PARTIES ARE NOT ENEMIES BUT PARTNERS
Rossiyskaya Gazeta, February 7, 2002, p. 1
Twenty-seven nationwide political movements have announced their intention to be transformed into political parties. Thirteen of them have already held their conferences. Yet the Justice Ministry has registered only six parties so far.
Today the Central Election Commission, together with the Justice Ministry and the Taxes and Duties Ministry, will hold a meeting with representatives of political parties.
Activity of parties should become more public and open, says member of the Central Election Commission Elena Dubrovina, “According to the new law, parties should submit annual financial reports.”
Six political parties are already operating by the new law. By the end of March they will have to submit their reports.
WHAT SHOULD WE PAY FOR?
Izvestia, February 7, 2002, p. 6
At the past board meeting of Gazprom, building of the pipe-run of the Yamal-Europe pipeline, which is planned to go through the territories of Poland and Belarus, was put into question for the first time. This pipeline is to supply up to 30 billion cubic meters of gas a year from Russia into European countries, leaving the territory of Ukraine away. Almost all largest gas concerns of Europe have joined the consortium for its building together with the Russian Gazprom – Italian ENI, French Gas de France, German Ruhrgas and Wintershall.
There was rumor that directors of the gas concern approved the suggestion of Gazprom managers to freeze this project and spend the money on more vital problems of the Russian gas monopolist.
According to analyst of the investment Troika-Dialog company Valery Nesterov, “if this project is frozen, it will be a temporary measure. It is strategically important to get another way of transporting gas to European consumers. However, this year Gazprom is likely to direct all its financial means for building “Goluboi potok” (“Blue Stream”).
The government does not seem to be sure whether Gazprom should spend the money on building the pipeline around Ukraine or not. The Energy Ministry, which directly controls the Russian gas monopolist, told us that after the president’s visit to Poland the question had acquired an obviously political flavor.
NO MOVIES ON STATE PROPERTY
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, February 7, 2002, pp. 1, 2
At today’s meeting, the Cabinet will consider the program of privatizing state enterprises for this year. State interest in 426 joint stock companies are planned for sale and 150 federal unitary enterprises are supposed to be incorporated. Among the major objects are the stakes in LUKOIL (5.9%) and Slavneft (19.68%); 25.5% of the shares of the Kamchatka shipping company will be soled, as well as 35% of the Voronezhavia airline. Besides, it is intended to hold a tender for 23% of the West Siberian Steel Corporation (Zapsib) and 20% of the Berezniki Soda Plant.
Many enterprises will be incorporated that have until now remained entirely state property. The first among these is the film production industry.
In all, the government expects to make 35 billion rubles from privatization in 2002.
MEDIA MINISTRY PROMISES TO LEAVE THE MARKET
Izvestia, February 7, 2002, p. 3
“The state has monopolized the media market,” deputy Victor Pokhmelkin stated yesterday while resuming a speech of Media Minister Mikhail Lesin.
Lesin began his report on observing freedom of speech guarantees with a short review of the media history over last decade. He called these years a transition. The concept is not fresh: the state then did not determine the limits of media freedom, which gave birth to a number of conflicts between the participants of the media market and led many mass media departments, especially the central ones, under the control of financial-industrial groups. The media market is becoming commercially viable, the minister believes. At the same time, “contentions and blackmail via mass media remain the most important way” to solve problems, especially in regions. Here the minister launched his main torpedo” the state will reduce its presence in the media market in the strategic perspective and then leave the market. However, it will remain the guarantor for observing freedom of speech. A relevant branch structure should be created for this, Lesin thinks. The ministry is working out a bill to fix these problems. In four to five months it will be submitted to the Cabinet, the minister thinks. Besides, there will be certain public institutions created for “media self-regulation”.
SPEAKING IN TONGUES
Moskovskii Komsomolets, February 7, 2002, p. 2
The Duma refused on Wednesday to consider the question of whether it is unacceptable for Russia’s senior state officials to speak foreign languages while on visits abroad. This initiative from Kharitonov, leader of the Agrarian faction, was backed by 143 deputies – they did not get a majority… Nikolai Kharitonov considers the incidents of Putin speaking German at the Bundestag and Kasianov speaking English in New York a “political and ethical mistake”. Deputy speaker Zhirinovsky agrees: “We are not a colony, we shouldn’t speak in foreign languages.” The Duma’s patriots did not recall that command of a foreign language is considered a sign of intelligence, in other countries…
THE POLICE ALSO HAVE SOME SUCCESS
Tribuna, February 7, 2002, p. 1
The Main Administration of the Federal Tax Police Service for the Central Federal District recorded a 50% increase in 2001. Thus, the state treasury received above 30 billion rubles. Of this more than 12 billion rubles was restored to the state as a result of investigating criminal cases. The FTPS for the CFD that collects 41% of the country’s taxes brought above 9,000 legal actions in 2001. About 8,000 were finished. One of the main tasks for future is battling dayfly firms. Hundreds of firms are currently registered by lost, stolen, and “dead” passports. These firms transfer and hide millions of dollars a day. Battling them demands toughening requirements for registration of commercial structures, while the rights for registration should be rendered to the Taxes and Duties Ministry, CFD tax police chief Vladimir Senin thinks.