COMMUNIST PARTY HAS DIFFERENT INTERESTS FROM THE PEOPLE
Profil, No. 17, April 29, 2002, p. 2
The Public Opinion Foundation asked the Russians about their attitude toward the present communists. The majority of respondents, 41%, answered they are indifferent about them. At the same time, 34% of respondents are positive about them.
Responding the next question of the Pubic Opinion Foundation, “Do the interests of the communist party correspond to your own interests?”, a quarter of people, 26% answered positively; about the same amount of people, 24%, were unsure of their opinion. Half of respondents, 50% are firmly convinced that their interests do not coincide with the interests of the Communist Party in the least.
DEMAND CONTINUES FALLING
Finansovaya Rossia, No. 16, April 30, 2002, p. 3
The index of industrial optimism, experts of the Institute for Transition Period Economics assess on the basis of polls of over 900 Russian enterprises, grew in April from -1 to 0. However, experts of the institute are not inclined to consider it significant. Negative trends that became certain at the end of the last year, did not change in April. The solvent demand is still decreasing, stocks are growing, the enterprises are getting prepared to returning to non-monetary transactions. For the last five months sales of goods for money have fallen. Intensity of the fall is gradually decreasing, however, it is a fact: there has not been such a long and steady demand fall in the Russian industry since the beginning of 1999. Last month, money demand grew only in the chemistry, oil-chemistry, machine-construction, and construction materials industries. Enterprises of the majority of industries seem to have believed the situation is to develop negatively: for the first time since the 1998 default, they are planning personnel reductions.
LUKOIL’S PLANS IN THE CASPIAN SEA
Finansovaya Rossia, No. 16, April 30, 2002, p. 10
In 2010 the LUKOIL oil company plans to extract about 16 million tons of hydro-carbons at the Severny licensed site in the Caspian sea. At present, seven gas deposits have been discovered there, three of them have been explored, six wills have been drilled. According to preliminary evaluations, the hydro-carbon deposits on the site are estimated at the volume of 450 tons of their oil equivalent. This summer LUKOIL plans to do a presentation in Houston about the deposits found in the north of the Caspian sea. In December 1997 the company won a tender for the right to use the resources of the 8,000 square kilometer Severny site. According to LUKOIL, the total proceeds of the state from development of the licensed site are likely to amount to approximately $25 billion.
THE GREEN SERPENT SEA
Obshchaya Gazeta, No. 18, May 5, 2002, p. 6
Recently, the Duma committee for budgets and taxes gathered an expert council for the issues of working out legislative acts in the sphere of wine-production, production and turnover of alcohol and tobacco products and beer. The results of the Alcohol 2001 operation held by the Federal Tax Police Service (FTPS) were reported at the meeting. As a result of FTPS effort, 330 criminal cases were instituted. The financial result of the Alcohol – 2001 operation is fantastic: 1,125300000 rubles were returned to the state budget. The
State Customs Committee also informed that in 2001 Russia exported over 26 million decalitres of malt beer, 941,000 decalitres of alcohol-free beer, 992,000 decalitres of vermouths, 125,000 decalitres of spirits, overall 78 million decalitres. Exporters-producers received $61 million for all, which is as much as the state fined them for violations. However, after the Alcohol-2001 operation the industry did not bankrupt. The State Customs Committee also informed that the same year the fined enterprises bought abroad 5,000 times more alcoholic products than they were confiscated, 385,700 million decalitres and spend over $512 million on that, which is 15 billion rubles.
Actually, there is a whole sea of alcohol in Russia and fines are far from being enough to dry it. As of January 1, 2002 there are 3,647 various stores and shops that sell alcoholic drinks. In 2001, their proceeds amounted to slightly less than 204 billion rubles. Enterprises which produce alcoholic drinks received for their products about 100 billion rubles.
According to official data, last year over 30,000 people died from alcohol poisoning.
SHADOW ECONOMY BLOSSOMS IN RUSSIA
Argumeny I Fakty, No. 18-19, May, 2002, p. 10
The Auditing Commission has inspected how “vodka” taxes are paid in Russia. The results are astounding: it turned out that 185 million decalitres of vodka are sold a year, while Russians drink 215 million decalitres. The disparity is the volume of “fiery water” produced underground. Another surprising thing discovered by the State Customs Committee is that over the past year Russia exported one million tons of oil less than was imported to other countries.
According to Sociological center of the Russian state service academy, over the past decade the shadow sector has quintupled, and currently it accounts for 50% of the GDP.
In Russia, the “gray business” is very hard to distinguish from legal business: any enterprise must have a “gray” component. Responding to the question “Is your enterprise currently able to work without violating laws and other regulations?” 81% of respondents answered negatively, and only 15% of business owners answered positively. Calculating its figures, the State Statistics Committee always makes adjustments for the shadow sector. How do they know how to “adjust”? Manufacturers of television sets reported to the State Statistics Committee that they sold 597,000 TV sets. It turned out that consumers bought almost 3 million TV sets: they had to increase the official figure by over five times. Another example: according to statistics, at least 70 million people work in Russia, while there are only 30 million files in the Pension Fund.
It seems the shadowy economy is unprofitable for ordinary Russians. Producers do not pay taxes, because of this there are no books in schools and no medicines in hospitals. However, head of the sociological center Vladimir Boikov thinks differently, “Shadowy sector allows the population to survive. The proceeds are extremely low, and the shadowy economy offers cheap services and goods. Besides, it provides vast opportunities for earning money. If this sector is destroyed, the life of the population will become unbearable.”
According to calculations of the center, a third of spending of the Russian family passes the state budget. Moreover, the lower the income of the family is, the more spending goes to the shadow sector. Overall, the “gray” turnover in calculations of Russian families amounts to $40 billion a year, which is as much as the federal budget. According to expert assessments, in the next 10-15 years hardly anything is likely to change.
Shchit i Mech, No. 17, April 25, 2002, p. 2
According to expert appraisals, 14 million crimes are committed in Russia annually. This figure is several times as much as the number of officially registered crimes. The tempo of crime growth in our country is so high that some years they exceeded the world indices by 5-6 times. During the recent All-Russia scientific and practical conference, which was devoted to the issues of social and criminological crime prevention in modern Russia, representatives of the Interior Ministry and the General Prosecutor’s Office, politicians, public activists, employees of scientific and educations institutions, and independent lawyers participated. According to reports at the conference, a most painful issue in the Russian society is the great corruption of the officialdom. According to Ph.D. in Economics, Professor Georgy Saratov, currently the corruption is as big that comparing to other states with equal economic development, Russia is the most corrupted country.
YOUNG, NOT ARMED, BUT DANGEROUS
Kontinent, No. 18-19, April-May, 2002, p. 6
According to the Interior Ministry, 1.2 million underage criminals were arrested in 2001 for various violations of the law. Over the past decade, the number of crimes committed by minors has doubled, and the scale of children’s problems has reached a critical point.
One-tenth of the 38 million Russian citizens who are minors have no means of support, or do not have parents, and become targets for criminal recruitment. Only in 2001, teenagers committed 185,000 crimes, 10% of which were major crimes. Over 5,500 teenagers were tried for crimes connected with drugs. Over 70,000 children are registered in drug treatment centers.
The Interior Ministry constantly monitors over 4,000 teenagers who are members of extremist organizations, who participate in mass disorders during soccer matches. This year, the transport police have detained over 44,000 homeless children; over 37,000 teenagers were sent back to their parents.