OLIGARCHS: OPERATION GUSINSKY 2003

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OLIGARCHS: OPERATION GUSINSKY 2003

Argumenty i Fakty, July 2, 2003, p. 2

We once reported about the Kremlin’s apprehensions with regard to attempts by some tycoons to gain control over the Duma of the next convocation. Several oligarchs living both in Russia and abroad declared that they fund some political parties, for they believe that the latter will be unconditionally loyal to them, as is usually the case in this country. In the previous issue we wrote about the idea of establishing a parliamentary republic which appeals so much to oligarchs. But not everyone likes this idea. Defense officials frown on it in particular. Traditionally, they have been supporting president and guarding his authority against any encroachment.

According to information we possess, the head office of Russia’s largest oil company could have come into serious trouble on June 25. The events of three years ago could have repeated. At that time, during the president’s visit to Spain, the empire created by Russian oligarch Vladimir Gusinsky had been first attacked by state authorities. This time, during the president’s visit to Britain, authorities were going to withdraw some documents from the oil giant’s headquarters in order to see into lawfulness of its merger with another oil company in Siberia.

It was alleged that ultimately the seizure of documents had been prevented by some unbelievable effort. Nonetheless, experts suppose that it still can occur within the next two-three weeks. The financial empire founded by oligarchs Roman Abramovich and Oleg Deripaska may also be “checked”.

These are only rumors so far, however. But there are some reasons to believe that oligarchs who are not close to the Kremlin may have up to 170 supporters in the Duma of the next convocation. Thus, they will form a group which will be able to impede the legislative activities of the lower house for its own benefit. This cannot but make state authorities wary.

JUSTICE MINISTRY REFUSES TO ISSUE WARNING TO UNITED RUSSIA PARTY

Izvestia, July 3, 2003, p. 3 EV

The Justice Ministry cannot see any reason for issuing a warning to the United Russia party in connection with activities of one of the party’s leaders, Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov. According to Justice Ministry spokesman Boris Kalyagin, Gryzlov “is not breaking the law, since formally he is not a member of the party and the party’s supreme council headed by him is not a leading executive body of the party”. The day before, a Duma member Victor Ilyukhin had reported that a group of Russian parliamentarians had asked Justice Minister Yury Chaika to issue a warning to United Russia. They consider that the party’s management “violates federal laws in fact, since its leader Boris Gryzlov simultaneously holds the office of minister of internal affairs”.

LAW ON MEDIA TO BE CONSIDERED BY NEXT DUMA

Izvestia, July 3, 2003, p. 3 EV

Deputy chairman of the Duma Committee on Information Policy Boris Reznik believes that the new law on the media, written by the Industrial Committee, will wait to be considered by the Duma of the next convocation. “At the moment the bill is at the legal office of the Russian president which has some 25 or 26 remarks to make regarding it,” Reznik said on Wednesday. In his view, since the bill was not officially submitted to the Duma during the spring session, this may be done in October-November. “Let it wait and undergo some changes before a newly elected Duma considers it,” the official said. Reznik himself considers that the bill was written in line with the interests of media tycoons, while journalists are seen as the humble labor force.

DEFENSE MINISTER PRAISES BLACK SEA FLEET

Izvestia, July 3, 2003, p. 3 EV

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov has declared that the Russian Army and Navy are prepared to safeguard Russia’s national interests anywhere around the world. “We have shown to the whole world that the Russian Army and Fleet will present a new quality and will be prepared to guard Russia’s national interests in any place on the earth,” he said on Wednesday at a meeting in the City of Sevastopol devoted to home-coming of a Black Sea Fleet detachment. “The significance and unusualness of the conducted exercise are determined by the fact that this has been the biggest and most comprehensive exercise of Russia’s naval forces for the past few decades,” the minister observed. In his words, “for the first time after the break-up of the USSR combatant ships were jointly exercised with long-range aircraft which launched training cruise missiles in the Arabian Sea”.

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