YAKOVLEV TO LEAD THE RUSSIA-BELARUS UNION?
Tribuna, March 14, 2001, p. 1
This time rumor has it that St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev will soon take office as state secretary of the Russia-Belarus Union. This rumor has been caused by the temporary absence of Yakovlev from his native city; his troubled relationship with Viktor Cherkesov, presidential envoy for the North-Western federal district; and the scandal in the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly.
However, Yakovlev’s press secretary denies the rumor. According to him, the St. Petersburg governor simply took a week’s leave and went to France and Switzerland. He headed the government delegation to the St. Petersburg Days in Lugano, and discussed with foreign partners some issues concerning the forthcoming 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg. According to the press secretary, Yakovlev plans to celebrate the 300th anniversary as governor.
RUSSIAN FORCES TO BE WITHDRAWN FROM CHECHNYA
Trud, March 14, 2001, p. 2
Yesterday, the first personnel and military equipment of the mobile infantry brigade of the Defense Ministry started leaving the Russian military base in Khankala for their permanent bases. Thus, President Putin’s order to withdraw federal troops from Chechnya has come into effect.
However, according to General Valery Baranov, commander of the joint group of federal forces in Chechnya, so far only “excess forces and means” are being withdrawn. At the same time, the schedule for withdrawing the military units and departments has already been made and will be efficiently followed, since “the general situation in Chechnya is quite under control”. General Baranov also stressed that the first units to leave Chechnya will be those that do not belong to the North Caucasus military district, as well as excess heavy weapons (armored vehicles, cannon, and large-caliber artillery).
The 42th brigade of the Defense Ministry and 46th brigade of the Interior Troops will be stationed in Chechnya permanently. Besides, as Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo said, there are 18 temporary police departments active in Chechnya: the total number of police personnel is over 5,000. The minister also noted that since Chechnya’s police force is still “under development”, “we have to keep additional police from other regions in Chechnya”.
GAS EXPORTS FALL IN JANUARY
Izvestia, March 14, 2001, p. 1
It was announced yesterday that Russian gas exports had fallen by 9% in January 2001 against the same month in 2000. The decrease in natural gas exports was about 18.332 billion cubic meters. Russia supplied the most gas to Ukraine, Germany and Italy.
According to major Russian investment companies, it is impossible to decrease gas exports to foreign countries outside the former Soviet republics, since they are Gazprom’s main revenue source. “According to the schedule, Gazprom plans to increase gas supplies to Europe by 3% in 2001. Last year we supplied 129 billion cubic meters, which means this year we will have to supply 135 billion cubic meters,” said Stephen Dashevsky, an analyst with the ATON company. “Nine percent is a very considerable reduction. Apparently, the figure was due to a decrease in Russian gas exports to the CIS. “The supplies fell primarily to the major gas debtor, Ukraine,” said Ivan Mazalov, chief analyst at the Troika-Dialog company.
MINISTRY TO ESTABLISH IMMIGRATION INSPECTORATE
Izvestia, March 14, 2001, p. 2
Yesterday the Ministry for Federation Affairs, Ethnic and Migration Policies started establishing an immigration inspectorate, by order of President Vladimir Putin. Alexander Blokhin, Minister for Federation Affairs, believes that first of all it is necessary to pass a number of laws, which will make it possible to control and distribute the flow of migrants.
According to Ministry spokeswoman Irina Maslova, the phrase “immigration inspectorate” first arose after Blokhin met with President Putin: “The president gave us two weeks to prepare draft bills developed by the ministry in the sphere of migration policy in 2001.”
Blokhin believes it is necessary to pass some laws in order for imigration inspectors and the Ministry as a whole to operate normally. These laws include “On citizenship”, “On immigration”, “On displaced persons within Russia”, “On refugees”, and many others. The Ministry is now able to control illegal migrants only with the help of law-enforcement agencies.
There are enough reasons for increading the activity of the Federation Affairs Ministry, such as: the demographic crisis; mass migration of northern residents to Central Russia; the economic situation in the CIS, which forces the residents of former Soviet republics to come to Russia to make money. According to Ms. Maslova, another important factor for starting to control the situation as soon as possible is the high level of crime among illegal immigrants.