THE GOVERNMENT WANTS THE DUMA TO EXTEND THE SESSION
Moskovsky Komsomolets, June 27, 2000, p. 2
Duma deputies and officials of its apparatus are worried. They are prepared for their well-earned vacation but the government wants the parliament to extend its session for two more weeks.
According to Deputy Premier Aleksei Kudrin, the idea was born at the Cabinet session on Monday. The government is worried that the Duma does not seem to have time to discuss the Tax Code. Take the article concerning the income tax for example. Kudrin says that if the article is not adopted now, it will not come into effect on January 1, 2001, and the draft budget already relies on it…
We will soon have the deputies’ decision. Alexander Zhukov, Chairman of the Budget Committee, does not see the necessity to extend the parliamentary session. He believes that the Duma is keeping to its schedule, and that all issues will be discussed before July 7.
PUTIN LETS GO THE DEFENSE MINISTRY BUT PLANS SOME CHANGES FOR THE GENERAL STAFF
Moskovsky Komsomolets, June 27, 2000, p. 2
While addressing graduates of military educational establishments, President Vladimir Putin described the army as the major foundation of the state. He opted not to interfere in the internal affairs of the Defense Ministry and left virtually all generals in their posts.
Extending Defense Minister Marshal Igor Sergeev’s term in office, Putin also left Sergeev’s team intact. Commanders-in-chief of the branches of the service: Anatoly Kornukov (Air Force), Vladimir Yakovlev (Strategic Missile Forces), and Vladimir Kuroyedov (Navy) retained their posts. The same applies to troop commanders of all military districts. Most commanders of the central and main directorates of the Defense Ministry retain their posts.
At the same time, our sources say that some changes are expected in the General Staff. Chief of General Staff Anatoly Kvashnin retained his post despite the love lost between him and Igor Sergeev. Colonel General Anatoly Sitnov of the Armaments Department will probably have to go.
Sitnov is the one in charge of distribution of military budget among enterprises of the military-industrial complex which are involved in the state defense order. Sitnov alone knows the reasons why he transfers money to some enterprises and manufacturers while withholding it from others.
GREEK PRESIDENT KONSTANTINOS STEFANOPULOS BEGINS VISIT TO RUSSIA
Nash Vek, June 26, 2000, p. 2
The delegation accompanying Stefanopulos includes 40 state executives and 77 businessmen.
Its timetable is rather stiff. Along with a tete-a-tete meeting with Vladimir Putin, Stefanopulos is scheduled to meet with Premier Mikhail Kasianov, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, Federation Council Chairman Yegor Stroyev, and Patriarch Aleksii II.
A broad spectrum of issues of Russian-Greek relations and international problems will be discussed, including the situation in Kosovo. Problems of the military-industrial complex are also on the agenda.
On Wednesday, the Greek president will visit St. Petersburg.
THE DEFENSE MINISTRY BUILDS UP INTERNATIONAL CONTACTS
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, June 27, 2000, p. 2
Leonid Ivashov, Director of the Department of International Military Cooperation in the Main Directorate of the Defense Ministry, has left for Iran to discuss the prospects of military and military-technical cooperation between Russia and Iran.
Edward Warner, US Undersecretary of Defense of Strategic Resources, came to Moscow last Sunday. On June 26 and 27 he will attend the sitting of the Russian-American consultative group for defense issues which is supposed to discuss the work of the joint center for early missile alert on which the Russian and American presidents agreed upon on June 4. Sources in the Defense Ministry say that Russia will be represented at the consultations by Colonel General Valery Manilov, Senior Deputy Chief of the General Staff.
Chief of the General Staff of Ireland David Stapleton came to Moscow on a four-day official visit on June 25. He will meet with Chief of the General Staff Anatoly Kvashnin and visit some Russian units.
CHANGES IN THE GENERAL STAFF ARE EXPECTED
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, June 27, 2000, p. 3
No radical changes are expected in the Defense Ministry. President Vladimir Putin signed a decree according to which military commanders Kornukov (Air Force), Yakovlev (Strategic Missile Forces), and Kuroyedov (Navy), will retain their posts. Troops commanders of the military districts are expected to retain their posts as well along with most commanders of the central and main directorates of the Defense Ministry.
Colonel General Anatoly Sitnov of the Armaments will probably be replaced.
Some changes in the upper echelons of the General Staff are also expected.
SHOULD WE TRUST THE GENERAL PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE?
Obshchaya Gazeta, No. 25, June, 2000, p. 1
It seems the new heads of the General Prosecutor’s Office do not care much for their own image while making decisions on some notorious criminal cases. But when all these cases are considered together, it becomes clear that there is no use in appealing for defense and justice to such a prosecutor.
An investigator states in public that in his files there is a quantity of significant evidence relating to Berezovsky’s criminal activities – and then all of a sudden the criminal case is closed. Rumor has it in the General Prosecutor’s Office that soon the Mabetex case will be closed as well. According to Investigator Tamaev, the case has no prospect of going to court. Beghjet Pacolli, head of Mabetex, officially declared (as is usual in Switzerland) the bribes which he had given to Pavel Borodin, former manager of the presidential administration, in exchange for profitable building contracts. Another businessman, Turover, gave evidence about the gold jewelry Pacolli used to give to Borodin. The jewelry was confiscated during a search of Borodin’s daughter’s apartment… Still, the investigator says: the case has no prospects!
