BALTS FIGHTING IN CHECHNYA SIDE BY SIDE WITH THE TERRORISTS

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BALTS FIGHTING IN CHECHNYA SIDE BY SIDE WITH THE TERRORISTS

Parlamentskaya Gazeta, March 2, 2000, p. 1

Sergei Yastrzhembsky says that some citizens of the Baltic states are known for a fact to be fighting in Chechnya side by side with the terrorists.

Yastrzhembsky: We know that some members of the illegal armed formations in Chechnya were born and raised in the Baltic states.

Yastrzhembsky says that some suspects from the Baltic states are in custody in Chernokozovo. The federal forces believe that they were working as snipers.

PLANS FOR WITHDRAWAL FROM CHECHNYA

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, March 2, 2000, p. 1

Plans for the withdrawal of units and formations of the united federal group from Chechnya are being drawn up by the Caucasus Military District headquarters. Sources in the Defense Ministry say that over 60,000 servicemen and a great deal of military hardware and equipment will be pulled out. According to preliminary reports, the Defense Ministry will leave about 16,000 servicemen in Chechnya. Between 12,000 and 15,000 servicemen of the Interior Troops will also be posted in Chechnya.

The sites where the troops and the equipment will be loaded onto railroad platforms will be cordoned off, having been previously inspected for mines and other “surprises”.

SIBNEFT WAS NOT INVOLVED

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, March 2, 2000, p. 1

On March 3, Minister for Anti-Monopoly Policy Ilya Yuzhanov will brief acting President Vladimir Putin on all details of the sale of Krasnoyarsk and Bratsk aluminum plants and the Achinsk Alumina Plant.

Yuzhanov has not been very forthcoming on the matter. He says that the Ministry is now trying to identify the real owners of the shares of the aluminum plants, because nominally 9.5% of shares in the Achinsk Alumina Plant and 83.48% of shares in the Krasnoyarsk plant belonged to the East-Siberian Investment Bank.

Yuzhanov has stated that no information compiled so far confirms the involvement of the Sibneft company in the deal.

SHIPS OF THE RUSSIAN NAVY WILL VISIT SOUTH KOREA

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, March 2, 2000, p. 1

A source at the Pacific Fleet headquarters says that a group of Pacific Fleet surface combat vessels will visit the port of Pusan (South Korea) in late April.

INDIAN PRIME MINISTER MAY INTERVENE

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, March 2, 2000, p. 1

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee of India says he may intercede on behalf of the five Russian pilots sentenced to life imprisonment in early February by a Calcutta court.

Vajpayee said so during his meeting with a delegation of the Russian Duma headed by Gennadi Seleznev.

ANTI-PUTIN CAMPAIGN ON TV?

Komsomolskaya Pravda, March 2, 2000, p. 5

Between March 3 and 24 Russian television will be screening a soap-opera entitled “The Election Campaign”. Some famous TV villains are expected on the screen, and presidential front-runner Vladimir Putin may become their victim.

Our sources say that the soap-opera is being directed and produced by tycoons Boris Berezovsky and Roman Abramovich, who recently bought a large slice of the Russian aluminum industry. It is common knowledge that Putin has promised to have the anti-monopoly authorities investigate these purchases.

There are rumors that the anti-Putin campaign will be waged on TV-6, NTV (allegedly, Berezovsky already has Rem Vyakhirev’s agreement to sell him 15% of NTV stock owned by Gazprom), ORT (Russian Public Television), and even Russian Television (RTR).

This turn of events is facilitated by the splits and scandals in Putin’s own campaign team, where Muscovites are fighting the people from St. Petersburg. According to some rumors, it is precisely because of this that Putin told his old pal Sergei Stepashin to forget about running for governor of St. Petersburg. It is said that Stepashin will be given some senior post close to Putin soon.

Some sources say that Anatoly Chubais, another man with a lot of clout, may also be brought closer to Putin soon.

YAVLINSKY MEETS WITH SERVICEMEN

Trud-7, March 2, 2000, p. 9

On February 29, Yabloko leader and presidential candidate Grigori Yavlinsky visited a military unit near Moscow, which guards the General Staff’s communications systems.

Talking to servicemen, Yavlinsky said that corruption is one of the worst problem Russia faces. Taxes were discussed as well. Yavlinsky insists that they should be lowered. He says that once taxation rates become more bearable, enterprises and companies will stop hiding their profits from the state and everybody will be better off.

Yavlinsky: The army lives on taxes. I seem unable to explain one simple thing: the lower taxes are, the more Russians pay them. That means less of the ubiquitous shadow economy, and more money in the state budget…

GREF VS AEROFLOT

Izvestia, March 2, 2000, p. 1

Herman Gref, Senior Deputy State Property Minister and the man known as the author of Putin’s economic program, has lashed out at Aeroflot. According to Gref, a serious rival to this company should be created.

