RELATIVES OF TU-154 CRASH PASSENGERS WILL RECEIVE COMPENSATION
Izvestia, July 26, 2001, p. 1
The Vladivostok-Avia airline has agreed to pay compensation to relatives of five people who died in the Tu-154 crash near Irkutsk, without waiting for a court decision. This agreement has not been officially confirmed, but the relatives’ lawyers have already been told that Vladivostok-Avia does not want this case to go to court.
Acting general director of the lawyers’ bureau Liberty Alexander Kovalchuk has reported to “Izvestia,” “On July 24, we submitted the claims of our clients regarding moral damages to the company. After negotiations we came to the conclusion that the first five suits will not be submitted to the court. Soon we will agree on the concrete sums that will be paid to the relatives. Of course, these sums will be smaller than those stated in the initial claims. But our clients understand us, since it will be difficult to resolve this conflict in the court. It is better for Vladivostok-Avia to personally agree with the citizens than to be at law with them. Besides, the company has already compensated the lost baggage and financed funerals of the passengers killed in the crash.
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT SIGNING PARADOX
Izvestia, July 26, 2001, p. 2
On July 25, the Constitutional Court approved Article 21 of the law on privatization adopted in 1997. According to this article, if the winner of a privatization competition violated the rules of privatization, the property is returned to the state free of charge. However, from now on, the state will be able to return its property only in the court. This item has been checked by the Constitutional Court at the request of the Supreme Arbitration Court.
The Supreme Arbitration Court was against this article, since it allegedly does not correspond to the Constitution, for the winner of a privatization competition is deprived of the money it has spent on the privatization transaction.
Lev Naumov, judge of the Supreme Arbitration Court, has told an “Izvestia” correspondent, “It is extremely important that the Constitutional Court has given its interpretation of this situation.”
Izvestia, July 26, 2001, p. 3
On July 26, Russian Education minister Vladimir Filippov reported that 12 Russian regions will be excluded from the federal program of computerization of rural schools if they do not allocate their shares of the funds of the program to correspondent accounts. Overall, these funds amount to two billion rubles. The federal budget and regional budgets divide this sum into two parts. According to the minister, among the regions where implementation of this program will be suspended for an indefinite time are Tatarstan and the Omsk Region.
On Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matvienko reported to the president on the course of implementation of the computerization program. According to her, the work on computerization of all rural schools of the Russian Federation is to be finished by the end of 2001.
At the end of August, a State Council meeting devoted to education problems will take place in the Kremlin. Computerization of rural schools will presumably be the main item on the agenda of the meeting. However, the meeting is likely to be put off, but not only because of the delay of allocation of money from regions.
Experts have a lot of questions about the tender on deliveries of the software within the computerization program that was conducted extremely rapidly. For instance, representatives of the Russian company Arsenal and the American company Sun assert that their proposals were ignored by the organizers of the tender that was won by the company Microsoft. At the same time, Deputy Education Minister Yelena Chepurnykh asserts that the non-alternative deliveries of the software by Microsoft were allegedly coordinated with the Economic Development Ministry. However, our correspondent has been unofficially told in the ministry that it is responsible only for the performance of the tender and does not handle the technical aspects of the proposals.
In the opinion of Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the weekly “Computerra” Mikhail Braude-Zolotarev, the non-alternative delivery of the software of Microsoft initially included in the conditions of the tender and the absence of the distinct idea of the tasks the software has to fulfill must have prevented the organizers of the tender from getting the best results from the point of view of the price. He has told an “Izvestia” correspondent, “If decisions of the corporation Microsoft are alternative-free, then anti-monopoly mechanisms should be involved, as the Education Ministry has noted. These mechanisms make it possible to regulate prices of purchases ordered by the state. But if there is an alternative, it is not clear why the Education Ministry has excluded the alternative software from the tender.”
NEW HEAD OF MOSCOW POLICE APPOINTED
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, July 26, 2001, p. 1
On July 25, Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov appointed Major General Vladimir Pronin to the position of director of the Moscow Main Interior Affairs Directorate. Previously Pronin headed the Interior Affairs Directorate of the Southeastern Sector of the capital city. Gryzlov has announced that this candidacy has been coordinated with Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov.
