Izvestia, November 17, 1999, p. 2

Most Russians often think about the nuclear threat. This is indicated by results of a nationwide opinion poll conducted by the Russian Political Research Center. Overall, 1,500 people in 56 locations in 29 regions of the Russian Federation were questioned.

Some 76% of respondents support the assertion of the military who composed the draft military strategy that “nuclear weapons play an intrinsic role in Russia’s security.” Only 15% disagree with this statement. 54% of respondents have never heard about US plans to create its own system of anti-missile defense, as well as being unaware of the very existence of this issue. At the same time, 42% of respondents believe it is necessary for Russia to create its own anti-missile defense system. 32% of Russians are confident in the strength of Russian and foreign diplomats. Some 8% of respondents support increasing our arsenals of nuclear weapons. There are also 11% of happy people who are not interested at all in such issues.

START-2 is on the minds of 80% of Russians. Some 55% of them support ratification of this treaty, 25% are against it, and 20% of Russians have not come to a definite conclusion whether the treaty is good or bad. It is worth noting that, while generally not opposed to international agreements on nuclear weapons, 72% of Russians are sure that Americans will deceive Russia all the same, observing only those items of the agreements that are profitable for the US. Perhaps that is why 52% of Russians hold that nuclear aggression may be used against Russia. That means every second Russian is anticipating an apocalypse. And nearly 90% of Russians do not rule out the possibility of a nuclear strike by international terrorists.


Izvestia, November 17, 1999, p. 2

As a result of the fire on November 16 in the office of the St. Petersburg branch of the Yabloko movement, about 100,000 copies of the party newspaper “Nevsky Obozrevatel” were destroyed. The building where the office was located was not extensively damaged, since an alert security guard smelled smoke and called the fire brigade.

The destroyed issue of the newspaper featured the accounts of Yabloko deputies from St. Petersburg, many of whom intend to run for the Duma once again. According to the victims of the fire, special equipment has detected traces of flammable liquid. However, neither the fire department nor the police confirm this officially.

Yabloko representatives treat the incident not as mere vandalism, but as a political action by Yabloko’s rivals. The deadline for submitting lists of signatures for the gubernatorial election to the St. Petersburg Election Commission is November 19, and the criminals might have been interested in lists of signatures of Igor Artemyev, the regional leader of Yabloko.


Parlamentskaya Gazeta, November 17, 1999, p. 1

According to Defense Ministry of the Russian Federation, international extremist organizations have allotted $2 million “to fast-track creation of Chechen information centers” in countries of Europe and the Middle East.

According to the Defense Ministry, “these centers are being provided with materials of an anti-Russian slant and texts of speeches by guerrilla leaders. The main task of the future information centers is to create pro-Chechen moods in foreign countries and disseminate propaganda.”


Tribuna, November 17, 1999, p. 1

Boris Berezovsky has elaborated a plan of regulation for the conflict in Chechnya, consisting of seven points.

Along with such uncontroversial assertions as Chechnya remaining a subject of the Russian Federation, the plan contains a number of innovations. For instance, armed detachments of the Chechen opposition should voluntarily disarm. Those field commanders who refuse to do so will be obliged to leave Chechnya and “move to any countries which are ready to receive them.”


Tribuna, November 17, 1999, p. 1

Anna Severinsen, the leader of the delegation of the OSCE and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe which went to Ukraine to monitor the presidential election there, has announced that data concerning the increased participation of Ukrainian voters in the second round of the presidential election has aroused suspicion. She said: “It is natural to surmise that the conscientiousness of voters is caused by a certain amount of pressure on them. It is unbelievable that the voter turnout in the Lviv Region was 99%.”

Anna Severinsen has also noted that the beginning of the second round was marked by dismissals of heads of state administrations in three regions. These unfortunates were followed by eleven heads of local state administrations, in regions which had failed to provide the current president with the necessary number of votes in the first round of the election.


Moskovsky Komsomolets, November 17, 1999, p. 2

The Krasnoyarsk regional court will revise the case of the election campaign of the regional governor. The regional ORT network correspondent, Marina Dobrovolskaya, announced some time ago that Lebed’s campaign spending was five times higher than the amount fixed by law, and totaled $13 million. She submitted documentary evidence to the regional court, but it let the case drop. However, the Krasnoyarsk Election Committee appealed to the Supreme Court and the latter passed the case back to Krasnoyarsk for further examination. It is worth noting that the initiator of the scandal was an employee of ORT, a pro-Kremlin TV network owned by Berezovsky. And lately it has become known that the Fatherland – All Russia alliance has been trying to “flirt” with Lebed. Have the Kremlin’s supporters have decided to blackmail Lebed this way?


