BEST FRIEND OF GAS PRODUCERS

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BEST FRIEND OF GAS PRODUCERS

Izvestia, October 5, 2001, p. 2

Yesterday Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov signed a statement on lowering export customs duty on natural gas. This tariff, which used to make 10% of gas customs cost, has been reduced to 5%. At that, its monetary equivalent should not be less than 2.5 euro per a thousand kilos (at the customs 1000 kilos is counted for 1150 cubic meters). Shortly after signing this important document the Russian prime minister started for Kiev to negotiate with his Ukrainian colleague Anatoly Kinakh on gas debts.

Either yesterday in the evening or today the parties have to sign an inter-governmental agreement on rescheduling Ukraine’s debts for Russian gas. It is noteworthy that at the last stage of talk between the Russian and Ukrainian prime ministers they have not reached any agreements – either on the debt rate, or repayment terms, or the approximate amount of gas debts, which is to be rescheduled. So, no doubt, these negotiations will be very difficult, and may not bring the expected results.

FUTILE APPEAL

Izvestia, October 5, 2001, p. 2

Yesterday Head of the Chief Organizational-Mobilization Headquarters General-Colonel Vladislav Putilin declared that by 2010 the existing conscription system will have become out of date. The number of conscripts will be reduced greatly. Already now only 12% of young people serve in the armed forces of Russia.

Vladislav Putilin said, “We want to switch to a mixed type of manning the army, but our armed forces cannot exist only by contractors. We will not be able to find so may volunteers. Now our army lacks soldiers and sergeants. The army is manned by 95% only.

And this is not the only problem of the armed forces. A law on alternative service has not been passed yet, that is why members of the conscription commission have no right to examine applications of those who do not want to serve in the army.

Today’s conscripts are afraid of places where hostilities are taking place. The 201st motorized division, located in Tajikistan, has been deprived of the peacemaking status, and we can send soldiers there only by personal with and after one year of service.”

LIFTING THE KURSK SUBMARINE

Izvestia, October 5, 2001, p. 3

Yesterday Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov declared that there was not a specific date after which the works in the Barents Sea could not be continued. Head of the company Mammut Franz van Seimeren also could not specify the exact date of the operation finish. He said, “Only the weather is bothering us, there are no technical problems. That is why the work will be resumed after it is safe for deep divers to work. If we do not succeed, it will be a disaster for the company.”

However, the financial losses of Norwegians on case of failure will be minimal, while Russia will not be able to pay the last stage of the work.

Deputy prime Minister Ilya Klebanov refuses to comment on the version that lifting the Kursk submarine is a total profanation, and in case of failure no one will be guilty. He declared that when the plan had been worked out, December 31 2001 was considered to be the dead line.

" UNITED FATHERLAND"

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, October 5, 2001, p. 2

Yesterday in Moscow there was a sitting of the political council of Fatherland, dedicated to results of the general council and problems of preparing for the congress, planned for October 13. we would like to remind you that at the sitting of Unity and Fatherland, which took place last Saturday, a decision to merge both the parties into one centrists party was made. This will happen after Fatherland have conducted their congress on October 13, and Unity have held their conference on October 27. the final merger will take place in november.

Yesterday Yury Luzhkov declared that the party members had been discussing possible variant of how to name a new party. The capital mayor likes United Fatherland. However, only the name remains more or less clear.

A week before the congress Fatherland have not prepared the main documents, which will be necessarily discussed on October 13 – they have no program, no charter, no manifest. The group responsible for the program and the manifest, headed by Alexander Vladislavlev, has been working on them or a whole month already. Obviously, the decision of merger, made at the general council, turned out to be unexpected, and the documents had to be re-made.

Despite yesterday’s information that All Russia will also hold a congress on October 13, and will join Unity and Fatehrland, Yury Luzhkov declared that All Russia had been dissolved.

The mechanism of merging into one party remains rather vague. Secretary of the Fatehrland political council Alexander Vladislavlev announced that this will happen without dissolving both the parties.

DEMOCRATIC CASTRATION

Moskovsky Komsomolets, October 5, 2001, pp. 1-2

Acording to our sources, the State Duma will soon discuss a draft bill, which will make referendums almost impossible.

Those willing to hold a referendum had to set up an initiative group, register it, as well as the questions for voting, gather not less than two million signatures and hand them in to the Central Elections Commission. If there were no violations, the papers went to the Constitutional Court, if it approved – the president had to hold a referendum.

This time, a new bill was submitted to the State Duma (its author is believed to be the Kremlin). According to it, before registering the initiative group, the questions should be approved by the parliament. There will always be a majority in the Duma, who would like to hinder their political opponents and insinuate with the president – if he does not like the idea of a referendum. Especially since the Federation Council will never let the president down. How wise it is: a referendum can be nipped in the bud, though it does not violate citizens’ right formally.

THE BUTYRSKAYA PRISON CHANGING ITS HEAD

Rossiyskaya Gazeta, October 5, 2001, p. 2

A new director appeared in one of the most famous prisons of Russia. According to Deputy Justice Minister Yury Kalinin, the prison will be headed by Vladimir Stupin, who used to work as the director of a prison in Balashov of the Saratov region.

It is more likely that his candidacy was chosen already in September, when after a scandalous escape from the prison the acting director reported to retire. But for the second escape, the change of power in the prison would have gone by without a fuss. But after the second escape the media found out about Ibragimov’s report and connected his poccible retirement with the two flights. now the Justice minister feel awkward about dismissing such a respected person, though he made some mistakes. That is why, according to Kalinin, he will be appointed to some other post in the penitentiary system.

A sitting of the penitentiary system officials and the Moscow government was held in the Butyrskaya prison. The Moscow officials promised to give around 7 million rubles until the end of the year. The Justice Ministry promised to add some more ten to twelve millions. In the future the prison may count on hundreds of million rubles. This money will go to reconstructing the prison. The human factor was not forgotten either. According to Kalinin, the prison workers may count on wages increase, which is at present does not exceed 2,000 rubles.

PRESS WITHOUT ADVANTAGES

Parlamentskaya Gazeta, October 5, 2001, p. 3

Yesterday chief editors of a number of federal media, leaders of the Journalists Union, publishers gathered at the State Duma budget committee to discuss a vital question – liquidation of privileges in paying added value tax from January 1.

Deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee declared, “It is necessary to preserve our status-quo for the added value tax.” He is sure that introducing this tax will simply strike a harsh blow to the Russia press, and publishers. At that, he reminded of several international documents, which stated that the press should be supported.

On his part, chairman of he budget committee Alexander Zhukov tried to switch the conversation to mathematical calculations and asked not to touch the political part of the problem yet. On the basis of the calculations he suggested considering economic consequences of introducing a 10% tax, instead of the 20% tax.

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