Izvestia, January 20, 2000, p. 2

A fundamental turnaround can be observed currently in economic relations between the West and Russia. Yesterday, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called Acting President Vladimir Putin one of the leading reformers. This announcement may be called symbolic, since this time it seems to reflect the actual plans of US business regarding Russia. The point is that considerable investments are likely to come to Russia after the election.

Together with the article of the former advisor of the Russian government Anders Oslund recently published in “The New York Times,” Albright’s announcement implies the beginning of galvanization of the Russian financial market on the eve of the probable influx of Western investments to Russia. For the first time during the years of reforms the executive and legislative branches have consolidated, and the presidential branch has stopped generating investment risks connected with fears for the guarantor’s health.

In his article Oslund, who is now a leading employee of the Carnegie Foundation, practically pre-empted the announcement made by Albright within a few days. He wrote that Vladimir Putin will undoubtedly take significant measures. He called for writing off half of the Soviet debts in order to guarantee the success of reforms, and noted that many analysts refer to obsolete data and ignore good news while talking about the state of the Russian economy.

What Putin handled in the KGB is not important for investment companies. The reason for their enthusiasm is simple and pragmatic. The prices of natural resources are high, and inflation is growing in countries importing oil.

The first echelon of investors has already moved into Russia. These are high-risk speculative funds. But the largest funds will have to wait for the results of the presidential election. As soon as the risk disappears, capital will start to flow to Russia. And US business will take a real interest in Russia.


Izvestia, January 20, 2000, p. 2

Employees of the Interregional Department for Combating Organized Crime handling Dagestan have discovered four groups of gangsters who were involved in kidnapping servicemen and assaults in the northern part of the republic in 1995-99. In the course of the investigation it was learned that 26 people participated in these gangs. Currently, eight of them are detained, and the others are being searched for. It has also been proven that illegal actions have been performed together with gunmen from the illegal armed unit of Chechen brigade general Lomali Nunaev.


Trud, January 20, 2000, p. 4

According to the data of the Union of Commitees of Soldiers’ Mothers, the losses of the federal forces in Chechnya are several times higher than the official data of the Defense Ministry.

A “Trud” correspondent has been told by the Defense Ministry that between October 10, 1999 and January 5, 2000, 426 people were killed and 1,195 wounded.


Rossiyskaya Gazeta, January 20, 2000, p. 1

The Finance ministry of the Russian Federation has remitted $110 million for paying new coupons on two issues of Eurobonds. Overall, Russia will have to pay $320.5 million. The rest of the money will be allocated directly to the Bank of Russia and then remitted to Citibank, which is Finance Ministry’s payment agent on Eurobonds.


Rossiyskaya Gazeta, January 20, 2000, p. 1

Acting President Vladimir Putin has issued a decree granting the Tula Instrumentation Design Bureau the right to engage in foreign trade in the field of production of military applications.


Izvestia, January 20, 2000, p. 2

Alexei Lebed, head of the Republic of Khakasia, has refused to head the republic’s campaign office for supporting acting President Vladimir Putin as a candidate for president. Lebed has announced that he does not see anything bad in the fact that regional authorities support Vladimir Putin. However, he has stated that such officials as regional heads cannot participate to such an extent, since it violates the law on presidential election, in Lebed’s opinion.


Izvestia, January 20, 2000, p. 2

The Interfax news agency reports that according to the Spanish press, Chechen battlefield commander Shamil Basaev was seriously wounded about three weeks ago. According to former Chechen Foreign Minister Shamil Beno, “Basaev was wounded during an argument with Chechen Defense Minister Mohamed Yambiyev. The latter reproached Basaev for the unsuccessful incursion into Dagestan in August 1999, which Russia used as a pretext to start a new invasion of Chechnya. In the course of the argument Basaev shot Yambiyev in the leg with his pistol, and Yambiyev shot Basaev in the stomach three times.


Parlamentskaya Gazeta, January 20, 2000, p. 1

Acting President Vladimir Putin has appointed Senior Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov as chairman of the Governmental Commission for Operative Affairs. By the same decree he dismissed former Senior Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Aksenenko from this position.


Moskovsky Komsomolets, January 20, 2000, p. 1

Vyacheslav Nikonov, Director of the Politika Foundation: The Kremlin does not need Seleznev. But today Seleznev is a figure less dangerous for the Kremlin than, say, Stepashin and Primakov.

