3 May 2001, Volume
PUTIN PLEDGES TO STRENGTHEN LOCAL SELF-RULE...
During a visit to Vologda Oblast on 28 April, President Putin addressed the problems associated with local self-rule. At the small town of Kirillov, Putin repeated his call for a clearer demarcation of responsibilities between regional and local authorities, Russian agencies reported. Putin pledged to hold a meeting at the end of May to discuss reform of the housing and utilities sectors. Following a meeting with Putin, Vologda Governor Vyacheslav Pozgalev said that the two had discussed the system of local self-rule and how to strengthen it, according Radio Mayak. Pozgalev noted that "today there is no financial basis; that is the main problem in the development of local self-rule." He added that "all verticals" or chains of command must be strengthened from governor to village council. JAC
...AS RTR PROVIDES BREATHLESS COVERAGE OF PUTIN VISIT.
In its coverage of the visit, AP reported that prior to Putin's visit, the town of Kirillov had received a "very traditional whirlwind facelift," that included a new layer of asphalt on the main street, fresh paint for the window frames and building facades, new flowers planted in boxes on the street, and a new fence around a vacant lot. In its coverage, RTR noted that "Vladimir Putin loves to visit such places -- where a third of the Russian population lives.... In the town on this morning, there is a sense of excitement. The sensation is such that the whole population is out on the streets.... The chance to see the president not just on the television screen but to even to touch him and say something is not an experience residents of Kirillov are likely to repeat. Vladimir Putin did not disappoint them." JAC
SECURITY SERVICES WIN ONE, LOSE ONE IN FEDERATION COUNCIL...
Seven new members of the Federation Council are expected to be confirmed at the upper legislative chamber's next session on 16 May, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 27 April. And in a small departure from the current trend of either appointing someone known either in local circles or in Moscow, the Komi Republic is sending a St. Petersburg native, Yurii Volkov. Volkov's background bears an uncanny resemblance to President Putin's: He attended the law faculty at Leningrad State University and served in state security organs. Most recently, he has worked in the office of presidential envoy to the Northwest federal district Viktor Cherkesov, according to the daily. Volkov will replace Komi President Yurii Spiridonov, and the daily speculated that Volkov's nomination is linked with Spiridonov's efforts to get Kremlin backing for his re-election bid this winter. The daily claims that the presidential administration is hesitating, recalling reports of high-level corruption in Komi (see item below). In Kurgan Oblast, Kurgan Governor Oleg Bogomolov selected his first deputy Oleg Panteleev, while local legislators picked a businessman from Yekaterinburg, Andrei Vikharev, chairman of the board of directors of the Uralgiprotyazhmash, which supports the local Unity party. According to the daily, Bogomolov and presidential envoy to the Urals federal district Petr Latyshev wanted the deputies to nominate a retired Federal Security Service general and director of a private security firm, but they did not manage to persuade the legislators. JAC
...AS MORE REPRESENTATIVES ARE SELECTED.
Four additional representatives have been selected. Udmurtia is sending the former mayor of Izhevsk, Anatolii Saltykov, and the Udmurt republican government is sending Viktor Shuderov, who has worked in the republic's administration. From Evenk Autonomous Okrug, local legislators are sending one of their colleagues, Nikolai Anisimov, and Adygei legislators are doing likewise with Adam Tleuzh. JAC
FAR EASTERN ENVOY WEIGHS IN WITH HIS OWN SOLUTION TO ENERGY CRISIS.
On 24 April, Unified Energy Systems head Anatolii Chubais told reporters in Vladivostok that electricity tariffs in the region will soon be raised from 50 kopeks a kilowatt hour to 90-92 kopeks as of 1 June. According to Chubais, the rates are "categorically insufficient" and have not been raised in three and a half years. Dalenergo head Yurii Likhoida, on the other hand, suggested that rates should more than triple to 1.7 rubles per kilowatt hour in order for the company to avoid bankruptcy. On the same day, the presidential envoy to the Far Eastern federal district, Konstantin Pulikovskii, suggested that rates should be lowered and the supply of coal to the region increased, Interfax-Eurasia reported. According to Pulikovskii, high electricity tariffs "restrain the development of industry." Last month in an interview with "Novye Izvestiya," presidential envoy to the Central federal district Georgii Poltavchenko called on Moscow to increase its role regulating regional economies (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 March 2001). JAC
PRESIDENT REVIVES SOVIET INSTITUTION...
Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov has issued a decree calling for state support for the Defense Sport and Technical Organization (OSTO) in order to prepare young people for military service, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 25 April, citing Bashinform. In an interview with "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on the same day, Rakhimov again criticized key elements of President Putin's regional reforms. He said that the seven federal districts do not have a future, and that the structures that have been created at the federal-district level duplicate those that already exist at the federal one. He also noted that the number of federal bureaucrats has grown since Soviet times, and recommended that state personnel be cut and the remaining staff get higher wages and more responsibility. JAC
...AS RUSSIAN COMMUNITY CRITICAL OF REPUBLIC'S NONCOMPLIANCE WITH FEDERAL LAWS.
