TWO MILITARY DISTRICTS WILL MAKE ONE
Izvestia, July 18, 2000, p. 2
According to information compiled by this newspaper, the next sitting of the Security Council will make the final decision on the unification of the Trans-Volga and Urals military districts.
The press service of the Defense Ministry confirmed reports on the coming unification of the two military districts. According to the officer on duty, there is nothing extraordinary about that. The officer said that unification will take place within the framework of the planned reorganization of the Armed Forces with the aim of improving their combat readiness. After the unification, there will be six military districts in Russia, the other five being Moscow, Leningrad, Caucasus, Siberian, and Far East.
SERIOUS CHANGES ON THE LEFT FLANK OF THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM
Izvestia, July 18, 2000, p. 3
Some serious changes took place on the left flank of the political spectrum last weekend. Along with the appearance of the movement of reformist communists Russia under Gennadi Seleznev, the country was informed of the formation of the radical Communist Party of the Russian-Belarussian Union (CPRBU) under Oleg Shenin, once a secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
At first sight, the leaders of these two organizations should heartily dislike each other. As far as Shenin’s followers are concerned, Seleznev and Co are “social-traitors” of the cause of Lenin and Stalin. Seleznev’s followers in turn appraise Shenin and his supporters as bull-headed dogmatics. Shenin even deliberately emphasized alleged differences between these organizations. His press conference and inaugural congress of the movement coincided in time with Seleznev’s functions. All the same, Shenin did send his regard to “traitorous” Russia wishing it all sort of luck and urging it to co-operate with his organization for the sake of the common cause. The common cause must have meant reunification of the former republics of the Soviet Union, Seleznev’s pet idea nowadays. At the same time, these two organizations have another common cause, which is also a reason of their dislike for the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. That it why they may attract communist party members and other sympathizers.
There are two major groups of disgruntled members in the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. One of them comprises the communists who dislike the party’s dogmatism and oppositionism, and the other castigates the loss of Lenin’s ideals and goals. The communists who are satisfied with everything are mostly the administrators close to Gennadi Zyuganov. The Russia movement is for the communists who are prepared to seek and find their place in the new state system. The CPRBU is for radicals. Shenin openly admits that his organization is not after power. Its inaugural congress made the goals and objectives quite clear. A lot of long-winded speeches were made there about “the revival of the illegitimately toppled regime in the form of the soviets”, revival of “dictatorship of the proletariat”, and so on.
ANOTHER ASSASSINATION IN CHECHNYA
Izvestia, July 18, 2000, p. 3
Ruslan Vakhidov, head of the Alkhan-Yurt administration and cousin of the Chairman of the State Council of Chechnya Malik Saidullayev, was murdered in his house on Saturday night. The assassination took place in the settlement of Alkhan-Yurt, traditionally viewed as a Wahhabi fortress.
Several unidentified persons knocked on Vakhidov’s door after 2 a.m. and asked him to come out “for a chat”. As soon as he was out, they fired shots him.
The Urus-Martan district of Alkhan-Yurt is known as a Wahhabi district. Several days ago nine persons were arrested in Alkhan-Yurt on charges of attempted assassination of the mayor of Grozny Supian Mokhchayev.
Sources in the provisional press center of the Russian Interior Ministry in the Caucasus do not rule out the possibility that Vakhidov’s murder was an attempt to intimidate the “collaborators”.
Saidullayev believes that his cousin was murdered by guerrillas of Arbi Barayev. On the eve of the assassination the federals searched Vakhidov’s household for weapons. None were discovered. The news spread, and the murderers must have known that Vakhidov’s was unarmed, according to Saidullayev.
BEREZOVSKY INTENDS TO FORM A MEDIA HOLDING
Moskovsky Komsomolets, July 18, 2000, p. 1
Boris Berezovsky plans to inspect the media he controls and form a holding comprising ORT (Russian Public Television) and TV-6 TV channels, Nashe Radio, “Kommersant”, “Nezavisimaya Gazeta”, and “Novye Izvestia” newspapers, and the “Ogonyok” magazine. Berezovsky wants the holding to be headed by his old pal Igor Shabdurasulov. Such moves are usually made to deliver a preventive propagandistic strike and to concentrate financial resources in one place. But Berezovsky always complains that his media ventures are always running in the red. Does it mean a war then? On whom?
