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Russia Report: February 5, 2002

5 February 2002, Volume 2, Number 5
Members of the Federation Council voted on 30 January to approve a new set of leaders for Russia's upper legislative chamber. Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov got four new deputies, and as expected, Valerii Goreglyad was selected as Mironov's first deputy. Goreglyad (Sakhalin Oblast) had headed the Federation group, which was disbanded after "having fulfilled its function." Senators also approved new rules that, among other things, forbid the creation of political factions or groups. The three new deputy chairs are Andrei Vikharev (Kurgan Oblast), Mikhail Nikolaev (Sakha Republic), and Aleksandr Torshin (Marii-El Republic). Also confirmed were the new heads of the chamber's 16 committees and seven commissions.

The list of new committee heads contains more than a few surprises. None of the former Defense Ministry officials who are now senators managed to win leadership of the Defense Committee. General Valerii Manilov, former first deputy head of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, is only a deputy chair of that committee. Likewise, none of the former federal ministers or first deputy ministers from President Boris Yeltsin's reign were named as chairmen, except for Vadim Gustov (Vladimir Oblast), who will chair the Committee for CIS Affairs. Gustov once headed the CIS Interstate Economic Committee when he was first deputy prime minister under then Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov. Former Minister for Natural Resources Viktor Orlov is only deputy chairman rather than chairman of the Committee for Natural Resources and Preservation of the Environment. And, Ramazan Abdulatipov (Saratov Oblast), who once headed the Ministry for Nationality Policy, was not even named deputy chairman of the Committee for Federation Affairs and Nationality Policy.

Also noticeably absent from the list of committee chairs is Sergei Pugachev, the new senator from the Tuva Republic and head of Mezhprombank and fellow oligarch, Transaero head Aleksandr Pleshakov (Penza Oblast). Earlier news reports suggested that Pugachev was campaigning energetically for the chairmanship of an economic policy committee (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 January 2002), but he failed to line up even a deputy chairmanship of even the most obscure committee or commission.

However, other senators with close ties to the president managed to do well. For example, Mikhail Margelov (Pskov Oblast) now heads the International Affairs Committee. Margelov was a former top campaign manager for President Vladimir Putin and former director of market research and consulting at Video International, Media Minister Mikhail Lesin's old firm. In addition, Dmitrii Mezentsev, former head of the mass media committee under then St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak, was picked to head the newly created Commission for Information Policy.

Candidates with ties to Unified Energy Systems (EES) head Anatolii Chubais and the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) also won prominent positions. In fact, SPS seems to have done better in the Federation Council that it did in the Duma where it has the chairmanship of only one committee, the Legislation Committee. Sergei Vasiliev, former deputy economics minister, who now represents Leningrad Oblast, was named to head the Financial Markets Committee. He is a member of the regional branch of SPS in St. Petersburg. Ivan Starikov, who was deputy minister for economic development and trade under German Gref, now heads the Agriculture Committee. He previously headed the Agriculture Committee in the State Duma during its first convocation when he was a member of Russia's Choice. More recently, Starikov was the regional representative for SPS in Kostroma Oblast, which he now represents. And Valentin Zavadnikov (Saratov Oblast), deputy administration head at EES, heads the Industrial Policy Committee. The new chairman of the Committee for Judicial and Legal Questions, Aleksandr Yevstifeev, is a former deputy presidential envoy to the Volga federal district, where his boss was Sergei Kirienko, a former leader in SPS. (Yevstifeev, who also handled legal issues for Kirienko, appears to have few ties to the region he now represents, Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug.) Another new committee chairman, who is likely to at least have sympathy with rightist views, is former Deputy Finance Minister Yevgenii Bushmin, who will now head the Budget Committee.

Another category of official that fared well in the battle for leadership spots was that of former bureaucrats from the Federation Council apparatus. First Deputy Chairman Goreglyad was former chief of staff for the council's Budget Committee. Valentina Petrenko (Khakasia), former deputy head of the administration for organizational work of the Federation Council, now heads the Social Policy Committee. (Not surprisingly, the Social Policy Committee is the only one headed by a woman.) The Committee for Science, Culture, Education, Health, and Ecology -- which might more appropriately be named the Miscellaneous Committee -- is headed by Vladimir Nikitov (Smolensk), former director for the upper chamber's apparatus.