Aeroflot, headed by Boris Yeltsin’s son-in-law and informally related to tycoon Berezovsky, is known to have played an important part in the political and economic establishment under the previous regime. That is why even a verbal attack on it merits some attention.

Fifty-one per cent of the company belongs to the state. Nobody knows why the State Property Ministry should seek to create a rival to Aeroflot at the state’s expense.

There are rumors that Gref’s statement worries some foreign companies which lease aircraft to Aeroflot.

BLACK SEA FLEET IN TROUBLE

Izvestia, March 2, 2000, p. 2

The Russian Black Sea Fleet is under a bureaucratic attack mounted by Sevastopol communal and tax services. The Ukrainians have frozen some of the Fleet’s accounts, and regularly leave its facilities without electricity.

UKRAINE BALANCES BETWEEN NATO AND RUSSIA

Izvestia, March 2, 2000, p. 4

Ukraine is in turmoil because the NATO Council will be convened in Kiev. This is the first time that NATO leaders will meet in a country which is not a member, or even a candidate for membership. Ukraine became the first partner country visited by NATO Secretary-General George Robertson. He flew to Kiev on the eve of the two-day session of the NATO Council.

Robertson was quoted as saying that Ukraine owes a great deal to NATO. NATO assisted in restructuring (reduction) of the Ukrainian army, financed officer training, and helped after the flood in the Trans-Carpathian region. Ukrainian peacekeepers participate in the Kosovo operation, and this is a kind of test, according to Robertson. Joint restructuring of the military-industrial complex lies ahead.

The appearance of NATO leaders in Ukraine is a significant event for a country which is building special relations with NATO, and at the same time is trying not to annoy Russia. Kiev is in a buffer zone, and it cannot make any very obvious gestures without alienating Russia. Kiev recently repeated that Ukraine is a country which does not seek membership in any blocs or alliances, but we do not hear such statements anymore.

Ukrainian political analysts attribute all this to the fact that Ukraine is begging for money in the West and in the East alike. It borrows from Russia and the United States. When one of the financial sources closes its purse, a crisis begins.

Kiev is drifting towards NATO, while trying not to jeopardize its relations with Moscow.

The NATO Secretary-General’s recent visit to Moscow gave Kiev a chance. Warmer Russian-NATO relations will make life easier for Ukraine…

RUSSIA WILL BENEFIT FROM INDIA’S ARMS SPENDING BOOST

Izvestia, March 2, 2000, p. 4

India is raising its arms expenditure by 28.2%. What can the Russian military-industrial complex expect by way of orders? First and foremost, the matter concerns upgrading the fighter and ground-strafer aircraft pool. Indian pilots are already flying MIG-29s and SU-30Ks. According to the Indian media, the SU contract specifies delivery of 40 aircraft. The Ground Forces command wants to replace Soviet T-55 tanks with modern T-90S tanks. During the hostilities in Kashmir, Indians were short of multiple rocket-launchers. That is why they visited our city of Tula, when missile systems were tested there. Our plants assembling frigates and submarines are also working for the Indians.

RUSHAILO BRIEFS PUTIN ON THE SITUATION IN THE CAUCASUS

ORT (Russian Public Television), News program, March 1, 2000, 12:00

After his meeting with acting President Vladimir Putin, Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo said that the Interior Ministry was preparing itself to take over the operation in Chechnya.

Rushailo: I briefed the acting president on the situation in Chechnya and throughout the Caucasus where our units and structures are doing their duty.

As for Chechnya itself, we are now organizing two new internal affairs departments. Provisional ones, that is. They will operate in the Shatoi district, recently liberated, as you know; and in the Itum-Kali district.

Over the last 24 hours we have carried out an operation together with the Armed Forces in the Urus-Martan district. Forty-two separatists were taken prisoner. Five more tried to resist and were killed.

MATVIENKO CONVENES A NATIONWIDE CONFERENCE ON SOCIAL POLICY

ORT (Russian Public Television), News program, March 1, 2000, 12:00

Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matvienko: This year we must improve living standards noticeably, and ensure that real incomes rise. In 1999, they fell by 15 per cent. The top priority task remains unchanged. We have pay wage debts to state-sector employees in the regions before April 15, 2000.

This is not all, however. Let me remind you that payment of wage debts to state-sector employees is viewed by the government as part of a general recovery of the state financial system. Otherwise, we will face this problem year in and year out.

ZHIRINOVSKY WANTS THE CONSTITUTION PROTECTED

ORT (Russian Public Television), News program, March 1, 2000, 15:00

LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who wad denied registration as a presidential candidate by the Central Election Commission, has appealed to acting president, the chief justices of the Supreme and Constitutional courts, the acting general prosecutor, and the Justice Minister to take whatever steps are necessary to protect the Constitution.

Zhirinovsky has written to these senior officials, stating that the refusal to register him is an indication that some senior state officials disregard the Constitution and the acting legislation.

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