Izvestia, August 29, 2000, p. 3

The first sitting of the elders council under the presidential plenipotentiary representative in the Southern federal region took place yesterday. Thirteen elders , each representing a federation subject, will be helping Viktor Kazantsev.

Kazantsev is probably the most active of the seven plenipotentiary representatives. The general knows the Caucasus. He has served there in the last four years as commander of the Caucasus Military District. He is trying to make use of his knowledge of local customs, and respecting elders is one of the centermost of them.

Aksakals’ clout is not what it used to be in the past – they are listened to attentively, and that is all there is to it more often than not. Chechnya is a perfect example. All agreements of the federal troops with the local elders did not have any effect whatsoever on the latter’ sons and grandsons.

The procedure of selecting elders in the Southern federal region was simple. Local authorities nominated candidates, and Kazantsev made the final decision. Only one person known all over Russia made it to the council. He is poet David Kugultinov from Kalmykia. The rest of the elders are heads of local veterans organizations and Cossacks communities.

Problems were encountered while selecting a representative from Karachaevo-Cherkessia. Apart from this region, also being represented on the council by Cossacks were Krasnodar and Stavropol territories. Lawyer Magomed Abubakarov represents the rebellious Chechnya. That he does not hold any post in official power structures does not matter. What matters is that he is from Gudermes.

Yuri Peskov, 63, former general director of Rostselmash Engineering Works and member of the last Central Committee of the CPSU, became chairman of the council on Kazantsev’s proposal.


Moskovsky Komsomolets, August 29, 2000, p. 3

Former submariner Sergei Zhekov, Chairman of the Primorie territorial legislature and member of the investigation panel set up by the government, says that a new official hypothesis of what might have happened to the Kursk is being considered now. Specialists do not rule out the possibility that the surfacing Kursk might have collided with a foreign submarine and that the collision launched a missile or torpedo in the Russian submarine, damaging a Northern Fleet combatant ship. Zhekov refuses to elaborate further.

Debates around the planned salvation of the submarine continue abroad. The Dutch salvage company Weismueller says that a consortium of several companies would be needed for the attempt to have a chance of succeess. The company is using its contacts in Russia to initiate negotiations with the Kremlin. The Dutch government plans to set aside $250,000 for investigations into the cause of the tragedy and feasibility of salvation. Dutch experts say that the operation will cost over $100 million.


Moskovsky Komsomolets, August 29, 2000, p. 3

Russian Prosecutor General Ustinov has received a letter from Switzerland with a request that the resignation of investigator Nikolai Volkov be confirmed officially.

The second consignment of documents on Aeroflot was prepared for transportation to Moscow yesterday but the official of the Swiss prosecutor’s office who was supposed to accompany the documents to Russia was denied a visa. Along with that, it seemed that there was nobody to meet him in Moscow either.

Bernard Bertossa of the Geneva canton was polite. He was quoted as saying that “We are used to frequent personnel shuffles in the Russian General Prosecutor’s Office”.

Switzerland would like to know who will take over the Aeroflot case after Volkov.


Moskovsky Komsomolets, August 29, 2000, p. 3

Duma Chairman Gennadi Seleznev met with a group of Chechen representatives yesterday to discuss the prospects of a peaceful settlement of the conflict in the Caucasus.

The Chechen delegation comprised businessmen and intellectuals, including some Russians residing in Chechnya, and was headed by Aslanbek Alsakhanov.

The conversation lasted an hour and half. Seleznev promised to brief the president on the conversation and ask him to meet with Aslakhanov in person.

While answering questions after the meeting, Aslakhanov said that he does not plan to join any faction and hopes for a seat on the Duma Security Council.


Tribuna, August 29, 2000, p. 2

Chechen Prosecutor Nikolai Sheshel dislikes the methods being used by the federal troops in the antiterrorist operation. He says that passport checks should be more thorough.

According to Sheshel, “unfortunately, this is how the federal troops operate more often than not. They rush to some village, open fire, destroy some buildings, and that is all. Such methods only alienate the locals”.

Sheshel denounces media reports according to which the guerrillas are planning to take over the detention cell in the settlement of Chernokozovo.

According to Sheshel, the authorities “do not have any operational information…”


Parlamentskaya Gazeta, August 29, 2000, p. 5

Official sources say that the decision to initiate another phase of the operation was prompted by operational data pointing at the possibility of new terrorist acts in the country. The fears are not groundless. Intelligence does report that Chechen guerrillas plan large scale hostilities in late August – early September. Simultaneously, Chechen ringleaders are talking about an “operation to liberate Chechnya and Dagestan from the federal troops”.

Liaison men were arrested last week in Chechnya while attempting to convey messages to Aslan Maskhadov. Essentially, the messages had to do with readiness tactics.

Specialists hope that the new phase of the police operation will be a success as well. Between August 8 and 21 over 54,000 individuals were arrested throughout the country. They were all suspected of various crimes. 169 individuals are suspected of making preparations for terrorist acts, 947 were convicted as members of ethnic gangs.

In the last phase of operation Whirlwind Anti-terror law enforcement agents confiscated over 131 tons of explosives and 8,403 explosive devices. Licenses of almost 800 private security companies were annulled for serious violations of the law.


Trud, August 29, 2000, p. 1

Mikhail Kasianov considers the adoption of the Tax Code and agreement with the London Club his major accomplishments. Thanks to it, the government prepared the 2001 draft budget on time. Discussing our relations with the London Club, Kasianov emphasizes that virtually all investors agreed to chalk off 36 percent of Russia’s debts and it was done “with great enthusiasm”. Instead of $30 billion, Russia now has to pay only $18 billion. Moreover, the creditors agreed to postpone the payment date.

Things are less optimistic with the Paris Club. According to Kasianov, we can strain ourselves and pay the required $4 billion, but this may cripple the economy. That is why we have been asking for a special handling of the debts of the former Soviet Union and hope that our creditors will understand it correctly, Kasianov said.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta, August 29, 2000, p. 1

Russian and Swedish foreign ministers Igor Ivanov and Anna Lind met in Moscow yesterday to discuss the visit of Swedish Prime Minister Joran Persson to the Russian capital in September.

After the meeting, Ivanov announced that Russian values political and ideological dialogue with Sweden. During Persson’s visit, Russia and Sweden will discuss the prospects of Moscow’s relations with the European Union which Sweden will chair until the end of June 2001.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta, August 29, 2000, p. 3

Grigori Yavlinsky has sent a condolence telegram to the Northern Fleet headquarters to the submariners’ relatives. The telegram states that “We will do everything in our power to make sure that the federal budget has all the money necessary for the Armed Forces. We will do everything we can to put an end to lies and corruption in the top echelons of power…”

Yabloko transferred some money to the relatives of the submariners who died in the Barents Sea.