23 November 2001, Volume
REGIONAL OFFICIALS CONTINUE TO COMPLAIN ABOUT MIGRATION THREAT.
Although a UNHCR official recently stated that no influx of immigrants from Central Asia connected with military activities in Afghanistan has yet been observed, regional officials continue to express fears about increased immigration flows (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 November 2001). "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 10 November that Russian security service experts believe that Volgograd Oblast, for example, is vulnerable to increased flows of migrants from Central Asia. According to the daily, the oblast's Pallasovskii raion already has dense settlements of Kazakhs, and some experts believe that Kazakhs now constitute 70 percent of the raion's population. These Kazakhs can reportedly cross into Kazakhstan along the fairly open 200-kilometer border at any time and easily help a compatriot to do the same. The daily advocates the creation of a network of "undercover agents" that would report to the oblast's border and security services. Meanwhile, TV-6 reported on 20 November that illegal immigration has become a "high-profile" issue in southern regions of Russia and that a number of shanty towns composed of Tajik migrants have appeared around Asktrakhan Oblast, despite the temporary closure of the railway link between Astrakhan and Dushanbe (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 October 2001. According to the station, Governor Anatolii Guzhvin has appealed to federal authorities for "special efforts to regulate immigration" in part because Astrakhan "has become a staging post for illegal immigrants, many of whom have criminal intent." Also on 20 November, Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov told reporters in Novosibirsk Oblast, which borders Kazakhstan, that a cordon sanitaire should be created or Russia will get 5 million refugees from Central Asian countries. According to Zyuganov, some 100,000 such refugees already live in Omsk Oblast alone. JAC
BULK OF GOVERNORS TO HOLD ONTO OPPORTUNITY FOR THIRD TERMS...
State Duma deputies on 14 November failed twice to muster the 300 votes needed to override the veto of the Federation Council of a bill amending the law on "general principles for organizing regional bodies" earlier passed by the lower house. The bill would have reduced the number of governors who could stand for election more than two times from 69 to 10. According to deputy (independent) Vladimir Ryzhkov, some governors --if re-elected -- will now be able to remain in charge of their regions until 2013. Polit.ru suggested that the Kremlin may choose to revisit the issue later by holding another vote. JAC
...AS ANOTHER PREDICTION MADE THAT UPPER HOUSE WILL BECOME ELECTED BODY.
Some three days after that vote, "Vremya MN" reported that during recent hearings in the Federation Council on "perfecting" legislative activities in that body, "practically all senators" criticized the current rules for forming the upper house. The publication also speculated that since Duma deputies have lately supported the senators, it is possible that the Duma will support another amendment to the law establishing the Federation Council. For example, they may vote in favor of holding direct elections of regional representatives to the Federation Council. Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev recently made a similar prediction (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 November 2001). JAC
NEW SENATORS OUTNUMBER OLD...
The number of new senators selected according to the new rules for forming the Federation Council is now greater than that of the old members, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 15 November. According to Interfax on 20 November, 93 senators out of a total number of 177 have been appointed to date -- as the 1 January deadline for a complete turnover in the upper legislative chamber's ranks approaches. A new speaker for the upper house will be selected next month, Valerii Goreglyad, head of the Federation group told reporters on 20 November. The Federation group has already nominated Goreglyad to be deputy chair of the upper chamber, and ITAR-TASS reported that some observers believe that Goreglyad will ultimately be selected as speaker. Polit.ru noted that Goreglyad himself has hinted that former Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov is the likely choice; however, it noted that Primakov may not be willing to take such a post, since it would be primarily a "decorative" one. JAC
...AS MORE OLIGARCHS, MUSCOVITES JOIN THEIR RANKS.
On 14 November, a number of new senators were confirmed, including Yamalstroi head Vyacheslav Boronik, Saturn head Viktor Glukhikh, and Slavneft-Yaroslavneftegazorgsintez Executive Director Yevgenii Zayashnikov. In addition to businessmen, more former Moscow-based officials are also joining the Federation Council. Deputies in Nizhnii Novgorod's legislature confirmed former Deputy Finance Minister Yevgenii Bushmin as Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Governor Gennadii Khodyrev's representative in the Federation Council, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 20 November. According to the agency, Bushmin said that he is "almost certain" to become chair of the upper house's Budget Committee. On 19 November, legislators in Buryatia's parliament confirmed former federal Prosecutor-General Yurii Skuratov as their representative in the Federation Council, Interfax-Eurasia reported. Skuratov said that he will not join the Federation group in the upper legislative chamber if it appears that the group's own political interests are placed higher than the interests of the regions. JAC
DOZEN CANDIDATES REGISTER IN ALTAI.
