WHAT IS BEREZOVSKY CHARGED WITH?
Moskovskii Komsomolets, January 31, 2002, p. 2
Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov has raised the issue of Boris Berezovsky again. Finally, he had received some materials, revealing the oligarch’s implication in financing the Chechen terrorists, Ustinov said. The materials are studied now “and a decision would be made in accordance with the accepted procedure.”
The only strange thing is that these materials had a long way behind before they reached the prosecutor general’s office. It was beyond any doubts that Berezovsky aided the Chechens somehow before. He did not seem to apply much effort to conceal this.
As is thought for the time being, his implication in financing the “bandit groupings” concerned ransoming the hostages, instead of the joint business with the field commanders. However, it is very hard to link ransoming with the Article 208 of Russia’s Criminal Code (“creation of an armed grouping”). This is the crime Berezovsky will supposedly be charged with. Nobody has ever detained him with arms in his hands. There is an interesting note to the Article 208: a person, who gives up arms voluntarily, is relieved of prosecution “if no other corpus delicti is found in his crimes.” By the way, this article provides imprisonment from two to seven years.
It seems the investigation of the case on illegal usage of Aeroflot property, with Berezovsky involved, has been resumed as a pretext to provide for “another corpus delicti.”
This all seems to be very sad. It appears as if the Prosecutor General’s Office has finally been given the green light for a wide attack, and cannot reach for the banished oligarch, since the time was misused and the evidence was lost…
It should be borne in mind that the entire brothel had started as a consequence of a protracted war between Berezovsky and the Federal Security Service. Berezovsky accused the FSS of being involved in explosions of residential buildings in Moscow and the enraged FSS had no choice but to shape its own plan of revenge. Now the agents have been asserting that it was Berezovsky to advise Udugov, Zakayev and other Chechen leaders to deal in “hostage” business. There is a single problem with evidence, however. Article 208 was rarely used in the jurisprudence, owing to a complicated basis in accordance with which the evidence should be built. It has only been used a few times in the contemporary history of Russia. For instance, an attempt to bring reporter Andrei Babitskiy to trial on this article failed. Ukrainian kamikaze demolition man Boris Shelutchenko of the gang of Saudi mercenary Akhmed, who intended to make an explosion on the market of Khasavyurt was also prosecuted on this very article.
APPEALING TO PUTIN IN DEFENSE OF GRIGORIY PASKO
Izvestia, January 31, 2002, p. 3
Writers, actors, and human rights activists have signed an address to the president last Tuesday and passed it to a superior official of the Presidential Administration, our sources reported. According to calculations of its authors, the document ought to reach Putin’s desk today.
Preoccupation for the fact that the president supposedly had been given incomplete information regarding the essence of “Pasko’s case” is expressed in the letter. The matter has to do with a press conference in Paris of January 15, in the course of which Vladimir Putin said that nobody, even the advocates, doubt solidness of the fact that Pasko had handed over top confidential documentation to foreign citizens for a reward.
However, authors of the letter are harassed with such doubts. They remind that Grigoriy Pasko had been twice acquitted and no evidence proving his intentions to pass his entries to the Japanese journalists were ever mentioned in the verdict. The petitioners have not yet asked for a direct appeal for pardon or reduction of the sentence. Professional lawyers, including Pasko’s advocates, have not participated in composing the letter, an author of the text, Ernst Cherny of the Ecology and Human Rights coalition told Izvestia. The president also repeatedly stated that he cannot and has no intention to influence decision-making in courthouses.
A FUN START TO THE TELEVISION RACE
Izvestia, January 31, 2002, p. 4
Oleg Aksenov, head of the 7 TV company: “We began reflecting on an opportunity to fight for this channel when the situation with TV-6 network had already taken shape. In my opinion, too much politics is broadcasted on TV in Russia, whereas sports broadcasts are assigned to a timeslot after midnight. I think Putin’s statement would increases our company’s the prestige in the contest. Being a private company, 7 TV sets non-state goals and objectives before itself. The slogan of ‘healthy body, healthy mind’ can be applied nationwide. Once a person may watch a sports program on TV and can start running for exercise the very next morning.”
The 7 TV company was founded a few months ago. Now it has been broadcasting on the 29th decimetric channel. The company cooperates with the State Sports Committee and the Olympic Committee. The TV viewers know Oleg Aksenov as the host of “Alert Crew” program, and whom the journalists know as former chief of the Interior Ministry’s information department.
According to Aksenov, 7 TV has a sum bid for the licence, while the channels performance capacities are no worse than those of the TV-6 network.
The concept of broadcast, which 7 TV would submit for the contest will differ from what is being broadcasted on the channel now, Aksenov also said. The set of programs will be formed at the expense of programs, advocating healthy mode of life.
