LAST CABINET MEETING FOR 2001
Tribuna, December 28, 2001, p. 2
At its last meeting for the year, the government summed up the country’s social and economic development. On the whole, the results look rather promising. The economic growth continued and exceeded 5%. In the last quarter, owing to collapse in the oil and metal prices, the growth of the GDP decreased considerably. Real income of population increased 6.5% and, as Mikhail Kasianov stressed, returned to the pre-crisis level. The inflation was rising quicker than the government would like it to (18.5% instead of 14%).
In the next year the government expects the positive tendencies in the economy to retain, the GDP to increase 4% and, according to Mikhail Kasianov, “results of the following year would enable us speaking of a steady economic growth.”
It is also expected that the growth of the real income of population will retain. State employees and the military may hope for a considerable increment in salaries and allowances. However, as Valentina Matvienko admitted, the regions are lacking some 25-30 billion rubles for such purposes.
A WINDOW TO EUROPE OPENED WIDER
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, December 28, 2001, p. 2
A new oil-loading terminal has been opened in the town of Primorsk of the Leningrad region. The terminal’s facilities allow for exporting almost 15 million tons of oil annually, which is comparable with the capacities Russia was forced to ship through the Baltic states before.
In the course of his visit to Primorsk, timed to commissioning of the first line of the Baltic pipeline system, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin stated that opening of the oil terminal in Primorsk does not mean that Russia would leave the Baltic states and Finland.
As is well known, the fee for transportation of Russia’s oil via Latvia and the rent of the port’s capacities cost a pretty penny to exporters. Therefore, they availed themselves of the Ventspils’ “window” in cases of acute emergency only. Moreover, opening of the Baltic pipeline system and a new oil terminal would allow for better maneuvers with the Caspian oil between the northern and southern directions. Transportation of oil to Primorsk via the Baltic pipeline opens new opportunities for optimizing the foreign trade turnover and more profitable for Russia distribution of export oil flows between the Mediterranean and Baltic directions.
LEADERS OF CENTRAL ASIAN STATES MEET IN TASHKENT
Izvestia, December 28, 2001, p. 2
A meeting of leaders of five Central Asian states – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan – opened yesterday in Tashkent. In the words of representatives for these states, “there is no strictly outlined agenda.” As is known, however, the presidents would share their own assessments of results of the counter-terrorist operation in Afghanistan. The assessments are awaited both in Moscow and Washington.
None of the leaders of the “five” is likely to call in doubt the fact that “an independent decision” to locate American military bases on their territories they made in November was correct. As of now, the question is raised differently: for how long the American troops will remain there?
“The main problem of security in the region has nothing to do with the Talebs. The roots of the problem are in conditions, which induce the people in these republics to “seek for truth” under the colors of radical Islam. The narrowness of their political and social bases, usurpation of power and property by the “first families,” ubiquitous corruption and impoverishment of the majority of the population stipulates for the instability of regimes there. For the sake of its own interests, Russia cannot help ignoring this reality,” stated to Izvestia deputy director of the Moscow Carnegie Center Dmitry Trenin.
THE PRESIDENT WOULD BE ABLE TO DECLARE MARTIAL LAW
Izvestia, December 28, 2001, p. 2
Yesterday the Duma adopted the Martial Law in the second and third readings at once. The most significant distinction of this law is that it gives great authority to the president. In case of “aggression against the Russian Federation or an immediate threat of aggression” the president issues a decree of martial law in the country or separate regions and informs both houses of parliament about it. The Senate has two days at most to approve the martial law by a simple majority vote, and in case it does not, the president would declare martial law himself.
There exists a single serious change – a ban for activities of parties or other social, religious organizations, propagandizing or campaigning and undermining the country’s defensive potential in conditions of the martial law. Before, the procedure of banning required a multitude of coordination attempts and submission procedures.
The new law permits application of stricter measures to detaining citizens in case the martial law is declared. Whereas before the term of detention was limited to 10 days, from now on it will be equal to one month.
ZYUGANOV PLUS BIN LADEN
Moskovskii Komsomolets, December 28, 2001, p. 2
Russian pollsters have released results of a poll done by the National Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) for the title of “Man of the Year.” As expected, Vladimir Putin was named Man of the Year, supported by 57% of respondents.
President George Bush, mentioned by 7% of respondents, was ranked second with a large break, followed by Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu (6%). Gennady Zyuganov and… Osama bin Laden (4% each) shared the fourth position. Nobel Prize winner Zhores Alferov and Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko were also included on the list.
VTsIOM also polled the people in another category: Woman of the Year. Just as last year, deputy prime minister Valentina Matvienko was the winner.