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Russia Report: December 1, 1999


1 December 1999, Volume 1, Number 40
PAN REGIONAL: POWER SHORTAGES HOBBLE REGIONAL ECONOMIES.
All enterprises in Sverdlovsk Oblast are operating on restricted supplies of electricity because of a breakdown in Russia's central energy system, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 27 November. Last month, a sharp reduction of supplies of coal from Kazakhstan to the region also caused work at most enterprises to grind to a halt (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 10 November 1999). Meanwhile, on 30 November two southern Kurile islands ran out of fuel and electricity and the city of Arkhangelsk's sole source for central heating was poised to deplete its fuel supply within 24 hours. Temperatures in that city are hovering between zero and minus seven degrees Celsius. Unified Energy Systems head Anatolii Chubais warned on 27 November that the situation with power supplies in the country is "very serious and unprecedented," in part because demand for electricity has grown 7 percent while there is a shortage of suppliers. He also noted that Gazprom has reduced its gas production and sales to domestic consumers and its fuel supplies to the energy sector may fall short of its obligations by 12 percent this year. Chubais added that some regional policies--and policy makers--have also exacerbated the situation. For example, he said that the energy crisis in Primorskii Krai is caused by "the craziness, stupidity and narrow-mindedness of local bosses" (see item below). JAC

STATISTICS HIGHLIGHT DEPOPULATION OF NORTH.
About 1.5 million people have migrated from Russia's northern regions over the past seven years, Labor Minister Sergei Kalashnikov told reporters on 26 November. According to Kalashnikov, Russian Statistics Agency experts believe that by 2005 migration will cut the population of the North by 60 percent. Part of the problem is unemployment. According to "Trud" on 17 November, unemployment in some northern villages of Krasnoyarsk Krai is 93 percent, while the statistics are even worse in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). JAC

EAST SIBERIA STRIKES TITANIUM.
Geologists have reportedly discovered major titanium ore deposits in the Torg-Olekma mountains at the juncture of the borders of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Chita and Irkutsk Oblasts, "Nezavisimaya gazeta-Regiony" reported in its issue No. 17 . According to the semi-monthly, the discovery is of national significance since Russia previously had no deposits suitable for industrial development while demand for titanium is growing steadily at 2.5 percent a year. JAC

ALTAI: ANOTHER GOVERNOR FIDDLES WITH AN ELECTION DATE.
Altai Krai's legislative assembly has decided to move gubernatorial elections from December 2000 to 2 April, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 27 November. Governor Aleksandr Surikov supported the move as did most legislators: 35 voted in favor while only two were opposed. The real purpose behind the move, according to the daily, is to undercut the incumbent governor's potential competitors, who will now have less time to prepare a campaign and seek financial resources. Particularly hurt by the move is the Aleksandr Nazarchuk, speaker of Altai's legislative assembly, who was considered Surikov's prime competitor. Now, according to the newspaper, Nazarchuk will have to decide whether to concentrate his resources on his re-election campaign or on seeking the governor's seat. JAC

ARKHANGELSK: DE BEERS TO DECIDE NEXT MONTH ON DEVELOPING LOMONOSOV.
Arkhangelsk Governor Nikolai Malakov announced on 27 November that South Africa's De Beers will adopt a final decision in January 2000 on developing the Lomonosov diamond mine, Interfax reported. Malakov was speaking after a presentation in Arkhangelsk on the findings of geological studies carried out by the Severalmaz company, which owns the license to exploit those deposits. According to a De Beers official, the full-scale mining of diamonds could be begin in some 40 months. During that period, feasibility tests are to be carried out and cost-cutting measures sought, he added. JC

BURYATIA: REPUBLIC PLANS 9 PERCENT DEFICIT NEXT YEAR.
The parliament of the Republic of Buryatia passed its 2000 budget in its first reading on 24 November, Interfax-Eurasia reported. According to the draft legislation, Buryatia will receive a federal transfer of 1.6 billion rubles ($61 million) in 2000 while its own revenue will total 1.1 billion rubles. Expenditures will amount to some 3 billion rubles. JAC

