YEVGENY KISELEV: "A WAR AGAINST NTV IS UNDERWAY"

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YEVGENY KISELEV: "A WAR AGAINST NTV IS UNDERWAY"

Moskovsky Komsomolets, August 12, 2000, p. 2

In the opinion of Yevgeny Kiselev, general director of NTV, a war against Russia’s largest private TV network is currently underway. This is a war where political techniques are used. In particular, in Kiselev’s opinion, a certain “center” disperses information about mass “personnel flights” from the company and a decline in ratings for the “Itogi” and “Segodnya” current affairs program. In fact, as the well-known anchorman confessed to the Interfax agency, the point is that August is characterized by a decline in political activity, during which NTV’s most popular political programs – “Itogi”, “Glas Naroda” – take a break. However, in case of a government crisis or drop in the exchange rate of the ruble, these broadcasts will immediately return on TV, Kiselev said. As for rumors concerning a “brain drain”, the general director of NTV remarked that “this is ridiculous”. According to him, since Dobrodeev, Kiselev’s predecessor, left the company half a year ago, only six correspondents have resigned, whereas the total number of employees amounts to a thousand.

INVESTIGATION ON AN UNSANCTIONED RALLY

Moskovsky Komsomolets, August 12, 2000, p. 2

An unsanctioned rally by Vladimir Zhrinovsky’s supporters, soon after the recent terrorist act, during which they called for “killing Chechens” may cost their leader dearly. An inter-district prosecutor’s office began an investigation on the rally near Pushkin Square. Journalists were told at the Moscow prosecutor’s office that the main reason for the investigation is anti-Chechen slogans of the demonstrators all of whom were members of the LDPR. They are accused of “instigating an ethnic conflict”.

IS ARAFAT CONTENT?

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, August 12, 2000, p. 1

“Russia has always supported the right of the people of Palestine to self-determination,” stated President Vladimir Putin yesterday following a meeting with Palestine leader Yasser Arafat in the Kremlin. Putin added that the Moscow leadership has closely watched the negotiations between Ehud Barak and Arafat under the patronage of the US. He also remarked that recently he discussed the possibility of a peaceful settlement in the Middle East with Bill Clinton and on the eve of Arafat’s arrival to Moscow had a phone conversation with the Israeli prime minister.

The issue did not become any clearer after Arafat’s negotiations with Igor Ivanov, head of the Foreign Ministry. Ivanov said that “making of this decision is the exclusive right of the Palestine people” and that “Russia will respect their choice”. However, the minister emphasized that “as for acknowledging of the state of Palestine, it is necessary to thoroughly analyze the situation.”

Arafat must have expected to find more support in Russia. As diplomats told our correspondent, he was very optimistic when he arrived in Moscow. The Palestine leader said that he would welcome Russia’s return to the Middle East scene and sees no obstacles to this.

Russia, the Palestine region, and Israel realize that if the state of Palestine is proclaimed, this will change nothing, even if its sovereignty is acknowledged by dozens of states. This already happened in 1988 when the formation of the state of Palestine was announced at a special session of the National Council of Palestine in Algiers. These events may be repeated on September 3, 2000. Arafat will not want to be held responsible for inciting a conflict. However, the Palestine leader cannot refuse to make any political, even if formal, statements. The hope of the people of Palestine for independence is too strong and their leader cannot betray it. Both Palestines and Israelis are seeking to avoid a conflict in the region without insulting anyone.

PRESIDENT PUTIN MEETS WITH MIKHAIL KASIANOV

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, August 12, 2000, p. 1

Preparation of the draft 2000 federal budget was discussed at a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov in the Kremlin yesterday. As we were told at the president’s press service, Kasianov emphasized that the government intends to submit the draft budget to the Duma by the date stipulated by the law. Putin and Kasianov also discussed the problem of providing agricultural industry with fuel during the harvesting campaign and problems concerning the upcoming session of the Security Council. The press service pointed out that issues of the current activity of the government were also discussed at the meeting. Yesterday Kasianov also had a meeting with his deputies where they discussed preparation for the session of the Security Council. As the government apparatus reported, the economic situation in the country was also discussed at the meeting. The prime minister was informed about the meeting of the assembly of the Finance Ministry where the draft budget had been discussed.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTERS OF RUSSIA AND BELARUS DISCUSS DEBT

Izvestia, August 12, 2000, p. 5

On Friday, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, deputy prime minister of Russia, and Andrei Kobyakov, senior deputy prime minister of Belarus, discussed the possibility of rescheduling Belarus’ debt to Russia. As Gennady Yezhov, Kudrin’s press secretary, informed Interfax, a $80-million credit received by Belarus prior to the August 1998 crisis was discussed among other issues. According to the agreement on granting of this credit, Belarus is to pay $20 million to Russia this year. During the meeting, Kudrin and Kobyakov also exchanged opinions concerning the mechanism of introducing currency for the two states. Tatyana Paramonova, deputy chair of the Central Bank, also took part in the meeting.

