BUDGET FEDERALISM DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM ADOPTED

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BUDGET FEDERALISM DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM ADOPTED

Izvestia, May 24, 2001, p. 2

The Finance Ministry has proposed uniform rules for financial relations between the federal government and regions, without any special agreements like the one that existed between Moscow and Tatarstan. Five years will be spent on transition to a new principle of collecting revenues for regional governments: regional tax receipts will go into regional budgets, and federal tax receipts will go into the federal budget. Responsibility for implementing budget obligations is to rest with the regions. In other words, coal miners will have to demand their wages from their own regional leaders, not from the Kremlin. In the course of implementing the program, the regions will handle 100% of tax receipts from individuals, at least 70% of federal income tax, and 100% of taxes on the use of natural resources. The roads tax will be abolished and replaced with regional transport taxes.

If a region fails to meet its obligations to its residents, direct financial management by the federal government may be imposed.

DUMA LEADERS TELL THE PRESIDENT THEY SUPPORT COURT REFORM PLANS

Izvestia, May 24, 2001, p. 2

The president agreed with Duma deputies that the law should not include a clause penalizing judges for crimes committed by their relatives. Judges will not be dismissed if their relatives are charged with a crime. As Sergei Ivanenko of the Yabloko faction put it, “this would have opened up an avenue for putting pressure on the courts.” The other clause concerned accountability for judges of the Constitutional Court. The bill proposed that questions of their dismissal should be handled by the Supreme Court. The president was in favor of making this a prerogative of the Federation Council, which appoints the judges in the first place. Vladimir Zhirinovsky proposed that the matter should be handled by judges of the Constitutional Court themselves; but this was rejected.

No decision has been made on the most dramatic proposal: to unite all investigators within a Federal Investigation Service. In principle, Putin approves of the idea.

RADICAL NATIONALISTS ADVOCATE CAPITAL PUNISHMENT FOR TERRORISTS

Izvestia, May 24, 2001, p. 2

The need to lift the moratorium on capital punishment has already been advocated by Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Gennadi Raikov, leader of the People’s Deputy group, men who cannot be described as radicals.

Anatoly Pristavkin, head of the Presidential Commission for pardons, is certain that abolishing capital punishment has not had any effect on the crime rate. He says that if we make an exception for terrorists, “it will affect the least protected strata of society in a country where the law is frequently ignored.” It would essentially mean lifting the moratorium as such, Pristavkin says.

BORIS JORDAN WILL SAVE NTV

Izvestia, May 24, 2001, p. 3

The number of Moscow-based correspondents of NTV who do not regularly appear on air will be cut down.

NTV will also reduce the amount of news programs, but the remaining ones will become longer.

Jordan considers that development of the TV advertising market in Russia will enable NTV to do without loans or state funding. Private investors are a different matter, however. According to Jordan, this is why a “partial re-capitalization” of the company is planned: $75 million worth of new shares will be issued on world markets.

Some observers regard Jordan’s statement in the United States as the start of promotion of NTV on the American market.

PRIME MINISTER KASIANOV VISITS POLAND

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, May 24, 2001, p. 3

There are many issues to discuss. Kasianov will meet with President Kwasniewski, Prime Minister Buzek, speakers of both houses of parliament, opposition leaders, and business leaders. First and foremost, the negotiations will focus on construction of a gas pipeline bypassing Ukraine. Poland will join the European Union, and Kasianov will have to make sure that this membership will not encroach on Russian interests. The situation of the Kaliningrad enclave will also be discussed.

AT THE ST. PETERSBURG FORUM

Parlamentskaya Gazeta, May 24, 2001, p. 1

Special attention was paid to the international economic forum scheduled to take place in St. Petersburg on June 13-15. Many prominent Western politicians have agreed to attend the forum. Russia will be represented at the forum by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov and the heads of some ministries and departments.

YEGOR STROYEV MEETS WITH SPANISH PRIME MINISTER

Parlamentskaya Gazeta, May 24, 2001, p. 1

According to Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar of Spain, his country sees Russia as a reliable partner with which contacts should be facilitated. A delegation of Spanish parliamentarians led by Chairman E. Agirre is expected in Moscow in early July. Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov will visit Spain in the second half of the year.

Stroyev emphasized after the meeting that Aznar had been the first politician in Europe to agree to restructure Soviet debts.

Russian-Spanish cooperation “will inevitably be raised to a new level”, according to Duma Speaker Gennadi Seleznev, who also met with Aznar yesterday.

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