THE RUSSIAN ELITE FEARS INTEGRATION WITH THE WEST

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THE RUSSIAN ELITE FEARS INTEGRATION WITH THE WEST

Vek, No. 43, November 1, 2001, p. 4

Interview with Professor Vladimir Boikov, director of the Sociological Research Center at the Russian State Service Academy.

Question: It seems that President Putin is on the verge of pulling away from a significant proportion of other Russian politicians…

Vladimir Boikov: He already has. We recently polled 250 senior officials in regional administrations and governments. We asked them in whose hands power is currently concentrated. The top response was President Putin, followed by regional leaders, the financial-industrial oligarchy, and the criminal world; the federal Cabinet came in fifth, although it would seem that it ought to be directly linked to the president.

A sober assessment of the current situation shows that Russia has a president who has the people’s support, but his concept of creating a state power hierarchy has not yet been successful, de facto. Therefore, the head of state doesn’t have political or social support in the state service bureaucracy or financial groups. What’s more, this part of the elite interprets attempts to establish order as threats to its ability to do whatever it wants.

In my view, the main threats could come from the ministries and government agencies. So I think there will inevitably be a confrontation between corporate interests and the imposition of international standards (standards which are in Russia’s national interest.

BIFURCATION

Versty, November 1, 2001, p. 1

In a recent poll by the National Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM), almost 70% of respondents said they had already adapted, or almost adapted, to the changes taking place in Russia. And 52% of respondents described their general mood as satisfactory or good. Almost 60% of respondents said they were completely, mostly, or partially satisfied with their circumstances. In other words, all is well and we’re undoubtedly moving in the right direction.

But there’s another side to all this. The same poll indicated that 53% of families had seen their diets deteriorate over the past decade, and 55% of families can’t afford the quantity and quality of clothing they could a decade ago. And 63% of families consider that they can’t give their children a good education, while 67% say they can’t get adequate health care. It’s scarcely worth discussing incomes. Half of respondents earn such low wages that the sums involve become microscopic when divided by the number of dependants. Even achievements in developing democracy – the major victory of the Yeltsin era – turn out to be somewhat fragile. In any case, only 4-6% of respondents (on the margin of statistical error) believe themselves capable of influencing decision-making, whether locally or nationally, in any way.

NEGOTIATIONS WILL ONLY FOLLOW DISARMAMENT

Rossiya, November 1, 2001, p. 2

Lieutenant General Vladimir Shamanov, Ulianovsk Governor and former commander-in-chief, comments on prospects of a possible dialog between envoys of the federal government and the Chechen guerrillas.

Media reports about Kazantsev’s meeting with Zakaev vary. Kazantsev sets disarmament of the guerrillas as the major condition, as is absolutely correct. Zakaev insists on a cease-fire, while avoiding the issue of disarmament. We have been in a similar situation before, when Maskhadov was saying the same, playing for time to replenish food and medicine supplies for the guerrillas and establish a flow of financial aid. The guerrillas needed a respite.

At present, we do not need negotiations just for the sake of negotiating. We must determine our goals distinctly. Unless we do that, we will permit a repetition of the Khasavyurt peace accords of 1996.

Any kind of negotiations need to be aimed at specific results. Now I do not believe that the current negotiations will lead to an end of military action.

NO DRAFT-DODGING IN CHECHNYA

Rossiya, November 1, 2001, p. 2

For the first time in the past few years, conscription for the Russian Armed Forces has taken place in Chechnya.

As it showed, Chechen youths do not evade service in the Armed Forces. However, according to Colonel Anatoly Khryachkov, military commissioner of the Chechen republic, a selective conscription campaign was held in spring, taking into account the current situation. Some 350 youths were summoned for a medical examination, 272 passed the examination, and 239 of them were recognized as fit for active duty.

The autumn conscription period is now underway in Chechnya. Unlike the spring campaign, it has more volunteers for army service. The fact that the conscripts will serve in Chechnya – in the construction, railway forces, brigades of the civil defense and emergencies – is one feature of the autumn conscription period. The second feature is that the conscripts will be paid wages.

CIVIL RIGHTS GROUPS OPPOSE ABOLITION OF FEDERATION AFFAIRS MINISTRY

Inostranets, October 30, 2001, p. 7

Civil rights groups have opposed the abolition of the ministry for federation affairs, ethnic policy and immigration policy, which also dealt with refugee issues. As Lidia Grafova, chairwoman of the Forum of Immigrant Organizations and Svetlana Gannushkina, head of the Civic Assistance committee, stated at a press conference in Moscow, they will push for the presidential decree to be revoked; this decree places immigration policy under the jurisdiction of the Interior Ministry.

According to Lidia Grafova, “The decree of October 16, which delivered all immigration issues into the jurisdiction of the police, who are the main enemies of our compatriots who are forced to be migrants, is a sudden, absurd and illogical decision.” According to the decree, all issues connected with migration – resettlement, compensation, loans, rehabilitation centers, tent camps – were handed over into the jurisdiction of the Interior Ministry. As Grafova stressed, if the Ministry for federation affairs could not cope with all of this, how can the Interior Ministry, which mainly “deals with prosecuting migrants, denying them registration and residency permits”.

VISA AND REGISTRATION OFFICES TO DEAL WITH WAHHABIS

Inostranets, October 30, 2001, p. 7

At a meeting of the Commission on Religious Associations on October 23, Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matvienko said that the government would amend the law “On freedom of conscience and religious associations,” which envisages measures aimed at preventing penetration into Russia by sects and preachers who promote extremism.

As Matvienko said, all religious believers have the right to invite foreign citizens to visit Russia in order to promote their ideas; but the mechanism of legal regulation for the preachers’ activities is not determined. Measures which were recommended for application by the Foreign Ministry, Interior Ministry, Justice Ministry, and Visa and Registration Offices were drawn up at the meeting of the commission. According to Matvienko, “Quite often, preachers of Wahhabi fundamentalism or other extremist trends secure a visa for a year and nobody knows exactly what they do in Russia during this period.” As she said, this situation will be changed.

IMMIGRATION TO ISRAEL

Yevreiskaya Gazeta, No. 41, October, 2001, p. 3

Around 77% of a total of 860,000 immigrants who have arrived in Israel from the former Soviet Union since 1990 are Jews in conformity to the Halah law. Migrants from the former Soviet Union have now become the second-largest such group in Israel, after Israeli-born citizens, who are also called “sabrs”. Migrants from Morocco are ranked third.

Average monthly pre-tax incomes for Soviet migrant families are around 7,200 shekels, which is 40% lower than the average incomes of families which have lived in Israel for a long time (12,000 shekels). At the same time, the gap between incomes of “old” and “new” Israeli residents with a higher education is much less.

The average number of children in the families of Soviet/CIS migrants is 1.7, against 2.7 children among the Israeli-born residents. The proportion of women among the migrants is higher than in the Israeli population overall.

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