A CLERICAL MISTAKE

Izvestia, August 12, 2000, p. 2

Mark Cook, representative of the managing company of the investment fund Brunswick Capital Management in Russia, was fired yesterday. To all appearances, the leadership of the company did not forgive its director the “mistake” in the document sent to Russian Joint Energy Systems. Cook’s company was the main instigator of the attack by minor shareholders of the company on Chubais. Soon after the first outbursts of indignation among minor shareholders, the leadership of the company started speaking that profits are what the whole matter is about. Alexander Branis, director of Prosperity Capital Management, stated to “Izvestia”: “We only defend the rights of minor shareholders.” Nevertheless, Mr. Cook’s company made a serious mistake. Due to a mistake by a clerk, the number of votes in favor of a special meeting of shareholders as reported by the Brunswick Russian Growth Fund was 100 times higher than the actual number – 12% instead of 0.12%. Mr. Branis told “Izvestia”: “I think that this is only a mistake and there are no undercurrents to this fact. Still, it is a very serious mistake and, considering the circumstances, an unforgivable one.” The chair of the investment committee of the Brunswick Capital Management, in turn, stated: “A simple clerical error took place. An independent administrator of our company made it and we informed RJES about it. The strategic goal of shareholders is to increase the cost of the company and its shares. There can be no question of instant profits. I can say that Mark Cook’s resignation is in no way connected with the mistake in this document. The reason for his resignation will remain between him and the company. We wish success to Mr. Cook.”

MIZULINA WARNS THAT RUSSIA MAY STAY "ON THE LEVEL OF 1937"

Novye Izvestia, August 12, 2000, p. 2

The Duma committee of legislation, in cooperation with the American legal association, plans to hold a three-day conference to discuss the draft of the new Penal Code. This was reported by deputy chair of the committee of legislation, Yelena Mizulina (the Yabloko faction). In Mizulina’s opinion, during the upcoming conference which must work out recommendations for further improvement of the draft Penal Code, the most heated debates will develop in regards to the “definition of the status of prosecutor’s offices and investigation agencies”. “If the current status of these structures remains the same, this will mean that Russia’s law enforcement system in the 21st century will, actually, remain on the level of the year 1937,” Mizulina emphasized.

PRESIDENTIAL ENVOYS TO HAVE DELIBERATIVE VOTES AT GOVERNMENT MEETINGS

Novye Izvestia, August 12, 2000, p. 2

Presidential envoys in the federal districts will participate in the meetings of the government on “the issues which directly concern the federal districts” where they will have deliberative votes. This was reported by Pyotr Latyshev, president’s envoy in the Ural federal district. President Vladimir Putin, Latyshev remarked, “has set a three-month term during which federal structures must be brought into conformity with federal districts, and we have defined our approaches, for the most part.” This activity, as Latyshev said, “will be carried out by stages, and, according to readiness and necessity, we will organize district structures and define their status.”

PUTIN WANTS RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS TO STAY IN GEORGIAN-ABKHAZIAN CONFLICT

Novye Izvestia, August 12, 2000, p. 2

President Vladimir Putin appealed to the Federation Council to prolong the mandate of the Russian peacekeeping contingent as part of the collective peacekeeping forces in the area of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict. As officials of the upper house of the Russian parliament explained, the mandate of the Russian peacekeeping forces expired on June 30. However, the Council of heads of CIS-states decided to prolong it until December 31, 2000.

LUKIN: "A NEW SUMMIT ON PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST IS HIGHLY LIKELY"

Segodnya, August 12, 2000, p. 3

Vladimir Lukin, deputy Duma speaker and an experienced diplomat, comments on the situation concerning settlement of the conflict in the Middle East.

Question: Judging by Arafat’s statements at a press conference in Moscow, Russian officials failed to make his position less tough…

Lukin: Arafat’s objective during his current tour around many countries is to maximally strengthen his position by September 13, the day when Arafat promised to proclaim independence of Palestine even if no relevant agreement with Israel is concluded. In keeping with logic, one more meeting as an attempt to reach a compromise must be held prior to this. At a meeting in Camp-David, the parties became much closer in regards to many issues – refugees, borders, security. However, no agreement seems likely in regards to Jerusalem. A step toward solving this problem is an enormous political risk for both sides.

Q: Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov spoke about the possibility of holding a summit between Israel, the Palestine administration, the US, and Russia. What would be the significance of such a summit for peaceful settlement?

Lukin: Such an initiative is impeccable in the legal respect. However, Americans would not be very happy about the prospect of holding such a summit. In case of success, Russia will reap the laurels and Americans, considering the current election campaign, do not intend to share success with anyone, since peaceful settlement in the East would be a grandiose diplomatic victory which can be compared to a war triumph. Therefore, the chances of such a meeting are less than 50%. One more tripartite summit could turn out to be more fruitful.

Q: What is the possibility of holding a new summit before September 13?

Lukin: It is rather high. Clinton initiated negotiations in Camp-David not because the situation was ripe, but because, due to the election campaign, he found himself “riding a bicycle” – he either keeps on moving, or falls. He has no other thing to do. If another summit also fails, the development may be dramatic. If Palestine proclaims independence, Israel will annex Palestine territories and Palestine will respond with a terrorist war. No one wants this, except extremists.

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