HEADS OF CIS SPECIAL SERVICES TO DISCUSS THE TERRORIST ATTACK IN KASPIYSK
Izvestia, May 15, 2002, p. 2
The 12th session of the Council of heads of CIS security bodies and special services opened in Tbilisi on May 14. According to the FSB, the main item on the agenda at the three-day meeting will be the problem of illegal, unauthorized border-crossing into the CIS; the meeting will also discuss developing the joint database of CIS special services for combating organized crime, and developing measures to suppress funding channels for terrorist organizations in Russia and neighboring states. The terrorist attack in Kaspiysk and the deteriorating situation in the southern regions of Russia will also be discussed at the meeting, according to our sources.
NEITHER A FRIEND NOR A FIEND
Izvestia, May 15, 2002, p. 3
In the lead-up to the Reykjavik summit, the Public Opinion Foundation has questioned 1,500 respondents from 100 locations across Russia about their attitude toward NATO.
As it turned out, over 50% of respondents still consider NATO an aggressive military bloc, as in Soviet times. Even among supporters of Vladimir Putin, who has declared a policy of alliance with the Western powers in the battle against international terrorism, 49% of respondents assume that defense is a secondary priority for NATO members, while the real aim of NATO is to finally achieve global supremacy (67% of Communist supporters share this point of view).
Residents of the Far East federal district proved to be the most intolerant of NATO (82%), whereas residents of the southern regions of Russia proved to be the most supportive of NATO.
Over half of respondents (52%) are convinced that NATO is a security threat to Russia. At the same time, 44% of respondents aged 18 to 35 and 48% of respondents with a higher education disagree with this point of view: in their opinion, no trouble should be expected from NATO.
Asked whether the interests of Russia and NATO differ, the number of respondents who think that Russia’s interests are opposed to those of NATO was almost double the number of optimists who think the alliance and Russia have common goals (48% versus 25%).
THE FSB IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR HEART ATTACKS
Moskovsky Komsomolets, May 15, 2002, p. 2
The Prosecutor General’s Office has fully acquitted the actions of the FSB agents who allegedly arranged exercises in Ryazan in 1999, placing sacks full of a white, powdery substance in the basements of apartment buildings.
No criminal charges have been issued against their FSB superiors. As it turned out, the case of the exercises in Ryazan, where residents of an apartment building found sacks full of a white substance and a home-made explosive device, was closed as far back as 2000. The reply of the Prosecutor General’s Office to Duma Deputy Anatoly Kulikov reads: “No evidence of wrongdoing was found in the actions of FSB agents who were carrying out counter-terrorist exercises.” Supposedly, the substance in the sacks was sugar rather than an explosive called hexogen; and the home-made explosive device was not functional. Thus, all complaints from the Ryazan residents, who are demanding compensation for sleepless nights and heart attacks, are completely futile.
“The decision was made to refrain from issuing criminal charges against the FSB officials involved in carrying out the exercises in Ryazan. All the prosecution procedures planned were carried out; and by April 6, 2000 the preliminary inquiry was closed,” a document from the Prosecutor General’s Office says.
In the response to Kulikov, Deputy Prosecutor General Vasily Kolmogorov also accounted for the results of investigations into the explosions of apartment buildings in Moscow and Volgodonsk in September 1999. Kolmogorov said that all the terrorists had been identified long ago, but it is impossible to catch them, since at the moment they are “in another CIS country.” Those who were behind the explosions have also been identified. They were mercenaries of Arab origin, Khattab and Abu al-Walid al-Gamidi. Both of them have already been killed.
SPRING IS THE TIME FOR EXTREME LAWMAKING
Parlamentskaya Gazeta, May 15, 2002, p. 1
On May 14 the Duma Council drew up agendas for the next few Duma sessions.
As soon as May 15, during the “government hour”, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov will report to the Duma on the nation’s socio-economic situation. According to preliminary plans, the prime minister should have reported to the lower house on the implementation of the federal budget for the first quarter of 2002. However, Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev said on May 14 that it has been decided to consider this major issue separately at one of the additional sessions either in May or in June,.
It is already clear that Duma deputies will postpone their summer holidays, as usual. “Thus far we have been planning to extend the session until July 1,” Seleznev noted. Basically, this will be done for the sake of two “budget bills” – the bill involving the new taxation system for small and medium business, and the bill on road taxes, both of them to be considered by the Duma in the first reading in early June.
Undoubtedly, discussion in the first reading of seven alternative bills with almost similar titles, concerning the use of agricultural land, will become the key issue at the additional session on May 15. The Cabinet prepared one of the bills and the Duma prepared the rest of them.
As soon as the May holidays ended, some unusual lawmaking efforts were resumed in the Duma. The notorious bill prepared by the People’s Deputy group – advocating criminal penalties for male homosexuals and severe punishment for sodomy – was sent out to the subjects of the legislative initiative, the Kremlin among them.
Predictably, Andrei Vulf, a member of the URF faction who is an active supporter of the civil rights of “people of non-standard orientations”, has prepared a response. He is proposing his own amendments to the Criminal Code, strengthening “counteraction to dissemination of ideas of sexual hatred and enmity…”
However, this is not the end of the criminal-sexual topic. On Monday, taking up the initiatives of his colleagues from the People’s Deputy group, LDPR member Alexei Mitrofanov submitted a bill with amendments to the Criminal Code, proposing criminal penalties for lesbians.