10 April 2002, Volume
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT PUTS MORE LIMITS ON PRESIDENT'S RIGHT TO DISMISS ELECTED LOCAL OFFICIALS.
The Constitutional Court upheld on 4 April the law allowing the president to dismiss regional leaders who have violated federal law on more than one occasion, RIA-Novosti reported. The bill was passed in the summer of 2000 as a key part of President Putin's federation reforms (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 31 May 2000). The court also confirmed the president's right to dismiss regional parliaments if they violate federal laws. At the same time, the judges imposed additional limitations on the president's right. For example, the original law required only one court to rule that federal laws had been violated more than once; now courts of three different jurisdictions including the Constitutional Court must render the decision. According to "Kommersant-Daily" on 5 April, the law applies only to heads of regions elected after 16 October 1999. JAC
TRANSPORTATION MINISTRY PREDICTS INCREASED SEAPORT TURNOVER.
Deputy Transport Minister Chinghiz Ismailov said on 8 April that turnover at Russia's seaports is expected to increase to 350 million tons by 2010, compared to 260 million tons in 2001, Russian news agencies reported. Izmailov said most of the investment fueling the growth will come from the private sector and that foreign companies will be allowed to rent facilities in Russia's seaports, although the ports themselves will continue to be state-owned. Ismailov also announced the creation of a joint task force with his ministry and the transportation and railways ministries to help develop the country's ports.
HARRY POTTER LINKED WITH OCCULTISM IN WESTERN EXCLAVE.
Leaflets calling for a boycott of the film "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" have begun appearing in Kaliningrad, BNS reported on 2 April citing the Kaliningrad supplement to "Komsomolskaya pravda." The leaflets say that the film promotes occultism and magic and the author of the Harry Potter book series, J.K. Rowling, is a satanist. Local Orthodox priest Father Mikhail told the newspaper that while the church is "against any form of occultism," it does not wish to wage a campaign against the film. He suggested that perhaps some unknown parishioner had the leaflets printed.
WAGE ARREARS CONTINUE TO PLAGUE REGIONAL WORKERS.
Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matvienko told State Duma deputies on 3 April that federal workers are usually paid their salaries without delay; however, the situation regarding teachers' pay is particularly bad. Some 54 of 89 Russian regions have no problems with wage payments, while in some seven regions (Kirov and Ulyanovsk oblasts, Krasnoyarsk, Primore, and Khabarovsk krais, and the republics of Ingushetia and Khakasia), arrears of more than a month have accrued. JAC
CHECHEN LEADER HOPES FOR INCREASED POWERS.
In a 9 April interview in Moscow with RFE/RL's Russian Service, Chechen administration head Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov said President Putin has approved increasing the authorities of the Chechen administration and scaling back those of the Russian military command in Chechnya. LF
...AFTER STRONGEST CANDIDATE EXCLUDED FROM BALLOT...
On 5 April, the Russian Supreme Court ruled that Ingushetia's Interior Minister Khamzat Gutseriev's registration as a candidate for the 7 April presidential poll should be invalidated on the grounds that he declined to take leave of absence from his government post for the duration of the election campaign within three days of registering as a candidate, Interfax reported. On 3 April, a group of armed men who said they were members of Kazantsev's staff acting on orders from Russian President Putin forced their way into the Ingush Supreme Court hearing that was considering an appeal to disqualify Gutseriev and demanded that all papers pertaining to the case be handed over to the Russian Supreme Court, RFE/RL's Russian Service reported on 6 April. Gutseriev was widely regarded as the most popular candidate, but Kazantsev openly supported his own deputy, Zyazikov. LF
BALLOT FAILS TO ELECT NEW PRESIDENT...
None of the eight candidates received the required 50 percent-plus-one-vote majority to win election as president of Ingushetia in a ballot on 7 April, ITAR-TASS reported. Russian State Duma deputy Alikhan Amirkhanov, who received 31.5 percent of the vote, and Federal Security Service General Murat Zyazikov, who is a deputy to the presidential representative to the Southern federal district, Viktor Kazantsev, and received 19.4 percent, will participate in a runoff ballot on 28 April. Voter turnout was estimated at 68 percent. The ballot was necessitated by Ruslan Aushev's December 2001 decision to step down (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 5, No. 1, 3 January 2002). LF
DOCUMENTS CONFISCATED FROM HEADQUARTERS OF DISQUALIFIED INGUSH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE.
