THE COST OF CHECHNYA

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THE COST OF CHECHNYA

Vremya Novostei, May 14, 2001, p. 2

The Finance Ministry and Ministry of Economic Development are urgently drafting a program of development for Chechnya in 2002 and 2003. In order for the money for the program to be included in the next year budget, the government has to adopt the draft in May, by the time the 2002 draft budget would be ready. The cost of the program has not been disclosed, but this correspondent was told at the apparatus of Vladimir Yelagin (a federal minister for Chechnya) that “we hope to get in 2002 no less than what we got this year” (14.4 billion).

According to our source in Yelagin’s apparatus, the program drafted by the Chechen government is “a continuation of the ideas drafted this year. Its priorities remain the same – reconstruction of tenements, infrastructure, communications, and oil complex.” The source says that in 2002 all 24 ministries and departments involved in post-war restoration will work together, coordinated by the Minister for Chechnya. The program will also stipulate protection of vital objects like railroad terminals, warehouses, and so on. If the objects are blown, they will be rebuilt.

The authors of the program are not entirely honest about the cost of the program. According to correspondent reports, this is an investment program. It does not take into account the money that will be spent on pensions, grants, and salaries to budget-supported workers. According to a source in the Ministry of Economic Development, this money will be paid in accordance with budget applications from the republican government. All of that will be compiled in a document titled “Measures for restoring Chechnya in 2002”.

LDPR CONGRESS TAKES PLACE

Vremya Novostei, May 14, 2001, p. 2

The Kremlin and the Russian Liberal Democratic Party like each other and are not going to make trouble for the other. While opening the LDPR congress last Saturday, its leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky announced that the party supports the Russian political leadership completely. Among the positive changes that took place under Vladimir Putin in Zhirinovsky’s view are the “improvement” of the work of leading TV channels. Putin sent a telegram to the congress stating that the formation of the LDPR “was one of the first steps towards establishing a true multi-party system in Russia”. The president expressed his hopes for a continuation of constructive cooperation with the LDPR.

Zhirinovsky’s new ideas are quite in line with the policy of constructive cooperation with the regime. Zhirinovsky said in his program speech that the party would struggle for transformation of Russia into a unitary state. According to Zhirinovsky, the number of Federation subjects should be brought down from 89 to 30 and national-territorial autonomies abolished altogether. A four-level executive power vertical is suggested: president – governor – voivode – headman.

Zhirinovsky is also radical in his views about reorganization of state power bodies. He is of the opinion that the Federation Council should be abolished, its powers transferred to the State Council. The Duma is to be cut down by one-third. Its powers and powers of the president should be broadened and the term in office extended to five years. “Too frequent elections are harmful,” Zhirinovsky commented.

Political instruments are needed to accomplish these objectives. According to Zhirinovsky and other speakers at the congress, the LDPR may become such an instrument. Nothing was said, however, about what the party should be like under new conditions. Zhirinovsky merely said that requirements to new party members should be tightened. The party leader is of the opinion that the LDPR needs “better educated and more decent men”, preferably without “troubles with the law”.

NEW MURDERS IN GROZNY REPORTED

Izvestia, May 14, 2001, p. 3

Russian-speaking residents of Chechnya are not the only victims. A Chechen family was cut out in the settlement of Novaya Zhizn, Kurchaloi district.

An anti-war rally took place in Grozny. The central commandant’s office reports that about 100 persons, mostly women, participated with hand-painted placards with slogans saying “Withdrawal of the troops”, “War means mothers’ tears”, “Chechen people wants peace”, and “Stop murdering the innocent”. Despite Akhmed Kadyrov’s ban on rallies and demonstrations, the municipal authorities and law enforcement agencies did not interfere.

YEVGENY KISELEV BECOMES TV-6 GENERAL DIRECTOR

Izvestia, May 15, 2001, p. 2

A meeting of shareholders of TV-6 television channel endorsed Yevgeny Kiselev as general director yesterday. The board of directors met as well. Its chairman Igor Shabdurasulov stepped down and was replaced by Badri Patarkatsishvili, the channel’s ex-general director. In response to the news, some employees of the network resigned and minoritarian shareholders filed a lawsuit at the Moscow Arbitration Court “to protect their interests”.

Despite rumors that Kiselev might opt to leave TV-6, nobody really doubted that he would be promoted by the channel’s owner Boris Berezovsky.

DEPUTY PREMIER ILYA KLEBANOV: THE KURSK OPERATION WILL BE COMPLETED BY SEPTEMBER 20

Moskovsky Komsomolets, May 15, 2001, p. 2

A meeting has been held to finally adopt the plan of a proposed salvaging operation in the Barents Sea.

Deputy Premier Klebanov made it clear that the Kursk operation will include two phases and take three months. He even said everything would be over by September 20. He does not say, however, when the operation is supposed to begin.

A contract is to be signed on May 20 with an international consortium. The consortium includes two Dutch companies Heerema and Smit TAK and Norway’s Halliburton. According to Klebanov, in the next few days final negotiations will take place involving representatives of the Defense Ministry, Rubin Design Bureau, the Foreign Ministry, and Justice Ministry.

OMBUDSMAN OLEG MIRONOV SAYS MOSCOW IS NOT MEETING OBLIGATIONS ASSUMED WHEN RUSSIA JOINED THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE FIVE YEARS AGO

Moskovsky Komsomolets, May 15, 2001, p. 2

According to Mironov, first and foremost the issue concerns abolition of capital punishment. This clause of the Convention has not been ratified. There are problems with some Russian laws as well. Mironov says that some laws should be amended, particularly the law “On police”. According to Mironov, the police use “tortures”.

ON THE VISIT OF PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA UGO CHAVEZ

Parlamentskaya Gazeta, May 15, 2001, p. 1

Putin and Chavez met at the so called Millennium Summit in New York last September when Chavez was invited to visit Russia.

Both countries are out to overcome stagnation in bilateral relations. It is common knowledge that Venezuela’s and some other Latin American states’ trade and economic turnover with Russia is small.

Putin and Chavez signed a joint declaration on development of bilateral relations.

Chavez also met with Premier Mikhail Kasianov. Some documents on cooperation in trade and economic, military-technical, and scientific spheres were signed. Chavez will also meet with Duma Chairman Gennadi Seleznev, Federation Council chairman Yegor Stroyev, and Chairman of the Supreme Court Vyacheslav Lebedev.

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