THE SEARCH FOR SENATE SEATS

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THE SEARCH FOR SENATE SEATS

Moskovsky Komsomolets, January 17, 2002, p. 2

There is a lot of uproar in the Senate now. Members of the parliament cannot decide on who will get the postions of deputy speakers, chairmen and deputy chairmen of committees and commissions. Yesterday members of the Federation Council took a new set of regulations as basis and on January 30 they will have to vote for it. And it is highly likely that at that very sitting they will want to determine who will become first persons of the Chamber. There are enough of those willing to occupy a nig office with a reception room, government communication, a car with federal license plate and an opportunity to hire his own staff. They say that one of the senators “of business class” was shouting that he would sell half of his company and buy the post of deputy chairman of the Federation Council. Offended members of the “Federation” group are straining themselves to the utmost, according to observers. Senators, after supporting the president’s initiatives and securing a new speaker to the chamber, did not get any reward. Almost immediately after his appointment, Sergei Mironov declared that there should not be any factions and groups in the Upper Chamber, hinting at the “Federation” group.

Obviously, the fight for senior positions has become so harsh that it was decided to give all of them at least something. But even 26 positions (4-deputy chairmen of the chamber, 6-chairmen of commissions, 16-representatives of committees) did not go round. Now the Federation Council cannot be endangered by any epidemics: for example, if a chairman of a committee, including 15 members, falls ill, he may be substituted by any of his four deputies. And all chairmen of committees, apart from ordinary deputies, will also have first deputies. So, soon there will remain no ordinary senators in the Upper Chamber – all of them will be occupying executive positions.

By the way, this haste with appointing “first persons’ is not accidental. According to certain observers, newcomers will soon start claiming more authority.

DESTRUCTION

Moskovsky Komsomolets, January 17, 2002, p. 2

According to General Vladimir Moltensky, Commander of the united group of federal troops in the North Caucasus, over the past two months 30 separtist field commanders have been killed. And all in all during this time around 1,000 guerrillas have been killed by the federal troops. The main aim of the special operations which are going on right now is a search for Shamil Basaev and Khattab. The general assures, “The circle around them is getting tighter”. At the same time, one of close supporters of the elusive Shamil has been caught by the federals. He had messages of Maskhadov to Basaev, a map with major terrorist bases, and other important documents. If this was not skillful disinformation, the search for Shamil Basaev may become easier.

According to General Moltensky, the federal forces have seized and destroyed 15 systems of satellite communication Inmarsat, which were used by guerrillas. Now guerrilla leaders are deprived of communication and have to use messengers.

PARLIAMENT TOUGHENING PUNISHMENT FOR DRUG-DEALERS

Rossiyskaya Gazeta, January 17, 2002, p. 2

The Duma is proposing to introduce life sentences for drug-dealers, owners of drug-dens and drug-messengers. This was the subject of yesterday’s address to the president, passed by the Lower Chamber of the parliament. Deputies were made to appeal to the president by “catastrophic growth of the number of drug addicts”.

GOVERNMENT IN NEED OF MEDICINES AND WARMTH

Izvestia, January 17, 2002, p. 5

The Cabinet has carried out the instruction of the president to determine “clear and understandable aims of its activity” and decided that its prior task for this year would be “securing macro-economical stability”. This question will become a topic for discussion at one of February sittings. Yesterday at the first sitting of this year Mikhail Kasianov and his deputies discussed simpler problems – situation on the medicine market, increase in tariffs on heating and electricity, and the heating season.

The way the heating season goes by is a yearly headache of the Cabinet. But the ministers are not going to settle this problem all by themselves this year. In the near future the prime minister is intending to talk to all the governors, to appraise the situation in each regions.

Another burning question is coming increase in tariffs of natural monopolies. The government decided that the tariffs could be raised not sooner than in the second half of February, so that consumers feel it only in March. The logic of the Cabinet is clear: at the start of each year the inflation rate is usually high – due to the New Year holidays people spend a lot of money and work a little. And increase in tariffs is a considerable inflation factor. But the most important is that expectation of rising prices on heating, gas and especially on railroads transportation evokes the so-called inflation expectations, which may cause increase in prices by themselves.

