SLAVNEFT OIL COMPANY SEARCHED
Komsomolskaya Pravda, June 29, 2002, p. 5
The situation surrounding the Slavneft company has started to become more clear. A team of detectives from the Investigation Department of the Main Interior Affairs Inspectorate has searched the company’s offices on Pyatnitskaya Street, as part of the legal proceedings against former Slavneft vice president Yury Sukhanov, charged under Article 201 Part 2 of the Criminal Code (abuse of office). The investigation into this case has been underway for about two months. The search was the only chance the police had to find out what happened to millions of dollars that disappeared when Sukhanov worked at the state-controlled oil company.
Sukhanov was vice president of Slavneft, in charge of finances, until May 29, since two months earlier his position had been made redundant, and the term of employment, according to the Labor Code, expired on that day. The Ordjonikidze Court of Ufa has declared all decisions of the shareholders meeting at which Sukhanov was elected as the new company president to be invalid. The court instructed Mikhail Gutseriev to continue as acting president of the company.
Besides, the Urga Court of the Kemerovo Region recently overturned its own decision to entrust Sukhanov with the duties of president of Slavneft. This happened after new evidence was presented. For instance, the minority shareholder on whose behalf the lawsuit was filed had not even been informed about the trial.
On the day of the search, Gutseriev was only present at his Slavneft office for about an hour. He gave testimony to the investigators and left the premises.
55 MILLION RUSSIAN CITIZENS HAVE GIVEN BRIBES
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, June 29, 2002, EV
The InDem Foundation has been piecing together a portrait of an average Russian bribe-giver, based on opinion polls.
According to the researchers, Russian citizens spend over $36 billion a year on bribes. InDem Director Georgy Satarov says that in reality, this sum is much larger. The figure given by InDem is based on $3 billion spent on “everyday bribes” and $33 billion spent by business owners.
People pay the most bribes for helping their children get places in higher education institutions: $449 million. This item is followed by bribes to the traffic police: $368 million. Third place is taken by the courts, where citizens leave $274 million a year. Almost half of Russian citizens have been in a situation where they had to decide whether or not to give a bribe. However, only 38% agreed to the requests of state officials and handed over envelopes of money. Thus, if the poll results are extrapolated, over 55 million Russian citizens have given bribes.
The InDem analysts concluded that the degree to which busines owners are involved in corruption does not have a significant impact on the success of their business. This means that giving bribes is an optional procedure, much as it may distress corrupt officials to read this.
In terms of political corruption, InDem analysts draw attention to bribery within the Duma. They believe that the market for corrupt transactions here is firmly established already. The “shadow income” of a member of a key Duma committee may be 15-20 times more than the official salary.
The research has shown that there are three main reasons for bribery among state officials: low salaries, poor prospects after retirement, and weak legal security. At the same time, InDem stresses that raising the salaries of state officials will not automatically put an end to the bribery or reduce it.
Analysts agree that corruption in Russia has already entered a new phase of forming corruption networks: groups organized for the purpose of robbing the impoverished citizenry.
RUSSIA INCLUDED IN TOP TEN
Versty, June 29, 2002, p. 2
In 2006, Russia will host the G-8 summit. In Kananaskis, for the first time in the history of the G-8, all its members decided to visit Russia at the same time. Thus, “the club of the rich is expanding to the East.”
In Moscow, the rapture has been displaced by gloomy silence. Skeptics are finding more and more faults in the outcome of the Canada summit. According to preliminary calculations, hosting the G-8 summit in 2006 will cost Russia three times as much as it cost Canada. Overall, Canada spent $500 million on this summit, and has not received any dividends apart from a morale boost. National prestige is a good thing, but it doesn’t last forever. Observers are saying that Gerhard Schroeder set up Vladimir Putin: since 2006 would have been Germany’s turn to host the summit. When Germany hosted the G-8 summit in 1999, the German media made caustic remarks about hundreds of millions of marks being spent on this useless event. Schroeder’s offer to waive Germany’s turn to host the summit in 2006 came as a surprise for everyone, since he had not consulted with either Bush or Putin.
