INTENSIVE ARGUMENTS TO START
Parlamentskaya Gazeta, June 20, 2001, p. 1
On June 19, Duma deputies assembled for the first time after the demarche of the opposition arranged last Friday as a sign of disagreement with the draft Land Code proposed by the government. The left do not intend to continue such demonstration of their protest. However, Chairman of the Agricultural deputy group Nikolai Kharitonov has told a “Parlamentskaya Gazeta” correspondent that his deputy group intends to fight when the second reading is conducted.
However, not all deputies have forgotten Friday’s debates. For instance, Alexei Mitrofanov, a member of the Liberal Democratic faction, has announced his hope for redistribution of control over Duma committees and change of the Duma speaker.
However, the legislative process is underway. On June 20, the lower house will consider the draft Criminal Code. Then they will consider three alternative draft laws on privatization of municipal and state property. The first draft was submitted by the government, the second one by the left wing of the Duma, and the third one was proposed by Grigory Tomchin, a member of the Union of Right Forces.
The draft Labor Code will be considered on July 5, the last day of the current parliamentary session. On Friday deputies are likely to consider the draft law on reduction of the income tax from 35% to 25%.
Izvestia, June 20, 2001, p. 3 EV
Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg repeated several times during his visit to Russia: “Now the opportunities for cooperation between Norway and Russia are higher than over the entire past millennium.” His Russian interlocutors agreed with him but did not close their eyes to problems in Russian-Norwegian relations.
The main result of Stoltenberg’s visit to Russia is the agreement on Vladimir Putin’s visit to Norway in 2002.
Stoltenberg made it clear that Norway does not want to keep apart of the projects of cooperation with Russia launched by Sweden. After all, Norway borders on Russia, which has both positive and negative outcomes. Among the negative outcomes are consequences of the catastrophe of the submarine Kursk, detention of a Russian fishing trawler in April, and demarcation on Spitzbergen Archipelago.
Norwegians are also worried about transportation of nuclear waste from Europe to Russia. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov assured Stoltenberg that transportation of nuclear waste will be performed “under strict international control,” in which Norway will certainly take part.
Stoltenberg’s Russian interlocutors highlighted positive changes in Russian-Norwegian relations, but at the same time touched on some unpleasant issues, such as work of the Globus-2 radar installation by the Russian border used by the Pentagon to test elements of the national anti-missile defense system. They also touched on the issue of demarcation of the Barents Sea shelf.
Stoltenberg stressed Norway’s right to Spitzbergen, but also admitted that Russia should have the right to “mine coal and do other activities on the archipelago.” Moscow has taken this opinion into account but apparently does not fully agree with it.
ALEXANDER LEBED DOES NOT WANT TO GO TO MOSCOW
Izvestia, June 20, 2001, p. 3 EV
On June 19, Krasnoyarsk Governor Alexander Lebed accounted for economic achievements of his region for the past three years.
Lebed’s main dream is to make the Krasnoyarsk Territory the Russian New Hampshire. In other words, all Russian regions should follow the example of Krasnoyarsk. For the sake of these plans Lebed is ready not to return to Moscow.
Lebed has several reasons for optimism. For instance, influence of the criminal community in the territory is going down, and according to the latest opinion polls, up to 52% of inhabitants of the territory consider themselves to belong to the middle class. The governor believes that investments grow as long as crime is reduced.
REDUCTION OF BLACK SEA FLEET TO BE SPED UP
Izvestia, June 20, 2001, p. 4 EV
According to Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, since the beginning of the year the number of the Russian Armed Forces has been reduced by 20,000 people, and it is planned to reduce it by another 70,000 people by the end of the year.
Sergei Ivanov has noted that the terms of reduction should be corrected, since the strategists of the Black Sea Fleet planned the major personnel reductions for 2003-2004. Ivanov has asked the strategists to reconsider their plans, since if the number of the Black Sea Fleet is not reduced, there will be no money on buying new military hardware
Currently, the Black Sea Fleet comprises 50 military ships. Its closest sea neighbor, Turkey, possesses 2.5-4 times more ships.
Moskovsky Komsomolets, June 20, 2001, p. 2
We have managed to learn some reasons for the current scandalous behavior of presidential economic adviser Andrei Illarionov. He has opposed the draft plan for restructuring the electricity industry, approved by the president. He has also appealed to the Duma opposition, mainly to its Communist part, for support.
According to our sources, Illarionov’s appeal to the Communists has been caused by the fact that his relations with President Vladimir Putin have allegedly soured. The quarrel was started back in May, when the president sent Anatoly Chubais to America to talk with Vice President Dick Cheney on investments in Russia’s economy – instead of Illarionov.
According to our sources in the Cabinet, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov is enraged by Illarionov’s contacts with the Communists. According to Kasyanov, Illarionov’s demeanor has drawn unnecessary public attention to the settled matter. Moreover, Illarionov’s visit to the Duma preceded the first reading of the draft Land Code, which developed into a fight between representatives of pro-presidential factions and the left wing.
By the way, not all Communists like this situation. It is an open secret that Illarionov met with Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev, but it had not been known until recently what they talked about. Now the Communists seem to be informed about the content of their conversation.
On June 19, a number of important issues will be debated in the Duma. For instance, deputies may reschedule consideration of the draft restructuring plan for the electricity industry until autumn.
THERE’S NO HARM IN TRYING
Trud, June 20, 2001, p. 2
On June 19, the first meeting of the All-Russian Democratic Conference took place.
The idea of this conference was proposed by Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky.
The meeting was attended by representatives of the Russian United Social-Democratic Party led by Mikhail Gorbachev, the Union of Right Forces led by Boris Nemtsov, the movement Forward Russia led by Boris Fedorov, the Peasant’s Party of Economic Freedom, the Memorial community, Committees of Soldiers’ Mothers, etc. The forum is supposed to be convoked once in one, two, or three months. Decisions made by the forum will be considered merely as recommendations.