CRIMES IN THE AIR FORCES

Moskovsky Komsomolets, January 17, 2002, p. 2

The financial inspection of the Air Forces has published the results of its activity in 2001. They are quite impressive. More than 3,100 employees, guilty of mismanagement, squandering and no-purpose use of money, were called to account. Around 15 million rubles was colleted from them. More than 1,000 military men got disciplined, and several dozens of officers and conscripts of the Air Forces will have to appear in court.

In comparison to 2000, the Air Forces have lost almost twice as much money, more than 80 million rubles. The most considerable sums of money were misused in the Moscow military district (around 15 million rubles), 11th air army (15 million rubles) and 37th air army (10 million).

LOSSES IN CHECHNYA

Moskovsky Komsomolets, January 17, 2002, p. 2

Around 600 soldiers from the Moscow military district have been killed in chechnya. All in all, more than 50,000 soldiers and officers of the district have served in the war in the North Caucasus; 15 of them have been awarded Heroes of Russia (10 of them posthumously). This information was given at a recent briefing by acting commander of the Moscow military district Nikolai Makarov.

TENDER

Moskovsky Komsomolets, January 17, 2002, p. 2

Russia has declared its participation in a Brazilian tender for military planes for the national air force. Sukhoi, with its multi-functional pursuit Su-35 planes, will represent Russia. The plane is a intermediate model to the pursuit plane of the fifth generation. This machine enjoys good reputation of specialists, and thus has a good chance for winning the tender. This news will make our main competitors – Americans – worry, who together with Frenchmen have been dominating on the Brazilian aviation market. According to representatives of Sukhoi, this year the major rival of the Russian plane will be French Mirage-2000.

RAIDS BECOMING SOFTER

Izvestia, January 17, 2002, p. 2

Yesterday Chechen women held another rally in front of the administration building in Argun, demanding an end to raids. A similar rally was held near governmental buildings in Grozny. And yesterday deputy interior minister of Russia Vladimir Vasiliev declared that Russian troops in Chechnya had practically abandoned the practice of raids.

Instead of raids, Chechen residents will have to undergo “purpose address checks with participation on heads of administration, clergy and fathers”. The order of General Vladimir Moltensky on such a tactic of conducting special measures has been acting since last summer. According to natives, despite all orders, raids still follow the “cruelest scripts”.

According to Vasiliev, now “addres checks are held with heads of administration, with representatives of prosecutor’s pffoce, perhaps, clergy and fathers will also take part”. At that, the course and results of checks “are documented in detail, including all drawbacks that took place during the checks”. In his opinion, “this is extremely important”, since it allows to control actions of security agents. at the same time Vasiliev noted that it was too early to abandon the practice of raids at this stage. He stressed, “It is necessary to conduct purpose operations, including searching for heads of gunmen groups and active gunmen.”

Yesterday in Grozny the planned sitting with presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District Viktor Kazantsev did not happen. According to our sources, the sitting was to have summed up the results of work of republic authorities for the past year and discussed plans for settling the situation this year. Stanislav Ilyasov was going to get Kazantsev’s support in re-distributing financial flows from the center. Ilyasov has long wanted to persuade mocsow to send money, meant for chechnya, to Grozny. Now the money is sent to contract organizations, working in the republic, directly from Moscow, and with great delay.

REGIONAL PARTNERS OF BEREZOVSKY

Izvestia, January 17, 2002, p. 3

Yesterday the TV-6 Perm company distributed an open letter to Boris Berezovsky, asking him to give the shares of the Moscow Independent Broadcasting Corporation (MNVK) to journalists “for maintaining true independence of the channel”. Perhaps the journalists resorted to this measure because the MNVK, although it is not an active player in the TV market any longer, still owns property and technical equipment of its subsidiary companies. The day before yesterday journalists of the TV-6, who decided to set up a new company, received a letter from Kotlas of the Arkhangelsk region. The heads of the regional TV company express their desire to join the new company. However, representatives of TV-6 say that the letter has come too – the composition of the board has been formed already. Overall, the situation with 17 subsidiary companies and 200 net partners of TV-6 in provinces remains uneasy.

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