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Russia Report: September 1, 1999


1 September 1999, Volume 1, Number 27
PAN-REGIONAL: PUTIN URGES LIFTING REGIONAL BANS ON GRAIN 'EXPORTS.'
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has sent a telegram to federal executive agencies urging the immediate suspension of all normative acts limiting the free movement of grain and grain products within the Russian Federation, Interfax reported on 27 August, citing unnamed government sources. Putin argued that such limitations violate federal law and could lead to the disruption of food supplies in the country. In particular, he noted that administrations of various Central Russian regions have already complained of difficulties in securing grain from Krasnodar and Stavropol Krais, Rostov and Saratov Oblasts, as well as other regions. According to information released by the Ministry of Agriculture, some 20 regions have introduced bans on the "export" of grain beyond their borders. In view of the bleak forecast for this year's harvest, those regions are seeking to build up their grain reserves (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 11 August 1999). JC

PAN-REGIONAL: FUEL, NOT CASH, FOR NORTHERN DELIVERIES?
Speaking to journalists on 25 August, Vladimir Goman, chairman of the State Committee for Northern Affairs, said the committee has proposed that beginning next year, the federal government supply regions with fuel and "other natural products," rather than money, for the so-called "northern deliveries," "Vremya MN" reported the next day. Goman noted that while the federal authorities so far this year have met their obligations vis-a-vis these deliveries, the federation subjects are lagging well behind: less than half (43.5 percent) of the planned amount has been paid into special funds that the northern regions were required to set up for the purpose of helping meet the cost of those deliveries. Noting that regional authorities frequently "divert" government aid intended to finance the northern deliveries, Goman said that under his committee's proposal, that "temptation" would "not be so strong." He also said his committee has suggested removing another temptation by amending legislation on the northern regions. According to those amendments, newcomers to the north would not be entitled to the higher wages and benefits that workers and residents there have traditionally received. Goman noted that last year alone, there were some 700,000 "new northerners," stemming mainly from the central regions and from other CIS countries. JC

CHELYABINSK: RAION AUTHORITIES AUTHORIZED SALE OF RADIOACTIVE FISH.
Greenpeace has released documents it received "from Chelyabinsk Oblast" indicating that local authorities have allowed the sale of radioactive fish from Lake Alabuga, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" and "Izvestiya" reported on 26 August. The lake was contaminated following an accident at the nearby Mayak chemical plant in 1957. Despite experts' warnings that it is still too early to consume fish from the lake, the local raion authorities last year authorized the supply of such fish to hospitals and kindergartens. On 27 August, the oblast health authorities banned the consumption of fish from the lake, Interfax reported. According to expert opinion, fish found in Lake Alabuga contain high concentrations of strontium and cesium. JC

KEMEROVO: SPARE A KOPECK FOR A SCHOOL?
Beginning with the new academic year, schools in the oblast will have their own bank accounts for the purpose of receiving voluntary donations from individuals and/or legal entities, "Izvestiya" reported on 21 August. The initiative stems from Governor Aman Tuleev. His deputy, Nina Nevorotova, told the newspaper that such donations are intended to supplement, not replace, funding from the oblast budget. She also stressed that local education departments will oversee the use of donated monies. For its part, the newspaper notes that with the approach of the election season, Tuleev, who has also proposed increasing grants for students from low-income families and building new schools throughout the cash-strapped oblast, has been overcome by a bout of "chronic populism." JC

KRASNOYARSK: LEBED'S 1998 CAMPAIGN FUNDING UNDER SCRUTINY.
The krai Election Commission is examining whether funding for Governor Aleksandr Lebed's 1998 election campaign exceeded the limit stipulated by law, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 August. That decision comes after journalists from the local television company TVK submitted to the commission copies of documents received from a former member of Lebed's election team. According to those documents, Lebed spent some $2.3 million on his election campaign, compared with the some $67,000 permitted by law, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 27 August. Lebed, for his part, refused to comment on what he called "idle invention." He did, however, accuse Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov of being behind "the information war" that the governor claims is currently being waged against him. JC

KRASNOYARSK: BYKOV TO ENTER PARLIAMENT ON LDPR'S LIST?
Citing a leader of the krai branch of Vladimir Zhirinovskii's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, "Izvestiya" reported on 28 August that Anatolii Bykov, head of the Krasnoyarsk Aluminum Plant and a known rival of Governor Lebed, will run in the State Duma elections on the federal list of the LDPR. A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Bykov, who is reported to be undergoing medical treatment abroad, on charges of money-laundering (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 25 August 1999). The newspaper suggests it is possible that Bykov would occupy second place on the LDPR list, immediately after Zhirinovskii, virtually guaranteeing him a place in the Duma and therefore parliamentary immunity. JC

