GOOD AND BAD
Versia, December 2, 2002, pp. 2, 3
President Mintimer Shaimiev of Tatarstan is dissatisfied with the amendments made by the Federation Council to the law on “Languages of the peoples of the Russian Federation”. According to the law, the Cyrillic alphabet is to become the official alphabet for the whole country and all its ethnic republics. According to Shaimiev, the new amendments violate several clauses of the Constitution of Russia. Besides, using Cyrillic makes it impossible to spell some Tatar words and prevents Tatars from entering the world informational system. Besides, scientists think that forced transitions of Tatar to Cyrillic alphabet irreversibly damaged their culture and the new law will only worsen the damages.
Over a year, 600 people have been killed in the Russian Armed Forces and 20,000 have been injured as a result of various accidents and crimes. Based on this, President Putin has charged the defense minister to give special attention to “lawless relations”. The Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers is convinced there are many more casualties in the Armed Forces.
Americans are willing to develop a thermo-nuclear reactor together with Russian scientists which could solve the energy problems of the human race. The international project for creation of the reactor has existed for 15 years and involves Russia, Canada, Japan, and some European countries. Several years ago, the US withdrew from the project, but now the US has saved several millions of dollars and is once again ready to participate in the project – when the reactor is almost ready.
The presidential monitoring department checked the work of the Nature Ministry and concluded that 60% of Russians live on extremely polluted territories. The Nature Ministry does not pay enough attention to the environmental protection control and does not control the fulfillment of the law on Environment Protection. The presidential monitoring department charged the Nature Ministry with development and introduction of ecologically harmless technologies for processing industrial and domestic waste.
Epidemiologists conclude that due to tougher measures for fighting drug addiction by the Russian police, the number of new HIV-positive people halved this year compared to the last year. Ninety percent of people are infected with the disease via dirty syringes. Due to police efforts, last year less heroin was brought to Russia, and fewer people were able to use it, including beginners.
Expert, December 2, 2002, pp. 89, 114
At present, there are two major interlinked trends in Russia’s investment situation: a growing difference between regions and the formation of the investment core. In 2001-02, the differentiation between regions started growing again. Only five regions – Moscow, Leningrad, Yaroslav, Tula, and the Khabarovsk territory – substantially increased their investment resources and moved to higher rating classes. At the same time, 14 regions – including the Krasnoyarsk territory, the Maritime territory, and the Volgograd region – decreased their rating class.
The “investment core” is forming in Russia: the investment climate has considerably increased in the regions situated between Moscow and St. Petersburg. Now, the regions adjacent to the two megapolices – the Moscow and Leningrad regions – plus, satellite regions – Novgorod and Yaroslavl regions – have minimal investment risks. They are forming an “investment reserve” for realization of the projects which are for some reasons unreasonable to realize in large cities and adjacent regions. Taking into account that the Tver and Vologda regions are also having A rather high investment rating, it is possible to say that the investment core is forming along the Moscow-St. Petersburg highway. The eight regions that form the “investment core” receive about a third of the total investment potential of Russia.
PRESIDENTIAL RATING BREAKS RECORDS
Argumenty i Fakty, December 4, 2002, p. 4
The National Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) has registered an unprecedented growth of Vladimir Putin’s popularity rating: from 77% in October to 83% in November. At present, only 15% of Russians disapprove of the president. According to polls, a third of respondents like their president for his energy and activity; 26% of respondents like him for his strong will; 29% like his ability to speak clearly; 34% of respondents like Putin for his state affairs approach; and 21% like his honesty and personal charm.
However, according to the previous VTsIOM poll, 30% think their material position has deteriorated over 2002 – so far, the population has “shifted” the blame to others: the government, Duma deputies, party politicians, and top officials, who are “interfering with the reforms and our president”. Only 30% of respondents trust bureaucrats, and 20% of respondents like Duma deputies.
Argumenty i Fakty, December 4, 2002, p. 4
According to the census, 145,100 million people live in Russia. Of them, 2 million are officials. Over 2002, 531 military were killed in the Russian Army not on the battlefield; 500,000 of Russian prisoners have serious diseases; 57 hexogen charges were confiscated from a pensioner in the Kurgan region.
Zavtra, December 5, 2002, p. 1
According to our sources, President George Bush announced that the international inspectors in Iraq are not supposed to check production and presence of mass destruction weapons in Iraq, but to accept the total disarmament in Iraq. Thus, the US will consider not presenting of the mass destruction weapons by Saddam Hussein as its presence in Iraq. Thus, no matter if Iraq presents or not presents the mass destructive weapons, it will be guilty. According to the same source in New York, the bombing is to start between December 16 and 20.
The scheduled “double” visit of Vladimir Putin to Beijing and Delhi seems to be a not very competent attempt to balance Russia’s integration into the pro-American coalition as a younger partner. It also reflects a typical for a former security officer intention to preserve some “sidetracks” to influence the “younger brothers”, say our sources in diplomatic circles. At the same time, it is noted that Putin is accepted in Beijing as a satellite: the unprecedented opening if loans for Russia to buy Chinese technologies and equipment proves it. At the same time, China has made it clear for Russia that if it continues its pro-American policy, China will lose interest in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, especially if the US starts an anti-Iraq operation.
Partial restoration of Soviet symbolism in the Russian Armed Forces is a screen to cover their total reforming, as a result of which the army will be aimed at “anti-terrorist” police actions and will be unable to defend the country from foreign aggression, say our Kremlin sources. According to them, it is a condition for Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov to become a presidential contender – however, a number of presidential administration leaders connected with the Family have been charged with its fulfillment.
Russia’s largest oil companies are discussing the prospects of the “northern oil way” which is connected with the Kremlin’s strategic decision to redirect oil exports to the US. At the same time, all three construction options far exceed the allocated $2-2,5 million, and are estimated at approximately $5 million. This excess makes all projects unprofitable and unrealistic with the present situation on the world market. If the US attacks Iraq, all investments will be frozen.
According to our sources in Philadelphia, the creation of the “Ministry of Truth” in the US – which in fact unites the functions of the FBI, CIA, tax police, and a number of other security structures – is another attempt by the Bush administration to control the financial activities of largest US corporations. The staff of the Homeland Security Department is being filled with Republican party members, whose main aim is to “subordinate” to the White House the disloyal and independent oil companies, which will undoubtedly draw some resistance from the latter.