STATE SALARIES TO RISE?
Izvestia, June 23, 2000, p. 1
Next year federal officials are likely to receive salaries five to ten times higher than they are receiving now. The salary of a federal government minister could be increased to $3,000 a month; a department head could get $500 a month; parliamentary speakers and chief justices could get up to $5-6,000 a month. All the government needs to carry out this scheme is some political will and $400 million.
Increasing state salaries is part of the incoming administrative reforms. The main aims of this measure are to reduce corruption among state officials, to reduce staff numbers in various departments, and to attract experienced professionals into state service.
As for officials themselves, they doubt that the Finance Ministry would ever take such a radical step.
RUSSIAN DEPUTIES REFUSE TO ATTEND PACE SESSION
Izvestia, June 23, 2000, p. 3
On June 22, the State Duma Council supported the decision of the Russian parliamentary delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) that it would not be expedient to attend the next PACE session, which will open in Strasbourg on June 26, 2000.
Since the PACE refused to confirm the full membership status of the Russian delegation on April 6, 2000, and the Russian delegates left Strasbourg in response, the parliamentarians have still not restored normal relations. This time only four Russian delegates instead of 36 (24 Duma deputies and 12 senators of the Federation Council) will go to Strasbourg. Only one member of the Duma, the lower house of parliament, will be sent to the PACE session: Robert Nigmatulin (a member of the Russian Regions faction). The other three delegates – Sergei Ivanenko, Alexander Shishlov (Yabloko members) and Sergei Kovalev of the Union of Right Forces – will go to Strasbourg unofficially. These Duma deputies say that their position was understood by their European colleagues so well that the latter have undertaken to pay expenses.
Moskovsky Komsomolets, June 23, 2000, p. 2
Vladimir Gusinsky, director of the Media-Most holding, would like to visit his family on the weekend. But his family lives abroad, where the media tycoon cannot go, since he has given a written undertaking not to leave Moscow.
Thus, Gusinsky’s lawyers have to deal with his family affairs. They have appealed to the senior investigator of the General Prosecutor’s Office asking that their client should be permitted to leave Russia for the weekend. Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky and Union of Right Forces leader Boris Nemtsov also signed the appeal for a “Sunday reunion” of the Media-Most boss with his family. In order to persuade the General Prosecutor’s Office to grant the wish of their client, Gusinsky’s lawyers propose that he should leave some money as a bond; plus they agreed to any restrictions in exchange for permission for Gusinsky to go see his relatives.
NIKITIN WINS DEFAMATION CASE AGAINST ADAMOV
Trud, June 23, 2000, p. 1
The Kuibyshev district court, St. Petersburg, has ruled in favor of Alexander Nikitin in his slander suit against Atomic Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov.
The court recognized that the information disseminated by the minister was untrue and defamatory of Nikitin, and ordered Adamov to pay 10,000 rubles compensation. The media which reported the minister’s false statements will have to publish retractions.
In 1998, Atomic Energy Minister Adamov was assuring people that “seventy percent of the data Nikitin gathered for Belluna had nothing to do with the environment.” Adamov also stated that Nikitin had gathered technical information about Russia’s military capacity. According to the minister, Nikitin violated procedures for handling top-secret information.
The above-mentioned statements led Nikitin to sue Adamov for slander.
LUKIN AND KHAKAMADA SIGN AGREEMENT
Parlamentskaya Gazeta, June 23, 2000, p. 2
According to participants in the signing ceremony, this was the culmination of the rapprochement between the Yabloko movement and the Union of Right Forces. Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces signed in the Duma an agreement on measures to merge the two organizations.
It was decided to field a single list of candidates in the next parliamentary elections, both in federal and single-mandate districts. From September 1, 2000 both parties will support the same candidates at all regional and local elections. It is planned to complete establishing joint branches in most Russian regions in 2001. Further on, the parties plan to unite “all public organizations which support democratic liberal values into a joint coalition”.
The 50 combined votes of the two Duma factions will not change the layout of forces in the Duma very much, but they will undoubtedly affect decision-making. Time will tell if this step by the right-wingers is correct. In any case it is naive to believe that the merger of Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces will automatically lead to their supporters’ votes being added to each other. Mathematical laws do not work in politics.
OIL PRICES TO FALL
Rossiiskaia Gazeta, June 23, 2000, p. 2
According to yesterday’s decision of the OPEC meeting in Vienna, OPEC countries are planning to raise oil production quotas, starting from July.
How will this affect the budget of Russia? Considering that the 2000 budget is based on oil prices of $19 to $19.50 a barrel, budget revenues are unlikely to fall considerably against the planned level. Moreover, currently Russia is restricting oil exports, in light of possible oversupplies of crude by the OPEC countries.
According to Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko, increasing world sales of crude oil are unlikely to push oil prices lower than $20 a barrel. He also stated that “increasing the OPEC oil export quotas will affect prices, but these changes will not be disastrous for the revenues of the Russian budget and Russian oil companies”.