POLITICAL CRISIS IN MARIY EL
Izvestia, March 29, 2000, p. 2
In response to the appeal from four towns and settlements of the Mariy El republic to Vladimir Putin, with a request to declare a direct presidential rule in the republic, ten leaders of other settlements and towns of the republic have released a statement in support of President Vyacheslav Kislitsyn of Mariy El. Three mayors refused to sign this statement despite the pressure exerted by the republican government. The government crisis in the republic has become evident: about two-thirds of the population of the republic live in the territories of the republic controlled by leaders who do not support their president. Directors of local enterprises have joined the conflict. “Mariyskaya Pravda” published their letter in Kislitsyn’s support on March 28.
AGRARIANS DEMAND AN OIL EXPORT REDUCTION
Izvestia, March 29, 2000, p. 2
At the meeting of the Federation Council on March 29, Secretary of the Stavropol Duma Alexander Shiyanov will suggest that the export quotas for oil products should be reduced. The Stavropol Duma made this decision as a result of the analysis of the situation on the fields of the region. Deputy Mikhail Andrienko stated that the majority of agricultural enterprises have had to stop sowing in the south of the region because of fuel shortages. According to him, fuel is unobtainable in the region. The deputies think that this deficit was caused by oil exports.
DIAMOND KING STARTS GIVING EVIDENCE
Moskovsky Komsomolets, March 29, 2000, p. 4
On March 28 Andrei Kozlenok, the main defendant in the notorious “diamond case” of the Golden ADA company connected with the theft of a batch of gold and diamonds, began to give evidence.
He denied all accusations. He stated that he never bribed officials. He also stated that being a professional accountant, he understands that there is no evidence of crime in the financial records of the company. But for the seizure of the property of the company, Golden ADA would have returned everything to Russia. After this statement he refused to give evidence until the General Prosecutor’s Office changes his detention circumstances.
As it turned out, his father is near death. They do not even allow me to see him, Kozlenok said.
RUSSIAN NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS ARE NOT SO SAFE
Komsomolskaya Pravda, March 29, 2000, p. 2
Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shoigu stated on March 28 that last year 16,000 infringements of safety requirements were recorded at Russian nuclear power plants. He noted that each infringement could have had very serious consequences.
SECOND CASE OF ENVIRONMENTALIST NIKITIN
Trud, March 29, 2000, p. 1
The case against Alexander Nikitin, who was accused of revealing state secrets, could be resumed. The Supreme Court Collegium for Criminal Cases intends to consider the complaint of the prosecutor, who is not satisfied with the decision of the St. Petersburg court, which cleared the enviromentalist at the end of December 1999.
It is notable that Nikitin’s lawyers learned about this by accident. The Secretariat of the Supreme Court answered Lawyer Yury Shmidt that no one intends to inform him about the hearing. The Supreme Court has the right to take any decision: it can decline the complaint of the prosecutor, uphold it, or send the case to the FSS for further investigation.
MIKHAIL KASIANOV’S REPORT TO VLADIMIR PUTIN
ORT, Novosti, March 28, 2000, 15:00
Mikhail Kasianov, senior deputy prime minister, submitted a report to Vladimir Putin about the state of the Russian economy and the way the state budget has been implemented so far. According to Kasianov’s estimate, the national economy is doing well. Russia is keeping to the prescribed parameters of monetary-credit policy, tax collection is going according to plan, and wage backlogs are being eliminated. The senior deputy prime minister emphasized that a positive trend in the Russian economy persists, in spite of forecasts of a possible reduction in world oil prices.
There is over a month remaining before the inauguration of the new president, and, according to the Constitution, the government will not be dismissed during this time. Putin asked Kasianov to tell ministers not to worry about their jobs, and to work as normal.
MEETING OF THE DUMA COUNCIL
ORT, Novosti, March 28, 2000, 15:00
A recent meeting of the Duma Council, the first after the presidential election, was absolutely calm. It did not bring about any scandals, unexpected events, or political conflicts. The routine of the lower house of parliament is not disturbed even by the upcoming appointment of a new prime minister. Deputies discuss the appointment of the prime minister with a similar lack of enthusiasm, although there are many candidates for this post among them.
Alexander Shokhin, chair of the Duma committee for banks and crediting organizations: Today’s newspapers are full of predictions. I think we could choose the prime minister from the people named by journalists.
The two political forces which have come to the foreground after the election differ in their opinions.
Boris Gryzlov, leader of the Unity faction: I think that the prime minister will be appointed from among the members of the current government.
Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the CPRF: Speaking about the government, I should point out that there is no definite program which could be discussed. It makes no sense to join the government when you do not know how it will assess issues connected with private property, land ownership, national security, and culture.
Mikhail Kasianov is often mentioned among the most likely candidates for the post of prime minister. Deputies know him well enough. Still, all current predictions are very vague. The actual discussion of this issue by the Duma will begin only in six weeks’ time.
Pavel Krasheninnikov, chair of the legislation committee: After May 5, we will be given two weeks to nominate a candidate. The Constitution stipulates that we can consider this issue three times, but I do not think that we will need to do so. Then there will be another week for the elected prime minister to submit the structure of federal executive agencies to the president. Only after this can all deputy prime ministers and federal ministers be appointed.
According to Krasheninnikov’s calculations, the new government will be formed between early May and mid-June.
MILITARY ACTION IN CHECHNYA
NTV, Segodnya, March 28, 2000, 14:00
Active fighting in Chechnya is now underway in the Nozhai-Yurt district, in particular near the settlement of Tsentaroi which is 30 kilometers to the west of Nozhai-Yurt. We contacted Colonel General Mikhail Lobuntsov, commander-in-chief of the Interior Troops in Chechnya. He said that reconnaissance operations are taking place in Tsentaroi at present and small bandit formations are being destroyed.
Mikhail Lobunets: Recently we eliminated Khamzat Bataev, a well-known field commander who was in charge of the Bamut direction. Here are his ID and passport. He did much damage in this war and in the previous one. He was hiding in a cellar. When we found him, he tried to resist and was killed in an explosion right there, in the cellar. As for Khattab, the generals told me that there is contradictory information as to where he is at present. Two districts are mentioned most frequently: the Nozhai-Yurt and Vedeno districts, which are bordering Dagestan. So, we can make a conclusion that small guerrilla groups are penetrating residential districts.