THE UNITY ORGANIZES A SEMINAR
Segodnya, February 12, 2001, p. 2
The upper echelons of the Unity organized a seminar in Moscow on Saturday to improve the “legislative skills” of its representatives in regional parliaments. Many of the speakers at the seminar emphasized that regional legislatures were mostly controlled by the local authorities and that this status quo is impeding the work of forming a common legal space in the country. In Moscow, the Unity commands respect mostly because of its closeness to the Kremlin and state officials, but the same does not apply to Unity sub-organizations in the regions where the rules are different. It is regional leaders who become the pinnacle of the power vertical for Unity’s sub-organizations.
Among those present at the seminar were Central Electoral Commission Chairman Alexander Veshnyakov and presidential representatives in the Federation Council Vyacheslav Khizhnyakov and in the Duma Alexander Kotenkov. Deputy Director of the Presidential Administration Alexander Veshnyakov and his assistant Vladislav Surkov missed the seminar for some reasons, allthough their presence had been counted on. Neither did the seminar receive anything from Putin which was taken as a clear hint from the Kremlin that it is time the Unity began justifying the name of “presidential party”. Boris Gryzlov, leader of the Unity faction in the Duma, admitted that the party would have to fight for the privilege of being called the power party again, both on the federal and regional levels.
The Unity pins serious hopes on the future law on political parties. Its functionaries believe that the law will set up “legal borders for competition”, establish “cooperation between deputies”, and facilitate organization of factions in local parliaments. According to Gryzlov, there can only be the center, right and left flanks. All regional ideologies “are but separatism”, he said. The journalists invited to the seminar were assured that a commission for party control would not be established, but assistance to presidential plenipotentiary representatives would be offered. A source in the upper echelons of Unity was quoted as saying that “the prosecutor’s office is their weapon while we strive for more civilized limits of construction of the power vertical…”
ON VLADIMIR PUTIN’S VISIT TO UKRAINE
Vremya Novostei, February 12, 2001, p. 1
Ukraine’s President Leonid Kuchma receives his Russian counter part Vladimir Putin in Dnepropetrovsk today. The situation in Ukraine is not to be envied. The “tape” scandal in which Kuchma was accused of having ordered the extermination of journalist Georgy Gongadze caused numerous protest actions in Ukraine and a consolidation of the opposition. At the same time, official Kiev has found itself in isolation from the West. The situation being what it is, Moscow’s support is a must for Kuchma.
The enemies of the Ukrainian president understand that a lot depends on Moscow. Almost 70 activists of the self-proclaimed civilian committee for the defense of the constitution called “Ukraine Without Kuchma” (it comprises of 35 parties and movements) formed pickets around the Russian Embassy in Kiev last Friday urging Putin not to meet with Kuchma. A letter was forwarded to the Russian president stating that “Kuchma is accused of organizing the assassination of his own compatriots.”
Kuchma himself says the actions were purported by political opposition called “Munich Sabbath”, and he compares the events with Hitler’s coup in 1932. If the president does not suppress the riots, they may get out of control. Alexander Moroz, the author of the “tape” scandal and ex-chairman of the Rada, and his associates wield enough clout to excite anti-presidential disposition in the chauvinist west and proletarian east of Ukraine. Ex-deputy premier Yulia Timoshenko controls trade unions in coal-mining regions, and Taras Chornovyl (son of the founder of the legendary Rukh) has polled a record number of votes in the election in Lvov…
RUSSIA UPS ITS ARMS EXPORT
Rossiya, February 12, 2001, p. 2
Yesterday, Deputy Director of Rosoboroneksport Viktor Kamardin revealed the plans of further Russian-Iranian cooperation. Russian experts say that Moscow may net over $300 million a year.
Kamardin also announced that the kingdom of Bhutan bought $1 million worth of Kalashnikov submachine guns from Russia in late 2000. This is the first deal with Bhutan which had always bought its arms from India before 2000.
Some lucrative contracts are to be signed in the near future. This week official Paris is expected to make up its mind on the issue of loaning Russia 400 million francs for the program of manufacturing a Russian-French MIG-AT combat-training aircraft. If the money is loaned, Russia may expect considerable profits a year or two from now. A single MIG-AT will cost $10-12 million, and experts evaluate the demand at 880-1,200 aircraft. Russia may expect several billions.
