Rossiiskie Vesti, December 19, 2002, p. 2

There may be some staff changes at the Interior Ministry and Prosecutor General’s Office. Once again, there has been a rise in rumors of the upcoming dismissal of Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov on account of “poor health”. It is not ruled out though, that Mr. Ustinov initiates these rumors himself, as he has every reason to fear that his post might become a playing card in the Putin administration’s political intrigues. If the dismissal really takes place, the special service people from St. Petersburg would like to see this post occupied by Cherkesov, now a presidential envoy, who is reported to be very capricious and by no means willing to “pull the chestnuts out of the fire” for his high-ranking fellow St. Petersburgers. Analysts give the same reasons for the reluctance of the second candidate – “faithful man from St. Petersburg” Boris Gryzlov – to resign as Interior Minister.

By the way, alongside with a complete refusal to become the Prosecutor General, Mr. Cherkesov is by no means opposed to pushing aside Gryzlov from the ministerial post, according to well-informed sources. However, this prospect has made the remaining people from St. Petersburg rebel against it in a quiet but organized way, for they reasonably believe that in this case redistribution of all the spheres of influence would be inevitable, which is certain to affect their personal “rises in pensions”. This option is also said not to suit President Putin: the former chief of the Federal Security Service suspects Cherkesov (and probably not without reason) of links with the “Yeltsin’s Family” group, being reasonably concerned that in the new post he would not serve the right president…


Rossiiskie Vesti, December 19, 2002, p. 3

Akhmad Kadyrov gained a technical victory over his competition in Moscow by conducting the Congress of the Chechen People – his people – a few days ahead of them.

Quite recently, after the Moscow hostage-taking, Vladimir Putin met representatives of Moscow’s Chechen community and gave the green light to conducting a Congress of the Chechen People in Moscow December 16. So to speak, our response to the Danish and British chamberlains. The organization of the congress was handled by Duma deputy Aslambek Aslakhanov, Chairman of the Russian Law Enforcement Agencies Association and police general.

However, five days before that the Chechen administration head hastily convened an analogous congress in Chechnya. Aslakhanov had no choice but to attend Kadyrov’s party, canceling his forum.

I deliberately use this colloquialism, as there is no other way to call that activity which gathered only Kadyrov’s support group apart from rare exceptions. Its main result was the actual nomination of the Chechen head as the first candidate for future president. What was the need for that haste? Just because Kadyrov had gone scared. Scared that Aslakhanov in the Kremlin had not only obtained Putin’s favor to conduct the congress, but also to make the present Chechen head of administration. Why, aren’t too many sources testify that former senior gunman Kadyrov goes on directly eliminating his opponents. Too many people reckoned among his enemies without leaving a trace disappear in the “black hole” which is currently Tsentoroi – the clan settlement of the former mufti. What else is to add, if Duma deputy Frants Klintsevich, an officer with an Afghan background in charge of Chechnya in United Russia, complains in an interview that each (!) of his talks with Kadyrov’s “fellow part people” ends with their request to “clean” this or that Chechen for “the enemies to see our force”.

Why did the congress take place in Gudermes, but not Grozny, the capital of the republic? Simply because one of the two Yamadaevs brothers became that city’s head of administration under Kadyrov. Until recently, they were among the best-known guerilla commanders. Overall, comfortable life very often awaits former gunmen in the contemporary Chechnya, if they once just swore loyalty to Kadyrov.

So the natural question is: why is the former mufti still in power? Simply for the same reason for which he ventured to go counter to Putin who gave the green light to the Chechen forum in Moscow. This is a reflection of fight for power. That very power between the two groups of influence which everyone is already sick of hearing about.

To understand which of these stands behind Kadyrov suffice it to analyze one staff shift. Until recently the Chechen office of Unity was headed by one of the leaders of the anti-Dudaev opposition, former parliament speaker Lechi Magomadov. So far, Voloshin’s faithful deputy Surkov has not attained change of power in United Russia. Who do you think would head the Chechen office of the ruling party? To be sure, one of the Yamadaevs brothers. So do not ask provocative questions after that like: who benefits from the continuing existence of the criminal “black hole” which swallows hundreds of billions of dollars, who stakes on a “leader” that is afraid of his own people, fenced off from them with a triple circle of special police guard?

