Parlamentskaya Gazeta, February 26, 2003, EV

Deputy Duma Speaker Vladimir Lukin met yesterday with a delegation from a faction of the Swedish Socio-Democratic Party.

Vladimir Lukin’s Swedish counterparts noted that it is no coincidence that such a representative delegation is visiting Russia right now, since there will be a parliamentary election in Russia in 2003, and a presidential election in 2004. Naturally, foreign members of parliament want to receive reliable information about these events.

The deputy Duma speaker explained some specifics of the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary elections. In particular, he noted that the main political parties are already preparing for the elections, and the election campaign has essentially already begun.

In addition, Lukin and the Swedish visitors had an informal discussion of issues in science and education.


Kommersant, February 25, 2003, p. 9

Another round of US-Russian consultations on strategic stability took place between Undersecretary of State John Bolton and Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Mamedov in Moscow on February 24.

The officials discussed issues connected with the final phase of ratifying the US-Russian agreement on offensive nuclear weapons, which have become very topical given the present international instability. The US and Russian representatives noted that they are satisfied with progress on ratification. In addition, they emphasized the need for further discussion of missile defense.

Bolton and Mamedov also discussed a range of international issues, including the situation in Iraq and North Korea’s nuclear program. Mamedov said that the US and Russia should use all diplomatic tools, including the universal system of engagements in the sphere of nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, in order to reduce the tension.

Bolton and Mamedov also discussed progress on implementing the G-8 initiative regarding global partnership against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The US and Russian officials stated that Washington and Moscow are prepared to achieve concrete results in this sector both on a bilateral and multilateral basis, according to principal agreements reached by the US and Russian presidents.


Kommersant, February 25, 2003, p. 3

At a meeting of the political council of the Eurasian Party (the Union of Russian Patriots) on February 24, Salambek Maigov, deputy chair of the political council, who has been acting as Aslan Maskhadov’s representative since February 3, was dismissed from the political council. In addition, his membership of the party was suspended.

Abdul-Vakhed Niyazov, chair of the political council of the Eurasian Party, said that Salambek Maigov “submitted his resignation after he was appointed as Aslan Maskhadov’s representative”. Mr. Niyazov explained Maigov’s decision to leave the Eurasian Party as follows: “According to the law, his presence posed a legal threat to the party.” In addition, Niyazov denied Maigov’s statements regarding the referendum on a constitution for Chechnya: “Maigov’s public statements regarding the referendum in Chechnya do not coincide with our position on this issue.” The political council of the Eurasian Party passed a statement on the position of the party toward normalization of the situation in Chechnya, saying “it is impossible to solve the problem of Chechnya without the people of Chechnya; and the upcoming referendum, which the party has been trying to initiate for two years, offers an opportunity to resolve this complex issue”.


Kommersant, February 25, 2003, p. 11

Tedo Dzhaparidze, Secretary of the Georgian National Security Council, has said that the Georgian security structures are prepared for a second phase of an anti-terrorist operation in the Pankisi Gorge. The operation will begin after the snow melts in the mountains. The main goal of the operation is to prevent terrorists from returning to Georgia from southern Chechnya.

Tedo Dzhaparidze stated at a press conference that Georgian border guards have received orders to prevent Ruslan Gelaev’s gang from breaking through to Georgia. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze recently said on national radio that Russian and Georgian border guards must strengthen cooperation in order to defend the Chechen sector of the border.

Last autumn the Georgian security structures conducted an anti-terrorist operation on the border with Chechnya as a result of which (judging from Tbilisi’s reports) illegal armed groups and international terrorists left Georgian territory. However, it is not ruled out that they will try to come back.

The plan for the operation has been approved by the Georgian National Security Council. It is aimed at reinforcing border guard units and units of the Interior Troops stationed in Chechen villages in the gorge. In addition, 500 contract servicemen trained by US military instructors will be sent to a new base near the Pankisi Gorge. The battalion will have dozens of heavy armored vehicles, including tanks, infantry battle vehicles, armored personnel carriers, and Grad artillery systems.


Kommersant, February 25, 2003, p. 3

At a meeting of the political council of the Eurasian Party (the Union of Russian Patriots) on February 24, Pavel Borodin, chair of the supervisory board, announced the creation of “a new union of center-left parties called Patriots of Russia”. The union includes the leaders of the Russian party of peace and the Russian party of labor. However, Pavel Borodin is sure that “many reasonable politicians” will soon join the coalition, and the union “will become a very influential force in an impending parliamentary election”.

Pavel Borodin and Abdul-Vakhed Niyazov (leader of the Eurasian Party), Joseph Kobzon and Vladimir Medvedev (leaders of the Party of peace), who became members of the supervisory board of the Eurasian Party, met with journalists before the meeting of the political council and announced their merger. Borodin said: “We are creating a coalition of the center left. To date only the Eurasian Party and the Party of peace have joined it. However, the leaders of many parties and governors have agreed to join the leftist bloc.” He noted at the end of his optimistic speech: “We will surely win the election.”

Abdul-Vakhed Niyazov, chair of the Eurasian Party, said that “the Russian party of labor and Novgorod Governor Mikhail Prusak, who is tired of liberal views of the Democratic Party, have agreed to join the party. The team promises to very strong.”

Borodin told members of the party what prospects will open before those who decide to join Patriots of Russia: “The leaders of the party will become members of the supervisory board, along with famous ideologues of the Eurasian community such as Olzhas Suleimanov and Chingiz Aitmatov.”