Izvestia, March 30, 2000, p. 2

Servicemen of the Itum-Kale Border Detachment discovered two Chechen bases in the Argun gorge. One was located in the vicinity of the Seleda mountains, the other near the settlement of Sharo-Argun. The latter included a special fortified shelter for prisoners near the weapons emplacement.

Colonel Anatoly Lesnykh of the Caucasus Regional Directorate of the Federal Security Service says that the bases were destroyed; the food, ordnance, and cars found there will be used by border guards.


Izvestia, March 30, 2000, p. 2

Aum Shinri Kyo, a notorious Japanese end-of-the-world sect, has technical data which in theory could cause a serious new emergency at the Chernobyl nuclear power station. It also possesses classified data on some Russian nuclear systems.

This conclusion follows from reports by the Tokyo police force. Its officials are now confiscating documents from Aum Shinri Kyo bases and related sites.


Izvestia, March 30, 2000, p. 3

The Interior Ministry is denying that over 200 members of the Chechen police force commanded by Bislan Gantamirov have been dismissed, as reported by some media yesterday.

The federal Interior Ministry says “this is false information aimed at discrediting the Chechen police.” The press release emphasizes the importance of the Chechen police in the war against Chechen guerrillas.

Gantamirov, a good organizer, formed sizeable militia detachments of well-trained experienced soldiers who were later transformed to the Chechen police force.

Gantamirov’s militia detachments participated in the counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya and fought in the battles for Grozny.


Izvestia, March 30, 2000, p. 3

On March 28, Voronezh Governor Ivan Shabanov was elected chairman of the security and defense committee of the Federation Council. The position had remained vacant for three months due to internal dissent in the upper house of parliament. Federation Council Chairman Yegor Stroyev had his way in the end – he had actively lobbied for Shabanov’s election.


Izvestia, March 30, 2000, p. 4

The Russian Defense Ministry has decided to have the Shilka mobile anti-aircraft guns upgraded. Despite the scarcity of funds set aside for upgrading military hardware, the world-renowned Shilka has made it to the list of most important weapons systems of the Ground Forces to be upgraded, according to a member of the Russian official delegation sent to the FIDAE 2000 international expo in Chile.

A new SZU-23-4M2 Shilka will be created, with a radar-guided fire control system capable of handling both aerial and ground targets. A single burst of Shilka fire lasting between 3 and 10 seconds can wreck a modern tank by destroying all its external optical gear and damaging the turret. The Shilka will be upgraded at the Ulianovsk Works.


Izvestia, March 30, 2000, p. 5

Central Bank Chairman Viktor Geraschenko says that there is no use discussing transfer of banking sector supervisory functions to any other agency before the restructuring of the Central Bank.

The problem of the transfer of these functions has been discussed in the corridors of power since early 2000. Senior Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov recently admitted that the government was indeed contemplating such a transfer.

Reorganization of territorial subdivisions of the Central Bank, which is supposed to reduce their number across the country, will be a difficult and lengthy undertaking. Much will have to be done, so perhaps the new leadership of Russia is not even contemplating replacement of the “first banker”.


Tribuna, March 30, 2000, p. 2

Representatives of two German foundations operating in Russia, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and Friedrich Neumann Foundation, have denied reports in some Russian media – specifically the ORT network (Russian Public Television) – that they had allegedly sponsored Grigori Yavlinsky’s election campaign.

Volk Baumsdorf, Director of the Moscow office of the Friedrich Neumann Foundation: “We have never financed Yabloko as a political party, or Grigori Yavlinsky as a candidate for president. This is banned by our laws and the rules accepted by all German foundations, to say nothing of the Russian law on presidential elections. We are surprised at such speculations.”

The German says that the Foundation does work with various Russian organizations, including Yabloko, within the framework of programs for assisting the establishment of civil society in Russia, but “not with Yavlinsky and not during the presidential campaign.”

The decision on whether to sue ORT for slander will be made in Potsdam after a thorough analysis of all data from Moscow, according to Baumsdorf.


