PLANS FOR A SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COUNCIL

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PLANS FOR A SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COUNCIL

Izvestia, January 18, 2001, p. 1

According to our information, the presidential administration is working on a decree to establish a Science and Technology Council. The Council will include 255 leading specialists representing pure and applied research, and higher education institutions. President Putin will chair the Council, which will become the first such structure in Russia.

The idea of such a council was proposed when scientists met with the president in Sochi last summer, a meeting which coincided with the Kursk submarine disaster. Putin immediately consented to chair the Council. So far, no information is available on the names of potential members. Four working groups will be set up within the Council: energy, natural resources, information technology, and biotechnology.

ROMAN ABRAMOVICH INAUGURATED IN CHUKOTKA

Izvestia, January 18, 2001, p. 3

A whim: this is probably the most coherent and clear explanation for Abramovich’s decision to run for Chukotka governor. Chukotka is not like the Tyumen region, with its oil. Chukotka means gold, ores, fisheries, biological resources, and some oil deposits that are impossible to make a profit from. A bona fide tycoon wouldn’t touch it with a barge-pole. Perhaps Abramovich the shadow oligarch has decided that he needs a clean slate and clean image? Perhaps he thinks he is the man for the job? Turning the Chukotka Peninsula into a Russian Alaska is an ambitious goal indeed.

MEDIA-MOST: AN UPDATE

Izvestia, January 18, 2001, p. 4

Gazprom-Media applied to the Moscow Arbitration Court yesterday, demanding 19% of the shares of the NTV television network. If it receives this, it will gain the controlling interest in NTV.

Yesterday the Moscow Arbitration Court considered the suit of the municipal Tax Inspectorate, which wants to declare NTV insolvent.

DUMA SESSION OPENED YESTERDAY TO THE TUNE OF THE ANTHEM…

Izvestia, January 18, 2001, p. 4

The Duma reconvened for the spring session without too many scandals. Actually, this episode became another demonstration of how close the Union of Right Forces is to a split. As soon as the national anthem began, everyone stood – including Pavel Krasheninnikov and Lyubov Glebova of the Union of Right Forces faction. Two other URF members, Sergei Kovalev and Yulii Rybakov, remained seated. All other members of the URF and Yabloko left the hall, returning after the anthem.

Yulii Rybakov said afterwards: “Everyone is free to express their feelings. I do not condemn those deputies who have contacts with the presidential administration, and do not want to quarrel with it. As for me, I’m a free dissident and human rights activist, and act as my heart tells me to act.”

RUSSIAN-MOLDOVAN GAS AGREEMENT NOT SIGNED

Izvestia, January 18, 2001, p. 5

The prime ministers of Russia and Moldova have resolved to postpone the signing of an agreement on cooperation in the gas sector.

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov said: “Russia’s policy in financial and economic relations with other countries is pragmatic. That is why we do not want to sign a document which will not work at all, or will cease to work in six months.”

Kasianov admits that the situation with payments for Russian gas improved in 2000, and Moldova was actually making 83% of payments in real money. At the same time, he does not think the time is ripe for an official agreement.

DEFENSE MINISTRY TOP BRASS WILL TRAVEL IN BMW CARS

Moskovsky Komsomolets, January 18, 2001, p. 2

The Defense Ministry vehicle fleet will soon gain more than a dozen BMW 528 and BMW 735 cars. These cars will be reserved for Chief of the General Staff Anatoly Kvashnin, commanders-in-chief of the Air Force, Navy, and Strategic Missile Forces, and some heads of main directorates of the Defense Ministry. Until now, the only foreign car was Defense Minister Igor Sergeev’s.

The BMWs will cost the Defense Ministry over $500,000; or $50,000 each.

BUSH’S PROMISE TO CUT FINANCIAL AID TO RUSSIA SHOULD BE WELCOMED

Trud-7, January 18, 2001, p. 3

Professor Anatoly Utkin, head of the International Research Center of the US and Canada Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences:

SOME QUESTIONS FOR PAVEL BORODIN REMAIN UNANSWERED

Tribuna, January 18, 2001, p. 1

The Swiss prosecutor’s office will continue its investigation into the money-laundering case involving Mabetex and Mercata, and former head of the Presidential Affairs Directorate Pavel Borodin.

Moscow closed the Mabetex file permanently in late December, and Swiss courts permitted the use of some previously frozen bank accounts of Mercata; but Bernard Bertossa in Geneva does not think “we can relax and forget it” yet. In any case, Switzerland expects Moscow to respond to two enquiries.

Specifically, Switzerland wants to know the terms on which Mabetex won the contract for renovation work at the Kremlin. It also wants to know what Russian law makes of the payment of a $60 million commission, some of which ($25 million) ended up in the bank accounts of Borodin and his family. The matter also concerns the transformation of the presidential IL-96 plane into a real flying hospital – which cost $13 million. Some confiscated accounts and analysis of transactions indicate that Russia paid three times more than this work was worth.

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