CHITA: ASSEMBLY PLANS BALANCED BUDGET FOR 2000.
Chita Oblast's legislative assembly approved on 25 November in its first reading a draft budget for 2000 that envisions a zero deficit, Interfax-Eurasia reported. The oblast will receive a federal transfer of 1.346 billion rubles ($51 million) and provide some 854 million rubles of revenue itself. JAC

KARELIA: ONE FEMALE CANDIDATE TOO MANY.
The RFE/RL Russian Service's "Vybory-99" reported in its 15 November edition an apparent bid to prevent Larisa Zlobina from holding on to her State Duma seat from Karelia. Early last month, Zlobina, whose candidacy in this month's election is supported by the Russian Socialist Party, was refused registration by the republican Central Election Commission. Zlobina immediately appealed to Karelia's Supreme Court to overturn that decision, claiming that the commission was seeking to remove her from the race so that Karelian parliamentary chairwoman Valentina Pivnenko would have a better chance of winning the vote. "One and the same electorate and two woman-politicians with roughly equal chances" might have worked to Pivnenko's disadvantage, "Vybory-99" reported Zlobina as arguing. Pivnenko, though running as an independent, is reportedly backed by Karelian Prime Minister Sergei Katanandov, who is a member of Fatherland--as is the chairman of the republican election commission. Karelia's Supreme Court overruled the commission's decision not to register Zlobina, deeming that action illegal. JC

MARII EL: MATVEEV WITHDRAWS FROM DUMA ELECTIONS.
Citing the lack of guarantees for both his and his family's safety, former First Deputy Prime Minister Valentin Matveev has withdrawn his candidacy for the 19 December State Duma elections from the republic's single-mandate district, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 24 November. According to the news agency, officials from the Federal Security Service were unable to confirm that any threat exists. Following Matveev's decision not to run, some 15 candidates are left in the Marii El race. Of those, only three represent political parties (For Citizens' Dignity, the Bloc of Nikolaev Fedorov, and the Russian Socialist Party). JC

PRIMORE: CHEREPKOV AGAIN BECOMES A FORMER CANDIDATE.
Vladivostok's election commission refused on 26 November to register former Vladivostok Mayor Viktor Cherepkov as a candidate in upcoming mayoral elections in that city, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 27 November. Veniamin Chichaev, head of the commission, announced that the commission had problems with some of the signatures collected in support of the former mayor's candidacy. The signature list for incumbent Mayor Yurii Kopylov also was found to contain some violations, but commission members decided that these were not significant. According to the daily, only two candidates are now registered for the mayoral race, Kopylov and the head of the Frunze raion administration, Vladimir Kotenko. Last week, Cherepkov withdrew from the gubernatorial race to protest the "dictatorship of [Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii] Nazdratenko." According to ITAR-TASS on 30 November, Cherepkov has managed to register as a candidate for State Duma elections. JAC

PRIMORE: CHUBAIS TAKES ON GOVERNOR NAZDRATENKO.
Addressing reporters on 27 November, Unified Energy Systems (EES) head Anatolii Chubais said that his company has asked the office of Russia's Prosecutor General to stop what he called Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko's "campaign of terror against the region's energy system," which has included "threats, blackmail, attempted searches and attacks" on the general director of Dalenergo, Vladimir Peshkun, and his family. Chubais said that Nazdratenko's first deputy has already received an official warning from the prosecutor's office and "if things continue, he will get a full-blown criminal case." On 23 November, police armed with submachine guns searched Dalenergo and Peshkun's flat according to ITAR-TASS. Dalenergo's press service told the agency that the pretext for the search was "the alleged abuse of distributing free apartments committed by Peshkun in 1996 while he was head of Dalenergo construction company." JAC

