DEBTOR PARTIES WILL NOT GET ANY MORE FREE AIRTIME

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DEBTOR PARTIES WILL NOT GET ANY MORE FREE AIRTIME

Izvestia, June 26, 2003, p. 3

President Vladimir Putin has signed a federal law amending Clause 4.2 of Article 98 of the federal law on parliamentary elections, that was passed by the Duma on June 6 and approved by the Federation Council on June 11. Under the new law, parties that have outstanding debts to media companies when elections are called will not receive free newspaper space or television airtime.

SWISS POLITICIAN WILL REPORT ON CHECHNYA TO PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY

Izvestia (Moscow), June 26, 2003, p. 3

A Swiss member of parliament, Andreas Gross, has been appointed as the new rapporteur on Chechnya to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, according to Russian PACE deputy chairman Mikhail Margelov. Andreas Gross, who represents the Social-Democratic Party in the Swiss Parliament, is director of the Direct Democracy Institute in Zurich.

DRAFT BUDGET 2004 WILL LEAD TO HEATED DEBATES IN PARLIAMENT

Izvestia (Moscow), June 26, 2003, p. 3

The draft budget for 2004 is likely to cause lively debates in parliament, says Mikhail Zadornov, deputy chairman of the Duma Budget and Taxes Committee. “The most heated arguments will be centered around the key budget indicators, and primarily around the real amount of revenue the government expects to collect next year,” Mikhail Zadornov said. In his opinion, the key target macroeconomic parameters are also likely to cause debate, since they are influenced not only by oil prices but also by the ruble’s exchange rate relative to the dollar and euro, as well as the dollar-euro rate. “It is not clear as yet whether the government has a definite picture of how the situation will develop in the following year,” said Margelov.

GENERAL STAFF CONCERNED ABOUT ARMY’S ABILITY TO DEAL WITH MODERN WEAPONS

Izvestia (Moscow), June 26, 2003, p. 3

Top officials of military higher education institutions of Russia met on Tuesday in the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces for a five-day training session under the guidance of General Staff Chief Anatoly Kvashnin. The gathering has brought together commanders of various branches of the armed forces, military districts and fleets, heads of chief and central departments of the Defense Ministry and representatives of some other defense agencies. The key item on the agenda will be the use of up-to-date weapons in military conflicts in recent years and training officers in handling them.

BORIS GRYZLOV CALLS UNITY FACTION A UNITING FORCE FOR CENTRISTS IN DUMA

Izvestia (Moscow), June 26, 2003, p. 3

Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov, also head of the Supreme Council of the United Russia party, praised the performance of the Unity faction over the just-completed spring session of the Duma. After Gryzlov’s hour-long meeting with members of the faction, Unity leader Vladimir Pekhtin said: “It was pointed out that the Unity faction is the uniting force for the four Duma centrist factions in the coordinating council.”

JUSTICE MINISTRY SUPPORTS PUBLIC INSPECTORS FOR PRISONS

Izvestia (Moscow), June 26, 2003, p. 3

The Justice Ministry approves the idea of establishing the institution of public inspectors for prisons, said Aleksander Nikitin, the deputy head of the Chief Department of Penitentiary Service at the Justice Ministry. Nikitin spoke at a round-table meeting in the Duma devoted to the problem of human rights in prisons. Nikitin pointed out that penitentiary service departments have already been working closely with human rights groups, and stressed that these contacts would become more solid after the Duma passes a bill on public oversight of the human rights situation in prisons, and promotion of activities of public organizations. The Duma will give the first reading to the bill, written by a group of parliamentarians, at the beginning of the autumn session in September. In Nikitin’s words, over the past four years prison system authorities have been taking active measures to improve living conditions of prisoners. During this period Russia’s prison population fell from 1.2 million to 800,000. Conditions in preliminary detention centers were considerably improved. Mr. Nikitin pointed out that to make Russian laws regulating the penitentiary system more humane is an important task for the government.

U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT CONCERNED ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THE TVS CHANNEL

Izvestia (Moscow), June 26, 2003, p. 4

The U.S. administration has expressed concern with regard to shut-down of TVS Channel in Russia, Interfax reports. U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Reeker claimed at a briefing in Washington that the Russian government had taken TVS off air. He also stressed that there have been signs of political pressure being exerted on independent media agencies for some time recently. Reeker pointed out that it is not the first time that the White House has addressed the problem of independent Russian media: originally the matter was brought up in connection with reintroduction of state control at NTV Channel in 2001 and shut-down of TV-6 in 2002. Reeker considers that the shut-down of TVS has undermined freedom of the press in Russia.

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