INDUSTRIALISTS TO ASSERT THEIR RIGHTS
Trud, June 7, 2002, p. 2
The fourth congress of the Russian United Party of Industrialists, which grew from a movement with a similar name, has taken place in Moscow.
Arkady Volsky, president of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs:
“In my view, three issues should be brought to the foreground. Firstly, carrying out a rational foreign trade policy, consistently, with joining the WTO as the key issue here. Movement in this direction doesn’t mean a refusal to protect the industrial orientation of production. Secondly, the need for far-reaching reforms in areas of public life beyond the economy, on which the general business climate in Russia depends, is becoming more acute. Thirdly, there is a need for a special policy of stimulating business activity.”
RUSSIA-NATO COUNCIL NEEDS PERSONNEL
Izvestia, June 7, 2002, p. 2
On June 6, the first session of the Russia-NATO Council in its Twenty format was held in Brussels. Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov represented Russia for the first time. He warned: “I ask you not to be deluded into expecing breakthroughs, epoch-making decisions or anything like that. This is like starting first grade at school for the first time.”
Ivanov started a series of bilateral meetings in the second half of the day.
Russia’s view is that “NATO is evidently not the leader in the cause of combating terrorism”. So this topic was primarily discussed at bilateral meetings, especially the Russian-US meeting. The focus was on the Indian-Pakistani conflict, regarding which, as Ivanov said, Russia and the US have a coordinated position and there is “no struggle for leadership or attempts to play first fiddle.”
As for the Council itself, for its first session Russia prepared to discuss almost all topics mentioned in the recently-signed declaration establishing the NATO Twenty.
Moscow is even ready for a detailed discussion of nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the context of protecting military facilities and, in part, civilian facilities from possible terrorist attacks or sabotage. The second topic discussed yesterday was an exchange of experience in military reforms. One point of military cooperation – adaptation of military personnel to civilian life after being made redundant, and civilian supervision over the military, seems to be very progressive. While the first component has been implemented already to some extent, society’s involvement in the process of supervising military decisions, as announced by the defense minister, sounded rather like a sensation. However, thus far this supervision is limited to some extent, if not patterned. “Any decisions related to the use of force should be transparent, clearm and have the support of a least part of the citizenry.”
HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN RUSSIA
Izvestia, June 7, 2002, p. 3
On June 6, US Secretary of State Colin Powell publicly named Russia as a country where human trafficking is taking place. He listed states where people are forcibly deprived of freedom. The Americans are making strong accusations against 19 countries, including Russia. Unless the governments of these nations “make efforts to normalize the situation,” sanctions might be imposed against them as soon as next year, in compliance with US legislation.
Sergei Shishkarev, deputy chairman of the Duma International Affairs Committee:
“The US has long since usurped the function of the UN or other international organizations. This move is supposed to confirm America’s reputation as a leading player in global politics, for which any problem in any part of the world can develop into some political action. However, in this case everything is being stated in semi-correct forms for Russia: the recent summit is still fresh in people’s minds. There’s no specific reason to put pressure on Russia regarding secondary problems. We admit the existence of this problem. A roundtable meeting on human trafficking and combating it has been held at the Duma recently. Moreover, Chechnya is the worst territory in terms of slavery. Russia has repeatedly tried to attract the attention of international organizations to this very fact, but has only been reproached.”
Oleg Yelnikov, from the Department for Combating Organized Crime:
“In Russia, human trafficking as such can only be mentioned in connection with Chechnya. Before the counterterrorist operation was launched there, the trade in hostages-slaves had been really active there. Nowadays, this is absent, we have been freeing hostages. As for the rest of Russia, we have mainly been dealing with fraud and infringements of regulations about labor conditions. However, this is more likely to be a question of migration policy – all these people are having problems solely because they are illegal migrants. Our laws say nothing at all about human trafficking. We have articles setting out penalties for inducement into prostitution, abduction, unlawful deprivation of liberty. Quite often, there are situations when people go abroad or come to work in Russia but are given quite a different job from what they expected.”
BUDGET SHAKES BUDGET’S HAND
Rossiyskaya Gazeta, June 7, 2002, p. 2
At its meeting on June 6, the Cabinet decided to provide some material assistance to military personnel and other state-sector employees. Russian regions will be given financial aid from the federal government. All this will be done without delay: it was decided to allocate money from the 2002 budget, and some amendments will be made in order to do this.
As Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov noted in opening the meeting, over the past year the Cabinet has undertaken additional social commitments, aimed at improving living standards. It was decided to raise wages for state-sector employees from December 2001. Moreover, the budgets of some regions are very unstable, and the federal government’s assistance is required. Spending on reforms to the judiciary will be made a separate budget item.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin explained after the meeting that from July 1, only judges will be empowered to issue arrest warrants. It is necessary to increase the number of judges in order for the courts to be able to cope with their new duties.
At the start of the meeting, Kasianov named the sum of money the Cabinet will have to find in order to meet these objectives: 39 billion rubles. In Kudrin’s words, 20.5 billion rubles will be saved through so-called “deferred expenses,” and another 18 billion rubles by suspending the state debt.
As for the draft 2003 budget, about which there have been many rumors of late, Kudrin said it is planned to submit it to the Cabinet on June 10 and consider it at the next Cabinet meeting, scheduled for June 13. The draft budget is likely to be submitted to the Duma on August 26.
ANTI-SEMITES IN VORONEZH
Izvestia, June 7, 2002, p. 1
There has been an unexpected sequel to an accident which occurred on May 27 along Kiyevskoye Highway outside Moscow. The accident happened when Muscovite Tatiana Sapunova was attempting to dismantle a stand supporting a placard with anti-Semitic slogans; an explosive device had been planted under the stand. Last Wednesday there were many calls to the Voronezh Interior Affairs Department: the residents were reporting seeing placards with anti-Semitic slogans. The tablets were fixed on poles with heavy objects attached to the base, objects resembling explosive devices wrapped in cellophane. When people tried to take them apart, it turned out that mere bricks were made to look like explosives. Local police are stating that “there was no threat to public safety,” and the Voronezh Interior Affairs Department is not planning a serious investigation of the incident.
An escalation of inter-ethnic tension can be felt in Voronezh. The other day an anti-Semitic article was published in the Bereg newspaper, financed by the mayoral office. Voronezh Rabbi Nosson Vershubsky told us there had been no response from the authorities. Nationalists brutally beat up Vershubsky’s son in Moscow recently. Stands carrying placards here are similar to the one in the Moscow incident. “For us, Jews, this is a reminder of who we are. Will anything be changed, even if the criminals are found?”