Moskovsky Komsomolets, November 17, 1999, p. 2

As former Minister of Finance Mikhail Zadornov stated yesterday, writing off 40% of Soviet debts (which total $32 billion) by the London Club is far from being enough. According to him, only writing off 50-70% of the debt will allow our financiers to pay back the remaining part. So Zadornov, who supports Yabloko, made TV viewers understand that if the West does not write off more than half of Soviet debts, Russia will not be able to pay them back. In the West they call this a default.


Rossiyskaya Gazeta, November 17, 1999, p. 1

Yesterday a trilateral team dealing with improving inter-budget relations held a meeting to develop the 2000 budget for the third reading.

The team, lead by Senior Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko, discussed the methods and plan for distributing funds among the regions. In the words of Alexander Zhukov, Chairman of the Duma Budget and Finance Committee, this was the most difficult question in the process of developing the 2000 budget for the third reading. A lot of amendments were suggested. The supposed date of debate on the draft budget in the third reading at the plenary meeting of the Duma is November 29. But the Duma Council has not confirmed this date. It depends on when the Budget and Finance Committee will finish with the amendments.


Komsomolskaya Pravda, November 17, 1999, p. 3

Yesterday Sergey Kirienko tried to destroy the myth of Moscow Mayor Luzhkov’s economic miracle, during a press conference of the Union of Right Forces. He used as an argument the 2000 budget for the capital city, where complementary social investments are half those of this year, but paying back loans taken out by the Moscow government will increase by 3.6 times. In the meantime, according to Kirienko, there is quite enough money in Moscow. It is only necessary to stop squandering and stealing the funds. Kirienko has found a $2.5 billion reserve. In his opinion, the property of Moscow is being managed very badly, and too little investment is being attracted to Moscow. The budget revenues can also be increased if bribes are decreased, since currently bribes total almost a billion dollars annually and are included into the retail value of goods and services.


ORT, Novosti, November 16, 1999, 15:00

Representatives of the People’s Deputy group, an unregistered group of Duma members, intend to raise the question of dismissing Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev. Leader of the group Yelena Panina has announced to journalists: “As a deputy group we do not have the right to vote. Further, we will try to get Seleznev dismissed. The fact is that as an official, he was obliged to register our deputy group, in accordance with the regulations of the Duma.”


REN-TV, Novosti, November 16, 1999, 09:30

According to the latest opinion poll conducted by the Russian Public Opinion Study Center, 25% of Russians think Vladimir Putin will be the next president of the Russian Federation. The second place goes to Gennady Zyuganov, with 8%. He is followed by Primakov (5%) and Luzhkov (2%). Shoigu, Lebed, Chernomyrdin, and Kirienko have 1% each. However, over half of voters found it difficult to predict who will be the next president of Russia.


ORT, Novosti, November 16, 1999, 12:00

According to latest reports from Chechnya, Grozny is intensively getting ready for a siege. According to the headquarters of the Russian Group, gangsters are mining all industrial and administrative buildings, airfields, and roads leading to the Chechen capital. Shamil Basaev and Khattab control these actions. Mercenaries are being recruited in territories bordering on Chechnya: they are promised $2,000-8,000 a month. According to military sources, in the past few days alone over 300 mercenaries have been sent to the republic.

Federal forces are closing in on Grozny. The closer they are to the city, the more intensive is the resistance of gunmen. According to representatives of the headquarters of the Russian Group in the North Caucasus, it is Khattab and Basaev who control the defense of Grozny.

Meanwhile, Russian federal aviation is continuing to bomb bases of gunmen. In the past 24 hours, Russian Su-24 bombers and Su-25 assault planes have flown about 50 missions. They have destroyed two anti-aircraft installations, a warehouse of ammunition, five bases, and a number of minor targets. Furthermore, in the south of Chechnya Russian bombers destroyed a bridge and blocked a mountain pass by which Chechen gunmen were receiving personnel and weapons.