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Russia Report: October 17, 2002


17 October 2002, Volume 2, Number 34
REGIONAL PROFILE
ROMAN ARKADEVICH ABRAMOVICH -- A POLE OF HOPE FOR THE FAR NORTH?
By Alexandra Swetzer

In December 2002, former Sibneft head Roman Abramovich will celebrate his second year in office as governor of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, but his motivation for seeking that office remains as unclear as when he first announced he would seek the post in October 2000. Likewise, the assessment of his achievements as governor is mixed. Those who had predicted that he was seeking personal enrichment appear to have been proven wrong. At least so far, his undertaking in Chukotka appears to have cost him money.

One of Abramovich's first initiatives was to set up a charity fund, "Polyus Nadezhdy" (Pole of Hope). It was financed from his own personal fortune, which seems to confirm the theory of some analysts that Abramovich's Far Northern adventure was the philanthropic whim of a bored tycoon. It is true that the charity fund funnels millions of dollars in aid to the Chukotkan population. Food, medical aid, energy supplies, and even summer holidays at Black Sea resorts have been organized for all the region's children. The fund also paid the transportation and moving costs for residents, who wished to relocate to the European part of Russia. It even financed housing in the new locations, according to "Pravda" in August 2001.

Living conditions in Chukotka have undeniably improved. The basic needs of the population are better met, more transportation options as well as more heating is available, and construction has been timidly taken up in the capital, Anadyr. However, the bulk of these achievements have come in the form of aid. And the nagging question about the sustainability of Abramovich's efforts in Chukotka remains.

Observers report of Abramovich's enthusiasm, of his commuting across nine time zones between Moscow and Anadyr, of his plans to develop ethnographic and adventure tourism, and of his visions of Chukotka as a second Alaska. Staff in the local government is mainly made up of young dynamic managers from Sibneft, such as 31-year-old Andrei Gorodilov, deputy governor and first deputy chairman of Sibneft, whom Abramovich brought from Moscow. However, to date Abramovich does not seem to have attracted any major investors. In fact, the only serious large investor in the region has been his own company, Sibneft. Nor has he so far been able to offer tax privileges or other preferential conditions liable to attract such investments.

A decisive factor in Chukotka's future economic development will likely be its choice of markets and trading partners. The entire Russian Far East -- of which it is a part -- has been economically underdeveloped and overly reliant on Moscow as result of choices made well before the 20th century. The Soviet era exacerbated the region's isolation and economic backwardness, since for political reasons the Russian Far East was shut off from the economic space of the Pacific Ocean. Assuming trade barriers were removed, it would be far cheaper to import food from California than from the European part of Russia, but as it stands little cross-border trade exists.

Abramovich's policy of seeking regional cooperation with Alaska and states on the West coast of the U.S. may be a savvy move in the direction of ending the region's economic isolation. At the June 2001 Alaska-Chukotka Summit, Abramovich and his Alaskan counterpart Tony Knowles signed an agreement on developing regional cooperation, establishing transport and communication lines and encouraging economic and cultural exchanges, in particular through visa-free travel and streamlining of bureaucratic procedures. During his road show through Canada and the state of Washington in May 2001, Abramovich pleaded the case for building economic relations between Chukotka and the West Coast, but so far, only cooperation with Alaska has been a tangible success. But then, the interest is mutual. "As Alaska's closest neighbor in the Russian Far East, it only makes sense to try to find ways that can benefit people, businesses, and projects on both sides of the Bering Strait," Alaska Governor Knowles said at last year's summit. It is true that for Alaska, cooperation with Chukotka is a cornerstone of the gateway to trade with the Russian Far East.

