WHO IS CONSIDERED FAMILY?
Rossiyskaya Gazeta, January 26, 2001, p. 3
On January 25 the Duma passed a bill on guarantees for the former president of the Russian Federation and his family in the third reading.
After lengthy debate, deputies accepted the amendment proposed by Pavel Krasheninikov. This stipulates that the consent of both houses of parliament is required before any criminal proceedings can be started against the former president based on actions taken while in office, and before he can be searched or arrested. A bill which provides some guarantees for former regional leaders was submitted to the Duma for a first reading; but the Duma decided not to extend even limited immunity to them.
PRISONERS TO BE RELEASED FROM CUSTODY
Moskovsky Komsomolets, January 26, 2001, p. 2
Justice Minister Yuri Kalinin said at a briefing yesterday that in the near future the number of prisoners in Russian jails will decrease. This will happen because the policy on penalties in Russia will become more liberal.
No new Criminal Code has been passed yet, but the 60 amendments proposed by the Cabinet to the old one are quite progressive. Recently the Duma passed a new bill on changes to penalties, in three readings. If the Federation Council also passes this bill, about 250,000 prisoners will be released from custody.
Currently there are about a million prisoners in Russia. According to Kalinin, the situation in detention centers is very difficult. More than six million people pass through these centers per year. The majority of detainees (about 60%) are awaiting a court verdict. According to the new law, suspects could not be kept in detention for more than a year. If the investigation is not completed during this time, the suspects must be released from custody: they will await a court decision at home (they must give a written undertaking not to leave the area).
Kalinin said that every year more than 120,000 suspects held in detention are released from custody by the court. In other words, these people are kept in detention illegally.
From now on investigators will need very serious reasons to arrest people.
A BATTLE WITHIN THE DEFENSE MINISTRY
Moskovsky Komsomolets, January 26, 2001, p. 1
The conflict between the defense minister and the chief of the General Staff is intensifying. This time the departments are arguing over the post of deputy defense minister for armament. This post has remained vacant since the presidential election. Defense Minister Sergeev and Chief of the General Staff Kvashnin have not managed to agree on a candidate.
The defense minister has nominated Colonel-General Anatoly Sitnov. Sitnov is currently serving as the chief of the Defense Ministry armament department. He is asking the defense minister to replace him with his deputy, Sergei Ostapenko.
Kvashnin has chosen his own candidate. According to our sources, this person is Vice-Admiral Mikhail Barskov, Deputy Commander of the Navy.
According to the law, candidates can be nominated only by the defense minister. However, Kavshnin’s position is so strong that formalities mean nothing.
This post has always been considered strategically important. It is the deputy minister who allocates state funding for arms procurement.
LEY’S CALL IT A MISUNDERSTANDING
Izvestia, January 26, 2001, p. 1
Mikhail Myasnikov, head of the Belarussian Presidential Administration, has described the appointment of an acting secretary of the Russian-Belarussian Union without the approval of the Belarussian president as a “misunderstanding”.
The decree appointing Igor Selivanov as the acting secretary of the Russian-Belarussian Union was signed by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov on Wednesday. Pavel Borodin’s press secretary said that the Belarussian authorities did not oppose this decision, because Russia is meant to fill all vacancies within the staff of the Union.
The statement of the Belarussian officials challenges this explanation: it turns out that Minsk did not know anything about this decision.
Belarus considers that this replacement indicates that Russia does not intend to help Pavel Borodin. This move has worsened relations between President Lukashenko and President Putin.
MONEY FOR CHECHNYA’S ECONOMY
Izvestia, January 26, 2001, p. 2
Over 14 billion rubles will be spent on restoring Chechnya’s economy and social services in 2001. This decision was approved by the Cabinet on January 25. The money will be spent within the framework of a special federal program for building apartment blocks and creating new jobs. The main problem is what should be done to prevent money being misused.
Stanislav Ilyasov, prime minister of Chechnya, said: “We hope we will be able to create all necessary conditions for those who have left Chechnya to return by the end of the year.” He promised to coordinate all his activities with Akhmed Kadyrov, head of the government of Chechnya, who intends to take charge of the Chechnya branch of Rosneft (Russian Oil).
The prime minister considers his main priorities to be rebuilding housing and creating jobs in Chechnya.
The federal budget will provide 4.4 billion rubles for restoring the economy; the remainder will be taken from non-budget sources. However, it will cost more than this to restore the ruined economy of Chechnya. Ilyasov thinks that the restoration of normal life in Chechnya will cost about 40 billion rubles.
Ilyasov promised that the Cabinet of Chechnya, which will be formed within a month, will monitor the use of the money.