MILLIONS SPENT ON MAINTAINING THE DUMA
Moskovsky Komsomolets, July 3, 2002, p. 2
Over the first five months of 2002 alone, the Duma has used 125 tons of copying paper. Paper-clips, pencils and other “petty items” indispensable for the work of Duma deputies have cost the treasury 400,000 rubles. These figures are from the accounts presented by the staff of the lower house on the eve of the summer recess. Newly-appointed Duma chief-of-staff Alexander Lotorev has publicly accounted for the money the Duma has spent from the treasury over the first five months of this year.
This has been a very tense period for Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev: he has found himself out of the Communist Party and the party’s Duma faction. During these months, the state has allocated 906,000 rubles to pay Seleznev and his nine assistants, i.e. 181,000 rubles a month. The remaining Duma members received a total of 104 million rubles. Moreover, during the spring session the deputies have been issued benefits three times (it is not quite clear on what grounds or to what amount). Employees of the Duma staff were paid bonuses and benefits twice.
The Duma’s international contacts have reached an unprecedented scale this year. Travel expenses for deputies and Duma staff added up to 12.2 million rubles. Incidentally, the Duma speaker has made eight official visits using the special Rossiya plane maintained by the State Customs Committee, and these flights have cost the treasury 14.6 million rubles.
Spending on transportation of deputies and Duma staff by service cars has also increased. Overall, 179 cars maintained by the Presidential Administrative Affairs Office have been listed as permanently in use by specific people (for instance, all female deputies); 150 have been used as taxis; and 12 cars have been used by couriers for communication with other state bodies.
In order for Duma deputies to eat at prices below the average Moscow level, 6.8 million rubles has been used to fund the food service center. The serviced apartments and utilities in the deputies’ residential building on Ulofa Palme Street cost us 16 million rubles. However, a few stubborn deputies have continued to stay in luxury hotel suites, and this has cost 3.8 million rubles over the past five months…
In general, the 2002 budget provides 2,072 million rubles for the maintenance of the Duma and its members. In reality, however, only about a third of this amount has been allocated. The question of whether the Duma deputies are too costly for us remains undecided, and so does the question of how efficiently the deputies use the money the taxpayers spend on them.
TRIAL OF BUDANOV TO START ANEW
Izvestia, July 3, 2002, p. 3
On July 2 the verdict on Colonel Budanov’s case, his being accused of murdering Chechen girl Elsa Kungayeva, was awaited. However, the court sitting has brought a sensation: the court decided to resume the inquest and send Yury Budanov to the third psychic expertise. It means that consideration of the case will be started from nothing.
The court’s verdict to resume the inquest cancels everything what was happening in the court since the starting of this year – after Budanov had passed an expertise in Moscow. In the opinion of Budanov’s advocates, this decision was made after they got acquainted with statement of a new state prosecutor, which was delivered to the court on July 1. The defense of the plaintiff holds to the same opinion.
On July 3 the court is expected to announce where Budanov will be repeatedly examined. This outcome is the worst for the colonel. Even if yesterday the court had sentenced him to real imprisonment, it wouldn’t have been as bad, since being contained at a jail than at a detention cell.
CUSTOMS MIGHT SET A RECORD
Tribuna, July 3, 2002, p. 1
This year the State Customs Service has been breaking all records in terms of the amounts paid into the state treasury. Over the first six months, the dues collected have exceeded 262 billion rubles; thus, the customs offices have exceeded the target set by the government for this period by 2%. The State Customs Service has been operating ahead of schedule each month, the statistics show.
In April and May the state received 101% and 105% of the scheduled payments respectively. In June the dues collected amounted to 107% (it makes 47.5 billion rubles). The State Customs Service links the growth of dues collected with automating the processes of customs supervision and opening new control checkpoints. This year, the reliability of information specified in customs declarations has been traced especially thoroughly. The countermeasures to customs crimes have also been intensified.
CAUSE OF THE KURSK’S SINKING STILL UNKNOWN
Parlamentskaya Gazeta, July 3, 2002, p. 4
Rear Admiral Valery Dorogin has announced that the resolution on the causes of the sinking of the Kursk nuclear submarine has been signed by members of the government commission, but not yet approved by President Vladimir Putin, the Supreme Commander-in-Chief.
We have not yet received an official press statement. However, it is known that the Kursk sank because of “a thermal explosion of torpedo 65-76 fuel components.”
However, this reveals nothing new. The main question – what caused the torpedo fuel to explode – remained unanswered. It became known that in the course of the commission’s work two of the three theories were followed up and rejected – a collision with either an underwater or a surface object, or collision with a World War II mine.
Signing a resolution on the causes of the wreck doesn’t mean that the work on destroying the remaining fragments of the first compartment is finished. The Main Military Prosecutor’s Office is expected to issue permission to destroy them.
MESSENGERS RECEIVED BY PUTIN
Gazeta, July 3, 2002, pp. 1, 3
Orders were given to record the main points made by members of the Russian Agrarian Movement, and formulate them as specific objectives for the Cabinet.
Chairman of the Duma Agricultural Committee Gennady Kulik proposed the most extensive ideas: to adopt a unified agricultural law, which would set the nation’s agricultural policy until 2010. This appeal was heard. On the whole, Aleksey Gordeyev expressed the core ideas behind the movement’s demands:
“Russia needs some real legislation which would meet modern demands and protect the market from the actions of the EU and the US.”
Thus, by autumn a whole package of bills concerning both customs tariff policy and budgetary relations should be expected: there will be an attempt to give farmers more – as soon as possible – from the federal treasury.
The other day Mikhail Lapshin and the Agrarian Party announced their support for the Russian Agrarian Movement. The Agrarian Union decided to join it, whereas the rural trade unions had joined it already. There’s a covert plan: the Russian Agrarian Movement will remain above politics, but the parties which will join it will be unexampledly active at the elections, having obtained incomparably more resources and forces.