THE INTERIOR MINISTRY WILL EXPAND
Moskovskii Komsomolets, June 6, 2001, p. 1
Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov announced yesterday that President Putin has signed a decree on reforms to the Interior Ministry.
According to Gryzlov, “three separate issue-focused services will be created, and each will be headed by a deputy interior minister”. One of the top bodies will be the “crime service”, which “will be at the cutting edge of the battle” against the most dangerous forms of crime. Gryzlov’s deputies will also head the public security service (including the GIBDD road and traffic police, the passport service, the main directorate of the fire patrol) and rear services. According to Gryzlov, this expansion will lead to the ministry’s central staff being cut to 500 people.
It is being said within the police – in whispers, but more and more confidently – that changes are imminent in the main directorate for combating organized crime: the pet project of former interior minister Vladimir Rushailo. According to our sources, this body will be entirely subordinated to the crime service, and is unlikely to retain its present position or privileges.
The directorates for combating white-collar (economic) crime will also become part of the new crime service. The directorate for security within the police force, which has been strengthened by the secret services, is now engaged in a full investigation of the directorates for combating white-collar crime.
The forthcoming changes will affect police chiefs as well as the overall Interior Ministry system. General Shvidkin, acting chief of the Moscow municipal police force, went on leave this Monday. He is unlikely to return to this post; according to our sources, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov have finally agreed on a candidate for Moscow police chief. The candidate’s identity remains secret. Informed sources report that the Moscow mayor’s office has even resumed partial funding for the municipal police force, which it had discontinued after the dismissal of Nikolai Kulikov.
SHOULD RUSSIA IMPORT NUCLEAR WASTE?
Izvestia, June 6, 2001, p. 2
This Wednesday, the Duma is set to debate in the third reading some bills which amend current laws to permit the import of spent nuclear fuel from abroad. If these amendments are passed, Russia will gain access to a new market, and can count on revenues of $1 billion a year. However, environmentalists are outraged.
On the eve of the decisive Duma vote, some environmentalists announced that a number of leading scientists, headed by Nobel laureate Alexander Prokhorov, have signed a letter of protest against the import of nuclear waste. But when we contacted Academician Prokhorov, he was surprised and angered by the report: “I haven’t signed any such letter.”
Another alleged signatory was Academician Alexander Shilov, head of the Biochemical Physics Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences. He explained his position as follows: “I’m neither for it nor against it. This project could well bring in a great deal of money. And it’s by no means certain that all this money will be embezzled. But I think that a committee of experts, chosen from among the best scientists by the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences, would be able to settle all the disputes.”
According to Yabloko member Sergei Mitrokhin, the amendments will not be passed; many Duma deputies have changed their minds after recent visits to their home regions. But Sergei Shashurin of the People’s Deputy group thinks this is a ploy by the oil industry, which fears competition in the energy sector.
ALEXANDER PONOMAREV GETS A NEW JOB
Izvestia, June 6, 2001, p. 3
According to our sources, Oleg Dobrodeev, head of the Russian State Television and Radio Company (VGTRK), signed two instructions on Monday night – and both concern the same person: Alexander Ponomarev, one of the founders of the TV-6 network, who left TV-6 shortly after the team from NTV arrived there. The reshuffles in the television industry continue.
According to Dobrodeev’s first instruction, the former general director of TV-6 will become the deputy head of VGTRK. The second instruction is even more interesting: Ponomarev is being placed in charge of coordinating the activities of the Kultura channel and the State Radio Recording Service.
Alexander Efimovich, head of the VGTRK main secretariat, told us that Ponomarev’s task will be to set up the technology required to create a new “cultural” bloc within the state’s media empire. This bloc will combine the Kultura channel and the State Radio Recording Service, which includes Orpheus Radio, for example. The plan will draw on the State Radio Recording Service for expertise and infrastructure, while at Kultura there will be some major programming changes. The next logical step will be to change the broadcasting pattern of the Kultura channel – by autumn, we should get a different “television product”.
It remains unclear whether those who were forced to leave TV-6 will join Kultura, or where the present Kultura team will go if personnel changes do take place. But Alexander Efimovich assured us that “no one has been dismissed yet, and VGTRK intends to keep the present structure in place, since it is working fairly productively.”
THE 2003 PROBLEM REMAINS ACUTE
Parlamentskaya Gazeta, June 6, 2001, p. 1
The so-called “2003 problem” seems to have been forgotten of late. But the Unity faction in the Duma recently sponsored a move to set up a special group to develop proposals for preventing the economic, industrial and other disasters predicted for 2003.
Tatiana Astrakhankina from the Communist faction says we should be thinking of the possibility of disasters in the future:
“In the Tver region, where I come from, the situation is very alarming: the basic infrastructure in almost all sectors of industry is wearing out. Unfortunately, this problem is now encountered throughout Russia. In the metallurgy sector, infrastructure is almost 70% worn out; the average age of equipment is 65 years. In rail transport, infrastructure is 40% worn out; in the coal industry, it’s 60% worn out. And so on. According to a recent research report by the Russian Academy of Sciences, if the process of deterioration in the electricity distribution grid isn’t halted soon, Russia’s unified electricity system will simply cease to exist.”
According to Astrakhankina, this situation poses an even greater danger than the loss of economic independence. So it is essential to take urgent economic (and political) measures. That is why the heads of the Economic Development Ministry and the Industry and Science Ministry have been invited to address the Duma. Herman Gref and Alexander Dondukov will tell the Duma deputies about the crisis situation in industrial infrastructure. The members of parliament already have figures which reveal the extent of the problem. The issue now is what can be done to provide real help for Russian industry. It’s here that we run into difficulties. No funding has been allocated for this in the first draft of the budget for 2002.
CHECHNYA: SENDING IN MORE POLICE TROOPS
Trud, June 6, 2001, p. 1
It would appear to be too early to declare that the peak of the battle against terrorism in Chechnya has passed. Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov has announced that between 1,000 and 1,500 additional Interior Troops personnel will be sent into Chechnya in the near future. He noted that the 46th special brigade of the Interior Troops, numbering 6,500 men, is already stationed in Grozny. The minister says that troop numbers will now be optimized.
Among the basic functions of the OMON troops, Gryzlov listed setting up checkpoints, ensuring security on the roads, and boosting the strength of local police divisions. Around 80 such divisions have already been formed, and local residents are being involved in their operation.
Gryzlov noted that the main difficulty faced by police is that the time permitted by law for determining a suspect’s identity (72 hours) is insufficient. Many detainees are found to be carrying two or three new Russian IDs. It is therefore necessary to increase this period to at least 20 days.