END OF POLITICAL SEASON
Moskovsky Komsomolets, July 16, 2001, p. 2
On July 13, the Efficient Politics Foundation led by Gleb Pavlovsky rented the prestigious Hermitage garden to celebrate the end of the political season.
While Pavlovsky’s guests were dancing, drinking Hennessy, and eating Russian cheese, a “Moskovsky Komsomolets” correspondent decided to interview some participants of the celebration about their impressions of the past season.
Gleb Pavlovsky: The main result of this season is that the government does no need the Efficient Politics Foundation anymore. The current political process is commonplace, boring, and democratic. The political process was changed by the policy of the president and the government. Talking about the government’s actions, we do not usually mean laws. This is a purely Russian peculiarity. Actions are when Parliament is fired with guns. And lawmaking sounds insignificant. But now, mind you, all reforms are conveyed by means of laws. It is extraordinary for Russia and therefore it seems boring. However, this is what we have been struggling for over the past ten years.
The most important events are denunciations of federal agreements between the center and regions. Besides, Russia is again becoming fashionable in the world, whereas in the middle of the 1990’s Russia became boring for the world.
Sergei Markov, political consultant: First and foremost, the reformation of the state power was finished in this season. The country again became governable. I mean that tycoons have been deprived of the influence over the government and regional separatism has been put an end to.
Secondly, a great breakthrough in structural economic reforms has taken place. I’d say that foreign investors, the IMF, and the World Bank have been dreaming of these reforms for ten years.
Thirdly, the Chechen guerilla war has approached a crucial moment. The main field commanders have been killed or imprisoned. Local inhabitants of Chechnya have started to trust the federal center.
Besides, Vladimir Putin has gained an excellent reputation on the international arena.
PARLIAMENT THREATENED WITH DISSOLUTION
Moskovsky Komsomolets, July 16, 2001, p. 2
Chairman of the Duma Committee for Financial Markets Alexander Shokhin believes that the likelihood of the dissolution of the Duma in autumn is 50%. A number of prominent political consultants share his opinion.
According to Shokhin, this time this will not be an element of the president’s game with Parliament: this measure will be aimed at increasing the period between presidential and parliamentary elections.
Political consultants Valery Fedorov and Sergei Markov have supported Shokhin. Markov has also noted that the Duma has adopted a number of draft laws during the spring sessions fearing its dissolution, which has affected the efficiency of its work.
PUTIN INDIFFERENT OF PR
Moskovsky Komsomolets, July 16, 2001, p. 2
Before every foreign trip Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with journalists of the country he intends to visit.
On the eve of his trip to Genoa, where he will take part in the G8 summit, Putin has met with journalists from the RAI-1 TV channel and the newspaper “Corriera della sera.”
Putin is of the opinion that the US’ unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Treaty (ABT) of 1972 does not worry Russia from the point of view of its own national security. According to the president, even if America’s tests are successful, “it is simply unreal” to intercept 1,000 missiles at a time. At the same time, if the US unilaterally violates ABT, this will automatically denounce START I and START II, as Vladimir Putin noted at the press conference.
Touching on the role of media in the society, the president repeated once again that “a society without free media has no future.” In this connection, the president was asked if it is possible to get rid of oligarchs without hurting media. The Russian president answered affirmatively and added, “It is necessary to separate such an oligarch from the media if he has borrowed a billion dollars, does not want to return this money, and uses the media he controls to blackmail the state or to shift his commercial relations into the place of relations between the state and journalists or into the political plane.”
Answering the question about the catastrophe of the submarine Kursk and commenting on the criticism he was subjected to when he refused to interrupt his vacation in Sochi, he said, “This was a mistake from the PR standpoint. I just did not think about it. I was concerned with the situation of the crew of the submarine.”
LAND CODE APPROVED IN SECOND READING
Izvestia, July 16, 2001, p. 4
On Saturday, on the last day of the spring session of the Duma, deputies approved the draft Land Code in the second reading. The left opposition has already reported on “gross violations of constitutional norms” and intends to apply to the Constitutional Court.
The left had been trying to prevent the adoption of the draft Land Code in the second reading by negative reports of regions. These reports were declared illegitimate. Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev has announced that the Duma is not entitled to conduct an investigation of this case and that the Constitutional Court will handle it.
The Chairman of the Communist faction Gennady Zyuganov has told journalists that the corresponding petition will be submitted to the Constitutional Court no later than Monday. However, the Constitutional Court may accept this appeal only after the draft law is signed by the president, which is to be preceded by the third reading and the consideration by the Federation Council.
When Zyuganov was told that the Constitutional Court did not have a right to consider the Communists’ appeal after the second reading, Zyuganov replied in a Bolshevist way, “If the matter concerns war or peace, it is possible to consider an issue in an emergency regime.”
Thus, it turns out that the Constitution is not a law either for the left or for the pro-presidential majority.
