THE FUTURE OF FATHERLAND-UNITY ALLIANCE
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, September 12, 2001, p. 2
The constitutive congress of the alliance of Unity and Fatherland passed extremely quickly: all issues were resolved unanimously and without any debate. However, despite this fact – and the constant announcements from leaders of both movements that the political horizons of the new alliance are limitless – the situation does not seem entirely cloudless.
This may be indicated by the fact that the first congress of the alliance has been postponed from November to December. Moscow Mayor and leader of Fatherland Yury Luzhkov says the exact date of the congress will be known only at the start of October.
It is also not quite clear what structural changes Unity and Fatherland will undergo. Unity leader Sergei Shoigu says the final aim of the integration of the two political structures is a merger into one political party. However, he notes that the path toward the merger is very complicated.
Members of the general council of the alliance have managed to work out a coordinated opinion about the support of coordinated candidates in elections. For instance, both Fatherland and Unity will support incumbent Governor Vladimir Chub in the upcoming election in the Rostov region.
However, many other problems still remain to be resolved.
BUDGET WITH A SURPRISE
Moskovsky Komsomolets, September 12, 2001, p. 2
The Budget Committee of the Duma has started work already. It is to prepare the draft 2002 budget for the first reading by September 28.
On September 11, members of the Budget Committee considered the basic figures in the budget: the GDP, inflation, and the exchange rate. The Economic Development and Trade Ministry has presented two scenarios for the development of Russia’s economy in 2002: conservative (if world oil prices collapse to $17 a barrel) and optimistic (if oil prices are $22-23 a barrel). The Finance Ministry has decided to choose the optimistic scenario.
Duma specialists believe that the Cabinet has calculated budget figures on the basis of understated indexes. For instance, the draft 2002 budget forecasts inflation at 11-13%, whereas in 2001 this figure is likely to be 20%. Therefore, Duma deputies suggest that the Cabinet should reconsider the basic parameters of the budget. Duma deputies are interested in a reconsideration, since if predicted budget revenues are increased, they will have an opportunity to draw some money to their own regions or their own projects. So far, only Unity has supported the draft budget unconditionally; other factions have expressed some doubts.
When Duma deputies asked the Cabinet about gas and electricity tariff rises in 2002, they did not receive any response. It turns out that these calculations are not for common usage and publicizing.
AIR DEFENSE FORCES PLAN EXERCISES
Izvestia, September 12, 2001, p. 4
On September 11, 2001, representatives of the Russian Air Defense Forces denied a report in “The Washington Times” about “incorrect” actions of Russian pilots in the zone of the combat exercises of ships of the Pacific Fleet last week. According to “The Washington Times,” a Russian MiG-31 plane performed a dangerous maneuver close to an American R-3 surveillance plane and aimed its missile targeting system at it.
Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Air Force General Anatoly Kornukov told us that the upcoming exercises of the Air Force and the Air Defense Forces will have three stages. The highlight of these exercises will be participation by forces of the Pacific Fleet as well as the Northern Fleet. Thus, the entire Arctic Ocean and Russian Far East will be included in the “zone of combat actions.”
However, the most interesting detail of the exercises will be the repulsion of an airspace violation by a hypothetical enemy. Planes and ground units of the Air Defense Forces will act in conditions close to those of a nuclear war. S-300 air defense missile systems will intercept “nuclear missiles” heading toward Russia. Strategic aviation will make a preventive missile strike on fixed and mobile targets of the hypothetical enemy’s air defense.
The exercises aim to test the actual abilities of the Russian Armed Forces in the fields of repulsing a nuclear attack, breaking through an enemy’s missile shield, and making a counter-strike.
UNION OF RIGHT FORCES DOES NOT RULE OUT EARLY PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, September 12, 2001, p. 2
Viktor Pokhmelkin, senior deputy faction leader of the Union of Right Forces (URF), does not rule out a pre-term parliamentary election in Russia, but thinks that this is likely to happen no earlier than spring 2003. He says the Presidential Administration “is eager to extend the interval between the parliamentary and presidential elections, up to one year.” However, in Pokhmelkin’s opinion, any decision to dissolve the Duma ahead of schedule would be coordinated with representatives of most Duma factions. Discussing the chances of democratic forces in a future parliamentary election, Pokhmelkin says that in the near future it will be necessary to form some kind of coalition including the URF, Yabloko, and a number of minor democratic movements, such as the party that is being created by Novgorod Governor Mikhail Prusak, the Liberal Russia movement, and some social-democratic parties.
SECOND PONTOON FOR KURSK ARRIVES AT ROSLYAKOVO
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, September 12, 2001, p. 7
On September 11, a display board showing the level of background radiation was installed in the Leninsky District of Murmansk. The board shows 6-5 microroentgens per hour, whereas the norm for the Kola Peninsula is 7-25 microroentgens per hour. The monitoring of the radiation background in the region has been arranged by the Russian Hydrometeorologic Service and the State Sanitary Epidemiological Inspectorate. The State Sanitary Epidemiological Inspectorate has fixed stations, where radiation sensors are installed: two sensors in the center of the city and two sensors in its outlying districts. Another 25 sensors are fixed along a 30-kilometer perimeter around the settlement of Roslyakovo, where the floating dock for the Kursk nuclear submarine is located. On Tuesday, the Gon pontoon was delivered to Roslyakovo. The first pontoon, Mar, had been transported there earlier. The Kursk will be transported to the dock of the local shipyard by means of these pontoons. After the Giant-4 platform ship comes to this zone for raising the Kursk, journalists will be transported to this place by the hospital vessel Svir. Northern Fleet spokesman Vladimir Navrotsky told us that this is due to take place on September 17-18.