A MARATHON FOR PUTIN
Moskovsky Komsomolets, March 30, 2001, p. 3
Within the next few days President Putin is scheduled to receive Prime Minister Giuliano Amato of Italy, President Adamkus of Lithuania, and President Butefliku of Algeria. Besides, President Lukashenko of Belarus will attend a meeting of the Russia-Belarus Union Council. As usual, he will have a private meeting with the Russian president.
As for Putin’s meeting with the Lithuanian president, it will be held at the request of Mr. Adamkus. Since Lithuania change of political direction in autumn 2000, its relations with Russia have started to improve. Russia will try to establish long-term friendly relations with Lithuania. Russia wants these relations to be independent of changes of the Lithuanian government.
Indeed, it is essential for Lithuania to show the European Union and NATO that it has better relations with Russia than the other Baltic states do.
THE KURSK TO BE DIVIDED INTO SEGMENTS
Moskovsky Komsomolets, March 30, 2001, p. 3
Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov has said that the operation to raise the Kursk submarine, planned for August-September, will only be partial.
The first compartment, the most seriously damaged, will not be raised. According to Klebanov, it is too dangerous for divers, since there may be some torpedoes in the compartment that could explode. The dangerous compartment will be severed from the rest of the submarine and left on the seabed until extra money is available to retrieve it.
SERGEI YASTRZHEMBSKY ON RECENT PERSONNEL CHANGES IN THE GOVERNMENT
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, March 30, 2001, p. 2
Presidential aide Sergei Yastrzhembsky: All the personnel changes have been within one team. Therefore, it can’t be called a personnel revolution.
Putin is noted for valuing his skilled people. I think that over the year of his presidency, the public has realized the Putin does not make personnel changes suddenly or in haste. He takes specific measures only after all pros and cons have been weighed up.
Most of the federal and regional elites have approved of the president’s recent new appointments. The president has explained that his decisions are based on changes in the situation in Chechnya. Indeed, constructive processes are gradually developing there. For instance, Ilyasov’s government is stepping up its efforts. There are also some other tokens of positive changes. For instance, in mid-April the Chechen government will move to Grozny. Regular flights between Moscow and Grozny will be resumed.
In making these personnel changes, the president meant to increase the attention devoted by the Security Council to southern Russia in general, and Chechnya in particular.
SEEKING FUGITIVES TOGETHER
Trud, March 30, 2001, p. 3
According to the Main Penitentiary Department (MPD) of the Justice Ministry, over 300 people who have escaped from Russian prisons are hiding abroad. Most of them have settled in former Soviet republics. A similar situation can be observed in other CIS countries. Therefore, the priority of the MPD is to coordinate activities with its CIS counterparts in searching for dangerous criminals and extraditing them to Russia. To make this cooperation effective, the penitentiary agencies of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Ukraine, and Russia have signed a corresponding agreement.
At present, borders between CIS states are transparent. Therefore, it is easy for criminals to hide from justice in a neighboring CIS country. This agreement will improve the basis for cooperation between CIS law enforcement agencies in this sphere.
THE NATURAL GAS PATRIOT
Izvestia, March 30, 2001, p. 2
On March 29, a national meeting of natural gas companies took place in Smolensk.
Gazprom head Rem Vyakhirev made some almost political statements at this meeting.
In particular, he said that he opposes free access for foreigners to shares circulating on Russia’s domestic market.
Boris Fedorov, a member of the Gazprom Bvoard of Directors who represents the interests of minority shareholders, has been lobbying for a merger of Gazprom’s foreign and domestic share trading. In his opinion, this measure would increase Gazprom’s international standing.
Vyakhirev said that Gazprom would continue to keep natural gas extraction at 530 billion cubic meters a year. He also said that gas export revenues cover only half of expenditure on gas extraction. Moreover, according to Gazprom sources, most of the company’s hard currency revenues remain in Russia as tax payments.
A SET-BACK FOR THE VOICE OF AMERICA
Tribuna, March 30, 2001, p. 2
Russian media reported yesterday that the government has declared that the Voice of America (VOA), a shortwave radio station that broadcasts news in many languages to countries around the world, does not meet Russian broadcasting standards – and its license has been revoked.
The report immediately caused a wave of rumors, including the theory that this was a response to the refusal of the US to allow the Russian radio station Mayak to broadcast in the US.
However, when we called the VOA Moscow office, this news surprised everyone there. Producer Ksenia Pavlova said this was the first she had heard of it. Moreover, according to Pavlova, it’s simply impossible for the license to be revoked, since there are no VOA transmitters in Moscow; consequently, no broadcasting is done from the Russian capital.
We managed to clarify the situation with the help of Media Ministry spokesman Yury Akinshin. According to him, Voice of America did indeed apply for a permit to set up a medium-wave transmitter, which would be able to broadcast to the Russian regions from Volgograd to Ufa. However, the state commission decided to decline this request.