THERE WILL BE A STATE COUNCIL AFTER ALL
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, July 28, 2000, p. 1
The plan to set up a State Council will most likely be implemented in the near future. Our sources say that the president intends to sign the relevant decree within days, “barring extraordinary developments”.
However, our sources say it is not yet decided what the new body will be like. The presidential decree will decide that the State Council shall exist, while the rest – functions of the new body, the number of representatives per governor, etc. – remains to be discussed by the governors, Duma deputies and officials of the Presidential Administration.
So far, according to our sources, even unpromising ideas for the nature of the State Council have a chance to be heard. The State Council, which is meant to give a voice to the opinions of governors without the “mediation” of their representatives in the new Federation Council, will be a kind of compensation to the desperate senators who have consented to reforming the Federation Council, and distract them from thoughts about whether an upper house is really necessary in Russia.
AGRICULTURE OVER THE NEXT DECADE
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, July 28, 2000, p. 2
The basic goals of state policy on agriculture for 2001-10 were approved at a Cabinet meeting on July 27.
The Finance Ministry, the Ministry for Economic Development and Trade, and the Agriculture Ministry were set a task: to use these basic goals in preparing their socio-economic development forecasts and writing draft federal budgets, starting with 2001.
These goals are actually well known: the state is supposed to cut the financial noose around the necks of farmers, whose debts now stand at 185 billion rubles, including penalty payments of over 60 billion rubles. It is thought that in the near future the Finance Ministry will develop a plan for writing off these penalty payments, while repayments of the basic debt of 125 billion rubles will be extended over ten years. This should attract the long-awaited loans and investments in agriculture.
PRIMAKOV IS BACK
Moskovskii Komsomolets, July 28, 2000, p. 2
Yevgenii Primakov, a major opponent of the Kremlin in recent times, has moved into the Presidential Administration. He has received some office space in his role as chair of a committee for settling the Trans-Dniester conflict. However, our Kremlin sources report that a more distinguished post will soon be conferred on Primakov.
Putin intends to establish a State Council: a kind of conciliation forum for the most influential regional leaders and federal politicians. Primakov is considered to be the top candidate for secretary and actual leader of this body.
Most likely, an explanation should be sought in Putin’s desire to make use of the vast experience of Primakov, his predecessor as prime minister. Putin and Primakov are probably in touch, both having a secret services background. However, it cannot be ruled out that the president is only showing Alexander Voloshin (who hates Primakov) the limits of his power…