In spite of its remoteness and present level of underdevelopment, Chukotka does have more than one asset that could potentially be developed. First of all, there are its largely untapped reserves of gold and tungsten. Their exploitation would require large infusions of capital -- a minimum of $250 million is required to explore the Maiskoe and Kupol gold fields, for instance -- but these fields might yield high dividends. And oil production might become a potential source of longer-term economic development and income. In August 2001, Sibneft and the Russian oil company Yukos embarked on a joint project to explore the shelf of the Chukotkan and East Siberian seas off the coast of Chukotka, and in April 2002 Sibneft-Chukotka installed a floating platform and received a license for the development of three fields, Lagunnii with reserves estimated at 38 million tons, Telekaiskoe with proven reserves of 2.8 million tons of oil and 2 billion cubic meters of gas, and the West Ozernyi gas field with reserves of 5 billion cubic meters of gas.

It is too early to speculate on the economic success of this investment, as the fields will not even become operational until two or three years from now. However, the current international geopolitical context, should it last, opens new perspectives. After 11 September, hopes rose in Russia that its negative impact on the world oil market would benefit Russian oil production, and since last autumn, Russia has been resisting the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' (OPEC) call to reduce oil output and cut exports. Russia's oil sector has been doing extremely well since the beginning of this year: data released by Goskomstat in September indicate an 8.4 percent increase in crude-oil production for the first eight months of 2002 compared with the same period last year, reaching 247 million tons, while crude-oil exports soared 24 percent in January-July compared with the same period last year (102 million tons). Russia is banking on further political uncertainties in the Gulf region and the "war on terrorism" to consolidate its position as an attractive alternative to OPEC for the American oil market.

Although some observers label this prospect as wishful thinking on Russia's part, concerns over global energy security persist. Oil prices remain volatile and OPEC, at its summit meeting in Osaka, Japan, in September, decided to maintain the freeze on production quotas. The joint statement on U.S.-Russian economic cooperation made by U.S. President George W. Bush and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at their summit in May 2002 took note of the two countries' "emerging energy relationship, which is aimed at enhancing global energy security and stability of supplies." It further encouraged the development of joint projects in the fuel-and-energy sector and announced that a Russian-U.S. oil-and-gas conference would take place in Houston in October.

During his visit to Moscow in August, U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham offered technical assistance to exploit new oil reserves in Russia, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 2 August. Abraham's Russian counterpart, Igor Yusufov, incidentally, is a friend of Abramovich. If indeed Siberia does become a new major oil supplier for American markets and new transport routes open up, the Chukotkan oil fields will then be located in a strategic position. Abramovich has already declared that he will not seek a second term. Therefore, as governor, he has only one more year in Chukotka, but as an investor, he may well be there to stay.

Alexandra Swetzer is a specialist in environmental management in transition economies.

PAN-REGIONAL ISSUES
NEW WAY TO DISMISS ELECTED REGIONAL LEADERS REPORTEDLY IN THE WORKS.
"Vedomosti" reported on 7 October that the presidential commission headed by deputy head of the presidential administration Dmitrii Kozak plans to introduce legislation that would empower not only the president to dismiss governors or regional leaders who violate federal laws. Under the bill, the government could appeal to the president to introduce external rule if, for example, budget resources were used improperly or if a region's outstanding debt exceeds 30 percent of its budget revenues. Aleksei Novikov, general director of the Russian branch of Standard & Poor's, told the daily that theoretically all governors could be dismissed if the latter stipulation were strictly enforced. However, the bill did not elicit a negative reaction from governors interviewed by the daily. Samara Governor Konstantin Titov noted that he has no problem with "powers of the president that must be confirmed by the courts." According to the daily, independent experts, and even many governors, believe the bill will fly through the Duma. JAC

A NEW KIND OF TOWN IS BORN.
The Kozak commission also intends to propose the introduction of a new type of municipality, RosBalt reported on 7 October. The term "urban or rural settlement" (gorodskoye ili selskoye poselenie) will be introduced to replace the previous categories of "village" (derevnya) and "small town" (gorodok). According to the commission, there will be about 28,000 of the new municipalities after the reform is introduced, and their borders will be defined by the beginning of 2004. Their local governments will begin functioning as of 1 January 2005. Kozak told the agency that he does not know when his package of reforms will be submitted to the Duma and that it has not yet undergone legal analysis. RC