The company also plans to broadcast as many competitions live as possible. “A drama developing before one’s eye is always interesting for a person,” Aksenov said.
Director General of 7 TV has no doubts that the channel popular and will soon reach the level of self-repayment. As an example he gives January popularity rating in St. Petersburg, published in the Itogi magazine, where 7 TV has surpassed TV-3, T-6 and RenTV channels.
THE SENATE ELECTS ITS LEADERS
Izvestia, January 31, 2002, p. 2
“This day marks the birthday of the third convocation Federation Council,” Speaker of the Senate Sergei Mironov said yesterday. His solemnity can be easily explained: the upper house has finally clarified the issue of its leaders and the routine. Yesterday 50 “head senators” of the house were elected and the new house’s regulations were adopted.
Now Mironov has four assistants, former apparatchik of the Senate Vladimir Goreglyad being one of them. The rest three are: former president of Yakutia Mikhail Nikolayev, government’s apparatchik Alexandr Torshin and businessman from Yekaterinburg Andrei Vikharev. The candidacy of Vikharev was a surprise (the names of the rest three assistants were known far in advance). Mironov had even to explain wherefrom a candidacy of a “young senator of Kurgan” appeared. As the speaker said, he wanted to have an old acquaintance among his deputies. As it turned out, Mironov knows secretary of the Komsomol organization Vikharev by the times when he had worked in Sverdlovsk in the 1980’s. Speaker had forgotten about that, but a gifted Komsomol member reminded that at his own initiative. Posts of heads of committees and commissions were divided proceeding from the personalities, even though an attempt to include representatives from all seven federal districts was made. No justice prevailed. The Central, Privolzhye, and Siberian districts obtained more posts, while the Southern district deprived. Even Mironov confessed that and promised to mend the situation.
The entire list was put to the vote at one stroke, even though some senators displayed their resentment for particular candidates. However, the list was approved almost by a solid vote: 144 deputies seconded the list, 8 deputies voted against and only 9 abstained from the vote.
DEFENSE MINISTRY PROPOSALS FOR ALTERNATIVE MILITARY SERVICE FAIL
Izvestia, January 31, 2002, p. 1
Chief of the General Staff Anatoly Kvashnin presented a bill on alternative service to the Cabinet. As the document states, a conscript who does not wish to serve in the army is supposed to “convince” officers of the commissariat that his “convictions, impeding the military service are serious and well-grounded.” The Constitution does not have it that anyone should prove correctness of one’s statements, participants of the meeting noted.
A proposal of the Defense Ministry to ban alternative service near the recruit’s place of residence also drew disapproval from the Cabinet. Moreover, the Defense Ministry did not care to calculate the cost of transporting the “alternative servicemen”. It is still thought, however, that territories of military units where good jobs – building, washing, cleaning – are in store for them, would be the best place for them to serve.
The proposed term of the alternative service was four years. The alternative servicemen should not be allowed to study, the military think. Mikhail Kasyanov closed the debate and sent the bill for completion. In February the law is to be submitted to the Duma, but it has already been considering three documents related to the topic of the alternative service, which have given rise to tempestuous dispute.
Like the prime minister, Duma deputies consider the bill proposed by the Defense Ministry unacceptable, since the abovementioned positions do not suit even the deputies, who had been in the Armed Forces a part of their lives.
For instance, General Eduard Vorobyev of the URF thinks that the approach the military employ for the problem is too tough. Three variants of the bill were submitted in the house: a joint bill of the URF and Regions of Russia, one more from the Defense committee and the last from right-winged deputy Vladimir Semenov. All of them envisage shorter terms of the alternative service (up to three years), doing military service in conformity with the territorial principle, and an opportunity to study at evening classes of institutions of higher education and vocational schools. No opportunity or serving as night-men is envisaged.
An urgent convocation of the government meeting for discussion of the alternative service proves that the Cabinet realizes the acuteness of the problem. The Constitutional norm has been in force since 1993, but has been used lop-sidedly: it is possible to dodge the military service through the court, but no alternative service will ever be offered to teenagers.
For instance, says our reporter in the Krasnodar territory, last year the court allowed appeals of 30 from overall 44 claims from conscripts, and now they are sitting at home and are not serving in the army. “They can be conscripted until they are 27; we are waiting for adoption of a corresponding federal law,” Lieutenant Colonel Igor Golovko, officer of the territorial commissariat said.
Not the military alone, but also representatives of the contiguous professions are pending: chief of the State Fire Prevention Service of Bashkortostan Rasul Makhmutov told us that they hope to resolve the problem with staff turnover in the fire prevention service by employing young alternative servicemen of call-up age. The non-departmental security, district police stations and inspectorates for juvenile cases are ready to accept servicemen who do not wish to bear arms. (However, would the alternative servicemen go to serve into the non-departmental security agencies where there’s nothing to be done without weapons?)