GORBACHEV GETS A PARTY OF HIS OWN
Moskovsky Komsomolets, May 26, 2000, p. 2
Mikhail Gorbachev, first president of the USSR, now has his own party. The Russian Social-Democratic Party has recently been registered with the Justice Ministry. Gorbachev told journalists that the Justice Ministry had checked everything – for example, whether he and his supporters had just invented the party while remaining in Moscow. According to Gorbachev, the party is not just an artificial construct: it has branches in 64 regions. Gorbachev believes that the newly-established party is currently especially needed in Russia. He says: “Important business has been initiated, and it will be continued. I think this is the right time for establishing our party, since both the Communist ideology and ultra-liberalism have discredited themselves. A social-democratic strategy seems to be the best way.”
UNITY KEEPS GROWING
Moskovsky Komsomolets, May 26, 2000, p. 2
The number of Unity members keeps growing. Our Home is Russia (NDR), All Russia, and the Party of Russian Unity and Agreement (PRES) have long desired to merge with Unity. Now the Russian Socialist Party, headed by tycoon Bryntsalov, is also eager to join them.
President Putin will attend the formal ceremony for establishing a centrist bloc, which is to take place at the Unity congress this Saturday. According to Boris Gryzlov, leader of the Unity faction in the Duma, this will not be a merger as such; rather, the other movements will just naturally flow into Unity. The Unity bloc, which was hastily formed not long before the December parliamentary elections, is likely to justify its name by including as many centrist movements as possible. The first day of the Unity congress will be a conference of the Unity movement only; the second day will be a meeting of the national party of the same name. The new national party will involve such well-known politicians as Chernomyrdin, Ryzhkov, Shakhrai, Bryntsalov, Yakovlev, Shaimiev, Rakhimov, and Ayatskov.
PRESIDENTIAL ENVOYS TO JOIN SECURITY COUNCIL
Izvestia, May 26, 2000, p. 3
On May 25 President Putin announced that by the end of the week he would sign a decree giving his district envoys membership of the Security Council. From now on, presidential envoys will officially be introduced into the highest ranks of the nation’s leadership.
The president announced the new high status of his enovys while introducing Georgy Poltavchenko, presidential envoy for the Central administrative district, to the regional governors. The governors intended to tell Putin that they disagreed with his decision to banish them from the Federation Council, and to insist on their right to influence state politics. Instead, the president informed them of the new status of presidential envoys. However, Putin consoled the governors by saying that he would continue working with them directly, and visiting the regions. Besides, Putin confirmed that he agreed to establish a new state structure, the State Council, which will be established specially for the current members of the Federation Council. The new structure is likely to be established immediately after the rules of membership in the Federation Council are changed.
FUEL PRICES TO RISE
Izvestia, May 26, 2000, p. 2
At a meeting on May 25 the government approved a letter from the Duma deputies, in which they set out the major principles of tax reform. According to the letter, tax reforms will include a six-fold increase in duties on gasoline. According to our sources, the officials had intially considered making gasoline taxes up to nine times higher.
The government expresses confidence that this new tax will cause only a 25-28% rise in gas prices. The growth of gas prices entails general price rises. However, First Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Shatalov did not agree with the gloomy forecasts of his government colleagues about the prices of all goods rising by 40%. At the same time, he had to admit that “there will be some price rises in the economy”. Independent analysts have already described this proposal of the government as “not well calculated”. Putting their faith in excises could cost officials a pretty penny. Some major refineries, which in fact are major excise payers, have long since stopped producing gasoline. They simply produce “components”, which then are all poured into one container and mixed to make gasoline; but these components are not taxed. Obviously, if excises are increased six-fold, this innovative technique will soon come into use everywhere.
MILITARY CRIMINALS SENTENCED
Trud, May 26, 2000, p. 2
The Vladikavkaz Garrison Court has finished considering a shocking case of the theft and sale of weapons in Chechnya. The court found privates Yevgeny Arisov and Vitaly Kulemeev guilty. They have been convicted of stealing two anti-tank guided shells and ammunition from a military base near the Chechen-aul settlement in January 2000, and selling them to local residents. The criminals made “a real fortune” from betraying their military comrades: 300 rubles and a used radio. According to specialists, the stolen ammunition is worth about 100,000 rubles; but that is not the point. The question is: how many lives of Russian soldiers have these shells cost?
The court sentenced Arisov to five years and Kulemeev to two years of imprisonment.
According to Major Vladimir Mogak, a number of analogous cases are currently being investigated in the North Caucasus. Colonel Sergei Ushakov of the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office stressed that cases of this kind are being thoroughly monitored by the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office, and they will all be dealt with according to the law.
FAKE DOCUMENT FOOLS THE MEDIA
Parlamentskaya Gazeta, May 26, 2000, p. 2
Lately some Russian media sources have carried reports about a certain document on a special form of the Security Department of the Federal Agency for Governmental Liaison and Information (FAGLI). They say the document contains some compromising information about senior officials of the agency. Some journalists have already used the information in preparing their reports, presenting it as a result of their own investigations.
The FAGLI PR department has officially announced that the aforementioned document is a fake. This is another attempt by certain people to use the media for their own purposes.
It is a shame that leading newspapers are so anxious to create a sensation that they use apparently forged materials.
NEW PLANS OF THE ATOMIC ENERGY MINISTRY
Rossiyskaya Gazeta, May 26, 2000, p. 2
At yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Atomic Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov presented his strategies for development of the nuclear industry to 2030.
Adamov’s proposals are based on the development of a united nuclear weapons and nuclear energy industry in Russia. According to the Atomic Energy Ministry, its uranium reserves and industrial facilities would make it possible to quadruple the current output of existing nuclear power plants.
Adamov insists on maximizing growth of the nuclear energy sector. According to him, if Russian nuclear power output reached 60 gigawatts, this would make it possible to save 134 billion cubic meters of gas a year (which is nearly equal to Russia’s total gas consumption). This means Russia would be able to earn much more hard currency from gas exports. To achieve all this, Adamov is proposing that 380 billion rubles should be invested in the nuclear energy sector over the next decade.
As sources for financing this ambitious program of nuclear expansion, the plan’s developers suggest increasing energy tariffs at nuclear power plants, up to to one cent per kilowatt/hour; improving the standards of amortization payments; and establishing a special non-budgetary fund for development of the electricity industry.
Moreover, the Atomic Energy Ministry places great emphasis on a completely new business among financing sources for the program: reprocessing nuclear waste from abroad. This service could bring in over $7 billion for investment purposes alone.