After the session, Federation Council Chairman Mironov admitted to journalists that some members had been "offended" by the outcome of the leadership selection process. Former Nationalities Minister Adulatipov appeared to be one of those senators who was miffed. Abdulatipov told Interfax that he is dissatisfied with the leadership elections, since they were not elections in the true sense because no alternatives were offered. He also asserted that the new rules passed by the chamber unnecessarily limit the range of responsibilities of Federation Council members. Responding to criticism of how the leadership posts were distributed, Mironov said that the final list of candidates was the result of "a compromise" and represented representatives with the most experience and professionalism. He added that it is necessary to "have equal representation of senators appointed by the executive and legislative branches." However, only three of the 15 committee chairmen and only two of the seven commission chairs are from the legislative branch. It is therefore possible that Mironov was not completely forthcoming in his explanation of the selection process. (Julie A. Corwin)

The following table lists the new chairs and deputy chairs of the Federation Council's15 committees and seven commissions. An E indicates executive branch, while an L legislative branch.

Committee for Constitutional Legislation
Chairman Yurii Sharandin (Evenk-E) former Moscow City Duma deputy
Deputy Chairman Valerii Fedorov (Vologda-E) former first deputy interior minister

Committee for Judicial-Legal Questions
Chairman Aleksandr Yevstifeev (Yamalo-Nenets-E) deputy presidential envoy to the Volga federal district
Deputy Chairman Stanislav Vavilov (Jewish Auto. Oblast-L) former oblast duma chairman

Committee for Defense and Security
Chairman Viktor Ozerov (Khabarovsk-L) former krai legislature chairman
Deputy Chairman Valerii Manilov (Primore-E) former top Defense Ministry official

Committee for the Budget
Chairman Yevgenii Bushmin (Nizhnii Novgorod-E) former deputy finance minister
Deputy Chair Svetlana Orlova (Kemerovo-L) former State Duma deputy

Committee for Financial Markets and Monetary Circulation
Chairman Sergei Vasilev (Leningrad-E), former deputy economics minister
Deputy Chair Galina Buslova (Amur-L) former oblast duma chair

Committee for Social Policy
Chair Valentina Petrenko (Khakasia-E) deputy head of the administration for organizational work of Federation Council
Deputy Chair Valentina Demina (Bryansk-L) former oblast duma deputy chair

Committee for Economic Policy, Entrepreneurship, and Property
Chairman Oganes Oganyan (Komi-Permyak-E) former head of Moscow Businessmen Roundtable
Deputy Chairman Vladimir Gusev (Ivanovo-E), former chair of State Duma Industry Committee

Committee for Industrial Policy
Chairman Valentin Zavadnikov (Saratov-L) deputy CEO at Unified Energy Systems
Deputy Chairman Sergei Shatirov (Kemerovo-E) Vagon Leasing head

Committee for International Affairs
Chairman Mikhail Margelov (Pskov-E) director of Russian Information Center
Deputy Chairman Ilyas Umakhanov (Daghestan-L) deputy chair of republican government

Committee for Agrarian and Food Policy
Chairman Ivan Starikov (Kostroma-E) former federal deputy economics minister
Deputy Chairman Gennadii Gorbunov (Astrakhan-L) former federal Tax Ministry official

Committee for Science, Culture, Education, Health, and Ecology
Chairman Vladimir Nikitov (Smolensk-E) director of Federation Council's apparatus
Deputy Chairman Viktor Shuderov (Udmurtia-E), former deputy chair of republican government

Committee for Federation Affairs and Regional Policy
Chairman Aleksandr Kazakov (Rostov-L) former Gazprom official
Deputy Chairman Valerii Kadokhov (North Ossetia-L) former head of agrarian committee in republican parliament

Committee for the North and Numerically Small Peoples
Chairman Aleksandr Nazarov (Chukotka-E) former okrug governor
Deputy Chairman Gennadii Oleinik (Khanty-Mansiisk-E) former deputy head of okrug administration

Committee on Questions of Local Rule
Chairman Ravgaz Altynbaev (Tatarstan-E) former mayor of Naberezhnye Chelny
Deputy Chairman Leonid Roketskii (Taimyr-L) former governor of Tyumen Oblast

Committee for CIS Affairs
Chairman Vadim Gustov (Vladimir-E) former deputy prime minister and governor
Deputy Chairman Konstantin Markelov (Astrakhan-E) head of election staff for governor

Committee for Natural Resources and Preservation of the Environment
Chairman Valerii Tikhomirov (Omsk-E), former deputy tax minister
Deputy Chairman Viktor Orlov (Koryak-E) former federal minister for natural resources

Commission for the Reglament and Organization of Parliamentary Activities
Chairman Nikolai Tulaev (Kaliningrad-L), former military officer with Baltic Fleet
Deputy Chairman Sergei Popov (Ust-Orda-E) chairman of Unity party's executive committee

