Kommersant, April 13, 2002, p. 3

A civil forum called The Young Generation for Peace and Revival of Chechnya took place in Grozny on April 12. Participants said it is necessary to stop the war and restore what has been destroyed. However, no one proposed a method by which the actual guerrillas might be attracted to peaceful labor.

Many people participated in the forum, including: Gennady Troshev, Commander of the North Caucasus Military District; Dmitry Rogozin, Chairman of the Duma Committee for International Affairs; Ramazan Abdulatipov. Chairman of the Assembly of Peoples of Russia; Ahmad Kadyrov, head of the Chechen administration; Chechen Prime Minister Stanislav Ilyasov, and almost all ministers of Chechnya. The forum was held on the premises of Grozenergo. Some other young Chechens gathered outside the building, but were not allowed inside. They had their own opinion about what was going on inside. One of them said, “Who gave them the right to speak on behalf of all the young people of Chechnya? These delegates have not been elected anywhere by anyone. This measure is just whitewashing.”

Magomed Alkhazurov, chairman of the organization committee of the forum, had a different view of this event. He began his speech by saying: “Delegates at this forum represent all strata of the youth of Chechnya: workers, peasants, and students.” Then he reported on the aims and tasks of the forum in the best traditions of Komsomol congresses: “The young people of Chechnya see the need to solve a number of vital problems. … Our aim is to unite the youth for the sake of achieving peace and concord, and for developing strategic approaches to resolving the vital problems of the young people of Chechnya.”

Those in the assembly hall did not understand these words all that well, and started to ask questions. For instance, one of the young people said, “We can’t get to university on time because of checkpoints. When will this be over?” Alkhazurov promised to clarify this issue. He said, “We’ll ask the guerrillas to lay down their weapons and return to peaceful life.”

Ahmad Kadyrov joined in the discussion when the Wahhabi fundamentalists were mentioned. The former mufti described in detail what Wahhabism is and how harmful it is for Chechens. At the end of his speech he called on young people of Chechnya to lay down weapons and take up spades.


Izvestia, April 13, 2002, EV

Media Minister Mikhail Lesin is in New York, where he has visited the oldest Russian-speaking daily paper, “Novoe Russkoe Slovo.” The newspaper has been published since 1910, and it has received a lot of different guests, but this was the first time that the minister responsible for Russian media visited it.

Lesin repeated at his meeting with the editorial staff of the newspaper that the state is prepared to part with some of its media assets and sell them to private owners. He said, “It is not necessary for the government to own media. All participants in the market should have equal rights and opportunities for running their businesses. Such a balance does not exist at present, because state-run media have certain privileges. How large is the state’s stake in the media market? Currently, there are 2,400 electronic media outlets in Russia, but the state is a participant in only 100 of them.”

In speaking of registration of media, the minister explained that the task of the media is not to ask the state for permission to operate, but to inform the state when they have started to operate.

Lesin said that the West is taking an interest in the Russian media industry, and there is a risk of the industry being taken over by Western companies. They are mostly interested in advertising, which is becoming increasingly profitable because consumer purchasing capacity is rising.

When asked about the dramatic transition of “the only independent TV channel” under the control of a state-run structure, Lesin said, “You’ve used a horrible phrase – ‘the only independent channel’. You might as well have said ‘unique journalist team consisting of honest people’. All broadcasters in Russia have the opportunity to broadcast independently. These words you used, they’ve been hammered into your heads and you are now repeating them. This is the problem of stereotypes. All media in Russia are working independently and freely.”

Touching on the problem of “black PR” in Russia, the minister said, “This phenomenon is abnormal, but explicable. Some media outlets are suffering from a shortage of money, so they sell their news coverage. We have no capacity to intervene in the editorial policies of enterprises and correct them.”

The current mess in the Russian-language media market in the United States, where rival channels do not have fully-fledged broadcast products, may soon be resolved, Lesin thinks. He said that some major Russian TV broadcasters may expand into the United States around September.


Obshchaya Gazeta, April 11, 2002, p. 2

Last week Iran called on Arab countries to stop supplying oil to the US and the whole western world until Israel withdraws its troops from Palestinian territories. OPEC chief Ali Rodriguez agreed to consider this idea – as a consequence, oil prices rose to $26-28 a barrel.

In May the Russian oil industry plans to increase oil exports: the US oil refining companies have already concluded $2.8 million contracts for Russian oil. Some Russian companies intend to sharply increase oil extraction; moreover, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov promised that if the situation on the world oil market changes, Russian oil exporters will be allowed to increase oil exports.

