PEOPLE’S DEPUTY GROUP SEEKS PENALTIES FOR SODOMY

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PEOPLE’S DEPUTY GROUP SEEKS PENALTIES FOR SODOMY

Izvestia, April 24, 2002, p. 3

On April 23 members of the People’s Deputy group in the Duma submitted some amendments to the current Criminal Code, seeking to impose a penalty for sodomy. If the Duma passes these amendments, homosexuals will be jailed for one to five years.

The amendments were written by People’s Deputy group leader Gennady Raikov and his deputy Vadim Bulavinov, as well as International Affairs Committee head Dmitry Rogozin and deputy Gaji Makhachev. They say are doing this because of certain diseases which can be considered the “plague of the century”, like AIDS; and “moreover, the decline in morality is evident”. On April 23 Raikov noted that the Soviet-era Criminal Code included a penalty for sodomy.

According to Raikov, the amendments could be adopted in the first reading during the spring session. Raikov thinks that the majority of Duma members will vote in favor of the amendments.

“Everyone I’ve spoken to thinks these amendments are correct. The voting will decide everything. We are in favor of individual voting, results of which will be publicized. Voters should know what each member of parliament stands for,” Raikov said in his interview with Izvestia.

FEDERATION COUNCIL SHOWS WHAT SOLIDARITY IN VOTING MEANS

Nezavisimnaya Gazeta, April 24, 2002, p. 2

On April 23, an ordinary session of the Federation Council took place in Moscow. Officially, it was held without the participation of the speaker, since Sergey Mironov is abroad, taking part in a meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. However, the senators voted unanimously in almost all issues.

It seems that the speaker of the Federation Council was watching events, even from Strasbourg. He supported the decision of his colleagues to reject amendments to the law on media, having announced yesterday that the proposed amendments “would provide state officials with additional tools to influence the media”. According to Mironov, if the amendments were passed, they could have become a threat to freedom of speech.

The saga of Alfred Koch’s unsuccessful bid to become a senator ended yesterday as well. The Legislative Assembly of the Leningrad region revoked Koch’s powers as its representative at the Federation Council. Valery Golubev, an official from St. Petersburg, was elected as the new senator.

EUROPEAN UNION MAY RECOGNIZE RUSSIA AS A MARKET ECONOMY

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, April 24, 2002, p. 3

It seems that pleasant news awaits Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov, who arrived in Brussels from Denmark yesterday evening. It is not ruled out that today the European Union may announces its decision to recognize Russia’s status as a market economy. However, the official decision will be dated from the Russia-EU summit, scheduled for May 29 in Moscow.

The US Department of Commerce, which has recently spoken of the need to grant Russia the status of a nation with a market economy, urged the EU to make the decision on this status.

Cabinet sources cite three factors as reasons for granting market economy status: high level of development of the market reforms in Russia, Russia’s active participation in the counter-terrorist operation, and the energy resources dialog with Europe.

SELEZNEV INVITED TO SIBERIA

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, April 24, 2002, p. 3

The regional committee of the Communist Party in the Novosibirsk region has invited Gennady Seleznev to run for governor of the region. This proposal has been discussed from various viewpoints in the local media.

According to Anatoly Lokot, a leader of the local CPRF branch, Communist leaders in Moscow have been discussing this proposal with interest. The gubernatorial elections in Novosibirsk coincide with the next scheduled Duma elections. If successful in the Novosibirsk election, Seleznev could smoothly exchange one position of authority for another.

Agrarian faction leader Nikolay Kharitonov is also viewed as a possible candidate for governor of Novosibirsk. He comes from that area.

ECONOMIC GROWTH FROM THE STATE STATISTICS COMMITTEE

Parlamentskaya Gazeta, April 24, 2002, p. 1

The State Statistics Committee has released the economic figures for March. Production grew by over 3.7%, which is 1% more than expected.

Economists attribute this to uncertainty on global oil markets, and thus far they are not venturing to speculate on whether Russia will continue to enjoy this good fortune for long. They are fairly cautious about the near-term prospects for domestic industry. An investment shortage – primarily in the engineering sector, which requires huge investments to renew technology and equipment – could hamper the steady growth.

LITVINENKO’S CASE GOES TO COURT

Izvestia, April 24, 2002, p. 3

On April the Main Military Prosecutor’s Office sent the criminal case against former FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko, who is accused of abuse of power and stealing explosives, to the court. The former FSB officer became widely known after a public announcement that the FSB had charged him with “attempting to assassinate Bori Berezovsky.” Since 1998 a series of criminal cases has been instigated against him; due to these cases, Litvinenko spent several months in a temporary detention cell. In December 1999 he was released on parole, but a year later he flew with his family to Britain, where he asked for political asylum.

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