecutor Vasily Kolmogorov responded to the recent statements of leaders of the Fatherland – All Russia alliance to the effect that their candidates had been approached with bribes. According to Kolmogorov, criminal proceedings may be instigated only when even evidence has been compiled and this may be a matter of days.
Question: Not so long ago the Fatherland – All Russia handed over the materials to the General Prosecutor’s Office proving that its candidates had been approached. At least, this is what is generally believed. Did you get the documents indeed? And if you did, what is being done now?
Answer: Yes, we did receive the documents. We set up a group of experienced investigators. Investigation is underway. The decision will be made before the week is over.
Question: I take it that the criminal proceedings have not been instigated yet?
Answer: Not yet. We are now working in accordance with Article 109 of the Criminal Procedural Code of the Russian Federation.
ENVIRONMENTALISTS INTEND TO GO TO COURTS
ORT (Russian Public Television), News program, December 15, 1999, 15:00
Removed from the election race on December 10, environmentalist party Kedr plans to file a lawsuit concerning the outcome of the election, according to its Chairman Anatoly Panfilov.
Panfilov: We will file a lawsuit because we regard all of it as a gross violation of voters’ rights and freedoms.
The official press-release states that the party has been subjected to unprecedented pressure by the Fatherland – All Russia alliance, and that Kedr activists do not rule out the possibility that the alliance might have tried to force Kedr to become its involuntary ally.
Reporter Grigory Pasko also attended the conference.
Pasko: Take a look at any newspaper and see how often you can find something about activists of the Fatherland – All Russia. A single column of A4 format sheet costs 78,000 rubles. I do not meant to enquire where the Fatherland – All Russia gets the money. Let voter ponder on it…
The Kedr intends to appeal to the Constitutional Court concerning the incompatibility of the law on election and the Russian Constitution.