FSB personnel and OMON troops cordoned off an entire district in Nazran on 9 April where the headquarters of former Interior Minister Khamzat Gutseriev are located and seized documentation pertaining to his unsuccessful presidential bid, Interfax reported. On 5 April, the Russian Supreme Court ruled that Gutseriev, who was tipped as the favorite, should be barred from running in the Ingush presidential election on 7 April. LF
EVENK LEADER GIVES DEFINITE 'NO' TO MERGER IDEA.
Evenk Autonomous Okrug Governor Boris Zolotarev told reporters in Moscow on 4 April that he is categorically opposed to his region being joined with Krasnoyarsk Krai, polit.ru reported. Zolotarev said that Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor Aleksandr Lebed's recent proposal to do so came as a complete surprise (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 3 April 2002). He added that he participated in a meeting with Lebed, President Putin, and Taimyr Autonomous Okrug Governor Aleksandr Khloponin, and no order for joining the regions was issued. Putin, according to Zolotarev, called for bringing more order to the conduct of interbudgetary relations. JAC
...AND HIS BROTHER IS SACKED AS OIL COMPANY PRESIDENT.
Meanwhile, the Russian cabinet on 5 April sacked Gutseriev's elder brother, Mikhail, from his post as president of Slavneft on the grounds that he had financed his brother's presidential election campaign, Interfax reported. Gutseriev had headed the company since January 2000. LF
LUZHKOV'S BULLS CONTINUE TO SUFFER.
The bulls brought to Moscow last year for bullfights, which Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov subsequently banned, are currently being kept in conditions in the village of Protasovo in Moscow Oblast that are so awful that one of them has died, Russian bullfighter Lydia Aratamonova told Interfax on 29 March. Last October, Moscow city officials said the bulls would be transferred to a nature preserve where they would not be in any danger (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 and 29 October 2001). However, according to Aratamonova, the bulls are being kept in overcrowded conditions in a stall that has not been cleaned since mid-August. Workers caring for the animals have not been paid their wages. Due to the overcrowding, two of the maturing bulls mauled a third to death. Earlier, the bulls were in danger of freezing because they were being kept in an unheated facility. JAC
MARS ANNOUNCES $120 MILLION PROJECT IN MOSCOW REGION.
The Mars Corporation has launched a $120 million project to produce instant soup in the Lukhovitsii district of the Moscow region, the deputy chief of the regional administration, Anatolii Volkov, said on 9 April, Interfax reported. The new facility is scheduled to begin producing the instant soup in September or October. Volkov also announced that raw materials for making the soups are likely to be purchased locally. Mars, which produces candy and food, has been operating in Russia since 1991, and has invested more than $500 million in the country's economy. BW
INDUSTRIES CARVING UP PARLIAMENT INTO SPHERES OF INFLUENCE?
In the newly elected Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast parliament, the first deputy general director of Siburneftekhim, Yevgenii Lyulin, is competing against Aleksandr Tsapin, a former deputy speaker who is supported by Siberian Aluminum, for the speaker's post, polit.ru reported on 3 April. According to the website, an alliance of Siburneftekhim with Gazprom and LUKoil got seven of its representatives in the oblast Duma, while Siberian Aluminum got only four and Severstal two. Meanwhile, SPS leader Boris Nemtsov earlier declared the results of the oblast's election "sensational" because SPS got seven deputies elected (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 3 April 2002). The Unity-SPS alliance, which was supported by both Nizhnii Novgorod Governor Gennadii Khodyrev and the presidential envoy to the Volga federal district, Sergei Kirienko, together got 29 of 45 seats. JAC
FOUL PLAY SUSPECTED FOLLOWING DISCOVERY OF JOURNALIST'S BODY.
