EVERYBODY TO PUT ON GAS-MASKS

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EVERYBODY TO PUT ON GAS-MASKS

Izvestia, August 15, 2002, p. 4

There is a high probability of man-made disasters in the modern world. This is a reason for strong concern of participants in an international conference that has opened in St. Petersburg and deals with prevention of emergencies at regional levels. Over 60 specialists representing ministries for emergencies of different countries are taking part in the conference. Rescuers put down the growing menace mainly to international terrorism.

According to the deputy minister for emergencies of Russia, Yury Brazhnikov, it is not by chance that St. Petersburg hosts the conference. There are such enhanced-danger operators in the north-west of Russia as a nuclear power plant, petrochemical complexes and some others. All this makes neighboring countries like Sweden and Finland be very cautious towards Russia. However, trying to be politically correct Finnish and Swedish specialists avoid direct questions about the “Russian threat” but stress that Russia has abundant experience in eliminating consequences of natural disasters.

Nonetheless, it is an open secret that most of all foreign states are afraid of Russian nuclear power plants. In Mr. Brazhnikov’s words, the Chernobyl syndrome still causes great concern Europe, for radiation accidents are most dangerous in terms of trans-border pollution risks. Chemical enterprises rank second in this danger list, transportation of dangerous cargo third.

Issues concerning “humanitarian mine clearing” and return of land in Afghanistan into economic operation will be given attention to at the conference. It is expected that Russia and Sweden will sign several bilateral agreements on extension of cooperation in the sphere of prevention of man-made disasters.

On September 11, to commemorate the events of a year ago, the Bogorodsk 2002 exercise will be carried out on the outskirts of Moscow, at the suggestion of NATO. Originally, the Kapotnya petrochemical plant was chosen as the location for the exercise. The hypothetical scenario is as follows: terrorists seize a large plant producing dangerous substances. As a result of this attack, there is a serious accident. But Kapotnya is a dangerous location even for exercises; so the location for a joint exercise of rescuers from different countries has been moved to the town of Noginsk (near Moscow). Twenty-five nations have already submitted applications for participation in the forthcoming international exercise.

PRODUCTION SHARING AGREEMENTS: THERE WILL BE NO REVOLUTION

Izvestia, August 15, 2002, p. 4

Yesterday, in the media-center of Izvestia newspaper, the representative of the Cabinet in the Federation Council, Andrei Sebentsov, informed journalists about the government’s plans in terms of law-making initiatives. The Cabinet considers that no more than 30 bills are top priority. Among them are the draft budget, the law on labor pension systems, six tax bills, including taxation for production sharing agreements.

Mr. Sebentsov did not elaborate as to how the government will promote its proposals. He only made an observation that “everyone wants to pay less and get more” regarding the law labor pension systems. As for production sharing agreements, the government’s representative reported that “unjustified remissions and restrictions will be abolished”. Taxation of production sharing agreements has become a matter of keen interest, especially after the Duma passed a corresponding bill in the first reading. Around five to six hundred amendments are expected to be made by the second reading. In the words of the government’s representative, “there will be nothing revolutionary”.

A CODE OF CONDUCT FOR STATE OFFICIALS

Trud-7, August 15, 2002, p. 2

President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree on approving basic principles of conduct for civil servants. According to Dmitry Medvedev, senior deputy head of the presidential administration, “the adopted basic principles are advisory, and do not provide for some special accountability, except for the one that has always existed within the scope of administrative, civil, and in some cases criminal legislation”. The law on the system of civil service in September will be passed to the government and later to the Duma.

Somehow or other, life often brings us into contact with officials of different ranks and those contacts by no means always yield satisfaction. The president’s decree has 16 principles of civil servants’ conduct. It is clear that not at once and not all representatives of the “bureaucratic army” will adhere to requirements stated in that unusual document. But still that code of norms and requirements does not have only moral weight… In any case, when contacting an official an “ordinary” citizen is entitled to compare actions of the former with the president’s guidelines.

The document also says a civil servant entrusted with organizational and administrative authority in respect to other civil servants is intended to “take measures to prevent and settle a conflict of interest; prevent forcing civil servants to participation in activities of political parties and other public organizations”.

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