IRREGULARITIES IN CENSUS TAKING ALLEGED.
The federal inspector to Tatarstan, Denis Akhmadullin, has said that federal authorities have registered more than 60 complaints from the republic's residents, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 15 October citing "Vremya novostei." The residents reported that census officers either "didn't use the official polling sheets during the voting procedure or filled in the voting questionnaires with pencils." Akhmadullin emphasized that these alleged violations "were mostly linked with the nationality section" of the questionnaire. Earlier, the website ntvru.com reported that census workers in Bashkortostan had allegedly been ordered to increase the number of Bashkirs in the republic to up to 30 percent of the population. According to the site, citing information from the Tatar Public Center, census workers in the town of Sterlitamak told ethnic Tatars that they would be designated as Bashkirs because it is necessary to boost the number of Bashkirs to preserve the republic's sovereignty. JAC

THE FEDERAL DISTRICTS EXPLAINED.
At a meeting on 1 October with Sweden's ambassador to Russia, Sven Hirdman, chief federal inspector for Perm Oblast Nikolai Fadeev reportedly explained why Perm Oblast and the Republic of Bashkortostan were included in the Volga Federal District rather than the Urals Federal District, regions.ru reported. According to Fadeev, when the federal districts were set up in 2000, Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel had not yet given up his idea of creating a Urals Republic; therefore, the government did not want Perm and Bashkortostan, two regions with "great economic and natural-resource potential," to fall into Rossel's hands. In the Soviet period, Perm and Bashkortostan were part of the Urals administrative unit. JAC

BASHKORTOSTAN
REPUBLICAN HEAD SEES NO NEW CONFLICT LOOMING WITH FEDERAL OFFICIALS...
Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov has said that he sees no contradiction between a plan to abolish the republican post of president and federal legislation, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 15 October citing "Kommersant-Daily" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 October 2002). Meanwhile, a spokesman for Rakhimov, Marat Yamalov, told "The Moscow Times" on 14 October that legal experts are drawing up a new Bashkir Constitution that transfers executive-branch powers to parliament, adding that the draft should be completed by the end of the year. Yamalov said it is unclear whether the constitution must be approved by a republic-wide referendum. "It could be approved by our parliament, or maybe only its major points will have to be approved," Yamalov said. He said the conversion faces no legal roadblocks "because Daghestan has this sort of government and it has proven to be very suitable for multiethnic republics." Yamalov added that the draft has not yet been sent to the Kozak commission for its approval. JAC

...WHILE ANALYSTS TEND TO DIFFER.
However, Aleksandr Postnikov, head of the constitutional-law department at the federal government's Institute of Legislation and Comparative Law, said Daghestan is a lone exception under federal law, with an executive branch that resembles a parliament, "The Moscow Times" reported on 14 October. "It [such a reform] could only happen in Bashkortostan if the republic initiates amendments to the federal law and the law is changed," Postnikov continued. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported the same day that according to unidentified sources close to Rakhimov, the incumbent plans to give up his presidency because that position will have powers like those "wielded by the British queen." Rakhimov will instead become head of the parliament. According to the daily, Rakhimov's plan -- at least superficially -- appears to be responsive to the objections of Deputy Prosecutor-General Aleksandr Zvyagintsev, who "blamed Rakhimov for the fact that local legislation gives him excessively broad powers." JAC

KALMYKIA
OPPOSITION CONTINUES TO COMPLAIN ABOUT LOCAL RACE.
One of 11 presidential candidates in the 20 October presidential election in Kalmykia, Nikolai Ochirov, who is the general director of Nikoil-Kalmykia, told reporters in Moscow on 4 October that "unprecedented violations of election law" are taking place in the republic, and he called on central authorities to exert tighter control over the proceedings, RIA-Novosti reported. According to Ochirov, local television and newspapers "show only one face" -- that of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the incumbent president who is seeking re-election, polit.ru reported. According to Ochirov, only three of the 11 candidates are actually opposition candidates to Ilyumzhinov, while the remainder "have conducted open or secret negotiations with the authorities." Meanwhile, in an interview with Radio Mayak the next day, Veshnyakov commented that "everyone understands that there is a lack of democratic tradition in Kalmykia." He added that the commission has had "to cancel decisions of the Kalmykian election commission twice to bring them into line with federal law," and that now the commission's representatives "have to stay there all the time to avoid another silly mistake, causing enmity to be stirred up." JAC

