STATE AUDITING COMMISSION SEEKING IMF MONEY AGAIN
Kommersant, July 7, 2001, p. 2
On July 6, the State Auditing Commission concluded at its board meeting that IMF credits have been spent ineffectively. Both the Finance Ministry and the Economic Development Ministry are to blame for this. The Auditing Commission has complained about the performance of these ministries to the president and the Justice Ministry.
The Auditing Commission considers that due to absence of a program for distribution of IMF funds, the money has been dispersed between projects that were not connected with each other.
The Auditing Commission also blames the Economic Development Ministry for not compiling a list of top-priority bills whose implementation should be funded by money from the IMF’s loan for judiciary reforms.
The Duma and the Auditing Commission are also concerned about excessively high salaries of staff at the Judiciary Reform Foundation, set up especially for preparing the court reforms.
LEFTISTS ARGUING WITH KREMLIN ABOUT LAND
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, July 7, 2001, p. 3
The Communists’ outrage over the new Land Code has had some results. Kremlin political consultants, who have already developed methods for manipulating the Duma majority, have disregarded the regions. The Communists have collected 39 negative reports from the regions on the Cabinet’s draft of the Land Code. Although 39 regions are a minority, this is an impressive figure.
The law on separation of powers makes it possible to suspend debate on a bill and send it to a conciliation commission if over one-third of regional legislatures oppose it.
However, Alexander Kotenkov, presidential representative in the lower house, doubts that the objections of the Communists are valid. According to him, the reports from the regional legislatures contain various appeals to the public, Parliament, and the Cabinet – which means they are not reports from the legal point of view.
Participants in this scandal have already done their own calculations. According to our sources in the Kremlin, only six or seven reports have been submitted in a proper way; therefore, they will not prevent the Duma from debating the draft Land Code in the second reading. The second reading of this bill is likely to take place in a week’s time.
The calculations of the left are different. They view 13 reports as impeccable and 15-16 as acceptable. The Duma Property Committee, controlled by Unity, has accepted 26 reports.
Currently, the Communists have only one way out: to prepare a draft announcement from the Duma on setting up a conciliation commission to consider the draft Land Code, since the number of negative reports is more than one-third in any case.
But it is more likely that the Kremlin’s hopes will be fulfilled and the draft Land Code will be approved in the second reading before the end of the spring session.
SCANDAL IN UNITY
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, July 7, 2001, p. 3
The Communists’ successful collection of negative reports on the draft Land Code from regional legislatures has exacerbated the situation within Unity, the pro-presidential Duma faction. Its leader Vladimir Pekhtin has even announced that leaders of several regional branches of this party may be dismissed in the near future. The Unity authorities are most irritated with the branches in the Tver, Chita, and Pskov Regions and the Altai Territory.
It turns out that the pro-presidential party has neglected the main document in the government’s reform campaign – being too overwhelmed by the Labor Code, the judiciary reform, and the merger with Fatherland. This failure could lead to some big purges in Unity. Moreover, its authorities could be seriously reconsidering the efficiency of the current structure of the party.
UST-ORDYNSKY BURYAT AUTONOMOUS DISTRICT TO PART WITH ITS SOVEREIGNTY
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, July 7, 2001, p. 1
The current federation reforms touch on some “complicated items” from the previous era of the “regional parade of sovereignties.” Back in August 1990, then-chairman of the Supreme Council of the USSR Boris Yeltsin appealed to regions to “take as much sovereignty as they could swallow.”
However, not all of the regions that took up Yeltsin’s offer have become prosperous.
Five years ago the Ust-Ordynsky Buryat Autonomous District signed an agreement on division of powers with the federal government. Recently, Irkutsk Governor Boris Govorin and Governor of the Ust-Ordynsky Buryat Autonomous District Valery Maleev signed a document that may start a merger of parts of complex regions. The autonomous district will easily part with its sovereignty. It is a purely agrarian region, and at present it is separated from the Irkutsk Region, which is noted for its developed processing industry. Therefore, the Ust-Ordynsky Buryat Autonomous District wholly depends on federal grants.
