SOFT LANDING

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SOFT LANDING

Izvestia, February 27, 2002, p. 5 EV

Members of the board of the Ministry of Agriculture, which recently met in Voronezh, have arrived at sensational conclusions: agricultural land should be nationalized. The fate of agricultural land is a very urgent matter now: the Cabinet’s consideration of a bill on the use of agricultural land has been scheduled for March 14. If the Voronezh scenario of discussion is at least partially repeated in the Cabinet, the results of that meeting could be rather surprising.

"MOMENT OF TRUTH" FOR MOLDOVA

Izvestia, February 27, 2002, p. 2 EV

On February 26, the Supreme Court Chamber of Moldova made a decision to declare opposition rallies in Kishinev illegal and suspend them until they are sanctioned by the city mayoral office. Leader of the Christian-Democratic People’s Party Yuriy Roshka is preparing to appeal against this decision in the Arbitration Court. If this initiative fails, members of the opposition intend to lodge a complaint against the “satrap of communists” – President Vladimir Voronin – with the International Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

On February 26, IMF analyst Richard Haas arrived in Kishinev. A meeting with the president is on his itinerary. On the same day, Moldovan Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev flew to Moscow to meet with Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov. It seems that the “moment of truth” is approaching in Kishinev’s balancing act between Europe and Russia.

Leaders of the opposition are certain that the revolution is underway. President Voronin considers the events to be an unconstitutional coup attempt.

VENEDIKTOV UNDRESSES

Moskovsky Komsomolets, February 27, 2002, p. 1

On February 26, Aleksey Venediktov, editor-in-chief of Echo of Moscow radio, said that he would resign soon.

This statement could well have been a sensation, were it not for the tender for the frequency of Radio Arsenal, due to be decided today. Mr. Venediktov and his colleagues have set their sights on Radio Arsenal for a long time. Clearly, nobody would let him combine two posts; and if this is the case, the committee of the Media Ministry wouldn’t give the Echo of Moscow journalists any chance. Here is the conclusion: a cunning move needs to be made to win the tender and share the authority. However, if the tender is lost, Venediktov will fight for the “last stronghold of democracy” against Gazprom, the principal shareholder of Echo of Moscow to the successful end of the negotiations.

PLESETSK IS THE MAIN SPACE CENTER

Tribuna, February 27, 2002, p. 1

A Soyuz-U rocket with another satellite on board has been launched from the Plesetsk space center. Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov was present at the launch. Following the rocket’s successful lift-off, he said that the state testing space center of Plesetsk will soon become Russia’s main space center. This does not mean that the time to part with Baikonur urgently has come. Rosaviakosmos has supported the idea of developing the Plesetsk space center. “Within next two years Russia needs to reconstruct the infrastructure of Plesetsk to enable it to launch Angara new-generation rockets… which will give Russia, which is leasing the Baikonur space center from Kazakhstan, an opportunity to carry out more independent space policy,” director general of the agency Yuriy Koptev said.

MINI-CIS DEMARCATES GROUND AND SEA BORDERS

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, February 27, 2002, p. 1

On February 26, a meeting of the interstate council of the Eurasian Economic Community at the level of government heads took place in Moscow. Russia, Belarus, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan comprise this organization.

Developing the resources of the Caspian Sea is among the most essential problems. Russia has almost completed work on two protocols for the agreement on dividing the northern part of the Caspian Sea along a modified median line, an agreement signed with Kazakhstan. Protocols for demarcation and economic activity in this part of the sea should come into effect simultaneously, which would make the Russia-Kazakhstan agreement valid. Similar documents are either being drawn up or have already been signed in other member states of the Eurasian Economic Community. Discussion of the problem will be resumed on February 27: Mikhail Kasianov will personally hold a meeting devoted to problems of determining the borders and developing resources of the Caspian Sea. Russia will probably define its stance on the issue of demarcating the sea floor between Russia and Kazakhstan.

Participants in the meeting were discussing the exciting issue of oil exports. Russia has yielded to the obstinate demands of OPEC and reduced its oil exports. However, Kazakhstan, which has contacts wtih OPEC, has increased oil exports. Could this cancel Russia’s effort toward oil prices control – could Russia’s sacrifice turn out to be wasted? According to Mikhail Kasianov, the volumes of oil production and exports by Kazakhstan will not be sufficient this year to influence the global market.

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