THE GOVERNMENT TRIES TO GAIN CONTROL OVER HISTORY SCHOOLBOOKS
Izvestia, August 31, 2001, p. 1, EV
Opening the Cabinet’s meeting on August 31 Mikhail Kasianov stated that he “found so much astonishing” in the schoolbooks on Russia’s contemporary history. (Excerpts from schoolbooks published by the largest rivaling publishing houses Drofa and Prosvehschenie were laid on the prime minister’s table). Academicians Andrei Sakharov (Director of the Russia’s History Institute) and Alexander Chubarian (head of the Universal History Institute) gave their interviews after the meeting was over. As they said, a contest for drawing up new schoolbooks on the national history will be announced and the schools will receive new textbooks already in September 2002 with the support of the government. Once again the time is coming when dissent in views is inadmissible.
Russia’s reality has caused a contradiction between the heavily centralized ideology and free economy. If the federal control over the minimal standards of contents and overall assessments of the historic events is abolished, the country may receive 89 alternatives of the national history (according to the number of regions) at most, 7 alternatives at the least (according to the number of districts).
The mechanism of promoting the training aids cannot be called free. If a publishing house receives a stamp “Recommended as a schoolbook”, the regions may purchase the textbooks using funds from their regional budgets. However, many unclear points arise. Will the government’s state order be total, according to the results of the contest? Will it be permitted to schedule alternative programs? If not, what publishing house will be given a tremendous contract? How will independence of the contest jury from academic clans be provided?
INTEGRATION OF RUSSIA AND BELARUS CONTINUES
Izvestia, August 31, 2001, p. 5, EV
A meeting of Russian-Belorussian Council of Ministers took place in Moscow on August 29. Together with secretary of the Russia-Belorus Union Pavel Borodin, who was released from Swiss on this occasion, brethren-Slavs Mikhail Kasianov and Vladimir Yermoshin were discussing joint draft 2002 budget, draft military doctrine and membership of a group, which will be assigned a task of preparing a Constitutional Act of the Union State.
The military doctrine, as was promised by Mikhail Kasianov, will be “exclusively defensive” and based on the Russia-Belorus Constitution. According to Izvestia’s sources, presidents Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko may sign the document already within next few days and will become a good present for the latter on the eve of the election campaign. At the same time, as is said in Moscow, Belorus’ presidential election would not influence the process of the two states’ integration.
The Constitutional Act is supposed to become another step in the way of the integration. It will be elaborated by a special group, which will unite representatives for the general public, scientific circles, lawyers and members of both states’ governments.
It is necessary to clear it up with the economic issues, primarily the Union’s budget first, before drawing up the joint Russia-Belarus Constitution. The draft union budget envisages allocation of 3.3 billion rubles in 2002, with Russia to provide for 65% of the finance.
BORODIN TO BE SILENT TOGETHER WITH PACCOLI
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, August 31, 2001, p. 2
On August 30 Secretary of Russian-Belorussian Union Pavel Borodin arrived in Geneva to be questioned by the Swiss investigators.
This time he is to undergo a confrontation with President of Mabetex Company Bedget Paccoli. Unlike with Pavel Borodin, the Swiss Prosecutor General’s Office summoned chief of Mabetex for questioning for the first time.
Testimonies given by Bedget Paccoli are not supposed to do harm to their customer, Borodin’s lawyers think, since Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office discontinued criminal prosecution on former president’s executive. Pavel Borodin’s advocate Eleonora Sergeeva confirmed that like during all the previous questionings State Secretary of the Russian-Belorussian Union will use his right and will not answer the questions asked by the Geneva investigators. “No susrprises are expected to take place in the questioning in case the investigators keep within the legal framework”, Sergeeva stated.
PRESIDENTS TO EXCHANGE THEIR SPOUSES
Tribuna, August 31, 2001, p. 5
Next Monday Vladimir Putin will pay a working visit to Finland. In the upcoming negotiations it is planned to touch on the issues of energy industry, cooperation in near-border regions, development a system of border guard checkpoints.
Unfortunately for the Finns, it is not planned to sign an investment protection agreement, since the parties has not yet finished elaboration of this document.
For the time being the amount of Finland’s investments in Russia’s economy hardly amount to $300 million, which makes 1% of total Finland’s foreign investments! According to experts, Finns may are capable of investing much more – up to $1 billion. Incidentally, Russians are more active at placing their investments in Finland.
Signing three documents will be timed to Vladimir Putin’s visit. They are: an interdepartmental agreement on cooperation in the sphere of supporting small business, a program of cooperation for 2001-2004 between Russia’s Healthcare Ministry and Finland’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, and also a contract of construction in Norilsk a concentrating mill valued at $120 million between Interros holding company and Outokumpu concern.