Gazeta, December 10, 2001, p. 3

Pavel Borodin, whose attendance and eventual leadership in the party was solemnly promised by its organizers, never turned up at the congress. He was urgently summoned to Seleznev, the organizers said, “but he is with us”. Neither did Sergei Filatov or Georgy Satarov attend the congress at the President-Hotel in Moscow. The party was established by little-known structures and democrats who never made it to prominence. They are the movements Live Ring, headed by Konstantin Truevtsev, Russia’s Choice of deputy Pavel Medvedev, Tatiana Roschina’s Party of Protection of Women, and Yaroslav Ternovsky’s Stability and Progress.

Vyacheslav Volkov became the party leader. Until 1996, Volkov was a deputy director of Boris Yeltsin’s presidential administration. These days, he heads the Foundation of Assistance to Development of Social Democracy. Volkov’s acquaintance, Leonid Ivlev, deputy director of the Directorate of Internal Politics of the Presidential Administration, congratulates the congress on behalf of his bosses.

The congress was attended by 192 delegates from 62 regions. Twenty-five governors allegedly sent cables with congratulations, but the organizers refused to identify them.


Kommersant, December 10, 2001, p. 3

The congress began with Lapshin’s report in which he did not say anything new. It was the usual “agricultural sector is in ruins, the number of peasants has gone down”, and so on. Lapshin completed his report by saying that the Agrarian Party claimed its own position in the corridors of power, which was becoming “a possibility”. Some delegates immediately retorted that in the eight years of the organization’s existence, power struggle had become a possibility for Lapshin only (he runs for Altai president, the election scheduled for December 16)… This was not the only critique Lapshin heard that day.

Two names were included in the bulletins when the congress voted for leadership: Lapshin’s and Nikolai Kiselev’s (he is leader of the Kirov municipal organization). Lapshin polled 222 votes out of 302 and retained the party leadership.


Vremya Novostei, December 10, 2001, p. 2

The Audit Chamber does not hold any serious grudges with regard to how budget funds are used in Dagestan. In the wake of a planned inspection of Dagestan, Auditor Sergei Ryabukhin reported to the Audit Chamber’s board that no serious violations had been uncovered, only some typical mistakes of which the leadership of the republic was warned. Two years ago Sergei Stepashin (now Audit Chamber chairman who was the premier then) said in Dagestan that “It is time we put an end to embezzlements. The level of corruption in Dagestan is unbelievable”. Stepashin was particularly amazed to find in Dagestan palaces with zoos and helicopter landing pads. It stands to reason to assume that Ryabukhin was not shown any palaces. He liked what he found there.

According to Ryabukhin, Dagestan received 7.5 billion rubles of budget funds in 2000 and 9.5 billion in 2001 (Dagestan owes almost 85% of the budget to subsidies from the federal center).


Vremya Novostei, December 10, 2001, p. 2

Mikhail Kasianov is leaving for his longest tour in the capacity of the premier. It will take him seven days to tour Canada, Brazil, and Venezuela.

The official visit to Canada will begin with negotiations in Ottawa this morning and end in Montreal on Wednesday where Kasianov will meet with local businessmen and attend the summit North to North. (The summit will also be attended by Leonid Drachevsky, presidential plenipotentiary representative in the Siberian federal region, and Chukotka Governor Roman Abramovich.)

Russian-Canadian trade relations are declining now. Russian export went down 32% in the last six months and amounted to $125.8 million. Sources in the Russian delegation blame steel antidumping procedures. Experts say the procedure has already cost Russian exporters $130 million. The Canadians do not want the problem discussed on the level of governments, however, and suggest bringing it up in the antidumping court.

The Canadians are particularly anxious to meet with Minister of Communications Leonid Reiman and businessmen representing the sphere of high technologies. Canada has several joint projects to offer to Russia. Both Russia and Canada would like to reach an accord on the subject before the meeting of Russian and Canadian leaders in Moscow next February. The Canadian leader will be accompanied to Moscow by hundreds of businessmen.


Izvestia, December 11, 2001, p. 1

Public Opinion foundation conducted a survey on the eve of the Day of the Constitution to discover Russians’ attitude towards the celebration. The results were predictable.

55% of Russians admit that they do not know major provisions of the Constitution, and 47% assume that this is just “a formal document which has no bearing on the actual life of the country”. Only 36% of respondents say they know major provisions of the Constitution, but sociologists treat this figure with suspicion. Random checks in Samara and Novosibirsk did not find a single (!) respondent acquainted with the text of the Constitution. Only two were found in Moscow.

The fact that most Russians have never read the Constitution does not prevent them from expressing their attitude. 38% of respondents do not think much of the Constitution and 28% actually like it. More than every third respondent refused to even try and evaluate it. 67% of Russians advocate for a revision of the Constitution, and only 8% want it left alone.

Specialists ascribe this dislike of the Constitution in society to “Soviet” mentality – the country is in chaos, and this means that the laws are flawed.


Izvestia, December 11, 2001, p. 2

Primakov says he is prepared to become head of the Chamber provided he is voted for. Under the Charter, Chamber president should be elected by no less than 50% delegates of the congress. Right now Primakov has the support of exactly 50% of all 400 delegates.

Fyodor Degtyarev, President of the Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the Urals federal region: “Yevgeny Primakov may do a lot to improve the image of the Chamber…”