CLINTON TO ADDRESS THE RUSSIAN DUMA
Moskovsky Komsomolets, April 28, 2000, p. 1
In early June Bill Clinton is planning to visit Russia as the US president for the last time. Yesterday it became known that in the course of this visit an unprecedented event is likely to take place. For the first time in the history of Russia, the smiling American president will visit the State Duma. The preliminary date is June 5.
Moreover, Clinton intends to address the Duma. However, there is a problem here. Only the heads of foreign parliamentary delegations, as well as Russian ministers and the Russian president, have to right to address the Duma. A foreign head of state cannot mount the speaker’s podium of the State Duma! Still one exception has already been made: for President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus. There is only one alternative: to have Clinton speak in the Maliy (small) Hall. The Maliy Hall is a place where deputies usually hold their press conferences, and it really is rather small – less than half of the deputies will be able to listen to the speech of the US president. The issue is rather serious. Russian deputies, and those the US presidential administration who are drawing up the schedule for Clinton’s visit to Russia, will have to think of a solution by early June.
CHECHNYA TO BE A "BLACK HOLE" AGAIN?
Komsomolskaya Pravda, April 28, 2000, p. 2
Yesterday a Russian government meeting, chaired by President Vladimir Putin, discussed the program of restoration for Chechnya. The government is allocating 7.5 billion rubles from the federal budget for this purpose. Previously, only funds for social needs and crop sowing were allocated; from now on, the entire infrastructure is to be restored.
According to Vladimir Putin, the power of the guerrillas in Chechnya is gone. The federal 42nd division will be stationed near Grozny so that people will feel secure. Special forces are active in the mountains, where rebels are still hiding.
All the money will be sent to the Federal Treasury department which will be established in Chechnya. Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Koshman, Russian representative in Chechnya, is likely to be in charge of these funds.
Many analysts think such a monopoly by one official is rather dangerous: the money might be spent for other purposes. But Putin has laid down strict guidelines: all the finances should be maximally transparent. However, as yet there are no foolproof mechanisms for monitoring expenditure. Koshman’s office will supposedly present an annual report on expenditure in Chechnya to the Finance Ministry.
Considering that in peaceful Dagestan there was fraud and misappropriation of budget funds, one can imagine what is going to happen in a republic where the war is actually still in full swing. And the war can be blamed for everything.
ANOTHER AMBUSH NEAR SERZHEN-YURT
Komsomolskaya Pravda, April 28, 2000, p. 2
Chechen guerrillas have managed another surprise attack near the village of Serzhen-Yurt: yesterday morning they ambushed and defeat a reconnaissance group of the Interior Troops. Ten soldiers, including their commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Shevelev, were killed. The guerrillas used a trap tactic: they suddenly attacked the scouts from nearby heights and thus made them start fighting and show themselves. At the same time, another group of guerrillas attacked the federal soldiers from the rear, and in fact shot them from behind. An army special forces unit was sent to rescue the scouts, and destroyed about 20 guerrillas, making the rest hide in the mountains. According to some foreign media sources, 30 Russian soldiers died near Serzhen-Yurt. However, the Defense Ministry and the General staff of the Federal Army say that foreign journalists “exaggerate everything”.
AMNESTY TO BE ANNOUNCED
Trud, April 28, 2000, p. 1
Yesterday at the meeting of the Duma Council, Pavel Krasheninnikov, Chair of the Duma legislation committee, submitted a bill on amnesties for those who have committed minor crimes. Krasheninnikov, a former minister of justice, knows very well the terrible situation in Russian prisons, and is an active supporter of humanization of punishments. Currently, the bill is being considered by other committees; on May 17 it will be considered by the Duma. The official reason for the amnesty is the 55th anniversary of victory in World War II. However, this amnesty is inevitable because of other Russian traditions. A new ruler of the country traditionally starts his period in office by pardoning some of those who have broken the law. According to Krasheninnikov, 100-120,000 people are to be amnestied.
CIS COUNTRIES TO HELP THEMSELVES
Rossiyskaya Gazeta, April 28, 2000, p. 3
Participants of the scientific conference “On the ways of economic integration under new conditions” discussed the problems of globalization of the world economy and Russia’s place in this process. Arkady Volsky, President of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, said in his speech that since the break-up of the USSR, the countries of the CIS and Eastern Europe have begun to separate from each other, which sometimes has been only harmful.
According to expert assessments, annual trade turnover between the CIS countries has decreased by 65% over the past few years. Even the agreement on free trade between the CIS countries, signed in 1994, has not improved the situation. No wonder: the destruction of the USSR’s united energy system alone caused 10 billion rubles damage to the economies of the former Soviet republics. The list can be continued.
According to Arkady Volsky, disintegration led to closing the economies of the republics and thus to limiting development of enterprises. Considering the 99 kinds of antidumping procedures, which exist in 24 countries of the world against Russian goods, the necessity of returning domestic enterprises to their “old markets” is obvious. Russia’s close neighbors have the same problems.
Dear WPS subscribers!
This weekend is a holiday weekend in Russia, due to Orthodox Easter and May Day.
The next issue of our digest will come out on Wednesday, May 3, 2000.
The WPS agency