GREF GONE?

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GREF GONE?

Argumenty i Facty, April 23, 2003, p. 2

On April 21 the press service of the Economic Development and Trade Ministry announced that Minister Herman Gref will be on leave “in connection with his recovery after a recent illness”. Meanwhile rumors about a serious disease of the minister as long ago as early April. He was said to suffer bad headaches, which could possibly be the aftermath of a car accident. Nervous tension might have also affected his state of health. As is known, the Economic Development Ministry had been designing its own concept of the administrative reforms, which became a bone of contention between Herman Gref and Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov. At that time Gref was also in charge of preparing the economic part of the president’s annual address to the Federal Assembly, and had apprehensions that its content might also draw the prime minister’s displeasure.

It is said that the prime minister signed Gref’s request for a vacation without delay. According to some reports, Gref will be convalescing from his illness in Switzerland.

THEY STILL STEAL IN CHECHNYA, THOUGH LESS

Argumenty i Fakty, April 23, 2003, p. 5

Auditing Commission chairman Sergei Stepashin has reported that the Auditing Commission has completed an audit of funds provided for restoration of Chechnya. In 2002 some 20 billion rubles of state funding was spent for this purpose. Sergei Chuichenko, head of the Auditing Commission working group in Chechnya, told us that the past year had seen more order in the rebel republic. “In 2001 we disclosed misuse of funds to a total of 711 million rubles, whereas in 2002 this sum of misuse was considerably less – 364 million rubles,” he said.

Misuse is rather a vague term, however. It can be applied to such seemingly “harmless” things as financing of military registration and enlistment offices in Chechnya not from the Defense Ministry’s funds, as prescribed by the Budget Code, but from Chechnya’s budget. On the other hand, the auditors disclosed cases of embezzlement to a total of 21.3 million rubles. For instance, some 8 million rubles was transferred to an account of a construction firm in the city of Tver for purchase of construction materials. The result is as follows: neither money, nor materials, nor a company in existence.

PUTIN ISSUES INSTRUCTIONS TO HIS PRESIDENTIAL ENVOYS

Izvestia, April 24, 2003, p. 3 EV

President Vladimir Putin has instructed his envoys in the federal districts to pay special attention to enforcement of laws which are of particular importance for the state. Primarily, this concerns the set of laws on land and judicial reform. Speaking about the laws on land, the president stressed that this problem is very important for both cities and rural areas. “This is a matter of people’s lives. Land is a means of making a living, and the future of millions of people depends on how these laws are enforced.” The president reminded them that by July 14 the regional laws must be brought into full compliance with federal legislation regarding the mixed electoral system.

DEFENSE REPRESENTATIVES FROM AROUND THE WORLD GATHER IN MOSCOW

Izvestia, April 24, 2003, p. 3 EV

A conference which brought together chiefs of secret services, security services and law-enforcement agencies from all over the world opened yesterday in Moscow. Sixty delegations representing forty-three countries will discuss the problem of prevention of financing the international terrorism and ways of improving on-line data exchange within the framework of fulfillment of UN Security Council Resolution 1373 passed in 2001. The Russian delegation includes Federal Security Service director Nikolai Patrushev, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Foreign Intelligence Service chief Sergei Lebedev, and Head of the State Committee on Drug Traffic Prevention Victor Cherkesov. Journalists are not admitted to the conference.

RUSSIAN SENATORS WATCH THEIR RIGHTS

Izvestia, April 24, 2003, p. 3 EV

On April 23 a majority in the Federation Council voted to approve changes to the federal law on presidential elections, concerning the procedure of appointing the date of elections. The senators insist on their sole right to set the date of presidential elections and demand that this be confirmed by the law.

Sixty-one senators voted against the early dismissal of Rafgat Altynbayev, the head of the Committee on Local Government in Tatarstan. The Federation Council’s commission on procedure regulations will advise President Mintimer Shaimiyev of Tatarstan, whose political views differ from those of Rafgat Altynbayev, to formulate his complaints against Mr. Altynbayev more precisely.

BLACK SEA FLEET BEGINS EXERCISES

Izvestia, April 24, 2003, p. 3 EV

Russian and Ukrainian warships sailed out yesterday to begin a simulated peacekeeping operation as part of the Peace Fairway 2003 military exercises. The operation involves peacekeeping activities in an area of a hypothetical natural disaster. Today participants in the exercises will have to land marines and deploy peacekeeping forces in Kazachya Bay; numbering 200 servicemen and 16 items of military hardware. According to Commander of the Black Sea Fleet, Vice Admiral Vladimir Masorin, the exercises “are taking place with military and political instability around the world, which lends particular significance to our joint actions”.

RUSSIAN FORCES HAND OVER MILITARY BASES TO GEORGIA

Izvestia, April 24, 2003, p. 3 EV

Colonel-General Vladimir Boldyrev, Commander of the North Caucasus Military District, held talks on Wednesday with Chief of the General Staff of Georgia Lieutenant-General Johny Pirtskhalaishvili. They discussed issues related to operation of the Group of Russian Forces in the South Caucasus and transfer of a number of the Group’s bases into the jurisdiction of the Georgian military,” said spokesperson of the Group of Russian Forces for the South Caucasus Aleksander Lutskevich.

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