KRASNOYARSK
ELECTION OFFICIALS FINALLY GIVE UP...
The Krasnoyarsk Krai Election Commission on 14 October certified the election of Aleksandr Khloponin as governor of Krasnoyarsk Krai, RIA-Novosti reported. Krai commission Chairman Georgii Kostrykin wished the new head of the krai success in fulfilling the wishes of the electorate. According to the agency, Khloponin confessed to being "constantly surprised" by the commission since it launched court proceedings to annul the much-contested 22 September gubernatorial race. The Central Election Commission declared Khloponin the winner earlier in the month but stopped short of disbanding the regional commission (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 October 2002). According to "Kommersant-Daily" on 15 October, Kostrykin said the krai's commission has sent a complaint about the central commission's actions to the Supreme Court. Khloponin was named acting governor by President Putin on 3 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 October 2002). JAC

...AS PUTIN'S INTERVENTION IS LABELED 'STRATEGIC MISTAKE.'
Meanwhile, a number of Moscow-based analysts and policymakers told Yenisei-Inform that they consider President Putin's decision to intervene personally in the conflict a mistake, regions.ru reported on 4 October. Oleg Sysuev, first deputy chairman of the board of directors of Alfa-Bank and former first deputy presidential administration head, said Putin made a "big strategic mistake." According to Sysuev, the Kremlin has tried to explain its actions by saying, "'We didn't interfere [initially], and look how illegally everything happened.'" But, Sysuev continued, Russia is in the process of trying to build a civil society, which entails trusting the electorate, and the Kremlin's intervention and rationale undermine this process. Aleksandr Gerasimov, director of the analytical publication "24," commented that "Putin intervened to show that he is master of the house. There is no other explanation -- there was no necessity to intervene." Communist Deputy Viktor Ilyukhin concurred, noting that Putin acted in order to "show that he controls everything in Russia." JAC

MURMANSK
POPULATION ATTRITION IN REGION WILL AFFECT NATURAL-RESOURCE EXTRACTION...
The Kola Peninsula, which has seen a 20 percent decline in its population over the last 10 years, is expected to lose an additional 300,000 people by 2025, ntvru.com reported on 8 October, quoting Andrei Zasypkin, director of the Foundation for Strategic Development-Northwest. According to Zasypkin, in order to use the region's vast natural wealth effectively and cope with declining population base, it will be necessary to introduce the latest technology and equipment. Zasypkin called on federal and local authorities to begin preparations for the "new reality" in this far northern region. JAC

...AS DISPROPORTIONATE INFLUENCE OF YUKOS FEARED.
Meanwhile, in an interview with RosBalt on 8 October, Sergei Musikhin, executive director of the Murmansk Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, complained about the recent appointment of Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovskii as "curator" of Murmansk Oblast within the structure of the national organization of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. Musikhin said the Murmansk branch was not asked for its opinion on the appointment, and that Khodorkovskii's assignment "cannot help but arouse negative emotions from structures such as LUKoil, MDM Group, Severstal, and SUAL, which have their own interests in this region." Dmitrii Kovalenko, general director of the Murmansk Center for Social and Legal Research, added that Khodorkovskii will become the custodian of the entire group of oligarchs in Murmansk Oblast. JAC

