GREF’S PROGRAM LIVES TO SEE ITS HOUR OF TRIUMPH

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GREF’S PROGRAM LIVES TO SEE ITS HOUR OF TRIUMPH

Rossiyskaya Gazeta, June 28, 2000, p. 1

The draft economic program of the Russian government will be considered at a special June 28 session of the Russian Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov, the Department of Government Information reports. Herman Gref, Minister of Economic Development and Trade, will report on this sole issue on the session’s agenda. The government is expected to consider the program of Russia’s social and economic development to 2010, and a plan for priority government action in 2000 and 2001.

THERE ARE MANY LAWS, BUT THEY ARE EMPTY

Rossiyskaya Gazeta, June 28, 2000, p. 1

On June 29-30 a planned conference of the Union of Russian Legislators will take place in Saratov. Representatives of 89 Russian regions and President Vladimir Putin will attend the conference.

Nowadays Russian legislators have a fair number of topics for discussion and implementation. The administrative reforms and everything that concerns them require legislative substantiation. In this aspect, the role of the Union of Russian Legislators is difficult to overstate. In the 18 months of its existence this interregional social organization has grown strong and had time to prove itself in the Federation Council. The Union of Russian Legislators unites the chairs of regional legislatures and coordinates their efforts for the purpose of working out collective decisions to speed up social and economic reforms in this country.

A VETO WILL BE THEIR REPLY

Moskovsky Komsomolets, June 28, 2000, p. 2

On June 28 the Russian Federation Council will consider the bill on its formation. The Duma did not take the senators’ amendments into consideration. The only thing with which the governors can counter such a development is a veto.

In fact, the intrigue with the amendments is just another test the Duma has set up for the Federation Council. If the senators respons to the Duma’s rudeness with a “nice smile”, then the conclusion is that a civilized society has finally been created, and regional leaders are no longer any impediment to the Kremlin’s plans and schemes. The corollary is that there will be no point in reckoning with the Federation Council in future. But if the governors get insulted and start resisting the Duma, then it will be wise to bargain. After all, the central power in Russia is not yet strong enough, and will start stumbling and tripping very soon without the regional leaders’ support.

Incidentally, Federation Council Speaker Yegor Stroev believes that the result of the Duma vote was influenced by the Kremlin. “The Unity faction totally obeys the president”, he said. “If the president desired the Duma to heed the senators’ view, the Duma would not have had the courage to disobey. Now that they have not done so, we may assume that the president did not wish them to do so.”

However, Stroev still holds the opinion that tomorrow’s debate on the bill will proceed with no trouble. On the other hand, the Federation Council is likely to veto the bill after all. Konstantin Tolkachev, chair of the Bashkortostan State Council, shares this view, and believes that “since not a single amendment suggested by the Federation Council was considered, the bill will be rejected”. In case of such a development, the governors are risking absolutely nothing, but the Duma deputies will have to hold another session to overcome the senators’ veto.

MYSTERIOUS CALL TO REPORT BRIBERY

Moskovsky Komsomolets, June 28, 2000, p. 1

The other day, many private sector executives in Moscow received mysterious letters in which it was openly suggested that they inform a certain state service about all instances of bribery known to them. We have managed to obtain one such message – a sheet of pink paper with the letterhead: “Interregional Coordination Committee for Combating Corruption”. Exactly what this organization coordinates, and by what right, we have failed to find out: there is neither a return address on the paper (only a post office box), nor a telephone number. In addition, the letter is signed with the most common Russian surname: Ivanov.

Attached to the letter is a questionnaire which asks businesspeople to answer such questions as: “When was the bribe given?”, “What did the state official do in return?”, “What position does the official hold?”, etc.

Since the official status of the questionnaire’s authors is absolutely unclear, and there are many people in Russia who want to spite their rivals, we may assume that all this means that someone is using the new slogan of combating corruption as a screen for collecting many compromising materials against Russian business leaders and state officials.

ONLINE COMMERCE BILL IN THE WORKS

Izvestia, June 28, 2000, p. 2

Alexander Volokitin, Deputy Minister for Communications and IT, stated on June 27 that his ministry, along with the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, is working on a new draft law to regulate online commerce in Russia. The new bill primarily concerns penalties for breaking trading rules.

As we have learned, the Finance Ministry is also taking part in work on the new bill. The document’s authors take into consideration foreign experience in this sphere – especially for this purpose, representatives of the Ministry of Communications and IT have met with people from the US Chamber of Commerce. Currently online commerce in Russia is unregulated. The new bill will stipulate everything from taxes to regulation of relations between merchant and customer.

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