Trud, July 6, 2001, p.1
Alhough the State Duma has already passed in the second and third readings a bill revoking the right of regional leaders to run for third or fourth terms in office, politicians have yet to finish arguing about this document.
And here is the first reaction to the Duma’s decision. Valery Goreglyad, coordinator of the Federation group in the Federation Council, has declared that the upper house will block this bill. His words may be viewed as a accurate prediction of future events, as the response of the regional leaders is obvious.
At that, the legal niceties still enable ten regional leaders to be elected for the “prohibited” third or fourth terms. They have been lucky because in 1999, when the question of limiting terms in office was raised, their local regulations did not contain any restrictions at all. Thus, the leaders of Kabardino-Balkaria, Kalmykia, the Komi Republic, Tatarstan, the Astrakhan, Leningrad, Novgorod, Sakhalin, Tver regions and Moscow can stay in office longer than others.
The outrage of the regional leaders is quite understandable, but the Duma’s wish not to let regional leaders remain in office too long is also easy to understand. They want to strengthen the state hierarchy with new people. That is why our next prediction is that if the Ferderation Council vetoes this bill, the Duma will not try to overcome it. There is a complex power struggle going on. This is evidenced by the hesitation of certain deputies from powerful factions, who changed their minds in the course of the debate. As a result, they all voted against the regional leaders.
COMMUNAL AND HOUSING PROBLEM
Izvestia, July 6, 2001, p. 1
A meeting chaired by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov on Wednesday made the authors of the new economic plan for our housing and utilities services make some changes. The prime minister demanded that the plan should be made “clear, simple, and understandable for everyone”. According to him, “the citizens do not believe that everyone will have hot water, clean stairwells, and rubbish will not be burned under their windows”. Perhaps these words made Herman Gref announce at yesterday’s meeting that the Cabinet had rejected the option of moving to 100% payment for housing and utilities.
Gref, the Economic Development and Trade Minister, believes that this unpopular measure can be carried out only ten to fifteen years from now. The shock therapy in this area that should have been implemented ten years ago has been postponed too. It has been decided that Russia’s housing and utilities will be reformed (or modernized) by some delicate re-distribution of state funds, rather than the money of ordinary citizens, as had been planned earlier.
THE ECHO OF MOSCOW RADIO STATION
Izvestia, July 6, 2001, p. 2
Yesterday five deputies of the chief editor of the Echo of Moscow radio station declared they were resigning “in protest against the de facto takeover of the company by Gazprom”. According to chief editor Alexei Venediktov, these resignations came as a surprise to him. Nevertheless, he promised all of them that he would follow them if the station turned out to be under state control. Meanwhile, the staff have decided to stay on for at least two weeks.
Echo of Moscow managing director Yury Fedutinov and Alexei Venediktov held negotiations with Gazprom. But according to the five editors who have resigned, they took “too mild a position”. As a result, they believe, in the near future the radio station will become controlled by the state.
Gazprom representatives refuse to comment on the situation.
MILOSEVIC’S BROTHER ON VACATION IN RUSSIA
Izvestia, July 6, 2001, p. 2
Borislav Milosevic, the former Yugoslavian ambassador to Russia, has quietly come to the Kuban region with his family. At an impromtu press conference the brother of Slobodan Milosevic (now facing the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague) admitted he has come to visit “his old friend Nikolay Kondratenko”, the former Kuban governor, who is now a member of the Federation Council.
The Milosevics spent only a few hours in Krasnodar, then leaving for the Black Sea resorts. Though the visit was unofficial, Borislav Milosevic could not resist commenting on the events in his homeland. He said, “NATO arrested Slobodan to put all the responsibility for the bombing of Yugoslavia on him, and to justify themselves. Their actions resulted in huge casualties and material damage for the people of Yugoslavia.”
As for the arrest of his brother, Borislav believes that this, as well as what is going on in the Hague, is part of that aggression against a sovereign state. Under the pressure of these circumstances, the federation of Yugoslavia has been considerably divided. This split could lead to the dissolution of Yugoslavia, according to Borislav Milosevic.
RUSSIA WILL HAVE GAS AND ENERGY
Tribuna, July 6, 2001, p. 1
President Putin met yesterday in the Kremlin with deputy prime minister Viktor Khristenko and Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller. They discussed Russia’s energy strategy to 2020.
Special attention was given to the gas sector, and plans for development of the gas market in Russia. This concept is to be formulated by the end of the year, taking into consideration the resource base of the gas industry, unconditional implementation of export contracts, and domestic demand. According to Khristenko, the president advised balancing these components as well as possible, to complete this concept. In the general program of Russia’s energy strategy, restructuring the coal industry and development of nuclear power are already being carried out. Next will be the electricity program. Miller assured President Putin that the electricity industry would provide the necessary quantities of energy.