ALEXANDER TIKHONOV WITHDRAWS FROM KOLOMNA ELECTION
Izvestia, March 16, 2001, p. 3
A parliamentary by-election will be held in the Kolomna electoral district on Sunday. Alexander Tikhonov, a well-known businessman accused of involvement in an assassination attempt on Governor Aman Tuleev of the Kemerovo region, has withdrawn from the race just three days before the vote. According to Tikhonov, he made this decision in order to avoid a new wave of speculation about his motives. Some say Tikhonov wanted parliamentary immunity; but Tikhonov says he considers parliamentary immunity to be unethical. Independent observers say Tikhonov decided to withdraw from the race because he understood that he had no chance of winning.
INTERIOR MINISTRY BOOSTS SECURITY AT NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS
Tribuna, March 16, 2001, p. 2
Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo completed an inspection in the Voronezh and Belgorod regions on March 15. Rushailo had recently noted that “the performance of certain regional departments leaves much to be desired”. The results of this inspection have shown that Rushailo did not mean Voronezh and Belgorod. Despite many problems on the border with Ukraine, the performance of these regional Interior Ministry departments is satisfactory.
The main goal of Rushailo’s inspection was a visit to the Novovoronezhsk nuclear power plant. The minister was interested in its security system, because this program is part of a general framework of special anti-terrorist measures. Rushailo noted that such strict controls are linked to threats from Chechen guerrillas. In this regard the Interior Ministry intends to increase its vigilance and to boost security at the most important industrial plants.
A CRIMINAL DEPUTY
Rossiyskaya Gazeta, March 16, 2001, p. 3
There has been little comment about the recent shooting in Moscow, as a result of which a police officer was killed and Bashir Kodzoev, a Duma deputy, was wounded.
The Unity faction has asked the Interior Ministry to prepare a report on this incident. However, the Ministry has not responded to this inquiry yet.
Bashir Kodzoev became a representative of Ingushetia in Irkutsk four years ago. His brother Mahomed was jailed for theft in the 1980s. Bashir and his other brother, Murad, also had problems with the law. Recently the Irkutsk Interior Ministry Department started three criminal proceedings against the Kodzoev brothers. The Kodzoevs are the leaders of a criminal gang in Irkutsk.
It is possible that the trail of the crime leads to the North Caucasus, where Timur Kodzoev is seeking election to the parliament of Ingushetia. The Kodzoev brothersk, who have formed their own party, are criticizing President Ruslan Aushev.
RUSSIAN PLANE HIJACKED
Rossiyskaya Gazeta, March 16, 2001, p. 2
A Russian Tu-154 plane has been hijacked in Istanbul. According to Western news agencies, there are 162 passengers on board. The plane was hijacked a few minutes after take-off.
The plane has left Turkey and is heading for Syria. Almost all passengers on the plane, owned by Vnukov Airlines, are Turkish citizens.
According to Turkey, the plane was en route from Istanbul to Moscow when it was hijacked by two Chechen terrorists. The Turkish transport minister has said that several people on board are injured. The hijacked plane is now over Egypt, and the demands of the terrorists remain unknown.
LUKASHENKO BANS OPPOSITION FROM RECEIVING FOREIGN FUNDING
Izvestia, March 16, 2001, p. 1
President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus has signed a decree which bans the opposition from receiving funding from abroad. The president will be able to instigate criminal proceedings against his political opponents on the eve of the presidential election in Belarus.
The document will come into force in a month. Foreign aid (money or goods) must be registered by the department for humanitarian activities. This ban does not apply to projects and programs approved by the Belarussian president.
According to the decree, foreign aid “cannot be used for preparing election campaigns, demonstrations, or pickets”. Violation of this ban carries the penalty of a fine (100% of the foreign aid) and the party involved will be banned.
Anatoly Lebedko, leader of the opposition, commented on the decree as follows: “This is a decree which nationalizes the activities of political parties. This document is in violation of Belarussian and international laws.”
FOREIGN MINISTRY HAS LOST AN OFFICIAL
Moskovsky Komsomolets, March 16, 2001, p. 2
A Russian cultural attache has disappeared in Panama. Igor Dereichuk, 32, disappeared almost three weeks ago. He was to leave for Moscow on February 27 but he never arrived at the airport. The Russian embassy learned last Wednesday that the diplomat had disappeared. A representative of the embassy reported a missing person to police on March 14.
According to official reports, Dereichuk had been working in Panama since 1997. His service in Panama ended on February 23 and he was to return to Russia.
The Foreign Ministry and the embassy of the Republic of Panama in Moscow have not made any comments on the mysterious incident.