BALLOT BOXES X-RAYED
Moskovsky Komsomolets, July 7, 2001, p. 8
According to our sources, the Central Election Commission (CEC) is working on several important amendments to the law on elections. A few recent campaigns, such as the election of the Primorye governor, have revealed a lot of gaps in election laws. Why should one candidate be disqualified from the campaign, whereas another candidate is left alone despite the same infractions? Is it possible to put an end to illicit campaign advertising?
The CEC is planning to considerably increase the largest election fund. The CEC is hoping that this will make elections funds more transparent. It is also planned to give those disqualified from elections the right to appeal against their disqualification in the courts. Finally, the CEC is planning to introduce an amendment according to which it will be possible to disqualify a candidate no later than three days before voting begins.
Izvestia, July 7, 2001, p. 8
The Duma has sent an appeal to President Putin on procedures for travel by senior officials along the streets of Moscow. The indignation of Duma deputies was caused by the fact that when the president and the prime minister go to work in the morning and return home in the evening, the streets they are driven along are closed off by the traffic police. The president’s security vehicles rush by at 140 kilometers per hour with sirens blaring and lights flashing. Duma deputies believe that these measures belong to a bygone era.
HOUSING REFORM TO BE CLARIFIED AND SIMPLIFIED
Izvestia, July 7, 2001, p. 3
Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov has told the authors of the draft housing reform to make it “clearer, simpler, and more understandable for Russian citizens.” According to him, people are not yet convinced that they will have hot running water every day, their stairwells will be clean, and rubbish will not be burnt under their windows.
Kasianov’s words influenced Economic Development Minister Herman Gref, who announced at a Cabinet meeting on July 6 that citizens will not be required to pay 100% of cost for housing and utilities.
Gref admits that this unpopular measure may be taken only in 10-15 years. The housing reform will be conducted by means of redistribution of budget funds, but not at the expense of citizens.
THE HUMAN FACTOR
Izvestia, July 7, 2001, p. 2
According to news agencies, the commission for investigating the causes of the Tu-154 plane crash near Irkutsk tends to think that the only cause of the disaster was “the human factor.”
The “human factor” could imply a lot of things, such as pilot error, a miscalculation by the landing tower, carelessness by technical inspectors, etc. Former head of the Transavia airline Alexander Pleshakov, a member of the Federation Council, has stated that there were no technical faults in the plane. Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov has confirmed this statement, referring to the working materials of the commission.
WHO WILL TAKE COMMAND ON THE INFORMATION FRONT?
Rossiiskie Vesti, July 5, 2001, p. 2
Just as independent military analysts predicted, Colonel-General Valerii Manilov has been dismissed as senior deputy chief of the General Staff. The presidential decree said Manilov was leaving “because he has reached the upper age limit for military service”. Manilov coordinated all his actions – whether on Chechnya or the Kursk submarine disaster – with the staff of Sergei Yastrzhembsky; according to our sources, with his departure the Defense Ministry will lose the information initiative entirely. This will gradually be transferred to the staff of presidential aide Yastrzhembsky. After Chechnya and the Kursk, the next PR campaign order will probably involve the military reforms; according to the “civilian” defense minister, we will only see the fruits of these around 2004-05.
THE MILOSEVIC CONSPIRACY
Zavtra, July 5, 2001, p. 1
Commenting on “the handover of Slobodan Milosevic to the international tribunal in The Hague”, our correspondents in Belgrade insist that this actually involved the abduction of the former Yugoslavian president by the British secret services, planned and directly supervised by the CIA. The entire operation was intended to demostrate the triumph and omnipotence of America’s “global stragegy” in the lead-up to the Genoa summit. According to our sources, this is the only explanation for the passivity of the Yugoslavian Socialist Party, which refrained from large protest rallies that weekend – such rallies could have been a real threat to Vojislav Kostunica, since it is known that he had personally guaranteed the safety of Milosevic and his intimates, without which the relatively “velvet” transfer of power in Belgrade would have been unlikely. At the same time, Milosevic’s extradition is just one more “strange” event in Yugoslavia over the past two years: Milosevic refused to launch his rockets at American bases in Europe during NATO’s “humanitarian” aggression, a move which could have led to protests from the Europeans against the air-strikes on Serbia; he turned aside from a clear victory at the presidential elections; and he showed no resistance at all when he was arrested…