A SHADOW OF FATHER JORDAN

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A SHADOW OF FATHER JORDAN

Moskovsky Komsomolets, October 26, 2001, p. 1

Most probably, Gazprom-Media is more alive than dead. Yesterday former head of Gazprom’s information service Alexander Dybal was appointed new chairman of the board of directors of this company. Boris Jordan became doubly general director: from now on, except the NTV channel he will also in charge of the media policy of the gas monopolist.

Kokh’s closest business partner Boris Jordan was increased in value. He has become a more influential lobbyist in the affairs of selling the assets of Gazprom-Media. As is known, together with Kokh Jordan constitute a coalition of the investors closest to them. No concrete names are announced, but these will not most probably be Alpha-group, Mezhprombank, or German magnate Leo Kirch, which have already spoilt their reputation, but companies which are unknown in the media market.

However, the Kremlin has decided to observe the classical scheme of costs and counter-balances. Chairman of Gazprom’s board Alexei Miller and newly appointed Alexander Dybal oppose to the link Kokh-Jordan. We shall see if all Gazprom’s media assets would be sold out, according to Miller’s public statement. It is important who deals with the sale and who gains profits from that. A jaunty intrigue is twisted. The Kremlin claimed a role of an arbitrator and seems to be washing its hands of it. But his final word will be decisive in the struggle for the juicy bit of the NTV network and other media, which formerly belonged to Gusinsky.

YELTSIN IS ON THE ARENA AGAIN

Moskovsky Komsomolets, October 26, 2001, p. 2

Boris Yeltsin has stepped up his activities. On Wednesday he met with his former affiliates and yesterday he left for the Crimea for a vacation.

Yeltsin invited Yury Baturin, Lyudmila Pikhoya, Georgy Satarov, Vyacheslav Kostikov and some other former members of his team. After that he packed up and left for a “vacation” – Yeltsin’s closest circle describes his trip as a “vacation”, despite the fact that the first president has retired. Yeltsin intends to spend around seven to ten days in the Crimea… The welcoming delegation at the airport consisted of Speaker of the Crimean parliament Leonid Grach and chairman of the Sevastopol city administration Leonid Zhunko. Yesterday the guest also planned to meet with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, who is due on a working visit to the Crimea.

THE KURSK TO BE UNLOADED

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, October 26, 2001, p. 7

Yesterday the PD-50 floating dock stationed in Roslyakovo emerged up to its maximal mark, which means that the Kursk nuclear-powered submarine reached the surface.

Drying out of the compartments is progressing too slowly: experts fear that if the water is let out too fast, it would change the positions of bodies and equipment, impeding the work of investigators and experts of the military prosecutor general’s offices from Moscow and Leningrad military districts, and also the Northern Fleet.

External examination of the covers of the missile silos showed that the upper part of containers with the Granit cruise missiles inside was not deformed. Therefore officers of the Missile and Artillery Directorate of the Northern Fleet assume that it would be possible to unload the missiles (there are 22 of them and a warhead of each missiles weighs a ton) under normal work conditions. However, such an operation is rather perilous: it has never before been performed at the docks.

UNITY LEADS THE POLLS

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, October 26, 2001, p. 2

As reported by the Public Opinion Foundation, a recent nationwide poll brought in the following figures. Asked how they would vote if the Duma elections took place on Sunday, 25% of respondents said they would support Unity; the Communists would be supported by 22%, whereas the Fatherland – All Russia bloc would rank third with a large gap and would only gain 6%. As the poll also showed, over half of respondents (54%) know about the upcoming merger of Unity and Fatherland – All Russia.

PARDONING PUNISHED

Izvestia, October 26, 2001, p. 2

The Amnesty and Punishment Nationwide conference opened in Saratov yesterday. It was organized by the Presidential Commission for pardons under chairmanship of Anatoly Pristavkin. The main opponent of the commission, Russia’s Justice Ministry, accuses Pristavkin of mass amnesty for the convicted, who had been sentenced for heinous crimes. As has been expected until recently, the president would sign a decree of dismissing Pristavkin.

“The commission works according to the previous mode. Each Tuesday they discuss the petitions they received, then submit them into the Presidential Administration. The commission is the very organization which must communicate with the president by-passing officials. Undoubtedly, some people do not like this. But this structure is worth of existing further,” says Director of the Presidential Administration for pardons Robert Tsivilev.

“The commission worked well under Yeltsin. But problems started since autumn 2000. Now all our petitions are first dispatched to the Justice Ministry and I am sure they do not reach the president. We have been severed from head of the state. But according to the legislation, he alone possesses the right to pardon a person,” says Anatoly Pristavkin.

Despite the battles which took place at the conference, the opponents reached a certain consent having arrived at a conclusion of a necessity to approve a regulation of a procedure of pardoning. As the Justice Ministry has it, a new link must be added to the chain “the commission – the Justice Ministry – the president” – presidential envoys, who would send their petitions to the Presidential Administration for consideration. The commission has nothing against this, but members of it think that officials must not solve the issues of pardoning.

STATEMENTS OF ABKHAZIAN PRESIDENT

Izvestia, October 26, 2001, p. 3

Yesterday a press conference was held by Igor Akhba, permanent envoy for the Republic of Abkhazia to Moscow. He announced the latest statement of Abkhazian President Vladislav Ardzinba about the prospects of settling the conflict in the region and the state of Russian-Abkhazian relations. Mister Akhba confirmed Abkhazia’s readiness to form an alliance the Russian Federation as an associated member, but at the same time he stated that Abkhazia was also ready to stay at equitable inter-state relations with Georgia. According to Igor Akhba, Russian-Abkhazian relations should be much more closer than similar Abkhazia’s relations with Georgia.

PAKISTAN DENIES REPORTS OF ARRESTING "FATHER OF THE ISLAMIC NUCLEAR BOMB"

Izvestia, October 26, 2001, p. 1

“The Guardian” has reported the arrest of Sultan Bashir-din Mehmud, “former leader of Pakistan’s nuclear program.” The press has made no earlier mention of a person named Sultan Bashir-din Mehmud. As The Guardian says, sympathy for the Taliban served as a pretext for arresting “the maker” of the “Islamic nuclear bomb”. At the same time, Pakistani ambassador to Moscow Iftikhar Murshed denied these reports when we asked.

President Musharraf is trying to remain in control of the situation, which has aggravated in connection with the war the US launched against “brother Muslims” in Afghanistan. Some chiefs of the army and the reconnaissance services, which are known for their contacts with the Talibs have already been dismissed. According to results of some polls, which were published in the West, up to 80% of the Pakistani people are negatively inclined towards the US and its policy of supporting Islamabad. Hypothetically, if the Musharraf regime is overthrown in a coup – a common event for this country – it would lead to a situation when nuclear weapons might be seized by religious fanatics.

However, Pakistani ambassador Iftikhar Murshed flatly denied such ideas. He said that reports of “supposedly mass demonstrations of protest” distort the truth. In fact, “the overwhelming part of the population” supports the president.

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