COMMUNISTS SEEK CONTRIBUTORS

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COMMUNISTS SEEK CONTRIBUTORS

Moskovsky Komsomolets, April 17, 2003, EV

With elections on the horizon, the left-wing forces have a new idea. It involves both campaign advertising and revenues at the same time. According to estimates of Communists themselves, this idea may earn the party some 150 million rubles (over $4.5 million).

The left-wing forces seek to breach what they call “an information blockade” organized by the Kremlin. But leaving aside the pretentious term, the real situation is much more prosaic: Communists have decided to finance part of their election campaign with the money of voters. The public was requested to make contributions to the Communist Party. A special account has been opened for that purpose. “We have been denied access to state-run TV channels, but there is the Internet,” Gennady Zyuganov claimed. “We will invest the funds raised in our Internet resources and publishing patriotic newspapers and magazines.” Communist representatives say that they will print a huge number of leaflets and a report on the performance of the Communist faction which will be “delivered to every Russian family”. For some reason Communists are confident that voters will gladly contribute their hard-earned money to the needs of the party.

RUSSIA CONCERNED ABOUT AGREEMENT BETWEEN GEORGIA AND THE USA

Moskovsky Komsomolets, April 17, 2003, EV

The agreement on military and defense cooperation between Georgia and the United States drew a negative reaction from the Russian Duma. Parliamentarians consider that this document poses a threat to Russia’s security. Yesterday the Duma discussed a rather tough directive issued with regard to this issue. Georgia’s reaction was quite negative: Georgian politicians claim Russia’s involvement and intrusion into Georgia’s internal affairs. Andrei Kokoshin, chairman of the Duma Committee for CIS affairs and relations with ethnic Russians abroad, gave us his comments on the situation.

Question: Do you really think that this agreement poses a threat to Russia’s security?

Andrei Kokoshin: Georgia, of course, has the sovereign right to sign agreements, while Russia has the sovereign right to express its attitude to these agreements. The agreement in question creates the situation of inequality, since the Russian military does not enjoy the same status as the U.S. does. And certainly, this agreement serves the foundation for enhanced presence of U.S. military forces near our borders. We have apprehensions that the U.S. military may be used for the resolution of the Abkhazian and South-Ossetian conflicts by force, which doubtlessly poses a threat to Russia’s security.

Question: What practical measures can be taken right now to change the situation?

Andrei Kokoshin: First of all, Russia may demand that Georgia grant the Russian military the same status as U.S. forces have in Georgia. Secondly, we must obtain guarantees both from Georgia and the United States that the military staff and materiel that will be delivered to Georgia will not be used for forcible resolution of the Abkhaz, Ossetian and Ajar problems. Thirdly, we must secure guarantees that this agreement really refers to a very limited number of U.S. servicemen, some 70-80 as is maintained in Georgia, and that the USA will not boost its presence in the region.

UNITED RUSSIA PARTY TO DRAW UP SERGEANTS AND SERGEANT-MAJORS

Izvestia, April 17, 2003, p. 3 EV

Leader of the Unity faction Vladimir Pekhtin put forward a proposal to conduct an all-Russian conference of sergeants and sergeant-majors this year. On the eve of a meeting with the leaders of Russia’s centrist forces Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov stressed that it is these categories of servicemen that will be eligible for the contract-based service in the first place. Mr. Pekhtin reminded that in Soviet times sergeants and sergeant-majors had been brought together regularly, since their service has always been of particular importance. “We must revive this tradition,” the parliamentarian added.

COMMUNISTS TO COVER THE WHOLE COUNTRY BY MEANS OF THE INTERNET

Izvestia, April 17, 2003, p. 3 EV

Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov claims that his party will make its Internet resources available in all 89 regions of Russia. “The success of the election campaign will depend particularly on the propaganda and promotion, that is why we decided to call on all citizens to render financial assistance to the Communist Party for improvement of its material & technical basis,” Zyuganov said at a news conference in Moscow. He reported that all the contributions will be supplied to more than 300 periodicals that are published in various regions of Russia.