NIZHNII NOVGOROD
NEW MAYOR MULLS REVIVING OLD TRADITION...
Nizhnii Novgorod Mayor Vadim Bulavinov reportedly told journalists that he might revive the old political tradition of urinating on portraits of one's predecessor, VolgaInform reported on 3 October, citing NTA Privolzhe. "This tradition should be restored independently of who these people were," he said. "We should respect our history. On the one hand, it is necessary to act correctly, but on the other hand, [we should not] make the same mistakes and for that it is necessary to have a reminder." Bulavinov was elected in a very close race on 27 September (see "RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly," 3 October 2002). JAC

...AND MAKES FIRST APPOINTMENTS.
Bulavinov on 3 October announced the first appointments to his new administration, RosBalt reported. He named the deputy general director of LUKoil's local affiliate, Aleksandr Meleshkin, as first deputy mayor. His chief of staff will be Nina Sokolova, who formerly worked as a chief legal adviser in the administration of presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko. Sergei Gladyshev, who formerly served as director of the Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast's Energy Department, was named deputy mayor for social questions. RosBalt reported that the appointments are in line with statements Bulavinov made during the election campaign regarding personnel. RC

ST. PETERSBURG
NORTHERN CAPITAL EXPERIENCES RISE IN EXTREMISM OR HOOLIGANISM?
The St. Petersburg Prosecutor's Office has filed a report that sharply criticizes the city administration for its failure to combat growing racially motivated and extremist crime, "The St. Petersburg Times" reported on 7 October. The report, submitted at the end of September, warns that city youths are becoming increasingly violent and blames that development on "unsatisfactory youth policies on the part of government organs and administrative bodies, insufficient attention paid to the problem of youth crime by law enforcement organs, and the increasing shortage of education work and general preventative measures against youth and teenage crime." It charges that the authorities have done nothing to learn about informal youth groups and their leaders. Shortly before the report was filed, a group of St. Petersburg skinheads allegedly murdered an Azeri watermelon vendor and videotaped the crime (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 September 2002). An administration spokesman denied that there is a problem. "There has been a lot of talk about a few extremist slogans here and there. For me, this doesn't indicate a rise in extremism. It is simple hooliganism," said Governor Vladimir Yakovlev's spokesman Aleksandr Afanasiev. The prosecutor's report urged the administration to adopt measures to combat extremism, and to hold responsible officials accountable for shortcomings. RC

SAMARA
DEATH GOES PRIVATE.
One of Samara Oblast's first privately owned cemeteries will be opened in Tolyatti on 1 November, RFE/RL's Samara correspondent reported on 2 October. Under an agreement with the city, the owners of the new cemetery will have to devote at least 20 percent of the cemetery's land to free burials for indigents. A standard funeral is currently projected to cost 3,000 rubles ($97), a pre-arranged package of services will cost 15,000, and an "elite" or deluxe funeral will cost 30,000 rubles. Backers of the cemetery project believe they have already identified their future customer base -- businesspeople and representatives of the so-called middle class. Around 10 private funeral homes are already operating in Moscow, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. JAC

ULYANOVSK
LOCAL JOURNALIST LOSES BATTLE TO OVERTURN HARSH PUNISHMENT.
The Lenin Raion Court in Ulyanovsk on 8 October upheld a lower-court ruling sentencing Yuliya Shelamydova, editor of "Simbirskie izvestiya," to a year of corrective labor and large fine for an article she published about Ulyanovsk Oblast Governor Vladimir Shamanov's entourage, VolgaInform reported. Fellow journalists, public activists, and members of local political organizations such as Liberal Democratic Russia and the New Communist Party picketed the court before her hearing. During the court hearing, Shelamydova charged that the case against her was part of a larger effort to intimidate members of the oblast's independent press, so that they will keep silent about cases of abuse of office and mistakes involving regional officials. JAC

