PUTIN MEETS WITH ADAMKUS
Trud, March 31, 2001, p. 1
Russian President Vladimir Putin received Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus on March 30. At the beginning of the conversation Vladimir Putin noted that for the past year the mutual trade turnover between the two countries has twice increased. Putin also said that Russia appreciates the new procedures for gaining Lithuanian citizenship for ethnic Russians.
Valdas Adamkus also stressed that there are a lot of positive points in relations between Russia and Lithuania. According to him, good ground for cooperation has been created.
The Lithuanian president hopes that problems between Russia and Lithuania in the cultural, political, and economic fields will be solved through dialog.
The conversation between the two presidents was in Russian.
The two presidents signed a joint announcement on the Kaliningrad Region. Russia and Lithuania pay great attention to development of this region, especially in the light of the upcoming extension of the European Union. The joint announcement says that the two countries will pay special attention to free migration of inhabitants of the Kaliningrad Region and Lithuania.
LUZHNOV WILL NOT BE DISMISSED
Novye Izvestia, March 31, 2001, p. 2
The Moscow government is hurriedly bringing the city bylaw and the law on the city government into accord with the federal Constitution. This was required by the corresponding law a year and a half ago. However, this does not mean that Luzhkov has become obedient.
This issue was discussed a few days ago at the meeting in the office of Deputy Director of the Presidential Administration Dmitry Kozak. Luzhkov was not in favor at this meeting with his laws that are far from being perfect.
Perhaps the Moscow government has started to correct its bylaw for this reason. According to the amendments to the bylaw, the mayor will be deprived of the Mayor’s Office: this agency will be abolished. The position of Moscow prime minister will disappear too (this position is currently occupied also by Yury Luzhkov). The mayor will head the Moscow government. However, the essence of the Moscow administration system will not change.
If these changes are approved by the Moscow City Duma, they will bring the city bylaw into accord with the Constitution. However, these aspirations of the Moscow mayor are not caused by his desire for a uniform legal space. Although his status will change formally. Nothing will be changed factually.
The alteration of the bylaw will not mean anything for average Muscovites. Citizens’ constitutional rights are constantly violated because of the imperfection of the Moscow law. Hundreds of decrees and additions to laws are being reconsidered by various committees and commissions of the Moscow City Duma or in courts. They are not corrected or canceled. The most conspicuous example is the rule of registration of non-residents of Moscow. These rules are unlikely to be abolished, and it is not clear what concessions Luzhkov will make in this issue.
Moskovsky Komsomolets, March 31, 2001, p. 2
The wave of spy-mania has reached Europe. This time the strike was made by Vladimir Putin’s favorite country, Germany.
The Federal Agency for Security of the German Constitution (counterintelligence, in fact) has published an annual report, which states that the number of Russian spies working under diplomatic cover is growing. According to German Interior Minister Otto Schili, “Russian special services have increased the number of their agents in Germany” after Vladimir Putin’s coming to power. In all likelihood, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will have one more mutual topic at his meeting with US President George Bush.
COMPETITION FOR UNITY LEADER
Segodnya, March 31, 2001, p. 2
Leader of the party Unity Sergei Shoigu and Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov continue to discuss the issue of the future leader of the Unity Duma faction.
Members of the faction are saying, “For the past year Gryzlov has become the face and the voice of the faction. He even expressed the point of view of the president and the government when it was necessary.”
Among the main candidates are Senior Deputy Speaker of the Duma Lubov Sliska, Chairman of the Security Committee Alexander Gurov, Chairman of the Regulations Committee Nikolai Loktionov, Senior Deputy Chairman of the faction Franz Klintsevich, Deputy Chairman of the Budget Committee Vladislav Reznik, Chairman of the Energy Committee Vladimir Katrenko, Chairman of the Ecology Committee Vladimir Grachev, Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee Alexander Belyakov, Chairman of the Property Committee Vladimir Pekhtin, and Deputy Chairman of the Defense Committee Vladimir Lushin.
All the candidates are distributed into the St. Petersburg group consisting of people connected with Vladimir Putin, people close to Sergei Shoigu, and lobbyists of financial-industrial groups (Katrenko is said to be connected with the Alfa group).
Our sources note that Unity needs a more or less famous figure.
The Kremlin and the Unity authorities assert that the final decision will not be made earlier than April 3. First, the decision will be made by the faction, then this decision will be discussed by the political council of the movement. And after that, the faction will dot the i’s.
