AN ALLIANCE WITHOUT UNIFICATION
Vremya MN, June 4, 2001, p. 2
The Unity and the Fatherland are not going to merge into a single centrist party in the foreseeable future. Leaders of the two political structures attended a joint meeting of their Coordinating Councils last Friday and officially announced that an alliance would be formed. “Our organizations will be together at the next parliamentary election”, Sergei Shoigu said.
Mr. Shoigu, leader of the Unity, considers the alliance as “another step towards a closer consolidation of our efforts in the center of the political arena”. According to Shoigu, the two organizations opted for an alliance because they “want to be constantly involved in all political processes in the country”. “We cannot refuse to participate in the next election and do not want the Fatherland deprived of this right”, Shoigu said. Under the new law “On political parties”, the Fatherland movement cannot participate in the election independently. A formal unification of the Unity and the Fatherland would have necessitated a self-dissolution of the two organizations and the resulting party would have been allowed to participate in parliamentary election only a year after the formation. That is why Yuri Luzhkov pointed out that “self-dissolution is not on the agenda”.
Luzhkov: We chose an acceptable form of cooperation, a form which does not strip us of the right to run in the election.
Luzhkov and Shoigu made it clear that the alliance-forming process would be over by November. “The congress will elect the ruling bodies, adopt a charter for the alliance, and amend the two organizations’ individual charters,” Shoigu explained. At the same time, adaptation of charters and programs is going to be “the phase that will follow the congress”. The Coordinating Council will meet again in early July “to make all necessary decisions concerning the congress, draw program documents and charters.”
NUCLEAR WASTES: AN UPDATE
Vremya MN, June 4, 2001, p. 3
Another round of the ongoing war over making amendments to the current nuclear energy legislation to permit importation of spent nuclear fuel into Russia took place yesterday. Yabloko leader Grigori Yavlinsky and Nuclear Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev answered questions posed by pedestrians on Novy Arbat Street.
According to Yavlinsky, “Yabloko believes that nothing hot should be imported into Russia” because “the wastes will remain here forever and the money will evaporate”. Rumyantsev repeated that all financial operations would be outlined in the law “On the budget” and that parliamentary deputies would monitor the process. Yavlinsky replied that the deputies do not control anything but the draft budget in the course of discussion.
Rumyantsev said he did not understand what Yavlinsky was talking about. “I myself will tear the project up if I do not see exactly how the money is going to be spent”, he said. The lower house of the parliament is slated to discuss the draft amendments this Wednesday. According to Rumyantsev, only two options are possible: either the importation of spent nuclear fuel will be authorized or the matter will be tabled for five months. Yabloko suggests holding a referendum in the interim. It is not fair that 500 people will approve the importation against which 100 million people object,” Yavlinsky said.
GEORGE SOROS MEETS WITH RUSSIAN MAYORS
Kommersant, June 4, 2001, p. 2
In 2000, Soros made up his mind that since Russian cities were getting only a pittance from the state, it was his duty to help them. The Open Society Institute drafted a program called Russian Cities and organized a contest titled Strategy of Township Development.
Mayors of Russian cities came to Krasnoarmeisk yesterday to tell Soros how his money had been spent.
Mayor of Krasnoarmeisk Vitaly Pashentsev was the first. He certainly took his time talking of Krasnoarmeisk’s artillery testing ground. Pashentsev got down to business when everybody was all but bored to tears. According to Pashentsev, his subordinates improved their skills so much (with Soros’ money) that they collected 1.5 million worth of taxes from the local tobacco factory. Soros was bewildered.
In any case, Soros announced afterwards that he was quite satisfied with the results of the program, adding that local self-government in Russia was becoming truly independent.
Duma Deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov was also present at the conference.
Ryzhkov: We are friends with Mr. Soros and I’m here on his invitation. I share his views and particularly his concerns over freedom of speech in Russia. I consult Soros regularly. Not so long ago, for example, I met with Soros in Strasbourg and advised him to participate in judicial reforms in Russia…
LORD JUDD WAS SHOWN DEMOCRACY
Moskovsky Komsomolets, June 5, 2001, p. 2
At first sight, it appeared that all participants of the debates were speaking different languages and discussing different subjects.
Presidential envoy for human rights in the Caucasus Vladimir Kalamanov, for example, talked about missing people. According to Kalamanov, there are 930 persons on the official list of missing people (since August 1999). 384 of them have been found, including 18 dead.
A spokesman for the Federal Security Service said that his structure knew the “identities of all the criminals” and listed all Chechen ringleaders. The officer ended that neutralization of Shamil Basayev and Khattab was the main objective (!) of counterintelligence.
A representative of the Interior Ministry complained of financial difficulties. Chechen deputy Aslakhanov said he was going to resign unless the state of affairs in Chechnya ameliorated.
PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE CANCELS THE ARREST WARRANT
Izvestia, June 5, 2001, p. 3
The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has cancelled the second arrest warrant issued for Vladimir Gusinsky. The warrant’s cancellation was announced in Moscow yesterday shortly before a court hearing during which Gusinsky’s lawyers planned to file a protest. The warrant was issued in April when Spain refused to extradite Gusinsky to Russia. This time Gusinsky was wanted for money laundering.
PUBLIC OPINION SURVEYS INDICATE…
Versty, June 5, 2001, p. 1
In an opinion poll conducted by ROMIR, 68% of respondents say they trust the army. Exactly the same percentage of respondents in another poll conducted by Monitoring.ru Group say they trust the army to be capable of defending the country.
At the same time, 69% of respondents would not want their close relatives drafted into the Armed Forces right now. When asked “Why?” the respondents cited danger of death in local conflict zones (38%), cruelty in the barracks (30%), and difficult conditions and inadequate food (18%).
YEGOR STROYEV ABOUT VISITS TO AUSTRIA AND SWITZERLAND
Parlamentskaya Gazeta, June 5, 2001, p. 1
Yegor Stroyev: Unlike during the previous visits, this time our interlocutors did not reproach us for something they thought we were not doing correctly, for having a “wrong” democracy, for the lack of conditions for foreign investments and so on.
Our delegation saw in the course of the visit that we should not fear the European Union. On the contrary, we should move toward the European Union but not with the empty hands. We should be moving towards it with our brains, technologies, and resources. And sell all of that to Europe at the price Europe itself is selling such commodities. Let me site a single example. My assistant decided to buy meat there for dinner. He said he paid for it as much as he earns in a year.
Does this price policy benefit us? I think it does. Let us go to Europe and trade there as equals.
We saw with our own eyes that Western countries want the Russian market. It certainly seems that economic relations between Russia and the West are going to develop at a faster rate than political ones.