PUTIN TO ANSWER QUESTIONS OF 700 JOURNALISTS
Moskovsky Komsomolets, July 13, 2001, p. 1
Next Wednesday will be an ordeal for President Vladimir Putin. For the first time in Russia’s recent history, the president will take questions from a gathering of 700 journalists.
Although Putin willingly meets with the media, the demand is still too high; the Kremlin PR center is drowning in requests to interview the president. On July 18, at 2 p.m., Vladimir Putin will try to satisfy the information hunger of some of these journalists.
He intends to talk with journalists for about an hour. However, organizers are unlikely to end this meeting on time, since the president is known for his habit of prolonging such events.
Journalists are free to ask any questions at all. The president’s PR service does not intend to limit their imaginations. Half of the questions are easy to predict: about Bush, Kasianov, Chechnya, investment, missile defense, etc.
RUSSIAN DIPLOMATS PROMOTING BELARUS
Izvestia, July 13, 2001, p. 4
On July 12, Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo met with President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus. The Belarussian president may meet with Putin in a fortnight’s time, at the Slavic Bazaar festival. During the meeting with Rushailo, Lukashenko displayed his eloquence to the full. He noted that the allied states are on the right track, and should think of the prospects of their alliance. He didn’t forget to complain about thoughtless Russian media either.
Rushailo discussed specific prospects during his meetings with Lukashenko and Belarussian Security Council Secretary Ural Latypov. In part, they discussed expansion of the European Union. Perhaps transit problems connected with Poland joining the EU can be solved at the trilateral level. Besides, Minsk promises to boost economic cooperation with Kaliningrad.
Both Security Councils agreed to discuss new threats over the next three or four months. Among them are US missile defense plans.
Belarus wants Russia’s support at the global level. Russian diplomats admit that they often have to argue that “Lukashenko is not so bad.”
PUTIN MEETS WITH LEADERS OF DUMA FACTIONS
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, July 13, 2001, p. 3
On July 12, President Putin met with leaders of Duma factions. They discussed several topical issues, such as the draft Land Code and the package of pension reform bills. Leader of the People’s Deputy group Gennady Raikov said before the meeting that “such a meeting is necessary.” Many deputies, even among those who have supported the draft Land Code in the first reading, have substantial proposals for the president regarding this document.
As for the pension reform bills, the Duma will debate them in the first reading on July 13. According to Raikov, People’s Deputy will support them. He also has no doubts that they will be passed.
On July 12, President Putin also met with Central Election Commission Chairman Alexander Veshnyakov. Their conversation was devoted mostly to the new law on political parties, now signed by the president. After the meeting Veshnyakov said that they also discussed the participation of the Russian Federation in international monitoring of the presidential election in Belarus.
SEND A COMMISSION
Izvestia, July 13, 2001, p. 3
There was another tragedy in the Russian Armed Forces yesterday – in Voronezh, at a check-point of a bombers regiment, part of the Fifth Combined Air Division. Two servicemen were killed: 29-year-old ensign Sergei Sitnikov, and 38-year-old ensign Valerii Mashkov. A Makarov pistol and 16 rounds of ammunition were stolen. This is the third emergency in the Armed Forces over the past week. All cases are being investigated by special commissions.
According to the Voronezh regional police force, an axe was used to kill both servicemen.
There are several theories about the incident. First: this was an attack with the aim of stealing weapons. Both the Air Force and police firmly deny that there was any possibility of the attackers breaking through onto the airfield.
Another possibility is that the servicemen knew their killers, and may have been drinking with them.
PUTIN WILL SELECT REGIONAL POLICE CHIEFS
Izvestia, July 13, 2001, p. 4
The Duma has passed amendments to the law on the police, as agreed with the Federation Council. These amendments concern a very important issue for the federal government and regional leaders: the appointment of regional police chiefs.
Federation Council members insisted that before the interior minister can submit a nomination for a regional police chief to the president, the opinion of the relevant regional leader must be sought, and that opinon must be attached to the nomination.
Many lawyers see the Senate’s changes as just a formality. These personnel decisions will still be made by two people: President Putin and Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov.
The Interior Ministry hopes that the amendments, in their new form, will be passed by the Federation Council on July 18. Then they will be forwarded to the president for his signature. These amendments to the law on the police will do much to resolve points of dispute in relations between the Interior Ministry and some regional leaders. And regional police chiefs will no longer be entirely dependent on regional governments.