THE DUMA DISCUSSES CAPITAL FLIGHT

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THE DUMA DISCUSSES CAPITAL FLIGHT

Izvestia, March 27, 2001, p. 2

Experts in the Duma’s ranks say illegitimate capital flight in 2000 amounted to $15 billion. According to Alexander Lebedev, Chairman of the National Committee for Investments, $70 billion worth of runaway Russian capital are overseas at any given time. Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank Viktor Melnikov claims 3% of all funds withdrawn from Russia in 2000 never made it back. Nobody knows exactly what money leaves the country. Its criminal origin is but an assumption.

Lawmakers recognized the simple truth that money is fleeing the country because of the unfavorable investment climate. “Capital flight signifies the critical level of problems the national economy is facing,” says Vasily Volkovsky, Deputy Chairman of the Security Committee.

The West blames Russia for doing nothing to combat illegal acquisition of income, but the West is no Snow-white in this respect either. $1 trillion is laundered throughout the world every year, and half of it is laundered in American banks. Russia is prepared to ratify the Strasbourg convention but the law on prevention of legalization of criminal income should be adopted as well. The parliament has not been able to adopt it for years.

Deputy Andrian Puzanovsky brought up the issue of legitimacy of ownership of property purchased in Russia in the years of the reforms. He says certain deputies own property they never mention in their income tax declarations. According to Puzanovsky, the results of the reforms should be denounced or all property should be proclaimed legitimate save for occasions when the rules are bent all too obviously.

AN INTERVIEW WITH PAVEL KRASHENINNIKOV

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, March 27, 2001, p. 1

Question: What principal issue in the planned judicial reforms do you think the president and the Duma should agree on?

Pavel Krasheninnikov, Chairman of the Legislation Committee: First and foremost, this has to do with three vital documents – the Criminal-procedural, Arbitration-procedural, and Civil-procedural codes which regulate legal issues before they go to court.

The Duma has adopted the Criminal-procedural code in its first reading. We hope to have it discussed in the second reading in May or June. The job is colossal. We have several volumes of proposed amendments to sort out.

The Arbitration-procedural and Civil-procedural codes may be discussed in their first reading in April.

Question: You once said that Russia is moving in the proper direction in the legal sphere, slowly but surely. Do you think this meeting with the president will speed up the movement?

Krasheninnikov: Of course. All too frequently, our delays are ascribed to pointless discussions. Such meetings with the president facilitate coordination and help us concentrate on principal aspects.

MINTIMER SHAIMIYEV REELECTED AGAIN

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, March 27, 2001, p. 1

Preliminary reports indicate that President Mintimer Shaimiyev of Tatarstan polled 79.36% of the votes in the presidential election which took place in the republic on March 25.

Duma deputies Sergei Shashurin and Ivan Grachev polled 5.82% and 5.52% respectively, and Secretary of the Communist Party of Tatarstan Robert Sazykov 4.44%. Alexander Fedorov, senior deputy head of the Zelenodolsk district administration, polled 0.49%.

Almost 77.36% of registered voters took part in the election.

ON THE LATEST SPY SCANDAL

Versty, March 27, 2001, p. 1

What will Washington and Moscow accomplish kicking diplomats out? Replacement of old spies with new ones. Embassy officials have always compiled sensitive information and are not going to stop now. It means that the latest spy scandal is not going to improve Russian-American relations. On the contrary, they will only lead to deterioration.

Monitoring.ru Group, a public opinion survey agency, says 34% of Russians are of the opinion that the United States is a threat to Russia. There were only 27% of such Russians a year ago.

MIKHAIL LAPSHIN REELECTED CHAIRMAN OF THE AGRARIAN PARTY AT THE 9TH PARTY CONGRESS LAST SATURDAY

Trud, March 27, 2001, p. 2

Nothing predicted anything extraordinary at the congress despite the scandal that had split the Agrarian Party in the course of the last parliamentary election. Then, Lapshin used his clout to lead the party to form an alliance with Fatherland-All Russia despite protests. The minority under Nikolai Kharitonov remained within the communist People’s Patriotic Union. As a result, the Agrarian Party failed to scale the 5% barrier, and the Agrarian faction appeared in the Duma only thanks to the communists’ benevolence. Naturally, Kharitonov was elected the faction leader.

Kharitonov and his followers accuse Lapshin of having forgotten about the true problems of the peasantry and being concerned only with the promotion of his own interests. Lapshin and his supporters condemn Kharitonov as a separatist.

Peaceful proceedings at the congress ended with the statement of Aleksei Gordeev, rank member of the Agrarian Party and Minister of Agriculture. Gordeev had met with the president shortly before the congress and brought with him Putin’s regards.

Kharitonov announced that this was a signal from the Kremlin which allegedly wanted the Agrarian Party to be a strong and independent organization. Kharitonov used the opportunity to condemn Lapshin again. Sergei Serov and Gennadi Churkin, leaders of agrarians in Altai and Vladimir, followed suit. They said the Agrarian Party under Lapshin would surely be licked at the next parliamentary election.

Lapshin himself called for order in the conference hall and peace in the party. Most of the delegates opted to reelect him again.

AN INTERVIEW WITH DUMA DEPUTY FOR CHECHNYA ASLANBEK ASLAKHANOV

Kommersant, March 26, 2001, p. 3

Question: The Chechen national congress is scheduled for May. Where will it take place?

Aslanbek Aslakhanov: In Chechnya, that’s a fact. The problem is, there is no single building in Chechnya where more than 3000 people can meet. Perhaps, we will use some school gym.

Question: How will the delegates of the congress be selected?

Aslakhanov: We do not want the congress to be a forum of somebody’s followers. We want it to be a meeting of representatives of all settlements and districts. A person from every 5,000, for example. Furthermore, we want all ethnic groups residing in Chechnya to be represented sat the congress – Russians, Armenians, Jews, Ingushes, Dagestanis…

Question: Will representatives of the resistance movement be present?

Aslakhanov: If security structures gave guarantees of their safety. Negotiations are underway. I’m working on a letter to the president now.

Question: Will the matter of negotiations with Aslan Maskhadov be brought up at the congress?

Aslakhanov: I have always advocated for negotiations. The authorities should contemplate on the option at least for the sake of Russian soldiers and officers. Two or three weeks ago I got another message from Maskhadov. He asks my assistance in setting up a meeting with the political leaders of the country and guarantees that this meeting will finally bring peace to Chechnya. If Maskhadov guarantees it, why not meet with him?

Question: Does Maskhadov assist you in organizing the congress?

Aslakhanov: We do not need his assistance for the time being.

Question: What is the congress about?

Aslakhanov: The government has drawn a program of post-war restoration. I said at the meeting of the commission for Chechnya – and Deputy Premier Viktor Khristenko agreed – that this was just a list of proposed measures. It leaves out very many details, and residents of Chechnya should be able to offer their proposals as well. The congress will work on the program of post-war restoration.

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