The deadline for registering for the 16 December presidential elections in the Altai Republic has expired, and no more than 12 candidates will participate, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 16 November. Among those who submitted registration documents by the deadline were incumbent republic head Semen Zubakin; Agrarian party leader and State Duma deputy Mikhail Lapshin; the first secretary of the Communist Party's regional organization, Viktor Romashkin; republican Interior Minister Aleksandr Berdnikov; and the leader of Yabloko's branch in the Altai Republic, Nina Dumnova. JAC
GOVERNOR SAYS SALE OF FISHING QUOTAS MAY LEAD TO SOCIAL EXPLOSION.
Arkhangelsk Governor Anatolii Yefremov has warned Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov that planned sales of fishing quotas may lead to a social explosion in regions like his where many people depend on fishing for their livelihood, "Izvestiya" reported on 13 November. PG
REGIONAL OFFICIALS VET NEWSPAPERS BEFORE THEIR APPEARANCE ON NEWSSTANDS...
Bulat Timerbulatov, an assistant professor at Bashkir State University, told a journalism conference in Ufa that city and raion newspapers are printed there only after receiving the approval of local administration heads, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 15 November. JAC
...AS BASHKIR ANTISMOKING LAW CALLED UNCONSTITUTIONAL.
Meanwhile, the Prosecutor-General's Office in Bashkortostan is challenging a republican law aimed at preventing or restricting smoking on the grounds that the law violates the federal constitution, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 15 November. One of the authors of the law, Vener Sakhautdinov, a Bashkortostan State Assembly committee chairman, said that the republic should maintain its laws discouraging alcohol, smoking, and drug addiction even if they contradict federal legislation. He added that regional parliaments should not be prevented from adopting laws that improve the life of their population. Bashinform reported the same day that more than one-half of residents between 18 and 30 years old are smokers -- 59 percent in cities and 42 percent in rural areas. Some 28 percent of smokers are women. JAC
TV PROGRAM ALLEGES MASSIVE CORRUPTION IN KOMI REPUBLIC.
As incumbent Komi President Yurii Spiridonov prepares for presidential elections on 16 December, Ren-TV broadcast a program on 17 November which asked the question why "nobody knows where the [proceeds from the republic's] natural wealth goes to." The correspondent reported that the republic's forests have an estimated value of tens of millions -- maybe hundreds of millions -- of dollars but the republic's budget does not receive even a fraction of this money. Nikolai Moiseev, head of the local branch of Yabloko, is quoted as saying that "everything that is of any value is being stolen: oil, timber, coal.... Everything here was long ago split between visiting tycoons and the local elite." JAC
ANOTHER SOVIET-ERA TRADITION RESTORED.
Komi Governor Yurii Spiridonov on 12 November became the latest in a long line of regional leaders to defend a doctoral dissertation, "Izvestiya" reported the following day. His thesis topic was "The Administration of the Social and Economic Development of the Region." The paper noted that "an academic degree, to which all the leaders of the regions strive, is a kind of indulgence which they receive." In the USSR, officials frequently tried to acquire academic degrees both for the extra income they provided and for protection in the event that they lost their political positions. PG
ACTIVISTS PLAN RESISTANCE TO IMPORT OF NUCLEAR WASTE FOR STORAGE.
Activists from the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) and Yabloko and a number of environmental organizations in Krasnoyarsk Krai are preparing documents for the conduct of a region-wide referendum on the storage of nuclear waste in the krai, regions.ru reported on 14 November. According to the site, the referendum will ask a single question: "Do you think it is necessary to ban [the creation] of new sites for the maintenance, reprocessing, and burying of spent nuclear fuel on the territory of the krai?" Local SPS leader Andrei Vasiliev said that his group will begin gathering signatures for the referendum on 15 November. By law, only 35,000 signatures are needed, but environmental organizations are preparing to gather no less than 100,000. Krasnoyarsk, along with Chelyabinsk, has been on the shortlist of Russian regions seen as a likely recipient of spent nuclear fuel. JAC
KULAKS ENCOURAGED AS PART OF EFFORT TO BLOCK BASHKIR-KAZAKH LINKUP.
