VALENTINA MATVIENKO REGISTERS AS A CANDIDATE IN ST. PETERSBURG

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VALENTINA MATVIENKO REGISTERS AS A CANDIDATE IN ST. PETERSBURG

Parlamentskaya Gazeta, July 4, 2003, EV

Valentina Matvienko, presidential envoy for the North-Western federal district, was officially registered as a candidate for governor of St. Petersburg yesterday. Matvienko was the third person to apply for registration with the St. Petersburg electoral commission. She was preceded by Alexander Gabitov, a deputy of the 62nd municipal formation and director of the Effective Russia non-profit foundation, and Alexei Timofeev, a member of the St. Petersburg legislature.

No matter how many other candidates there may be, Matvienko will be the favorite. Firstly, her nomination has been officially supported by President Vladimir Putin, whose high influence in St. Petersburg has risen still further since the tercentenary celebrations; secondly, according to the forecasts of most political analysts in St. Petersburg, Matvienko has already won the election even before the vote.

The electoral commission has denied registration to one would-be candidate. Gennadi Kuptsov, former governor of the Lipetsk region, failed to provide the required information about himself – including details of his income and place of residence.

DIVIDING THE CASPIAN SEA

Parlamentskaya Gazeta, July 4, 2003, EV

President Vladimir Putin has signed a federal law ratifying the agreement between the Russian Federation and Azerbaijan on demarcation of adjacent sectors of the Caspian Sea floor. This had been passed by the Duma on June 18 and by the Federation Council on June 25.

The agreement sets out the geographic coordinates of a modified dividing line for adjacent sectors of the Caspian Sea, between Russia and Azerbaijan, for the purpose of implementing sovereignty rights in relation to mineral resources and other lawful economic activities involving the use of natural resources beneath the sea.

SPLIT BY THE ATOM

Moskovskii Komsomolets, July 4, 2003, EV

A conflict has ended between the Nuclear Energy Ministry and the State Atomic Inspectorate (SAI), the state body responsible for Russia’s nuclear safety measures. Under pressure from the Nuclear Energy Ministry, SAI chief Yuri Vishnevsky has resigned.

State officials have repeatedly attempted to eliminate the SAI. They have tried to deprive it of the last instrument of control over the nuclear industry: licensing.

Vladimir Slivak, co-chairman of the international EcoDefense group: “The resignation of Yuri Vishnevsky as head of the SAI has come about because he tried to force the Nuclear Energy Ministry to observe the law.”

In early 2003, the SAI rejected a license application from Mayak – the only enterprise in Russia capable of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. The reason for the rejection was an environmental disaster in the Chelyabinsk region. The SAI dared to take measures against the Nuclear Energy Ministry. Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov wrote to inform Vishnevsky that he “did not meet the requirements for his job”. The licensing process for Mayak was subsequently reactivated. Vishnevsky was permitted to stay on as head of the SAI, but not for long.

Vishnevsky was the only state official to oppose some legislation, prepared by the Nuclear Energy Ministry, permitting spent nuclear fuel to be imported into Russia. Vishnevsky harshly criticized the “burial services” which the Nuclear Energy Ministry was proposing to provide. Now Vishnevsky has been replaced by a senior official from the Nuclear Energy Ministry.

Russia has entered an era of the Nuclear Energy Ministry being permitted to do whatever it pleases. From now on, the SAI will be completely ineffective as an instrument of oversight. And in losing Vishnevsky, the state has lost a highly skilled specialist who has spent his whole life fighting violations of the law in the sphere of nuclear safety.

THE TOLL OF CHECHNYA

Moskovskii Komsomolets, July 4, 2003, EV

Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the Federation Council’s defense and security committee, has reported that a total of 300,000 military personnel have taken part in the counter-terrorist operation in the North Caucasus between 1999 and 2003. Over 13,000 of them have been disabled as a result of wounds or other injuries. One-quarter of military personnel require psychiatric help after serving a tour of duty in Chechnya.

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