RUMORS ON HEAVIER TAXATION DENIED

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RUMORS ON HEAVIER TAXATION DENIED

Moskovsky Komsomolets, August 1, 2000, p. 2

Dmitry Chernik, Deputy Minister of Taxes and Duties, has denied rumors on an allegedly impeding introduction of heavier taxation and abolition of a “flat” 13 percent rate of income tax.

Chernik cited a clause from the recently adopted second part of the Tax Code according to which the tax rate already adopted will be effective for the next three years and not liable to amendment now.

ALL SET FOR THE ELECTION

Izvestia, August 1, 2000, p. 3

It is twenty days to the parliamentary election in Chechnya and Abdul-Kerim Arsakhanov of the Chechen district election commission says that the republic is approximately 85 percent ready for the election.

Arsakhanov: Only some technical matters have to be resolved.

Presently, there are thirteen aspirants in Chechnya for the Duma seat.

RUSSIAN NAVY SUGGESTS A BALTIC CONFERENCE

Izvestia, August 1, 2000, p. 3

Navy Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov, Russian Navy Commander-in-Chief, has proposed a conference of navy commanders from all countries of the Baltic Sea. According to Kuroyedov, “intensifying measures for stability in the region is a must.” INTERFAX news agency reports that Kuroyedov proposes a conference to offer its participants a referendum “enabling the political leadership of all countries involved to go on with their steps aimed at providing security in the Baltic Sea.” Kuroyedov says that the Russian Navy and the Baltic Fleet in particular “will start implementing the idea.”

The idea of the conference, which he suggests should be called “Baltics – the 21st Century”, is supported by Estonian and Swedish navy commanders. Commander Jan Kaap of the Estonian Navy says that security guarantees should be given to “large and small states alike” and proposes the conference in Sweden as “a neutral state”. Torsten Lind of Sweden subscribes to both proposals.

Lind: Sweden is not a NATO member. Neither it is planning to join the Alliance. It will be only proper therefore to convene a conference here.

Representatives of Latvia and Lithuania are more reserved. Commander Yuozas Alsauskas, Deputy Commander of the Lithuanian Navy, declined from comments, citing lack of authority. First Class Captain Ilmars Leschinmsky of the Latvian Navy says that this is a matter for the Foreign Ministry to ponder on.

PUTIN RECEIVED UNESCO GENERAL DIRECTOR

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, August 1, 2000, p. 1

At his meeting with UNESCO General Director Koitiro Matsuru in the Kremlin yesterday, President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia considers it very important to develop relations with the UN and UNESCO.

Putin: We hope for broader contacts with UNESCO in matters of education, science, and culture… Cooperation with UNESCO is particularly important in view of the changes taking place in Russia.

This is Matsuru’s first visit to Russia. His predecessor Federico Major was very popular in this country and even had his book of poems published here. Matsuru, a Japanese diplomat, is known as a hardened pragmatic, and observers do not rule out the possibility that some large-scale projects initiated by Major might be revised or curtailed.

In his conversation with Matsuru, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov announced that Moscow supports the idea of reorganizing UNESCO. Ivanov emphasized that Matsuru’s meeting with Putin should provide a new impetus for our relations with this international organization.

WHAT IS A STATE COUNCIL?

Trud, August 1, 2000, p. 2

Nikolai Maksyuta, head of the administration of the Volgograd region: Violating the constitution is what we fortunately avoided during the reconciliatory procedure. As I see it, it was accomplished mostly thanks to the Federation Council. Still, removal of governors from the process of state management would have been a grave mistake. I won’t even offer arguments. I think that they are clear and well known.

Hence the idea of a State Council. I think that this is a proper idea. It is hard to say yet how it will be implemented because establishing a structure like this will require a constitutional amendment. The council will wield real power only if the constitution is amended. Otherwise, it will be a kind of club for governors without real duties or responsibility. I do not think that we need a State Council like that.

Vyacheslav Khizhnyakov, presidential representative in the Federation Council: Amending the constitution is not stipulated during the first phase of the establishment of the State Council. It is too early to try and guess what kind of a structure it will be. The president ordered a compilation of proposals of both houses of the parliament on the matter. When they are ready, we will discuss them. For the time being, opinions vary too much for us to be able to talk specifically. The final decision has not been made yet. The president will make up his mind on what kind of a structure it should be and we in turn will do everything within our power to deliver.

