MOSCOW RUMORS: THE KREMLIN HAS MORE PLANS FOR THE FEDERATION COUNCIL

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MOSCOW RUMORS: THE KREMLIN HAS MORE PLANS FOR THE FEDERATION COUNCIL

Versiya, July 21-28, 2003, p. 18

Experiments with the structure of the Federation Council continue. If the parliamentary campaign is successful for the United Russia party in the Duma, a second round of reforms to the upper house will be launched. According to sources of “Nezavisimaya Gazeta”, the Kremlin’s political strategists are already disappointed with the current structure of the Federation Council, and have set themselves the goal of conclusively eradicting the influence of regional leaders there. The Kremlin is now brewing up a new concept for the structure and formation principles of the Federation Council. They mean to reject the idea of having senators directly elected (although Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov supports this idea). A “Nezavisimaya Gazeta” source in the Kremlin clearly summed up the Kremlin’s wishes: “The Federation Council should become more dependent on us and less dependent on the regions.”

MOSCOW RUMORS: EUROPEAN PEACEKEEPERS TO ENTER MOLDOVA

Versiya, July 21-28, 2003, p. 18

According to the sources of “Nezavisimaya Gazeta”, an OSCE peacekeeping contingent may be sent into Moldova this year. William Hill, head of the OSCE mission in Moldova, told journalists about this possibility. However, he denied recent reports in the “Financial Times” of the OSCE appealing to the EU to send its peacekeepers to the former Soviet republic. “We support carrying out the peacekeeping mission under the aegis of the OSCE,” explained Hill. “We believe such an operation should be multinational, so we support the idea of the EU participating in such a mission… This requires the EU being prepared to do so, and the consent of the parties involved in the conflict. There has been no official statement from the latter.”

MOSCOW RUMORS: DEFENSE MINISTRY NOT INTERESTED IN SOLDIERS KILLED IN CHECHNYA

Versiya, July 21-28, 2003, p. 18

Last week, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov started his visit to military units in the North Caucasus. The minister had been rumored to be concerned about the increasing number of Russian soldiers being killed in Chechnya. However, in an interview with “Nezavisimaya Gazeta” Defense Ministry representatives denied this. “The tour is a routine event, with the purpose of assessing the combat readiness of units and formations in the North Caucasus military district,” said Nikolai Deriabin, press service chief for the Defense Ministry. According to the sources of “Nezavisimaya Gazeta”, after this trip the Defense Ministry is set to decide that from autumn, when the Interior Ministry takes over command of the operation in Chechnya, tours of duty in Chechnya will be extended from the current six months to at least two years.

AND THE CITY THOUGHT: THEY’RE STEALING!

Rossiyskie Vesti, July 24-30, 2003, p. 2

Investigators from the military prosecutor’s office have started examining the site of the fire at Pacific Fleet storage depot in the town of Taezhny, where munitions exploded.

Working literally centimeter by centimeter, they are examining what was an artillery munitions depot until just before dawn on July 13.

The fire and explosions at the Fleet’s depots, 65 kilometers north of Vladivostok, began at dawn on July 13. Seven people were seriously injured and hospitalized around the Primorye territory; another 20 sought medical help themselves.

Field engineers spent eight days clearing approaches to the depot, making them safe for the investigators. According to Roman Kolbanov, acting military prosecutor of the Pacific Fleet, numerous tests and examinations will be conducted before the true causes of the event are established. So far, the investigation is keeping all theories open about incident. As part of the criminal investigation initiated over the explosions, eyewitnesses and those responsible for munitions storage are being questioned. Five groups of field engineers are exploring the area around the depots and nearby dacha settlements. In fact, the Fleet’s depots tend to explode every year, as regularly as clockwork. It seems just like a convenient invitation for someone to help themselves.

FIFTEEN MEN TO GUARD THE MAYOR

Rossiyskiye Vesti, July 24-30, 2003, p. 3

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov is being guarded by 15 members of the Federal Guard Service (FGS). Providing FGS services to the Moscow mayor is an exception, since according to federal law guarding governors and mayors is not the responsibility of the FSB or the FGS.

Until 2000, the Moscow mayor’s bodyguards were members of a special Moscow department of the Interior Ministry, attached to the extra-departmental guard. There were many problems, because Luzhkov’s bodyguards were denied entry to events attended by senior federal officials. Only the decline in Vladimir Rushailo’s influence enabled the mayor to enlist his bodyguards in the famous Vympel squad.

This “umbrella” only covers Luzhkov’s personal guards. The head of the guard service is FSB Colonel Vladimir Shukshin, whose official position is that of an aide to the mayor.

The mayor’s press service makes full use of his bodyguards to keep unwanted journalists away, especially during the mayor’s tours of the city every Saturday. Journalists are forbidden to photograph Luzhkov from behind, to photograph his bald spot, to use flash-bulbs in front of him, or to ask him any unauthorized questions.

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN

Rossyskiye Vesti, July 24-30, 2003, p. 2

Seven Russian companies are among the world’s top hundred defense sector corporations. The Sukhoi aviation holding company is ranked 38th overall on the latest list published in “Defense News” (US). Other Russian companies are ranked as follows: Irkut Aviation is 58th, Aerospace Equipment (Russia-Belarus) is 62nd, the Ufa engine-building industrial group is 85th, and the Saliut aircraft engine enterprise (Moscow) is 87th. The “Defense News” ranking is compiled based on information about the financial performance of Russian companies supplied by the Strategy and Technology Analysis Center in Moscow. Curiously enough, there are twice as many Russian citizens on world rich-list rankings as there are Russian companies on this list.

DEFENSE MINISTER TO VISIT NORTHERN FLEET

Izvestia, July 25, 2003, p. 3 EV

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov will make a five-day working visit (July 23-27) to divisions of the Leningrad Military District and the Northern Fleet. The minister plans to study the general situation in the district and the fleet, as well as organization of military training for summer. At the end of his visit Ivanov will participate in ceremonies to mark Navy Day and the 70th anniversary of the Northern Fleet, according to the press service of the Defense Ministry.

JUSTICE MINISTER SATISFIED WITH NEW CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CODE

Izvestia, July 25, 2003, p. 3 EV

The new Criminal-Procedure Code has performed well during its first year in force, says Justice Minister Yury Chaika. “We have seen in the past twelve months that the new Criminal Procedure Code is working quite well. The tasks and objectives that were set are being fulfilled, for the most part,” the minister declared last Wednesday. “The new Code enables the ministry to minimize its use of such preventive measures as detention, thus following the policy aimed at humanising legislation and transformation of penal measures.”

Chaika considers the most important achievement since the adoption of the Criminal Procedure Code on July 1, 2002 to be “improvement of conditions for remand prisoners”.

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