Konservator, March 7, 2003, p. 10

Forbes magazine has published its list of the world’s richest people in 2002: 476 people whose personal fortunes, taken together, exceed $1.4 trillion. Bill Gates is still the richest person in the world (Microsoft, $40.7 billion).

There are 17 Russians on the list. Mikhail Khodorkovsky is the leader (YUKOS, $8 billion; ranked 26th); then Roman Abramovich (Sibneft, Russian Aluminum, $5.7 billion, 49th); Mikhail Fridman (Alpha Group, $4.3 billion, 68th); Vladimir Potanin (Norilsk Nickel, $1.8 billon, 222nd); Oleg Deripaska (Russian Aluminum, $1.5 billion, 278th); Vagit Alekperov (LUKoil, $1.3 billion, 329th); Vladimir Bogdanov (Surgutneftegaz, $1 billion.)

All of the above have made the Forbes rich list before. But there are also some Russians mentioned for the first time: Viktor Vekselberg (TNK, $2.5 billion, 147th); Mikhial Prokhorov (Norilsk Nickel, $1.6 billion, 256th); Vladimir Yevtushenkov (AFK Systema, $1.5 billion, 278th), Alexei Mordashev (Severstal, $1.2 billion, 348th), Leonid Nevzlin (YUKOS, $1.1 billion, 386th), Yevgeny Shvidler (Sibneft, $1.1 billion, 386th), Mikhail Brudno (YUKOS, $1 billion), Vladimir Dubov (YUKOS, $1 billion), Platon Lebedev (YUKOS, $1 billion), Vasily Shakhnovsky (YUKOS, $1 billion).


Konservator, March 7, 2003, p. 10

The Prof-Media publishing holding has bought 35% of the Independent Media publishing house. According to the official statement released by both sides, “this transaction is the initial stage in the creation of a strategic alliance between two largest Russian publishing houses.” The two companies have agreed to publish a new glossy sports magazine. It is not ruled out that later the publishing groups will unite their capital – and a new player with a total audience of 30 million people will appear on the Russian market for the first time.

Independent Media publishes: The Moscow Times, The St. Petersburg Times, Vedomosti, Na Rublevke, Cosmopolitan, Cosmo Magia, Harper’s Bazaar, Domashny Ochag, Popular Mechanics (together with Hearst), Men’s Health, FHM, Yes, Agrobiznes.

The Prof-Media holding owns shares in the Izvestia, Komsomolskaya Pravda, Sovetsky Sport, and Express-Gazeta newspapers; Expert, Finansovyi Director, magazines; Avtoradio, Energia, Novosti radio stations; Prime-TASS news agency, and Segodnya-Press distribution network.


Kommersant-Vlast, March 3, 2003, p. 8

Thirty out of fifty registered political parties have the right to participate in the parliamentary election, according to the Central Election Committee.

The state has allocated $37 million for 2003 to maintain Russia’s peacekeepers in Kosovo, Bosnia, and Sierra Leone. In 2002, the sum spent on this was $46 million; in 2001 it was $75 million.

The sale of 25% minus one share in the Svyazinvest company, scheduled for 2003, could bring in around $1 billion for the state. According to the Property Ministry, the total revenue from privatization and management of state properties in 2003 could exceed 100 billion rubles.

Russia’s foreign trade turnover rose to $12.9 billion in January 2003. This was an increase of 25.2% compared to the same period of 2002. The positive trade balance in January was $4.7 billion, exports exceeding imports by 2.1 times.

The Federal Border Guards Service issued over 300,000 migration cards to foreigners entering Russia in the first ten days after the cards were introduced on February 14.

Total pre-tax profits of large and medium-sized organizations in 2002 amounted to 905.8 billion rubles. This is 18.9% less than in 2001.

Russian Joint Energy Systems will need $25 billion by 2010 in order to modernize its production capacities.


Zavtra, March 6, 2003, p. 1

According to our government sources, the illness of Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov has been caused by the “spring epidemic” of clan power-struggles at the top. Alexander Voloshin’s trip to Washington and his unprecedented meeting with President George W. Bush covered not only the issue of Iraq, but also confirmation of the Russian government’s operating strategy for the election period. The main topic concerned replacing Putin with Kasianov, who is “more competent at such functions”. Since Putin found out about this, Kasianov chose to take sick leave, realizing that his dismissal without approval from the “central committee” in Washington would only be possible in a moment of anger.

The driving force behind all these intrigues may have been Putin’s increased contacts with European Union leaders; this was viewed by the St. Petersburg security clan in the Kremlin as a signal to step up moves to investigate abuses of power by a number of prominent figures linked to the Yeltsin’s Family clan.


Zavtra, March 6, 2003, p. 1

A sensational interview by US Secretary of State Colin Powell on French television, where he said that the US will not submit a second resolution on Iraq to the UN Security Council on March 7, was a result of admitting the risk of a unilateral incursion unjustified after the Arab summit in Egypt. Moreover, the joint resolution of heads of the Arab world stipulates a “peaceful solution” to the Iraq problem, with the voluntary resignation of Saddam Hussein, which would enable the “Washington hawks” to save face.


Zavtra, March 6, 2003, p. 1

The Observer newspaper published an article on US intelligence agency espionage against member nations of the UN Security Council concerning the “Iraq issue”. This placed Washington in an awkward position, as the article says the information is conveyed directly to President Bush via Condoleezza Rice. Hence, this increases the threat of information leak scandals connected with the Republican Party. A source in London also says that the actions of The Observer represent the first of what could be many leaks of compromising materials in the British media, done for the sake of Saudi Arabia.


Zavtra, March 6, 2003, p. 1

A New York source reports that the highly-publicized deal between TNK and British Petroleum is just a financial transaction connected with continuing withdrawal of Saudi Arabian assets from US banks. In these terms, it is noted that usually the major participants in a transaction receive 15-20% commission.


Zavtra, March 6, 2003, p. 1

The election of V. Zorkin as chief justice of the Constitutional Court would have been impossible without the support of “anti-Family” forces at the top: which proves that they are consolidating, and is a bad sign for Yeltsin’s close associates.


Zavtra, March 6, 2003, p. 1

By summer, the United Russia party members will have 1 million members, making it the largest political organization in Russia. Orders to join the party are being issued along the hierarchy of governance to all state-sector organizations. This PR-revival of the leading and ruling party will be supported by patriotic and social justice rhetoric via all media channels in order to prevent the Communist Party from winning the December parliamentary election.


Zavtra, March 6, 2003, p. 1

The failure of an ethnic Russian party at the parliamentary elections in Estonia is a result of applying Putin’s technique of fragmenting the protest vote, which was first used in 1999, according to our Tallinn source. The absence of the numerous ethnic Russian population from government structures gives Estonian politicians the necessary “freedom” to suppress the interests of ethnic Russians within Estonia, as well as making moves to join the EU and NATO.