REGIONAL INDEX
IN BASHKIR OFFICIALS THEY TRUST.
Residents of Bashkortostan have the greatest trust in federal and regional officials, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 10 October, citing a poll of 5,666 citizens and 1,838 representatives of small and medium-sized businesses conducted in 40 regions. Residents of Novgorod Oblast have the lowest level of trust of federal authorities, while Saratov Oblast citizens have the least trust in regional officials. The research was headed by Georgii Satarov, president of the INDEM think tank, and Yelena Panfilova, director of the Russian department of the Center for Anti-Corruption Research and Initiatives of Transparency International. Satarov told reporters on 9 October that he disagrees with the cliche that "in order to fight corruption, there must be [sufficient] political will." According to Satarov, one can battle corruption with the help of public pressure on the authorities: "The first function of our project is to help the public see this problem, become angry, and as a result turn on the pressure." JAC

Region____________Trust in Federal_______________Trust in Regional
____________________Officials_______________________Officials

Bashkortostan____________1___________________________1
Tyumen Oblast___________4____________________________2
St. Petersburg____________2___________________________6
Perm Oblast_____________6____________________________4
Kemerovo Oblast________15____________________________3
Tambov Oblast___________3___________________________14
Yaroslavl Oblast__________9____________________________9
Krasnoyarsk Krai_________5___________________________18
Moscow________________22___________________________8
Khabarovsk Krai_________25___________________________5
Tomsk Oblast____________17___________________________7
Novosibirsk Oblast________10___________________________16
Belgorod Oblast__________24__________________________10
Tula Oblast______________20___________________________24
Omsk Oblast_____________18___________________________21
Arkhangelsk Oblast________14___________________________15
Karelia___________________8___________________________29
Tatarstan________________27____________________________n/a
Moscow Oblast___________33____________________________12
Chelyabinsk Oblast________23____________________________22
Rostov Oblast____________21____________________________23
Primorskii Krai___________13____________________________28
Altai Krai________________31___________________________19
Sverdlovsk Oblast_________11____________________________25
Novgorod Oblast__________40___________________________13
Kurgan Oblast_____________7___________________________35
Pskov Oblast_____________29____________________________20
Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast____12____________________________31
Krasnodar Krai___________38____________________________17
Samara Oblast____________26____________________________27
Volgograd Oblast__________28____________________________26
Stavropol Krai____________16____________________________39
Voronezh Oblast___________34____________________________32
Leningrad Oblast__________39____________________________30
Ulyanovsk Oblast__________19____________________________40
Amur Oblast______________32____________________________33
Udmurtia________________37_____________________________n/a
Ryazan Oblast____________36_____________________________34
Saratov Oblast____________30_____________________________38
Tver Oblast______________37_____________________________36

STATE DUMA
DEPUTIES OK GOVERNMENT'S ELECTRICITY SECTOR REFORMS...
State Duma deputies took up the controversial issue of reforming the country's electricity sector on 9 October, Russian news agencies reported. Deputies passed a government-sponsored package of six bills in their first reading; each of them collected more than 250 votes in favor, according to polit.ru. Included in the package were bills on electricity and the regulation of electricity and heating rates, along with amendments to the law on natural monopolies and energy supply and the Civil Code. According to "Kommersant-Daily" on 10 October, prior to the bills' consideration, the government satisfied all of the demands of the Duma's centrist factions. Deputy Economic Development and Trade Minister Andrei Sharonov told the Duma on 9 October that the bills would liberalize the energy industry while, at the same time, allowing the government to retain control of the sector. If the bills are enacted in their current form, then the electrical-energy industry will make the transition to market operation by 2005, the newspaper reported. The energy bills were opposed by the Communist and Yabloko factions. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii predicted that the new laws "will guarantee an endless rise in electricity rates," lead to the "creation of electricity oligarchs in the regions," and establish a "basis for political-corporate authoritarianism" in Russia. JAC

...AND GIVE FINAL APPROVAL TO LAW ON STATE UNITARY ENTERPRISES.
On 11 October, deputies approved in its third and final reading the law on state and municipal unitary enterprises. The law regulates the creation, reorganization, and rights of state unitary enterprises. The enterprises cannot without the agreement of the government complete any large take on any credits, sell property, or create sister organizations, according to "Kommersant-Daily" on 12 October. According to the law, all enterprise property belongs to the Russian Federation, federation subject or to a municipal enterprise. JAC

