Moskovsky Komsomolets, December 26, 2001, p. 2
One of the most mysterious people in contemporary Russia, banker Sergei Pugachev, received a senator’s badge yesterday.
The 38-year-old chief of the International Industrial Bank has for a number of years been arousing the curiosity of those in Russia’s corridors of power. Pugachev has the wondrous ability to establish good relations with almost any Kremlin leader.
Now he is considered one of the few business leaders who have free access to the president. His name is thought to be linked with most of the recent major political scandals, such as legal action against Cabinet ministers.
A senator’s badge has become a fashionable accessory lately, but those who know Pugachev do not believe that he aspired to be a senator only for this reason.
The banker urgently needs to legitimize his influence. Receiving an oligarch in Kremlin offices is one thing; but receiving a respectable member of parliament is quite another.
However, it is not ruled out that Pugachev has fallen victim to a craving for fame. Unlike most of his business colleagues, he is extremely politicized. He firmly believes that the Orthodox Church ought to play a greater role in Russian society. Perhaps he has come to require a more substantial platform to preach this message…
LUKOIL FAILS TO BLOT OUT TV-6
Izvestia, December 26, 2001, p. 2
Andrei Blinov, attorney for the TV-6 television network, told us yesterday that the team of Yevgeny Kiselev has finally gained a chance of success. On Monday evening, the Moscow district arbitration court resolved to suspend sending the disgraced television company into liquidation until January 16. On that date, the court will look into the appeal against the decision for liquidation, made on November 26. This delay is very advantageous for TV-6. From January 1, certain laws covering the liquidation process for joint-stock companies will change. Thus, shutting down TV-6 through the courts will become more problematic.
REGIONAL LEADERS POSE A PROBLEM FOR VALENTINA MATVIYENKO
Izvestia, December 26, 2001, p. 3
Valentina Matvienko has become the first minister to sum up the Cabinet’s results for 2001.
In her view, the year has been more than successful for the social sphere. Real incomes have grown faster than the GDP. The unemployment rate has fallen to the lowest level in a decade: 8.8%. And 36,000 children were born across 72 regions of Russia.
The plans for next year are still more ambitious. Social spending will be increased by 50%. From January 1, pensioners will receive pension in full. Maternity allowance payments will be tripled.
The main achievement and the main challenge for the Cabinet has been almost doubling the wages of state sector employees.
At first, the Federation Council even refused to pass the relevant bill – the regions do not have 180 billion rubles to spare.
THE DUMA STAFF HOLDS OUT
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, December 26, 2001, p. 1
The Duma centrist coalition – the Unity, Fatherland – All Russia, Russia’s Regions, and People’s Deputy factions – has demanded the dismissal of Duma chief of staff Nikolai Troshkin.
However, talk of it being time to change the Duma’s chief of staff began as far back as last year. Although Troshkin was appointed to his post at the suggestion of Yabloko, he is usually considered to be a communist protege and accused of favoring one party that gets the best conditions.
Nevertheless, it was decided yesterday that it doesn’t make sense to replace the chief of staff when he had his work in order. The president also supported this opinion.
Meanwhile, many Duma deputies don’t want Troshkin replaced; they consider that under his leadership, the Duma staff is remaining uninvolved in politics.
A SUCCESS, BUT NOT ONLY THIS…
Parlamentskaya Gazeta, December 26, 2001, p. 1
Results for the first eleven months of 2001 show that the economy is developing positively, on the whole.
Real monetary incomes increased by more than a quarter, and the average income is now 3,107 rubles a month. This is a 6% rise, taking inflation into account.
However, there are some alarming trends. First of all, economic growth has slowed drastically. The total production volume growth amounted to 5.1% over these 11 months, while it had been 12.7% last year. The inflation rate increased – by mid-December consumer prices had risen 17.7%, and inflation for the year is expected to be 18.7-19%. Prices for food and services are rising especially swiftly. Once again, arrears in wage payments are on the increase.
On the whole, there are still positive dynamics in the social sphere. The average wage increased from 2,508 to 3,655 rubles a month.