Trud, April 18, 2003, EV

There have yet to be any obvious breakthroughs in creating a common economic territory across four CIS member nations – Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine. A high-level working group, in which Russia is represented by Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko, held its third meeting in Moscow on April 16. It discussed a draft concept for the common economic territory. This obviously requires a common approach, but the high-level group was unable to reach agreement.

After the meeting, Khristenko said: “Many differences still remain.”

Azarov, deputy prime minister of Ukraine, said: “The four countries have taken a step which will enable an agreement on creating a common economic territory to be prepared by September.”

However, the question of adopting a common currency was not discussed at the meeting; if this issue is taking so long to resolve between Russia and Belarus (President Lukashenko proposed still more “new initiatives” the other day), it appears premature to raise it for all four nations.

President Vladimir Putin met with all four deputy prime ministers at the Kremlin that same evening. In his opening speech, the president diplomatically expressed the hope that “all obstacles will be overcome by the high-level working group” in terms of creating a common economic territory across all four nations. Having noted that a draft concept already exists, and there is “an understanding of the ways by which this goal may be achieved”, Putin emphasized: “Clearly, there are significant difficulties here, including the matter of coordinating positions on accession to the WTO for each of our countries.” However, Putin hopes that the high-level working group “will be able to resolve all these questions”, and that its next meeting will advance matters to “a new stage”.


Moskovskii Komsomolets, April 18, 2003, EV

Vladimir Petrovich Lukin, a former deputy speaker of the Duma who has held the number two position in the Yabloko party since its inception, will no longer be among the party’s top three.

The fact that Lukin has had some differences with party leader Grigory Yavlinsky is not news. Finally, this has taken the form of a “demotion” for Lukin.

Second and third place on Yabloko’s electoral list will be taken by Viktor Ivanenko and Sergei Mitrokhin.

Undoubtedly, Lukin’s dismissal and replacement by younger individuals reflet not only the situation within Yabloko, but external circumstances as well. Essentially, Yabloko was always an anti-Yeltsin party. Yeltsin is gone, but the party is still around. It makes no real political demands, it doesn’t aspire to power, and it is not part of the decision-making system.

To our knowledge, at least a third of places on Yabloko’s federal electoral list have already been placed at the disposal of a certain well-known oil company which has agreed to be “Yabloko’s exclusive sponsor”, in return for financial support. The need to take such measures to fill the party’s coffers before the campaign begins can also be attributed to the fact that Yabloko lacks the strength for radical change. An era has passed, but the party still wants to continue as before. That’s why it keeps changing the external details of its entourage. It might be advised to recall an old joke: if a brothel is not doing well, it makes more sense to replace the girls than the furniture.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta, April 18, 2003, EV

Duma member Sergei Yushenkov, a leader of the Liberal Russia party, was assassinated in Moscow on Thursday evening. He received several bullet wounds to the chest, which resulted in his death.

According to the north-western Moscow police precinct, Yushenkov was killed outside his apartment building. Interfax quotes a police source as saying that Yushenkov “arrived home, got out of the car, and was killed on his way to the building entrance”. The gun used to kill Yushenkov was found next to his body.

Interior Ministry spokesman Konstantin Tarasov told that a special commission headed by Senior Deputy Interior Ministry Rashid Nurgaliev has been set up to investigate Yushenkov’s murder.