THE FEDERAL BORDER GUARDS SERVICE DENIES ALLEGATIONS
Izvestia, October 23, 2000, p. 2
Colonel General Nikolai Reznichenko, Senior Deputy Director of the Federal Border Guards Service and Chief of General Staff of the Federal Border Guards Service, called an urgent briefing yesterday. The urgency is ascribed to allegations from the Georgian Foreign Ministry that Russian border guards had deliberately allowed Chechen guerrillas to escape into Georgia.
Early in the morning on October 16 servicemen of the Togrim outpost of the Nazran Border Detachment discovered a group of about 50 near the Terkhkort mountain. Artillery was called in and the group was dispersed.
Two days later Tbilisi announced that the guerrillas penetrated into Georgian territory through a path deliberately established by Russian border guards. A press release of the Georgian Foreign Ministry indicates that traces of a large group of people who had obviously come from Russia were discovered near the Arkhoti outpost.
The Federal Border Guards Service is of the opinion that the gang, dispersed and partially destroyed, made it across the border not thanks to but despite Russian border guards.
GEORGIA DOES NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO ABOUT CHECHEN GUERRILLAS
Segodnia, October 23, 2000, p. 2
The situation around the gang of Chechen extremists who crossed into Georgia remained unsolved up till yesterday. Up to 60 guerrillas were still surrounded by Georgian paratroopers under Chief of General Staff Johni Pirtskhalaishvili. On Friday, border guards of the Georgian Arkhoti outpost found tracks of several dozens of trespassers in the Ingush part of the Russian-Georgian border. The following day the gang was discovered and blocked in the Ass ravine. The Chechens refused to give up and demanded a corridor to Azerbaijan or Turkey. Negotiations ensued, and so far Tbilisi has agreed to give shelter and medical help to the sick and wounded.
In any case, official Tbilisi is not to be envied. If the guerrillas surrender, they will have to be extradited to Russia. If the Georgian military tries to drive the gang back into Russia, an armed conflict may take place on the territory of Georgia. The Russian Foreign Ministry has not interfered.
POLITICIANS AND EXECUTIVES ABOUT THE GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION IN KURSK
Izvestia, October 24, 2000, p. 3
Duma Deputy Chairman Irina Khakamada: What happened during the election in Kursk smears the idea of regional elections and the electoral system on the whole. The decision of the court was obviously made under pressure… The regime should learn to win free and fair election, or else the whole idea becomes a sham. We do not need this kind of election. Otherwise, let them abolish the idea of gubernatorial elections as such and start appointing governors.
Georgy Poltavchenko, presidential plenipotentiary representative in the Central federal region: There is no scandal here. There is a decision of the court which has to be honored or else protested against. Who could put the judge under pressure? Ask the judge herself. What shall the president interfere for? He does not have anything to do with courts.
COMMENTS ON RUMORS ABOUT VIKTOR GERASCHENKO’S RESIGNATION
Moskovsky Komsomolets, October 24, 2000, p. 2
Alexander Shokhin (a deputy premier in 1994): Geraschenko will step down sooner or later, either because of his age or when his contract expires in September 2001. Or again, it may happen even earlier than that. Geraschenko has made moves in this direction on more than one occasion, and there are even rumors that he submitted letters of resignation to Putin. His resignation was never accepted. Why? There are several hypotheses. Specifically, the federal center does not have anybody to replace Geraschenko for the time being. As soon as this problem is solved, the process will begin. The other hypothesis holds that there is no convincing ground for Geraschenko’s resignation. The ruble is stable, gold and hard currency reserves are being accumulated. And as for the Central Bank’s failure to find a common language with the government, this is not a verdict yet. Both parties are to be blamed for lack of mutual understanding.
As for the government’s statements about the “weak ruble”, these complaints should not be taken seriously. It was a pure PR. Admitting that its predictions of the ruble/dollar exchange rate were incorrect, the Cabinet assured the deputies that there would be additional revenues. Just do not start dividing them right now, you will have plenty of time for that later… This is what Kudrin and other Cabinet members meant. They did not make these statements just to spite Geraschenko.
Alexander Khandruyev (deputy chairman of the Central Bank between 1992 and 1998): Rumors about Geraschenko’s resignations are like rumors of Mark Twain’s death. Twain heard them once and noted that “They are somewhat exaggerated”.
Keeping up the ruble, the Central Bank is doing everything it can to defend Russian manufacturers. At the same time, it prevents a price-rise. It will be probably better for the dollar to cost 30 rubles by the end of the year but this is not an announcement that can be made now. We do not need any sharp moves now.
Sergei Glaziev (Chairman of the Duma Committee for Economic policy and Entrepreneurship): There are lots of grudges against the current fiscal-monetary policy, but they are not enough to demand for the replacement of the Central Bank’s top management. The law is quite specific on the subject of replacement: the chairman of the Central Bank may resign of his own volition, sacked if convicted of some crime, or replaced in case of death. Neither of the three applies here.