In Smolensk Oblast, the body of journalist Sergei Kalinovskii, chief editor of the local edition of "Moskovskii komsomolets," has been found, RFE/RL's Russian Service reported on 3 April. Kalinovskii disappeared last December and his body was found by tourists in the snow. Preliminary evidence suggests that he was murdered, and his colleagues are not excluding the possibility that he was killed because of his recent investigations of official corruption in the oblast. His apartment was set on fire in the past. JAC
AUDITS CHAMBER UNCOVERS MISUSE OF FOREIGN LOANS IN ST. PETERSBURG...
The Audit Chamber made public its probe of the plundering of foreign loans given to the government of St-Petersburg in preparation of the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the city's foundation, the business news agency abn.ru reported on 9 April. According to the probe, city authorities misused portions of a $46 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Officials claim that $11.5 million was used for a "disproportionally high payment for foreign consulting services" and $2.3 million for "expenses on support personnel for project realization."
...AS PROCURACY OPENS INVESTIGATION OF $200 MILLION EMBEZZLEMENT.
Meanwhile, based on the documents given to it by the Audit Chamber, the Prosecutor-General's Office has opened a criminal investigation on a $200 million credit given by the British government for reconstruction of St. Petersburg's old town that was allegedly redirected by the Rapid Highways company (VSM), abn.ru reported. Because the credit was given with federal guarantees the federal government has already lost $64.3 million, including $27.5 in overdue payments, the spokesman of the Prosecutor-General's Office told RIA-Novosti on 9 April.
LEGISLATORS, MOSCOW TO LET FINAL WORD ON TATARSTAN'S STATUS HINGE ON REFERENDUM?
Tatarstan legislators passed a constitutional amendment on 3 April under which the republic's status can be changed only in accordance with a republic-level referendum, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 4 April, citing intertat.ru. The author of the amendment, Deputy Marat Galeev, said Article 1 of the new draft constitution describes the republic as being united with Russia by the constitutions of the Russian Federation and Tatarstan, as well as by the 1994 power-sharing treaty. The website strana.ru commented that the Tatarstan legislature gave Moscow the choice either to ignore the remaining contradictions between the draft constitution and federal legislation or, if it were to initiate any new protests against the document, to take upon itself the responsibility for holding a referendum in the republic. JAC
MEDIA PROVIDE NEW INFORMATION ON DETAINEES AT GUANTANAMO.
The head of the Federal Security Service (FSB) in Tatarstan, General Aleksandr Gusev, told intertat.ru on 3 April that the Chally resident being held at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is not Almaz Sharipov, as was reported previously, but Ravil Gumarov, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. According to Gusev, Gumarov, who disappeared two years ago, has had ties to the Chally branch of the moderate nationalist group Tatar Public Center since 1997, as well as to students of the Chally Yoldyz madrasah that was later closed for promoting Wahhabism. Two of its students were convicted of blowing up a gas pipeline in Kirov Oblast near Tatarstan on 1 December 1999. Meanwhile, another news report by the Ephir television station in Chally claims that another resident of the city, Airat Vakhitov, is also being held at Guantanamo Bay. Gusev stated, however, that the FSB has no evidence that this is the case. In a contradictory report, tatnews.ru said Vakhitov is actually being held in an Al-Qaeda prison in Kandahar. JAC
RUSSIA'S MOST INFLUENTIAL REGIONAL POLITICIANS.