The behavior of the Kremlin on January 18 showed that the Kremlin has some tactical and strategic plans connected with the Communists. Putin had to choose between the Communists and the right wing. His choice (he has established an alliance with the Communists) is a strategic move. I also do not rule out the possibility that there are some strategic details here, since we do not know what agreements the Kremlin made with the Communists. It is possible that the Kremlin might promise the Communists that it would influence the distribution of positions in the Duma in exchange for a purely pro forma participation by the Communists in the presidential election. Putin must be so confident in his support from the right that he has decided to move to the left. But this is a blunder, since the right electorate will never forgive him this step.


ORT, Novosti, January 19, 2000, 12:00

The parliamentary crisis that began at the plenary session of the Duma on January 18 continues. The Fatherland-All Russia, Union of Right Forces, and Yabloko factions, together with the Russian Regions group, refused to take part in the Duma session on the morning of January 19. Thus, only representatives of the Communist faction, Unity, Liberal Democratic party (LDPR), and the People’s Deputy and Agrarian groups take part in the Duma’s work now. Deputies of Fatherland-All Russia, Union of Right Forces, and Yabloko walked out of the assembly hall on January 18, accusing the Communists and Unity of a conspiracy aimed at making Gennady Seleznev, a representative of the Communist party, the speaker of the Duma. Seleznev tried to soothe the emotional deputies and called for continuation of normal work.

Gennady Seleznev: I would like our colleagues not to get over-emotional. All those positions that were meant for factions and deputy groups are reserved for them. Each of the deputies should remember that they represent not only themselves, but also their voters. Therefore it is time to actively work on lawmaking.


ORT, Novosti, January 19, 2000, 15:00

On January 19, Fatherland-All Russian (FAR), the Union of Right Forces (URF), and Yabloko announced foundation of a coordination council, as FAR leader Yevgeny Primakov announced after the joint meeting of the three factions. According to Primakov, this council does not diminish the independence of the three factions; it has been established in order to counteract the discriminatory decisions that the Duma majority has made and will make. Besides, the three factions intend to prepare a list of priority bills in order to make their further work in the Duma more effective.

On January 19, it became quite clear that the Duma has split into two coalitions: the majority (the Communists, Unity, and their allies) and the minority (FAR, URF, and Yabloko). Leaders of the minority factions of the Duma demonstratively boycotted the morning meeting of the Duma and have decided not to participate in the plenary session. Leaders of the parliamentary minority demand that positions in Duma committees be distributed in a fairer way. That is why this coordination council has been established.

FAR leader Yevgeny Primakov: The number of representatives of the FAR faction, for instance, is 50% of the number of the Communists (CPRF). But according to the regulation of January 18, the CPRF controls nine committees, whereas FAR only one. And this is what they call democracy!

Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky: I know for sure that it is the acting president of the Russian Federation who is responsible for this gravest crisis since 1993, for Parliament’s inability to function. This is beyond any doubts. And if he fails to show that he is able to resolve this crisis, this will be very bad for the country and the political situation in general.

CPRF leader Gennady Zyuganov: There is nothing new here. Firstly, once you have entered the Duma, please keep yourself under control. If you lose, have some dignity. And thirdly, do respect the choice of your voters. And slamming the door is a token of weakness, lack of culture, and disrespect for those who work in the Duma and those who elected you.


RTR, Vesti, January 19, 2000, 07:00

As a result of the decisive meeting of the Duma, the distribution of powers is this: representatives of the communist party will chair nine committees. The most important of them are the State Construction Committee, the Economic Policy Committee, and the Federation Affairs Committee. Unity will control seven committees: the Security Committee, the Power Engineering Committee, the Transportation and Communication Committee, the Local Self-Government Committee, etc. The People’s Deputy group has received five committees, four of which are very important: the Committee for Credit Organizations and Financial Markets, the Foreign Affairs Committee, the defense committee, and the Committee for Affairs of the North and Far East. The Agrarian group will manage the corresponding sector and the Ethnic Affairs Committee. The Liberal Democratic party will focus its attention only on information policy. The Union of Right Forces has been offered the Legislation Committee; Fatherland-All Russia has been offered CIS affairs; and Russian Regions has been offered the Budget Committee.