Only a naive will believe that Berezovsky intends to trade his information resources to Putin in return for immunity for Aeroflot, LogoVAZ, and other lucrative ventures. Even his vague promises to return 49 percent of the shares of the ORT to the state are nothing but a bluff. Information is power, and Berezovsky knows it better than anybody else.
Most probably, he is out to attack the Kremlin itself. His open opposition to the presidential initiatives and support of governors are a calculated gesture of despair. Offense is the best defense invented so far. He feels that he is being subtly squeezed out of the Family circle. He does not have access to Putin or even Voloshin anymore. Abramovich and Mamut tricked him. The new regime does not find Berezovsky useful.
Shabdurasulov, once a deputy director of the presidential administration and currently a member of the ORT Board of Directors, is to head the attack. He has his own scores with the Kremlin to even. His dislike of Voloshin is mutual and in the open. Shabdurasulov has been keeping a low profile ever since Putin’s election in March. There was a time when he was assigned to the presidential administration from the post of ORT general director as a counterweight to Voloshin and thrown out when he was not needed anymore.
In his time, Shabdurasulov also tried to promote the idea of unification of pro-Kremlin media. Despite his closeness to Berezovsky, he has always been considered as an independent man who knows what is better for him. When it became clear that remaining afloat all alone was all but impossible, he decided to take sides with Berezovsky. Together, they will either ram the presidential cruiser and send it to the bottom, or sink themselves. On the other hand, both Berezovsky and Shabdurasulov are known as unsinkable.
COMMUNIQUE OF THE G-8 SUMMIT WILL INCLUDE A PROPOSAL TO RESTRUCTURE RUSSIAN FOREIGN DEBTS
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, July 18, 2000, p. 1
The document will be released on July 23. It will include a suggestion to the Paris Club to restructure Russian debts. According to available information, however, the communique will not include a proposal to chalk off a part of Russia’s debts. It is also expected to include a proposal concerning the soonest implementation of Moscow’s agreements with the International Monetary Fund concerning structural reforms in the Russian economy.
THE FEDERATION COUNCIL ADVOCATES THE NECESSITY OF A COMPROMISE
Parlamentskaya Gazeta, July 18, 2000, p. 1
A sitting of the upper house of the parliament has discussed the situation in the wake of completion of work by the reconciliatory commission on the draft law on reorganizing of the Federation Council.
Nikolai Fedorov, co-chairman of the reconciliatory commission, said before the discussion began that talking might be endless.
Fedorov: This is a political process. Like any other process, it should end in peace. Otherwise all of Russia will suffer.
Fedorov advocates for persuasion. He firmly believes that the Federation Council is guided by the constitution.
The Council of the upper house of the parliament got together to find a way of reaching an agreement. Before its sitting, many regional leaders advocated for the necessity to find a way out no matter what, and remove all frictions. The council opted for the continuation of reconciliatory procedures, according to Federation Council Chairman Yegor Stroyev. The upper house of the parliament plans to appeal to the president to speed up the process of amendment of constitutional articles specifying the procedure to forming a vertical flow of power.
A DELEGATION OF HEADS OF LEADING INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS…
Trud, July 18, 2000, p. 3
… visited Moscow last week. These organizations advocate freedom of the media. Their list includes the World Committee of Freedom of the Media, the Committee of Protection of Journalists, the International Federation of Journalists, the International Media Institute, the World Newspaper Association, and the International Federation of Periodicals.
On July 8, President Putin said in his address to the Federal Assembly that “Censorship of and meddling with the media are banned by the law… Democracy in Russia will not survive without an independent media.” Agreeing with that, James Ottaway of the World Committee of Freedom of the Media, expressed the international community’s concerns over what was happening to the media in Russia.
The independent media is a necessary condition for democracy. It is something that may assist Russia’s integration into the international community. The delegation believes that there exist four dangers to media independence in Russia. Firstly, attempts by the government to intimidate the media through politically-motivated harassment of the opposition media or by imposing on them heavier taxation. Danger number two comes from the government as well as the oligarchs. Those, that own the media and are using it as tools in political wars. The third problem has to do with the level of professionalism, which is necessary for honest and unbiased coverage. “Journalists and editors should up their aesthetic standards and focus more attention on the interests of society.” What can assist this? Better economic conditions that will promote financial independence for the media.