Malaysia has demonstrated interest in Russian antitank guided missile systems, and the final agreement is to be reached in a few months time. Moreover, Malaysia intends to buy low-range antiaircraft complexes from Moscow.
If international embargo on trade with Yugoslavia is lifted, the Russian military-industrial complex has something to offer to this country. Belgrade does not object.
THE NATION WILL BE TOLD THE COST OF WAR
Izvestia, February 13, 2001, p. 3
The Russian Audit Chamber is investigating into the use of 14 billion rubles of budget funds channeled to Chechnya, its Chairman Sergei Stepashin announced on Monday. According to Stepashin, 88% of the said funds were transferred to Chechnya in 2000.
Stepashin: I’m going to suggest that all expenses on the war in Chechnya be written in a separate article of the budget.
Stepashin adds that the nation has the right to know “how much the war costs it”.
INTERFAX news agency reports that the Audit Chamber will also investigate the use of funds in the Caucasus Military District.
THE SILENCE OF THE MISSILE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF
Moskovsky Komsomolets, February 13, 2001, pp. 1, 3
Yakovlev promised to meet with Moskovsky Komsomolets correspondents to discuss the coming reorganization of the Strategic Missile Forces including a reduction of the Military Spatial Forces… The interview was cancelled. We found out later that correspondents from other publications had been treated similarly. Yakovlev became a voluntary prisoner of the Strategic Missile Forces’ central command post.
Yakovlev’s motives are simple. There are rumors that he will be the next defense minister, and in any conversation he will be asked to comment on the rumors. Yakovlev does not want to discuss it. He does not even want to discuss the successful launches of Topol.
A senior officer of the Strategic Missile Forces: Yakovlev does not want involvement in scandals. Firstly, there have never been any love lost between him and the chief of General Staff, and Kvashnin will now attack everybody who becomes “overly energetic” now that the post of the defense minister is at stake. Secondly, Yakovlev has already noticed that the president prefers to promote “silent men”, those who stay out of the spotlight…
A year ago Vladimir Putin was not sure if the extension of Defense Minister Igor Sergeev’s service was expedient. Yakovlev kept a low profile then too. He emerged from obscurity afterwards, and the president has praised him for the Strategic Missile Forces on more than one occasion. On the other hand, it did not prevent Putin from accepting the plan of military reforms promoted by Kvashnin in which the details of reduction of the Strategic Missile Forces were specified. Now that Sergeev has only three months before him, Yakovlev is keeping a low profile again.
Certain rumors indicate, however, that Yakovlev is not after the post of defense minister at all (a civilian will probably be found for the post), that Yakovlev wants to succeed Kvashnin as chief of General Staff. The upper echelons of the Army and Navy are aware that “the Kvashnin reforms” are a failure (actually, all these reforms succeeded only in the removal of Yakovlev as a rival aspirant for the post of defense minister) and that Kvashnin is “living” on borrowed time.
DUMA DEPUTIES DO NOT FORSAKE BORODIN BUT ARE INCAPABLE OF HELPING HIM
Moskovsky Komsomolets, February 13, 2001, p. 3
Enraged Aleksei Mitrofanov (LDPR) suggested in the wake of Pavel Borodin’s arrest in New York that Russia issued arrest warrants for ex-president Clinton, ex-secretary of State Albright, and NATO secretary general Solana. Almost one hundred hotheads in the Duma voted “aye” on the proposal. When Mitrofanov afterwards moved a motion that the Duma recommended that the Foreign Ministry be more energetic, only ten deputies supported him. This shows that deputies of the lower house of parliament received a signal from the Kremlin to hold their horses.
Attempts of the International Affairs Committee of the Duma to promote a resolution threatening severance of contacts of the Duma with American and Swiss parliaments failed. The deputies decided to wait and see.
Meanwhile, Ruslan Tamayev of the Prosecutor General’s Office has returned from Switzerland. According to INTERFAX news agency, he was not shown any documents on Borodin there.
PUTIN DOUBTS PROSECUTOR GENERAL USTINOV’S INTEGRITY?
Moskovsky Komsomolets, February 13, 2001, p. 2
Yesterday, President Putin instructed the Main Inspectorate Directorate to investigate into how Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov received his flat in Moscow, sources in the presidential administration say.
According to the source, Putin expects a detailed report within ten days.