CHIRAC LANDED IN ST. PETERSBURG
Kommersant, July 2, 2001, p. 2
French President Jacques Chirac has arrived in Russia. Unlike other foreign leaders, he landed in St. Petersburg and only after that he went to Moscow together with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Putin does not miss any chance to show his native town to his foreign counterparts.
By the moment of the French president’s arrival Putin was in St. Petersburg already.
On his arrival Chirac went to the Hermitage to see the exhibition of French abstractionist Pierre Soulage and the exposition of treasures of the Gold Horde.
On June 27, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic was told to arrange a concert that had not been planned. The program of the concert was French-Russian: fragments from the ballets “Nutcracker” by Chaikovsky and “Daphnis and Chloe” by Maurice Ravel. The first fragment was “The Arrival of Masha and the Prince to the Fairy-Tale City of Confiturenburg.” The concert was directed by Yury Temirkanov.
After the concert the presidents opened the colloquium “Russian-French Dialogs” right in the Philharmonic.
In the evening Vladimir Putin invited his guest to a restaurant, and at midnight the two presidents went to Moscow by plane.
END OF SPY SCANDAL
Kommersant, July 2, 2001, p. 3
On July 1, the Russian-American spy scandal was put an end to. This scandal was launched in late March and could considerably exacerbate Russian-American relations. The parties of the scandal have realized that retention of normal relations is more important than catching spies.
The scandal started when an agent of the Russian intelligence, FBI employee Robert Hanssen, was disclosed. A month later the Department of State expelled four more Russian diplomats and demanded that Russia withdraws another 46 diplomats until July 1. Russia’s response to this measure was quite adequate.
It is natural that not a single name was mentioned in official comments on this case. American media mentioned only the name of Vladimir Frolov, Spokesman of the Russian Embassy allegedly connected with Robert Hanssen. However, Frolov had been withdrawn from the US before the scandal.
Russian media also mentioned only one name: Senior Secretary of the American Embassy to Moscow Paul Hollingsworth.
Last weekend news agencies reported that both parties of the conflict have fulfilled their obligations: both countries expelled 50 diplomats of each other. Both countries observed all the necessary procedures stipulated for such situations. It is clear that Washington could not have disregarded the disclosure of a Russian agent in FBI, but Moscow could not have disregarded Washington’s measure either.
SPECIALLY FOR DUMA DEPUTIES
Izvestia, July 2, 2001, p. 2
On July 1, the Duma commission for normalization of the socio-political and socio-economic situation and observance of human rights in the Chechen Republic arrived in Chechnya. The authorities of Chechnya, the Southern Federal District, and the Southern Group of Federal Forces took part in the meeting arranged by the Duma commission. Despite the visit of the Moscow guests, murders and explosions did not cease in the republic. A detachment of Khattab’s terrorists is still besieged in the Sharo-Argun Gorge.
Director of the Press Service of the North Caucasus Department of the Federal Frontier Service Colonel Anatoly Lesnykh has told an “Izvestia” correspondent, “Currently, the situation in the Sharo-Argun Gorge is normal. There was no firing there on Sunday and Monday. The operation is being continued by servicemen of the Federal Frontier Service and army detachments. I think we have enough forces for extermination of the gunmen, but it is not clear how long this operation will last.”
According to operative data, there are 1,500 gunmen in Chechnya, and not all of them are concentrated in the Sharo-Argun Gorge.
According to the command of the Joint Group of Federal Troops, a whole base of gunmen was disclosed in the Vedeno District on Monday. In the Shatoi District the federal troops bombed several illegal oil refineries. However, experience shows that “oil magnates” themselves do not suffer much from such strikes, whereas neighboring villages as the ecological situation in general do suffer.
On Monday, Chechen gunmen arranged an atrocious terrorist act, as a result of which five police officers from the Kemerovo Region were assassinated.
The Chechen Prosecutor’s Office has reported that after this terrorist act a series of purges was performed in Sernovodsk, since some local inhabitants are suspected of arrangement of this terrorist act.
On Monday, the first issue of the new official Chechen newspaper “Vesti Respubliki” was canceled. Presidential Aid Sergei Yastrzhembsky reported to “Izvestia” that this measure was on the political nature. He said, “A meeting of the Duma commission took place on the same day. Thus, two important events could have taken place on one and the same day. The postponement of the first issue of “Vesti Respubliki” was a very good administrative measure: there is not much good news in Chechnya now.”
RUSSIAN TREASURY GROWS WITHOUT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Izvestia, July 2, 2001, p. 2
The State Statistics Committee has published the data of implementation of the 2001 budget. If these data are combined with statistics of tax collection, the picture will be impressive: the country’s debts are growing, but the country is becoming richer.
The surplus of Russia’s budget in January-April 2001 was 119.8 billion rubles (over $4 billion). This figure is twice as large as the surplus in the corresponding period of 2000. For the first four months of 2001 the country earned 755 billion rubles. At the same time, the debts to the budget totaled 590.2 billion rubles as of May 1, 2001. The main debtors are natural monopolies, mainly Gazprom.
The government fails to reduce the growth of tax debts. Therefore, the current state of implementation of the 2001 budget is based on the favorable situation on the world market of energy carriers.
It is important when the decision on reducing the norm of exporters’ compulsory selling of their hard currency yield from 75% to 50%. This yield, as well as taxes of exporter enterprises, is the main backup of the treasury.
If this situation does not change, Russia’s economy may suddenly collapse if the situation on the world oil market grows worse.
RUSSIANS ASSESSING POLITICIANS
Trud, July 3, 2002, p. 2
The other day the All-Russian Public Opinion Study Center (VTsIOM) published results of one more opinion poll among 1,600 respondents.
The questions asked by VTsIOM were about Russian citizens’ attitude toward the policy of the president and the government. Simultaneously sociologists asked respondents about their trust for these or those political figures.
The highest rating is that of the president: it has grown by 1% since May and is 72% now. Only 22% of respondents disapprove of his activities.
Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov’s rating has also grown since May: from 45 to 49%. However, a lot of Russians believe that the prime minister does not realize his potential to the full extent. Some 36% of Russians disapprove of his activities, whereas in May this figure was 34%.
Vladimir Putin is trusted by 47% of Russians, which is 7% more than in May. The president is followed by Sergei Shoigu and Gennady Zyuganov: they are trusted by 17% each.
9% of respondents trust Kasyanov and Kemerovo Governor Aman Tuleev. The governor’s rating has grown by 5% compared to his May rating.
Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev, Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matvienko, and Chairman of the Fatherland-All Russia Duma faction Yevgeny Primakov are trusted by 8% of respondents each.
Both Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky and Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov are trusted by 6% of Russians, whereas in May they were trusted by 5% of respondents.