VIRTUALLY NOBODY IN THE DUMA BELIEVES IN THE SUCCESS OF THE COMMUNISTS’ ATTEMPT TO UNSEAT THE GOVERNMENT TOMORROW

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VIRTUALLY NOBODY IN THE DUMA BELIEVES IN THE SUCCESS OF THE COMMUNISTS’ ATTEMPT TO UNSEAT THE GOVERNMENT TOMORROW

Moskovsky Komsomolets, March 13, 2001, p. 2

All the same, the communists will have to pay for their return into the opposition. They will probably pay with their posts in the Duma.

In January 2000, the presidential administration gave nine parliamentary committees and chairmanship in the Duma to the communists, clearly offending the Union of Right Forces, Yabloko, and the Fatherland-All Russia. It soon turned out that the communists were not as docile as the Kremlin had expected them to be. The communists voted against most of the presidential draft laws and initiatives. In December, rumors emerged that the Kremlin intended to confiscate several Duma committees from communists. The chairmanship itself of the lower house of parliament was not mentioned because Gennadi Seleznev remained loyal for being a communist.

As the day for the no-confidence vote draws near rumors began to crop up again. On the other hand, even the pro-presidential Unity and People’s Deputy are vague on the subject. So, all of that may turn out to be a trick after all…

ECONOMIST DELYAGIN TALKS ABOUT THE IDEA OF LIBERALIZING HARD CURRENCY REGULATION AS PROMOTED BY ARKADY VOLSKY

Moskovsky Komsomolets, March 13, 2001, p. 2

Delyagin believes that cutting down the level of hard currency earnings that must be sold by companies from 75% to 50% will tell on the Central Bank’s hard currency and gold reserves. He predicts a reduction of the reserves by $7 billion by the end of the year, a situation that will derail the hard currency market. A transition from the system of hard currency operations controlled by the state to an uncontrolled one will breed a wave of criminal operations via phony corporations.

SCANDAL IN THE UNITY FACTION

Moskovsky Komsomolets, March 13, 2001, p. 2

This is the first ever rebellion in the Duma’s Unity faction since it came to being. Alexander Fedulov, deputy chairman of the Committee for Legislation, says he will quit the faction if it voted no-confidence in the Cabinet. Upper echelons of the Unity are trying to present Fedulov’s demarche as “another escapade of a deputy who is known for his extravagance”. There is however more to it than that. The issue is a demonstration of a real rebellion among rank members of the usually tamed faction.

“We should not support the communists’ intrigues. If no-confidence is voted, the government will turn into a provisional one. No serious investor will want to deal with it”, this is how Fedulov himself explains his position. The upper echelons of the Unity distrust his noble motives, however. A highly-ranking source in Sergei Shoigu’s party says this is not the first escapade of the former vice-governor of Kursk. Now he fights against anti-Semitism, the next moment he is combating terrorism. In short, he is grandstanding. Several months ago he threatened to quit the faction should it turn down his draft resolution on anti-Semitism. Did he quit? No.

As a matter of fact, Fedulov’s demarche is the first indication of a rebellion that may rock the Unity. The Unity has never let the Kremlin down. Yet, voting as instructed on laws that do not affect one directly is one thing. Depriving one’s self of a deputy mandate is another.

Fedulov says he has followers in the faction and they will probably reveal themselves at the meeting today when the issue of confidence in Kasianov’s cabinet is to be determined.

DO YOU TRUST THE RUBLE?

Trud, March 13, 2001, p. 2

Andrei Neschadin, Director of the Expert Institute: When oil companies sell hard currency and the Central Bank gives rubles for it, commercial banks accumulate surplus money. We do not have reliable financial mechanisms like short-term state bonds now, and rubles put pressure on the market. If the Central Bank does not interfere, the exchange rate grows and exporters fatten. If it does interfere, importers profit. Wise Geraschenko is in the driver’s seat, so I do not expect serious upheavals.

Konstantin Borovoi, Chairman of the Expert Council of the Russian Stock-Exchange: We are paying debts now, and this action has a dual effect. On the one hand, the ruble is weakening. On the other, it is growing stronger morally. If better relations with the West are established, they will also strengthen the ruble. If, on the other hand, we go on quarrelling with the United States and making life hard for investors even when the debts have been paid, there will be a catastrophe. Presidential visits are a kind of test. Where will he go, to the United States or to Iran? If it is Iran he visits, it will mean another blow at the ruble.

Yevgeny Yasin, the High School of Economics: Geraschenko held the ruble for a whole year and released it when oil prices dropped. This is not the last time. What are we supposed to do – discuss it every time all over again? I do not think anything horrible will happen this year.

Nikolai Shmelev, Director of the Institute of Europe: Viktor Geraschenko’s life was hard even before the necessity to pay the Paris Club. It is even harder now. He has to buy dollars in order to be able to pay debts. On the one hand, it is better for him to have a cheaper dollar. But all of that has its limits too. The dollar has remained tied to the 30 rubles mark for too long already. I think it will rise above the mark this year but won’t go far.

Mikhail Delyagin, Director of the Institute of Globalization: It is only natural that payment of debts resulted in a slightly growing dollar. The Central Bank has enough in its coffers to defend the ruble. As for devaluation, it will happen only if the state wants it. Even if it profits the state economically, it will be a political catastrophe. The state will never go for it.

AN INTERVIEW WITH MARAT BAGLAI, CHAIRMAN OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, March 13, 2001, p. 11

Question: What would you say is the most important of your accomplishments?

Marat Baglai: They are not mine. They are ours. The Constitutional Court is a highly specific structure. All its decisions are collegial. Its position on every matter depends on all judges without exception. The chairman only organizes the work.

Question: But the effectiveness of the court depends on how the work is organized. Everybody knows after all that the number of applications to the Constitutional Court has been growing.

Baglai: Yes, and judging by what we hear from the general public we did make considerable progress in the last few years. We are still working on making the Constitutional Court even more effective.

We have reasons to believe that the respect the constitution commands in all state power structures has increased. After a number of resolutions of the Constitutional Court many constitutions and charters of Federation subjects were brought in line with the federal constitution…

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