Commission for Control of the Federation Council's Activities
Chairman Vladimir Kulakov (Magadan-E) former Defense Ministry official
Deputy Chairman Aleksandr Kalita (Ulyanovsk-E) former Defense Ministry official

Commission for Cooperation with the Audit Chamber
Chairman Sergei Agaptsov (Volgograd-E) Volgograd Tractor Factory director
Deputy Chairman Boris Preobrazhenskii (Voronezh-E) former first deputy head of oblast administration

Commission for Methodology of Realizing the Federation Council's Constitutional Powers
Chairman Gennadii Burbulis (Novgorod-E) former state secretary under Yeltsin
Deputy Chairman Vitalii Vishnyakov (Chita-L) former oblast duma chairman

Commission for Youth and Sports
Chairman Yefim Kepelman (Yamalo-Nenets) former deputy chairman of okrug duma
Deputy Chairman Oleg Tatarinov (Tula-L) first deputy chairman of oblast duma

Commission for Information Policy
Chairman Dmitrii Mezentsev (Irkutsk-E) former chair of mass media committee under Sobchak
Deputy Chairman Igor Morozov (Ryazan-L) former advisor to presidential envoy to Central federal district Georgii Poltavchenko

Commission for Natural Monopolies
Chairman Mikhail Odintsev (Ryazan-E) head of a group of industrial enterprises, Starch Products
Deputy Chairman Anatolii Vaskov (Tula-E) deputy head of administration of Federation Council's apparatus

Sources: Interfax, "RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly"

When NTV was taken over by Gazprom Media, some 10,000 people gathered in Moscow to protest the event. Just 11 months later, TV-6 disappeared from the airwaves with only a small public outcry in Moscow, but in Washington, D.C., interest has remained almost as keen as it was during the NTV episode. Last week, about 40 people gathered at the Nixon Center to hear a spirited debate between "The Washington Post's" Foreign Editor David Hoffman, Nixon Center President Dmitrii Simes, and TV-Tsentr anchorman Aleksei Pushkov. "The Washington Post" and the Nixon Center have been at odds over the former's spirited defense of TV-6 journalists. A few weeks earlier, the Nixon Center circulated by e-mail a stinging attack of "The Washington Post's" recent op-eds, charging that the paper with its "increasingly exercised -- and reckless -- writing" seems determined to see the "worst, and only the worst, behind every Kremlin move." (see also

At the meeting on 1 February, the tone was markedly more conciliatory. Simes said that he agreed with Hoffman that the loss of the television station was a negative development, and he also criticized the methods by which the station was shut down. However, he questioned whether the TV-6 journalists, particularly Yevgenii Kiselev, deserved the strong defense mounted by the "Post" and others. According to Simes, Mr. Kiselev's teams at NTV and TV-6 have acted more often as a "group of intellectual hatchet men" than as journalists, since they have been willing at times to smear people's reputations on Media-MOST head Vladimir Gusinsky's orders. Simes insisted that he believes that "journalists should have special protections in place," because of the unique role they play in democracy. However, if someone is a KGB agent who also happens to file news stories, should those special protections still be extended, he asked. "At what point do journalists no longer merit special protection?" Simes never answered his own question, but his clear implication was that Kiselev and company had perhaps made too many compromises along the way to merit any special protection. They had made their bed, and now it is time for them to lie in it.

Simes also highlighted Media-MOST's connections with the KGB, particularly General Philip Bobkov, the former head of Media-MOST's security team, and its use of that team to threaten and intimidate Gusinsky's enemies. Simes also faulted the Western press for soft-pedaling their descriptions of Gusinsky and Berezovsky. According to Simes, it is not enough to state that simply they are "no angels," since they could be more accurately and fully described as "Russian gangsters." In response to that point, Hoffman asserted that some of the media barons from U.S. history such as Henry R. Luce and William Randolf Hearst were also "no angels." He asserted that the answer to the excesses of oligarchic capitalism -- and by extension oligarchic media -- is not the return or imposition of state control. While Pushkov's comments were more descriptive and less prescriptive than either Simes's or Hoffman's, he seemed to agree with the Nixon Center's president that any alarm in the West over TV-6 was misplaced. Pushkov said that only a very small part of the Russian population sees the closure of TV-6 as an issue of freedom of the press. They instead view the conflict mainly as a battle for power, and their interest is in the outcome or who will rule Russia. They do not view the TV-6 situation through "some abstract prism" of how the development of Russia's civil society will be affected. Pushkov also cautioned against applying the criteria of American democracy to Russia. According to Pushkov, Russia thinks of itself in the framework of a new type of political structure. Pushkov also expressed annoyance with the inaccurate belief that TV-6 is the last independent media outlet in Russia today, seeming to imply that because it is not such, it is therefore expendable.