Two years ago there was a conflict surrounding this position between then interior minister Vladimir Rushailo and Luzhkov. Luzhkov was against Rushailo’s decision to appoint former director of the Interior Affairs Directorate of the Northwestern Sector of Moscow Viktor Shvidkin to the position of director of the Moscow Main Interior Affairs Directorate. Shvidkin worked as an acting director for almost two years, and the minister prolonged his power every two months.
Having become the interior minister on April 16, Boris Gryzlov met with Yuri Luzhkov and started thinking over this issue. Rumors started to circulate that a compromise figure would be appointed to this position. That is when it was first rumored that Major General Vladimir Pronin could be appointed to this position. The mayor of Moscow is completely pleased with this candidacy. Besides, the growth of crime in the Southeastern Sector was the slowest in Moscow.
RUSSIA’S SONS AND STEPSONS
Tribuna, July 26, 2001, p. 1
Russian citizen Dmitry Sklyarov was arrested in the US on July 16, but the Russian Foreign Ministry does not hurry to protect him.
Representatives of various Russian computer companies assembled by the building of the American embassy in Moscow on July 25. The picketers demand that their colleague Dmitry Sklyarov, aged 26, be released. By the way, a number of such demonstrations have already been conducted in the US.
As has been reported already, Sklyarov was officially invited to Las-Vegas to participate in the DEF CON conference devoted to the computer security.
The Russian delegate delivered a speech about methods of protection against cracking of electronic books. On the next day he was arrested by the FBI a few hours before his flight to Russia.
For the first five days of Sklyarov’s imprisonment there was no information about his fate. The FBI violated international norms, since it did not inform the Russian embassy about the arrest at once.
The international organization Electronic Frontier Foundation was the first to pay attention to this incident and gained some success.
Last Monday, the company Adobe, the initiator of the detention, announced that it did not insist of prosecution of Sklyarov any longer. However, the American authorities decided to continue the investigations referring to the laws on copyright protection (he was accused of violation of this right).
Sklyarov is working for one of the largest Russian computer company Elcomsoft. It is worth noting that the Russian government has not displayed the adroitness it displayed when Pavel Borodin was arrested in the US. The government immediately found $3 million for letting Borodin to bail. No money was spared on the glorious son of the fatherland.
This is not the first arrest of a Russian programmer. Not long ago, the FBI enticed two hackers from Chelyabinsk to the US, where they were arrested in November 2000. When they were arrested their Russian computers were hacked.
These arrests look conspicuous against the general background of the FBI’s combating hackers. There have been no reports about the FBI’s detention of a hacker from China or an Arabian country.
NEGOTIATIONS TO VERDI’S TUNES
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, July 26, 2001, p. 1
According to experts, Finland could invest $1 billion in Russia’s economy. Meanwhile, Finland’s investments in Russia’s economy total $230 million at present. However, the situation is likely to change after the visit of Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov to Finland.
One of the main results of the negotiations is the agreement on construction of the Northern European gas pipeline that is to be stretched across the bottom of the Baltic Sea via Finland. Gazprom and the Finnish company Fortum signed an agreement on development of this project right on the eve of Kasianov’s visit to Finland.
Fortum also takes part in the construction of the Inta power plant in the Republic of Komi. This project will not only solve a number ofenergy problems of the North of Russia but also increase the export of Russia’s electric energy to Finland. Currently, this export totals five billion kilowatt-hours a year.
However, not everything is so favorable in Russian-Finnish economic relations. For instance, Finland has introduced restrictions for Russian trucks. Each of them is entitled to transport to Finland no more than 38 tons, whereas Finnish drivers are entitled to transport up to 60 tons of goods to Russia. Kasianov told Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen at their meeting that if these restriction practices are not canceled, Russia will take analogous measures against Finnish trucks: their drivers will be allowed to transport no more than 40 tons of goods in Russia.
One of the most complicated issues at the negotiations was that of Russia’s and Finland’s relations with the Baltic States. According to the Russian Governmental Information Department, about 800,000 Russian-speaking residents of the Baltic States are not given the citizenship in the republic and therefore are discriminated.