There have been a lot of arguments about selling land to foreigners. The government and the pro-presidential factions insisted on equal rights to own land for both foreigners and Russian natives.
As a result, foreigners were forbidden to by land in frontier areas. Besides, they will be entitled to buy land in Russia only after they build something on it. The government is trying to attract investments to Russia by this method.
The third reading of the draft Land Code will be conducted in autumn.
The fact that the draft Land Code has been approved even in this curtailed version may be viewed as an indicator of market reforms. The executive and legislative branches had failed to find a compromise on this issue before. The current layout of political forces in the Duma has made it possible to adopt the draft Land Code. This draft law was supported by 256 deputies mostly representing the pro-presidential majority in the Duma.
INTRIGUE AGAINST MIG
Izvestia, July 17, 2001, p. 5
Recently Peru media launched a campaign of discrediting products of the aircraft corporation MiG and activities of Rosoboronexport. At the press conference devoted to this issue representatives of MiG and Rosoboronexport announced that the legitimacy of the transaction on delivery of Russian MiG fighters to Peru concluded in 1998. Participants of the press conference also noted that some forces were obviously against the activation of deliveries of Russian military hardware to Peru.
A parliamentary commission of Peru started investigating some alleged infractions connected with the delivery of MiG planes after the accident of a MiG-29 plane belonging to the Peru Air Force on March 13, 2001. Russians believe that the Peruvian government neglects the position of the Russian government and misinterprets the causes of the accident. Besides, the plane that underwent the accident had been bought from Belarus. This transaction was performed without a participation of the Russian side, and therefore, the aircraft corporation MiG did not give any guarantees in the course of this transaction.
The corporation has announced that it has not allowed any enterprise but Rosoboronexport to deliver MiG planes or spare parts for them to any countries. Alexander Smelyakov, Director of the PR Department of Rosoboronexport, has said, “It is a pity that this unhealthy fuss has been launched surrounding the legitimate transaction.” Director of the PR Department of MiG Andrei Mazurov has stated that the planes delivered to Peru had been property tested. Results of the tests were registered by the corresponding services of the Russian Defense Ministry. Moreover, experts from Peru controlled the process of manufacturing of the planes and their tests.
The Russian commission that has analyzed the materials of this case has come to the conclusion that the accident of MiG-29 of the Peru Air Force was caused by an error made by the pilot. The materials of the commission’s inspection have been given to experts from Peru. Russian exporters have offered their services in order to prevent catastrophes with Belarussian MiG planes. The aircraft corporation MiG has appealed to all owners of MiG-29 planes to use these planes in accordance to the latest version of the regulations of their technical servicing.
SURPRISE IN NIZHNY NOVGOROD
Izvestia, July 17, 2001, p. 3
On Sunday, an election for a new governor was conducted in the Nizhny Novgorod Region. Only 37% of voters came to polling stations, and every twelfth voter voted against all candidates.
Former head of the region Gennady Khodyrev and current Governor Ivan Sklyarov will continue their competition in the second round scheduled for July 29.
Almost all types of candidates were represented in Nizhny Novgorod: the current governor, former head of the region and member of the Communist Party Khodyrev, democrat Vadim Bulavinov, populist and criminal authority Andrei Klimentyev, and scandalist Dmitry Savelyev, who is also a Duma deputy.
Khodyrev was supported by 24.4% of voters. He is followed by Sklyarov (20.8%), Bulavinov (19.7%), Savelyev (12.5%), and Klimentyev (10.5%).
The results of the voting were surprising, because it is Bulavinov and Klimentyev who were generally believed the favorites of the electoral race.
Khodyrev’s victory is a surprise too. Nizhny Novgorod Mayor Yury Lebedev has explained Khodyrev’s success by the fact that his campaign was the least scandalous.
Izvestia, July 17, 2001, p. 2
On July 16, representatives of the command of the Joint Group of Federal Forces in Chechnya, the Chechen Prosecutor’s Office, and the local authorities assembled in the house of government in Grozny to discuss violations of human rights in the course of the special operations in the populated places of Assinovskaya, Sernovodsk, and Kurchaloi.
Chechen Prosecutor Viktor Dakhnov announced that infractions “were not indiscriminate, and the special operation was not a bacchanalia as it is represented.” The preliminary investigation has found out that “10 local inhabitants got physical injuries and there are some cases of causing material damage.”
On the eve of this meeting the prosecutor met with the acting commander of the Joint Group of Federal Forces Vladimir Moltensky, who confirmed the prosecutor’s data.
Dakhnov announced that several hundreds of complaints were submitted after the special operations, but only few of the complaints have actual grounds. “Most of them were caused by emotions.”
Main Military Prosecutor of the Russian Federation Mikhail Kislitsin, in turn, has reported to ITAR-TASS that in the course of investigations of the special operations in the populated places of Assinovskaya, Sernovodsk, and Kurchaloi “no one has been detained and no one has been charged with any crime.”
According to our sources, heads of local administrations are dissatisfied with the results of the investigations.