Tribuna, March 30, 2000, p. 2

On his return from Krasnoyarsk, Emergency Minister Sergei Shoigu is rumored to have complained to acting president Vladimir Putin. Certain factors and nuances indicate that Shoigu somehow received some information concerning Governor Alexander Lebed’s “independence”, or tyranny, in the region’s energy sector.

At the planned conference with governors, Putin is expected to give Lebed a piece of his mind. Apart from the energy problems, Lebed will surely be reminded of his attempt to privatize the Krasnoyarsk Coal Mining Company, the scandal around the Achinsk Alumina Plant, and the aluminum deal after which stockholders of the companies Sibneft and LogoVAZ ended up with considerable chunks of the Krasnoyarsk Aluminum Works…


Tribuna, March 30, 2000, p. 2

It turns out that the attitude of regional governors toward Vladimir Putin is attributable to the fact that the presidential administration has some significant leverage to be used against them: credits from Vneshekonombank.

Centralized investment credits allocated to enterprises and regions go through Vneshekonombank. It is Vneshekonombank that is putting pressure on debtor-regions and ensuring their allegiance to the Kremlin. Vneshekonombank can make almost any region in Russia insolvent.

In this situation, governors can only pledge loyalty to the Kremlin and its master. There are rumors that the presidential administration formed the Unity movement using this particular means of persuasion. Governor Nazarov of the Chukotka Peninsula became one of the founding fathers of Unity, and even helped Roman Abramovich to become a Duma deputy. Vneshekonombank appreciated the gesture, and promptly transferred 100 million rubles of its own money to Chukotka.


Tribuna, March 30, 2000, p. 2

Stanislav Govorukhin, Duma deputy and film director, is known for his almost pathological honesty. It seems that Interior Minister Rushailo’s subordinates used Govorukhin to leak the report on Grigori Yavlinsky’s “American funding”.

Govorukhin was asked during a TV debate in the course of the presidential race about his sources, and innocently replied that “I was given this information by some of my numerous friends from law enforcement agencies.”

Govorukhin, director of the movie “The Meeting Place Remains The Same”, is popular with the Interior Ministry and is rumored to know Rushailo personally.


Moskovsky Komsomolets, March 30, 2000, p. 4

It is common knowledge that Chechnya is a “black hole” as far as the Russian economy is concerned. The question everyone asks is how much the Chechen war costs. To tell the truth, another question is much more interesting: how much will it cost us to restore normal life in the rebel province? The previous post-war restoration in Chechnya cost the federal budget almost $2 billion. The forthcoming restoration promises to be at least twice as expensive. The government is promising $500 million or so, just for starters.

A careful analysis of the report provided by the Accounting Chamber shows that all through 1995 Russia sponsored preparations of the Chechen gangs for a new war.

Construction in Chechnya became a coveted El Dorado last time. Here is just one example. The Chechen Construction Ministry guaranteed construction of 100 cottages (Project 27/95/101) by the Slovakian company IVILAK.

The Chechen Finance Ministry immediately transferred 35 billion rubles to Kredo-bank for conversion into dollars. Kredo-bank in turn transferred almost $4 million to IVILAK’s account with Istrobank in Bratislava. This money is still there… or perhaps it is not. IVILAK never even began construction, because of the hostilities.

This is only a single example, but materials compiled by the Accounting Chamber run to over 100 pages.

This time Duma deputies fully intend to remain in control of what is spent and how. They decided to set up a special commission for control over expenditures. Ashot Yegiazarjan, Deputy Chairman of the Budget and Taxes Committee, is one of those behind this initiative.


ORT (Russian Public Television), News program, March 29, 2000, 12:00

Today the Duma plans to debate its draft appeal to the Constitutional Court questioning the constitutionality of the decree signed by acting president Vladimir Putin on guarantees and privileges for the first Russian president. The Communist initiative was endorsed by the Duma Council on Tuesday.

The Communists do not think that Yeltsin should have immunity from prosecution. This is their first initiative since the defeat they suffered on election day. Observers believe that the initiative will fail.

