FOREIGN OBSERVERS TO MONITOR ELECTIONS IN RUSSIA

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FOREIGN OBSERVERS TO MONITOR ELECTIONS IN RUSSIA

Izvestia, July 10, 2003, p. 3 EV

The Central Election Commission of Russia approved a decree regulating activities of international observers at the elections to the Duma of the fourth convocation. Foreign poll observers observed elections in Russia previously but from now on all their activities will be regulated by one document. Its efficiency will be tested for the first time at the forthcoming presidential election in Chechnya.

The document has the description of a warrant which the Central Election Commission will issue to foreign observers which may be representatives of electoral associations and overseas central election commissions as well as private individuals who enjoy the well-established reputation of human rights and liberties advocates. They can be invited by either the president or the Central Election Commission, or the ombudsman, but the funds for poll observers to use are to be provided by the country or organization they represent. A separate invitation for the presidential election – 2004 will be issued. Foreign observers are supposed to do their job in the period from the launch of an election till the announcement of its outcome. They will work “on their own and independently”. The list of possible responsibilities includes 15 items covering practically all the stages of an election campaign from meeting parties’ election staffs to making commentary on elections’ outcome on TV and radio, if they find it necessary.

There are special regulations for the work of observers on election day: in fact they have to oversee work of poll stations from the moment of their opening including how slates, ballot papers, ballot boxes, sacks and boxes with completed ballots are handled.

According to deputy chairman of the Central Election Commission Oleg Velyashev, there will be an innovation: international observers will be authorized to put signatures on sealed sacks or boxes will completed ballots. In Velyashev’s words, the Central Election Commission of Russia and the Election Commission of the Chechen Republic expect several foreign observers to attend the presidential election in Chechnya on October 5, while at the federal Duma election in December their number could be 1,000 or even more.

GALINA KARELOVA MONITORS CHILDREN’S RIGHTS

Izvestia, July 10, 2003, p. 3 EV

At least half a million cases of labor code violation with regard to children and adolescents were disclosed in the previous year in Russia, according to Deputy Prime Minister Galina Karelova, who is responsible for social affairs. At a press conference in Moscow she observed that for the most part the problem concerns sale of alcohol and tobacco by children and their involvement in prostitution. “As long as adult crime exists, there will be room for youth crime too,” Karelova stressed. She gave statistics according to which labor rights of nine out of ten working teenagers have been violated. Karelova declared that on the whole the problem of children’s labor may be solved “not by counteraction to unlawful employment of teens but through provision of normal employment conditions”. This year the state may create some 1.2 million jobs for teenagers.

SERGEI MIRONOV: FEDERATION COUNCIL OUGHT TO BE ELECTED

Izvestia, July 10, 2003, p. 3 EV

According to Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov, the Council ought to be staffed according to a different principle and in future its members will be elected. Mr. Mironov expressed this point of view yesterday in Kaluga where he was on a one-day working visit. He stressed that the practice of electing senators should be introduced after the next presidential election. In his opinion, one should “let the present members of the upper house of the Russian Parliament work for the time being, but at the same time start drafting a new law and pass it next year”. Mironov observed that it would be expedient to replace all the senators at once but in keeping with governor elections in the regions”. He also spoke for election of regional executive authorities simultaneously with governors and legislative authorities – simultaneously with legislative assemblies. This kind of rotation, in his words, “will be justified and efficient”, since it will allow the Federation Council to avoid hold-ups because of staff replacement.

KYRGYZ DEFENSE MINISTER ELUCIDATES DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MILITARY BASES

Izvestia, July 10, 2003, p. 3 EV

Defense Minister of Kyrgyzstan Esen Topoyev has called on the public to compare the air base of the international anti-terrorism coalition at Manas airfield of Bishkek with a base of Russian air forces that is to be opened soon in the City of Kant (Kyrgyzstan). “Their objectives are completely different,” the minister said at a press conference in Bishkek. “It should be reminded that Kant will host not a Russian air base but the aircraft part of the Collective Rapid Response Forces, while Manas is not a base of the United States or NATO but a group of forces of the international anti-terrorist coalition in which Russia participates,” Topoyev stressed.

GAULLISTS TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH UNITED RUSSIA PARTY

Izvestia, July 10, 2003, p. 3 EV

Alain Juppe, leader of the Gaullist party “Rally for the Republic” (Rassemblement pour la Republique) and mayor of Bordeaux (France), declared yesterday that his party would deepen interaction with the United Russia party. “I had a meeting with Boris Gryzlov and we discussed the possibilities for the rightist and centrist forces to join. We have much in common with United Russia: we stand for protection of private property and private liberty,” Juppe said. Alain Juppe, who held the office of French prime minister in 1995-97, has recently visited Russia together with a delegation of wine-makers from Bordeaux.