The leader of a moderate Tatar nationalist group in Ufa, Ayrat Giniyatullin, head of the Tatar Public Center, told RFE/RL on 27 April that the lack of a Tatar newspaper in the region is a "major problem" for Tatars living in Bashkortostan, but a new newspaper has now emerged. That newspaper, with a print run of 50,000, is printed in Chelyabinsk in place of the closed Idel-Ural newspaper that had been subjected to pressure from local authorities. Meanwhile, an independent Russian newspaper in Ufa, "Otechestvo," criticized local Bashkortostan authorities' failure to harmonize its law with federal laws as a "threat to Russia's integrity," RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported. JAC
OBLAST DESCRIBED AS BEING ON EDGE OF 'ENERGY CATASTROPHE.'
State Duma deputies approved on 26 April a decree calling for emergency measures to overcome the energy crisis in Kamchatka Oblast, Interfax-AFI reported. The text of the decree noted that the State Duma has already asked the government to investigate the reasons for the continuing five-year energy crisis in the region. The deputies also noted that the measures that the federal government has taken to alleviate the crisis have apparently not improved the situation. Meanwhile, Radio Rossii reported on 28 April that the oblast is "standing on the threshold of an energy catastrophe" in part because the federal Defense Ministry owes Kamchatskenergo some 160 million rubles ($5.5 million). Kamchatskenergo General Director Yurii Delnov was quoted on NTV the same day saying that "each person, each enterprise, each budget at all levels should pay for what they use. If this energy, which we [allow others to use], is not paid for, then it simply won't be there." JAC
OFFICIALS SUSPECTED OF MISAPPROPRIATION OF FUNDS.
Audit Chamber officials have uncovered evidence of "serious violations" in the work by officials of local pension and social funds, "Trud" reported on 26 April. According to the daily, more than 20 million rubles ($700,000) of the republic's pension fund have been pilfered over several years. In addition, millions of rubles from the sale of humanitarian assistance from the U.S. and Europe was not directed to the pension fund as it was supposed to. The daily, which is financed by Gazprom, concluded that "it is difficult to suggest that the head of the republic, Yurii Spiridonov, did not know about the creative misdeeds of his bureaucrats, the abuse of office, and illegalities." It continued, "the complete absence of control over [these officials] is evidence of the social irresponsibility and scorn for the most important sphere of executive power, that directly affects the most essential interests of Komi residents." JAC
NAZDRATENKO AND CRONIES ALLEGED TO HAVE PLAN TO DISRUPT ELECTION...
"Izvestiya" reported on 27 April that former Primorskii Krai Governor and current State Fisheries Commission head Yevgenii Nazdratenko has returned to the krai "incognito" and has plans to disrupt 27 May gubernatorial elections. According to the daily, the local branches of Yabloko and the SPS have issued warnings that Nazdratenko and his allies have plans intended to ensure that the elections are postponed. Local observers note that Nazdratenko has returned at the same time as a court action of one of his closest associates, former Deputy Governor Konstantin Tolstoshein, begins. Tolstoshein is suing the krai government because he says acting Governor Valentin Dubinin forced him to submit his resignation. According to the daily, elections will be disrupted when four members -- at least that many were selected by Nazdratenko -- of the krai's election commission resign on the eve of the vote. Such an action would require that elections be postponed, the paper commented. JAC
...AS NUMBER OF CANDIDATES DWINDLES.
Meanwhile, the number of candidates registered in the upcoming election now totals only 14, down from a high of 34 persons who had originally declared their intention to run, according to "Kommersant-Daily" on 27 April. The main contenders are considered to be acting Governor Dubinin, State Duma deputy (People's Deputy) Viktor Cherepkov, first deputy presidential envoy to the Far East federal district Gennadii Apanasenko, and Primorskii Marine Shipping Line head Aleksandr Kirilichev. Other candidates who are registered are State Duma deputy (Communist) Vladimir Grishukov, former Arbitration Court chair for Primorskii Krai Tatyana Loktionova, Roliz fishing enterprise General Director Sergei Darkin, Primorskii Krai Duma speaker Sergei Zhekov, former Black Sea fleet commander Admiral Igor Kasatonov, entrepreneur Sergei Popov, Krai Duma deputies Vladimir Gilgenberg and Yurii Rybalkin, "Fareastern republic" newspaper chief editor Igor Cherevkov, and chairman of the Primorskii branch of Honor and Motherland Vladimir Omsharuk. According to polls conducted by the Center for Political Research Region, some 25.1 percent of local voters polled said that they have still not decided who they are going to vote for, and 20.9 percent said that they would vote against all candidates. Of all the candidates, former Vladivostok Mayor Cherepkov has the most support with 14.5 percent compared with 13.1 percent for Kirilichev and 11.2 percent for Dubinin. JAC
NEMTSOV, DERIPASKA CLAIM NEUTRALITY IN UPCOMING ELECTIONS.