PERM: COMPANY ACCUSES U.S. INVESTORS OF EXTORTION.
Avisma has filed suit in the U.S. Federal Court accusing its U.S. investors of extortion, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 August. The case, which will be heard in New Jersey, is the first of its kind. Avisma said that U.S. investors had forced the ore-processing company to sell its output at dumping prices, costing the firm millions of dollars in lost income. PG

PRIMORE: POLITICAL ENEMIES 'UNITED' ON ELECTION LIST.
"Vremya MN" reported on 25 August that Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko, who is also the head of the krai branch of All Russia, will run on the electoral list of the Fatherland--All Russia (OVR) alliance in the December State Duma elections alongside two of his main political rivals: Primore Legislative Assembly speaker Sergei Dudnik and State Duma deputy Svetlana Orlova, both nominated by Fatherland. Nazdratenko and Orlova have already announced their intention to run in the gubernatorial ballot, which is to take place at the same time as the State Duma elections, and Dudnik is expected to do so shortly. All three have made clear that they would take up a deputy's seat only in the event that they lose the gubernatorial ballot. Nazdratenko, moreover, has openly distanced himself from Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov's Fatherland. Asked recently whether he supports the OVR alliance, Nazdratenko replied "Not Fatherland, but All Russia," "The Moscow Times" reported on 24 August (see also "Regional Voices" below). JC

PRIMORE: CHOLERA OUTBREAK STEMMING FROM CHINA?
Four people from the Gornostai district of Vladivostok were hospitalized with cholera last week. All four were reported to have lived in the same house as two Chinese citizens, whom medical experts believe to have been carriers of the disease. "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 27 August that police controls have been set up on the road leading to Gornostai, and 75 residents of the district have been hospitalized as a precautionary measure. In early August, according to the newspaper, four long-distance drivers from the krai went down with cholera. Doctors believe they were infected in a Chinese town near the border with Primore, where they had drunk water from an unknown source. "Kommersant-Daily" also reported that since the beginning of August, the Primore authorities have unilaterally prohibited Russian citizens from travelling to China and Chinese citizens from entering the krai. JC

ST. PETERSBURG: STEPASHIN VS. SELEZNEV.
Former Premier Sergei Stepashin, who has joined forces with Grigorii Yavlinskii's Yabloko, will run on that party's list in the single-candidate election district No. 209 in the December elections to the State Duma, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 August. That district was formerly represented by the democratic reformer Galina Starovoitova, who was shot dead outside her home last November. Duma chairman and Communist Party member Gennadii Seleznev also intends to run from that district in the upcoming ballot. JC

ST. PETERSBURG: TV STATION WARNED FOR INCITING RACIAL HATRED.
The State Mass Media Committee has issued an official warning to Petersburg Television for violating the federal law on the mass media, which forbids the incitement of racial violence and hatred, "The St. Petersburg Times" reported on 24 August. Last month, human rights activists protested when the station conducted polls asking viewers whether they would take part in ethnic purges in the city (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 11 August 1999). The audience voted by telephone 1,336 to 959 in favor of ethnic cleansing. Petersburg Television Journalist Sergei Chernyadev told the newspaper that the station was not seeking to incite racial hatred but "show the city intelligentsia that there is a problem." JC

STAVROPOL: RETURN OF THE KPSS.
The Justice Ministry has registered the Communist Party of Soviet Stavropol, otherwise known by the all-too-familiar abbreviation of the former Communist Party of the Soviet Union--KPSS. The founders of the new party believe that the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) is not doing enough to fight for the rights of the workers and the revival of Soviet authority. They also see the KPRF as too "far removed" from the problems of specific regions, "Izvestiya" reported on 25 August. JC

SVERDLOVSK: ROSSEL LEADS IN GUBERNATORIAL BALLOT.
According to preliminary results, incumbent Governor Eduard Rossel won 39 percent of the vote in the 29 August gubernatorial ballot in Sverdlovsk, ITAR-TASS reported the next day. Aleksandr Burkov, an oblast Legislative Assembly deputy and leader of the leftist regional movement May, came second with 18 percent, beating out Rossel's expected challenger in the run-off elections, Yekaterinburg Mayor Arkadii Chernetskii, who polled only 15.4 percent. Vladimir Kadochnikov, former secretary of the oblast Communist Party Committee, garnered 9.6 percent, supermarket chain head Igor Kovpak 8.8 percent, kindergarten director Irina Belkova 1.1 percent, and State Duma deputy Andrei Selivanov 0.61 percent. Turnout was estimated at 41 percent. The oblast Election Commission chairman told reporters that the run-off is likely to take place on 12 September. JC