CHECHENS WANT RUSSIANS BACK IN CHECHNYA

Izvestia, April 17, 2003, p. 3 EV

Members of the Chechen diaspora have come out in support of a system of quotas for ethnic representation in the future governing bodies of Chechnya. Chairman of the upper house of the People’s Assembly of Chechnya Amin Osmayev says that by doing this Chechnya would manage to bring back the ethnic Russian residents who have left Chechnya since 1991. According to Mr. Osmayev, at the moment the Russian population numbers some 30,000 people, whereas before 1991 its was ten times as much (300,000).

RUSSIAN UNION OF INDUSTRIALISTS AND ENTREPRENEURS TO HELP STATE PULL OUT OF BUSINESS

Izvestia, April 17, 2003, p. 3 EV

The board of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RUIE), which has been working its own version of an administrative reform plan, supports a bill on federal executive bodies. At yesterday’s meeting, the RUIE board approved a set of proposals which will be submitted to the president for consideration in mid-May.

“The administrative reforms are necessary to help the state withdraw from business,” says Aleksander Shokhin, head of the RUIE working group. “Members of the group agree with the government – surplus state functions must be abolished, while the jurisdiction of each department must be clearly defined. It is necessary not only to define the key functions, which the government has already done, but back up this division by laws (in order to avoid confusion in future).”

JUSTICE MINISTRY PROPOSES A LAW ON DEMONSTRATIONS

Izvestia, April 17, 2003, p. 3 EV

The Justice Ministry has submitted a bill on demonstrations, rallies, marches and picketing for the Duma’s consideration. Deputy Justice Minister Yevgeny Sidorenko reported on Wednesday that the draft law is meant to fill the gap in legislation that results from the absence of regulations for public events organized by citizens. The law in question is meant to ensure the constitutional rights of citizens to freedom of assembly, rallies and marches and protect their rights from being violated.

IRAQ HAS TO PAY OFF ITS DEBTS

Trud, April 17, 2003, EV

British Secretary for International Development Clare Short admitted that all creditor countries, including Russia, have the right to demand what is due to them from the new Iraqi government.

The Paris Club of creditor nations is to deal with Iraq’s debts, according to Short, who is a Cabinet minister and a prominent figure in the Labour Party. This idea is in full compliance with Russia’s proposal. Unlike the London Club which deals with commercial debts, the Paris Club of creditor nations has traditionally focused on state debt. When asked how the contracts for rebuilding Iraq are distributed among the coalition partners, Short had to admit that by now American firms have already won orders worth a total of $600 million, while British companies had nothing. Bu she hopes that after the civilian administration takes office in Iraq, overseas companies may get involved in the restoration activities.

THERE WILL BE NO AMENDMENTS

Trud, April 17, 2003, EV

The Duma has refused to introduce changes into the laws on citizenship. The bill provided for amendments to the law on Russian citizenship, easing procedures for obtaining Russian citizenship for residents of the former USSR who are now in the CIS or Baltic states. The bill’s authors had proposed to expand the number of persons eligible for Russian citizenship. The requirement to give up any other citizenship, as well as assessment of the knowledge of Russia, were supposed to be abolished. The draft law also provided for reduction of the mandatory period of residence on the territory of the Russian Federation.

Duma member Boris Nadezhdin pointed out the need to introduce a number of amendments regarding the five-year period of residence. Nadezhdin maintains that for former Soviet citizens this period should begin not from May 2002 but the moment they entered the Russian Federation and got registered as living there. He stressed that this amendment does not change the concept of the law on the mandatory five-year period of residence. Besides, the bill’s authors proposed to waive the requirement of a five-year period of residence for people who are over 60.

The authors of the amendments had hoped that the law would help “relieve social tension in the regions of Russia whose populations are largely made up of people who worked at construction sites of national significance in those regions before 1991”.

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