NO FAITH – NO RUSSIA
Trud, August 22, 2001, p. 1
Yesterday morning President Putin visited the Iversky monastery in the Valdai area of the Novgorod region. Putin attended a service in the Uspensky cathedral at the monastery, which included a requiem mass for those who died in Astrakhan on Sunday. The president lit a candle before the icon of the Mother of God, and presented an icon to Archbishop Lev of Novgorod.
Putin arrived in the Valdai area on Monday night. Before leaving the Solovetskie islands further north, he commented on how Russian Orthodox culture emphasizes the equality of all peoples. This is “a matter of principle” for Russia.
“This simple truth,” said Putin, “was laid into the foundations of the Russian state.” The president said that “Russia is unlikely to recover without Christianity”; so “returning to this source is very important, very healthy, and very timely” today.
Putin became the third Russian leader (after tsars Peter I and Alexander II) to visit the Solovki monastery. He was met at the airport by Patriarch Aleksy II. It was the first time in the monastery’s history that the head of state as well as the head of the church made a joint visit.
CIVIL SERVICE REFORMS PLANNED
Izvestia, August 22, 2001, p. 2
The president has signed a decree establishing a civil service reform commission. By the end of the year, the working group is likely to come up with a plan of action. Then officials will have to change – slowly but surely.
The analysis of the present civil service system showed that at least ten other countries have more civil servants than Russia. However, Russia’s present system is illogically organized: “Each civil servant serves a department, not the state.”
Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov will head the commission. There are no time limits for these reforms. Officialdom is unpredictable…
PUTIN IN THE NOVGOROD REGION
Izvestia, August 22, 2001, p. 2
The president decided to end his short vacation in the Valdai area, at his Dolgie Borody residence. He arrived late on Monday evening, by helicopter from Petrozavodsk. Here he was met by Novgorod Governor Mikhail Prusak and Archbishop Lev of Novgorod.
As expected, the president spoke with the governor behind closed doors. But the administration permitted a leak about the topic – preparations for winter. Observers assumed that some other themes were also covered. Prusak, formerly a critic of presidential policies, may become head of the Democratic Party of Russia – or move to Moscow.
PRESIDENT MORE EXPENSIVE
Rossiyskaya Gazeta, August 22, 2001, p. 2
Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Kudrin has explained that the cost of maintaining the presidential administration keeps increasing, due to its wide-ranging activities. As Kudrin said after a Cabinet meeting, the cost of the presidential administration’s activities in 2002 will be “several times as high as in the previous year.” Above all, this is due to the development of the institution of presidential envoys.
However, Kudrin did not name the specific sum in the budget for maintaining the presidential administration.
STRATEGIC FACILITY REBUILT
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, August 22, 2001, p. 1
Military builders have finished reconstruction of a strategic facility of the Space Forces in the Moscow military district. Lieutenant General Anatoly Grebenyuk said that the consequences of the fire in the satellite control station have been eliminated within the time-frame specified by the defense minister.
Grebenyuk noted that about 40 tons of metals and cabling had to be manually dismantled.