LUZHKOV NOT INVOLVED IN TATUM KILLING

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LUZHKOV NOT INVOLVED IN TATUM KILLING

Izvestia, February 14, 2001, p. 2

The Arizona State Court has ruled against the family of entrepreneur Paul Tatum in their lawsuit against Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, whom they accused of being involved in the murder of the American businessman in Moscow. Luzhkov was informed of this on his way to an investment forum in Germany.

The mayor’s spokesman Mikhail Solomentsev said: “We have already won all lawsuits against the Moscow Mayor’s Office and Yuri Luzhkov personally. The case brought by Tatum’s family was one of the last. This case had been much discussed, but right after the Moscow mayor was reelected the talk died down. And the recent decision has not surprised us.”

RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT MENDS BUDGET HOLES

Izvestia, February 14, 2001, p. 2

The Finance Ministry has openly admitted that this year Russia will not reach agreement with the IMF or the Paris Club of creditor nations. The Russian government will have to look for some resources to fill the gaps in the budget created by the absence of expected foreign loans, and find some way of paying the Paris Club. The Cabinet held an urgent meeting yesterday to discuss amendments to the 2001 budget.

The Cabinet faces a difficult task: finding over $6 billion (182.9 billion rubles) to make up lost budget revenues and meet scheduled payments to creditors. The major hope of the Cabinet is in additional budget revenues. According to the forecast of the Finance Ministry, in 2001 extra revenues will be approximately 108 billion rubles. Of this, 27 billion rubles is supposed to be spent on wage rises for state-sector employees, military salaries, and other social needs. The Cabinet is planning to spend the rest of this money on debt payments.

Another source of money for debt payments should be the sale of state properties. On February 15, the Cabinet intends to ask the Duma to lift restrictions on selling stakes in major enterprises. If the Duma agrees, this will make it possible to raise another 15 billion rubles. Thirty billion rubles will be borrowed on the domestic market. The Cabinet also hopes to take 33 billion rubles from the accounts of the Federal Treasury. However, even if the Cabinet manages to fulfil the plan and agree on all points with the Duma, there is still a 24 billion “gap”. Deputy Prime Minster Aleksei Kudrin hopes to cover this through improved tax collection.

ARE YOU PREPARED FOR WAR?

Izvestia, February 14, 2001, p. 2

Anatoly Kvashnin, Chief of the General Staff, is leading a four-day strategic command-staff training exercise for commanding the Russian Armed Forces.

According to the Defense Ministry, the aim of the exercise is to improve “the command skills of senior military commanders”. That is why all the federal divisions of the military command, the command of the military districts, the Navy, as well as command of the branches of the Army, the Air Force, and the Paratroopers have been involved in the exercise. During this exercise there will be combat training launches of surface, air, and naval missiles.

Each exercise of this kind always has a special “story”. What this is for the current exercise remains a military secret. However, judging by previous experience, it is easy to conclude that the enemy is the USA and NATO. In three days, the chiefs of the General Staff will have to decide whether the Russian Armed Forces are ready for war in 2001.

PRIMORYE GOVERNMENT RESIGNS

Trud, February 14, 2001, p. 2

After speaking with Primorye deputy governors, Konstantin Pulikovsky, presidential envoy for the Far Eastern federal district, proposed that they should all sumit their resignations. The resignation letters had been prepared beforehand, so everything was fast and efficient.

During a press conference acting Primorye Governor Valentin Dubinin announced that in the future Primorye (Maritime territory) will have eight deputy governors (there were 13 of them under Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko). Five more heads of departments of the regional administration have also resigned.

Meanwhile, a provisional government has been formed, which includes some of the deputy governors. Until the regional elections they will all be responsible for the major economic sectors of the region, trying to supply energy, store fuel, and prepare for agricultural work in the spring.

BORIS BEREZOVSKY WILL UNSELFISHLY BUY OUT NTV DEBTS

Parlamentskaya Gazeta, February 14, 2001, p. 2

By no means all the employees of Vladimir Gusinsky’s Media-Most holding are delighted with the idea of Boris Berezovsky’s unselfish desire to help the NTV television network repay its debts to Gazprom.

According to one source close to the negotiations between Gazprom and Media-Most, there is concern that if Boris Berezovsky buys the $262 million debt from Credit Suisse First Boston, he will become NTV’s creditor. At the same time, Gazprom will still remain guarantor for the debt. The problem is whether NTV’s independent journalists and executives will accept a creditor and shareholder like Mr. Berezovsky, who is infamous for his avowals of “non-interference in the editorial policies” of the media outlets he controls.

According to the same source, the NTV journalists are most unlikely to accept “Berezovsky’s freedom of speech”, any more than “Gazprom’s freedom of speech”. At least Mr. Berezovsky will certainly not drag out negotiations and compromises with NTV for nine months, as Gazprom has been doing.

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