MORE CRITICISM FROM LORD JUDD
Itogi, October 3, 2000, p. 10
Lord Judd, Chairman of the Chechnya-monitoring team in the Council of Europe, has addressed the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) with more criticism of the Russian authorities. It should be noted that the right of Russia’s delegation in the PACE was suspended on Lord Judd’s proposal. This was supposed to be a punishment for alleged human rights abuses in Chechnya. Lord Judd’s last visit to Chechnya, the third this year, took place in September.
Lord Judd and his colleagues believe that massive human rights abuses are continuing in Chechnya. Lord Judd blames both warring sides but emphasizes that unlike Russia, Chechnya is not a member of the Council of Europe. It never signed human rights charters and therefore cannot be officially condemned by Strasbourg. The federal authorities on the other hand go on harassing noncombatants, detaining them illegitimately and getting involved in open extortion. Moreover, noncombatants are mercilessly handled whenever there is a slightest suspicion of contacts with the guerrillas. According to Lord Judd, 18,000 Chechen noncombatants have disappeared without trace in the course of the antiterrorist operation.
Lord Judd however mentioned some “improvement in the state of affairs with human rights” in Chechnya. He was particularly impressed by the discussion of the problem in the Duma during which “a high ranking general was interrupted and asked to be more specific”.
Upon hearing the lord’s report, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe decided to give Russia more time until January.
FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE LAST SEVEN YEARS YABLOKO FACTION WILL VOTE FOR THE GOVERNMENT’S DRAFT FEDERAL BUDGET
Moskovsky Komsomolets, October 2, 2000, p. 2
The faction will do so under some conditions and offer some suggestions out of its own draft budget which has been drawn up out of habit. The major conditions will include the demand that budget relations between the center and the regions be revised and the principle of “healthy cautiousness” be used in drawing up the budget (Yabloko thinks that this will help the country to avoid another default and inflation). Artemiev, Yabloko’s major budget specialist, thinks that the 72 billion to be earned in additional income should be included in the revenue part of the budget as a reserve to reduce the country’s dependence on loans from the International Monetary Fund.
Moskovsky Komsomolets, October 3, 2000, p. 2
Rubin Central Design Bureau for Naval Technologies and Halliberton oil corporation of Norway have signed a contract on lifting the bodies of submariners from the Kursk.
Fifteen Russian divers spent the last two weeks mastering special diving equipment in conditions designed to simulate a depth of 100 meters. Twelve of them will be included in the Russian-Norwegian team.
The operation will begin on October 10 in the Barents Sea.
BABITSKY IN COURT
Moskovsky Komsomolets, October 3, 2000, p. 2
The trial of Radio Liberty correspondent Andrei Babitsky has began in Makhachkala, Dagestan.
Prosecutor Rashidkhan Magomedov says that “the correspondent did not have valid reasons to use forged documents” because “he was not in any way threatened in Dagestan”. Babitsky pleaded innocent saying that “after a month in Chernokozovo cells, the Chechen village of Avtury, and the so called “exchange for Russian servicemen” he had every reason in the world to fear for his life and “distrust Russian law enforcement agencies.”
Babitsky is of the opinion that the court will convict him. His lawyer Henry Reznik is more optimistic.
BEREZOVSKY STILL HAS ORT SHARES
Izvestia, October 3, 2000, p. 1
Representatives of the intelligentsia and journalists (those Boris Berezovsky offered his 49 percent of ORT shares to) met at Radisson-Slavyanskaya Hotel yesterday. The would-be managers failed to understand each other and the agreement on trust management was again not signed.
The organizer of the conference, Igor Shabdurasulov, barred all reporters from the conference hall.
Aleksei Venediktov, Editor-in-Chief of “Echo of Moscow Radio”: The state is in full control of ORT now. We see evidence of this in the general management and personnel policy. Elements similar to that of RTR are very obvious. And since the ORT charter does not allow us to have a say on the state of affairs, our involvement becomes pointless.
The decision to take a time out (two weeks) was made. By October 16, potential founders of Teletrust (according to Berezovsky, this company is supposed to manage 49 percent of ORT stock) will get answers to their questions about the company’s sources of capital and the mechanism of decision-making.
Shabdurasulov assumes that money will be loaned to Teletrust by LogoVAZ and ORT-KB, formal owners of the 49 percent shares.
Shabdurasulov admits that reaching an agreement with the state will be difficult.
Shabdurasulov: We will be able to block the decisions of the board of directors, but that’s about all. It means that managers will be forced to seek compromises with the state all the same.
