LEADING RESEARCH CHEMIST HAS DISAPPEARED
Kommersant, August 24, 2002, p. 3
On August 23, the Prosecutor’s Office of the Krasnoyarsk Territory launched an investigation into the disappearance of prominent chemist Sergei Bakhvalov, head of Physical Chemistry at the Chemistry Faculty of Krasnoyarsk State University. He disappeared on August 17, but law enforcement agencies withheld information about this event.
Bakhvalov is the author of over 80 scientific works. Besides, he is the head of the Kristall research center. This center has been involved in developing unique technologies of disposing of radioactive waste, for the Nuclear Energy Ministry, for 12 years. Last year, Kristall won the tender for dismantling the submarine Kursk. The most lucrative projects of the center are connected with processing and refinery of metals. Scientists have invented a unique method of extracting zinc, copper, aluminum, and precious metals from waste materials.
Employees of the territorial department of the Federal Security Service (FSB) have joined in the search for the scientist too. It is not ruled out that kidnappers will soon demand a ransom for Sergei Bakhvalov.
DEFENSE MINISTER INSPECTING SIBERIAN MILITARY DISTRICT
Kommersant, August 24, 2002, p. 3
On August 23, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov arrived in Novosibirsk to examine combat readiness of units of the Siberian military district and the course of implementation of the military reform. He visited the headquarters of the 41st army of the district and met with Presidential Envoy for the Siberian Federal District Leonid Drachevsky. The presidential envoy told the minister that Novosibirsk feminists demand that women be allowed to serve in the Army as soldiers and even intend to appeal to the Constitutional Court. Ivanov noted that he is not against this idea, but the law lags behind this time.
PEOPLE DO NOT WANT TO ELECT STRAY POLITICIANS
Kommersant, August 24, 2002, p. 4
At the beginning of August, United Russia appealed to President Vladimir Putin to conduct a referendum on a Constitution for Chechnya. On August 23, a Chechen youth organization submitted the same appeal, which was published in Ahmad Kadyrov’s office in Moscow.
Moscow office spokesman Eddi Isaev says that five draft constitutions of the republic have been presented, but the advisory council of the head of the Chechen Administration has come to the conclusion that a document prepared under Kadyrov’s guidance should be proposed at the referendum. According to Isaev, the council thinks it necessary to exclude from the draft constitution an item, according to which only a person that has lived in the republic for at least ten years has a right to run for president of the republic. This item deprives such prominent Chechen politicians as former speaker of the Supreme Council of the Russian Federation Ruslan Khasbulatov, Duma deputy Aslambek Aslakhanov, and head of the concern Milan Malik Saidullaev of an opportunity to run in presidential elections.
Meanwhile, head of the Center of Humanitarian Research Nadirsolta Elsunkaev supports this item. He has said, “The experience of previous presidential elections has shown that people did not know where Djokhar Dudaev and Aslan Maskhadov came from. People don’t want to vote for stray politicians anymore.”
Chairman of the Central Election Commission Alexander Veshnyakov has announced that preparations for a referendum take at least 100 days, and so Chechen authorities have concluded that the referendum will take place in December or at the start of next year. Thus, the election of a new head of the republic will take place nest spring or summer. Then the election of the Chechen parliament will take place, which will apparently be combined with the federal parliamentary election of December 2003.
RUSSIAN AND AMERICAN SPECIALISTS TRANSPORTED 817 KILOGRAMS OF FRESH URANIUM FROM BELGRADE
Vremya MN, August 24, 2002, p. 1
This week, Russian and American nuclear specialists extracted 817 kilograms of uranium from a reactor at the Vinca institute for nuclear sciences in Belgrade. This operation was performed for the sake of preventing production of 2.5 nuclear charges.
Moscow and Washington have estimated this operation as a successful example of Russian-American cooperation in the field of prevention of the threat of terrorism that became possible after September 11. The US State Department has paid special attention to the fact that Russia immediately agreed to take back the nuclear material given to Yugoslavia by the Soviet Union.
According to the Russian Nuclear Energy Ministry, all the expenses of the operation were paid by the US. It has also allocated $5 million to Yugoslavia for restoration of environment on the territory of the institute and creation of new jobs for Belgrade nuclear industry workers.
IRON CURTAIN FOR MIGRANTS
Vremya MN, August 24, 2002, p. 2
Andrei Chernenko, head of the Federal Migration Service (FMS) at the Interior Ministry, says that comprehensive surveillance over migration in Russia will be feasible no sooner than eighteen months from now.
The Cabinet is to approve a concept of state migration policy by December. However, it is already possible to observe this policy. According to Chernenko, over the past ten days alone, 22 cases of administrative infractions regarding foreigners illegally working in Moscow were considered in Moscow courts. Those found guilty were fined 500 rubles. The FMS does not conceal that one of its main tasks is to legalize foreign workers.
RUSSIAN FAR EAST ISOLATED FROM RUSSIA
Vremya MN, August 24, 2002, p. 3
Since the breakup of the USSR, links of the Russian Far East with the central part of Russia have decreased ten-fold. Now the government seems to correct this ridiculous situation. On August 23, President Vladimir Putin conducted a meeting devoted to prospects of development of the Far Eastern Federal District. An analogous meeting took place in July 2000 in Blagoveshchensk. This regularity proves Moscow’s attention toward problems of the Far East. In March 2002, a new draft of the program of the socio-economic development of the Far East and the Trans-Baikal Region until 2010 was adopted in Moscow.
In 2002, the budget will provide four billion rubles for implementation of this program. Moscow is to pay 10% of this sum, 57% will be given by regional budgets, and the rest of the money will be invested by private companies. According to Putin, the aim of development of the Far East is galvanization of the region and its integration into the Russian economy.
