RESULTS OF THE CABINET’S WORK ON NOVEMBER 14

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RESULTS OF THE CABINET’S WORK ON NOVEMBER 14

Parlamentskaya Gazeta, November 15, 2002

Yesterday, the Russian government considered a new version of the law on currency regulation and control. Opening the debate, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov noted that the current law on currency regulation is burdensome for the economic development of Russia.

The new edition of the bill envisages a “considerably reduced list of restrictions in currency regulation,” as compared to the law currently in force. In particular, “some measures of a permissive nature were replaced by informative measures.”

The proposal to retain the compulsory sale of 30% of foreign currency revenues, with the abolition of this measure in 2007, has remained unchanged. However, the Cabinet hasn’t yet reached consent on the matter of the repatriation terms: some cabinet members propose increasing the timing allowed for repatriation of foreign currency revenues from 90 to 180 days, while others think that 180 days would be too short.

A bill on insurance of personal deposits in Russian banks was also discussed at the Cabinet meeting. Vladimir Sokolin, Chairman of the State Statistics Committee, reported on the national census carried out in October. The Cabinet meeting ended with a discussion about holding the fifth meeting of the international inter-governmental consulting group against drug-taking in sport.

DUMA ATTACKING THE FEDERATION COUNCIL

Moskovsky Komsomolets, November 15, 2002, EV

In the near future the Duma might try to overcome the Federation Council’s veto on a bill on early marriages. At the latest meeting, the senators rejected the bill permitting marriage from the age of 14. Members of the Federation Council, who previously used to establish conciliatory committees in similar cases, flatly denied to do so in this case, seriously embarrassing Gennady Seleznev, the Duma speaker. In his opinion, it is “completely wrong” that the Duma’s initiative “will pave the way for early marriages.” Therefore, Seleznev doesn’t rule out that the Duma members could aggravate their relations with their colleagues from the upper house of parliament and try to overcome the veto. Thus far, the Duma committee for women’s and youth affairs is holding consultations on the issue with the lawmakers from various factions and deputies’ groups.

JOURNALISTS AND TERRORISTS

Trud, November 15, 2002, EV

By an absolute majority of votes, the upper house of the Russian parliament has approved amendments to law on combating terrorism and on the media, adopted by the Duma, and regulating press releases for anti-terrorist operations.

The newly adopted legal standards ban releasing information which might impede the progress of anti-terrorist operations or endanger people’s lives or health. It is also not permitted to broadcast statements aimed at propaganda or justification of resistance to such operations, as well as statements revealing personal details about agents of task forces and members of the operational headquarters, and persons aiding them without consent of all the categories of persons mentioned above.

Amendments to the law don’t permit the media to be used to disseminate information about techniques for producing weapons, ammunition or explosives.

The overwhelming majority of the Federation Council members approved the document. Thus, Senator Alexander Kalita severely criticized the journalists who covered the hostage-taking in Moscow. He said: “Voluntarily or not, the journalists were aiding the terrorists by their reports, speaking about the movements of the troops. The terrorists count on the support of the media agencies; therefore, it is necessary to approve the bill, since it is aimed at the protection of future generations.”

Nikolai Kondratenko, former governor of Krasnodar, used stronger words, noting: “Russia has no free press, and all journalists are only working for money; therefore, the bill should be passed.”

The Yabloko faction in the Duma opposed the amendments, saying that passing them “would create a basis for restricting freedom of speech and harassment of media outlets.”

TWO EMPLOYEES OF THE RED CROSS ABDUCTED

Izvestia, November 15, 2002, p. 2 EV

Yesterday, the Chechen prosecutor’s office instituted criminal proceedings over the abduction of two employees of the Red Cross in the North Caucasus. The employees were working as drivers and transporting humanitarian aid. On Wednesday afternoon, unidentified persons stopped their trucks at the highway in the Grozny district. At gun-point, Alexander Panov and Musa Satushiyev were forced to get into a Niva car and driven off in an unknown direction. Thus far, directors of the International Red Cross committee don’t intend to stop the activities of their organization in Chechnya, even though they don’t rule out such a possibility.

On Wednesday evening, Alexander Panov and Musa Satushiyev were returning to Nalchik from Grozny, where they had delivered the humanitarian aid. On the road between the villages of Pobedinskoye and Goragorsky, a few armed people in masks halted the convoy. Panov and Satushiyev were forced into a white Niva car and driven away; two more employees of the Red Cross, residents of Grozny, and expensive Scania and Toyota trucks were left untouched.

“The decision on stopping the activities the Red Cross in Chechnya hasn’t been made yet. At the moment, our leaders are assessing the situation in the light of the recent events,” Archil Kryukov, advisor for legal matter of the Moscow mission of the International Red Cross committee said.

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