FOUR MINUS ONE
Trud, October 3, 2000, p. 1
The fourth meeting of interior ministers of the so called Borjomi Four (Russia, Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan) took place in Sochi last week without the Georgian representative. Kakha Tarmagadze rushed back to Tbilisi when informed of escape of twelve prisoners. Nevertheless, he did have the time to sign all documents passed at the meeting.
The meeting was dedicated to problems of combating terrorism. Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo says that a number of decisions has been made and the interior ministers expected them to have a positive effect on the situation in the Caucasus. The ministers agreed on exchange of information on individuals and organizations suspected of involvement in terrorist activities and illegal arms and explosives trading. The ministers also agreed on some joint operations like operation Border-Barrier.
An appeal to all four presidents was signed. According to Rushailo, it has to do with “issues relating to the negative tendency of growing terrorism, banditry, abduction, and other extremist activities in the region”. The presidents are urged to focus their efforts on involving all law enforcement agencies and secret services in combating terrorism.
The interior ministers do not think the situation in the Caucasus is deteriorating. They evaluate it as stable.
THE PROSECUTOR GENERAL’S OFFICE WANTS VLADIMIR GUSINSKY
Trud, October 3, 2000, p. 1
The Prosecutor General’s Office intends to have Vladimir Gusinsky questioned by its officials. Gusinsky was summoned for 10 a.m. on Friday but failed to appear because he was abroad.
Sources in the Prosecutor General’s Office say that the structure has some questions to Gusinsky and will “take legitimate measures to ensure his availability for questioning”.
VLADIMIR PUTIN MAKES A STATEMENT
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, October 3, 2000, p. 1
Putin: Russia is troubled by the events now unfolding in Yugoslavia. The growing escalation of tension related to the election of September 24 threatens to deteriorate into an open detente with unpredictable consequences. This development is against the interests of the people of Yugoslavia, stability in the Balkans and Europe in general.
As Yugoslavia’s true friend, Russia cannot remain a disinterested observer. Motivated by feelings of friendship and closeness of our peoples, I am prepared to receive both candidates in Moscow – President Slobodan Milosevic and leader of the democratic opposition Voislav Kostunica for a discussion of the situation.
TWO CONTRACT SERVICEMEN OPTED TO REMAIN IN ROSTOV-ON-DON
Tribuna, October 3, 2000, p. 1
Contract servicemen who rallied in front of the Caucasus Military District headquarters to demand for payment of money owed them for participating in the antiterrorist operation have left Rostov-on-Don after more than a month of pickets and hunger strikes.
When the servicemen blocked the entrance of the headquarters, Plenipotentiary Representative Kazantsev was summoned. After a personal meeting with the protesters and staff officers, Kazantsev issued orders. Within two days the protesters received money for two months. Financiers guaranteed that as soon as the Caucasus Military District received money again, contract servicemen would be paid the rest.
Two protesters, Andrei Galichin and Andrei Bubnov, opted to remain in Rostov-on-Don to wait for the money.
EUROPE NEEDS RUSSIAN FUEL
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, October 3, 2000, p. 2
“The Financial Times” reports that the European Union and Russia began negotiations over the possibility of increasing Russian fuel export to Europe. European Union official say that the issue may concern doubling gas export and upping oil and electricity export. According to the newspaper, Vladimir Putin and Romano Prodi discussed the matter of strategic partnership in the sphere of fuel export in a telephone conversation and decided to continue the negotiations. The newspaper states that possible agreements may call for the construction of new oil and gas pipelines with the participation of countries through which these transport arteries will run.
The report does not specify whether or not the issue has to do with new pipelines or ones under construction. Sources in Gazprom explain that the Blue Stream and Yamal-Europe projects are meant. Russian export to Europe amounts to about 120 billion cubic meters of gas per annum. New pipelines will increase it by 30 billion cubic meters. That is why talking about doubling gas export is a bit premature. A source in Gazprom says that no negotiations on construction of new pipelines are being held, particularly since extraction of gas in Russia has been going down.
As for oil, the question probably has to do with the construction of the Baltic pipeline system which will raise oil export to Europe. Sources in the Fuel and Energy Ministry say that oil export to Europe is going to go down by 3 million tons in the near future. (These plans are attributed to the upcoming winter and the growing domestic oil demand.) An increase in oil export will be possible as of next spring.
According to the plans of the Fuel and Energy Ministry, oil extraction in Russia is supposed to increase by 33 million tons per annum by 2010.