All rumors ended in the wake of Geraschenko’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin. Judging by Premier Kasianov’s statement after the meeting (that nobody was going to encroach on the independence of the Central Bank), mutual understanding was reached. Geraschenko survived to fight another day. It means that the dollar will remain on the level of 29-29.5 rubles.
COMMENTS ON THE CASE OF EDMOND POPE
Moskovsky Komsomolets, October 23, 2000, p. 2
Viktor Pokhmelkin, senior deputy leader of the Union of Right Forces: I think it will be humane to let the American legal system handle the matter. Washington wants it, and our legislation does provide the possibility. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that certain tendencies of Russian society will prevail (the image of the enemy, spy-mania, and the punitive syndrome), and the decision that will be opted for will not be the best. A humane action on the part of the secret services is regarded as a sign of weakness.
Deputy Sergei Yushenkov: I do not know how the regime will act. Everything depends on the president. He cites the verdict. I think that Pope should be given over to the American authorities. Moreover, the man is sick. I do not think, however, that humane considerations will prevail.
Political scientist Vyacheslav Nikonov: This is what I think will happen. Pope will be tried and convicted. After that Putin will personally pardon him. Our secret services will save face and we will retain good relations with the United States.
PRICES ON THE RISE
Vedomosti, October 23, 2000, p. 1
Sources in the Ministry of Industry and Science say that the largest price-rise in the next few months will be for products of the engineering, chemical and oil chemical industries and construction materials. The price-rise is ascribed to the growing prices of raw materials and fuel.
KOSTUNICA EXPECTED IN MOSCOW
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, October 24, 2000
Russia will be the first distant foreign country to be visited by Yugoslavian President Vojislav Kostunica, his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin announced yesterday. Formally, Kostunica already made two foreign trips in his new capacity, but his trip last Sunday was to Serbia (a part of Bosnia and Herzegovina) which is traditionally viewed as Belgrade’s sphere of influence. Kostunica’s presence at the European Union summit in Biarritz, France, was not like an ordinary visit to a foreign state either.
On Friday, Kostunica’s is expected to pay a working visit to Moscow. High level Russian-Yugoslavian negotiations are important for both countries. The new Yugoslavian regime confirms that all political changes notwithstanding, close cooperation with Russia will remain a top priority. That is why Kostunica planned to visit Russia first. Russia also attaches considerable importance to contacts with Yugoslavia.
Well-informed sources say that preservation of the Yugoslavian federation will be discussed at the negotiations in Moscow. Some Russian-Yugoslavian economic projects may be dwelt on as well.
IVANOV MET WITH GENSCHER
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, October 24, 2000
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov met with Hans-Dietrich Genscher, former head of the German foreign ministry. Ivanov and Genscher discussed the prospects of Russian-German relations in the light of the upcoming tenth anniversary of the treaty on neighborly relations, partnership, and cooperation signed on November 9, 1990.
Ivanov and Genscher also discussed the role of the OSCE in Europe and the situation in the Middle East.
JAPANESE FOREIGN MINISTER WILL VISIT RUSSIA ON NOVEMBER 1-4
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, October 24, 2000
Russian-Japanese consultations in Tokyo between Alexander Losyukov, Deputy Foreign Minister, and his Japanese counterpart Rezio Kato ended in an official announcement that Japanese Foreign Minister Yohei Kono will visit Russia on November 1-4.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Premier Yosiro Mori will meet in November at the Asian-Pacific forum in Brunei.
BASHKIR PRESIDENT RAKHIMOV ON PUTIN’S REFORMS
Versty, October 24, 2000, p. 1
The sitting of the Federation Council is to begin today in committees and subcommittees. It does not promise much in terms of unexpected surprises. Nevertheless, the sitting is a chance for regional leaders (particularly those who cannot expect support from the Kremlin) to air their views on the political situation and the reforms. We will probably see an escalation of the federal center’s conflict with Eduard Rossel, Nikolai Fyodorov, and Murtaza Rakhimov. These three regional leaders feel slighted by the center.
Bashkir President Rakhimov: Perhaps, the existence of federal regions does help Putin in some ways, but Moscow and, say, Ufa may have different notions on what a “power vertical” is. The president is supposed to influence local authorities via his plenipotentiary representatives. But how can Sergei Kirienko influence the situation in Bashkortostan sitting in Nizhny Novgorod? As I see it, this is just another “paper structure”. The country does not have money to cater for the people’s essential needs, but the center continues to create new jobs for bureaucrats. Does Russia need such “verticals”?
I also think it is a mistake to blindly copy Western-type democracy in Russia without taking into consideration local factors. Our country is not on the kind of level of economic and political development that would have made this kind of democracy affordable.
As for the State Council, I consider it a proper idea. The governors and presidents sitting on it know the true state of affairs in the regions and wield real powers necessary for the implementation of decisions taken by the Cabinet and parliament. At the same time, the Federation Council has not exhausted its usefulness yet.
OPINION POLLS INDICATE…
Vremya Novostei, October 23, 2000, p. 2
… that 52.4 percent of Russians do not think elections in this country are free and fair. At the same time, 75.9 percent are confident that the regime is corrupt on absolutely all levels.
The opinion poll was conducted by the ROMIR sociological center.