MOSCOW ASSISTS THE BLACK SEA FLEET
Moskovsky Komsomolets, September 10, 2001, p. 2
With Moscow’s help, ship-builders launched the missile cruiser Moskva. With Moscow’s money, the ship made a voyage to the Mediterranean, the first in a decade, and visited Cannes. In 2000 and 2001, Moscow paid 32.5 million rubles to the Black Sea Fleet for the Moskva (and more than 70 million rubles since 1996).
According to Oleg Tolkachev, Senior Deputy Mayor of Moscow, the capital is prepared to invest in repairs of another similar ship. It suggests naming the vessel the St. Petersburg.
THIRD NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF BANKERS IN SOCHI
Rossiya, September 10, 2001, p. 4
The Third All-Russian Conference of Bankers has been held in the spa town of Sochi. This was a kind of informal meeting, and the delegation of the Central Bank did not even present to the conference a clear and coherent report on planned reforms in the banking sector.
BEIJING IS BUYING RUSSIAN PLANES
Kommersant, September 10, 2001, p. 2
Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov and Wu Yi of the State Council of China met in St. Petersburg and signed an agreement on flight safety. From now on, Moscow will be able to sell planes to Beijing without additional Chinese safety certificates. Aviaeksport president Felix Myasnikov signed a contract to deliver five TU-204-120S planes to China by 2003. The TUs will replace the Boeings which China is now using. Three planes will be delivered to the China Southwest airline, and two to China Northwest.
Energy Minister Igor Yusufov and Zeng Peiyang, Chairman of the State Planning Committee of China, signed an agreement on building a pipeline from Russia to China. The Transneft oil export company has been given nine months to plan the project and until 2005 to construct the pipeline. The cost of the pipeline, running from Angarsk to Dazing (2,400 kilometers), is estimated at $1.7 billion. China will get 20 million tons of oil every year between 2005 and 2010, and 30 million tons a year between 2010 and 2030.
PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS WAIT FOR THEIR PAY RISE
Kommersant, September 10, 2001, p. 3
The Cabinet is going back on its word. The salaries of state-sector employees and military personnel will not be raised this month, according to Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matvienko.
Valentina Matvienko: Yes, the Cabinet did intend to raise salaries of state-sector employees by 20% from September 1, but the rise would have been insignificant. Most state-sector employees are teachers and health workers. What they need is a 60-80% wage rise.
They need it, of course, but it will demand 45.3 billion rubles from the treasury, not the initially planned 27 billion rubles.
In fact, wages may not be increased in December either. Everything depends on whether Duma deputies agree to support the Cabinet’s bill on indexation of tariffs.
Matvienko: The Cabinet is prepared to raise salaries of state-sector employees from December 1, but the Duma will set the date. A reconciliation commission is working on it now.
The government and deputies always disagree on the matter, and the process of reconciliation may be extended.
AN INTERVIEW WITH PALESTINIAN ENVOY MAHMUD ABBAS
Izvestia, September 11, 2001, pp. 1-2
Question: Would you like to say a few words about your talks in Moscow?
Mahmud Abbas: My meeting with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov lasted three hours. The talks were indeed intensive. My impression is that Moscow is fully determined to continue looking for a way out of the impasse, in order to put an end to the violence and find a solution. Moreover, Russian diplomats continue their contacts with both warring sides, and all participants in Middle East settlement. These contacts cannot help being fruitful.
Our talks in Moscow were successful. I liked the answers Moscow gave to both myself and Ariel Sharon, who visited the Kremlin recently.
Question: Prime Minister Sharon urged Russian Jews to emigrate to Israel. What do you think of the idea?
Abbas: We object to the idea that any group of people should move elsewhere and displace the locals there. Immigration of Russian Jews to Israel, where they are settled in the occupied Palestinian territories, is an element of a program aimed at driving the Palestinians out.
We welcome Russia’s participation in the international monitoring program, just as we welcome the participation of the United States.
