ARBITRATION COURT SENDS TV-6 INTO LIQUIDATION

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ARBITRATION COURT SENDS TV-6 INTO LIQUIDATION

Izvestia, January 12, 2002, p. 2

On January 11, the presidium of the Supreme Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation issued its final ruling on the TV-6 television network. It was decided that the decision on liquidation of the company had come into effect on November 27, 2001. Thus, the ruling of the Federal Arbitration Court of the Moscow District – to overturn the liquidation order for TV-6 – was declared invalid.

Almost immediately after that ruling in favor of TV-6, Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Arbitration Court Eduard Renov lodged an appeal, which was considered by the court on January 11.

TV-6 General Director Yevgeny Kiselev told us: “When an appeal is lodged and considered so rapidly, it seems that someone is speeding this process along. Any experienced lawyer will confirm that acceptance of an appeal and its subsequent consideration by the Arbitration Court take several months. But in this case everything was decided within one day, the first day the court was in session in 2002.”

Even now that the case has been lost, after hearings in the Supreme Arbitration Court, representatives of TV-6 do not intend to surrender. Geralina Lyubarskaya, the attorney for TV-6, told journalists right after the hearing about an opportunity to appeal to the European Human Rights Court in Strasbourg. She stressed, however, that the corresponding decision should be made at a shareholders’ meeting of TV-6. TV-6 public relations manager Tatiana Blinova has told us that the company will appeal not only to the Strasbourg Court but also to many other international organizations, as well as the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation.

SAFETY OF RAILROADS WILL BE COSTLY

Vremya MN, January 12, 2002, p. 3

New Railroads Minister Gennady Fadeev has announced that investment programs in this field will be sequestered. This decision means that the construction of the Sakhalin railroad bridge, the pet project of former railroads minister Nikolai Aksenenko, will not be started. However, this decision will not affect funding safety systems at the most important facilities of the Railroads Ministry. At the Moscow Railroad alone, about 200 million rubles is planned to be spent on upgrading the level of technical safety of railroad facilities.

According to Moscow Railroad spokesman Konstantin Pashkov, this program envisages usage of the most up-to-date safety technology. However, detailed information about these measures is kept secret for security reasons.

A VIGILANT EYE WITH A GOOD MEMORY

Vremya MN, January 12, 2002, p. 3

On January 12, employees of prosecutors’ offices celebrated the 280th anniversary of their institute.

On the eve of the anniversary General Prosecutor Vladimir Ustinov summed up some results of the work of his agency. According to him, prosecutors’ offices of the Russian Federation are still performing their functions satisfactorily, reacting to numerous appeals from ordinary citizens and Duma deputies. The latter often ask the General Prosecutor’s Office to investigate activities of structures of the executive branch and high-ranking officials. Experience shows that any primitive methods of PR are successful here. At the end of 2001, a hastily-made movie was released about the beginning of an investigation into the cause of the Kursk submarine disaster. At the start of this year the General Prosecutor’s Office launched a campaign to investigate the business activities of Alexander Voloshin before he became head of the Presidential Administration.

Meanwhile, however loudly the bell of the General Prosecutor’s Office might toll over the heads of all criminals in government, all these scandalous investigations lead to barely any court hearings. Although Ustinov asserts that his agency “has not forgotten anyone or anything, investigations of all the cases are underway, and many of them have approached their logical conclusions, i.e. court hearings,” the number of final court verdicts can be counted on one hand.

Nevertheless, Ustinov asserts that soon we will know how Financial Director of Media-Most Anton Titov will be punished, what the case of Aeroflot will result in, who killed Vladislav Listyev and Galina Starovoitova, and how many illegal funds for stealing state money were set up by former railroads minister Nikolai Aksenenko.

If so, we will be able to judge the effectiveness of the work of prosecutors not by the number of instituted proceedings but by the number of court hearings and sentences.

CALL FOR ELECTION QUOTAS FOR WOMEN CANDIDATES

Izvestia, January 12, 2002, p. 4

A national conference on “Women and Elections” was held on January 11 at the offices of the Gorbachev Foundation,. The conference was in honor of what would have been the 70th birthday of Raisa Gorbacheva.

Participants tried to analyze the new role of women in Russian society. Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev attended the conference too, and agreed that there are some problems.

In the opinion of the former president, Russia cannot prosper without women’s participation in all institutions of state administration.

About 150 representatives from 15 regions who attended the conference concluded that introducing quotas for women candidates in elections would be a positive measure.

