BATTALIONS ASKING

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BATTALIONS ASKING

Moskovsky Komsomolets, March 6, 2002, EV

The presidential decree on perfecting allowances of servicemen promises some improvements of the material state of the military, but it is still taken chiefly as a protocol on general intentions. Members of the Duma Defense Committee do not conceal that the fate of the decree will depend on concrete proposals that will be elaborated by May 1.

It is noteworthy that the presidential decree factually repeats the corresponding draft law that was adopted by the Duma and the Federation Council in April 2001. However, the president vetoed the draft law then.

The economic situation has not considerably changed since then, and so one can only guess why Vladimir Putin has reconsidered his point of view. Perhaps he was influenced by Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and Chairman of the Duma Defense Committee Andrei Nikolaev. Probably the Finance Ministry has disclosed some reserves. In any case, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin has announced that the ministry has the necessary 30 billion rubles a year for this project.

To all appearances, salaries of servicemen will be equal to those of state officials. However, it is not quite clear how this correspondence will be realized. The military fear that their privileges will be canceled in summer already and the increase of salaries will be delayed for an indefinite period.

POOR BUT CALM

Izvestia, March 6, 2002, p. 4 EV

The latest opinion polls conducted by the All-Russian Public Opinion Study Center (VTsIOM) and the Public Opinion Foundation show that although 90% of Russians complain about the growth of prices, most of Russians do not complain about reduction of their standard of living. Simultaneously, Russians’ trust for various representatives of the government continues to grow.

According to VTsIOM’s data, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov’s rating grew by 5% in January-February, and the rating of the government in general by 3%.

Sociologists from the Public Opinion Foundation explain these results by the economic stabilization and timely indexation of salaries and pensions. They explain people’s indifference to the growth of prices by the fact that “respondents do not expect much from the authorities that should limit this growth. People take inflation as a natural phenomenon: although it is unpleasant, it is inevitable too.” In other words, the government is bad, but it is not to blame for the growth of prices.

GEORGIA VIEWED BY DUMA

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, March 6, 2002, p. 1

On March 6, the Duma’s work will be secret. For at least an hour and a half, in which it will consider measures for providing the country’s biological security.

Duma deputies also intend to discuss one more topic in the secret regime: they intend to ponder on the situation in Georgia in the light of the possibility of the stationing of American troops there. Although this issue is not on the agenda of March 6, deputies are entitled to alter the agenda in the course of the meeting.

On March 5, the situation in Georgia was considered at the meetings of the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Committee for CIS Affairs.

There are several draft announcements of the Duma on this issue.

BALTIC FAIRWAY

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, March 6, 2002, p. 2

At the beginning of his tour of the West of Russia, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov announced, “Kaliningrad is Russia’s outpost in the Baltic Sea, and should remain it.”

On March 5, in the afternoon, Kasyanov participated in the meeting devoted to the federal program of socio-economic development of the Kaliningrad Region.

There are at least three development projects in the energy field, in which Denmark, Finland, and Ireland are interested. These projects are worth two million euros. Germany, Denmark, and Poland want to participate in development of the frontier infrastructure of the Kaliningrad Region, including modernization of the Kaliningrad port and construction of border crossing points. The initial investments in construction of the port infrastructure are to amount to 998,000 euros. Finally, several agricultural projects are to be discussed, in which representatives of Denmark will take part.

On March 6, Kasyanov will also meet with Polish Prime Minister Lesek Miller and Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas. They are expected to sign protocols on cooperation between Russia and its neighbors, which are about to be accepted to the European Union.

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