The Moscow-based Center for Political Technology produced a ranking of Russia's regional politicians in terms of political influence at the federal level for January 2002. The ranking is based on a survey of 24 leading experts on the regions from academic, media, and governmental organizations. For a list of these experts see the center's website, http://www.politkom.ru Perhaps the most surprising finding of the list is former presidential candidate and Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor Aleksandr Lebed, who finished 86th on the list. JAC
Ranked in Order of Political Influence
1. Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev
2. Chukotka Governor Roman Abramovich
3. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov
4. Orel Governor Yegor Stroev
5. Kemerovo Governor Aman Tuleev
6. Kabardino-Balkaria President Valerii Kokov
7. Novgorod Governor Mikhail Prusak
8. Taimyr Governor Aleksandr Khloponin
9. Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov
10. Yamalo-Nenets Governor Yurii Neelov
11. Khabarovsk Governor Viktor Ishaev
12-13. North Osetia President Aleksandr Dzasokhov
12-13. Khanty-Mansii Governor Aleksandr Filipenko
14. Tyumen Governor Sergei Sobyanin
15. Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel
16-17. Astrakhan Governor Anatolii Guzhvin
16-17. Sakha President Vyacheslav Shtyrov
18-20. Saratov Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov
18-20. Tomsk Governor Viktor Kress
18-20. Samara Governor Konstantin Titov
21-22. Belgorod Governor Yevgenii Savchenko
21.-22. Rostov Oblast Governor Viktor Chub
23. St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev
24. Altai Krai Governor Aleksandr Surikov
25. Vologda Governor Vyacheslav Pozgalev
26. Yaroslavl Governor Anatolii Lisitsyn
27. Chuvash Governor Nikolai Fedorov
28.-29. Mordovia President Nikolai Merkushkin
28.-29. Chelyabinsk Governor Petr Sumin
30.-31. Kalmykia President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov
30.-31. Altai Republic President Mikhail Lapshin
32.-33. Adygeya Republic President Kh. Sovmen
32.-33. Sakhalin Governor Igor Farkhutdinov
34. Omsk Governor Leonid Polezhaev
35. Moscow Governor Boris Gromov
36.-38. Daghestan President Magomed Magomedov
36.-38. Krasnodar Governor Aleksandr Tkachev
36-38. Perm Governor Yuri Trutnev
39. Murmansk Governor Yurii Yevdokimov
40. Marii El President Leonid Markelov
41.-42. Leningrad Governor Valerii Serdyukov
41.-42. Magadan Governor Valentin Tsvetkov
43. Nizhnii Novgorod Governor Gennadii Khodyrev
44.-46. Karelia President Sergei Katanandov
44.-46. Buryatia President Leonid Potapov
44.-46. Tula Governor Vasilii Starodubtsev
47. Evenk Governor Boris Zolotarev
48.-50. Vladimir Governor Nikolai Vinogradov
48.-50. Irkutsk Governor Boris Govorin
48.-50. Novosibirsk Governor Viktor Tolokonskii
51.-52. Arkhangelsk Governor Anatolii Yefremov
51.-52. Ulyanovsk Governor Vladimir Shamanov
53. Komi Republic President Viktor Torlopov
54. Nenets Governor Vladimir Butov
55.-56. Voronezh Governor V. Kulakov
55.-56. Tuva President Sherig-ool Oorzhak
57.-58. Kaluga Governor A. Artamonov
57.-58. Kurgan Governor Oleg Bogomolov
59.-60. Lipetsk Governor Oleg Korolov
59.-60. Stavropol Governor Aleksandr Chernogorov
61. Chita Governor Ravil Geniatulin
62. Tambov Governor Oleg Betin
63. Ryazan Governor Vyacheslav Lyubimov
64. Jewish Autonomous Okrug Governor Nikolai Volkov
65.-66. Ust-Orda Governor Valerii Maleev
65.-66. Orenburg Governor A. Chernyshev
67. Udmurtia President Aleksandr Volkov
68. Aga-Buryat Governor Bair Zhamsuev
69. Kirov Governor Vladimir Sergeenkov
70. Kostroma Governor Victor Shershunov
71.-73. Kaliningrad Governor Vladimir Yegorov
71.-73. Bryansk Governor Yurii Lodkin
71.-73. Volgograd Governor Nikolai Maksyuta
74.-75. Kamchatka Governor V. Mashkovtsev
74.-75. Ivanovo Governor Tikhonov
76. Komi-Permyak Governor G. Savelev
77. Pskov Governor Yevgenii Mikhailov
78.-79. Penza Governor Vasilii Bochkarev
78.-79. Tver Governor Vladimir Platov
80. Khakasia President Aleksei Lebed
81.-82. Amur Governor Leonid Korotkov
81.-82. Kursk Governor A. Mikhailov
83.-84. Primore Governor Sergei Darkin
83.-84. Koryak Governor V. Loginov
85. Karachaevo-Cherkess President V. Semenov
86. Krasnoyarsk Governor Aleksandr Lebed
87. Smolensk Governor Aleksandr Prokhorov
88. Ingushetia Acting President A. Malsagov