MOSCOW MAYOR LOSING MOSCOW
Kommersant, March 31, 2001, p. 1
A serious strike has been made on powers of Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov. On March 30, the Supreme Court complied with the claim of the leaders of the movement The First Free Generation and the association Lawyers of the 21st Century. The Supreme Court admitted that the Moscow city law on district administrations comes into conflict with the Constitution. According to this law, heads of district administrations are appointed and dismissed by district assemblies, but candidates are proposed by the mayor. Judges of the Supreme Court stated that district administrations are local self-government bodies. According to the Constitution, local self-government bodies are not included in the system of state government. Therefore, the mayor of Moscow is to lose control over district administrations.
According to law, the Moscow City Duma is to correct the error within half a year. If the Moscow City Duma has not done it by September 30, the president will be entitled to take strict measures against it, up to its dissolution.
A BRIDGE BETWEEN THE CRIMEA AND THE CAUCASUS
Kommersant, March 31, 2001, p. 1
On March 30, transport ministers of countries of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Alliance (BCA) assembled in Sochi.
The meeting was not quite successful. First of all, Russian Transport Minister Sergei Frank had to stay in Moscow because of the visit of Lithuanian President Adamkus. The Russian delegation was led by his Senior Deputy Vitaly Artyukhov. Therefore, the other nine members of the BCA also did not commission their ministers. Thus, the status of the meeting declined.
On May 1, Russia will cease to chair the alliance. Therefore, its representatives tried to gain some results. Several local projects were approved, such as building a bridge across the Kerch Straits between the Crimea and the Caucasus. The Black Sea Bank of Trade and Development practically undertook the obligation to fund the construction.
DEFENSE SECTOR WILL NOT DIE
Kommersant, March 31, 2001, p. 2
On March 30, a meeting of the board of the Central Federal District was conducted in Tula. This meeting was devoted to the state’s support for enterprises of the military-industrial complex. Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov reported that by 2006, the state order in the Russian military-industrial complex is to be increased up to 3.5% of the GDP. However, not all enterprises will get the state’s orders.
Governors, federal inspectors, and directors of defense enterprises of the Central Federal District saw exhibited specimens of military equipment and weapons. Presidential Envoy for the Central Federal District Gennady Poltavchenko also attended the meeting and noted that there are a lot of problems in the federal district that should be solved.
The program of development of weapons until 2015 has already been presented to the president to sign. This program will be based on establishment of holdings including the state. In this case state orders will be increased, since they will be secured by real funds. Therefore, not all enterprises but only members of such holdings will be able to get a state order. Conversion is in store for other enterprises for the next five to seven years. Only five Tula enterprises out of 40 will be able to get a state order.
PRESIDENTIAL ENVOYS STUDY DIPLOMACY
Kommersant, March 31, 2001, p. 2
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has met with presidential envoys for federal districts.
Yevgeny Belov, Director of the Department for Relations with Federation Subjects and Public Organizations of the Foreign Ministry, the authorities of the ministry did not hurry to conduct this meeting, since presidential envoys needed time to get used to their status.
The minister and presidential envoys were discussing relations between the Foreign Ministry and presidential envoys. Special attention was paid to the issue of specificity of regions. For instance, the Northwestern Federal District is characterized by its relations with the European Union, especially in the light of its upcoming extension. The Southeastern Federal District borders on Mongolia and China, and border issues and the issue of illegal migration are its priorities. Besides, border trade in that federal district has exceeded the framework of the district and entered the federal level.
MOSCOW AGAINST OSCE SUMMIT THIS YEAR
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, March 31, 2001, p. 1
The Russian Foreign Ministry considers that the OSCE is not ready to hold a summit in 2001. Moscow explains its position by the fact that at the latest meeting of OSCE foreign ministers in Vienna “considerable contradictions were revealed in the conversation about the aims and tasks of the organization.” As a result, the political declaration was not made in Vienna, and this summit was a failure.
Moscow suggests that the OSCE consider its own status. However, there has been no response to this proposal. The Russian Foreign Ministry has noted that in the current situation it is necessary to conduct a number of expert consultations within the OSCE and convene another meeting of OSCE foreign ministers in autumn 2001 in Bucharest.
STROEV DOES NOT RULE OUT DIRECT ELECTIONS OF FEDERATION COUNCIL
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, March 31, 2001, p. 1
Federation Council Speaker Yegor Stroev has announced that direct elections of the Federation Council are inevitable. He thinks that the current reformation of the upper house is only a stage on the way of formation of a new concept of state government. Since the speaker has never made such scandalous announcements, he seems to have good reasons for saying so. As is known, the issue of direct elections of the Federation Council has lasted for a long time. This idea has a number of supporters in the Duma. For instance, the Yabloko faction has even suggested that the lower house consider a corresponding bill. By the way, this measure will not require constitutional amendments, since the Constitution does not stipulate the order of formation of the Federation Council.