RUSSIA DOES NOT DEPEND ON OIL PRICES VERY MUCH
Vek, No. 50, December 21, 2001, p. 1
The strategic analysis department of the FBK Company has calculated the share of the oil budget revenues in the 2002 federal budget. It is surprising, but it turned out that this share does not exceed 13%, which is far from being half, or even a quarter of the budget. The calculations were made on the basis of $23.50 a barrel of oil. However, the lower the price is the smaller the share of the oil budget revenues: if oil is at $16.50 a barrel, oil revenues will not exceed 5.5% of total budget revenues. At the same time, governmental officials did not take these figures into account when they were making their destructive for the market statements. If they knew that Russia is much freer in its actions than the OPEC countries, where the share of oil budget revenue reaches 80%, they would have first launched a price war against Arab oil producers.
PRESIDENT PUTIN VISITS ENGLAND
Vek, No. 50, December 21, 2001, p. 5
The current visit of Vladimir Putin to England is his first visit as the Russian head of state. So, the main aim of the visit and the main parameter that may give the people of Russia, the US, and the whole world calmness, assurance, and security is the change in the relations between the major nuclear powers: Russia and the Western community, Russia and NATO, Russia and the US. As President Vladimir Putin said in his interview with the influential British Financial Times, he highly appreciates the initiative of Britain Prime Minister Tony Blair on changing the character of relations between Russia and NATO. Recently Russian Defense Minster Sergei Ivanov brought good news from Brussels: in spring 2002 Russia and NATO will work out a new level of relations between Russia and the Northern alliance. Naturally, in the course of negotiations other issues will also be touched upon, but the priority is likely to be given to the continued anti-terrorist operation; moreover, Britain announced that it is ready to head the peacekeeping contingent in Afghanistan.
Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov already negotiated with British defense and foreign ministers and signed a plan for development relations between Russia and British armed forces in 2002. Moreover, Germany, Italy, and Britain announced that in the near future they plan to address the leadership of the European Community and suggest Russia’s entering to the World Trade Organization. So, it seems in the very near future the negotiations will transfer from theoretical to practical phase.
NATIONAL MISSILE DEFENSE SYSTEM WILL NOT PROTECT THE US
Vek, No. 50, December 21, 2001, p. 5
It seems the US decision to unilaterally withdraw from the 1972 ABM Treaty does not concern the Russian president much. It is not ruled out that Vladimir Putin and George Bush have a particular agreement on this or that Mr. Bush managed to convince President Putin that this is not dangerous for Russia. The national defense system can protect the US from missiles from rogue states, but it is unable to protect the US from Russian missiles.
Besides, terrorism today is an international affair and the world countries need to establish a united transnational political structure for fighting against terrorism.
ONLY SIX PERCENT OF RUSSIANS LIKE THE CONSTITUTION
Inostranets, December 18, 2001, p. 7
On the threshold of the International Day for protecting human rights the independent research center ROMIR held a poll devoted to the Russians’ attitude towards human rights protection – 2,000 Russian adults participated in the poll.
According to the poll, only 22.2% of respondents believe that overall the main human rights are observed in Russia; 72% of respondents have a completely opposite viewpoint, and 5.8% participants of the poll were unsure of their opinion. According to ROMIR experts, such results demonstrate both that the society pays great attention to the issue of human rights, and that the state of affairs in this area leaves much to be desired.
Answering the question what structures pay the most attention to protection of human rights, 15.8% of respondents called the presidential structures; 13.6% of respondents believe it is international human rights protection organizations; 13.4% of people think it is the state; and 13.2% – Russian human rights protection organizations; 9.1% of respondents consider them law enforcement bodies; 2.9% – the parliament; 3.7% – others; 28.3% were unsure of their opinion. Besides, 29.7% of respondents think that the Russian Constitution is outdated and needs significant amendments, and only 6% of respondents said they are satisfied with the Constitution.
