FINLAND SHOULD PAY MORE ATTENTION TO RUSSIA

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FINLAND SHOULD PAY MORE ATTENTION TO RUSSIA

Tribuna, July 19, 2001, p. 3

On the very eve of the visit of our prime minister to Finland, the Finnish public has grown slightly excited. A poll showed that most respondents (66%) believe Finland is paying much less attention to its relations with Russia than it had before joining the European Union.

Thus, Finns seem to agree with their former president Mauno Koivisto, who has accused the present government of neglecting Russia in its foreign policy. According to the poll, those most concerned about this are young people – and the elderly who remember World War II and the Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland.

GERMANY AND AUSTRIA REPAYING THEIR DEBTS

Rossiyskaya Gazeta, July 19, 2001

The deadline for compensation applications from concentration camp survivors has been extended from August 12 until December 31, 2001. In two weeks, at the end of July, Germany and Austria will begin payments to the first 10,000 survivors.

This has been announced by Natalya Malysheva, head of the Russian government’s Mutual Understanding and Reconciliation fund. Malysheva, the senior deputy minister for labor and social development, added that from now on the former “slaves” and concentration camp survivors will not have to apply to Moscow. Local social agencies should help them, accepting the applications and all the necessary documents.

The German and Austrian governments have allocated DM 10 billion for concentration camp survivors. Part of this sum will go toward payments, and part will be used to fund social projects in states which suffered under Nazi occupation. Former Soviet citizens will get DM 835 million, or over 10 billion rubles.

Those who worked at industrial plants in Nazi Germany will receive DM 5,000. Concentration camp and ghetto survivors will get up to DM 15,000 each. Austria has set the highest level of 105,000 schillings. How much those who suffered persecution or were slaves of Nazi exploiters will get depends on the total number of applications.

MEDIA UNION AGAINST UNION OF MASS MEDIA

Moskovsky Komsomolets, July 19, 2001, p. 2

The Russian Union of Journalists has circulated an open letter to all Russian journalists. The main point is the RUJ’s view of the creation of the Media Union, headed by TV journalist Alexander Lubimov.

The open letter says the RUJ takes a positive view of other journalist organizations, since “in any civil society no one can have a right to represent all journalists. But it’s one thing to work together, and quite another to create difficulties for colleagues.” This is said to be the appropriate description for the attempts of Media Union to separate journalists into “ours” and “theirs”, and persuade the government that the RUJ aims to turn public opinion against the Kremlin. In this situation, other questions connected with the creation and activities of the Media Union arise. Why, for example, has Alexander Lubimov started talking about “concepts”? He says he is “not venal”, but his other statements contradict this: “Those whom I have united today… we will just manage to get more money. And those heading the RUJ will not get the money, because they are not accountable for it, according to modern concepts – they may disappear, move aside.” It is noteworthy that the Media Union’s funding sources remain unknown, and they are their money not on aid to colleagues, but on luxurious feasts and banquets. Moreover, the new organization has already managed to get a certain reputation abroad: the International Federation of Journalists recently passed a special declaration, calling on all national journalist unions to boycott the Media Union in Russia.

WHAT KASIANOV WILL TELL US

Izvestia, July 19, 2001, p. 1 EV

All morning yesterday, the Cabinet couldn’t find out whether Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov would speak on legislation priorities or not. The list of priority bills, to be announced by Kasianov, would define his position and the course of reforms would become clear.

Until recently, Kasianov had preferred to listen to reports from heads of various departments, and restricted himself to calling on opponents to search for a golden mean. But this spring the president hinted to the prime minister that it was his duty to make final decisions, and take responsibility for them. Until yesterday, it was only clear that it might be possible to postpone the decision on the bill on currency regulations. All the other issues that are to be addressed by Kasianov don’t look good. Even such issues as next year’s budget and a World Bank loan to relocate residents of Russia’s Far North were still being debated yesterday. In the Cabinet, by the way, several experts believe that this attack on a reasonable plan is a direct warning and a demonstration of force by specific lobbyist groups.

LOAVES GROWING ON TREES

Izvestia, July 19, 2001, p. 2 EV

Agriculture Minister Alexey Gordeev arranged a tour of the Belgorod region for Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov yesterday. All this agricultural display was meant to prove that vertically-integrated holdings are effective. It also served to stress the need for more restructuring of company debts, introducing schedules of leasing contracts for buying machinery via the state agency, and establishing a stabilizing grain fund. Gordeev has already persuaded the Cabinet that this year’s harvest will be excellent. In Belgorod, Kasianov even said that in a couple of years Russia would manage to regain its position in grain exports. If the Belgorod prospects turn out to be convincing enough, funding for agriculture will improve.

THE SAME FACTOR

Izvestia, July 19, 2001, p. 2 EV

It was reported yesterday that the commission investigating the IL-76 plane crash has listened to the recorded conversation of the pilots. According to preliminary information, the voice of chief pilot Vyacheslav Boiko was not recorded. It means that at the moment of the crash, someone else was in his place. The airline does not rule out the possibility that this might have been Vyacheslav Kuskov, an inspector-pilot with the district department for civil aviation in the central regions of Russia. This department, however, refused to comment on the new crash theory, though it confirmed that Kuskov had the power to order the pilot to let him take the controls. The international aviation committee announced that the chief pilot’s absence from his place was “under investigation”.

NEWS FROM CHECHNYA

Izvestia, July 19, 2001, p. 4 EV

Yesterday the residents of the Raduzhnoye village (Grozny region) blocked the Grozny-Goragorsk highway in protest against the actions of federal troops in their village. According to the Interfax agency, 100-150 people blocked the road. The villagers are protesting against “illegal detention of several civilians”. The previous day, soldiers in armored personnel carriers had come to the village and taken away Lecha Uspaev, a driver, and his son. About half an hour later the soldiers set fire to a Zhiguli car.

Ruslan Margarovj, head of the government information department in Grozny, believes these were soldiers from the 245th motorized regiment, stationed in the Roshni-Chu village.

DEPUTIES TEACH SENATORS HOW TO LIVE

Izvestia, July 19, 2001, p. 4 EV

On July 20 the Federation Council will meet for the last time before the vacation period. The majority group in the Senate has decided on more than 40 submitted bills. This group’s decision can practically decide the fate of any of them. For example, this group has decided to vote against third terms for regional leaders. Their explanation is that the decision on this bill should be made by the Duma itself, but has not been made – and the majority group is opposed to regional leaders being separated into three unequal categories.

The majority group decided to support the budget-forming package of bills (amendments to the Tax Code on income tax and tax on the use of natural resources) and the innovations connected with the law on police. According to the senators, if ministers and regional police chiefs are appointed by presidential decree, this will raise their status and security.

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