In terms of macroeconomic consequences of the oil war for the Russian economy, it is likely to cause another dispute, hard to resolve. Maintenance of oil prices at the level of $20-25 a barrel will enable the Russian government not only to implement the 2002 federal budget but also to receive additional budget revenues. However, according to presidential economic adviser Andrei Illarionov, the growth of global oil prices will enable Russia to resolve only some short-term financial problems, wile in the long run, this growth is likely to slow down the economic growth in Russia. The government will once again postpone the long necessary structural reforms and the economic development of the country is sacrificed to the political reasonability, while the strategy is ignored for the sake of tactical, short-term purposes.


Finansovaya Rossia, April 11, 2002, p. 3

By the beginning of April, capitalization of Gazprom totaled $19 billion, against $11 billion ten months ago. Thus, over less than a year the cost of Gazprom shares has grown by over 70%. What could Aleksei Miller do to attract so many investors?

As of March, the inflation rate in Russia amounted to 1.1%, which is 0.1% less that the February inflation rate growth. Housing and communal rates grew the most, by 6.3%, while automobile gas and sugar prices continue falling. Overall, over the first quarter the consuming prices increased by 5.4%, against 7.1% last over the same period last year. Surprisingly, but so far the inflation rate does not exceed the governmental forecast of 14% a year.


Vek, April 12, 2002, p. 2

Russian defense agencies, security and industrial ministries, administration of the presidential envoy for the Trans-Volga federal district, and Nizhny Novgorod administration held the First international specialized exhibition-conference New Technologies in radio-electronics and control systems in Nizhniy Novgorod. Hundred ninety three enterprises from 28 Russian regions, as well as from Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova presented over 550 exhibits, 120 of which are for military purposes. The Defense Ministry declassified 16 equipment designs in order to exhibit them on the forum. Over 1,100 people and over 50 foreign attaches visited the forum, as well as 580 scientists and experts from 14 countries of the world.

According to Rosonoronexport CEO Andrei Belyaninov, in 2001 exports of the defense-industrial sector amounted to $4.2 billion, this year this index is expected to grow. Mr. Belyaninov also noted that by 2008 the structure of the Russian arms exports is likely to considerably change due to extending exports of modern missile defense systems and navy equipment.

A number of contracts were signed at the Nizhniy Novgorod forum, as well as 111 protocols of intentions.


Inostranets, April 9, 2002, p. 5

The Federal Migration Service of the Interior Ministry finally summed up the results of last year’s employment of foreign workers in Russia.

As it turns out, the number of foreign workers in Russia is almost six times as large as the number of Russians who found jobs abroad in 2001: 283,700 people against 47,700 Russians.

The majority of foreign workers arrive in Russia from Ukraine, 91,900 people against 63,767 in 2001. besides, traditional exporters of foreign labor force in Russia are China, Turkey, Vietnam, and Moldova – overall, 117 countries.

The largest importers of foreign labor force are Moscow, 29.2% and for some reason the Hunty-Mansiysk autonomous region, 9.7%. The majority of foreign workers in involved in building construction, 110,900 people.

Obviously, these are official figures, while in fact there are two to three times more foreign workers in Russia.


Novoye Vremya, No. 15, April, 2002, p. 16

Promises of the Communist Party to become a “tough opposition” to the present government are based on continued mass public support. If the Duma elections were held now, less than half of potential voters would participate in them: 18% would not participate in the elections, and other 18% would mark the “against all” box; 21% pf respondents are unable to determine their political orientation and their attitude toward the elections. A third of the politically active 43% of voters, which is 36% would vote for the Unity and the Fatherland – All Russia bloc, and slightly less than a third, 30% would vote for the Communist Party. These are still the largest groups of voters, which involve two thirds of all electorate.

Close behind are three parties that are to pass to the Duma: Yabloko, which has 15% of votes, the Union of Right Forces, 9%; and the Liberal Democratic Party, supported by approximately 8% of voters. Thus, despite all changes in the Duma and the country, the layout of forces has hardly changed: over a third of voters support the president, slightly less than a third of voters support the communists, and 24% of people support reformers or the right wing, plus 8% of Zhirinovsky’s supporters, whose political belonging is rather vague.

There is a traditional opinion that the Communist Party is the party of pensioners and older generation; however, 5% of younger people, under 24 years also give their votes to the communists, 13% of people from 25 to 34 years; 18% of 35-44 year old voters, and 29% of 45-59 year old people also support the communists.

However, if determine the attitude of people to different activities and the program of the party, some people support only some ideas of the Communist Party, say that it “partially presents and partially does not present my interests”. There are 19% of such people among the youth under 24 years; 24% of people with higher education; 27% of specialists, and 30% of leaders.