PROSECUTOR GENERAL, JUSTICE MINISTER REPORT ON EXTREMISM
Izvestia, October 24, 2002, p. 4
Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov and Justice Minister Yuri Chaika came to the Duma yesterday to tell the deputies how their departments fought extremism. It turned out: the two senior officials cannot cope with this phenomenon because of insufficient authority, staff, and criteria for extremism.
Judging by the figures the Justice Minister and the Prosecutor General quoted, extremism should have been eliminated long ago. Thus, in 2001 and in the first half of 2002 the Justice Ministry checked 10,614 public associations; 7,564 of them received warnings that their activities did not comply with the law. The ministry won 110 court decisions on shutting down public associations, including 20 in connection with extremist manifestations.
“Special attention was paid to checking the notorious public associations, like Russian National Unity (RNE),” Yuri Chaika said. As of January 1, 2002, there were 22 RNE branches operating in Russia. The ministry took legal action to shut down six of them (in Khakasia and the regions of Khabarovsk, Krasnodar, Volgograd, Perm, and Tomsk).
The Prosecutor General’s Office also diligently fights extremists. Law enforcement agencies are currently investigating some three dozen cases of inciting ethnic, racial, or religious hatred. Ustinov admitted: “The alarming trend of extremist manifestations is growing.” Over 200 different neo-fascist skinhead groups operate in Moscow alone, according to the Prosecutor General’s Office.
Ustinov did not confine himself entirely to the achievements of his office. He also accused the Justice Ministry of insufficient activity, saying that the Yaroslavl RNE youth organization has not submitted any data to the justice administration for three years, but no one has gone after it. Some experts at once drew a conclusion: this criticisim from Ustinov is a response to the proposals to subordinate the Prosecutor General’s Office to the Justice Ministry – so he was “letting them know who is the boss”.
THE CENTRAL BANK WILL BE ABLE TO INSPECT BANKS AS MUCH AS IT LIKES
Izvestia, October 24, 2002, p. 5
At Wednesday’s plenary session, the Duma gave the first reading to some amendments to article 73 of the law on the Central Bank, increasing the number of bank inspections the Central Bank is permitted to make. According to the Intefax news agency, article 73 presently says that the Central Bank cannot inspect a bank (or its affiliate) more than once over the same issue within the same accounting period. However, the same article includes exceptions: if such an inspection is conducted in connection with reorganization or liquidation or if a check is conducted to control the activity of a CB territorial institution. The bill proposes extra grounds for this inspection – a decision of the CB Board of Directors made in accord with a motivated petition from a regional institution. Alexander Kotenkov, the president’s representative at the Duma, noted that the main state legal administration had prepared a “sharply negative” resolution on the bill. Kotenkov emphasized the concept of the bill goes counter to the general concept of deregulation of the economy. He thinks the bill ought to be discarded.
THE MEDIA: SUPPORTING TERRORISTS?
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, October 24, 2002, p. 2
Yesterday, the Duma once again focused its attention on the media – hearing claims that some television channels, websites, and newspapers either voluntarily or involuntarily hinder counter-terrorism operations, since they frequently reveal secrets and are sometimes reminiscent of terrorist training schools.
We requested comments from Vladimir Entin, head of the Center of Intellectual Property Legal Protection and an author of the law on themedia:
I believe that proposals put forward by Duma members – prescribing that journalists should interview only people who are considered reliable and have no links to terrorists – are unconstitutional and unlawful. What does it mean to “be suspected of terrorism”? Imagine the situation when a journalist publishes an interview with such a suspect and then he himself is legally prosecuted. But later, all the accusations against the suspect are dismissed in court. However, the journalist still violated the law. It is absurdity which shatters the basic principles of law. We ought to remember that the Constitution of the Russian Federation forbids censorship – that is, forbids establishing any organizations which could grant or deny permission to journalists to carry out their professional activities. Fortunately, the law on the media which is currently in effect provides norms that will reject all innovations meant to restrict the freedom of journalists. I think that the latest ideas as to making changes in the law will be of no effect.
A FLATTERING OFFER
Moskovsky Komsomolets, October 24, 2002, p. 2
A storm of various rumors has been swirling around the Yabloko party lately. Thus, there was talk that the intractable Yabloko leader would be offered a sinecure in the executive branch, while his Yabloko associates would join the Union of Right Forces (URF) to take part in the parliamentary elections together…
These rumors were “supported” by new rumors yesterday: a senior (and, as usual, anonymous) administration official told the Interfax news agency that by the end of the week Yavlinsky would receive a proposal to head Gosstroy (the State Construction Commission). Yavlinsky is said to have met chief of the presidential administration Alexander Voloshin the other day to discuss Gosstroy. To discuss the idea of Gosstroy being transformed into a ministry, with a post of deputy prime minister into the bargain…
Yavlinsky’s press secretary refused to comment on this yesterday. Meanwhile, Yabloko deputy leader Sergei Ivanenko gave another view of the talk about the fate of his party. In his view, this is an unmitigated provocation aimed at “the self-preservation of the URF”. By his estimates, the URF is losing political ground, in the eyes of both the voters and the regime. Ivanenko noted that Yabloko and the URF were two different parties, big enough by Russian measures, and influential in their own way. The URF is a party of property, it emphasises protecting the interests of big and medium business, and in some circumstances finds it possible to deviate from democratic principles for their benefit. But liberty and democratic values are Yabloko’s priorities… “Yabloko is not a right-wing party,” Ivanenko said.
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, October 24, 2002, p. 2
Yesterday, many news agencies quoted certain senior Kremlin sources as saying that Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky might soon join the Russian government as chairman of Gosstroy (the State Construction Committee).
It appears that this news aroused heated debate and further talk within the party in question. In any case, Yavlinsky’s office did not flatly deny the reports about the possible transfer of their boss to a senior government post.
Yavlinsky’s press secretary Yevgenia Dillendorf: “We view these reports as the government’s recognition of the Yabloko-proposed concept of housing and utilities reforms.”
However, by midday other Yabloko leaders were angrily denying the “vile rumors and gossip” about Yavlinsky abandoning the post of their faction leader.
Yabloko deputy chairman Sergei Mitrohkin: “Grigory Yavlinsky has not received any such proposals from the government. All these rumors are lies, meant to compromise him.”
As usual in such cases, the Yabloko leaders blame Anatoly Chubais for the attempts to smear Yavlinsky’s image.
Sergei Mitrohkin: “The start of these rumors was caused by the discussion of the reforms to Russian Joint Energy Systems. We disagree with the reform plan which Chubais’ supporters propose. Besides, the Union of Right Forces is trying to cause division in our ranks this way.”