NEW U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, July 11, 2001, p. 1
New US Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow will take office in Moscow at the end of August. On July 10, James Collins completed his assignment in Russia and is going home.
Meanwhile, as it happens, Vershbow may visit Moscow in July. He is expected to accompany National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who will come to Moscow after July 20.
REFUGEES ASKING FOR HELP
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, July 11, 2001, p. 2
Refugee organizations have held a roundtable conference on problems of refugees in the light of civil society.
Svetlana Gannushkina, head of the Memorial charity, said the government had attempted to address these issues in 1996. However, all efforts to create civil organizations to handle the problems of refugees have been frustrated over the past year. In February 2000, the Federal Migration Service was abolished. In October 2000, the government commission on migration policy was also abolished. In January 2001, simplified procedures for registration of refugees from CIS countries to Russia were canceled; and in June, the government decided to exclude the federal migration program from the list of special programs funded by the budget. At the same time, there are no non-government organizations in Russia that could provide the basic requirements refugees to adapt and become integrated into the Russian economy. Conference participants appealed to the government to correct these errors and restore the migration program.
ON THE WAY TO A NEW KHASAVYURT AGREEMENT
Izvestia, July 11, 2001, p. 2
On July 10, Justice Lieutenant-General Mikhail Kislitsin, Chief Military Prosecutor, flew urgently to the North Caucasus. Certain forces are inciting hysteria over special operations in a number of towns in Chechnya. The Chechen
Prosecutor’s Office and the Military Prosecutor’s Office are investigating reports that Russian troops exceeded their authority during search operations in Sernovodsk and Assinovskaya. The civilian government of Chechnya and the military are exchanging mutual accusations.
On July 10, several village mayors from the Achkhoi-Martan District handed in their resignations. Arbi Satuev, deputy head of the Achkhoi-Martan District administration, says more mayors will quit if the situation does not change.
Colonel General Anatoly Shkirko, former commander of the Interior Troops, told us that this scandal is creating problems for commanders of federal troops.
He said: “Don’t you see that this is a chain of linked events: demonstrations in various towns, hunger strikes in refugee camps, the outcry over passport inspections, and so on? These actions are inspired by the guerrillas, directly or indirectly. This could eventually lead to a new Khasavyurt agreement, and Russia will not survive a repeat of that.”
PARTY ISSUE RESOLVED
Izvestia, July 11, 2001, p. 3
President Vladimir Putin is likely to sign the law on parties this week and meet with Central Election Commission (CEC) Chairman Alexander Veshnyakov. However, Putin’s signature on this law will only mean the start of electoral reforms, not the end.
After a scheduled meeting of the CEC, Veshnyakov announced that at his meeting with Putin he would present further proposals for changes to electoral laws. First and foremost, this concerns a new version of the law on the main guarantees of electoral rights for citizens. This should eliminate all contradictions in electoral laws that have emerged because of the party reforms.
On July 10, the CEC approved its agenda for the second half of 2001. In part, this includes plans to develop and submit to Parliament “other federal laws within the framework of improving electoral law.”
The CEC also intends to work on the law on parliamentary elections for the Russia-Belarus Union. If this law is passed quickly, the elections may take place as soon as spring 2002.
ALLEGED TERRORISTS REJECT JURY TRIAL
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, July 11, 2001, p. 1
A court in the Stavropol territory has started to consider the case of five residents of Karachaevo-Cherkessia who are charged with participation in apartment block explosions in Moscow and other Russian cities.
Muratbi Bairamukov, Taukan Frantsuzov, Muratbi Tuganbaev, Aslan Bastanov, and Murat Bastanov were to be tried by the Supreme Court of Karachaevo-Cherkessia. The defendants and their lawyers demanded a trial by jury. This institution has already been introduced in the Stavropol territory. However, at the very last moment, at the preliminary hearing, the defendants and their lawyers rejected the jury trial option.
The court has been provided with a lot of evidence which is classified as secret. Therefore, the hearings are closed to the media: only the sentencing procedure will be open.