WILL THE FEDERATION COUNCIL BECOME A SECOND DUMA?
Segodnya, June 24, 2000, p. 4
Well-known Russian politicians answered our questions concerning debate on the administrative reform bills proposed by the president.
Aman Tuleev, Kemerovo Governor: “I think haste in passing a new law on the formation of the Federation Cuoncil is not advisable. It is very easy to dissolve this body. What will we get in return? There are two alternatives: either we should leave everything as it is, or give up the idea of two-chamber system of parliament. I mean that we should keep only the Duma. The alternative proposed by the president entails the creation of a second Duma. I don’t think we need two Dumas. Firstly it will lead to additional expenditure. Secondly, it is possible that people who do not know the problems of the regions will be elected to the new chamber which will replace the Federation Council. I don’t think this will improve legislative activities.”
Gleb Pavlovsky, a political analyst: “The situation is rather risky and I understand Yegor Stroev in this respect: Yeltsin has left, but his system remains. Currently this system is being disassembled from the bottom. But Stroev gives wrong recommendations. This primarily concerns the recommendation to give the president the right to strengthen the state. But this is not the main problem. Stroev’s key thought is as follows: We must not hurry.”
Vladimir Platonov, Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council: “I don’t see any reason why we should hurry to pass this draft law. The matter concerns the fate of the upper house of parliament! The opinion of the Federation Council regarding key issues was not taken into consideration. This law must be passed gently. For instance, I think that new members of the Federation Council should come to the upper house after the term of the present senators expires. I think that a representative of the executive should be appointed only by the leader of the executive, without the participation of the legislature. There are a lot of misunderstandings.”
CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION HAS DEBTORS
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, June 24, 2000, p. 3
On June 23 the Central Election Commission discussed the financial report prepared for the parliament. The report concerns expenditure of state funds on the presidential election. Despite signing an agreement to repay their campaign costs, six of the losing candidates have not yet done so. Stanislav Govorukhin, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Ella Pamfilova, Yury Skuratov, Konstantin Titov and Yevgeny Savostyanov owe the state a total of 1,786,081 rubles. They have enough time to return this sum to the state: March 27, 2001 is the deadline. Perhaps that is why Alexander Veshnyakov said placidly: “The candidates are respectable people, and will repay their debts.”
SWITZERLAND WILL GIVE RUSSIA AEROFLOT CASE PAPERS
Komsomolskaya Pravda, June 24, 2000, p. 2
The Swiss Court has decided to give Russia the materials which were confiscated more than a year ago from the offices of the companies Andava and Foros. The lawyers of these companies, which are suspected of stealing from $400-600 million from the hard currency accounts of Aeroflot, have tried to return the accounts to their owners.
But the Swiss justice department decided to give the accounts to the Russian authorities, because it is concerned about the extent of foreign money-laundering in Switzerland.
LIFE IS BECOMING MORE EXPENSIVE
Segodnya, June 24, 2000, p. 5
The Economy Ministry has revised its own forecast of inflation for 2000. The ministry thinks that consumer price rises will reach 15-17% in 2000, rather than 12-13%. It turns out that the predicted inflation rate (18%) looks more realistic than the spring forecasts of the government. It is supposed that in June inflation will reach 2% (1.8% in May). Since the beginning of the year, prices have risen by 7.9%.
This can be explained by the fact that the Central Bank has been printing rubles and buying hard currency to cover the cost. Monetary supply is increasing, but no one knows the exact sums of the increase.
GEORGIA DISCUSSES WITHDRAWAL OF RUSSIAN BASES
Segodnya, June 24, 2000, p. 4
A Russian delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov arrived in Tbilisi, Georgia, on June 23 in order to negotiate on withdrawal of two of Russia’s four military bases from the territory of Georgia: the Vaziansk and Gudaut bases. The Gudaut base is used by the Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia. The recent CIS summit extended the mandate of this unit by six months, and it is possible that Georgia will agree to tolerate this base in exchange for the decision of Moscow to postpone the beginning of the visa regime between Russia and Georgia.
KREMLIN DISCUSSES OIL AND GAS DEPOSITS
Izvestia, June 24, 2000, p. 3
On June 23 Vladimir Putin met in the Kremlin with Vagit Alekperov, President of the LukOIL company. Later the president met with Victor Chernomyrdin. The head of state is showing the world that his relations with representatives of the Russian business community are favorable.
After the meeting, presidential staff and the director of the oil company commented on the results rather reluctantly. According to presidential press secretary Alexei Gromov, the parties discussed developing new oil and gas deposits in the north of the Caspian Sea and in the Timano-Pechorsky basin.
It is logical for the president to talk about the northern Caspian. A few days ago Vladimir Putin sent his congratulations on the end of exploration work in the Astrakhan region, and the discovery of a new deposit with 300 million tons of hydrocarbons. In addition, the Caspian issue was discussed at the recent meeting of the presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan. No wonder the president is talking about this with the head of LUKOIL: the license for the new deposit is held by this company. The same applies to the Timano-Pechorsky deposit.
GENERAL CHANGES IN THE MILITARY
Izvestia, June 24, 2000, p. 3
Silence rules in the Defense Ministry. Everyone knows that the president has signed a decree on the dismissal of 70 generals and admirals – but no one knows who will stay in the Army and who will have to leave this department for good.
The fate of the military leaders who followed the recommendation of the president to resign became clear on Thursday when Defense Minister Igor Sergeev reported the president about staff changes within the Defense Ministry.
According to the Military News Agency, the decree on dismissal and the consequent order of the defense minister were signed in the first half of June. In the meantime, the generals were not familiarized with these documents. Moreover, no one is interested in whether they agree to resign.
According to unofficial reports, ten generals may be dismissed: Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Toporov, Commander of the Air Force Anatoly Korkukov, Commander of the Moscow Military District Igor Puzanov, etc.
AN INTERVIEW WITH AKHMAD KADYROV
Vremya MN, June 24, 2000, p. 2
Question: Only two officials from the Koshman administration have refused to work with you. Have you chosen your deputies?
Akhmad Kadyrov: Yes, I have chosen two people. But I cannot reveal their names. First of all they must be approved by Victor Kazantsev, presidential envoy for the North Caucasus district. He will visit me at the beginning of next week.
Q: Did Kazantsev name his deputy who will be in charge of Chechnya?
AK: This will be a general. (It is possible that this is General Gennady Troshev).
Q: Do you have a plan for settling the Chechen crisis?
AK: Of course I do! This plan is being carried out. I asked guerrillas to surrender in exchange for amnesty. A couple of days ago two field commanders supported me: Ali Sultygov, Deputy Prime Minister of Maskhadov’s government, and Ibragim Saidov. They asked the other guerrillas to surrender too.
Q: Recently Andrei Babitsky, a correspondent of Radio Liberty, said that one of your guards was involved in exchanging him for Russian soldiers. Babitsky recognized his photograph.
AK: I read about it in newspapers and saw the photograph. My guards are not only Chechens. This man is not from my guards.
Q: Have you gained control over the oil industry of Chechnya?
AK: Koshman did not manage to do this in eight months. How can I do it in four days?
Q: Currently Grozneft, the company which was created by Koshman’s order, is fighting Rosneft for Chechen oil. Which one will you choose as your partner?
Q: During the eight months of Koshman’s term, the Russian government did not allocated money to Chechnya. Has anything changed since your arrival?
AK: We’ll get money.
Q: Is that Putin’s promise?
AK: I am sure he will not grudge us money for restoring peace in Chechnya.