PLENARY MEETING OF THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE OF THE RUSSIAN COMMUNIST PARTY TAKES PLACE
Vremya Novostei, April 16, 2001, p. 2
The communists should forget their nostalgia and get down to “lengthy and diligent” work of building socialism. This decision was made last weekend by the plenary meeting of the party’s Central Committee which outlined the new tasks for the communists to handle. The tasks are to “take over local self-rule bodies”, transfer all party leaders to professional activists (meaning that their salaries should be paid from the party treasury), prepare for the new parliamentary elections which communist leaders consider all too probable.
According to Valentin Kuptsov, the president has resolved the dispute between advocates of a strong state and liberals in the latter’s favor. That is why the communists are bracing themselves for a “powerful attack for claiming citizens’ fundamental rights”. And they view their venture as the “beginning of another phase of counter-revolution”.
Nothing was said at the plenary meeting about how the communists’ attitude towards the president was going to change. Kuptsov’s speech at the plenary meeting left no doubts that the communists were about to go into the defensive. Gennadi Zyuganov promised to go on informing the president of the communists proposals concerning ways out of the crisis as drawn up by the communist “shadow” cabinet.
Kuptsov promised that life was going to be hard for communists because “life itself has disabused us of the illusions concerning rapid restoration of socialism.” Kuptsov admitted that the communists’ hopes for their victory these past ten years were ascribed to “the energy of nostalgic longing for the past.” “We’ve simplified the situation,” Kuptsov admitted and added that “party functionaries are psychologically exhausted.”
Kuptsov did not rule out the possibility of early parliamentary election. He says election may take place in late 2001 or early 2002. He urged the party to start looking for young promising candidates. Kuptsov dislikes the existing “schools of young parliamentarians.” A new central party school is needed in their stead, he said.
The plenary meeting elected Tatiana Astrakhankina secretary of the Central Committee for social policy.
ENLARGED MEETING OF THE BOARD OF THE FINANCE MINISTRY TOOK PLACE YESTERDAY
Izvestia, April 17, 2001, p. 1
The president was accompanied by the whole political-economic beau monde. Premier Mikhail Kasianov was sitting side by side with Putin. Deputy premiers Valentina Matvienko and Ilya Klebanov were jotting down some things. Central Bank Chairman Viktor Geraschenko was clearly bored with the proceedings.
The results of the Finance Ministry’s work in 2000 and its plans for 2001 were discussed. “It is time we learned to live with what we have,” this was the motive of the whole discussion. Putin instructed the Finance Ministry to come up with a deficit-free budget and to combat inflation. The president ordered that additional revenues be accumulated in a special reserve part of the budget meant for foreign debts only. “Accumulation of debts cannot be the general line,” Putin said, and expressed the desire to see the state’s concept of debt management as soon as possible. Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin promised to have the country’s debt reduced to 60% of the GDP by the end of the year (it stands at 65% of the GDP now). According to the minister, it will move Russia to the list of the countries “with acceptable debts.”
Asked to talk about problems openly, Kudrin complained that regional leaders were lobbying for privileges all too actively. “When they fail to get the privileges through me, they go to the premier and then to the president,” Kudrin said.
THE NEW PRESIDENT OF MOLDAVIA IS ON A VISIT TO RUSSIA
Izvestia, April 17, 2001, p. 2
Voronin did not come to Moscow to bring up the matter of joining the Russian-Belarussian Union. Yes, he talked about it often during the presidential election campaign and at the recent meeting with Trans-Dniester leader Igor Smirnov. In Moscow now, Voronin is trying to handle tactical tasks. He has to get the country out of crisis.
At his meeting with President Putin, the visitor talked about the “hard legacy” he had inherited from his predecessors. First and foremost, the matter concerns the Trans-Dniester region and the energy crisis. Neither of the problems can be negotiated without Russia. Negotiations with Kasianov’s Cabinet over debts restructuring, natural gas deliveries, and abolition of dual taxation will be difficult.
The situation with the Trans-Dniester region is more or less all right. Voronin and Smirnov have found their opinions to be similar, and the detente is a thing of the past now. Yet, there are 2,000 Russian soldiers, over 100 tanks, and 120 tons of light weapons that have to be pulled out from the Trans-Dniester region by December 31, 2002, under the Istanbul Accords. Tiraspol objects to the withdrawal. Smirnov says that “The troops have a tranquilizing effect on the locals.” Voronin seems to agree but international accords have to be observed.
PUTIN DID NOT RECEIVE REPORT ON REORGANIZATIONS IN THE ENERGY SECTOR
Izvestia, April 17, 2001, p. 2
It turned out on April 16 that the commission had not drawn up its report to the president. Alexander Branis, a commission member, representative of minority shareholders of Russia’s Unified Energy Systems, and director of Prosperity Capital Management, told Izvestia’s correspondent that “The report was postponed for purely technical reasons. A general meeting of the working group is to take place this week. The work of the commission will be toted up there. Talking about the results is too early as yet”. A source close to top management of Russia’s Unified Energy Systems says the commission did not present its report to the president “because of Kress’ sickness and because the working group mostly works in smaller teams, and has not convened a general meeting for some time.”
According to Izvestia’s information, Kasianov chaired yesterday an open working meeting during which officials of the Ministry of Economic Development presented their concept of reorganization of the energy sector. Discussions on alternative concepts began nationwide last week. Insiders say Kress’ group heartily dislikes the existence of other alternatives. Presidential Adviser Andrei Illarionov denounced rumors that he has drawn his own concept and says the concept drawn by the Ministry of Economic Development should be considered by Kress’ group along with twelve other concepts.
WHY DID TOTSKY GO TO AMERICA?
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, April 17, 2001, pp. 1-2
Colonel General Konstantin Totsky, Director of the Federal Border Guards Service, spent a week in the United States as a guest of Admiral James Loy, Commander of the US Coast Guard.
Konstantin Totsky: Political complications do not affect contacts between our services. After all, out countries do have some common interests. They include combating terrorism, drug trafficking, illegal immigration, and “banal” poaching.
Question: Do you plan any joint operations in 2001?
Totsky: We do but as you may understand I cannot be more specific than that. Actually, we did not begin contacts with the US Coast Guard yesterday. Joint operations are organized all the time. Another one begins as soon as one ends. The Losos, the Krab, and so on. You want the specifics? Here you are. The Argal patrol boat and the US ship Hamilton of the Coast Guard detained the Chinese vessel Ming Chan for poaching. Its owners were forced to pay up and cover the expenses into bargain. The ship Arctic Wind was arrested for using outlawed fishing devices. The ship was confiscated and sold for $250,000 on the decision of the court.
Question: Will you patrol the waters together with the Americans?
Totsky: Our efforts will be coordinated. This is what counts. Whenever necessary, we will exchange information as well. We will be catching poachers and organizing search-and-rescue missions together.
This year our engineers will be sent to training centers of the US Coast Guard. Thomas Barret, commander of the 17th District, will visit us in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky aboard the Boatwell. A joint exercise will be arranged.