AMERICA IS LEFT BEHIND

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AMERICA IS LEFT BEHIND

Rodnaya Gazeta, June 20, 2003, p. 2

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has announced that in 2002 Russia outpaced the United States in exports of weaponry and military equipment exports: overall, Russia supplied 36% of the world’s arms exports, valued at $4.8 billion.

The SIPRI data conforms with the estimates of the Strategy and Technology Analysis Center in Russia: Russian arms exports amounted to $4.7 billion, or $1 billion than in the previous year.

Russia’s major export item is aircraft and aviation equipment: 70% of all Russia’s arms exports are MiG-29 and Su-27/30 fighters, Mi-17 helicopters, aircraft engines, and so on. Ten percent of exports are ground force weapons and equipment; about 6% are naval weaponry; and only 4% are air defense weapons and hardware.

The major purchasers of Russian arms are India, China, a number of South-East Asian countries, as well as Arab states.

Arms exports are expected to continue growing in 2003.

WHO IS TRUSTED THE MOST?

Rodnaya Gazeta, June 20, 2003, p. 3

After the close of the autumn 2002 Duma session, the Marketing and Social Research Institute (GFK RUS) did a study of the Duma’s image (using a sample representative of 95% of Russian citizens over the age of 16). Comparisons were drawn with some other organizations and institutions.

Eighty-four percent of respondents named the Duma as the organization they hear mentioned most frequently. But only 22% of respondents said they trusted the Duma; whereas 42% said they trusted the presidential administration.

The Duma was second-last on the list of organizations considered useful, with 32% of respondents describing it as such. The presidential administration took second place, with 50% considering it useful – while the Central Bank was first with 53%.

When asked which organization they consider most influential, 66% of respondents named the presidential administration, 65% named the Central Bank, 61% named Gazprom, and 52% named the Duma.

When asked about which organizations take public opinion into account, 29% of respondents said the Duma does; 41% said the presidential administration does; 39% said the United Nations does; 24% said the IMF does; and 19% said that Gazprom does.

Finally, respondents were asked whether members of these organizations are only looking out for their own interests. Gazprom and the Duma scored high on this question, with 69% and 66% of respondents answering in the affirmative. The lowest scores were recorded by the United Nations (44%) and the presidential administration (49%).

There may have been some changes in public opinion over recent months. But what kind of changes? The Duma has seen two more scandals since then. First, it attacked the ethics of Vladimir Zhirinovsky for his crude language directed against President George W. Bush. Then the Duma stripped Vasily Shandybin of his voting rights for “unethical conduct in the Kremlin”. Shandybin got his voting rights back after two weeks, but the parliament’s popularity rating is unlikely to be increased by that incident.

THE COST OF THE GOOD LIFE

Rodnaya Gazeta, June 20, 2003, p. 4

Recently, the Duma has completed the list of expenses for each faction, group, and Duma member – so that the people’s representatives could see how much they are costing taxpayers. Between January 1, 2001 and September 30, 2002, the average Duma member received 243,817.97 rubles in “money allowances” – at their disposal for paying assistants, using official cars, telephone, fax, and stationery costs, and so on.

In all, Duma members spent almost 68.324 million rubles on travel during those 21 months. Travel abroad also cost the state a pretty penny; in particular, the official duties of Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev abroad required $19,589.05; Dmitry Rogozin spent $20,134.43.

The following well-known politicians didn’t claim any state funding for travel abroad: Zhores Alferov, Gennady Semigin, V. Bryntsalov, A. Aslakhanov, and Grigori Yavlinsky. However, total expense claims for travel abroad by Duma members amounted to $411,359.14, or 12,776,302.96 rubles.

Duma members also claimed 56,702,973.06 rubles in expenses for travel within Russia; Dmitry Rogozin spent 1,045,088 rubles.

CHECHNYA CHRONICLES

Nezavisimoe Voennoe Obozrenie, June 20, 2003, p. 2

Between June 9 and June 15, guerrillas in Chechnya blew up 19 cars and armored vehicles; they fired at federal forces 23 times; and set fire to four government buildings.

