ORT (Russian Public Television), News program, March 20, 2000, 15:00

Vladimir Putin chose a somewhat unusual transport means, a fighter SU-27, for his journey. The acting president was flown from resort city of Sochi to Krasnodar where he boarded the combat aircraft at the military airfield. Two SU aircraft took off from Krasnodar and flew to Khankala near Grozny.

It takes a healthy man to fly combat aircraft. Putin took the flight in a stride.

Putin came to Khankala to attend the ceremony of withdrawal of the 331st Regiment. One hundred and twelve paratroopers were awarded medals at the ceremony, two of them became Heroes of Russia.

Putin: Some of the tasks associated with destroying large gangs has been implemented. It is clear that we still face a lot of problems here. Solving all of the problems will require a lot of efforts from us, and that is precisely why we do not intend to withdraw all units. The necessary contingent will remain here and see to the implementation of these tasks. As for the rest, we do not need them here. That is why we intend to be back within the flank quotas established by international treaties.

All surplus equipment will be withdrawn. I repeat, it does not mean the withdrawal of all units and formations. Everything that is needed to see to the implementation of the necessary tasks will remain here for as long as necessary.

Along with that, Putin intends to discuss post-war restoration in Chechnya.

Putin: We would like to get firsthand knowledge of what is being done here, what is not being done, and what is being done the way we did not plan. We already have some experience in restoring the Chechen economy and the social sector. We will sum up what has already been done and outline the priorities, split the responsibility, and discuss the most optimal way of organizing work in general.


NTV (Independent Television), “Segodnya” program, March 20, 2000, 14:00

Representatives of the Russian government discussed issues concerning debts to budget supported employees. New plans of indexation of salaries were made public.

Deputy premiers Valentina Matvienko and Viktor Khristenko convened a tele-conference with the regions today. Both deputy premiers tried to show that the situation was improving.

Khristenko: Fifty-one territory either has no debts at all or have debts for less than half a month.

Matvienko: We are confident that debts to budget sphere employees will become history by April, just as we have planned.

On the whole, the number of debt-owing regions is going down. In February, federal budget revenues were even higher than in January, but lower than earlier projected.

There are still debts in a number of regions, but the federal center does not foresee any obstacle which could prevent the indexation planned for April. Moreover, the government does not rule out the possibility that salaries of budget sphere employees will be raised once again later this year.

Matvienko: If the federal and local budgets are implemented properly, we will discuss the necessity of raising salaries once again later this year.

Governmental circles say that acting president Vladimir Putin may sign a decree on raising salaries of budget sphere employees 1.2 times, today.


ORT (Russian Public Television), News program, March 20, 2000, 12:00

After negotiations with his Greek counterpart Georgios Papandreu, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov announced that Russia and Greece advocate for broader involvement of international organizations in Kosovo settlement.

Ivanov: The situation is complex. It is necessary that the international community take more active role in implementing Resolution No 1244.

Papandreu: We want human rights to be observed in Kosovo. We want the Albanians, Serbs, Gypsies, and others to live there side by side, and we want all decisions with regards to Kosovo to be taken within the framework of integral Yugoslavia.

When asked about Russia’s relations with the Alliance, Ivanov replied that official Moscow was worried by NATO’s eastward expansion.

Ivanov: Russia is prepared to build its relations with NATO on the principle of mutual respect of interests on issues of European security and stability. At the same time, we object to having significant matters of European life decided on behind Russia’s back or without Russia’s participation.

Leaving Moscow, Papandreu set out for Brussels where he will attend a meeting of European Union’s foreign ministers.