MILITARY REFORMS: GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS

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MILITARY REFORMS: GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS

Versia, April 28, 2003, pp. 2-3

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov has announced that female contract personnel will have the right to hold positions “of a combat nature” in the military. But these “Amazons” shouldn’t expect any concessions or favors: Ivanov emphasized that “there should be no distinction between female and male contractors”.

Ivanov made several more important statements about military reforms. He said at his news conference that citizens of other CIS nations will be permitted to serve under contract in the Russian Armed Forces, with the prospect of gaining Russian citizenship after three years of service. Ivanov also said that the duration of military service for conscripts may be reduced to one year; but such a radical change is unlikely before 2010.

RUSSIA IN FIGURES

Kommersant-Vlast, April 28, 2003, p. 12 EV

One hundred and thirty police officers have been killed and 229 wounded in Chechnya in 2002.

Last year’s census found that 17,000 villages have no residents left at all; they will be deleted from maps of the Russian Federation. Overall, there are 160,000 villages in Russia.

From January 1 through April 14, 2003, inflation was 5.72%.

In 2003, the presidential fund for supporting young researchers and leading research institutions has been tripled, to 360 million rubles. Three hundred doctoral students will receive 133,000 rubles each; 100 Ph.D. holders will receive 150,000 rubles each.

To date, the Interior Ministry has received 60,000 complaints from deceived investors in the failed MMM operation. According to the investigating committee at the Interior Ministry, the real number of victims of that financial pyramid exceeds 200,000 people.

Federal and regional budgets are 2 trillion rubles short of what they need to meet their social welfare commitments this year, the Finance Ministry reports. This year, they will need 6.5 trillion rubles for that purpose, but the federal and regional authorities will be able to allocate only 4.5 trillion rubles.

Russia has the world’s seventh-largest population – after China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, and the US. According to the State Statistics Committee, there are 145.3 million people in Russia – 67.6 million men and 77.6 million women.

Which religion do you practise?

Russian Orthodox Christianity – 59%

Islam – 8%

Other religion – 2%

No religion, or unsure – 31%

(Poll done by the Public Opinion Foundation, 1,500 respondents, April 2003.)

Did Russia act correctly with regard to the conflict between the US and Iraq?

Yes, correctly – 74%

No, incorrectly – 11%

Unsure – 15%

(Poll done by the Public Opinion Foundation, 1,500 respondents, April 2003.)

Kommersant-Vlast, April 28, 2003, p. 12 EV

The newly formed YUKOSSibneft corporation could be called a state within a state: if the 110,000 YUKOS employees and 90,000 Sibneft employees were citizens of a sovereign nation, that nation would rank 172nd internationally on population – between Vanuatu (193,000) and Western Sahara (250,000 people). In comparison, the “nation of Gazprom” (300,000 employees) would be in 168th place, between the Maldives and the Bahamas; and the “nation of TNK” would be 187th. The GDP of YUKOSSibneft would rank 77th (the combined total revenues of $13 billion a year would put it somewhere between Bulgaria and Equador). And in terms of GDP per capita ($65,000 a year), the oil empire would be far ahead of any nation in the world, including the current leader, Luxemburg ($43,000 a year). This is not surprising: the YUKOSSibneft “state” would rank twelfth on oil reserves (2.64 billion tons), ahead of Algeria (1.26 billion tons) and slightly behind Nigeria (2.85 billion tons).

FEDERATION COUNCIL: THE OUTCOME OF THE REBELLION

Argumenty i Fakty, April 30, 2003, p. 2

Recently, an event took place in the Federation Council which is likely to have serious consequences: on April 11, President Mintimer Shaimiev of Tatarstan decided to recall his representative in the Federation Council R. Altynbaev. According to regulations, Shaimiev informed the Senate of his decision.

Suddenly, Ludmila Narusova (senator for the republic of Tyva) stated that the recall of Altynbaev, who supports the Party of Life, is Shaimiev’s revenge – as the latter is a member of the United Russia party. She proposed a vote to approve or deny the recall. The Senate voted against the recall. A repeat vote was announced; then another. Only by the evening, when the hall was half-empty, was the recall approved.

Obviously, all this conceals some intrigue: it is said that Altynabev is one of major sponsors of the Party of Life. Simultaneously, this very rich and influential man is Shaimiev’s rival at the Tatarstan presidential elections. He could have challenged Shaimiev at the previous presidential election, but as a result of a trilateral agreement with the Kremlin, he received a place in Senate instead. This has made him a significant politician in Tatarstan recently – which has become the real reason for his recall.

What are the consequences? The reluctance of senators to “give up” Altynbaev can be attributed to their solidarity with their own kind. Many of them understand very clearly that it could happen to them as well. Hence, the next move is very likely to be submitting a bill to the Duma on direct election of Federation Council members. According to observers, this process is irreversible.

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