AN ENVIABLE FATE
Tverskaya 13, August 15, 2001, p. 2
Zelenograd, Moscow’s historical fellow-traveler and now the capital’s tenth district, has been allotted a weighty and responsible task. In the near future, Zelenograd will be the scene of an experimental transition to 100% payment for housing and utilities.
The figures behind this experiment look as follows: people with an income of less than 1,000 rubles a month should pay no more than 7% of this for housing and utilities; for incomes of up to 2,000 rubles a month the level is 8%, at 4,000 rubles a month it is 9%, and at 6,000 rubles a month it is 10%. If anyone is paying more than the specified level, they can apply for a state subsidy.
However, for Zelenograd residents (and for all Muscovites in future) who earn over 6,000 rubles a month, the picture changes entirely: they will have to pay 100% for housing and utilities, with no options for assistance. According to Zelenograd Prefect Anatoly Smirnov, under this payment mechanism up tp 72,000 families will be eligible to apply for subsidies (out of a total of 83,000 families in the district), although the number expected to apply is closer to 50,000.
THE STATE TO PAY FOR TRANSMISSION
Kultura, August 16, 2001, EV
Media Minister Mikhail Lesin announced that President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree establishing a federal state unitary enterprise called the Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Network. This is supposed ensure stable funding for Russia’s electronic media, thus guaranteeing their operation.
From 2002 on, the state will pay for the transmission of national television and radio channels in towns with fewer than 200,000 residents. This will enable these channels to clear their debts within the next year.
The total cost of this measure will be about $35-40 million a year. This money is to be spent on paying for the transmission of the ORT and RTR television networks, Mayak Radio, and Radio Rossia. In early September it will be decided whether the NTV network will also be included among the TV channels which will receive state funding for transmission.
PEACE CARAVAN AGAINST PIPELINES
Inostranets, August 14, 2001, p. 5
On August 7, an environmental “Peace Caravan” set out from Gelenjic. Members of local environmental groups and residents walked to the village of Yuzhnaya Ozereika. This action was another attempt to prevent the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (KTK) and Blue Stream projects, which, according to independent ecologists, threaten the ecosystem of the Black Sea coast.
According to analysts of the North Caucasus Independent Ecological Service, the KTK oil pipeline passes through old-growth juniper forests, which are registered in the Red Book of rare and endangered animals and plants; these have been damaged during construction of the pipeline. As for the Blue Stream gas pipeline, it runs across specially-protected reserves of the Gelenjic nature zone.
WESTERN SIBERIA AND OIL POLLUTION
Inostranets, August 14, 2001, p. 5
According to analysts from Dutch consulting compnay IWACO, which has carried out an independent study of the consequences of oil extraction in the Nizhnevartovsk region together with the Russian branch of Greenpeace, from 700,000 to 840,000 hectares of soil in western Siberia (seven times the area of Moscow) are polluted with oil. The researches discovered that the concentration of petroleum products on this territory exceeds Russian national standards by 50 to 60 times. According to ecologists, it will take the region hundreds of years to restore its biological balance.
Over the past five years the number of cancer cases in Nizhnevartovsk, Langepas, Mergion, and Raduzhny has doubled. According to statistics, there are 30%-40% more cancer patients in Nezhnevartovsk and Langepas than in neighboring regions.
MOST RUSSIANS FAVOR NEGOTIATIONS IN CHECHNYA
Inostranets, August 14, 2001, p. 7
Aslan Maskhadov’s press secretary Mairbek Vachgaev recently announced in Paris that Chechen guerrillas had never planned to carry out an anniversary attack on Grozny on August 6. The federal forces had earlier told the media that on August 6, guerrilla leaders Khattab and Basaev would “make a hell” of Grozny on “Ichkerian Independence Day”. On this pretext, all roads in Chechnya were blocked.
As Vachgaev noted, “Ichkerian Independence Day” is actually September 6. Meanwhile, the results of a poll done by the National Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) are rather unexpected. It showed that 40% of respondents think the current situation in Chechnya is the same as it was before the military operation began in summer 1999. Another 14% of respondents think the situation has changed for the worse, and only 36% are convinced that Putin’s policies and the actions of the federal forces have improved the situation in Chechnya. Most significantly, 53% of respondents favor peace negotiations with Aslan Maskhadov.
RUSSIA WORKS FOR FOREIGN COUNTRIES
Argumenty i Fakty, August 15, 2001, EV
According to economists, Russians take about $1,000 with them when going abroad.
The sums Russians pay for their vacations abroad are quite considerable. Last summer, Russians took about $1.1 billion to China (over a million Russian citizens have visited China recently); $793,800 million was taken to Turkey; $630,750 million was spent in Finland (about half a million Russian tourists went there last year). Spain, which is famous for its expensive tours, received $307,840 from Russians tourists; Egypt made $170,850 from Russians; and Cyprus, where a taxi ride costs about $7, gained $163,650. Russian visitors spent $179,860 in Italy. This year, Russian tourists have spent $1.5 billion on vacations in Turkey.