Alexander Kotenkov, presidential representative in the Duma: Well, this is the deputies’ prerogative, but the last say on the matter will belong, of course, to the Constitutional Court. I do not think there is anything wrong with the decree or with what it implies. Let me remind you that deputies also have immunity guaranteed by the acting Constitution. Moreover, deputies even adopted a law guaranteeing their immunity for two years after they cease to be deputies. Nothing like that is stipulated by the Constitution, by the way. Unfortunately, we do not have a law on the president as such, and the term “immunity” as applied to the president is not specified anywhere apart from the Constitution. On the other hand, the Constitution does not specify whether the president has immunity only while he is in office or afterwards as well. I gave you only one example concerning deputies themselves, but take retired judges of the Constitutional Court, and so on. In other words, there are many precedents. And since all of them are specified by laws, while immunity for a president is not, I think that it will certainly take the Constitutional Court some time to make up its collective mind on the matter. To tell the truth, I do not think that the Court will support the deputies in this matter.

Alexander Gurov, Chairman of the Security Committee of the Duma: It’s time we stopped beheading tsars. If it helped us get out of the crisis right here and now, I myself would have voted for it. As it is, however, it will mean continuation of the crisis or even its aggravation. I do not think this is something we should make a fuss about or waste our time on.

A question to deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov, Unity faction: Why do you think the Communists are raising this issue at this particular time?

Ryzhkov: As I see it, it’s just the aftermath, or inertia if you prefer, of the presidential race. This is the same old argument – that Putin is Yeltsin’s successor, that he was appointed by Yeltsin, that Putin made some promises to Yeltsin, and so on. The battle is over, but the subject has not been dropped for some reason. I think Putin did the correct thing in signing such a decree. All around the world, heads of state – even former heads of state – are respected and protected. Putin merely did what had not been done before in Russia.

As I see it, the Communists are wrong to raise this issue. They would have done better to draft a federal law on the status of former heads of state. This law should specify everything and resolve all problems related to such people: their salaries, pensions, where they should live, how they should be guarded, and so on. Instead, the Communists chose a simpler way and tried to pass the matter to the Constitutional Court.

I do not think the Duma will back the initiative. I hope deputies will find the time to settle the legal aspects of the matter…


ORT (Russian Public Television), News program, March 29, 2000, 12:00

The session began with congratulations. Federation Council Chairman Yegor Stroyev congratulated Vladimir Putin on his victory in the presidential race. Other members of the upper house of parliament joined in the compliments.

Stroyev: Let us congratulate Vladimir Vladimirovish Putin.

Some governors were elected on March 26. Incumbent governors were re-elected in all regions where there was an election.

Cabinet members are expected today at the Federation Council. Senators will be told how the government proposes to combat illegal trading in non-ferrous and ferrous metal scrap. This particular problem worries all governors: in many regions of Russia all sorts of cables are cut and stolen for sale. Governors believe that Russia urgently needs a new law prohibiting purchase of non-ferrous metal scrap altogether.

Boris Maltsev, chairman of the Tomsk regional legislature: I suggest prohibition of trading in non-ferrous metal scrap throughout Russia as of April 3. I also suggest a ten-fold reduction in the number of organizations allowed to buy non-ferrous metals.

Stroyev: Almost 700 people, mostly children and young men, have been electrocuted this year while trying to cut cables and electric power lines….

Deputy Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin was given the floor at the session and briefed the Federation Council on the condition and servicing of Russia’s foreign debt.


ORT (Russian Public Television), News program, March 29, 2000, 12:00

Question: There is much speculation to the effect that some regional leaders may be invited into the new Cabinet. What do you think of the idea? Have you or your colleagues been approached with any such offers?

Samara Governor Konstantin Titov: As I see it, participation of regional leaders in the government would pay off. All we have to decide is exactly what jobs they should be given in the Cabinet.

With so impressive a victory in the presidential race, Putin himself will be able to decide exactly which regional leaders may be used in what capacities.

Question: Have you been approached?

Titov: No, I have not.

Question: Would you consider it, if and when you are approached?

Answer: Yes, I would.