JUSTICE MINISTER HAS TAMED HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATES

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JUSTICE MINISTER HAS TAMED HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATES

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, August 6, 2003, EV

Human rights advocates have been given positions in the Public Council for Problems of the Work of the Penitentiary System set up under the justice minister. Vladimir Borshchev was elected chairman of the council and announced a lot list of planned measures. Yury Chaika has said about the council, “The main task of the council is to elaborate a program for reformation of the penitentiary system together with the Justice Ministry. The council includes professionals. With their help we’ll manage to create a system with a human face.” Chairman of the Moscow Helsinki group Ludmila Alekseeva highlighted the importance of the event: “In our country, no one is insured against ruin or prison. Recently it became particularly clear for rich and influential people.” Media took advantage of this event and touched on the arrests of employees of YUKOS. Journalists also asked Chaika if refusal to provide medical assistance can be considered to be a torture. The justice minister answered that the Prosecutor general’s Office has inspected detention cells and came to the conclusion that there are no tortures there. Alexeeva also touched on the issue of Zakaev: she had written a letter to London, in which she protested against his extradition.

YABLOKO ATTACKING VALENTINA MATVIENKO

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, August 6, 2003, EV

Yabloko has become one of the first federal parties starting open opposition to Valentina Matvienko. On August 5, candidate for St. Petersburg governor Mikhail Amosov (nominated by Yabloko) and Duma deputy Sergei Mitrokhin held an interactive news panel, at which the scandal surrounding the police’ check of signatures collected for registration of the Yabloko candidate was discussed. Yabloko activists made it clear that the police were acting for the sake of Matvienko and abused the office.

According to Amosov, 41,704 signatures of his supporters have been submitted to the local election committee. 20% of these signatures were selected for the check conducted by a working group of the election commission and the passport and visa service of the Main Interior Affairs Directorate. In the course of the inspection, members of the election committee declared invalid less than 1% of signatures, while the Main Interior Affairs Directorate claimed invalid as many as 75% of the signatures. Thus, Amosov was automatically deprived of the chance to be registered as a candidate for governor of St. Petersburg.

According to representatives of Yabloko, the Main Interior Affairs Directorate was checking the signatures for three days instead of one as the law requires, but the local election commission pretended that it did not notice this.

In Mitrokhin’s view, this was an obvious example of the notorious administrative resource: “The police and other law enforcement agencies are becoming more and more active in the cause of determining candidates. This is a very dangerous symptom.” This problem concerns not only Yabloko but also other candidates. For instance, Deputy Governor of St. Petersburg Anna Markova is in the same situation. In the view of Yabloko representatives, it is time to pay attention to the busy politicization of interior agencies.

HOW THIS IS DONE IN THE CHINESE STYLE

Trud, August 6, 2003, EV

Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov has made an official visit to Beijing. Russia and China are bound by many years of friendship and cooperation. Mironov said on the eve of the visit, “Today’s situation opens up new prospects for development of our relations.” According to him, Russia is watching economic reforms in China with interest. The politician stressed, “In this direction the experience of our neighbor is not only interesting for us but may be also edifying.” In his view, it is necessary o employ the potential of the inter-regional and inter-parliamentary cooperation.”

At his news conference in Beijing, Mironov noted that the structure of the Russian export to China needs to be improved despite the current growth of the trade turnover between the two countries. He also believes that cooperation with China in the field of deep processing of wood is a promising field too. The speaker is for attraction of Chinese investments in foundation of joint ventures in Russia in this sphere.

Mironov also paid attention to the tense situation in the region caused by the problem of North Korea. He announced: “We are in favor of nuclear-free status for the Korean Peninsula, since we uphold the global regime of nonproliferation.” He noted in Beijing that the other day North Korea consented to hold six-sided talks on this topic. “To a great extent this was a result of the coordinated actions of Russia and China, where consultations about the regulations of the nuclear problem of North Korea are continuing.”

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