GENNADI SELEZNEV’S MOVEMENT RUSSIA IS OUT TO BECOME THE POLITICAL CENTER LEFT

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GENNADI SELEZNEV’S MOVEMENT RUSSIA IS OUT TO BECOME THE POLITICAL CENTER LEFT

Rossiya, No 4, January 15, 2001, p. 2

There are persistent rumors that the Russia movement is being formed on the initiative of the presidential administration. Gennadi Seleznev himself vehemently denies the innuendo, but there surely must be something to the hearsay. A position alternative to the left-wing opposition and backed up by the Kremlin while maintaining membership in the Communist Party at the same time is what Seleznev needs for the time being, at least.

The Kremlin frequently uses Seleznev as an expert commentator when it needs somebody to come up with a convenient interpretation of one scandal or the other. Everybody remembers the episode with classified articles of the draft budget which had to do with the media and Seleznev’s appraisal of the situation with Alexander Rutskoi in Kursk.

Some communist hard-liners call Seleznev a dissenter even though Gennadi Zyuganov himself has never castigated the new movement.

Some observers do not rule out the possibility that the smoldering scandal among the communists is but a farce needed to attract additional votes to the left flank of the political spectrum. The regime and the left will probably split the power as they did in the wake of the 1999 election.

For the time being, the Russia movement does not plan to reorganize itself into a party. The new draft law on political parties which will be discussed by the Duma soon allows movements to participate in elections as elements of electoral alliances. Seleznev is clearly out to find his place in the People’s Patriotic Union.

DUMA CHAIRMAN GENNADI SELEZNEV SAYS…

Vedomosti, January 15, 2001, p. A3

… that before January 20 the president will forward to the Duma a draft Land Code banning free purchase and sale of agricultural lands. Sources in the presidential administration say that Seleznev is wrong and that Gref’s Ministry is rapidly working on a draft Land Code which will not regulate the process of handling of agricultural lands at all.

According to Seleznev, Vladimir Putin personally informed him of the intention to forward such a draft document to the lower house of the parliament. Our source in the presidential administration says that Seleznev is mistaken. “Perhaps, the president will back up a draft document which leaves the matter to the regional jurisdiction. In this case, the matter will be handled by governors,” the source said.

Deputies took Seleznev’s words cautiously. “I distrust all statements from politicians. I’d rather wait and see the draft with my own eyes,” said Deputy Gennadi Kulik (ex-Soviet and ex-Russian agricultural minister). He says nobody knows exactly what variation of the draft Land Code will be actually forwarded to the Duma.

Kulik: As far as I know, it is going to be something in between what Yeltsin once agreed to and what the government suggested recently.

UNKNOWN SENATORS

Vedomosti, January 15, 2001, p. A3

The number of permanent senators is going to go up noticeably on the eve of the meeting of the Federation Council scheduled for January 31. Elections took place in almost every third federation subject in 2000, and rotation in the upper house of the parliament is inevitable. Federation Council Chairman Yegor Stroyev is worried because most new senators are absolutely unknown to the general public and all too frequently they do not have anything to do with the regions that appointed them to the Federation Council. Stroyev went to President Vladimir Putin with his troubles and the president promised to have the law corrected. By the time it is corrected, however, most of the unknown senators would have been sitting in the upper house of the parliament.

As for the use of “nobodies” in politics, the Kremlin is adept in it. Such politicians were artificially made for the Unity in the Duma. It is now the turn of the Federation Council now.

LUZHKOV QUESTIONED

Moskovsky Komsomolets, January 16, 2001, p. 2

News agencies reported yesterday that Mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzhkov was questioned at the Prosecutor General’s Office “concerning financial relations between Media-Most holding and Moscow city government”.

It became known later that Luzhkov himself had not turn up in person at the Prosecutor General’s Office, he merely forwarded his answers to the investigators’ questions.

Anton Titov, Director of the Financial Directorate of Media-Most, was questioned on the same day. He says that the questions he was asked were mostly related to the issue of loans received from Gazprom. Titov emphasized that his lawyer was not allowed to be present. Media-Most lawyer Pavel Astakhov says that the “attitude of the Prosecutor General’s Office towards the holding is noticeably stiffer now”. He is of the opinion that the “Prosecutor General’s Office is deliberately violating the constitution which states that all citizens of the Russian Federation are entitled to qualified legal assistance.”

MINIMUM PENSION WILL GO UP

Trud, January 16, 2001, p. 1

Minimum pension will be increased to 600 rubles in the near future from the current 453, President Vladimir Putin announced yesterday. Opening a working meeting with Cabinet members, Putin listed the issue as a top priority. The president emphasized that this level will be minimal for working retirees as well.

AN INTERVIEW WITH FEDERATION COUNCIL CHAIRMAN YEGOR STROYEV

Tribuna, January 16, 2001, p. 1

Question: The necessity to fortify the state is the talk of the day. Why do you think it is a must?

Yegor Stroyev: The power and interests of the people, these are two pillars any modern state is founded on. As soon as they are weakened, the state begins its inevitable slide into trouble and decline.

We do not object to reforms as such. We object to reforms that are set for a selected few and not for the people as a whole. We want the reforms to work for society.

The question of the authorities is always a question of politics. Every political task should be handled legitimately in a state operating on the basis of the superiority of the law. All the rest is inadmissible. That is why the power and interests of the people assume a special meaning in a civil state. Firstly, power should be legitimate. Secondly, it should act in the interests of the people. With the new leadership in the country, the situation is slowly but surely improving.

Question: But the law should adequately and timely respond to problems of society, economic ones included…

Stroyev: Yes, we receive more and more reports from the regions on what is frequently termed as a wave of bankruptcies. In a number of cases, quite solvent enterprises and companies are treated this way. There is nothing mysterious about the process. This is a redistribution of property and assets, but the prosecutor’s office is silent…

Society has not been told by the prosecutor’s office anything about the “authors” of the 1998 default even though the situation has been thoroughly studied. A commission set up by the Federation Council forwarded its finding to the prosecutor’s office long ago.

Shadowy economics is a particular headache. Experts say, and the government accepts their estimate, that up to 40% of the country’s GDP is produced in the shadow sector. We are talking about colossal sums the state is never getting in the form of taxes. The state should not tolerate this.

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