LIBERAL RUSSIA MOVEMENT HOLDS CONGRESS

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LIBERAL RUSSIA MOVEMENT HOLDS CONGRESS

Kommersant, December 24, 2001, p. 2

Despite all expectations, not even a TV-linkup with Political Council Member Boris Berezovsky was not organized – Kosmos management referred to technical problems. However, the congress was available in real-time online at www.a-z.ru.

Political Council member Vladimir Golovlev told some jokes.

Golovlev: A telephone call. Somebody picks up the phone.

“Yeah?”

“Hi there. St. Petersburg calling.”

“That’s bad manners, starting a conversation with threats.”

Konstantin Borovoi turned up to greet the congress too.

Leonid Gozman of the Union of Right Forces came up with something sensational.

Gozman: My colleagues asked me to tell you that all of you have been bought by Berezovsky… You do not stand a chance at the election… You’d better forget about forming a party.

Sergei Yushenkov turned out to be satisfied with this turn of events. He told this correspondent that “Before the scandal we have Gozman to thank for, I never through the Union of Right Forces viewed us as rivals.”

For the time being, Liberal Russia cannot fulfill all demands of the law “On political parties” and transform itself into a political party. The transformation congress is tentatively scheduled for March 2002.

A FEW WORDS ABOUT THE DUMA AND ITS ACHIEVEMENTS

Vremya Novostei, December 24, 2001, p. 2

The Duma has done everything it could to make sure that the pensions reforms begin in Russia in January and decent labor relations start taking root. All necessary bills have been endorsed in the third reading and forwarded to the Federation Council.

PEOPLE’S WILL ESTABLISHED ANEW

Vremya Novostei, December 24, 2001, p. 3

Political retro is once again popular in Russia. Last Saturday Sergei Baburin became leader of the People’s Will party of national revival.

Baburin says that terror, the major instrument of the namesake People’s Will of the 19th century, should no longer be used – but “the resolute battle for justice and survival of the people demands mobilization of society as it has never yet demanded.”

Baburin is not alone in his determination to restore a forgotten Russian party. He has the support of Nina Zhukova of the Union of Realists and Vladimir Davidenko, chairman of the movement Spas and deputy of the second Duma.

YABLOKO BECOMES A PARTY AT ITS 10TH CONGRESS

Moskovsky Komsomolets, December 24, 2001, p. 2

The party will have a charter differing from the movement’s. Admission into the party will become easier as well – just an application will suffice and not recommendations from Yabloko activities will be needed. There is another innovation. Party leader may be elected by a party ballot. For the time being, Grigori Yavlinsky retains his position with 472 votes in his favor.

TAJIKISTAN WANTS RUSSIA TO PAY FOR THE 201ST DIVISION

Izvestia, December 25, 2001, p. 1

What reports are available at this point indicate that Tajikistan may demand $150-200 million a year, approximately as much as the Lurdes base cost Russia. (The Kremlin withdrew from Lurdes, Cuba, for economic considerations.)

The idea to demand money from Russia might have come to Dushanbe on the heels of its idea to permit NATO to use the Kulyab airfield. According to the agreement, 40 aircraft of the United States, France, and Italy participating in the counter-terrorism operation in Afghanistan may be stationed there plus 1,500 servicemen. At the same time, Dushanbe withdrew its permission to the Russian transport aviation to use the Kulyab facility.

What information is available at this point indicates that NATO states are prepared to pay $4,000-7,000 for every touchdown and takeoff. It is considerable money for Tajikistan. And regular. US Undersecretary of State Elizabeth Jones says that “we will not leave Central Asia when this conflict is over. We want to back up Central Asia states in their determination to reforms their societies the way they backed us up in our war on terrorism.”

Russian officials are making no comments. “Negotiations are underway,” a source in the Russian Embassy in Dushanbe says. “The Tajiks want money and we are not going to pay it.”

AN UPDATE ON PUTIN’S ONLINE NEWS CONFERENCE

Izvestia, December 25, 2001, p. 2

Vladivostok was the first city to begin talking with President Vladimir Putin. It was dark in Primorie by 9 p.m. About 150 locals assembled in the hope to talk to Putin.

Kazan residents assembled near the kremlin at the square where TV cameras were set up. And found themselves cordoned off by the police.

In Novosibirsk, about 200 residents turned up for the hot line.

Preparations for the news conference in Rostov-on-Don took three days – communications means were checked etc. About 400 locals turned up, most of them young men.

In the capital, five Muscovites turned up. Father Frost, forgotten by them, could be seen behind their backs at Pushkin Square. The amateur actor playing Father Frost is confident that all of that was carefully staged. He says he saw leaflets with questions passing over among all five Muscovites before the function.

PRESIDENTIAL PARDONS COMMISSION WILL BE DISBANDED

Izvestia, December 25, 2001, p. 3

Vladimir Putin says he will soon sign a decree disbanding the presidential pardons commission. This function will be passed over to regional leaders: governors of regions and presidents of republics.

ASLAN MASKHADOV STARTS A PERSONNEL PURGE

Izvestia, December 25, 2001, p. 4

Vaja Arsanov, Vice President, one of the most cruel field commanders, and a supporter of Basayev and Khattab, was relieved of his duties in late August for “the poor state of health and neglect of duties.”

Ruslan Gelayev was treated in a harsher manner. Maskhadov signed Order 454 accusing the latter of cowardice and incompetent command which resulted in heavy losses sustained in the battles for Komsomolskoye in March 2000.

Sources in the Chechen leadership say Maskhadov does no control anything and all his orders and instructions are not worth the paper they are written on. At the same time, the new order may mean that the Chechen leader is fighting for his own legitimacy in the eyes of the international community. Specialists say he may verbally attacks Basayev and Khattab soon. “After that we will be able to negotiations with him because all the Kremlin’s demands will have been met,” sources say.

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