LUKASHENKO CREATES A SENSATION

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LUKASHENKO CREATES A SENSATION

Izvestia (Moscow), June 19, 2003, p. 3 EV

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has conducted a meeting in Minsk devoted to issues of using the Russian ruble as the common currency of the union state. As “Izvestia” had expected, he denied all the previous agreements on this issue at the meeting.

Lukashenko’s yesterday’s speech put Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov in an awkward situation, since the latter has been constantly repeating for some time that the Central Banks of Russia and Belarus were to achieve a mutual understanding “in a few weeks”.

In Minsk, a number of experts, including some representatives of the Belarussian opposition, were invited to the Belarus’ National Bank for the meeting. This event looks like a sensation in the light of the general policy of the Belarussian government regarding the opposition. But Lukashenko’s comment on this issue seems to be the sensation of the year: “We need to ask the Belarussian opposition for its motivated point of view. There are two or three reasonable people there who can express their motivated viewpoint and make a conclusion on the draft agreement.” Former main banker of Belarus Stanislav Bogdankevich, who attended this meeting, has told a Radio Liberty correspondent that the very idea of transition to the Russian ruble and giving up the national currency is unacceptable. This was what Lukashenko wanted to hear from the opposition.

Lukashenko has said, “The agreements on the common currency may be adopted and launched only when all the economic agreements we’ve made with the Russian Federation are fulfilled.”

KASIANOV DOES NOT NEED SIX DEPUTIES

Izvestia (Moscow), June 19, 2003, p. 3 EV

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov has announced that he will sign the document on the new distribution of powers among his deputies on Monday. The reconsideration of powers of the deputy prime ministers will be performed because of the appointment of former governor of St. Petersburg Vladimir Yakovlev to the position of the sixth deputy prime minister for issues of the housing utilities sector and development of the transportation sector. The prime minister has stressed that after the administrative reform is over, the structure of the government will change. In Kasianov’s view, the government should have three deputy prime ministers and no more than 20 ministers.

NINE PROBLEMS OF HERMAN GREF

Izvestia (Moscow), June 19, 2003, p. 3 EV

Russian Economic Development Minister Herman Gref is sure that implementation of the midrange program of the government compiled by his ministry will make it possible to fulfill the president’s desire to double the country’s VAT by the year 2010. Speaking at the economic forum in St. Petersburg, Gref mentioned nine basic economic problems that are to be solved by the government. Among them are the focus of the country’s economy on raw materials, inefficiency of state administration, imperfection of inter-budget relations, formation of tariffs of natural monopolies, reformation of the housing utilities sector, and profound differences between the levels of development of regions.

PRESIDENT APPOINTED OFFICIALS RESPONSIBLE FOR FIGHTING TERRORISM

Izvestia (Moscow), June 19, 2003, p. 3 EV

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree on central agencies responsible for observance of the Shanghai convention on combating terrorism, separatism, and extremism. According to the decree, these agencies are the Federal Security Service (FSB), the defense Ministry, the General Prosecutor’s Office, and the Financial Monitoring Committee.

DUMA RATIFIED RUSSIAN-LITHUANIAN AGREEMENT ON READMISSION

Izvestia (Moscow), June 19, 2003, p. 3 EV

On June 18, the Duma ratified the Russian-Lithuanian agreement on readmission. This issue was supported by 285 deputies, while the necessary minimum is 226 votes; 52 people were against it. This document was signed in Vilnius on May 12, 2003. The sides consider this agreement as a working instrument of fighting illegal migration. According to financial-economic calculations of the Russian government, it is planned to spend up to 1.7 million rubles a year on this project.

TWO NEW ARMY GENERALS APPEARED IN RUSSIA

Izvestia (Moscow), June 19, 2003, p. 3 EV

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov has announced that the title of army general has been given to Deputy Defense Minister and Commander-in-Chief of the Ground Troops Nikolai Kormiltsev and Chief of the Main Intelligence Department of the General Staff Valentin Korabelnikov. However, he has stressed that the number of generals who have resigned lately is larger that the number of those who have been promoted.

ST. PETERSBURG DEPUTIES MADE LAW ON GUBERNATORIAL ELECTIONS

Izvestia (Moscow), June 19, 2003, p. 3 EV

On Wednesday, deputies of the St. Petersburg legislative assembly adopted in the third reading the draft law on gubernatorial elections in St. Petersburg. The draft law was supported by 42 deputies; no one voted against it or abstained from the vote. The new law has eliminated contradictions with the federal law that existed in the previous one. For instance, a candidate’s electoral fund has been increased up to 50,000 minimum wages, and the lower limit of voters’ turnout was set as 20%. Besides, the law says that candidates for governor of St. Petersburg who have state positions who take a leave for the period of the election campaign. The previous law on gubernatorial elections made only officials of the city level take vacations for the period of the electoral race. The date of the next gubernatorial election will be appointed on June 30.

CHECHENS WANT REDUNDANT TROOPS TO BE WITHDRAWN

Izvestia (Moscow), June 19, 2003, p. 3 EV

The transference of governing the counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya from the Federal Security Service (FSB) to the Interior ministry should be accompanied by the withdrawal of redundant troops, as Ethnic Minister of Chechnya Taus Djabrailov has announced. He has said, “After the control over the situation in the republic is transferred to the Interior ministry, the process of withdrawal of redundant troops from Chechnya should be activated. As for Army units, they have fulfilled their basic task in Chechnya already. Only some separate gangs are left in Chechnya. They are armed with rifles and should be fought by the police.” According to him, these gangs will be fought by the Chechen Interior Ministry, which is a structural branch of the Russian Interior Ministry. The Internal Troops may be involved in actions if necessary.

ZHIRINOVSKY RUMORED TO BE DRIVEN TO POLITICAL RETIREMENT

Versiya, June 16-23, 2003, p. 19

According to some rumors circulating on the Internet, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) project is going to be closed. Stringer-news.ru has reported that the LDPR will not run in the election by the list because it takes over some votes of United Russia, while it was initially meant to takes these votes from the Communists. Zhirinovsky will face the choice between going to Kazakhstan as the ambassador or working as the presidential ombudsman, if the Duma approves his candidacy. The second option is more preferable for him, for the ombudsman has 220 subordinates and is practically uncontrolled. According to rumors, the Kremlin has paid for services of this party by means of appointing Eleonora Mitrofanova, a sister of LDPR activist Alexei Mitrofanov, the senior deputy foreign minister.

SOROKINA AND KISELEV RUMORED TO INTEND TO FIND FOR DEPUTIES’ POSITIONS

Versiya, June 16-23, 2003, p. 19

Leader of the Duma Yabloko faction Sergei Ivanenko has announced that TV journalist Svetlana Sorokina may be enlisted by this party for the election. However, Sorokina herself has not confirmed this announcement. According to some sources, the Yavlinsky-Ryzhkov-Sorokina triplet has been recommended to Yabloko by analysts of the oil company sponsoring the party. There are also some rumors about the intention of Editor-in-Chief of TVS Yevgeny Kiselev to try to get into the Duma too by means of heading the list of the Union of Right Forces. However, Kiselev has denied this rumor on air of Echo of Moscow. He said, “I’m asserting that neither Anatoly Chubais, nor any other leader has made any official suggestions regarding my joining the top three of the party list or the list in general.”

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