Novye Izvestia, May 20, 2000, p. 2

Currently the leaders of several socio-political movements are holding consultations regarding the creation of a united right conservative party.

These negotiations are held by Unity leader Sergei Shoigu, Our Home is Russia leader Victor Chernomyrdin, and leader of the Fatherland-All Russia Duma faction Yevgeny Primakov. According to our sources, these talks should be completed by May 27, when a meeting of the Unity movement is to be held in Moscow. According to our sources, it is likely that it will be decided to create such a party.


Izvestia, May 20, 2000, p. 3

The law enforcement agencies have identified people involved in the attack on a column of the Interior Troops of the Interior Ministry on May 11 in Ingushetia, as a result of which 19 Russian servicemen died. According to Yuri Biryukov, Chief of the Main Department of the General Prosecutor’s Office in the North Caucasus, “the law enforcement agencies have identified the group of separatists who destroyed a column near the Galashki settlement.” According to Biryukov, the law enforcement agencies are now searching for these criminals in Ingushetia and in Chechnya.


Segodnya, May 20, 2000, p. 4

Yegor Gaidar, leader of Democratic Choice of Russia, thinks “the party now has a unique opportunity to realize its most important program objectives.” He made this statement on May 19 at the ninth unscheduled meeting of Democratic Choice of Russia, which was held in Moscow. According to Gaidar, these opportunities have arisen because now the Communists no longer have a majority in the Duma. The plans of the party have become achievable, also thanks to the presence of the Union of Right Forces in the Duma, and the formation of the government which supports the initiative for radical tax reform. Summarizing strategic tasks of the party, Yegor Gaidar noted that “we must take advantage of this situation. We must use our intellectual resources and the influence of the people who will work in the government in order to promote the reforms planned by Democratic Choice of Russia and the Union of Right Forces.”


Segodnya, May 20, 2000, p. 4

Justice Minister Yuri Chaika has said that the measures against unconstitutional legislation passed in regions of the Russian Federation should be stricter. On May 19 Chaika held several urgent conferences and demanded that his subordinates be more active in preparing and submitting to the president and the government draft requests to the Constitutional Court regarding the validity of decrees passed by regional administrations, and draft decrees of the president of the Russian Federation on suspending illegal decrees of regional executives. The minister also noted that “the passage of illegitimate decrees, which run counter to the Constitution of the Russian Federation and encroach on the field of responsibility of the federal bodies, must be stopped.”


Segodnya, May 20, 2000, p. 4

Russia and the United States are to set up a working group to assess crisis situations. This information comes from Andrei Nikolaev, Secretary of the Duma Defense Committee. He headed a Russian delegation which visited Washington and held talks on a wide range of disarmament issues. Nikolaev explained that first the working group will have to analyze “military risks” connected with the cooperation of Moscow and Washington in strategic stability. In particular, this concerns new missile threats, US and Russian nuclear arms reduction, and the Balkans crisis. The working group is supposed to be formed from Russian and American legislators who represent the security and defense committees. In addition it is planned to use experts of the executive branches. The working group will present its results in the form of recommendations to the two governments on solutions to the most important global security problems.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta, May 20, 2000, p. 3

Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev thinks that the united parliament of Russia and Belarus should monitor the implementation of the Treaty between Russia and Belarus. Seleznev explained that this proposal was made by Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko at the 15th session of the parliamentary assembly of the Russian-Belarussian Union. The Russian politician noted: “The words of the Belarussian president are like honey for the soul.” The Duma speaker thinks: “If the parliament of the two countries is given the right to monitor implementation, everything will progress more rapidly.” Seleznev noted that it is hardly possible to hold parliamentary elections in Russia and Belarus on the same day. He said: “It is possible that in Russia the election will be held at the end of December or in early January.” The united parliament will start working after the passage of a Constitutional act.


Komsomolskaya Pravda, May 20, 2000, p. 3

On May 19 the so-called Chechen Defense Committee circulated “A list of people wanted by the Chechen law enforcement agencies for military and criminal offences against the Chechen people and other Moslem nations of the Caucasus.” The list was posted on the Internet. The Defense Committee asked all states and international organizations to assist in finding the “criminals”.

