SECOND MEETING OF THE STATE COUNCIL
Izvestia, February 22, 2001, p. 1
The State Council presidium resolved that land should be the only issue on the agenda, since it is urgent. The second meeting was more democratic than the first one – regional leaders were offered refreshments.
Addressing the State Council, the president said that “the question of land requires careful handling” and added that “in Russia, this has always been more than simply an economic issue.” Debates lasted three hours. One regional leader advocated private land ownership; and the next speaker to be given the floor objected to it. Aleksei Gordeev announced that the Cabinet has been instructed to prepare the Land Code by March 1, while land sales would be regulated by a different federal law.
SERGEI IVANOV MEETS WITH HIS INDIAN COUNTERPARTS
Izvestia, February 22, 2001, p. 3
Security Council Secretary Sergei Ivanov has met in the Kremlin with Satendra Dev Parhan, Special Envoy of the Secretariat of the Indian National Security Council; Arvid Gupt, Deputy Head of the National Security Council; and Indian Ambassador to Russia Satinder Kumara Lamba.
Security Council press secretary Vladimir Nikanorov says that cooperation between Russia and India on global and regional security was discussed, as well as cooperation on combating international terrorism. Special attention was paid to strategic stability and nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction and missile technologies.
DUMA DEPUTIES ON PROPOSED VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE IN THE CABINET
Versty, February 22, 2001, p. 2
Gennadi Raikov, leader of the People’s Deputy group: The Communists have a right to raise the issue of a vote of no confidence in the Cabinet. As for the essence of their statement, I think they are just out to stir up the public. Unfortunately, in Russia we all too frequently incite such melees, which end up harming everyone.
Putin recently said: “I was elected president in order that Russians should have a better life. I do not see any other objectives.” If this is what Putin is really after, then it is up to him to handle the Cabinet whenever it does something wrong.
As for the structure of the federal budget, in connection with the foreign debt problem, our group will vote for the option proposed by the Duma. It is better than what the Cabinet suggests, I think, because it does not affect the major revenues which will be channelled into the social sphere. Item 100 of the budget, which covers the privatization program, is the only debatable issue. We have not made up our minds on it yet. There is the opinion that it should be omitted. I also think it should be omitted. The problem is that it will take the whole summer – or even longer – for the Duma to pass it in all three readings, and therefore Russia will not get the expected 15 billion rubles of revenues from privatization. The whole social services program will be disrupted.
Vyacheslav Volodin, senior deputy leader of the Fatherland – All Russia faction: The Communist faction has used its right to move a vote of no confidence in the Cabinet, because the Cabinet is changing the parameters of the federal budget two months after it was passed. The Communist faction considers this unacceptable. We do not think it is.
Our faction meeting resolved to support the Duma’s option for budget amendments, on the condition that deputies Yevgeny Primakov and Georgy Boos will put forth our proposals. We want Item 100 of the budget left alone. It suspends privatization of state property. The Duma’s option omits this item, and the Cabinet expects to earn 15 billion rubles of additional revenues from privatization. We think that the sum is too small. It could easily be borrowed from the Central Bank or found elsewhere. The sale of state property should be avoided, particularly since it is oil companies that are marked for sale. If the proposals of Primakov and Boos are not accepted, Fatherland – All Russia will vote against the version of budget amendments proposed by the Duma.
AN UPDATE ON THE GOVERNMENTAL BUSINESS COUNCIL
Trud-7, February 22, 2001, p. 2
The Business Council was set up last August. It includes 24 business leaders. The other day three more executives joined it, at the invitation of Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov: Alexander Mamut of MDM Bank, Vladimir Potanin of the Interros holding, and Mikhail Fridman of Alfa Bank (Fridman replaces Alfa Bank President Pyotr Aven on the Council).
RUSSIAN-AMERICAN DEBATES OVER MISSILE DEFENSE CONTINUE
Trud-7, February 22, 2001, p. 3
NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin lasted ninety minutes. The visitor spent this time trying to convince Putin that neither Washington’s plans for a national missile defense nor future NATO eastward expansion were threats to Russia. Putin would not be persuaded.
Robertson attended the reopening of the NATO information office in Moscow, which the Kremlin shut down in 1999 in response to NATO’s actions in Yugoslavia. Defense Minister Igor Sergeev presented Robertson with the Russian plan for a European non-strategic missile defense system. There is nothing else to show for the visit.
Robertson considers (as he explained to Moscow again) that NATO is no longer what it was during the Cold War, because Europe is no longer threatened from the east. Why then keep up this powerful military-political alliance? Who or what is the adversary, now that the Warsaw Pact is gone? Washington cannot answer these questions, and Moscow suspects that it is Russia that is still regarded as a potential enemy. Particularly since CIA Director George Tenet has openly placed Russia on the list of potential threats to the United States.
FBI AGENT ROBERT HANSSEN CHARGED WITH SPYING FOR RUSSIA
Nash Vek, February 21, 2001, p. 1
FBI agent Robert Hanssen was taken into custody on Sunday evening right after leaving some documents in a hiding place in a public park in Virginia. Examination of another hiding place revealed $50,000 meant for Hanssen. The investigation team also confiscated Hanssen’s correspondence – 82 letters and packages confirming suspicions against him. The first later is dated October 1985, the last November 2000. The means that Hanssen’s career as a double agent spanned at least 15 years.
If Hanssen is convicted, he will be sentenced to life imprisonment, or the death penalty.
Russian officials are not available for comments.