WHO IS TO BLAME?
Parlamentskaya Gazeta, August 4, 2000, p. 2
President Putin’s trip to Pskov to mark the 70th anniversary of foundation of the Airborne Forces coincided with the first anniversary of the beginning of the current Chechen campaign. Putin has admitted for the first time the responsibility of the former authorities for the Chechen guerrilla incursion into Dagestan.
The president said: “There were some people among the authorities who did not see, or pretended not to see, what was happening,” although terrorists were preparing for the incursion before the government’s eyes, and in the Botlikh and Tsumada Districts of Dagestan Wahhabi extremists neglected the local authorities.
Putin noted, “Our resolute actions aimed at restoration of legality, the Constitution, and citizens’ rights prevented the process of disintegration of the state.”
COMMUNISM FOR THE 21ST CENTURY?
Rossiyskaya Gazeta, August 4, 2000, p. 4
Gennady Seleznev has decided to found his own political movement called Rossiya. The aim of this movement is to occupy the niche of the “left center,” simultaneously ousting social-democrats, who have begun to aspire to this place. It seems that Rossiya is supposed to be an alternative to the Communist party. Rossiya rails against “decaying democracy and the corrupt economy,” but in reality it is only a mock opposition, hoping to ingratiate itself with the regime and gain its support.
So far, only “political remnants,” i.e. those who have not found a political refuge in other parties, have joined the new movement. It is doubtful that this set of “failures” will make for a strong alliance.
Izvestia, August 4, 2000, p. 5
The saga of the contract to sell 310 Russian tanks to India seems to be approaching a conclusion. Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov will soon visit India.
After the decline of the mid-1990s, the extent of India’s weapons purchases has started growing again and has reached the level of $1 billion a year. Russia is the main source of weapons for India. And this situation will hardly change within the next few years. Despite the strategy of gaining self-sufficiency for the Armed Forces, India has accepted a plan of development of its military-industrial complex, according to which it will accept no more than 70% Indian-made weapons until 2005.
There have long been serious differences between Russia and India on the value of the contract. However, recently positions of both sides have drawn closer. Russia offers its tanks at $2.12 million each, whereas India is ready to buy them at $2 million. However, this problem is easy to solve.
The negotiations on the contract will apparently soon be finished, since the Russian deputy prime minister is going to India. He has mentioned this contract almost as a settled matter. In this case, in 2003-04 the Ural Plant will deliver up-to-date tanks to India, and Russia will get over $600 million for them.
HOPES FOR GOOD HARVEST
Izvestia, August 4, 2000, p. 5
The Commission for Protection in Foreign Trade and Customs Policy has announced that export duties on gasoline will be raised from the middle of September.
Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko announced that soon this duty will be increased up to 25 Euro per ton.
According to Khristenko, there are two reasons for the upcoming increase of the duty. The first one is connected with fiscal aims. State officials assert that this duty will bring in $20 million additional revenue a month to the budget.
The second reason is connected with the “regulatory role of raising duty rates.” This measure is being taken in order to boost fuel supplies to the domestic market. In this connection the deputy prime minister has noted that “it would be good to help the farmers in this difficult time of harvest.” It is noteworthy that the Finance Ministry still asserts that export duties are meant to boost budget revenue, and that they have no other function.
TERRORISTS AGAINST CIVILIANS
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, August 4, 2000
Russian servicemen in Chechnya fear that guerrillas could be planning a series of terrorist acts for the so-called “day of vengeance,” August 6. Temporary restrictions on the movement of vehicles have been introduced in Chechnya, but closing off Grozny and Gudermes is out of the question. However, according to news agencies, car access to Gudermes is closed, which annoys local residents. Traffic restrictions on the Kavkaz Highway are in force until August 10, and if the situation deteriorates, the highway will be closed. Moreover, on Tuesday restrictions on entering Chechnya from Ingushetia were introduced. It is not known whether fears of the military are well grounded, but our sources in Aslan Maskhadov’s circles have reported that no actions are being planned for August 6. At the same time these sources have noted that there are arguments among the guerrillas about further tactics; whether to continue local attacks or to resume large-scale fighting.