The list consists of 70 names. Just as the Russian security ministries are searching for Basaev, Maskhadov’s “law enforcement agencies” are searching for Yeltsin, his daughter Tatiana, Korzhakov, Barsukov, Putin and Yastrzhembsky. Seleznev, Sergeev, Rushailo and Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov are on the list too. Oligarchs Berezovsky and Abramovich, and such well-known Chechen politicians as Saidulaev, Deniev and Gantamirov are on the black-list. Maskhadov’s “Interpol” did not forget about Dagestani President Magomedov and Mayor of Makhachkala Amirov either.

But the most disgusting thing about this propaganda action is that “Chechen law enforcement agencies” are searching for General Romanov, who was maimed five years ago in Grozny; and General Shpigun, who was kidnapped in 1999 at the Severny airport and killed by Chechen guerrillas.


Kommersant-daily, May 20, 2000, p. 2

On May 19 the Duma passed the foreign loans program for 2000 in the first reading. According to the program, Russia’s foreign debt is now $158 billion. The Duma intends to verify this sum by the second reading.

For the first time the Duma passed the foreign loans program as a law – this is a requirement of the Budget Code which came into force at the beginning of this year. Earlier the Duma only had to approve of the program: in other words, the Duma looked through the program but did not participate in its creation. Currently the deputies are becoming participants in this process.

The Duma zealously debated the foreign debt. The deputies doubt that the total sum of Russia’s foreign debt is correct, and that certain loans are legally well-founded. On May 19 the deputies questioned Kudrin about why part of these loans had been spent on expensive consulting services. By the way, the State Auditing Commission used to check the use of World Bank loans, and learned that there was too much groundless expenditure.

In general, the Duma intends to reduce the sum of the foreign debt. That is why the preparation of the program for the second reading will not be easy. The deputies said that they will not pass the program until they receive the results of an audit of borrowing since 1992.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta, May 20, 2000, p. 3

Former First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov, Secretary of the Duma Committee for Industry, Building and High Technology, predicted the viability of the new government structures in an interview with Konstantin Smirnov, a correspondent of “Kommersant-daily”.

Question: According to our sources, the president offered you a Cabinet post. What post did he propose, and why did you refuse?

Yuri Maslyukov: I did not receive any official offer.

Q: What do you think about the potential of the new government members? Are there competing centers within the government?

YM: The government has just been formed, which is why I think it is too early to talk about misunderstandings within the Cabinet. I am sure that the government will manage to achieve all its objectives only if it works as a united team. If the members of the Cabinet run into conflict, their work will not be productive. As far as the staff issue is concerned, I think that Kasianov’s potential is very high. I used to work with him under Primakov. Being the secretary of the Duma Committee for Industry, Building and High Technology, I count on a close mutual relationship with the new minister for industry, science and technology.

Q: Do you think that the cooperation of the government with the Presidential Administration, and parliament with the presidential envoys in the recently created federal districts, will be effective?

YM: I am convinced that the government, the presidential structures, the Federal Assembly and the regional governments must implement a common economic policy. This means that all government bodies that handle the same issues should cooperate with each other. I cannot say whether this will happen.

Q: Don’t you think that the system of government will change, in particular that the Security Council will have additional functions in domestic and foreign policy?

YM: I have heard about such proposals to expand the functions of the Security Council. The Presidential Administration will become a kind of chancellery in this case. But I don’t know whether this will be implemented.


Vek, No. 20, May, 2000, p. 3

It would not be fair to say that Vladimir Putin neglects the Presidential Administration as a political institution. On the contrary, he seems to be giving it the role of the conclusive link in one of the two main hierarchies of the federal executive branch. Governmental power proper is focused on the Cabinet, and administrative power is concentrated around the director of the Presidential Administration. Both of these hierarchies are controlled by the president.

The months of Vladimir Putin’s presidency have indicated that he needs a “family” of his own, i.e. an administrative structure of his own, in order to learn the political ropes and feel more confident in his relations with the oligarchs, whose proteges in the Cabinet mostly have a great deal of influence and cannot be controlled by traditional administrative methods. The problem is that the structure of presidential power that is now being formed must necessarily be purified from the vices of the old structure; but at the same time it needs to remain the key element of the political mechanism.