ON FBI DIRECTOR’S VISIT TO SOFIA

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ON FBI DIRECTOR’S VISIT TO SOFIA

Izvestia, March 22, 2001, p. 7

Freeh: I applaud Prime Minister Ivan Kostov on his fast response. It is very important to prevent foreign intelligence services from organizing their work in our democracies.

Bulgaria must be proud indeed. It was compared with America. Together with their American counterparts, Bulgarian democrats defend the free world from “foreign agents” aka Russians.

Kostov’s government pursues its own objectives deliberately playing the anti-Russian card. Bulgarian right on the eve of the elections are trying to persuade the electorate that they and not their enemies-socialists lead the country towards Europe and severe all ties with the past. With the past in all its aspects including contacts with Moscow.

Hence the stand of the Bulgarian government on the matter of the spy scandal. Kostov and his government challenged the Kremlin on purpose.

The objective seemed within reach already when Freeh turned up in Sofia and clearly went too far with his straightforward compliments. Bulgarian leaders did not need this openness. But Freeh is not a diplomat. He is used to speaking his mind. Whenever he wants to praise Sofia on its quarrel with Moscow, he does so and that is that.

But how Bulgarian general public will take such compliments? Bulgarians are not Poles or Lithuanians. Russians have helped them throughout their history much more than done harm. As things are now, however, Kostov’s government appears to be deliberately provoking a conflict merely to earn some praise from the West.

THE LATEST OPINION POLL CONDUCTED BY THE PUBLIC OPINION FOUNDATION INDICATES

Versty, March 22, 2001, p. 1

The list of the persons with particular clout in foreign policy comprises state executives, deputies, and governors. President Vladimir Putin polled 26%, much more than the rest. Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Vladimir Zhirinovsky of the LDPR, and communist leader Zyuganov polled 5% each. Yevgeny Primakov, Mikhail Kasianov, and Aman Tuleev polled 3% each (a strange bunch, that one).

Muscovites have been taking pride in their oppositionist nature for some years already. 16% said they were against Putin, 15% singled out Primakov, 7% Ivanov, and 6% Luzhkov and Yavlinsky each.

THE NEW US ADMINISTRATION PLANS TO KEEP IN TOUCH WITH CHECHEN EXTREMISTS ON THE LEVEL OF ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE…

Tribuna, March 22, 2001, p. 1

… according to Mark Grossman, General Director of Diplomatic Activities Directorate of the Department of State. This is probably a first official statement of the American leadership essentially recognizing legitimacy of Aslan Maskhadov’s government and independence of Chechnya. The visit of Ichkerian Foreign Minister Iljas Akhmadov to the United States is expected this week.

So far the Russian Foreign Ministry has not responded to the statement of a person promoted for the post of assistant secretary of state for politics.

Ramzan Ibragimov, head of the PR department of the Chechen mission in Moscow says Akhmadov cannot represent Chechnya because he has not lived there for a long time already.

Says Akhmed Kadyrov’s press secretary, “Akhmadov and the likes of him may represent only the ones who roam the mountains, take hostages, and murder noncombatants. Akhmadov has absolutely nothing to do with peacekeepers and peacekeeping initiatives.” Commenting on Grossman’s statement, Ibragimov surmised it was “perhaps a search on the part of the new US Administration of its own style of rule and communications with the outer world.”

Dmitry Rogozin, Chairman of the International Committee of the Duma, says if the meeting with Akhmadov “takes place on a serious official level and in the White House too boot, we will have every reason in the world to consider the United States a country supporting terrorism.”

SERGEI STEPASHIN REVEALS SOME FIGURES ON PRIVATIZATION

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, March 22, 2001, p. 1

Chairman of the Auditing Commission Sergei Stepashin says 90% Russian enterprises were privatized with violations of the acting legislation but revision of the results of privatization will ruin national economy.

GONGADZE OR NOT?

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, March 22, 2001, p. 1

The Genedia society of molecular-biological expertise in Munich, Germany, cannot comment on reports from Kiev stating that the body of journalist Georgy Gongadze discovered half a year ago in the woods was in fact the missing journalist.

EVERYTHING IS READY FOR THE SUMMIT

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, March 22, 2001, p. 7

Special attention at the summit will be paid to the questions of Russia’s joining the World Trade Organization. Membership in it will build up Russia’s positions in global trade. Representatives of the European Union also plan to discuss the problems they that think prevent establishment in Russia of an attractive climate for foreign investments. Prospects and conditions of credits from international financial organizations will be discussed as well.

European Union leaders are ready to give their ideas concerning the international project concerning the nuclear submarine Kursk in the Barents Sea. They believe, however, that the initiative should be Russia’s.

Simultaneously with the summit, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov will be meeting with his European Union counterparts. Bilateral and international relations will be discussed. Political problems will be discussed at the bilateral Russian – European Union summit scheduled for May 17 in Moscow.

DUMA COUNTS THE "CHECHEN MONEY"

Izvestia, March 22, 2001, p. 2

Addressing the lower house of the parliament yesterday, Deputy Premier Viktor Khristenko informed lawmakers of the government’s plans with regard to economic and social post-war restoration of Chechnya. Some figures he operated with are perplexing. According to the executive, 8 billion rubles will be allocated for the purpose in 2001 including 2 billion of budget money and the rest from non-budget sources. Khristenko proceeded to say that 2.2 billion had been allocated already (he did not specify if the money was from the federal budget or not) and that the money sufficed to successfully implement 92% of the planned measures. But why allocate 8 billion if 2.2 billion are suffice to have all plans implemented by 92%? Has the money been allocated? If yes, where are the remaining 5.8 billion? Khristenko did not explain, and nobody asked.

1.3 billion will be channelled into the program of return of Chechen refugees, 2.4 billion into reconstruction of “small infrastructure”, 2 billion into salaries and pensions, and over 4 billion into restoration of the oil and energy complexes. 650 million will be spent on restoration of courts and law enforcement agencies, and 3.5 billion on “current measures in the budget sphere”. The sum almost reaches 14 billion.

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