RUMORS ABOUT IRAQ

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RUMORS ABOUT IRAQ

Zavtra, July 17-23, 2003, p. 1

According to our Washington sources, the scandal now unfolding in the United States over the unverified information that served as a pretext for the invasion of Iraq and CIA chief George Tenet’s corresponding statements has been initiated by agencies of the Democratic Party, working on a “media purge” of President George W. Bush. Characteristically, reports about this scandal are supplemented by constant media items about rising anti-American attitudes in Europe, as well as increasingly frequent attacks on occupation troops in Iraq. A new wave of attacks is expected in connection with the upcoming anniversary of the Ba’ath revolution; this is viewed as an alternative to the date set by the US Administration for Iraq’s “national day of celebration” – the day Saddam Hussein was overthrown.

RUMORS ABOUT YUKOS

Zavtra, July 17-23, 2003, p. 1

Sources close to the Kremlin report that President Putin’s meeting with members of the political “elite”, at which the president said that “excessive measures are unacceptable” against the oligarchs, is not evidence that Putin is prepared to back down on the YUKOS case – since this entire operation was coordinated in advance with representatives of the US Administration, and is more aimed at redistributing property in favor of foreign monopolies than at boosting Putin’s election chances during a deepening socio-political crisis. It has been made very clear to YUKOS chief executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky that he will not be permitted to join the ranks of the world’s largest oil corporations; instead, he ought to sell his Russian business to an “appropriate” American company “before it’s too late”, following the example of Mikhail Fridman and Roman Abramovich.

RUMORS ABOUT OLIGARCHS

Zavtra, July 17-23, 2003, p. 1

Sources close to service personnel at state-owned countryside residences report that last weekend those residences saw meetings of “St. Petersburg security people” holding high office in the presidential administration; they were finalizing the list of oligarchs who are to be subjected to public ostracism. This “Schindler’s list” includes almost all the business leaders who have been “equidistanced” from the president – with special emphasis given to Oleg Deripaska. Further strategy for developing the YUKOS affair was also discussed: it is proposed to continue giving members of United Russia’s Duma faction an active role in this.

RUMORS ABOUT ROMAN ABRAMOVICH

Zavtra, July 17-23, 2003, p. 1

Inside sources report that Roman Abramovich, having announced at a Chelsea football club shareholders’ meeting that he will move to Britain, is now hastily getting rid of his assets in Russia. Talks about the sale of his stake in Russian Aluminum are underway with Oleg Deripaska and a number of American investors.

RUMORS ABOUT LOANS

Zavtra, July 17-23, 2003, p. 1

According to our analysts, the Central Bank’s decision to reduce the proportion of foreign currency export revenue that must be sold for rubles to 25% will not lead to increased foreign investment in Russia; an investment rise is very unlikely against the backdrop of the “anti-oligarch campaign” unleashed by the security and law enforcement people from Putin’s team. It is more likely to lead to assets being transferred abroad, where they will work for the economy of the West – primarily for the US economy, now going through a major crisis. At the same, this measure is meant to help restrict the amoung of money circulating in Russia. But it is proposed to let “authorized” banks direct a large part of this money into a broad program of loans to ordinary citizens – in order to turn a substantial number of voters into hostages of the Kremlin’s “financial and policial stability in society” agenda. Reports from banking circles are naming the figure of $2 billion for this form of “indirectly bribing” the electorate, especially voters in Russia’s largest cities. The goal of this campaign is the presidential election, not the parliamentary elections; so full-scale media publicity ought to start in September 2003.

MOSCOW RUMORS: THE DECLINE OF PAVLOVSKY

Versiya, No. 26, July 14-21, 2003, pp. 16-17

According to the “Novye Izvestia” newspaper, leading political consultant Gleb Pavlovsky made a serious mistake in allowing his right-hand woman – Marina Litvinovich, chairwoman of the Effective Policy Foundation – join the Union of Right Forces campaign team. As soon as the Kremlin learned of this, Pavlovsky’s shining image as the Kremlin’s favorite political consultant began to fade. Neither were the authorities impressed by Pavlovsky’s attempts to secure exclusive rights to handling publicity for United Russia. Pavlovsky was suspected of trying to pump money from both political parties. According to informed sources, Pavlovsky has now been cut off from the Kremlin’s other projects.

MOSCOW RUMORS: THE FSB TRIES TO GET CONTROL OF THE DEFENSE SECTOR

Versiya, No. 26, July 14-21, 2003, pp. 16-17

Last week, Federal Security Service (FSB) director Nikolai Patrushev declared that the FSB ought to monitor defense sector privatization. Defense industry analysts told us that Patrushev’s statement could be interpreted in two ways. One defense industry source says: “Either he is trying to boost the importance of his own agency – or it was a slip of the tongue, and he knows something about the government’s plans for defense sector privatization. In that case, if a fundamental decision has been made to privatize military-industrial complex enterprises, the FSB director is trying to clear a space for himself in advance for supervising this process.”

MOSCOW RUMORS: UNITED RUSSIA STILL TRAILING BEHIND THE COMMUNISTS

Versiya, No. 26, July 14-21, 2003, pp. 16-17

According to the “Tribuna” newspaper, there is a perfectly good reason for the United Russia party’s early start to its campaign. Some reports say the latest opinion polls are giving a very different picture from the joyful optimism demonstrated at United Russia’s recent forum. Political circles are frequently citing a confidential poll done by the influential Gallup agency. The results are downright shocking: around 39% of respondents say they intend to vote for the Communists in December, while only 17% intend to vote for United Russia.

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