MIKHAIL GORBACHEV: GIVE PUTIN TIME

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MIKHAIL GORBACHEV: GIVE PUTIN TIME

Izvestia, September 18, 2000, p. 3

Question: Your relations with the first Russian president left much to be desired? How would you evaluate relations with Boris Yeltsin’s successor?

Answer: When Yeltsin was about to be dismissed from the Central Committee, I was the only person who insisted that he be left alone and, moreover, be given the rank of a minister. When he was elected as president, I said “I will cooperate since this is what the people want”. As for him and the way he treated me…

As for Putin, we got acquainted several years ago in St. Petersburg where he accompanied me on behalf of the city hall. He impressed me as a knowledgeable and serious person. However, I would repeat that in my opinion he does not have everything it takes to rule a country like Russia. He was elected simply because the people were fed up with empty talks and lack of decisiveness. Neither Yavlinsky nor Zyuganov will ever be elected, that much is clear I think. The country needed a new man. For some reason, society thinks that Putin is free of everything that has been hindering us for the past decade.

Question: And what do you think?

Answer: I cannot say he is absolutely free. None of us is. As I see it, his “promoters” rely on his gratitude and dependence. I told him during our meeting that “Now that you’ve got the mandate from the people, all other “contracts” and “obligations” are void”. Putin will have to make a move towards freedom, and the path will be difficult. I know how difficult it is to get away from people you’ve depended on for years. What I know of him and perceive (our last three-hour conversation took place in the Kremlin, and it concerned the State Council) indicates that he earnestly wants to work for the country. He has the healthy ambitions of a young man. He knows the position he is in, he does make mistakes…

AN UPDATE ON PLANNED REDUCTION OF THE ARMED FORCES

Izvestia, September 19, 2000, p. 3

Commenting on the reported plans to reduce the numerical strength of the Russian Armed Forces by 350,000, Valery Manilov, Senior Deputy Chief of General Staff, says that the planned reforms are aimed first and foremost at rearranging the organizational structure of combat forces and the numerical strength of the Army and Navy.

General Manilov: Instead of a purely mechanical reduction, this is going to be a well thought-out action, with the economic capabilities of the state taken into consideration.

Manilov says that the proposed reforms will facilitate the formation of “compact and balanced Armed Forces, capable of eradicating all threats adequately”.

According to General Manilov, “it is too early yet to talk about specific dates and exact figure of servicemen to be dismissed from the Armed Forces… The final decision will be made by the president in the wake of the next session of the Security Council, which is scheduled to take place soon”.

THE ECONOMY SHOULD REGULATE ITSELF

Izvestia, September 19, 2000, p. 3

The economy should be modernize within five or seven years, ten at the most. While delivering a speech at a conference on “Investments In New Russia” in Moscow on Monday, Premier Mikhail Kasianov announced that this task would require “colossal investments amounting to billions”.

According to Premier Kasianov, “thinking that all problems plaguing the Russian economy can be solved over a year or two is naive”.

That is precisely why the premier attaches such importance to putting into effect the “mechanism of self-regulation”.

According to Kasianov, the complicated and lengthy process of restoring people’s trust in the authorities is in progress now. The government intends to implement all measures in a well-planned manner. Kasianov says that the authorities do not plan to conceal their plans of reorganization from investors.

In the words of Kasianov, “everything, all processes taking place in our economy should be predictable. Investors should understand that they are investing in a new Russia”.

NEW SKIRMISHES IN INGUSHETIA

Izvestia, September 19, 2000, p. 3

Ibragim Tochiyev, head of the administration of the Dzheirakh district of Ingushetia, has accused servicemen of the 58th Russian Army of causing forest fires. On Monday, he was quoted as saying that a forest fire began near the settlement of Targim which had been subjected to federal missile attacks. Ingush rescue services that were summoned to put out the fire did so with great difficulty. The fire did considerable damages to the area.

Commenting on federal firces’ reports about the guerrillas killed in the Dzheirakh district, Tochiyev said that a special team of officials of the Dzheirakh district’s internal affairs directorate and Nazran border detachment had spent a week there.

According to Tochiyev, “the group did not discover guerrillas there, neither dead nor living”.

AN UPDATE ON THE LATEST INCIDENT IN KHANKALA

Izvestia, September 19, 2000, p. 3

Commenting on the incident at the Khankala army base involving an NTV camera crew, Presidential Advisor Sergei Yastrzhembsky denies any plans or intention on the part of the authorities to enforce stricter regime or censorship on journalists working in Chechnya.

Yastrzhembsky suggests that we all wait for the investigation to present its findings on the incident.

ON THE MEETING OF TWO PREMIERS

Nash Vek, September 18, 2000, p. 1

This Tuesday Russian Premier Mikhail Kasianov will meet with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at 10, Downing Street.

The Western media comments that Kasianov will become the first G-8 premier to meet with Blair within the difficult period for the British Cabinet, caused by the gas crisis. Kasianov and Blair will discuss matters of trade-economic cooperation and investments as well as cooperation in international economics and finances. The two premiers will also discuss problems of international security and bilateral cooperation in the energy sphere, which is particularly pressing now that Europe is in the grips of a fuel crisis. Kasianov is also scheduled to address British businessmen and meet with British Minister of Finance Gordon Brown. On Wednesday, the Russian premier will meet with some British ministers including Robin Cook of the Foreign Office.

On Wednesday, Kasianov will also hold negotiations with the Board of Directors of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development. The fate of two credits ($250 million to Gazprom and $150 million to Lukoil) hangs on the success of the negotiations. Those who oppose the idea of awarding new loans to Russia point out that the bank has very little clout with Gazprom and therefore should not be given any more money “before restructuring”, particularly in view of the currently high oil prices.

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