PEACE IN CHECHNYA WITHIN THREE MONTHS
Obshchaya Gazeta, December 13-19, 2001, p. 2
Last Friday presidential envoy for the Southern federal district Viktor Kazantsev stated that the Chechnya operation will end in spring 2002. Chechen representative in Moscow Aslan Magomadov went even further: in his opinion, the long-awaited peace may come even sooner, though only theoretically. According to Mr. Magomadov, the situation in the republic will settle down in three months on the condition that all authority is given to Akhmad Kadyrov. As long as various generals keep ruling independently in Chechnya, the war will go on. Another condition is that the Chechen police force must be recruited from local residents.
INTERIOR MINISTRY KNOWS ALL ABOUT BEREZOVSKY
Slovo, December 13-19, 2001, p. 2
Investigation of Boris Berezovsky’s case is carried out by Main Criminal Investigation Department of the Interior Ministry (GUUR). According to head of the department Viktor Prokopov, “we know what he has for breakfast, where he has dinner, and where he shops.” However, Prokopov states it is the general Prosecutor’s office that should sanction Berezovsky’s extradition. The GUUR representative also informed that the Interior Ministry together with the General Prosecutor’s office and the Supreme Court are carrying out the possibility of calling into account the suspects who hid themselves from investigation and court for the means spent by the law enforcement bodies and the court on their searching and transporting. The Interior Ministry also plans to minimize the number of “written undertakings not to leave the place” as preventive punishments for earlier convicted people, as well as for people without residence and foreign citizens. In 2001 about 129,000 suspects have been wanted in Russia, who hid from investigation. Taking into account the number of people, who had hidden themselves in previous years, this year the number of wanted amounted to 189,300 people: 3,210 people are wanted for murders; 361 – for kidnapping; 2940 – for robbery; 3,357 – for brigandage. Besides, 2,130 leaders of criminal organizations are also wanted.
Argumenty I Fakty, December 13-19, 2001, p. 2
Last week new Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov started out by proposing that the president’s term in office should be extended from four to five years. So Mironov demonstrated his personal loyalty to the president. However, there may be another reason for this statement. Lately, Boris Berezovsky has been unprecedentedly active establishing a real political opposition to the president in Russia. So perhaps Mironov’s statement was just a counter-idea against the audacious fugitive tycoon. Why would Berezovsky call on Chubais, Voloshin and Kasyanov to declare their loyalty to Yeltsin? Evidently, Mr. Berezovsky found out that this week the Duma will initiate an inquiry to the General Prosecutor’s Office about some “financial machinations of Mr. Voloshin”, and he decided to make a “political vaccination” to all three, one day very close to Yeltsin persons. The logic is that if Putin dismisses them now, it will turn out that he is following the advice of the tycoon. However, the latter does not want Chubais, Voloshin and Kasyanov to be dismissed – now, after Berezovsky’s statement, any persecution of the head of the presidential administration will look like revenge. Putin is hardly likely to do this at least in the next six months.
CONSULTING WITH BUSH
Zavtra, December 13-19, 2001, p. 1
During his visit to Greece the Russian president telephoned President George Bush from his car. The real reason for the call was the position of the US on the planned personnel changes in the Kremlin upper circles, especially in the Cabinet and its security structures, in order to weaken the Family clan. In order to “finally resolve the issue” Bush promised to send Secretary of State Colin Powell to Moscow, a visit that took place on Monday. Nonetheless, the contents of the discussion between the two presidents was revealed to a number of interested persons in Moscow through sources in the Washington administration.
Zavtra, December 13-19, 2001, p. 1
A group led by Vladimir Potanin, who is close to Anatoly Chubais, is intensively developing its activity in the Krasnoyark territory in order to support Mikhail Khloponin. In the lead-up to the gubernatorial elections, Khloponin registered the Northern Party and is closely cooperating with the Unity regional branch that is controlled by Oleg Deripaska. Supposedly, Khloponin’s convincing victory at the gubernatorial elections will enable him to start the next stage of his political “development”, further promoting his candidacy in the presidential campaign of 2003.
A HAND REACHES OUT FROM TBILISI
Versia, December 11, 2001, p. 13
Last week the CIS department of the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper was dismissed. The reason for such an abrupt decision was an order from Badri Patarkatsishvili, the right-hand man of Nezavisimaya Gazeta owner Boris Berezovsky. At present Patarkatsishvili is hiding in his native Tbilisi, Georgia from the Russian police. Currently Patarkatsishvili is actively participating in the Georgian political life and is holding behind-the-curtain negotiations on behalf of Eduard Shevardnadze on forming the new government of the country. Two weeks ago the General Prosecutor’s Office officially demanded Georgia to extradite Badri Patarkatsishvili, against whom the Moscow investigation department instituted a criminal affair. However, Eduard Shevardnadze sharply refused to do it. As a result, a person who is wanted in Moscow as a suspect in financial crimes, which he committed together with his senior partner and friend Boris Berezovsky, is able to exert pressure on one of the well known Russian daily periodical in the interests of another state.
CZAR IS TOO FAR
Versty, December 11, 2001, p. 1
The recent Civil Forum was a refection of a serious Russian problem – the great distance between the Russian citizenry and the society in which they live, its governing bodies. The National Public Opinion Research Center has done a poll. following the example of the Harris service that annually measures the “estrangement index” in the US. According to the results of the poll, 92% of respondents are convinced that the majority of those at the helm “try to use their position to get some personal benefits”. Eighty six percent of Russians state, “People in power overall do not care what will happen to us,” and 74% of respondents concluded, “no one seriously takes our opinion into consideration.”
Overall, according to the research, the Russian “estrangement index” is critical – this means we are still unbelievably far from a civil society. We should not be talking about it at forums; we ought to be creating it, day by day.
LIBERAL RUSSIA CONGRESS TO TAKE PLACE SOON
Inostranets, December 11, 2001, p. 7
On December 22 the Liberal Russia movement will hold a congress in Moscow. According to Liberal Russia leader Sergei Yushenkov, unlike the Union of Right forces that stopped being liberal, the Liberal Russia will become “the main opponent and genuinely liberal party”.
As is known, Boris Berezovsly actively participates in establishment of the new party and on November 21 meeting of the Liberal Russia’s political council he was accepted to the movement and appointed to the membership of the political council. The Liberal Party needs to meet the requirements of the new law on political parties: each regional branch must involve no less than 100 people, so far only about 50 organizations meet this requirement. It is unclear whether the party will have one leader or more. It is highly likely that there will be three co-chairs: Sergei Yushenkov, Viktor Pokhmelkin, and Boris Zolotukhin. According to some members of the movement leadership, absence of one leader will allow avoid competition between party activists.
The objective of the coming December 22 congress is to announce transformation of the movement into a party, while the party congress is to be held in March 2002.