TALBOTT SPEAKS UP FOR THE BALTIC STATES
Izvestia, June 9, 2000, p. 4
The US has demanded that Moscow stop the “verbal war” against the Baltic states. This statement was made by Strobe Talbott, top adviser to President Clinton on Russian issues. It is evident that Talbot’s statement is connected with the recent visit of the US president to Moscow. This was not a successful visit. The topic of the Baltic states was useful for the US in this situation. If this logic holds true, in the near future Washington will point out more of Moscow’s faults.
TERRORISTS STRIKE AGAIN
Izvestia, June 9, 2000, p. 3
On June 7, as a result of a terrorist act near the Alkhan-Yurt settlement in Chechnya, two policemen of the Omsk special police detachment were killed and five were wounded.
MASKHADOV’S ASSISTANT ON TRIAL IN MOSCOW
Izvestia, June 9, 2000, p. 3
On June 8, the Dorodomilovsky Inter-Municipal Court resumed hearings of the case of Mairbek Vachagaev, Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov’s former envoy in Moscow.
Vachagaev’s lawyer says that the law enforcement agencies committed many infractions during his arrest and investigation. The main point is that neither Vachagaev nor his lawyer have been allowed to see the evidence assembled by the prosecution. According to Akhmed Geroev, this case is a political one. A top official of Maskhadov’s administration could not be permitted to remain free in Moscow while a war rages in Chechnya.
GOVERNORS ARE GRUMBLING
Izvestia, June 9, 2000, pp. 1, 3
On June 8 Governor Gennady Igumnov of the Perm region wrote to President Putin requesting that his region be transferred from the Trans-Volga federal zone to the Urals federal zone. The factors prompting Igumnov’s decision are economic ties with other regions in the Urals federal zone.
Other regional leaders intend to follow Igumnov. Bashkortostan also wants to switch to the Urals federal zone. The reasons are the same: economic ties and personal relations with Petr Latyshev, Presidential Envoy in the Urals zone.
The Volgograd region wants to join the Trans-Volga federal zone. Governor Nikolai Maksyuta of the Volgograd region does not understand why his region was made part of the North Caucasian federal zone.
Rossyskaya Gazeta, June 09, 2000, p. 2
On June 8 the government approved of a complex of measures aimed at restoring normal life in the Chechen republic. Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov stated that people should be aware that the government cares about them. Despite a tough financial policy, the government must find money for Chechnya. It is planned to allocate 7.8 billion rubles for this purpose. Only one-third of this sum will be allocated from the budget.
The federal budget will finance the delivery of material and technical resources for restoring power lines. It is planned to renovate hospitals and pay wages to medical personnel.
The main task of the government is to restore the educational system in Chechnya. The government plans to restore Chechen State University, the Grozny Petroleum Institute and the Chechen State Pedagogical Institute in Grozny.
The restoration of normal life should also dissipate the prejudice of Chechen people against the federal government. That is the main goal of the government. Transport infrastructure will also be restored.
SENATORS ACCEPT NEW RULES FOR THE FEDERATION COUNCIL
Trud, June 9, 2000, p. 2
The new law on formation of the Federation Council means that it will be made up of regional representatives rather than regional governors. Thus the governors will lose their senatorial status and parliamentary immunity.
General Prosecutor Vladimir Ustinov said while introducing his deputies to the Federation Council that he had no compromising materials on any of the governors. Thus, he refuted the possibility of legal action being taken against any regional leaders. However, all senators understand that although there are no compromising materials at present, some may appear tomorrow.
As a result, senators passed the amendments to the law “On the order of forming the Federation Council”: on terms of membership in the Council, on appointing regional representatives, on rotation, on status of members of the Council. They also suggested that parliamentary immunity should be retained by regional leaders. Senators addressed the president, saying that the proposed order of formation of the Federation Council will negatively affect both the quality of lawmaking and constructive cooperation between federal and regional power bodies.
TERRORIST ACTS IN CHECHNYA
Tribuna, June 9, 2000, p. 1
On Wednesday a truck carrying a man and a woman approached a checkpoint of the Omsk special police detachment in Alkhan-Yurt, Chechnya, which is situated near a school. The truck crashed through a fence and tried to break through to the school. Seven policemen ran up to it, and at that moment the truck exploded. After that, other guerrillas started firing from surrounding ground cover. The policemen had to call for helicopters and return fire.
According to the joint group of the federal forces, two policemen died and five were wounded as a result of the blast. The terrorists died as well.
Another terrorist act was carried out against Russian soldiers in the Urus-Martan region, Chechnya. According to the Interior Department of Chechnya, unknown people opened fire on the car of Valery Konovalov, deputy commander of the western group of federal forces in Chechnya between Urus-Martan and Gekhi. The driver, a police officer, was killed; Konovalov suffered serious head wounds and is currently being treated in a military hospital.
SENATORS PASS AMENDMENTS
Rossiyskaya Gazeta, June 9, 2000, p. 3
The Federation Council has voted in favor of making an appeal to the President, in which senators ask him to “initiate an agreement” on the bill “On the order of forming the Federation Council”.
According to Vladimir Platonov, deputy speaker of the Federation Council and chair of the Moscow City Duma, “the fact that we are making an appeal indicates that we are satisfied with the current rules of formation for the Federation Council and we don’t need any new ones”. Federation Council Speaker Yegor Stroev remained calm, and kept telling reporters that none of the current regional leaders are trying to protect their seats in the Federation Council or their parliamentary immunity. However, the 13 amendments passed by the senators do throw some doubt on the speaker’s words.
One of the amendments says that “new” senators will replace “old” ones gradually, as the terms of the current governors and presidents expire. If we consider that senators are currently lobbying in the Duma to lift the two-term limit and make unlimited terms possible, this amendment looks rather curious.
Another amendment suggests that parliamentary immunity should be retained by regional leaders until the end of their terms as governors, even if they lose their senate seats.
The most important amendment proposes that the speakers of regional legislatures should remain in the Federation Council, while regional leaders and presidents should appoint their representatives themselves, without approval by regional legislatures.
GENERAL PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE TO SUPPORT THE AUDITING COMMISSION
Trud, June 9, 2000, p. 3
Yesterday heads of the General Prosecutor’s Office and the State Auditing Commission held a meeting, where they said that both departments should significantly increase their cooperation in monitoring state spending.
Over the past five years cooperation between these two bodies has made it possible to bring charges in 143 criminal cases; and 25 million rubles have been recovered by the state.
President Putin supported a proposal from Sergei Stepashin on improving the structure of the Auditing Commission. If the General Prosecutor’s Office increases its support for the Auditing Commission, the latter will have every chance of becoming the fifth branch of power. Both Sergei Stepashin and Vladimir Ustinov think that a new federal law on joint operations by the General Prosecutor’s Office and the Auditing Commission is needed.
The leaders of the two bodies agreed to set up joint investigation groups. In the near future the two bodies will have to make a legal assessment of the new privatization law, currently under discussion.