A STEP CLOSER TO THE CONSTITUTION

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A STEP CLOSER TO THE CONSTITUTION

Trud, April 1, 2003, EV

A draft constitutional act of the Russian-Belarusian Union was published in Moscow. Under the document, the constitution itself is to be adopted by referendum. It will come into effect 30 days after its official publication in both countries.

The constitutional act is the major law for the transition period before adoption of the Union constitution. Chairmen of the Russian-Belarusian commission Duma Chairman Gennadi Seleznev and his Belarusian counterpart Vadim Popov say that the draft constitutional act will be forwarded to the Supreme State Council of the Russian-Belarusian Union, which is expected to meet in late April.

NATIONAL GUARD TO APPEAR IN RUSSIA

Moskovsky Komsomolets, April 1, 2003, EV

Internal Troops Commander-in-Chief Vyacheslav Tikhomirov says that Russia will have a new security structure, the National Guard, two or three years from now.

Authors of the future reorganization are convinced that the National Guard of the president of the Russian Federation will become the first truly elite unit.

Structurally, the National Guard will comprise of Special Forces detachments amassed into brigades. Every brigade will include three detachments 1,000 men strong.

Not all of the Internal Troops will be transformed into the National Guard. The Interior Ministry will retain detachments for vital objects protection and escort, not to mention motorized units of the police. Numerical strength of these units will be reduced to 30,000. The Internal Troops will contain only one general, the commander.

The National Guard will be answerable to the president. It will be officially tasked to:

-assist internal affairs structures and the Federal Security Service in their war on terrorism;

-handle mass upheavals on the territory of the country;

-participate in local armed conflicts; and

-maintain the state of emergency regime.

THE ELECTION CAMPAIGN IS ON

Moskovsky Komsomolets, April 1, 2003, EV

United Russia, the power party whose congress took place last weekend, relies on unlimited administrative resources. It’s rating, however, is far below that of the Communist Party. By the way, communists organized a rally last weekend demanding resignation of the president for the first time in three years. According to the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center, about 20% of voters support United Russia and over 30% back up communists. Something more is needed to bridge the gap than preventing Gennadi Zyuganov’s appearance on TV screens. The so-called red governors will probably be put under considerable pressure. Most probably, however, the powers-that-be will have to urgently set up a bona fide social-democratic faction. It is clear after all that the project of Gennadi Seleznev’s Russia is a waste of time and funds.

The situation on the right flank of the political spectrum is better where United Russia is concerned. 7.5% voters were ready to support the Union of Right Forces and about 5.5% Yabloko in March. It may be added, however, that the Yabloko was losing 1% of voters every month these last three months, and the Union of Right Forces gained approximately the same number of votes.

United Russia’s main problem is located in the political spectrum. In the first place, United Russia has to prevent participation in the election of the People’s Deputy and Sergei Mironov’s Party of Life. The party will surely pull all strings in the Kremlin to explain to the analogous parties that they should not come up with their own lists of candidates. It will probably succeed.

Something else is much more difficult. United Russia has serious problems with self-identification. It cannot explain to its supporters’ satisfaction in exactly what it differs from the left and the right. Addressing the congress, United Russia leader Boris Gryzlov called the major rivals (the Union of Right Forces and Communist Party) “old power parties”. United Russia should do better than that. It will have to come up with something more substantial and convincing by September.

PLENARY SESSION OF THE PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY UNDER WAY

Parlamentskaya Gazeta, April 1, 2003, EV

Plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly began in Strasbourg yesterday, with the permanent Russian delegation in attendance.

The agenda was agreed upon in the morning. Paradoxical though it undoubtedly is, the agenda may not include the subject of the war the United States and Great Britain are waging on Iraq. The most pressing problem of international life, the crisis discussed at three previous sessions, may remain beyond the focus of participants this time.

Enemies of the Iraq subject refer to the following argument. They fear a split in the organization. It already happened at the meeting of the European Parliament in Brussels where all the heated debates escalating into regular scandals ended in nothing.

The subject of Chechnya, however, is on the agenda – to Rudolph Binding’s satisfaction. The draft resolutions and recommendations include his delirious ideas of the so-called international trial for Chechnya. Some French politicians predict that the decisions may be adopted by an anti-Russian group of 60 – 80 deputies vastly outnumbering the Russian delegation.

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