FAREWELL TO ARMS

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FAREWELL TO ARMS

Trud, November 16, 2001, p. 2

Last Wednesday a train carried ammunition and weapons of the former 14th army from Tiraspol to Russia; this was the fourth train with such a load. This train was no different from the others, but it did have a special purpose. It was explained by Lieutenant-General Valery Evnevich, commander of the Operative Group of Russian Troops: “The Russian Federation has now carried out all the commitments it made at the OSCE summit of 1999, ahead of schedule – all military hardware due to be sent back to Russia has been taken out. We have also carried out points of the treaty on conventional weapons in Europe, connected with on-the-spot destruction of military hardware. In this year alone we have destroyed 104 T-64 tanks and over 100 armored personnel carriers in the Trans-Dniester region.”

Nevertheless, the complete implementation of the Istanbul agreements, scheduled for the end of 2002, will demand even more complicated and dangerous work. This will involve the forthcoming destruction of over 40 tons of ammunition, stored in a warehouse in the Kolbasna village, near the town of Rybnitsa in the Trans-Dnestr region. The problem is complicated by the fact that many highly explosive items have been stored there since World War II. However, there is no doubt that Russia will carry out this task and these obligations on schedule, according to Evnevich.

MOSCOW DUMA WITHOUT DORENKO

Moskovsky Komsomolets, November 16, 2001, p. 2

Sergei Dorenko announced yesterday that he has declined to become a candidate for the Moscow City Duma.

Dorenko says his reason was based on the sentence recently imposed on him; four years probation. This means that if he is found guilty of any other crime during this period, he will go to prison. But the status of a Moscow Duma member would have given him parliamentary immunity. Dorenko said, “The unjust court decision undermined my reputation, and some residents of the district may reach the conclusion that I am hiding behind their backs from possible political provocations in future… I cannot allow them to think that they are saving me.” However, it is very likely that these noble words have some hidden motive. If Dorenko became a candidate, there could be many more lawsuits against him from offended voters or rivals, who may accuse him of using illegal methods of campaign advertising. Knowing the disposition of our “TV hitman”, it is doubtful that he would behave himself during an election campaign.

CUSTOMS NEWS

Izvestia, November 16, 2001, p. 5

Yesterday the State Customs Committee (SCC) held a news conference with the participation of first deputy chairman Vladimir Meshcheryakov, which was devoted to the passage of a new Customs Code on Tuesday. Representatives of the SCC told us, in part, what Russian importers and exporters should expect in the near future.

SCC deputy chief Yury Azarov mentioned the exact figure: at present there are 2,288 standard acts acting in Russia. It is almost impossible to work in such conditions.

According to customs officers, the new code should be clearer for both Russian citizens and foreign businesspeople. As expected, some benefits will be directed toward enterprises whose structure is transparent to the customs service. In other words, a differentiated approach toward this or that organization, depending on its reputation with the customs service, is required.

Another profitable innovation for importers is reduction of terms for setting out customs declarations. This now takes 10 days, while according to the new code it will take only three days.

DISQUALIFICATIONS IN YAKUTSK ELECTIONS

Izvestia, November 16, 2001, p. 3

Yesterday the Supreme Court of Yakutia disqualified Vyacheslav Shtyrov, head of ALROSA, from the regional election. Next Tuesday the court may disqualify the incumbent president of Yakutia, Mikhail Nikolaev.

Yakutia resident Alexander Leonov appealed to the court, stating that the registration of Shtyrov had been done illegally. The Yakutian elections committee accepted his documents a day after the closing date. The arguments were so convincing that judges could only to agree. The court decision is final and cannot be appealed against.

According to local experts, the disqualification of Shtyrov is a blow at President Mikhail Nikolaev. The Yakutian authorities did not conceal the fact that Shtyrov was a understudy for Nikolaev. Before the court hearing of the Shtyrov case the chance of Nikolaev was diminishing with every day, and now the incumbent is obviously not destined to participate in the elections for his own position. On November 20 there will be another court hearing, which may result in Nikolaev being diqualified. This is very likely to be the major, but not the last stroke at the ruling elite of Yakutia.

ADD 40% TO SALARIES

Rossiyskaya Gazeta, November 16, 2001, p. 8

Wage rises will be extended to all federal state-sector employees, simultaneously with the abolition of several benefits in 2002. Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin shared this news yesterday.

The minister was commenting on a bill passed by the Duma in the first reading, connected with a new procedure for calculating remuneration for military personnel, bringing it into line with the remuneration of federal civil servants, and also cuts to certain benefits for the military. The minister declared that military wages would increase by at least 40% in real terms.

Kudrin stressed that this law was aimed mostly at improving the social position of the military personnel. Besides, it will become one of the first laws which will stabilize the financial situation of regional governments, returning 77 billion rubles to them, which will help sort out the question of hiring more state employees in the regions. In the near future, according to the minister, similar bills on the status of judges will be submitted to the Duma, and by the end of the year the Duma will receive bills on police and prosecutor’s offices.

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