NO RANSOM FOR RELEASE OF YAKUB DENIEV
Izvestia, April 4, 2001, p. 2
Yakub Deniev, former deputy head of government in Chechnya, was freed in Moscow on April 3. He had been abducted on March 23 near his home in Mitin.
The operation to free Deniev was carried out by agents of the Central Regional Department for Combating Organized Crime.
No ransom was paid in the operation, although the Chechen diaspora in Moscow had collected the required amount, sources at the Chechen representative office told us. Deniev’s abductors called his family on the day he was taken, demanding $500,000 for his release. The identities of the abductors remain unknown. Deniev himself also refuses to reveal any further details of the incident.
Eight months ago, Yakub Deniev was acting as head of the provisional government of Chechnya, while Chechnya was under the actual government of Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Koshman.
ALGERIA: THE DEBTS WILL HAVE TO BE PAID
Izvestia, April 4, 2001, p. 7
For the first time in the history of Russian-Algerian relations, Algerian President Abdelaziz Buteflika is paying an official visit to Moscow. Top-level talks are expected to cover rebuilding the large Elhada metals plant, building a series of dams for irrigation purposes, and a liquefied gas pipeline. Moreover, Algeria will try to restructure its debts to Russia, amounting to some $4 billion.
Several decades ago, the USSR granted the Algerian government loans amounting to almost $11 billion. These debts have been partially repaid. However, since 1998 Algeria has ceased to service its debts to Russia, and refused to negotiate on the problem. Meanwhile, Algeria has been servicing its debts to other nations, according to sources at the Finance Ministry.
The Algerian delegation may raise the issue of supplying special arms for police corps fighting Islamic extremists, report sources at the Defense Ministry.
RUSSIA’S CREDITORS GIVE A SIGN OF RECONCILIATION
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, April 4, 2001, pp. 1, 2
Just two hours before President Putin delivered his annual address to the nation, an international conference on “Modernizing the Russian Economy” opened in Moscow. At the conference, international creditors and senior government officials tried to predict Russia’s short-term future.
It’s fairly rare for delegates from the IMF and the World Bank to visit Moscow at the same time. The West has obviously been trying to ameliorate the results of its own harsh statements two weeks ago, when the Russian Federation was denied a contingency loan. Both the IMF and the World Bank are wary of Russia escaping their surveillance.
Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov stated that Russian society has gained certainty that the reforms will be successful and the economic situation is improving. This is precisely what is leading people to start making long-term investment plans and expensive purchases. Investment is expected and required; so the government has made a bold decision to carry out pension and land reforms, increase utilities fees for citizens to cover their actual cost, and reconstruct this entire sector in order to create competition. Restructuring the natural monopolies and deregulating the economy is based on the same principle.
A speech by Gerard Belange, head of the IMF mission to Russia, became the second hit on the list. He considers that Russia should beware of making the ruble too strong, since that would decrease financial stability and cause inflation, which was already happening in the second half of 2000.
In general, the conference means that in the face of a serious global crisis, the West has understood how undesirable it would be to break off relations with Russia. In troubled circumstances, a nation could choose to focus on its domestic policies, but our foreign partners are not prepared for that. That’s why they have decided to give us a sign of reconciliation on the same day as the president’s annual address – an address which gave restrained approval to the policies which international financial organizations are carrying out in Russia.
THE AIM IS TO CLARIFY OUR POSITIONS
Parlamentskaya Gazeta, April 4, 2001, p. 7
Prime Minister Victor Yushchenko of Ukraine arrives in Moscow today for an unofficial meeting with Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov, according to well-informed sources close to the Presidential Administration. Natural gas, and Russia’s use of Ukraine’s pipelines, is the main item on the agenda.
This will primarily be an attempt to solve the problem of Ukraine’s debts for gas supplies and unsanctioned use of gas from Russian supplies. Yushchenko will possibly try to reach an agreement on the problem of distinguishing between the Russian and Ukrainian energy systems, since the latter is experiencing a crisis.