Trud, May 14, 2003, EV

In Vilnius, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Razov and Lithuanian Foreign Minister Darius Jurgelevicius have signed a readmission treaty – that is, a treaty on the reciprocal repatriation of illegal migrants.

“Signing this treaty is a fundamental step toward implementation of agreements on transit to and from the Kaliningrad region using facilitated transit documents, reached at the Russia-EU summit in November 2002 and coming into effect from July 1 this year,” Sergei Razov noted.

Commenting on this event, Dmitry Rogozin, chairman of the Duma international affairs committee and presidential envoy for Kaliningrad, said that Russia is no longer facing the problem of having the Kaliningrad region in isolation.

“The road known as ‘free transit’ has been paved,” said Rogozin, referring to the readmission treaty. “Moreover, we’ll submit the Russia-Lithuania treaty on the border and continental shelf division to the lower house of parliament on May 21.”

At the same time, Rogozin emphasized: “If Russia wants to discuss rapprochement with the European Union and the gradual cancellation of visa restrictions for Russian citizens traveling to EU member states, this can’t be done without a major readmission treaty.”


Moskovsky Komsomolets, May 14, 2003, EV

Yesterday, the Constitutional Court took up the sensitive issue of referendums.

Last year, the Communist Party of Russia (CPRF) intended to hold a referendum on no confidence in the government, but at the Kremlin’s initiative the Duma then hastily adopted amendments to that law, banning referendums within the final year of a president’s term in office or during a national election campaign.

The Communist representatives at the Constitutional Court hearings are Anatoly Lukianov, Viktor Ilyukhin and Viktor Zorkaltsev. They have revealed many spicy details about “crude irregularities in the adoption” of the amendments last year. According to regulations, any Duma member who is not present for a vote should give his colleagues a proxy paper specifying how his card will be used in the vote: in favor, against, or abstention.

According to the CPRF, on September 20, 2002, when the amendments were approved, 125 proxy papers had been issued, but 122 of them didn’t specify how to vote. In general, says the CPRF, a referendum, which is one form of democracy, was counterposed to another form of democracy – elections. And this is unlawful. But the president’s supporters insisted that issuing proxy papers in this way is an accepted practice in the Duma, so it is unclear why this practice might be considered invalid in the passage of one particular law. Using that principle, the entire operation of the Duma might be revised…


Nezavisimaya Gazeta, May 14, 2003, EV

Yesterday’s meeting between President Putin and heads of the Duma factions was mainly devoted to discussing urgent international problems.

The fate of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty was the chief topic. This choice wasn’t accidental, since U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell arrived in Moscow yesterday to discuss the future of this long-suffering treaty. Now that the war in Iraq is over, it would be inappropriate for the Duma to procrastinate over ratification any longer, especially since Russia had insisted on signing the treaty. The ratification bill will be submitted to the lower house of parliament today. Given that the centrist factions are supporting it, ratification is almost as good as done.

Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov promised in Vladimir Putin’s presence to urge his fellow Duma members to participate in the Fair Elections campaign.

According to Boris Nadezhdin, senior deputy leader of the Union of Right Forces faction, Boris Nemtsov, the URF leader, intended to give the president a certain document which discusses the low effectiveness of the administrative reforms currently underway and flaws in the law on state service which the Duma has passed.

Gennady Raikov, leader of the People’s Deputy group, intended to set out his wishes to Vladimir Putin in a private conversation. According to sources close to Raikov, he planned to discuss the election strategy of the People’s Party of Russia and its relations with United Russia.


Izvestia, May 14, 2003, p. 8 EV

The Interfax news agency reports that court hearings on the extradition of Russian entrepreneur Boris Berezovsky from Britain will open at the London Magistrate Court on October 6. The court has thus granted the request of Berezovsky’s defense, which insisted that hearings should start in October, while the prosecution was asking to have them start in mid-June.

At the same time, the court will consider the case of extradition of Yuly Dubov, director general of LogoVAZ. The Prosecutor General’s Office is accusing Berezovsky and Dubov of stealing 2,033 cars from AvtoVAZ.