THE YEAR OF DIRTY TECHNIQUES

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THE YEAR OF DIRTY TECHNIQUES

Izvestia, December 25, 2002, p. 4 EV

Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov said yesterday that in 2002 the number of people with criminal records running for political office had fallen to almost a third of its previous level. However, this has not made the Interior Ministry’s expanded collegium on countering electoral law violations complacent. The collegium considers that many of these laws require amendment.

In his opening speech at a collegium meeting, Gryzlov said: “Our background checks of candidates in 2001 found 3,502 people with convictions which had not been withdrawn by the courts. In 2002, 1,386 such people have been found.” Gryzlov noted that one of the Interior Ministry’s priorities is “to counter efforts by organized crime to infiltrate government bodies”.

“We are registering the violations; criminal cases are being instigated based on these incidents, but less than 20% of these cases reach the courts,” Gryzlov complained, but didn’t specify who is to blame for this.

However, 2002 brought fewer violations of the electoral laws. According to the figures given, 526 such violations were disclosed in 2001 (38 of them of a criminal nature), whereas over the first nine months of 2002 their number was 134 (17 of them of a criminal nature).

Speaking at the board meeting, Alexander Veshnyakov, chairman of the Central Election Commission, stressed the necessity of correcting the laws, especially the Criminal Code and the Code of Administrative Violations, so that they both comply with the changes made to the electoral laws. For instance, Veshnyakov proposed to introduce criminal penalties for providing substantial financial or material assistance in addition to a candidate’s campaign fund; to change the time limitation for administrative penalties for violating the electoral laws from two months to 12 months (“two months could be insufficient”). However, he proposed to shorten the time given to courts for considering protocols of administrative violations in the course of election campaigns, to 120 hours.

RUSSIA’S ECONOMY IS STRONGLY DEPENDENT ON THE GLOBAL SITUATION

Izvestia, December 25, 2002, p. 5 EV

According to the AK&M news agency, Economic Development and Trade Minister Herman Gref said at a news conference that external economic factors have accounted for 50% of Russia’s GDP growth for 2002. “This indicator shows that, unfortunately, the Russian economy is still significantly dependent on the situation on global markets,” the minister noted. According to the Economic Development Ministry, the contribution of final consumption to the growth of the GDP will be 30%. The significance of the investment factor won’t exceed 10%, which is a “rather low figure.” The existing structure of economic growth shows that “diversification of the economy remains the government’s primary objective,” Herman Gref emphasized.

GAZPROM’S FOREIGN CURRENCY REVENUES AT $12.8 BILLION FOR 2002

Izvestia, December 25, 2002, p. 5 EV

Yuri Komarov, deputy CEO of Gazprom, reported on Tuesday that Gazprom’s foreign currency revenues for 2002 will total $12.8 billion. According to Komarov, in 2003 this indicator is expected to reach $13-13.5 billion. Yuri Komarov also noted that the volumes of export deliveries to traditional markets will total around 130 billion cubic meters for 2002. Moreover, spot sales to Britain will add another 2 billion cubic meters. Gazprom exports 134 billion cubic meters of natural gas. Besides, 3 billion cubic meters of gas more will be sold at spot sales. Speaking about the Yamal-Europe pipeline project, Komarov said that Poland had overestimated its market capacity in the process of signing the contract for the construction of this gas pipeline. At the moment, a reduction of Poland’s commitments for gas extraction is being negotiated.

PARTIES TO TAKE UP PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS AND CONTROL OVER MINISTERS

Izvestia, December 25, 2002, p. 2 EV

Yesterday the Duma passed amendments to the law on presidential elections in the third and final reading: 416 votes in favor (226 votes required to pass), with two votes against and two abstentions. At the same time, the Duma centrists proposed an initiative to enable federal ministers to join political parties – and even released a list of potential members of the United Russia party.

According to the new law on presidential elections, “any Russian citizen over 35 who has been a permanent resident of the Russian Federation for at least a decade” is eligible to become head of state. The law provides a maximum of two terms in office for the president. The rules for nominating presidential candidates have been changed substantially. Thus, parties which collect enough votes to enter the Duma during parliamentary elections will gain some privileges: presidential candidates from these parties will not be required to collect citizens’ signatures in support of their nomination.

Independent candidates, who have no powerful support from a party, will have to collect signatures. Any Russian who has the support of an initiative group of 500 people (which nominates him) and collects 2 million signatures may become an independent candidate.

The new law schedules the next presidential election for March 14, 2004.

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