THE FIRST VICTIMS
Vedomosti, May 27, 2002, p. A3
Deputy Premier Aleksei Kudrin has just begun to make promises of a highly streamlined 2003 budget, but experts are already making comment about the first victims of his good intention. They are natural monopolies whose financial plans for 2003 will be cut by the government this week.
The monopolies sent their draft budgets to the Ministry of Economic Development in late April. Herman Gref’s subordinates were supposed to have scrutinised them all by May 10 but failed to find adequate counter-arguments to the traditionally ambitious plans.
Everything will be over this week. The Ministry of Economic Development has the political task of staying within the given level of tariff indexing so as to ensure low inflation rates and remain within the parameters of Kudrin’s draft budget.
PRESIDENT PUTIN IS NOT IN A HURRY TO DEFEND FINNISH INVESTMENTS
Vremya Novostei, May 27, 2002, p. 2
President of Finland Tarja Halonen sets out for a tour of the Leningrad region today. She will begin with the Primorsk oil terminal whose construction was completed in December 2001 to become one of the stumbling stones in Russian-Finnish relations.
Moscow insisted that Russia needed a new oil terminal. Now that it has been built, the Finns may decide to ask Russia to share the oil to be pumped via the second and third Baltic Pipelines.
Yesterday, Halonen spent two hours discussing with Vladimir Putin the possibility of an agreement on encouragement and mutual protection of investments.
Halonen insisted that the agreement would benefit both countries. Putin suggested waiting until Russia joined the World Trade Organization.
MERCY WITH SUSPENSION
Vremya Novostei, May 27, 2002, p. 3
President Vladimir Putin pardoned the first ten convicts last week based on recommendations from regional commissions. This marks the revival of the practice of state pardoning in accordance with the principle proposed by the president in late 2001. According to the presidential press-service, pardon commissions have been established in 53 Russian regions only.
RUSSIAN GENERALS HAVE A DIRECT LINE TO NATO NOW
Izvestia, May 28, 2002, p. 2
Baluyevsky wished the mission luck and cloudless relations between Russia and the Alliance.
There are now two NATO structures with a diplomatic status in Russia – the newly opened mission and an information bureau. The two have different functions. The Bureau is supposed to inform the general public in Russia of NATO activities and “on security issues in general”. The Mission will organize military visits and contacts between military structures of the Alliance and the Russian Defense Ministry. This seems to be a routine task at first sight. As a matter of fact, however, during emergencies it is the Mission that will coordinate joint actions of Russian security structures with the NATO headquarters.
The Mission will be headed by British Admiral Peter Williams. He will command seven officers from the United States, Germany, Hungary, and Poland, and two Russians (civilians). Two officers of the Russian Defense Ministry are attached to the Mission to “facilitate contacts”.