As Simes noted, events in Moscow will play themselves out regardless of how Washington views them. But the pragmatic realpolitik approach advocated by Simes and Pushkov with regard to TV-6 is hardly likely to strengthen the Kremlin's already wishy-washy sentiments with regard to press freedom. In its current state, the Russian media may be rife with unethical practices, but how will Putin ever win -- let alone start -- his campaign against official corruption without independent journalists? Will government television journalists conduct long investigations of alleged bribery among cabinet officials? Maybe, but it's less likely. And how will Putin ever rein in the arbitrary use of power by regional-level officials without a watchdog press? Perhaps only one thing is clear: without an independent press, it will likely be easier to win an election. (Julie A. Corwin)

31 January-4 February: Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov will visit Washington, D.C.

5-6 February: Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer to visit Moscow

5-9 February: Spain's Crown Prince Felipe to visit Moscow and St. Petersburg

5-8 February: Russia and EU officials will discuss Russia's admission into WTO in Moscow

8 February: Unity and Fatherland parties will each hold congresses

10-12 February: Presidential envoy to the Far Eastern federal district to visit North Korea on non-official business, according to Interfax

13 February: Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien will visit Moscow

13 February: Minister for Economic Development and Trade German Gref invited to address the State Duma on government economic policy and plans to join the WTO

15 February: Railway charges for cargo will rise by 16 percent

Middle of February: The third All-Buryat Congress will take place in Ulan-Ude

19 February: U.S. and Russian officials to conduct second round of talks on strategic stability in Moscow

20 February: Prime Minister Kasyanov and Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov invited to address the Duma on homelessness among children

23 February: New state holiday honoring "Defenders of the Fatherland"

26 February: All-Russia conference on the Russian Regions and the WTO to be held in Moscow

6 March: Closing date to submit applications for tender for TV-6's television and radio frequencies

8 March: International Women's Day

15 March: Gas prices will be indexed by 20 percent

mid-March: The first draft of a report on Russia's efforts to join the WTO by the task force devoted to this quest will be ready

17 March: Tuva Republic will hold presidential elections

24 March: By-elections to be held in single-mandate district in Khanty-Mansiisk Autonomous Okrug for State Duma seat vacated by Aleksandr Ryazanov, who went to work for Gazprom

27 March: Tender for TV-6's broadcasting license

27-28 March: International conference on combating terrorism to be held in St. Petersburg, according to Interfax on 24 January

March-April: Russia will issue up to $2 billion in Eurobonds, according to Vneshekonombank head Andrei Kostin on 15 November

end of March: CIS Interparliamentary Assembly will hold its 19th plenary session

April: Unified party of Unity and Fatherland to officially register as a political party

April: The St. Petersburg Dialogue, a Russian-German forum, will hold its second conference in Weimar, Germany, according to ITAR-TASS

April: Gubernatorial elections in Penza Oblast

April: Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman will visit Russia, according to Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov on 24 January

7 April: Presidential elections in Ingushetia

22 April: State Duma will hold a hearing on the buying and selling of agricultural land, according to Interfax on 17 January

late April: Summit of five Caspian states to be held in Ashgabat, according to First Deputy Foreign Minister Viktor Kaluzhnii on 24 January

14-15 May: Foreign ministers of NATO countries and Russia will meet in Reykjavik

19 May: By-elections to be held in Altai Republic for State Duma seat left vacant by newly elected Altai Republic President Mikhail Lapshin

19 May: Gubernatorial elections in Smolensk Oblast

28 May: Russia-EU summit to be held

31 May: CIS summit to be held in Chisinau, Moldova

June: Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit to take place in St. Petersburg, ITAR-TASS reported

June: Baltic State Council meeting to be held in St. Petersburg

June: Government will have drafted a federal program for putting Russia's armed forces on a professional basis, according to Prime Minister Kasyanov on 7 December

June: Russia and the U.S. will have drafted an agreement on radical cuts in strategic offensive weapons, according to Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov on 18 December

9 June: Repeat elections for legislature of Primorskii Krai

26-28 June: Group of Seven summit to be held in Canada

9-16 October: All-Russia census

26-27 October: Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit to be held in Las Cabos, Mexico

7 November: Day of Reconciliation and Agreement.