COUNCIL OF EUROPE TO DISCUSS ETHNIC MINORITIES IN RUSSIA

Izvestia, July 10, 2003, p. 3 EV

The Council of Europe is considering for the first time ever the problem of rights of national minorities in Russia, according to a statement made by Russia’s Minister of Nationalities Policy Vladimir Zorin. On July 10, the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers will consider in Strasbourg a draft resolution on Russia’s fulfillment of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. Vladimir Zorin will represent the Russian government at the meeting. “It is a very important event which shows that Russia is not only a target for international collaboration regarding protection of national minorities but also is an active participant in it,” the Russian minister said. He noted that the Russian Duma had confirmed the framework convention in 1998.

COMMUNISTS OF WORKING RUSSIA DEREGISTERED

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, July 10, 2003, p. 1

Yesterday the Justice Ministry struck off the Communists of Working Russia party, whose leader is Victor Ampilov, from the state register of political parties. Deputy Justice Minister Yevgeny Sidorenko told us that Communists of Working Russia had failed to have a sufficient number of regional branches registered in order to secure state registration.

The Justice Ministry believes it is abnormal that Russia should have fifty officially registered parties, though, according to Yevgeny Sidorenko, only forty-three operate in fact. But it does not mean that all of them will live as long as the next election. Already now checks in regional offices show that in order to obtain coveted certificates of registration some parties had considerably exaggerated the number of their supporters.

Sidorenko sidestepped the question of how the Justice Ministry is going to deal with the principal task set by the Kremlin. At the spring collegium deputy chief of the presidential administration Victor Ivanov had formulated this task as follows: “The Justice Ministry must ensure that the parliamentary election will be held in December”. But the ministry has a very modest estimation of its capabilities which, according to opinion of some of the ministry’s staff, are considerably restrained by the law on political parties. The ministry can take some effective measures until the election campaign is launched. “After that the Justice Ministry may not intervene in activities of political parties,” an official with the ministry observed, with obvious relief.

NEWS

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, July 10, 2003, p. 3

The Russian government will probably pass a decision in the near future to partially lift restrictions on divulging data on reserves and outputs of diamonds, platinoids and palladium, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov reported on Wednesday.

In its annual report on the world energy market, BP Plc enlarged its estimation of Russia’s crude oil reserves by 23%. In 2002 the proved reserves totaled some 60 billion barrels.

Director General of Military Insurance Company (VSK) Sergei Tsikalyuk delivered a report to the staff of the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office on the subject of the law on mandatory civil liability insurance for car owners, which has recently come into effect. Tsikalyuk informed prosecutors about application of the law and answered their questions. The main objective of the meeting was to clarify for military prosecutors the procedure of getting their personal motor cars insured. Besides, questions related to observation of the law on mandatory insurance for car owners by organizations and establishments responsible to the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office were discussed. The VSK director-general pointed out that close interaction of the insurance company with its clients may facilitate enforcement of the law in question. Employees of the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office as well as of the Prosecutor General’s Office have been insured by VSK for a number of years. VSK associates with 14 federal ministries and departments.

Russia-based SISTEMA Company plans to invest $1.45 billion into Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) in 2003, according to the company’s president Yevgeny Novitsky. In his words, “investments into the MTS network will amount to $900 million and some $600 million will be spent on acquisition of some other companies”.

FEDERATION COUNCIL SIDES WITH GAS LOBBYISTS

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, July 10, 2003, p. 3

The prime minister will sign a decree in October on reforming the gas industry. A working group headed by President of St. Petersburg State Mining Institute Vladimir Litvinenko will meet in August in order to work out proposals for the reform. The group is being actively promoted, though not by the person in charge. Leonid Lushkin, a member of the working group and of the Federation Council, has unambiguously set out the position of the working group with regard to the reforms in Gazprom proposed by the government.

“At the tenth anniversary of Gazprom the president pledged that the government would not break up the company,” Lushkin remarked. “But then Deputy Economic Development Minister Andrei Sharonov and the prime minister launched a campaign to separate the company’s affiliates. So I have repeatedly suggested that Andrei Sharonov should resign and asked Mikhail Kasianov why the government is so disrespectful to the Federation Council and the president.”

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