Legislation

Name of law_____________Date approved_____________# of reading

On electricity_______________9 October__________________1st

On the introduction__________9 October__________________1st
of the law on electricity

On state regulation of_________9 October__________________1st
of tariffs for electricity and heat

On natural monopolies________9 October___________________1st

Civil Code, Part 2____________9 October___________________1st
(article on electricity)

On energy supply____________9 October___________________1st

On state and municipal_______11 October__________________3rd
unitary enterprises

COMINGS & GOINGS
IN: Writer Arkadii Vainer has been elected president of the Association of Jewish Public Organizations of Russia, Russian news agencies reported on 15 October. The organization held its founding congress in Moscow on 15 October. Aleksandr Boroda, who is executive vice president of the Federation of Jewish Communities, was elected as the new association's vice president, according to Interfax.

OUT: Ingushetia's legislature decided on 15 October to recall its representative to the Federation Council Sergei Bekov, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 16 October. Bekov was a supporter of the former president of the republic, Ruslan Aushev, and began serving in the upper legislative chamber in March 2001.

POLITICAL CALENDAR
16-17 October: Passenger trains between Moscow and St. Petersburg will be cancelled due to construction work on railway line between two cities

17 October: Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov will hold consultations in Moscow with the EU Ministerial Troika

17 October: Independent trade unions will hold protests across Russia demanding full payment of wage arrears and higher wages

17 October: Financier/philanthropist George Soros to visit Russia

17 October: Inauguration ceremony for Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor Aleksandr Khloponin will be held

18 October: State Duma will consider 2003 budget in its second reading

18 October: Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to meet with President Putin in the Kremlin

20 October: By-election in single-mandate district in Khanty-Mansii Autonomous Okrug for State Duma seat once occupied by Aleksandr Lotorev, who now directs the Duma's apparatus

20 October: Presidential elections in Kalmykia

22 October: World Bank's Board of Directors to consider $100 million loan for Tax Ministry, according to Interfax

22-23 October: State Council will meet to discuss local self-government

23 October: A new power-sharing agreement between the federal center and Bashkortostan will be signed, according to Bashkortostan President Rakhimov on 7 October

23-26 October: Fourth World Congress of the Russian Press will be held in Berlin

24 October: Communist Party and Movement in the Support of the Army will hold joint protests in Moscow

26-27 October: Putin to attend APEC summit in Los Cabos, Mexico

1 November: State Duma to consider law on elections to the Duma in its second reading

3-4 November: Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov will visit Armenia

5 November: Central Election Commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov to visit the U.S. to observe elections

6 November: Tenth anniversary of the adoption of Tatarstan's Constitution

14 November: Meeting of united political council of Union of Rightist Forces and Yabloko is scheduled

14 November: Government will meet to consider Russia's energy strategy through the year 2020

15 November: Russian and French foreign and defense ministers to meet in Paris for the Russia-France Security Cooperation Council

16-17 November: Former Yabloko party member and State Duma Deputy Vyacheslav Igrunov will hold a founding congress for his new party called the Union of People for Education and Science (SLON)

end of November: President Putin will visit Yekaterinburg, regions.ru reported on 3 October

December: Armenian President Robert Kocharian to visit Russia

1 December: Date by which Gennadii Seleznev's Russian Revival Party will be registered at the Justice Ministry, according to party spokesman Sergei Kostornoi on 30 September

8 December: Parliamentary elections in the city of St. Petersburg

26 December: Deadline by which regions should form permanent election commissions in order to comply with new federal legislation, according to Region-Inform-Perm on 10 October

1 January: Date by which Unified Energy System plans to redeem 80 percent of its debts to Russian coal companies, according to company statement on 29 August

1 January: Jury trials will begin to be held in St. Petersburg, according to RFE/RL's Russian Service

3 January: Date until which Colonel Yurii Budanov will remain in custody on charges of murdering a young Chechen woman

1 February: New Labor Code will come into effect.

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