Question: Is it true that boys 12-14 years old are fighting on the Palestinian side?
Abbas: We do not have fighters so young in the detachments. Teenagers participate in demonstrations against Israeli occupiers. We object to their involvement, but what can we do? Many of them have lost their relatives. Of course, the boys run together with the adults and throw stones.
Question: You occasionally say that occupation of the Palestinian territories is harmful to the environment…
Abbas: There used to be gardens and pastures on our territory. No more. All of that was destroyed by Israeli tanks. The soldiers have even cut down all trees, claiming that they prevented them from monitoring the Palestinians. These trees had been there since Jesus Christ and Roman times. Felling them was sacrilege. I still hope that the olive tree, a symbol of Palestine, will one day grow all across my country once more.
PRIME MINISTER HANDLES THE BANKS
Izvestia, September 11, 2001, p. 2
The Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs lists the objectives of the banking reforms as follows: transition to international accounting standards, revision of taxation of some operations, and establishment of a three-tier banking system within two years. The Central Bank is to be on the first level. Banks with a general license, including the Savings Bank and state banks, are to be on the second level; and regional banks on the third.
The Central Bank is certain that the existing two-tier system (the Central Bank itself on one level and all credit organizations on the other) is the best for Russia.
PRESIDENT PUTIN MEETS WITH STAVROPOL BUSINESS LEADERS
Izvestia, September 11, 2001, p. 3
Only fourteen guests were invited to the state residence: the Stavropol governor and deputy governor for Kavkazskiye Mineralnye Vody, some business leaders, and mayors of four spa towns.
COMMENTS ON THE OUTCOME OF PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN BELARUS
Moskovsky Komsomolets, September 11, 2001, pp. 1-2
Viktor Pokhmelkin, Senior Deputy Head of the Union of Right Forces faction: Alexander Lukashenko’s triumph is logical. Unfortunately, liberal-democratic forces in Belarus are divided. Lukashenko is a master manipulator. His re-election dooms Belarus to several more years of stagnation. It may result in a sociopolitical explosion in the long run. I see two options for Belarus now. Either Lukashenko changes his policy (which is unlikely because longing for power is all he cares about) or he may be unseated before his time is up.
As for the claims of the opposition that the outcome has been tampered with, they are pointless. Let us forget the illusions. Lukashenko has the administrative resource and knows how to wield it. There should be no doubts of his triumph. The election is a myth Lukashenko needs to cover his authoritarian rule.
Vyacheslav Igrunov: Yabloko, Deputy Chairman of the Committee of the Duma for the CIS affairs and contacts with compatriots: It’s always a pity when a free and fair election is impossible in any state. It is an indication that something is seriously wrong. It is hard to say at his point how Lukashenko’s victory in the presidential race will affect Russian-Belarussian relations within the framework of the union. It is something unpredictable, as Lukashenko himself is. Here in Moscow I cannot say how seriously the outcome of the election was tampered with. I can only refer to my prognoses. I said during the campaign that Goncharik would not get over 20% of the vote. Unfortunately, he got even less than that.
What is going to happen to the opposition now is a complicated question. In the long run, everything will depend on its strategy. If it goes on fighting Lukashenko and his pro-Russian attitude, I think it is bound to lose the support of the masses. If it succeeds in establishing a broad centrist movement and goes on criticizing Lukashenko without being too conspicuously chauvinist, Belarus will have a new president four years from now.
Vyacheslav Volodin, leader of the Fatherland – All Russia faction: Well, the outcome of the election all but coincided with what we predicted. Losers almost inevitably raise an outcry, you know. Had Goncharik really outplayed Lukashenko, nobody would have denied him the victory, that’s what I think. We have our representatives in Belarus now. They’d have informed the Duma and the faction of any detected tampering.
I do not think Lukashenko as the winner will want to even the score with the losers now. Winners are magnanimous, and that’s I think how Lukashenko will behave with regard to the opposition. That’s democracy.