VESHNYAKOV EXPLAINS THE FINER POINTS OF ELECTORAL REFORMS

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VESHNYAKOV EXPLAINS THE FINER POINTS OF ELECTORAL REFORMS

Izvestia, April 2, 2003, EV

Alexander Veshnyakov, head of the Central Election Commission, started testing the electoral reforms in Arkhangelsk yesterday. He met with regional parliamentarians and lectured the heads of territorial election committees. The CEC head explained all the finer points of the electoral reforms. According to Veshnyakov, “the region must implement a proportional system and attach single-mandate districts to the region’s territories”. If this happens, voters will receive two ballot papers – one for a single-mandate district and one with specific names of persons representing a party in the district. Veshnyakov said that the choice of a specific candidate from a party list will depend on voters, not party bosses.

AKHMAD KADYROV DEMANDS AN END TO SEARCH OPERATIONS

Izvestia, April 2, 2003, EV

Akhmad Kadyrov, head of the Chechen administration, has made a categorical demand for an end to the practice of search operations in Chechnya’s villages. He noted at a meeting in Grozny on Tuesday that “search operations are useless: guerrillas have got used to them, and leave villages before such operations begin”. Kadyrov also demanded that the federal forces and police should not detain people at night; Chechens tend to disappear after such arrests. According to Kadyrov, over 1,600 people detained in Chechnya are missing. Kadyrov noted that a few competent troopers from the Task Force or a special police unit can achieve better results than large units.

RUSSIA SPEEDING UP SCRAPPING OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS

Izvestia, April 2, 2003, EV

Zinovy Pak, Director General of the Russian Ammunition Agency, stated at a launch ceremony for the first water-supply system at the Shuchye chemical plant (the Kurgan region), that Britain will supervise the construction of a plant to dismantle chemical weapons at the Maradykovo arsenal (the Kirov region). According to Pak, Russia previously intended to build three full-scale plants for scrapping chemical weapons. At present Russia proposes to carry out the initial phase of detoxication of chemical weapons at chemical arsenals, except for Kizner (Udmurtia), from which chemical weapons will be transported to Shuchye. According to Pak, this will speed up the process of eliminating chemical weapons by three years.

IT TAKES A COUPLE OF HOURS TO FLY FROM BAKU TO BAGHDAD

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, April 2, 2003, EV

The government of Azerbaijan is prepared to permit the anti-Iraq coalition to use its military airfields. Defense Minister Safar Abiyev confirmed that this requires negotiations between the US Defense Department and the Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan. In the meantime, Azerbaijan has already permitted flights by US military aircraft over its territory. NATO’s specialists have appreciated the quality of military airfields in Azerbaijan (their runways can receive almost all types of aircraft). Turkey helped Azerbaijan to modernize military airfields in Kurdamir, Nasosonoe, and Gyandzh. These airfields are prepared to receive the coalition’s aircraft.

It is evident that Azerbaijan has chosen its foreign policy priorities, and is trying to please its strategic partner: the government and the Defense Ministry have been trying to support the anti-Iraq coalition since the beginning of the Iraq war. Moreover, the US administration recently asked Congress to allocate an extra $41.5 million to Azerbaijan. Thomas Adams, coordinator of relief programs for European and Eurasian nations, stated that Azerbaijan needs Washington’s aid – as one of the few Islamic states which supports the US and borders Iran.

Military experts say that US military aircraft will be landing at Azerbaijan’s airfields within a few days. It takes only a couple of hours to fly to Iraq from Azerbaijan.

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