Since the president has made it quite clear that he wants the legislative and executive branches of government to be separated, federation subjects should have a way of communicating with the president and discussing issues with him. The State Council should become the instrument for that. It is the upper house of the parliament that needs this first and foremost. That is why I think that Federation Council members will come up with their proposals on the matter soon. In fact, this month.

Political scientist Sergei Karaganov: What is the State Council for? Firstly, the president needs a broader circle of individuals to communicate with. This is always helpful. Isolation is the worst danger any leader can ever face, especially in Russia. Secondly, the State Council is needed so that in a situation whereby the Federation Council is first weakened and then transformed into something different altogether, regional leaders could have direct access to the president. Otherwise, their views and opinions will be filtered to the president through the Moscow-based bureaucracy, and this is always dangerous. Thirdly, the State Council is needed as a form of consolation to some of the most influential Federation Council members. This is a compromise.

There is more. Vladimir Putin and his administration should give a thought to communication with various political, intellectual, and other forces in the country. Centralization of the executive branch is underway now, but the process may enter a cul-de-sac without constant corrections of the course prompted by advice from various groups and circles.

THE REGIME AND BUSINESSES: WHO OWES MONEY TO WHOM?

Trud, August 1, 2000, p. 3

Arkady Volsky, President of the Russian Union of Businessmen and Entrepreneurs: The roundtable conference was very handy for all parties involved. Before the conference, I met with many of its would-be participants and discussed the matters they intended to bring up at the meeting. The respect Putin commands has only grown because of this dialogue. The Presidential aides have made a grave mistake by putting pressure on businesses which essentially make up the real sector of the economy. I’m glad that common sense prevailed and all moot points were resolved.

Mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzhkov: Worried oligarchs wanted the president to tell them how they should live and work now. They got their reply: live like all other Russian citizens. There always is a problem of dividing political and economic components in every country. In Russia, oligarchs have laid their hands on sizeable chunks of property and even tried to affect political life of the country. Essentially, what Putin told them was this: mind your own businesses.

Pyotr Romanov, Duma Deputy Chairman: The oligarchs we have are a result of the inconsiderate and reckless liberalization carried out by the previous president and men like Gaidar. They system the previous regime formed allowed individuals close to the pinnacle of power to net handsome profits regardless of the law, the interests of the country or its population. Russian citizens were persistently told that state control was ineffective and that a stiff power vertical impeded economic reforms and development of democracy.

Arkady Dvorkovich, an expert with the Center for Strategic Studies: Relations between the regime and businesses should be based on the law. Sure, meetings, conferences, and discussions help because the government should know the opinion on economic matters of the men who determine the state of affairs in economy.

RAO RUES SHAREHOLDERS WILL BEGIN RECONCILIATORY PROCEDURES WITH THE STATE

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, August 1, 2000, p. 1

Minority shareholders of Russia’s Unified Energy Systems (RUES) are prepared to begin reconciliatory procedures with the state so as to make corrections to the agenda of the next meeting, according to Bill Browder, head of Heritage Capital Management.

Browder says that an official letter explaining the position of the shareholders was sent yesterday to Director of the Presidential Administration Alexander Voloshin who manages 53 percent of state-owned stocks in the company. According to Browder, replacement of Anatoly Chubais as the head of the company will also be discussed at the shareholders meeting.

LIBYAN MINISTER VISITING MOSCOW

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, August 1, 2000, p. 1

Abdel Rakhman Muhammad Shalgam, Secretary of the Supreme People’s Committee for Foreign Contacts and International Cooperation, is on his first visit to Moscow. Shalgam flew over on an official invitation from Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.

President Vladimir Putin met with the visiting dignitary in the Kremlin and accepted an invitation to visit Libya. Before his meeting with Putin, Shalgam met with Deputy Premier Ilya Klebanov.

Klebanov and Shalgam agreed that Russia would participate in the process of modernizing the hardware of the Libyan army. Klebanov was quoted as saying that “Libya did not discuss the issue of acquisition of any new military hardware from Russia”. Prospective projects of Russian-Libyan cooperation in the civilian sphere were discussed as well.

Shalgam also met with Ivanov and discussed matters of bilateral relations and major international issues like combating terrorism.

PUTIN VISITS BALTIISK

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, August 1, 2000, p. 2

President Vladimir Putin has paid a visit to the town of Baltiisk, the Russian naval base in the Baltic Sea, on the invitation of Navy Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Kuroyedov. The first naval parade of the Russian Navy took place in Baltiisk on the Naval Day.

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