After Putin’s announcement that it is necessary to preserve tariff preferences for inhabitants of the region, Railroads Minister Gennady Fadeev immediately announced his readiness to reduce prices of transportation of fish. The railroads Ministry is also ready to participate in projects of deep processing of wood and even transport waste materials at 40-45% of the tariff. Energy Minister Igor Yusufov also made his contribution to this campaign. In his opinion, development of gas deposits in Eastern Siberia, Yakutia, and Sakhalin will give the country cheap fuel and will let it make some money by means of export of natural gas. Anatoly Chubais promised to launch the first aggregate of the Burea hydropower plant on June 30, 2003. When it starts working at full capacity (two million kilowatts), the Far East will cease to have energy deficits. Chubais did not scare people with the probable price of electric energy from the Burea, which is likely to be 30-40 cents per kilowatt-hour if Moscow does not increase its grants for the expensive energy of the Far East.
THE NUMBER OF COMMUNISTS INCREASES
Rossiyskie Vesti, No. 27, August 22, 2002, p. 3
The Justice Ministry has registered another communist party, the Russian Communist Labor Party – the Russian Party of Communists. Apparently, the new party is to rival the Communist Party. Over the past decade, the Communist Party has greatly transformed: new people are leading it now, who have no experience in state constructing. However, they are creating the current ideology of the party and they are willing to lead it.
There are three major communist movements that emerged from the Communist Party: the Russia movement headed by Gennady Seleznev; the Party of Labor, led by Sergei Khramov and Oleg Shein; and the aforementioned new Communist Party, established by Andrei Brezhnev.
The new Communist Party declares that the “liberal revolution” has not met the expectations of the society and it will never meet them in the future. Unlike the Communist Party, the new party proclaims the internationalism and even atheism – in short, it seems to have taken into account the experience of its senior associates and is trying to be the “red Yabloko”. Besides, the new party has a left radical program, which, however, did not prevent its registration even at the time of fighting against extremism.
INVESTMENT IN THE RUSSIAN ECONOMY
Finansovaya Rossia, August 22, 2002, p. 3
According to the State Statistics Committee, at the end of July 2002, the volume of foreign capital in Russia increased by 12%, against the same period of last year, and amounted to $38.1 billion. Thus, in the first quarter of 2002, $8.4 billion were invested in the Russian economy. It is 25.2% more than in the first quarter of 2001.
At the same time, the volume of direct investments in the economy has decreased from 51.9% to 48.7%. The volume of other repayable investments, on the contrary, has grown from 45.1% to 47.5%. The major Russian creditors are the same: Germany, the US, Cyprus, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, and Italy. In the first six months of 2002, the total volume of direct investments fell by 25.4%, compared to last year, and amounted to $1.87 billion. Other investments grew substantially, by 60% and totaled $6.3 billion.
On the other hand, over the aforementioned period, Russia invested $10 billion abroad, which is 54.9% more than over the same period of last year. The majority of the investments in the US ($5.56 billion) and Cyprus ($2.14 billion). According to expert appraisals, Russian investment abroad still exceeds foreign investment in Russia. Moreover, Russian investment abroad is rising, while foreign investment in Russia is falling.
The latest Latin American crises have cooled down the attitude of foreign investors to the developing countries, in particular Russia.
As for other investments, the fact that Cyprus is among the top three investment leaders indicates that the greater part of Cyprus investments have a Russian origin. By the way, while Russia invested $2.14 billion in Cypress, the volume of investments from Cyprus amounted to only $1.12 billion, or 52%. The Russian business community still prefers to invest its money abroad.
GAPS IN THE RUSSIAN BUDGET
Argumenty i Fakty, August 21, 2002, p. 2
Next year there are likely to be “gaps” in the Russian federal budget. The problem is that in 2003 Russia faces a foreign debt servicing peak: $17 billion. Besides, the state has promised to increase social spending, and military and law enforcement bodies funding. At the same time, according to expert appraisals, oil prices may fall substantially next year. The Kremlin has worked out a special “social insurance” plan.
It asked the tycoons to sponsor various presidential social programs in order not to reduce the salaries of the budget-sector employees. It will not affect the large businesses seriously, and at the same time it will help the country to survive the critical year without upheavals. The rumor has it that the Kremlin is developing an “amnesty” or “indulgence” program for Russian tycoons, which will put an end to the “wild capitalism” period and will allow the tycoons to legalize the capital taken out of the country. Besides, the Kremlin will also “punish” the most intractable tycoons by banning owning Russian enterprises via foreign offshore areas. By the way, currently it is the major way for tax evasion for Russian tycoons.
RUMORS FROM AMERICA
Zavtra, August 22, 2002, p. 1
The latest broadcasts of the US official media and an unprecedented statement of Condoleezza Rice prove that the US has decided to accelerate the aggression against Iraq by any means and to prepare the world public opinion for the operation. At the same time, the conservative Republicans are increasing their opposition to the aggression. The beginning of the operation is scheduled basing not on the readiness of the US military but on the political reasonability, connected with the terms of an additional election to the US Congress, in order to make the funding of the operation independent on the new Congress membership. Besides, the urgent negotiations between the US and the world largest shipping companies on transporting the US military to the Middle East and active buying up of oil contracts by the US oil agents also prove that the operation is being actively prepared. Assumingly, launching of the anti-Iraq war will set Iraq and Kuwait oil wells on great fires, which will cause an oil price growth up to record $45-50 a barrel. However, a subsequent victory for the US and establishing a pro-American government in Baghdad would decrease the prices to $6-8 a barrel. This will make it possible for the US to extricate from the present economic recession. According to our experts, if this scenario fails, President Bush will have to resign early.