PACIFISTS WITHOUT WRITTEN PROOF
Izvestia, February 15, 2002, p. 4
Yesterday the Cabinet finally approved a bill on alternative military service. The bill became a compromise between generals and liberals. The period of “alternative conscription” will be half again as long as the service period for those who serve in military units and twice as long for those serving at medical and social protection institutions. The government also approved the “probational” nature of alternative service. However, producing written proof of being a member of a religious or public organization which is opposed to bearing arms will not be compulsory. It is not clear what evidence of conscientious objection will be required.
MEDIA DEFAMATION AMENDMENT DEFEATED IN THE DUMA
Izvestia, February 15, 2002, p. 2
The State Duma security committee defeated the amendment to the law on the media proposed by the legislature of Nizhny Novgorod. A newspaper or a television channel could be shut down by an statement of any person about systematic spreading of information discrediting him, according to this amendment. Now it is up to the committee for information policy, but the final decision will be made by the government. The deputies were particularly surprised at the fact that it was Nizhny Novgorod, which had always been a “stronghold of democracy and freedom of speech”, that proposed “draconian measures”. Some view this as an indirect attempt of the authorities to infringe on freedom of speech. The initiative went a democratic path though when it proposed depriving the state of the monopolistic right to demand liquidation of mass media agencies by admitting every citizen and public organization to the process. A victim to libel can only count now on money as moral compensation and publication of denial. Neither this nor that is comparable with the damage a publication can cause to a person or organization. Therefore, application to court looks logic, but it still acquires a different meaning on Russian ground.
SHOOTINGS IN THE ARMY: TO BE CONTINUED
Moskovsky Komsomolets, February 15, 2002, p. 2
The series of absurd shootings in the army never seems to end. There was another desertion in the Stavropol region and more corpses. Two men were shot with a Kalashnikov submachine-gun. Both were officers and both had served in Chechnya, but perished from the hands of their own private, Aleksei Khozeyev.
There is still no knowing of the fate of Alexander Popov and Alexander Efremov who ran away two days ago from the Kaliningrad unit of the Baltic navy and who took two Makarov pistols and 32 cartridges with them. No tracks have been found yet and no casualties. Yet.
Only this week’s third scandalous desertion of privates Sergei Labzin and Vyacheslav Ryabushkin, and again from the paratroopers, has ended favorably. They ran off with two submachine guns and a stock of cartridges. God knows what they had thought and probably investigators of military prosecution. The runaways came back to the unit yesterday and handed in their weapons.
THEY WANT ACCESS TO THE KREMLIN
Moskovsky Komsomolets, February 15, 2002, p. 2
Arkady Volsky, chief of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, yesterday discussed with Mr. Putin the agenda for his March meeting with business leaders. RUIE members want to raise the issue of reforming natural monopolies and creation of a “warm” climate for business leaders. Obviously, even the “sharks of business” have grasped that there is a mess with monopolism in Russia. As for the climate, Mr. Volsky would like prosecutors to prove guilt before people are detained, rather than the reverse. However, it looks like everything will be the way the president wants. They should have thought about the climate before rushing to become oligarchs…
MINISTER CHECKSD SECURITY
Trud, February 15, 2002, p.1
Having arrived in Kursk on a special plane, Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov went right to the town of Kurchatov where the Kursk Nuclear Power Plant is located. “Since September 11,” said the minister, explaining the aim of his visit, “the world has understood the threat terrorism poses, so it is very important that we see to the security of facilities such as power plants”. The minister made a detailed inspection of the measures to strengthen security of the power plant. After this, he held a meeting with the leaders of the regional interior ministry administration. The meeting was closed, so the public did not learn the minister’s view of the level of security at the power plant.
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, February 15, 2002, p. 3
Igor Shabdurasulov, a member of the board of directors of the Moscow Independent Broadcasting Corporation (MNVK) stated yesterday that the shareholders were going to appeal against every court decision made while liquidating TV-6. He did not either exclude that the TV-6 staff will again set about to work at the “sixth button”. The appeal is to be lodged with the Constitutional Court within a week. The future winner of the tender, to be decided on March 27, will probably not be able to get the license; liquidating TV-6 could take quite a while. The meeting of MNVK shareholders granted the request of Pavel Korchagin to resign as TV-6 chief executive, and adopted for consideration an analogous application from TV-6 general director Yevgeny Kiselev. He had stated previously that he has had at least three serious offers from Russian and foreign investors to finance the company to broadcast on the sixth channel.