As is known, fish get rot from the head. Therefore, rot for a long time, it must be scaled from there.


Izvestia, December 20, 2002, p. 8 EV

Eduard Shevardnadze does not rule out his country can enter NATO together with Ukraine in “the third wave” of the alliance’s expansion. The Georgian leader voiced that view after meeting in Tbilisi his Ukrainian counterpart Leonid Kuchma, the BBC reports. In turn, the Ukrainian president claimed his country had to walk a long way before it becomes a NATO member. According to Kuchma, at the recent summit in Prague Kyiv undertool serious obligations not only to reform its armed forces, but also to create a democratic society in Ukraine.


Izvestia, December 20, 2002, p. 3 EV

A prototype Russian Su-35 fighter crashed yesterday near the town of Shatura, Moscow region. The pilot was able to eject, previously alerting the flying control officer about the problem, according to the Civil Defense Ministry data. The crash took place at about 4 p.m. Moscow time. It was unknown what had caused the crash as we went to print. The crash site was not found. The Su-35 is a ultramodern new generation fighter. In all, there are ten such planes in Russia. The Sukhoi Design Bureau declined to comment on the crash.


Izvestia, December 20, 2002, p. 3 EV

Ruslan Terekbaev became the new Director General of the TVS television channel, TVS press service chief Tatiana Blinova announced yesterday. “The decision was made at the company’s Board of Directors on Wednesday late at night,” Blinova noted. The post of TVS Director General had formerly been occupied by Oleg Kiselev whose authority was canceled ahead of schedule. At the same time, Kiselev was elected as chairman of the Board which includes either shareholders in the company or their direct representatives. Answering a question, Blinova noted there had been other candidates under discussion, but they were not named in public. Shareholders had been conducting consultations on the candidate for TVS Director General for about two months. Terekbaev had handled different projects. Thus, he had once been Director General of the Maximum radio station.


Izvestia, December 20, 2002, p. 6 EV

On Wednesday Geneva saw the close of talks between Russia’s State Customs Committee Chairman Mikhail Vanin and International Auto Transport Union Secretary General Martin Marmi. The conflict with international transporters ended with the Russian customs’ completely giving up claims of $60 million in damages. In return, the IATU promised not to stop the carriage system in Russia December 25.

Since the sides had not been able to compromise, in early December the IATU issued a notification of ceasing the effect of the TIR system in Russia on the night of December 25, 2002. The dimensions of damage which might be committed to Russian and foreign carriers was estimated at approximately $125 million a day. Every day 300 thousand trucks cross the Russian border in both directions, some two-thirds of them operating according to the TIR system.

“Every moneyed claim on the part of the Customs Committee was recalled,” Guy Willis told us, chief of the department for public relations of the IATU Directorate General. “The talks with SCC Chairman Mikhail Vanin went on in a very warm atmosphere. He promised from that time on the Russian customs would trace ingringers of the TIR system and the IATU will help it in that. We were impressed by the serious manner the Russian customs treated protection of the TIR guarantee chain”.


Izvestia, December 20, 2002, p. 6 EV

In spite of the government’s opinion, the Duma passed amendments to the law “On the Central Bank” in the second reading Wednesday which cut the CB’s powers concerning inspections of commercial banks. In doing that, the deputies took into account the view of the presidential administration, which had sided with commercial banks.

According to the version of the bill passed yesterday, the CB’s regional divisions will be able to initiate a second inspection of a bank only if it shows “signs of an unstable financial position” and if this “threatens to the position of its depositors (creditors)”. The government had tried to expand those standards. Senior Deputy Finance Minister Aleksei Uliukaev had called to check banks “in other cases permitted by federal laws”, but not according to “legislation of the Russian Federation”. In the view of the deputy finance minister, the difference in this case is as follows: the federal laws which enable finding grounds to check a bank “are just four, and no more than that”. Besides the law on the CB, these are the law on the prosecutor’s office, on police, and on laundering of “ill-gotten gains”.