In the opinion of Duma deputy Yelena Mizulina, male chauvinism is nothing but cowardice on the part of the “stronger sex”. However, it is not quite clear why so many women agree with statements about the female sex being foolish and limited.

Mizulina says: “The problem is that the role of Russian women in society has changed, but we don’t want to admit it. Now it is the woman who is most often the main – or even the only – breadwinner of the family. She is prepared to be a reliable supporter of a strong man, but where is he? Only we women are able to create new men.”

Participants issued an appeal to the president, the parliament, and political organizations. They want the problem of a shortage of women in government to be addressed. This will require political will, as well as amendments to laws on elections, introducing gender quotas.

PRESIDENT TURNS TO THE PROBLEMS OF TERRORIST MONEY

Izvestia (Moscow), January 12, 2002, p. 2

On January 11, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on “measures for implementation of the Resolution of the UN Security Council No. 1373 of September 28, 2001.”

The aforementioned resolution was a response from the international community to the tragic events in America on September 11, 2001. Several Western countries have introduced some stricter amendments to laws related to combating terrorism. Russia was a bit late: the corresponding draft law elaborated by former director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) Nikolai Kovalev has passed only the first reading in the Duma.

The presidential decree signed on January 11 suggests that a person be prosecuted for direct or indirect collection of money for terrorist aims if the person does in deliberately. Lawyers know how difficult it is to prove that this or that action was deliberate.

The document also contains items on prevention of recruitment of people for participation in terrorist organization, as well as blocking of avenues of money for terrorists. It also states that the territory of the Russian Federation must not be used for collection of money for terrorist purposes. The decree also stresses the need to exchange information and cooperate with foreign special services and to intensify the border control in order to complicate migration.

In the light of this decree ten federal agencies, such as FSB, the Defense Ministry, the Justice Ministry, the Foreign Ministry, the Central Bank, etc. are to develop a complex of measures within the next two months.

PUTIN BEGINNING BANKING OPERATION

Kommersant, January 12, 2002, p. 1

On January 11, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on “measures for implementation of the Resolution of the UN Security Council No. 1373 of September 28, 2001.”

Thus, Russia has joined the US campaign for prevention of funding of terror acts. It is not clear whether this campaign will affect the situation in Chechnya, but Russian banks and their clients are sure to see its outcomes.

The last strike in combating terrorism, as well as organized crime in general, is a strike on pockets. For the first time such a strike was made after global conclusions were made from the scandal surrounding the Bank of New York. This scandal led to intensification of state control over banks and abolition of the bank secret. The fight against money laundering was also intensified after that scandal. Not long ago FATF, the main fighter against money laundering, rated Russia as a country lagging behind in the cause of combating money laundering. But Russia has now acquired a law against money laundering and the financial intelligence, i.e. the Financial Monitoring Committee that will start working in February, according to President Vladimir Putin and Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin.

The next peak of the battle hurt not the terrorists, but mostly banks and their clients: it took place after the start of the military campaign in Afghanistan. The aforementioned presidential decree shows that Russia has also been involved in this fight. The decree will not only consolidate the positions of security agencies and special services in banks, but also develop links between financial intelligence and ordinary intelligence and counter-intelligence. Although the decree is not directly aimed against money laundering, its prime result will be enhancement of surveillance over banks by law enforcement agencies and special services.

EUROPE’S STEEL DISPUTE

Kommersant, January 12, 2002, p. 4

On January 11, it was reported that on New Year’s Eve the special commission of the European Union (EU) made a decision to lower quotas for imports of Russian steel to Europe and restrict imports of several types of steel that had not been subject to quotas before. This step taken by the EU will cost Russia up to $100 million. The main “steel negotiator,” the Russian Ministry for Economic Development and Trade, has not responded to this decision so far, and is hoping to resolve this issue in the course of negotiations with the EU commission, which will start on Monday.

At the end of 2001, the agreement between the Russian government and the European Association for Coal and Steel (EACS) on quotas for deliveries of Russia’s steel to Europe. The sides have not managed to agree on parameters of the new agreement, and at the summit in Paris on December 18, they signed a memorandum on prolongation of the agreement until the second half of 2002.