RUSSIAN CONTRACT SOLDIERS ARE THE LOWEST PAID
Inostranets, December 18, 2001, p. 15
According to the plan for phsing out conscription and transferring the Russian Armed Forces to a contract basis, the army is to be divided into forces of permanent combat readiness and the reserve. The plan is to be finished by July 2002 and implementation will begin in 2004.
According to Anatoly Kvashnin, chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, the first experimental phase of army reform is to be replacement of all servicemen for a fixed period of time with contract servicemen in 76th commando division. The second stage will be reduction the term of fixed service down to six-eight months in 2005-06. The military hope that by that time contractors will make 40-50% of the Russian army. According to preliminary data, the salary of the private contractor is to be minimum 1.500 rubles and maximum 3.2000 rubles. At the same time, the General Staff states the army does not have this money.
Inostranets, December 18, 2001, p. 4
According to the Radical Anti-Militarism group (ARA), as the end of the 2001 autumn recruitment period approaches, cases of illegal detention of young men in order to conscricipt them are on the rise. It is easy to explain: the military registration and enlistment offices need to meet their target for recruitment into the Armed Forces. According to ARA Secretary Andrei Rodionov, the police are also often involved in the criminal activities of registration and enlistment offices.
CRIMINALS TO PAY FOR THEIR INVESTIGATION
Itogi, December 18, 2001, p. 6
Last week deputy head of the Moscow Criminal Investigation department Police Colonel Viktor Prokopov suggested an unusual thing: criminals should pay themselves for their search, investigation, and arrest. Actually, the state spending on search and arresting criminals are rather high: catching only one criminal averagely costs the federal budged 90,000 to 150,000. if the criminals pay these expenses while staying in prison and working their, the attitude of the criminals toward investigation will change.
However, it is still unclear how to carry out this initiative in practice. The annual income of the Russian prisoners does not exceed 12,000 rubles. Half of this sum is deducted for maintenance of the prisoners and their clothing. Even if the minimum cost of catching a criminal is 90,000 rubles, no matter what crime he or she committed, the prisoner will have to stay in prison for 15 years to pay for his catching in full.
BAPTIZING OF ANTARCTICA
Itogi, December 18, 2001, p. 10
The Russian Orthodox Church is the first major world religion to start official missionary activities in Antarctica. Patriarch Alexiy II of Moscow and All Russia has ordere work to start an Orthodox chapel at the Russian polar station on the Bellinsgausen Cape, Antarctica. However, the sixth continent is not all – the Russian Orthodox Church is more and more actively developing the virtual world; in particular, the first websites of the Russian Orthodox Church appeared last week.
PLUSES AND MINUSES
Finansovaya Rossia, December 20, 2001, p. 2
In 2001 Russian law enforcement bodies have confiscated 4.2 million fake rubles, mostly 100 and 500 rubles notes. Against the same period of 2000 the circulation of fake 500 rubles noted increased by 2.3 times. According to the State Department for fighting against organized crime, the US dollars are still the most often forged foreign currency: since the beginning of 2001, 7552 fake dollar banknotes for $753,910 were detected and confiscated. The majority of fake dollars are $100 bills.
ESCAPING FROM THE WAR TO THE ARMY
Versty, December 20, 2001, p. 4
Next group of Chechen conscribes was sent recently for filling military units in the Russian regions.
As Colonel Anatoly Khryachkov, the military commissar of the Chechen Republic informed, 24 of 82 new conscripts are to be sent to the Emergency Ministry units; 20 young men are to serve in the railroad forces; and the rest are to serve in the military-construction sector of the Russian Defense and interior Ministries. Overall, in the course of the 2001 autumn recruitment, 130 Chechen young men have been conscribed to the army, some of them are to serve in the military-sports company – they all have high sport classes.
Besides, the military commissar stated that the funding of the military commissariats and recruitment commissions has improved. According to Colonel Khryachkov, 1 million rubles were allocated for the needs of the Chechen military registration and enlistment offices: the money is to be spent on hiring personnel for the military-medical commissions and purchasing the necessary equipment for medical examinations.