More candidates have expressed interest in participating in the 15 July gubernatorial race in Nizhnii Novgorod. On 26 April, Eduard Limonov, novelist and head of the National Bolshevik Party, announced that he plans to run, and incumbent Governor Ivan Sklyarov as expected announced that he will seek re-election. Sklyarov and other candidates have until the end of the month to gather the necessary signatures to support their candidacy, according to Interfax-Eurasia. In an interview with "Kommersant-Daily" on 24 April, SPS faction leader Nemtsov left his position towards the election ambiguous. He said, "A member of our own Duma faction will participate in the elections, and I cannot for obvious reasons speak out against him. But in general we cannot support anyone. For the sake of preserving unity, a neutral position is optimal." Asked about the support of the presidential envoy to the Volga federal district, Sergei Kirienko, for incumbent Governor Ivan Sklyarov, Nemtsov said that "Kirienko in this instance is speaking as a member of the government; he suspended his membership in SPS." According to "Kommersant-Daily" on 28 April, State Duma deputy Vadim Bulavinov (People's Deputy) is also considering running as a kind of back-up choice for Kirienko if Sklyarov's campaign does not go well. Meanwhile, a local legislator is gathering signatures on an appeal to Siberian Aluminum President Oleg Deripaska, asking him to run in the election, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 21 April. According to the daily, Deripaska's company issued an official announcement that it will maintain its neutrality with regard to the election. JAC
GOVERNOR LAUNCHES AGRESSIVE RECRUITMENT CAMPAIGN FOR UNITY.
"Novye Izvestiya" reported on 21 April that Saratov Oblast Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov threatened all members of the regional government with dismissal if they did not join Unity. At a session of the "upper echelon" of the local bureaucrats devoted to the significance of the unification of the Unity and Fatherland parties, Ayatskov reportedly said "if a member of the government will be without party affiliation that means that he will not be a member of the government." Ayatskov reportedly added that "it would not be good to let down Lyubov Konstantinovna [Sliska]." Sliska is the deputy State Duma speaker and head of the local Unity branch. According to the daily, when it was announced earlier that the local Saratov branch of Unity should have 5,000 members, the staff of several raion administrations joined Unity en masse. The daily, which is controlled by Boris Berezovskii, noted that article five of the oblast law on state service states that everyone, regardless of political, religious, or other views, should have equal opportunities for state employment. JAC
GOVERNOR JOINS RANKS FOR 'DOCTORS' IN REGIONAL CAPITALS.
St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev has been awarded a doctorate in economics from Moscow State University, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 25 April. According to "Izvestiya" the same day, Yakovlev successfully defended his dissertation on "A Strategic Plan for the Development of St. Petersburg." According to "Kommersant-Daily," a number of other governors also have doctorates including Saratov Oblast Governor Ayatskov (history), Adygei Republic President Aslan Dzharimov (economics), Khabarovsk Krai Governor Viktor Ishaev (economics), Buryatia President Leonid Potapov (economics), Novgorod Governor Mikhail Prusak (economics), Kemerovo Governor Aman Tuleev (political science), Chuvash President Nikolai Fedorov (law), and Orel Oblast Governor Yegor Stroev (agricultural science). JAC
ETHNIC KOREANS LEAVE FOR KOREA.
A group of ethnic Korean residents of Sakhalin Oblast, who were brought to the island by the Japanese military in the 1930s and 1940s, have returned to the Republic of Korea, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 29 April. According to the daily, almost 1,200 ethnic Koreans have left Sakhalin and have been supplied with apartments and cash subsidies by the Korean government. In April and May of this year another 77 families of some 154 people are also planning to return. Some 2,000 Koreans total have expressed a desire to emigrate to Korea, according to the daily. JAC
AGING ACROSS RUSSIA
Minimum monthly pension in February 2001
________in Republic of Udmurtia: 538 rubles ($19)
________in Novgorod Oblast: 600 rubles
________in Ryazan Oblast: 468.47 rubles
________in Rostov Oblast: 600 rubles
________in Samara Oblast: 468.47 rubles
________in Sverdlovsk Oblast: 538 rubles
Ratio of retirees to non-retired residents in Novosibirsk Oblast: 1 to 5
Number of retirees compared to number of children in Novosibirsk
________ in 1998: +8,000
________ in 1999: +33,000
Average pension in Novosibirsk Oblast as a percentage of the average wage: 40 percent
Average pension in Novosibirsk Oblast: 917 rubles
Ratio of retirees to non-retired residents in Novgorod Oblast: 1 to 3
Ratio of retirees to non-retired residents in Rostov Oblast: 1 to 4
_________Number of "retirees" who still work in Rostov Oblast: 1 in 9
_________Percentage of retirees in Rostov who live in poverty: 21 percent
Source: "Nezavisimaya gazeta-politekonomiya," 20 March 2001.