On January 11, the press service of the Novolipetsk Metals Plant, the main importer of steel to Europe, reported that the commission of the EU unilaterally changed quotas for deliveries of steel products to EU countries in the first half of 2002. According to Deputy General Director of the Novolipetsk Metallurgic Plant Andrei Petrosyan, Russian steel manufacturers learnt about this decision from the official periodical of the EU commission: The Official Journal of European Communities. Mr. Petrosyan told us that having learned of this measure, the metals sector demanded that the Russian Ministry for Economic Development and Trade explain the situation. However, this decision was a surprise for government officials too. We have been told by the press service of Deputy Economic Development Minister Maxim Medvedkov that the ministry will refrain from any comments until the EU commission explains the situation. Russian government officials hope to get the explanation at the negotiations with representatives of the commission that will take place on January 14-16 in Brussels.

“Kommersant” has failed to get any comments from the EACS.

Russian steel manufacturers do not doubt that the aforementioned publication was not a provocation but an official document. Mr. Petrosyan has told us that the authorities of the Novolipetsk Metals Plant has already talked with representatives of other large metallurgic plants, e.g. the Magnitogorsk Metals Plant, and steel manufacturers have unofficially agreed to follow the published document. For instance, the Novolipetsk Metals Plant has stopped delivering steel alloyed with boron. According to estimates of the authorities of the Novolipetsk Metals Plant, losses to the Russian metals sector from the quotas for steel alloyed with boron alone will exceed $80 million. Overall, the losses will amount to $100 million.

FLOW OF STATE FUNDING WILL BE COUNTED

Vek, January 11, 2002, p. 2

Central Election Commission head Alexander Veshnyakov and Chair of the Auditing Commission chief Sergei Stepashin recently signed an inter-departmental agreement on sharing information resources. The reseources in question are the state-controlled Vybory computer system, and the Auditing Commission’s IT and telecommunications systems.

Veshnyakov said long ago that the expensive ($2.9 billion) Vybory system will not only count votes, but various state structures could use it for their own purposes. The Central Election Commission has already concluded similar agreements with the Duma, the Emergencies Ministry, and the Supreme Court. However, the agreement with the Auditing Commission has a special signficance: the law on political parties is coming into effect, and it stipulates state funding for the election campaigns of some parties.

Stepashin announced, “We audit all organizations that use even a kopeck of state money. That is when we can use the Vybory system, which enables us to quickly and precisely find out for what purposes the state money was used. It will also help calculate the sum of unaccounted money that was used in the course of the campaign.”

NATO INVITES THE KALASHNIKOVS

Argumenty I Fakty, January 9, 2002, p. 24

At the end of 2001 the Russian Army added the Nikonov machine gun to its arsenals. It surpasses other automatic guns in accuracy and grouping of shots. However,the Kalashnikov machine gun is still the most reliable in the world. That is why it is so welcome in all “hotspots”. In Vietnam and Afghanistan US soldiers often used captured Kalashnikov guns instead of their capricious M-16A1 rifles.

Unfortunately NATO cartridges did not suit the Russian guns. Now the designers of the Izhevsk plant have modernized the 5.45 Kalashnikov machine gun and it will be possible to use NATO standard 5.56 cartridges in them. The serial number of the upgraded weapon is AK – 101. These guns were produced in small batches mostly for presents to NATO countries’ generals. Greek Defense Minister especially liked AK – 101. The upgraded Kalashnikov gun has 1000 meter target range and a lightened plastic folding butt. Recently Greece, a NATO country – ordered a large batch of Kalashnikov guns to the Izhevsk plant.

WHO SUPPORTS PASKO THE "SPY"

Obshchaya Gazeta, January 10, 2002, p. 3

On December 25, military journalist Grigory Pasko was sentenced by the Military Court of the Pacific Fleet to four years of imprisonment in a hard-labor penal colony for high treason by espionage. On January 3, lawyers and friends of the journalist assembled in the Vladivostok House of Journalists and set up a movement to support him. The movement has not been registered anywhere so far but has managed to demonstrate its activities already.

On January 3, the movement made a decision on arrangement of a protest action for support of Grigory Pasko.

On January 6, the headquarters of this public movement arranged a picket in front of the building

Of the Federal Security Service (FSB) on Lubyanka Square. About 50 people participated in this action, including representatives of econolical associations, the party Yabloko, and prominent human rights advocate Sergei Kovalev.

Pasko has been supported by the Worldwide Association of Newspapers comprising 63 national branches and about 17,000 periodicals. The association has sent a letter to Vladimir Putin, in which what is going on with the journalist is called “a violation of his right to freedom of speech.”

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