WHAT CAN BE THREATENING FOR MASS MEDIA IN NEW LAW?

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WHAT CAN BE THREATENING FOR MASS MEDIA IN NEW LAW?

Kommersant, July 7, 2002, p. 4

According to the new version of the law on the basic guarantees for suffrage, the election campaign in mass media is starting 30 days before the voting day, but for all that the propaganda materials should be obligatory covered from the electoral funds of candidates. In accordance with the new Administrative Code, the violation of the propaganda rules will be imposed with fines at the rate from 20 to 30 minimum wages for officials and from 200 to 500 minimum wages for organizations. Meanwhile, the law gives a wide range of interpretations of the election campaign. These are “different calls to vote for or against a candidate; demonstration of preference for one of the candidates…, particularly pointing to the candidate for whom an elector is going to vote; the description of probable consequences of the election or non-election of a candidate; the spreading of different information with a predominance of materials connected with some candidates… in conjunction with positive and negative comments; the spreading of the information concerning a candidate’s activity, that is not connected with his professional activity or discharge of his duties; the activity conducive to the creation of positive or negative attitude of voters to a candidate…; the other actions aimed at inducement or impulsive to vote for or against some candidates, against all the candidates…” In that way, practically any material, devoted to the election topics, can be considered as a propagandist one with all the probable punitive sanctions. Besides, authorities of the Central Election Commission and Media Ministry are going to initiate a proposal of amendment into the law on mass media. In regulation with this amendment, in case of the reiterated violations of the election legislation, the courts can suspend a license of media during the election campaign, according to the suits brought by the election commissions.

OVER 2.5 BILLION RUBLES TO BE SPENT ON MAINTENANCE OF DUMA IN 2003

Novye Izvestia, July 7, 2002, p. 2

Loyalty has its own positive value, at least in the sphere of high politics. It would be naive to think that the uncommon tenderness of the characters of the State Duma’s deputies and their “colossal capacity for work” are categories of a moral kind, depended only on their political tastes. Here we can find its own tangible material equivalent.

2,661,081,500 rubles is the very sum that was asked by the deputies for their maintenance next year. The budget of expenditures has been already processed with the resolution of the lower house and sent for the approval to Ministry of Finance. Scarcely it is possible to doubt about the positive reaction of the government, especially after complimentary statements of the president, connected with the legislative performances of the deputies.

It is planned that the maintenance of the Duma speaker and his nine assistants will come to 3,700,000 rubles next year. The total expenditures on the State Duma’s deputies and their assistants (by the way, recently the president has allowed the deputies to increase their own staff of assistants from 30 to 40 people) should come to 426,381,900 rubles. The remuneration of labor of 450 deputies will come to almost 168 billions rubles.

However, all the figures of the annual Duma’s costs scarcely can reflect the vivid picture of the deputies’ everyday life, which is an exclusively official picture.

The salary of a lower house deputy comes practically to the salary of a federal minister. Along with the “minister’s salary,” every deputy must get a quarterly bonus at the rate of the salary, food compensations, annual medical and holiday pay at the rate of double salary. At that, the summation of these two salaries is made according to the enigmatic mathematical laws. For example, this year every deputy got 70,000 rubles of holiday pay. By the way, “quarterly” bonuses are received more often as a rule.

Naturally, all the deputies’ transport and communication charges are paid at the expense of the taxpayers. In that way, a deputy’s transport servicing only at the expense of the Duma’s fleet (the deputies’ taxi and car lease charges are another matter of the parliamentary charges) came to 428,000 rubles last year. Long-distant calls come to 105,000 rubles a year.

Since January 2002, the State Duma has spent 4,200,000 rubles in order to buy 125 tons of paper for photocopies of documents and 2,300,000 rubles in order to renew the stationery.

The representation expenses will come to 20,900,000 rubles next year. The assignment charges will come to 275,470,000 rubles.

Another expense is maintenance on the Duma building in Okhotny Ryad. For example, the Duma’s computer network has to be upgraded by the end of this year. By the beginning of the autumn session, the electronic voting system will be changed again. Nobody is counting these costs, but it is well known that the maintenance of the deputies’ offices alone cost 15 million rubles last year.

PRESIDENTIAL SALARY

Kommersant-Vlast, July 2, 2002, p. 5

On June 25, President Vladimir Putin set his own salary at 63,000 rubles ($2,004) a month. This is 16 times less than the official $31,828 monthly salary of President George Bush. However, taking into consideration the relative GDP of the two nations, from now on the Russian president will earn twice as much (in relative terms) as the US president. Putin will have to pay 8,190 rubles in income tax, which is equivalent to double the monthly salary of a police officer. In the 26 months since Putin became the president of the Russian Federation, his salary has increased 5.25 times. If averaged out, the growth of his salary would amount to 6.6% a month, or 115% a year. Compared to the inflation rate in 2001, which was 18.6%, this not a bad growth rate.