ST. PETERSBURG: MORE MACHINATIONS AGAINST YABLOKO.
A district court has fined several Yabloko supporters for distributing gubernatorial campaign leaflets which it said contained "lies" about Governor Vladimir Yakovlev, "The St. Petersburg Times" and "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 30 November. Those supporters were detained by municipal police over the weekend while transporting leaflets. Other supporters were dispersed by police as they handed out materials at metro stations, and, according to "Segodnya" on 29 November, law enforcement officers shortly after visited the Yabloko headquarters saying they had received "anonymous information" that election materials were being printed there. The leaflets featured a photograph of Yakovlev covered with questions such as "Who has bogged down [the city] in political intrigues?" and "Who passed control of the city to criminals?" and with the answer "I" (meaning Yakovlev) in large type. Last month, a fire broke out at Yabloko's headquarters in St. Petersburg, which the party blamed on "political forces" intent on thwarting the bid of Yabloko local leader Igor Artemev to become governor in the 19 December elections (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 24 November 1999). JC

ST. PETERSBURG: FROM MISSILES TO PARKING METERS.
The Leningradskii Severnyi Factory will cease defense production and concentrate instead on the manufacture of parking meters and other such equipment, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 November, quoting the deputy head of the St. Petersburg Committee for Economics and Industrial Policy, Yefim Grishpun. Until some two years ago, the plant manufactured the S-300 missile (the production of which is expected to continue at the Avangard plant in Moscow Oblast). The St. Petersburg factory is one of the city's main debtors. Workers have not been paid for more than two years, and wage arrears currently total some 31 million rubles ($1.2 million). JC

TULA: MANURE AS CURRENCY.
After revealing that teachers in Voronezh Oblast were recently offered fences and tombs from a local cemetery instead of wages paid in cash (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 27 October 1999), "Izvestiya" reported in its 26 November issue that the Kimovsk municipal authorities have likewise come up with an unusual alternative form of payment to the city's schools. To reimburse those schools for textbooks, the authorities are delivering manure that local collective farms supplied to pay off their debts to the city government. Some 1,000 tons of manure are reported to have been delivered to the Kimovsk teachers so far, but at least 125,000 tons are required to pay all outstanding debts. JC

VOLGOGRAD: SOLDIERS USED AS SLAVE LABOR AT PRIVATE COMPANY.
The Volgograd Military Prosecutor's Office is preparing to carry out spot checks in the oblast's garrisons after confirming that soldiers were hired out to a private firm to do heavy manual work for no remuneration, "Vremya MN" reported on 23 November. According to the daily, five soldiers who had barely taken their oath of allegiance were sent by their commanding officer to a soft drinks company to load and unload trucks, haul equipment from one warehouse to another, and carry out other such tasks. During the course of three months, the company's management locked the soldiers in a warehouse at night and gave them only meager rations on which to subsist. The humiliating conditions in which the soldiers were kept reportedly aroused the sympathy of employees at the company, who rang the Military Prosecutor's Office to alert it to the soldiers' plight. The office intends to deliver a report on its findings later this month. JC

REGIONAL INDEX: AIDS Spreads Across Russia.
The following table shows the top five regions of Russia with the highest number of persons infected with human immunodeficiency virus. According to the Russian Health Ministry, AIDS is spreading rapidly in Russia, particularly among intravenous drug users and the young. Some regions remain relatively untouched and still have only a few cases registered, such as Kirov and Samara Oblasts and Khabarovsk Krai, which had less than 10 cases of HIV infection in during the first nine months of 1999. Sverdlovsk and Orlov Oblasts had 80 and 95 cases respectively. JAC

Region__________Number of Persons infected with HIV
Moscow Oblast______7,320

Kaliningrad Oblast____2,589

Krasnodar Krai_______2,160

Irkutsk______________2,191

Rostov______________1,549

Source: Russian Health Ministry courtesy of ITAR-TASS

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