The Russian president was moved. He even called the atmosphere of the meeting “more than friendly” and the summit itself “a meeting of like-minded people.”
It seemed that the West has indeed included Russia in the top ten of friends and relatives. However, declarations of intent should be backed by concrete actions. Time will tell how serious these intentions are. Some observers think that the $20 billion promised to Russia for disposal of nuclear waste and mass destruction weapons will be accompanied by so many conditions that Russia will not be able to consent to them. For instance, the West may demand access to Russia’s military facilities. The money is likely to be allocated to Russia if the West is convinced that Russia is a reliable partner. In signing the declaration of six principles on combating terrorism, we undertook some extreme obligations. Thus, we have automatically given our assent to air strikes on Iraq. Besides, we have agreed to intensify surveillance over transportation by sea, air, and land; this suits the European Union, which will have the Kaliningrad Region surrounded six months from now.
RUSSIA TO WRITE OFF AFRICA’S DEBTS
Trud, June 29, 2002, pp. 1, 4
Globalizers and anti-globalization activists; rich and poor; North and South – all are connected in the modern world, in contradictory and occasionally curious ways. Past experience has shown that it’s ineffective for developed nations to provide purely material aid to developing nations. That is why the second part of the G-8 summit in Kananaskis focused on African development. The G-8 adopted a plan worked out in cooperation with member nations of the New Partnership for African Development (NPAD). This will involve: setting up peace-keeping forces in Africa, ensuring universal vaccination against polio by 2005, easing access to world markets for African goods, and providing substantial aid to nations engaged in economic and human rights reforms.
President Putin on Russia’s role in the G-8 plan for African development: “Russia has a tradition of very good relations with many African nations; we are acutely aware of all Africa’s problems. I should note that Russia’s contribution to resolving Africa’s problems is very substantial. Russia is the creditor for 40% of the African debts scheduled to be written off – this amounts to $26 billion. The year before last we wrote off around $500 million, and last year we wrote off almost $1 billion. We are also prepared to participate in humanitarian programs, including AIDS programs. We consider that programs aimed at improving health care and protecting the environment are very important. The program aimed at providing access to clean drinking water is also fundamentally important. We have the experience and techniques, and we are prepared to participate in this work to the full extent. We provide a substantial number of scholarships to students from African nations for secondary and tertiary education in Russia. Overall, Russia assists African nations on many levels. We believe that this is in Russia’s national interest, and intend to continue this work together with the other nations of the G-8.”
President Putin said at his news conference that the Mideast situation was “one of the most complicated issues” discussed at the G-8 summit. Putin said: “The US administration is critical of the actions taken by Palestinian leaders in the battle against terrorism. We also consider that the Palestinian leaders should do more in this field.” At the same time, according to Putin, President Bush “did not mention the need to remove Yasser Arafat” at the summit. Putin went on to say that Russia’s position on this issue was well-known: “Arafat is the recognized leader of the Palestinian people, and attempting to resolve the Middle East problem without him would be counter-productive.”
YELTSIN AND BELARUS
Zavtra, June 27, 2002, p. 1
The visit of Boris Yeltsin to Belarus was organized by Alexander Lukashenko in response to scandalous speech of President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg.
According to our Minsk source, the first Russian president announced that he is still the Russian president and a guarantor of the constitution. This joke greatly influenced the contents of June 24 press conference, where President Putin in fact attempted to reject the “Family legacy”. Besides, the same day saw Anatoly Bykov’s unexpected and unprecedented release from prison. This demarche became a powerful stroke for the Family’s most important financial connection (Oleg Deripaska and Roman Abramovich), as Bykov never rejected his controlling package of shares of the Krasnoyarsk aluminum plant, which was the major practical interest of the two “aluminum kings.” Another consequence of such spontaneous presidential decision is likely to be victory of A. Uss at gubernatorial elections in the Krasnoyarsk region and weakening of A. Khloponin’s positions with gradual transition of control of Norilsk Nickel to the regional leadership and financial-political structures that back it.
