FREEDOM OF CHOICE GUARANTEED
Izvestia, June 26, 2002, p. 2
On June 26, the new version of the law on guarantees of electoral rights of citizens is to come into effect. On June 27, the Duma will consider in the first reading the draft law on election of Duma deputies. Chairman of the Central Election Committee (CEC) Alexander Veshnyakov has commented on the innovations these draft laws contain at a TV bridge, in which journalists from Moscow, Barnaul, Syktyvkar, and Belgorod took part.
Veshnyakov explained that from July 2003, the system of election of regional legislative assemblies will be proportional: part of them will be elected in single-mandate districts, and the other part by party lists. However, some regions may transfer to this system earlier. For instance, at the start of 2003, there will be an election of the State Council of the Republic of Komi, and in all likelihood, half of its members will be representatives of political parties.
Veshnyakov also advised not to combine more than three levels of elections on one day and said that in the Republic of Altay, the authorities managed to combine seven levels of elections on one day.
A Barnaul journalist said, “The first signs of the black PR have appeared in Siberia.” Veshnyakov replied in a steel voice, “They should be eliminated.”
Veshnyakov also said a few words about new technologies by which the CEC intends to fight this evil. The existence of newspapers issued only during an election campaign and mostly publishing libels will be impossible from now on.
LITVINENKO GETS SUSPENDED SENTENCE IN ABSENTIA
Moskovsky Komsomolets, June 26, 2002, p. 2
On June 25, the Naro-Fominsk Garrison Military Court announced its verdict on former colonel of the Federal Security Service (FSB) Alexander Litvinenko, who escaped to England in November 2000. The court claimed the former FSB colonel guilty of abuse of office and illegal purchasing of explosives. He got a suspended sentence of 3.5 years of imprisonment and a year of the test term.
The trial in absentia went on quickly and finished before the adoption of the new Criminal-Proceedings Court. The judges considered only two episodes and claimed him guilty of both of them.
The sentence says that the former FSB colonel hammered “sincere confessions” out of four residents of the Moscow Region. During the counter-terrorist operation in Kostroma, he forged evidence against the son of the commander of a regiment of the Interior Troops Vyacheslav Babkin, and so the fellow was accused of illegal storage of explosives. In reality, Litvinenko himself stole 60 grams of trotyl from a colleague of his, threw them to the river and made suspect Babkin tell al lie.
However, the judges were not so strict toward the disfavored colonel. They even think that he may repent: that is evidently why they have given him a test term. Furthermore, they apparently count for Litvinenko’s soon return, for they have deprived him of the right to get high state positions for three years in Russia. Besides, he is to pay 80,000 rubles of compensation to those who suffered from his activities and 1,092 rubles for treatment of Babkin, who suffered from his fists.
The official explanation of such a strange sentence was that Litvinenko had not been tried before, had participated in the counter-terrorist operation in the North Caucasus, and has two children under age.
Litvinenko himself does not like the sentence. He intends to submit a petition to the Strasbourg Court. His lawyer Mikhail Marov has announced his intention to submit a petition against this verdict too.
CALAMITY IN SOUTH OF RUSSIA UNDERWAY
Trud, June 26, 2002, p. 2
The battle with a catastrophic flood is underway in the south of Russia. Many people are concerned with a number of questions in this connection: Why did not meteorologists warn the population about the upcoming flood beforehand? Why are local authorities not ready for this trouble as usual?
According to the latest data, over 199,000 people have suffered from the flood. Rescue workers have managed to evacuate only 86,000 people so far. Over 44,000 houses have been flooded, and many of them are destroyed.
According to the Ministry for Emergency Situations, 68 people have died in the Southern Federal District. In the Stavropol Territory, rescue workers have found 38 corpses of drowned people; ten people have drowned in Karachaevo-Cherkessia, 16 people in the Krasnodar Territory, three people in North Ossetia, and one person in Kabardino-Balkaria. The hardest situation is in the Stavropol Territory. The situation here is exacerbated by a lot of drowned cattle and destroyed cattle burials and clearing systems. According to Main Epidemiological Doctor of Russia Gennady Onishchenko, it is necessary to urgently bury corpses of the drowned cattle and vaccinate living ones in order to avoid outbursts of dangerous diseases.
TO FORGIVE AND FORGET
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, June 26, 2002, p. 4
The Kyrgyzstan government has submitted the draft decree on the amnesty for all those having to do with the tragic events in spring 2002 to the parliament of the republic.
On March 17, 2002, in the Aksy District of the republic, six people were killed as a result of the collision between picketers and a special police detachment. Now all participants of the tragedy will be set free.
Commenting on this measure, Kyrgyz Prime Minister Nikolai Tanaev has announced that this decision is based on economic interests. There have been pickets in southern regions of the republic for half a year. This damages the image of the state, and investors do not wish do deal with Kyrgyzstan. In the opinion of the initiators of the project, the comprehensive pardon will lead to the long-awaited peace and calm.
At the same time, the government of the republic intends to take a number of urgent measures aimed at improvement of the economic situation in Kyrgyzstan. For instance, it is planned to open a gold-mine called Taldy-Bulak Levoberezhny.
CHECHENS SUSPECTED OF ATTEMPT ON ORDJONIKIDZE’S LIFE
Izvestia, June 26, 2002, p. 3
On June 25, anonymous sources in law enforcement agencies reported that two people had been detained within the investigation into the attempt on the life of Deputy Mayor of Moscow Iosif Ordjonikidze. According to our sources, these people are Chechens. Meanwhile, prominent Moscow businessman Umar Djabrailov, whose cousin was found dead at the scene of the crime, says he does not know anything about the detentions, but he knows that a campaign aimed at ousting him from Moscow business is underway.
Djabrailov said that reports that the assassination attempt was connected with the redistribution of the hotel market in Moscow are nonsense. He said, “Practically all hotels are owned by the Moscow government. Some forces have just decided to oust me from Moscow business by such sordid methods of competition. These people are not businessmen but pseudo-officials. I know that the next strike will be made on my brother Hussein. My sources have reported to me that last Wednesday, Ordjonikidze wanted to oust my brother from the Rossiya hotel, but the attempt on his life prevented him from doing this. I don’t know what they want, but they have ruined our lives already.”