LDPR LEADER VLADIMIR ZHIRINOVSKY KNOWS HOW TO SOLVE RUSSIA’S PROBLEMS

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LDPR LEADER VLADIMIR ZHIRINOVSKY KNOWS HOW TO SOLVE RUSSIA’S PROBLEMS

Argumenty i Fakty, August 13, 2003, p. 11

Question: More than any other politicians, you have been saying that the number of regions in Russia ought to be reduced – and that we should give up dividing territory based on ethnic principles. Essentially, you’re calling for a return to the tsarist era. But we’re at the start of the 21st Century!

Vladimir Zhirinovsky: Indeed, it’s the 21st Century. Are there any ethnic states in America? Any ethnic Lander in Germany? Communities, autonomous districts, territories – yes, of course. Preserving cultures, traditions, crafts, languages. Nobody’s against that. On the contrary – the federal budget would assist them.

Question: But what’s wrong with dividing territory based on ethnic principles?

Vladimir Zhirinovsky: It automatically gives priority to the titular ethnic group. But are they titular at all? Bashkortostan has fewer ethnic Bashkirs than Tatars or Russians; but the laws say its president must be an ethnic Bashkir. Why? Because Stalin ordered it, at one point. But that’s unconstitutional. All citizens should have the right to run for office. And the reason I’ve been saying this more than anyone else is because I feel pain for Russia, and keeping quiet is not my style.

Question: Such a transformation would require altering administrative borders – reducing the territory of some regions, adding territory to others. The process would cause a stir. Aren’t you alarmed by that prospect?

Vladimir Zhirinovsky: I’m alarmed about the prospect of something else: Russia falling apart. After all, why did the Soviet Union fall apart so readily? Because the Bolsheviks decided to satisfy what they called the “centuries-old longings” of ethnic minorities. To please everybody: Georgians, and Tatars, and the Altai, and the Chukchi, and the Jews. As long as the Bolsheviks maintained a totalitarian regime, killing millions, this system survived. But as soon as the first breeze of freedom was felt, the structure collapsed – because the foundations were rotten. It was pseudo-internationalism. The foundations must be strengthened. That’s what I’m calling for.

Question: So how many provinces should Russia have, in your view?

Vladimir Zhirinovsky: No more than fifteen. That’s the most manageable structure. The experience of the past five years shows that a governor is capable of effectively running a region with a population of 10 million. We have a total population of 145 million. So we need about fifteen provinces.

YABLOKO PARTY HIT BY DIRTY PR TACTICS

Argumenty i Fakty, August 13, 2003, p. 11

As Duma elections approach, scandals are starting to rock the world of Russian politics. For example, Yabloko deputy leader Sergei Mitrokhin said at a recent conference that a full-scale conspiracy to discredit his party is underway.

Sergei Mitrokhin: “First there were posters on city streets and subway train carriages depicting an apple with a hammer and sickle – symbolizing an alliance between Yabloko and the Communists. Then somebody ordered a poll from the National Public Opinion Research Center in which the wording of the questions themselves presented Yabloko leaders in an unfavorable light. Then materials discrediting Yabloko were placed in many regional media outlets; somebody paid very generously for the airtime and newspaper space. And recently some unidentified young men staged a rally in central Moscow, calling out slogans against Grigori Yavlinsky personally.”

In Mitrokhin’s view, such dirty PR tactics would require serious money. “Substantial funding has been provided for this campaign – our estimate is around $5 million.”

Sergei Mitrokhin: “The person responsible for coordinating these events is Alfred Kokh, the Union of Right Forces (URF) campaign manager. The dirty PR tactics are being used in the interests of the URF, but unfortunately, not all URF leaders are aware of this. For example, Irina Khakamada and Boris Nemtsov sincerely believe that nothing is going on. But we have all the documentary evidence required to prove our opinion in court.”

Commenting on Yabloko’s allegations, Alfred Kokh admitted to the Interfax news agency that the URF is preparing to campaign hard against Yabloko; and, in his words, the necessary “financial and personnel resources” have been allocated for that purpose.

PRESIDENT SEEKS TO IMPROVE RUSSIA’S IMAGE ABROAD

Izvestia, August 14, 2003, p. 3

President Vladimir Putin considers structural adjustments to the Russian economy and consolidation of democracy to be essential for creating a favorable image of Russia abroad. “Changing the structure of our economy, making business more civilized, and consolidating democracy are measures that other countries will welcome,” Putin said yesterday at a meeting with heads of processing enterprises. He agreed with one participant of the meeting that “some work must be done” to promote a favorable image of Russia in foreign media. “But that is not the main point. No matter how hard we try to seem better than we are, we will be none the better for it,” Putin remarked.

ROGOZIN: UNITED NATIONS TOO LATE IN DESIGNATING BASAYEV AS A TERRORIST

Izvestia, August 14, 2003, p. 3

Dmitry Rogozin, chairman of the Duma international affairs committee, is rather skeptical about the decision of the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee to place Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev on the list of terrorists. “I feel disappointed rather than satisfied with the decision. I consider it to be too late. If the UN Security Council continues to delay in making such decisions about international terrorists, it risks ceasing to exist,” Rogozin said yesterday. In his opinion, it is “a matter of the whole infrastructure of Chechen terrorism”, not Basayev alone.

ELLA PAMFILOVA WILL SEND OBSERVERS TO ELECTIONS IN CHECHNYA

Izvestia, August 14, 2003, p. 3

The presidential human rights commission will send observers to the presidential election in Chechnya on October 5, according to commission chairwoman Ella Pamfilova. She reported that the observers would be present at most polling stations. “It is important that the election should be fair, democratic and legitimate. Then no one will venture to dispute its outcome,” Pamfilova said.

INTERIOR MINISTRY TO SET UP COUNTER-TERRORISM CENTER

Izvestia, August 14, 2003, p. 3

A counter-terrorism center code-named “T” will be set up within the Interior Ministry, sources in law-enforcement agencies reported yesterday. According to them, on August 12 Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov signed a directive to establish the “T” center within the Chief Department of Organized Crime Prevention. The new division will be responsible for coordinating all counter-terrorism operations in the Russian Federation. It will embrace all units that are concerned with countering extremism and terrorism. It is not yet known who will head the “T” center.

ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS TO BE ANALYZED

Izvestia, August 14, 2003, p. 5

The administrative reforms commission chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Boris Aleshin will report to the Cabinet on October 9. “The commission is not authorized to make any decisions; its purpose is to conduct functional analysis,” Aleshin said after the first meeting of the commission. The commission will submit its proposals to the government and then to the president for consideration. According to Aleshin, the commission has to look into the current state of affairs. Apart from that, Aleshin said that the work started by the Economic Development Ministry to eliminate superfluous state functions would be continued. “This work has definite objectives,” Aleshin stressed.

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