PUTIN AND CHIRAC

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PUTIN AND CHIRAC

Izvestia, July 19, 2002, p. 4

President Putin is taking a partial summer vacation in Sochi, but is still at work occasionally. One important upcoming event is his meeting with French President Jacques Chirac, officially announced by both presidents at the G-8 summit. There are also a few working meetings outside the Kremlin (with Pension Fund director Mikhail Zurabov and Victor Kazantsev, presidential envoy for the Southern federal district).

This will be Chirac’s first foreign visit since his re-election, not counting the visit to the G-8 summit. Both presidents promised that they would discuss specific issues – primarily trade. For example, they are going to discuss aviation. Russia’s Aeroflot airline has already aroused a storm of protests due to its firm intention to buy 12 French A-318 and A-319 jets.

The reasoning of those who oppose this decision is quite clear. It is unnecessary to spend such a large sum on foreign-made planes, while the opportunity exists to give the Russian aviation industry a boost using the same money. However, both Moscow and Paris fully realize that they should take into consideration not only the economic implications but the political ones as well, especially when the matter concerns an enterprise which is partially state-owned. This aspect makes it almost inevitable that the acquisition of French planes will go ahead, and Chirac will try to facilitate this process.

The next item concerns European issues. According to ITAR-TASS, yesterday in Paris Jacques Chirac set out the purposes of his visit to Sochi and touched on the Kaliningrad issue. Officially, he was encouraging.

“Nobody in Europe wants to isolate the Kaliningrad region and those Russians who live there,” he said; and therefore, “it is necessary to show some imagination and ingenuity”. The French president added that the matter concerns “the use of different options in terms of technique”.

Most likely, Putin will now have to focus on the minimum Russia can expect to gain. Although Chirac likes Russia and is a heavyweight within the EU, he still cannot do the impossible. It is not clear what “options” the French president meant. However, the advantages of such informal meetings lie in sounding out the possibilities for a compromise.

TWO DIFFERENT THINGS

Trud, July 19, 2002, p. 2

The Union of Right Forces (URF) is prone to sudden new ideas. Petr Kutcherenko, a member of the URF national political council and leader of the URF youth wing, has proposed asking Boris Yeltsin to head the democratic bloc during the parliamentary elections scheduled for December 2003.

Kutcherenko thinks Yeltsin should head the democratic bloc in particular; not the URF party list.

Kutcherenko: “The URF is too small for Yeltsin. If he consented to be the first on the party list, that would send a signal to all the democratic forces to unite.”

Alexei Kara-Murza, head of the Russian Reforms Research Center, says it is possible to propose many options, but it is not clear how this exotic idea could be implemented.

Kara-Murza: “The next elections will be based on party lists, and at present there is no ‘democratic bloc’. Moreover, the URF and Yabloko have not agreed on a combined list yet.”

Kara-Murza conisders that Yeltsin is in good form now, and he will be able to make an adequate assessment of this proposal. Kara-Murza says Yeltsin’s time has already passed.

Yeltsin’s popularity ten years ago and his popularity before his reelection are different things. As for his popularity rating now – no offense, but he is viewed as retired.

Sergey Markov, head of the Political Research Institute: “Yeltsin has discredited himself sufficiently already. And after two years of rest, he wants to rule again. I think that some minor political forces are trying to exploit his desire to do so.” Markov thinks this idea originated with the “Kremlin old guard”, who are trying to put pressure on Putin in some way.

However, some analysts believe the initiative of the URF youth leader is a real plan of the democrats, who have developed it in order to become stronger before the election.

RUSSIA AND ARMENIA: COOPERATION CONTINUES

Parlamentskaya Gazeta, July 19, 2002, p. 2

Inter-parliamentary contacts between Russia and Armenia have been expanding recently, as shown by numerous visits by delegations to Moscow and Yerevan. This is a sign not only of increased interest in each other, but also of increased economic and political cooperation.

Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev met yesterday with Armen Kchatchatryan, Speaker of the National Assembly of Armenia. During the private meeting, they discussed some aspects of bilateral cooperation between Russia and Armenia and the development of relations between the parliaments of both countries.

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