VAVILOV AIMS TO BECOME A PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR

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VAVILOV AIMS TO BECOME A PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR

Stringer, February 13, 2003, p. 2

According to our sources, Senator Andrei Vavilov is trying to secure an appointment as the second presidential economic advisor. Currently, the president has only one economic advisor: Andrei Illarionov. However, some think the president needs two different advisors, who have different approaches to the economy. The efforts of lobbying for the new appointment are estimated at $50 million. Apparently, this money would be recovered fairly soon. The appointment is being lobbied for by the head of the presidential… Well, we won’t name him. We know, but we won’t tell.

RIGHT-WING LEADER INVITED TO SWING TO THE LEFT

Rossiyskie Vesti, February 12, 2003, p. 2

It seems some external forces have decided to push Union of Right Forces leader Boris Nemtsov out of politics.

As the first stage, they are putting psychological pressure on him, following typical KGB traditions. According to Nemtsov’s closest aides, the Union of Right Forces leader was sent an inflatable doll as a New Year’s gift, with all kinds of naughty accessories. They say Nemtsov was infuriated with the gift and ordered it to be thrown away; which was perfectly rational of him, as any inaction in this situation would have compromised Nemtsov as an individual. It is interesting that the package was anonymous, bearing only one stamp from a Moscow post office; so it was impossible to find the sender.

IF A FRIEND TURNS OUT TO BE NO FRIEND…

Rossiyskie Vesti, February 12, 2003, p. 2

Having toughly pressured the Belarussian president as a result of which Lukashenko has found himself in an international isolation, the US administration has softened the pressure and offered him an exchange: an outcome from the isolation for softening of this anti-western position.

According to our data, Lukashenko is seriously considering this proposal. Experts say Russia will suffer the most from this transaction, as it will be separated from Europe with a pro-western “sanitary” cordon. It is indicating that following the western policy, Russia has prepared this trap for itself. Moreover, Russia’s assets in Belarus – Gazprom and Slavneft – will also be threatened.

Nonetheless, Lukashenko may not accept US proposal, as one of the major conditions of the US Department of State is gradual transferring of the power to the pro-western “democratic” opposition.

Besides, the Russian authorities understand very well what such an alliance may cause and have started to look for “approaches” to the proud Belarussian president. Recent negotiations between Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko are the best evidence for this.

THE KREMLIN SPLITS GUSINSKY AND BEREZOVSKY

Rossiyskie Vesti, February 12, 2003, p. 2

Vladimir Gusinsky’s “amnesty” has actually been part of the Kremlin’s plan to drive a wedge between him and Boris Berezovsky.

According to our sources, in order to prevent two former tycoons from forming an anti-Putin media front, the Kremlin promised Gusinsky that all charges against him would be dropped. Moreover, part of Media-Most’s assets was returned to Gusinsky.

This policy has already yielded results. Gusinsky is said to have transferred his political activities to Israel: he plans to become a member of the Israeli Knesset. Besides, he also plans to head the Russian-speaking community in Israel, pushing aside Scharansky.

NEO-FASCISTS IN RUSSIA

Inostranets, February 11, 2003, p. 9

According to the Russian Interior Ministry, at present there are around 50 national-extremist organizations in Russia. According to Valery Komarov, head of the department of the Main Department for Fighting Organized Crime, there are three types of such organizations: nationalist organizations which aim at penetrating into elected power bodies; some “Aryan bands” formed as a counterbalance for ethnic criminal groups; and the most numerous soccer fans, skinheads, and neo-fascist rock-group fans.

The interior Ministry has not discovered a united skinhead movement in the country; at the same time, the movement involves around 15,000 people. The police have information about 2,500 skinheads residing in the Moscow region; about 17 neo-fascist organizations and 40-50 aggressive soccer fan groupings in St. Petersburg.

Last year, ten criminal cases were instigated against “hooligan soccer fans”. Besides, Komarov reminded that 36 people were brought to court and 19 criminal cases were investigated due to events on the Manezhnaya Square during translation of the Russia-Japan soccer match. Eight people have been sentenced.

RUSSIANS ON THE CHECHEN REFERENDUM

Inostranets, February 11, 2003, p. 9

On January 18, the Public Opinion foundation polled 1,500 respondents in urban and rural areas on their attitude to the Chechen referendum. Sixty-three percent of Russians know that the referendum on the Chechen constitution is to be held in March; 46% of respondents approve of this idea; 16% of respondents disapprove of the idea; the rest are unsure.

Nineteen percent of respondents say a referendum is “a democratic way to resolve issues: let it be as people want it”; 12% of respondents think that “it is important for government to know what people want”. Eight percent of respondents hope that the referendum will help to put Chechnya in order and to stabilize the situation, as well as for general changes for better; 6% of people hope it will help to put an end to the war. Some people, 1%, think that the referendum will resolve the issue of the Chechen independence – they think separation of Chechnya from Russia will be the best solution to the Chechen problem, and approve of the referendum.

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