THE GOVERNMENT WILL DEAL WITH BUSINESS
Izvestia, March 17, 2000, p. 4
The Russian House of Government is preparing for a new political era. Its employees believe, that an “administrational tsunami” which will follow the presidential elections, might hurl right to the top of the state pyramid a number of officials who until recently hadn’t even dreamt of ruling the country.
In particular, current Anti-Monopoly Policy Minister Ilya Yuzhanov, who is also a St. Petersburg native, is likely to become a Prime Minister. He appeared in Moscow in May 1997 and headed the State Land Committee in the “young reformers’ government” (Yuzhanov belonged to Chubais’ team then). Under Kirienko he took the post of the head of the Ministry of land policy, building and housing reforms. In Stepashin’s government Yuzhanov headed the Ministry of anti-monopoly policy and small business support. Since Putin’s administration intends to pay much attention to the latter, small and mid-sized businesses, Yuzhanov is having good chances for a new career leap.
The anti-monopoly minister recently met with Vladimir Putin. After the meeting he announced that the latest Abramovich-Berezovsky aluminum mega-deal does not violate the law. However, this was not the main point of the top level reception. It was decided that the Cabinet would work out the rules for the small and mid-sized businesses, and obviously it would be Yuzhanov, who will head the corresponding committee in the new government.
Apparently, soon the Duma will receive a whole packet of legislative initiatives from the government, which will intend to abolish all bureaucratic obstructions which hinder the development of small and mid-sized businesses, as well as to reduce tax burden for entrepreneurs and to make it easier to borrow.
All this fit into the logic of the acting president’s activities, who – so far only verbally – has decided to fight corruption, state racketeering, and officials’ arbitrary rule. However, if the government will have to establish new structures for fighting unrestrained officials, like the planned department for fighting corruption in power bodies, or a “Control Ministry”, it runs the risk of encountering a new type of corruption, this time among those fighting it.
YEGOR STROEV IN FRANCE
Parlamentskaya Gazeta, March 17, 2000, p. 2
The delegation of the Federation Council led by Federation Council Speaker Yegor Stroev has left France. The delegation was received by French President Jacques Chirac, met with the authorities of the French Senate, and took part in the work of the Forum of Senates that was held in Paris on Tuesday.
The meeting between Yegor Stroev and Jacques Chirac was paid much regard to throughout the world. The meeting lasted twice as long as it had been planned. This is accounted partly by the personality of Mr. Stroev. His sincerity and straightforwardness, with which he was talking about economic, political, and social reforms in Russia, appealed to Jacques Chirac. When they touched on the role of the state in the market economy, Mr. Stroev noted, “If the state grows weak, the criminal world takes power.” In the opinion of Mr. Chirac, the economy itself does not require interference, but the state should provide the legal basis of reforms, morals, and the authority of the state power, especially during the transition period.
The situation in Chechnya was certainly touched on too at the meeting. Mr. Stroev told the French president in detail what actually is going on in Chechnya. He tried to impart the true picture of sufferings of peaceful civilians from actions committed by international terrorists. He stressed that in these conditions there was nothing left for Russia but introduce order into the rebellious republic.
Yegor Stroev’s speech at the Forum of Senates of the World may be called his program speech. He said at the forum that converging between the state power and the citizen, harmony of powers, and strengthening of the rightful state are the priorities for the Federation Council. He also stressed, “In the current conditions of changing the political leader in Russia we have confidence that these conditions will be implemented to the full extent.”
UNION OPEN FOR EVERYONE
Parlamentskaya Gazeta, March 17, 2000, p. 2
Having answered numerous questions of journalists on whether Yugoslavia is likely to join the Union of Belarus and Russia, I want to stress that foundation of a new state entity cannot be implemented hastily even if there is a will and desire of all sides to unite. This requires long and meticulous work, since the matter concerns the fates of states and peoples. We have announced more than once that our union is open for all those wishing to join it. At the same time we have never imposed any conditions on countries and governments that concerned their interior order or the personalities of their leaders. And we do not intend to do that in the future, not only because we realize that this contradicts international norms but also because we are aware of the fact that such conditions can be a basis for partnership and confidence, which are necessary for a state union.
As for Yugoslavia, we are satisfied with the fact that this fraternal Slavic country is confidently advancing toward uniting with Russia and Belarus. A special parliamentary commission has been founded for consideration of all aspects of this process.
However, it seems to me that it is not quite correct to be hasty in registering the new member of the union. Soon there will be presidential election in Russia, and after that there will be parliamentary elections in Belarus and Yugoslavia.
I think it is necessary to wait a bit, until these important events have passed. And after that we will composedly return to the issue of Yugoslavia’s possibly joining the Russia-Belarus Union. The position of the Russian executive branch will be extremely important in this connection. Unfortunately, Parliament’s initiative alone is insufficient to solve this problem.
GOVERNMENT SUMS UP FOREIGN TRADE RESULTS
ORT, Novosti, March 16, 2000, 15:00
On March 16, the government summed up Russia’s foreign trade results for 1999. The foreign trade balance decreased by 10% compared to 1998, although foreign trade makes up one-third of federal budget revenue. The major part of exports is made up of gas, oil, oil products, and metals. Export of machine building products is continually dwindling. Even the export of these products to CIS countries decreased by 22% in 1999 compared to 1998. Discrimination against Russian goods abroad continues. According to Trade Minister Mikhail Fradkov, the US and Poland are the most discriminatory countries. The minister does not rule out that Russia may take retaliatory measures.
MOSCOW REGION GOVERNOR SUPPORTS VLADIMIR PUTIN
TV-Center, Sobytia, Vesti, March 16, 2000, 14:00
More and more prominent figures are coming out in support of acting President Vladimir Putin. Governor Boris Gromov of the Moscow Region has announced his intention to support Putin in the upcoming presidential election.
DEFENSE MINISTERS OF CIS COUNTRIES MEET IN MOSCOW
ORT, Novosti, March 16, 2000, 12:00
A session of the Council of Defense Ministers of CIS countries began on March 16. Combating international terrorism is highlighted as the key topic of the first meeting. This meeting was opened at the headquarters for coordination of CIS military cooperation. Representatives of defense ministries of 11 CIS countries will take part in the session. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and Federal Security Service Director Nikolai Patrushev will also take part. Igor Ivanov announced at the opening ceremony that fighting international terrorism is an urgent issue today. According to Ivanov, the program of fighting international terrorism and other aspects of extremism in the period to 2003, which is currently being developed, will help solve this problem.