THE PEOPLE’S PATRIOTIC UNION: AN UPDATE
Segodnya, February 19, 2001, p. 2
Last weekend the Russian People’s Patriotic Union reorganized its structure and rejuvenated its ideology. The third congress of the union resulted in a new concept of development, an revised charter, and a new objective, i.e. establishment of a harmonious modern society in Russia.
A decision was made at the congress to broaden the ideological borders of the union. The hardcore irreconcilable hard-liners of the Communist Party accepted the presence in the union of social-democratic movements like Gennadi Seleznev’s Rossiya. The draft law on political parties provided an impetus for the compromise. “As of now, all 57 organizations of the union may set up common electoral blocs and promote common candidates encompassing many more voters in the process,” Anatoly Lukianov said. The new formula of popularity of the Union was termed by Gennadi Zyuganov as “a union of laborers with the people’s intelligentsia and patriotic businessmen”.
The Union is forming its own cabinet which will cooperate with the regime if the circumstances call for such cooperation.
ON THE MEETING OF YABLOKO’S CENTRAL COUNCIL
Segodnya, February 19, 2001, p. 2
In early March, activists of Yabloko will organize a campaign to collect signatures for a petition in support of NTV television channel as “the last free TV channel independent of the state and the loss of which will become irretrievable for Russia’s democracy”. This decision was made by Yabloko’s Central Council which met in Khimki near Moscow last Saturday. Observers refuse to venture an opinion on Yabloko’s ability to collect a million signatures in a day. The resolution of the Central Council condemning the authorities’ actions with regard to Media-Most holding as “a deliberate pogrom” was adopted almost unanimously.
The support of Media-Most was not the only issue on the agenda. This was the first time since the 8th congress in July that Yabloko would be inviting the media to cover its announcement of “a systematic opposition to the policy aimed at establishing a corporative police state.”
Yabloko leader Grigori Yavlinsky considers himself and his followers as interlocutors and not advisers to the head of state who are involved in an open political dialogue with President Vladimir Putin.
KUDRIN RETURNS TO RUSSIA WITH A NEW DEBT
Kommersant, February 19, 2001, p. 4
A summit of finance ministers and heads of central banks of the G7 ended in Palermo, Italy, yesterday. Alexei Kudrin, Deputy Premier and Finance Minister were at the summit.
Kudrin had departed Moscow in high spirit, aiming to report to the G7 that Moscow was going to meet its financial obligations in 2001 on schedule. In Palermo, Kudrin was presented with a new bill.
Kudrin departed Moscow on February 16. He was jubilant. Firstly, the visit of the International Monetary Fund mission to Moscow had been a success and Kudrin’s meeting with Horst Keller in Palermo was to be centered therefore around the date of issuing a credit to Moscow.
Secondly, Kudrin scored a major victory in the Duma on February 16. Its Budget Committee agreed to recommend to the lower house of parliament to find money for the Paris Club without altering the major parameters of the budget. This meant that the government was able to save its face. For Kudrin personally, it meant a successful implementation of orders from the President himself, orders that negotiations on the problem of foreign debts be conducted without affecting the interests of budget supported employees in Russia. Kudrin gained a political mileage, an important victory in light of the upcoming reorganization of the Cabinet.
Unfortunately, Kudrin encountered unexpected troubles in Palermo. The “Russian question” preceded everything else on the agenda. For starters, the participants of the meeting welcomed the improvements made in Russia’s macroeconomic indicators and its determination to pay up its debts.
They proceeded to tell Kudrin that Moscow had other debts as well. Russia was on the black list of countries whose legislation left loopholes for money laundering. President Vladimir Putin once promised to have a law against money laundering adopted before the end of 2000. The draft law exists, but it has not made it to the Duma yet.
Kudrin was told that unless Russia adopted a law against money laundering before June 2001, banks in G7 countries will be required to inform their respective law enforcement agencies about all their operations in Russia. This will further restrict their already modest involvement on the Russian market.
PROSECUTOR GENERAL’S OFFICE: NEW ORDERS
Izvestia, February 20, 2001, p. 2
Actually, Ustinov signed the order on January 30 when President Putin criticized the Prosecutor General’s Office for using “masked servicemen”, but the PR department released the document only yesterday.
As of now, the use of special assignment units in “investigations” is allowed only in emergencies.