TABLOID

Zavtra, July 4, 2002, p. 1

According to our Kremlin sources, a propaganda campaign around President Putin in the Russian media is due to the fact that the real popularity rating of the president amounts to 8%, which is equal to the rating of President Boris Yeltsin in his worst years. In these terms, the presidential administration decided to take a number of populist measures, the first of which became Putin’s public criticisms of Chubais’ for the increase of electricity rates and postponement until autumn of voting on “restructuring and privatization of the Russian Joint Energy Systems”, as well as delay of the housing reform, which is supposed to present Vladimir Putin as “being concerned about Russia’s future”.

CHEMISTRY OR LIFE

Rossiyskie Vesti, July 4, 2002, p. 10

The potential threat of Russia has been valued at $20 billion. The US and other countries of the G-8 are to allocate this amount in order to resolve problems of storing and monitoring nuclear weapons and radioactive materials, as well as dismantling decommissioned submarines and destroying chemical weapons in accordance with the Convention on prohibition of development, production, and usage of chemical weapons.

As for dismantling several hundred decommissioned nuclear submarines of the Russian Navy, over the past decade Russia has received almost $1.7 billion from the Nunn-Lugar program. This money was spent on equipping Russian shipyards with necessary equipment for dismantling nuclear submarines and building storage-houses for radioactive materials in the Chelyabinsk region, as well as improvement of safety and security at nuclear facilities. According to experts of the Nuclear Energy Ministry, which is currently in charge of dismantling nuclear submarines, the allocated resources are enough for considerable acceleration of the work. At present, three to five nuclear submarines are dismantled each year, which is primarily determined by capacities of shipyards with the required facilities.

RUSSIAN GREENPEACE WARNING

Inostranets, July 2, 2002, p. 5

Coordinator of the Russian GreenPeace energy department Vladimir Chuprov stated that the nuclear power station in Iran city of Busher, which is being built with the help of Russian specialist, will allow Iran to construct nuclear weapons. Chuprov came to this conclusion on the basis of information presented by the Nuclear Energy Ministry, according to which there is no agreement between Russia and Iran on returning of radioactive nuclear fuel. Thus, according to Chuprov, Iran will be able to use this fuel for extraction of nuclear plutonium used in weapons, which “will allow it to have its own nuclear weapons in the near future, as India did before”. According to GreenPeace’s assessments, construction of the BBP-1000 nuclear reactor which is to be used in Busher, will allow extraction of nuclear plutonium and ten nuclear warheads within the next six years.

The project is to bring no less than $800 million to the Russian budget. According to observers, the initial goal of Teheran is to receive nuclear technologies with further using them for military purposes. The Christian science Monitor especially stresses that the US authorities are concerned not about Russia-Iran engineering and construction cooperation but about probability that Russian specialists may be tempted with Iran’s money and will share the secret of the Russian nuclear weapons technology, as well as information about nuclear carriers.

RUSSIANS BECOME ALCOHOLICS

Sobesednik, July 3, 2002, p. 2

According to Viktor Polyakov, the Director of the Russian Scientific Research Institute for biotechnology at the Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences, up to 60 dekaliters of home-brewed vodka is produced in Russia annually. On average, every Russian drinks five liters of alcohol a year.

General Director of the scientific technical association Spirtprom Vladimir Yarmash is convinced that “These are very moderate figures. The government has already acknowledged that the decision on legalization of free production of home-brewed vodka for individual use was a great mistake.”

WORLD QUARANTINE

Schit I Mech, June 27, 2002, p. 1

Within the first six months of the year, departments for combating illegal drug trafficking have confiscated about 15 tons of narcotics. Most of the drugs are produced abroad.

Overall, about 50% of drugs on the Russian market, and 80-90% of drugs in Moscow and St. Petersburg are imported. All heroine imported to Russia is brought from Afghanistan. Cocaine is transported from Latin American countries, and synthetic drugs are brought from Europe. That is why fighting against drug selling stretches far beyond interior state problem. A close international cooperation in this sphere is necessary. Police Lieutenant General Alexander Sergeev, head of the Main Department of Combating Drug Trafficking at the Interior Ministry, said at a recent briefing that in the near future several liaison officers are to be sent to Afghanistan, who will constantly contact with law enforcement bodies of the country that floods Russia with drugs. Besides, an issue of establishing another “security belt” around Kazakhstan is being resolved. Large-scale border operations, which are to stop illegal drug trafficking into Russia and neighboring republics, are also continuing. This year Russian law enforcement bodies – along with their colleagues from Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Tajikistan, and Ukraine – have carried out seven operations of this type.

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