TOMSK: REGISTRATION OF CANDIDATES COMPLETED.
The oblast Election Commission has registered six candidates for gubernatorial elections scheduled to take place on 19 September, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 23 August. Of those, five are to run as independents, including incumbent Governor Viktor Kress. The Russian Communist Party is supporting the candidacy of the sixth, Anatolii Chemeris, who is chairman of the oblast branch of the Chernobyl association. Meanwhile, the federal Supreme Court has still to consider a lawsuit filed by State Duma deputy Igor Skorobogatov protesting the decision to move up the gubernatorial ballot from 19 December. Skorobogatov argues that 4,500 residents who would have turned 18 in the three months before 19 December will be deprived of their right to vote if the ballot takes place in September. JC

TOMSK: STATE OF EMERGENCY DECLARED AT AIRPORT.
A "state of emergency" has been declared in connection with the "dangerous condition" of the runway at Tomsk Airport, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 26 August. The runway was originally intended only for light aircraft, but over the last 15 years, medium-range Tu-154s have regularly landed there. Moreover, no capital repairs have been carried out since it was built more than 30 years ago. Work is currently being carried out on the runway, but the 50 million rubles (some $2 million) recently earmarked from the oblast budget and Road Fund are sufficient for cosmetic repairs only. JC

TULA: MINERS SUSPEND MARCH ON MOSCOW.
Miners from Tula Oblast have halted preparations to march on Moscow to protest wage arrears (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 18 August 1999), Interfax reported on 23 August. According to a local trade union official, that move followed the transfer to the oblast of some 32 million rubles ($1.3 million), which will cover back pay for the past three months. The total sum owed employees at the Tulaugol company is 115 million rubles. The official noted that during First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Aksenenko's visit to the oblast the previous week an agreement was reached whereby consumers would pay part of their debts to the mining company by 15 September. The official added that if that and other agreements are not met, the miners will resume preparations for the march on the capital. JC

UDMURTIYA: MASLYUKOV TO RUN FROM IZHEVSK.
Russian former First Deputy Prime Minister Yurii Maslyukov intends to run for the State Duma from Izhevsk. On 27 August, Interfax-Eurasia reported that republican branch of the Fatherland movement will support Maslyukov's candidacy in that ballot. Earlier this month, the Udmurtiya branch of the Communist Party had thrown its support behind Maslyukov as a candidate for the federal legislature. But during a visit last week to the republic, Maslyukov made it clear that his decision whether to run depended on whether he could reach an agreement with the local branch of Fatherland. Maslyukov began his career in the republic's military-industrial complex. JC

YAROSLAVL: CITY KNOCKED OUT OF HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP.
The federal government on 23 August announced that the 2000 World Ice Hockey Championship will take place only in St. Petersburg, "Kommersant-Daily" reported two days later. Earlier, it had been decided that part of the championship would be held in Yaroslavl, where a grandiose Palace of Sports is under construction. A government commission, however, concluded that the sports complex could not be finished in time for the championship and that more funds would be needed for its completion than the $57 million estimated by Governor Anatolii Lisitsyn. Now it is hoped to complete the complex in time for the world juniors' championship, scheduled for December 2000. JC

REGIONAL VOICES: THE WORLD AS SEEN FROM VLADIVOSTOK.
In Vladivostok, in between trips to Moscow and Tokyo, Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko spoke to the "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report" on 28 August. Following are his comments on a variety of issues:

ON YEVGENII PRIMAKOV:
He is too significant a figure to lead just one party [Fatherland]. He must lead many, many parties. Let's say, 56 at least.

ON THE PARTY LIST OF FATHERLAND/ALL RUSSIA:
Neither I nor [Deputy Governor Konstantin] Tolstoshein is on the list for Fatherland. We are on the list for All Russia. Don't confuse the two things.

ON U.S. INVESTORS IN PRIMORSKII KRAI:
You [Americans] accuse me of not understanding small and medium-sized businesses. But you have successfully stolen Vostoktransflot and intend to do the same with the Far Eastern Shipping Company. These are not small or medium-sized businesses -- these are big businesses. Imagine if our Russian fellows came to the U.S. and stole a couple of your shipping companies. How would you react? You would send your aircraft carriers after them. ... You [Americans] do not allow your vessels to be repaired in foreign ports even thought it would be far cheaper to do so in Singapore or China. Why is this so? You protect your own interests. So let us protect our own interests as well. Don't apply your market rules to us. We may lag a bit behind [in the development of a market economy] but in terms of individuals, Russians are cleverer than the most progressive market managers [of the U.S.]. ... You Americans have never actually invested in Russia. Real investors build plants and facilities. You didn't invest in Vostoktransflot or in the Far Eastern Shipping Company or anywhere else. ...

ON KOREAN INVESTORS:
The Koreans have built the Hyundai business center. They built the consulate. Together, we built the airport terminal. ...I highly value our relationship with the Korean people. They sing our songs, they share our beliefs. (JAC)

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