GUSINSKY TO TAKE REVENGE
Zavtra, No. 25, June, 2000, p. 1
According to our sources in the Russian Jewish Congress and the Media-Most holding, as soon as Media-Most owner Vladimir Gusinsky was released and gave a written undertaking not leave Moscow, he gathered his advisers and the holding’s co-owners to assess the “current situation”. The closed meeting decided to carry out a strategic “attack on two apparently mutually exclusive fronts”. First, they decided to extract a “peace settlement” from President Putin, for example: a meeting between Putin and Gusinsky, firing Voloshin, disciplinary measures against the General Prosecutor’s Office (right up to replacing General Prosecutor Vladimir Ustinov with “Putin’s” Dmitry Kozak), as well as introducing their own people into the staff of the General Prosecutor’s Office.
Secondly, there should be parallel measures for punishing Putin’s team: to “accept Berezovsky’s signals” and to see the possibilities of resuming relations with him. It was also planned to contact the Gazprom leaders, and a number of “socially close” tycoons, primarily Anatoly Chubais, in order to prepare to disrupt the Kremlin’s legislative initiatives both in the Duma and in the Federation Council. Those at the meeting thought highly of the expression used by Chubais – “semi-fascist state” – which directly leads to “semi-fascist Putin”.
At the same time it was decided to contact the leaders of the Communist Party, which “overall, behaved very decently and announced their solidarity with Gusinsky”. The meeting decided to influence the regional elite as a whole through centers for work with the regions, and commercial structures which work with governors’ families.
WHOSE REPUBLIC IS CHECHNYA?
Vek, No. 25, June, 2000, p. 3
To date, four centers of power have developed in Chechnya:
1. Aslan Maskhadov and field commanders (Shamil Basaev, Khattab, etc.) have united in fear of a complete defeat. They retain influence over a significant part of the Chechen population, especially in southern Chechnya (the Nizhai-Yurt, Vedeno, Shatoi, and Itum-Kale Districts).
2. Nikolai Koshman, former Representative of the Russian government in Chechnya. To give him his due, in the past six months Koshman has managed to organize a good process of restoration of the republic’s social and economic sphere. However, he overestimated his capabilities and started dreaming of becoming the master of Chechnya and the entire North Caucasus. As a result, Koshman has lost Moscow’s support but has managed to retain strong influence on the leaders of district administrations in Chechnya and an authoritative position in the republican oil industry.
3. Bislan Gantamirov, Malik Saidullaev, and Ruslan Khasbulatov (and also groups supporting them) have so far failed to agree on joint action, either against Maskhadov or against Kadyrov. However, each of the three enjoys considerable influence in separate territories of Chechnya.
4. The “Federal Fist” – Viktor Kazantsev, Gennady Troshev, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, V. Kalmanov, and Akhmed Kadyrov who has recently joined this group. The latter’s area of influence in Chechnya is so far restricted to Gudermes, the Kurchaloi District, and several large settlements such as Tsentoroi.
Despite the opposition’s sharp and partly justified criticism, it is none other than Kadyrov who has fairly good political prospects, owing to his status as a religious leader. Mufti Kadyrov’s administrative resources, which will be effective in the first two to three months of his rule in Chechnya, should be reinforced socially. Kadyrov may find the necessary social basis among the Chechen clergy and people who trust him, primarily old people. So, the Mufti’s task is to overcome the internal religious barriers and form his own “Umma”, a community of Chechen Muslims. In this area he may hope for support from the leaders of the Russian Muslim Community.
Rossia, No. 45, June, 2000, p. 4
The other day a scheduled shareholders’ meeting for the ORT TV network took place. The meeting ended in a sensation: from now on, Boris Berezovsky’s interests in ORT will be represented by his daughter, Yekaterina Berezovsky, a member of the LogoVAZ company’s board of directors. Analysts appraise this news as evidence of the relentlessness of President Putin’s reprisals against the oligarchs, and state that even Berezovsky may become the next victim. The recent actions and statements of the “most influential oligarch” serve as evidence that he is aware of this possibility, and trying to maximally secure his business and preserve influence even in case of fatal developments.
CHECHENS ALLOWED TO RULE THEIR LAND
Novoe Vremya, No. 25, June, 2000, p. 4
Akhmad Kadyrov’s appointment as head of the provisional administration in Chechnya was not a surprise: his name has been discussed among those close to the Kremlin for several months now, along with the names of Bislan Gantamirov, Malik Saidullaev, and even Ruslan Khasbulatov. At the same time, the prerogatives of the official Chechen leader are curtailed (without much fuss) to such an extent that Kadyrov has found himself in possession of not a single considerable (and potentially dangerous for the Kremlin) lever of power – neither financial, nor administrative, nor even police.
To be on the safe side, the Kremlin has also deprived Kadyrov of the potential opportunity of directly contacting not only the Russian president but even the prime minister: Viktor Kazantsev, presidential envoy for the North Caucasus federal district, and his deputy for Chechnya are charged with the role of intermediaries between the Chechen leader and Moscow. In fact, here we have a very peculiar structure: the full volume of executive power in the breakaway republic de facto remains in the hands of police and the military, and Moscow will attempt to directly regulate monetary flows in Chechnya. Kadyrov will be left as a nominal and ritual figure, although called on to secure propaganda cover – at least for the West.
However, there is also an alternative explanation of the personnel reshuffles in Chechnya. With all his fervent passion for rhetoric, Kadyrov is far closer to Maskhadov than it may appear. And the real meaning of the Kremlin’s move may lie in the fact that Maskhadov would never agree to negotiate with Koshman. But with Kadyrov – who knows…?