Trud, December 1, 2000, p. 2

The Krasnoyarsk regional prosecutor’s office has completed its investigation into the case of Vladimir Tatarenkov. He was wanted by the law enforcement agencies since August 1994 for heading a gang responsible for a series of murders in Minusinsk and Krasnoyarsk. In August 1997, most of the gang members were convicted by the regional court.

Tatarenkov managed to escape. Earlier this year, he was located in a Greek prison. He was extradited to Krasnoyarsk for three months. In Russia he is accused of eight murders.

The extradition period has officially expired, because Greece only allowed Tatarenkov to be taken to Russia for a few months. But according to Alexander Borkov, head of the major crimes division at the Krasnoyarsk prosecutor’s office, “this man will not escape punishment, and sooner or later he will stand trial”. Because of the moratorium on capital punishment, Tatarenkov is in no danger of the death penalty; but life imprisonment seems inevitable – that is, if the trial ever takes place.


Parlamentskaya Gazeta, December 1, 2000, p. 2

Today the Duma will devote a plenary session to the 2001 draft budget.

In principle, the third reading can be considered final. Firstly, because members of parliament will be battling for funding for specific industry sectors, enterprises, projects, programs, etc. Secondly, because a fourth reading is just a formality. The lower house will declare debates on the budget to be over.

The third reading is a fairly simple procedure: the budget committee will propose lists of amendments. However, according to the majority of Duma deputies, almost all the amendments will be rejected.


Izvestia, December 1, 2000, p. 2

The plane flying Defense Minister Igor Sergeev back from Japan stopped over in Primorye (Maritime territory, Russian Far East) for refuelling. The minister spent two hours in Primorye, and during this time he managed to meet with representatives of the regional government, commanders of the Pacific Fleet, and law enforcement agencies. Sergeev promised that the Defense Ministry’s debts to the region will be paid.


Izvestia, December 1, 2000, p. 2

Yesterday the Duma Council received a bill on an amnesty for white-collar crime. It contains a range of articles of the Criminal Code to which the amnesty will apply, including transferring hard currency abroad, and even theft and fraud.

Alexander Fedulov (Unity), deputy chair of the legislation committee, who prepared this bill, thinks the goal of this project is to “attract extra investment to the Russian economy”, and also cites “humanitarian reasons”. He supports an amnesty for three categories of offenders: those who have capital both abroad and in Russia, those who are being investigated or facing charges, and those who are serving prison terms for white-collar crime.

But the range of Criminal Code articles to which this amnesty would apply is so broad that some questions must be asked of its author. As well as not returning hard currency from abroad, and money-laundering, the list includes: bank account fraud, securities fraud, evasion of customs duties, etc. Fedulov has a simple reply: if the Duma deputies consider it necessary, they can shorten this list – he wouldn’t oppose this. His main argument involves the need to reject “repressive punitive measures” and “revolutionary hatred”. For example, rather than just handing down the maximum penalty, a thief and the victim of the theft should be given the opportunity to reach an agreement on compensation.

Fedulov thinks that if even 5% of Russian citizens believe in the amnesty, about $100 billion will return to Russia (he believes that the total sum which has been taken out of Russia is about $3.5-4.5 trillion).


Tribuna, December 1, 2000, p. 1

Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov attended a press conference launching the International Kursk Fund. He said that the Kursk nuclear submarine salvage operation is primarily necessary for environmental reasons; investigating the reasons for the disaster takes second place.

The project managers for the salvage operation started off with about 500 options for how to go about it, but now this has been cut down to two alternatives. The plan needs to be finalized by the end of December. By this time, the International Kursk Fund intend to raise enough money for the operation. According to Klebanov, the cost will not exceed $80 million (compared to $6 million for the 18-days salvage operation by the Regalia platform).

After it has been raised, the Kursk will be dismantled at one of the Northern Fleet’s ship-building plants.


Tribuna, December 1, 2000, p. 1

Campaign mud-slinging in the Stavropol territory reached new heights in the days immediately before the vote. Opponents of incumbent Governor Alexander Chernogorov tried to stage a repeat of the Kursk region maneuver to disqualify him from the election. A group of rival candidates suddenly produced papers indicating that the governor owned an apartment which he supposedly didn’t include in his assets declaration. This apartment does exist, and it has been purchased by Chernogorov, but the legal transfer of property has not yet been finalized.

Chernogorov tried to list this apartment in his declaration, but the regional election commission described this as “unnecessary honesty”. The process continues, but even now it is clear that Chernogorov is legally innocent. If he wins the case, it will only increase his chances of being re-elected. By the way, the court hearing has now been postponed.


Moskovsky Komsomolets, December 1, 2000, p. 2

Recently the media has been divided into “clean” and “dirty”. Now it is clear whom the Kremlin favors…

A special presidential commission has disconnected the direct phonelines to the government which were formerly in the offices of most editors-in-chief.

Those newspapers which have lost their direct lines include: Gudok, Literaturnaya Gazeta, Sovetsky Sport, Ekonomicheskaya Gazeta, Selskaya Zhizn, Za Rubezhom, Kultura, Moskovskaya Pravda, Vecherka, Sobesednik, Novoe Vremya, Expert, and Narodnaya Gazeta. TV Center and the Moskva TV and radio company, along with many other media outlets, have also lost their direct lines.

The official explanation is that this action was taken “in the interests of the state”: allegedly, the number of direct phonelines to the government had become excessive, and it was necessary to do some “pruning”. It would be logical to assume that this would be done based on the relative importance of the media outlets – i.e. let the biggest ones keep their phone lines, cut off the smaller ones.

So why hasn’t Pravda, the Communist newspaper, been included on the list? Why aren’t the low-circulation papers Vek and Nezavisimaya Gazeta on the list? Why will the obscure Rodina magazine and other small fry keep their direct lines? The answer is obvious: the selection criteria were completely different.

The FAGLI – the body in charge of government communications – has declined to comment on this action.


Moskovsky Komsomolets, December 1, 2000, p. 2

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov isn’t pampering his voters with many words these days. However, one of his rare speeches was delivered at the opening of a media center for the Fatherland movement, mostly aimed at Moscow-based media outlets.

There were also two anniversaries to be marked: it’s two years since the Fatherland movement came into existence, and almost a year (December 19) since the parliamentary election, at which Fatherland took a beating. Luzhov’s speech focused mostly on misfortunes. He recalled everything: the oligarchs “who grow fat on money stolen from the people”; the GKO state securities “pyramid scheme”, which Fatherland wanted to investigate before the elections; and Boris Berezovsky, who created the instant Unity party and “gave rise to” pro-Kremlin media personalities Sergei Dorenko and Leonid Svanidze, both of whom Luzhkov remembers for their “vulgarity”. Luzkhov baited the Moscow media for not resisting these “media hitmen” strongly enough.

But everything has turned out well enough, says Luzhkov: “Fatherland has now passed through its self-cleansing stage. Everyone who wasn’t solidly with us has gone off to join Unity – and you can see what a mess it’s in…” He added that the Fatherland – All Russia faction in the Duma is united and effective.

After his 15-minute speech, Luzhkov departed, leaving a few Fatherland officials (Vladislavliev, Dmitrieva) still in attendance, with plenty of brandy and hors d’oeuvres.