GEORGE W. BUSH SHOCKS HIS ALLIES
Izvestia, June 14, 2001, p. 2
Bush’s tour of Europe is centered around discussing three issues: development of trans-Atlantic ties and military-strategic subjects (they were discussed in Brussels), relations between the United States and the European Union (will be discussed in Gothenburg today), and the Russian-American dialogue. Bush’s visit to Spain earlier this week was supposed to provide a “mild start” to the whole tour. Washington expected that conservatives in Madrid would not emphasize the discord between the United States and the European Union. Prime Minister Aznar did do his best to receive Bush as warmly as possible, but large anti-Bush rallies in Madrid nullified all the efforts of the Spanish authorities. Mobilized by labor unions, the demonstrators raised all issues – Bush’s “eagerness to destroy the environment”, his “neglect of strategic stability”, and even the “sick bias in favor of the death penalty”.
Brussels greeted the US president with similar demonstrations, a detail which could not help affecting the atmosphere of the summit. Actually, Bush himself ruined the mood with his sharply-worded statements on strategic stability at a press conference in Madrid. Among other things, he called the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty “an anachronism” and said the United States was going to withdraw from it.
PRIME MINISTER KASIANOV KEEPS MAKING ADVANCES TO POTENTIAL INVESTORS
Izvestia, June 14, 2001, p. 2
Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov once again gave guarantees to potential investors. Speaking about next year’s budget, Kasianov said budget spending would be mostly concentrated on servicing debts and “support for national security.”
DEATH PENALTY FOR DRUG DEALERS: PROS AND CONS
Izvestia, June 14, 2001, p. 2
Duma deputies Dmitry Saveliev and Vera Lekareva, who support the death penalty, contradict the official position of their faction (Union of Right Forces) and Russia’s obligations to the Council of Europe. The deputies consider that if Europe had the drug problems that Russia has, Europe would have introduced capital punishment for dealers too. Lekareva, who chairs the Commission for prevention of drug addiction among young people, says that after listening to her report on the problem, President Vladimir Putin said “we may even introduce the death penalty.”
Vasily Sorokin, head of the Drug Enforcement Department of the Moscow Interior Affairs Municipal Directorate: “We should impose stronger penalties for dealers, but capital punishment is too much.”
Vladimir Ivanov, president of the Russia Without Drugs public association: “These days, 12-13 million teenagers in Russia use and distribute drugs. Are we going to execute all of them? The death penalty would not have any effect on the situation. Just the release of a major dealer from custody would become more expensive. It costs between $500,000 and $1.5 million now.”
Viktor Pokhmelkin, deputy head of the Union of Right Forces faction, says the faction does not share Saveliev’s and Lekareva’s opinion.
AN INTERVIEW WITH ALEXANDER GUROV
Izvestia, June 14, 2001, p. 4
An interview with Alexander Gurov, head of the Duma Security Committee.
Question: How would you describe the situation with corruption?
Alexander Gurov: Corruption is a way of life in Russia nowadays. The Interior Ministry once did an experiment: 100 cases of traffic violations were monitored – and in only three of those cases the drivers did not offer a bribe to traffic police. Almost all companies include in their budgets funds for bribes to tax services, fire safety inspectors, and so on. It is considered normal. According to statistics, all corruption in Russia amounts to 2,000 bribes a year. This is how many criminal charges are issued a year. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Corruption is a danger to Russia’s national security.
Question: But if that is so, why has the anti-corruption law been scuttled in the Duma on three occasions?
Gurov: On the one hand, some deputies lobbied against the law deliberately. On the other, most deputies feared that the law would then apply to virtually all state officials.
We did not invent anything new. President Putin pledged to have the international convention on combating corruption ratified, and the bill we advocate is in line with the convention. This is more than just a legal act, it is political-legal.
Question: Do you really have confidence in this law, in its ability to eradicate corruption?
Gurov: The law in itself will do nothing of the kind. Herman Gref’s “anti-bureaucratic package” is needed as well. But passing the law would provide some strong momentum, anyway…
A SPY OR NOT?
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, June 14, 2001, pp. 1-2
The Omsk Regional Directorate of the Federal Security Service has warned US citizen Elizabeth Sweet that it is unacceptable to collect financial information on certain enterprises in the city and the region. According to counter-intelligence, Sweet compiled data on the largest enterprises and factories of Omsk, including some in the defense sector. For the time being, Russian law enforcement agencies do not plan to take Sweet into custody or expel her.
Sweet’s colleagues view the scandal as a provocation against the international economics department of the Omsk State University, where she works.
A colleague: “We cannot imagine Sweet is a spy. In the United States she is known as a feminist. In Omsk, she decided to study the women’s movement. Some students of hers, entirely at their own initiative, must have brought her some data relevant to this area from some defense enterprise, whose director then informed the Federal Security Service…”
NATO NAVAL EXERCISES START IN THE BLACK SEA
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, June 14, 2001, p. 2
NATO naval exercises called Cooperative Partnership 2001 have begun in the vicinity of the Georgian port of Poti. The United States, Turkey, Italy, France, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Georgia are involved. About 4,000 servicemen, including some on the land, are involved in the exercise.
RUSSIA AND UKRAINE RESTORE COMMISSION
Parlamentskaya Gazeta, June 14, 2001, p. 1
Russia and Ukraine have revived a standing inter-governmental commission. The commission includes about 20 expert teams specializing in various fields.
WHY WAS STEPASHIN SUMMONED TO THE KREMLIN?
Trud-7, June 14, 2001, p. 3
Last Friday, Auditing Commission Chairman Sergei Stepashin was urgently summoned to the Kremlin from Kiev. One theory has it that Stepashin may be offered the post of prime minister again.