Officials in Orenburg have encouraged the development of large farms and their "kulak" owners as part of an effort to prevent Bashkirs from settling in the narrow strip of Russian land between Bashkortostan and Kazakhstan, "Vremya MN" reported on 13 November. Were the Bashkirs to dominate the population there, the paper said, there would be pressure to change the borders and thus give Bashkortostan a border with a foreign state. PG
NIKOLAEV'S THIRD TERM BID AGAIN THROWN INTO QUESTION.
The federal Supreme Court ruled on 20 November that the Supreme Court of the Sakha (Yakutia) Republic must re-examine its decision upholding the registration of incumbent Sakha President Mikhail Nikolaev in 23 December presidential elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 and 6 November 2001). Sakha's Supreme Court issued a resolution on 31 October appealing to the federal Constitutional Court to consider the legality of Nikolaev's registration, thereby putting a stop to attempts by the local prosecutor to cancel Nikolaev's registration. According to "Kommersant-Daily" on 21 November, sources close to Nikolaev do not exclude that the president will himself decide to withdraw from the race. Meanwhile, the Sakha (Yakutia) election commission has filed a protest against the republican Supreme Court's cancellation of the registration of presidential candidate Vyacheslav Shtyrov with the federal Supreme Court, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 17 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 November 2001). Shtyrov, who is the head of the diamond production company ALROSA, had hoped to participate in 23 December presidential elections. According to RFE/RL's Yakutsk correspondent, local political analysts considered Shtyrov, who is a protege of incumbent President Mikhail Nikolaev, a stand-in for the president in the event that Nikolaev's registration is declared invalid (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 7 November 2001). JAC
INVESTIGATION OF STAROVOITOVA MURDER EXTENDED AGAIN.
The Prosecutor-General's Office has again extended its investigation of the murder of Duma deputy Galina Starovoitova, Ekho Moskvy reported on 20 November. The new deadline is now 20 May 2002. The Federal Security Service's directorate for St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast stated that the investigation has recently focused on more specific persons, although no charges have yet been filed. Starovoitova was killed on 21 November 1998. JAC
NOVGOROD WINS TOP SPOT AS MORE ATTRACTIVE INVESTMENT DESTINATION.
Every year "Ekspert" compiles its annual ranking of regions according to their attractiveness to direct investors based on greater and lesser degrees of investment risk. This year, according to the monthly (no. 41), Novgorod Oblast edged out the city of Moscow for the number one spot. Last year, the city of Moscow was first and Novgorod second. Bringing up the rear -- as usual -- were the autonomous okrugs mainly in the Far North and republics in the North Caucasus region. Overall, the rankings remained fairly stable with regions in the European part of Russia continuing to dominate the top echelon. However, 13 regions showed improvement from the previous year in one or more indicators that are used to determine a region's overall attractiveness: the republic of North Ossetia, Khabarovsk Krai, Astrakhan, Belgorod, Smolensk, Orenburg, Omsk, Chita, Sakhalin oblasts, Chukotka, Taimyr, and Ust-Ordinskii Buryatskii autonomous okrugs. JACInvestment Risk in Russian Regions (lowest to highest)
Ranking____Name of Region
18________Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast
30________North Ossetia Republic
45________Nenets Autonomous Okrug
57________Marii El Republic
60________Khanty-Mansii Autonomous Okrug
64________Jewish Autonomous Oblast
71________Sakha (Yakutia) Republic
72________Komi-Permyak Autonomous Okrug
76________Ust-Ordinskii Autonomous Okrug
78________Koryak Autonomous Okrug
81________Agin-Buryatskii Autonomous Okrug
82________Evenk Autonomous Okrug
85________Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug
86________Chukotka Autonomous Okrug
87________Taimyr Autonomous Okrug
89________Chechnya RepublicSource: "Ekspert," No. 41, 5 November 2001