Over the same period of time, federal forces units killed 11 guerrillas and arrested seven; over 100 explosive devices were defused. Several new checkpoints were set up, and landmines were laid on mountain roads in order to prevent Chechen guerrillas breaking through from Georgia.

Colonel Nikolai Berzeitis reported on June 16 that 49 Chechen guerrillas had approached law enforcement bodies requesting amnesty; 11 more gave notice via their relatives that they intend to turn themselves in voluntarily. Chechen leader Akhmad Kadyrov expects that around 20 more guerrillas will surrender their weapons very soon under the amnesty.

Lieutenant General Yevgeny Abrashin, military commandant of Chechnya, reported on June 16 that responsibility for the North Caucasus counter-terrorist operation would be transferred from the Federal Security Service to the Interior Ministry – over the period from July 1 to September 1, 2003.

LEAVING THE BALKANS

Nezavisimoe Voennoe Obozrenie, June 20, 2003, p. 2

Russia has completed the withdrawal of its peacekeepers from Bosnia and Herzegovina on June 14. Until 2003, the Russian contingent in these countries included 1,300 peacekeepers. Russia is to withdraw its peacekeepers from Kosovo between June 17 and July 23. Army General Nikolai Kormiltsev, commander-in-chief of the Land Forces, is in charge of withdrawing the forces.

TERRORISTS ARRESTED IN MOSCOW

Nezavisimoe Voennoe Obozrenie, June 20, 2003, p. 2

As a result of a special operation carried out by the Federal Security Service together with the Interior Ministry units on June 6, over 120 people were arrested in Moscow. All of them are members or supporters of the Islamic Liberation Party terrorist organization; 55 of those arrested are active members of the organization. The whole group lived in Russia illegally. In the course of the search, the police found explosives, grenades, and leaflets.

MINISTERS APPROVE OF CHUBAIS

Rodnaya Gazeta, June 20, 2003, p. 2

For the first time, Mikhail Kasianov’s government has six deputy prime ministers: the newest is Vladimir Yakovlev, former governor of St. Petersburg. His new duties include monitoring selected areas of responsibility of the Economic Development Ministry, the State Construction Ministry, the Transportation Ministry, and the Ministry of Communications.

At a Cabinet meeting, first deputy economic development minister Andrei Sharonov reported on the “progress of energy sector reforms and the main directions for its development in 2003-05”. The report concerned the “5+5” program proposed by Russian Joint Energy Systems: five years to prepare the reforms (1998-2003) and five years to implement them. As a result of the reforms, by 2008 the new structure of the electricity sector will be fully in place.

Presidential economic advisor Andrei Illarionov said about this program: “A number of people are trying to gain possession of assets they do not own.” According to the “5+5” program, RJES shareholders will have proportional shares in all companies that are to be created on the basis of RJES. RJES shares are to become the means of payment.

GLOBAL ENERGY PRIZE

Zavtra, June 19, 2003, p. 1

The awarding of the Global Energy prize has shown that the election campaign has entered the home straight. This media opportunity was used to the full by the Kremlin’s political consultants – to demonstrate Putin’s “independence” from transnational corporations, and his “patriotism” – and to draw a significant Communist Party member, Nobel laureate Zhores Alfredov, into the pro-presidential camp. This is precisely why Anatoly Chubais, Alexei Miller, and certain oil magnates were so eager to provide the money for the award.

BROKEN VICTORY IN IRAQ

Zavtra, June 19, 2003, p. 1

According to Tehran sources, there have been mass arrests of Shiah activists, including members of the clergy, in Iraq. The total number of people arrested approaches 3,000. This event demonstrates that the negotiations between the US administration in Iraq and the Shiah elements – who represent over half of Iraq’s population – have broken down. The only possible outcome is partisan warfare, especially in central and southern Iraq; this will negate Bush’s “victory” and sharply reduce his chances of re-election.

RAILROAD PRIVATIZATION

Zavtra, June 19, 2003, p. 1

According to our government sources, a discussion between Putin and Transportation Minister Fadeev concerned a general plan to privatize the ministry, with most of its rail assets to be transferred to “Anatoly Chubais’s group”. This is further proof of the president’s confrontation with “Yeltsin’s Family”.

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