1600 SPRING AND SUMMER DESERTERS
Kommersant-Vlast, June 25, 2002, p. 5
According to a presidential decree, in April-June 2002 Russian military enlistment and registration offices were meant to recruit 161,732 young men for military service. New conscripts are paid 120 rubles, so the state allocates 19.4 million rubles ($626,000) a month for these payouts. With this money Russia could afford to hire 736 US Army soldiers ($850 a month each), which is ten times fewer than the number of US peacekeepers in Kosovo. Each year, Russia spends 720 million rubles ($23 million) for payments to 500,000 servicemen for a fixed period of time, which is 0.25% of the defense budget of the country. Conscripts recruited in spring 2002 can form 81 regiments: soldiers of 14 (17%) regiments would have different psychic disorders; other 11 regiments (14%) would be formed of alcoholics; and soldier of four regiments (5%) have head traumas. During the first year of service, 1,600 new recruits will desert from the army, 70% of them in spring or summer. On average, about 1,200 people are involved in searching for armed deserter.
SLAVERY IN RUSSIA
Mir Novostei, June 25, 2002, p. 3
Recently, US Secretary of State Colin Powell publicly said that Russia is among 19 countries where people are sold and bought. It was also announced that if the authorities of the states from the blacklist “do not make enough effort to normalize the situation”, in accordance with the US legislation sanctions may be applied against them next year.
According to estimates of international organizations, at least 50,000 women are taken out of Russia each year to become slaves abroad. For instance, in Israel, which is the main market for Russian slaves, 46% of prostitutes originate from Moldova; 25% are from Ukraine; Russia and Central Asian republics supply 13% of Israeli prostitutes each. There are hundreds of firms which offer jobs abroad. Each year, such personnel companies send hundreds of slaves abroad passing them off as nurses, baby-sitters, constructors, and happy wives of foreigners. According to Professor Sally Stoker, well-known for research into human trafficking, there are now 5-10,000 Russian women in China, engaged in prostitution.
At a recent international conference in Vladivostok, devoted to human trafficking in Russia, it was said that the slave-trade supplies Russians for more than prostitution. Our compatriots are taken abroad as donors for organ transplantation, or substitute mothers; besides, there are child slaves. Russia has turned into the world center of child pornography and a paradise for pedophiles. Until recently the Russian constitution did not even mention such a crime. As a result, a network of criminal organizations that sexually exploit children have operated almost legally in Russia. Children, most of whom are homeless, are tempted with toys, food, and other simple things.
About two years ago foreign media reported the exposure of a Russian-Italian crime syndicate which sold children and produced child pornography, using children under 12 years of age. The story caused a great public outcry in Italy; however, a representative of the Russian court system who found himself in Italy at that time considered the scandal an intrigue of foreign opponents. Commenting on reports about disclosure of an organized crime ring, he said that he “heard for the first time about something like this in Russia.”
Some Russians have realized long ago that it is profitable and almost penalty-free to sell or own slaves in Russia. There are networks of people who attract potential victims, transport the “living goods”, make necessary documents. Very often human trafficking is linked with drug trafficking. Human trafficking is almost as profitable, but it is much less dangerous.
PUTIN IS NOT HAPPY WITH HIS PRESS SECRETARY
Versia, June 24, 2002, pp. 12-13
Lately, presidential press secretary Aleksey Gormov has been accused of “restrictive and repressive work with the media” and incompetence. Besides, Gromov is criticized because ORT and RTR lag behind the NTV network in prime-time ratings. According to the same Kremlin sources, Alexander Voloshin refuses to dismiss the press secretary: just because he “does not have enough personnel”.