ALEXANDER VESHNYAKOV: ELECTION OFFICIALLY BEGINS ON SEPTEMBER 1

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ALEXANDER VESHNYAKOV: ELECTION OFFICIALLY BEGINS ON SEPTEMBER 1

Moskovsky Komsomolets, April 15, 2003, EV

Central Election Commission Chairman Alexander Veshnyakov says that the election officially begins on September 1.

Yesterday, Central Election Commission members passed the provision that they would not sit on ruling bodies of political parties and would serve the law instead. Observers do not know how it is possible because the Central Election Commission is formed to some extent by thoroughly politicized former lawmakers.

As of now, the Central Election Commission will approve candidates for the posts of regional commission chairmen, deputy chairmen, and voting members. Mikhail Titov, Chairman of the Tver Election Commission, was endorsed yesterday in the midst of a scandal. Vadim Soloviov, a Central Election Commission member representing the Communist Party, said that the Tver Election Commission was notorious for numerous violations including tampering with the results and that the Auditing Commission had uncovered misuse of funds. Titov was Okayed all the same.

ANOTHER SCANDAL OVER MASS GRAVES IN CHECHNYA

Moskovsky Komsomolets, April 15, 2003, EV

Human rights activists claim that about 3,000 Chechens, victims of the military, are buried in 49 settlements. Kremlin-appointed leader of Chechnya Akhmad Kadyrov calls the figure an exaggeration and the facts themselves doubtful.

Everything began with the French Le Monde that published excerpts from the report Akayev’s administration had sent to the Kremlin. The figures are taken from the newspaper referring to the report. The newspaper does not explain how it got hold of the document but journalists appear confident of its authenticity.

Kadyrov himself claims that the report is but a canard his administration does not have anything to do with. Neither does the prosecutor’s office of Chechnya know anything about reports. According to prosecutors, the figures referred to by Le Monde “do not have anything to do with the true state of affairs.” What does it mean? That there are mass graves in Chechnya but the body count does not reach 3,000?

How many then? Officials did not give a clear answer yesterday. They do not know. Referring to some documents obtained from the Russian authorities, Human Rights Watch claims to know the answer. According to the international organization, 109 residents of Chechnya died in the hands of the federal troops every month in 2002. The situation is slightly better now but not significantly. The crime rate in Chechnya defies imagination. In January 2003, 60 were murdered, 126 abducted, and in 125 episodes fragments of bodies were discovered.

PRESIDENT OUTLINES NEW GLOBAL CHALLENGES

Izvestia, April 15, 2003, p. 3, EV

Emphasizing the necessity to up the UN potential in crisis management, President Vladimir Putin outlined the major problems the international community is facing. “The threat of a nuclear catastrophe is being replaced with new global challenges – international terrorism, trafficking, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, financial-economic crises, ecological threats, and mass epidemics,” Putin said in his address to Moscow International Model of the UN 2003 role game. The president underlined importance of the anti-crisis potential of the UN.

RUSSIA INSISTS ON ABOLITION OF VISAS TO EUROPEAN UNION COUNTRIES

Izvestia, April 15, 2003, p. 3, EV

Preparation of the Russia – European Union summit in St. Petersburg in late May will be in the focus of attention of the Russia – European Union Cooperation Council slated for Tuesday in Luxembourg.

Alexander Yakovenko of the Foreign Ministry of Russia says that Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov already departed for Luxembourg. “Special attention in Luxembourg will be paid to consequences of expansion of the European Union and to handling Russian concerns in this respect, Yakovenko said. “Russia will continue promotion of President Putin’s initiative concerning a visa-free regime for citizens of Russia and the European Union.”

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