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Russia Report: September 4, 2002

4 September 2002, Volume 2, Number 28
At a press conference in Kemerovo Oblast on 29 August, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he believes there is an economic basis for merging Krasnoyarsk Krai and the Taimyr and Evenk autonomous okrugs into a single federation subject, RIA-Novosti reported. However, he cautioned, "Issues regarding the revision of regional borders cannot be resolved by political will, since this would violate the constitution." "Borders may be changed only through a referendum and as the laws of each of the country's regions envision the relevant procedure," Putin continued. Regarding timing, Interfax reported, the president concluded that now is not the right time. JAC

At a press conference in Yekaterinburg, Mayor Arkadii Chernetskii said that he is not ruling out a possible third term as head of that city, reported. Meanwhile, Anatolii Batov, the deputy head of the Union of Rightist Forces regional branch, told "Region-Inform" that the "election of municipal heads for a third term would lead to the stagnation of power, the merging of various groups and clans, and the effective privatization of the territory in question." JAC

About 300 professors and students from Kalmykia State University conducted a meeting on 28 August in support of the university's rector, German Borlikov, who is also a candidate in the 20 October republican presidential elections, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 29 August. Earlier in the month, an adviser to incumbent republican President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, Nina Odinokova, accused Borlikov on local television of purchasing a gold medal for himself for $7,500 on local television. She also said that professors at the university take bribes from students. University staff believe that Odinokova's attack is linked to Borlikov's decision to run for president. For his part, Borlikov has complained about Odinokova's "slander" against him to the local election commission and the prosecutor's office. JAC

According to the daily, Unified Russia party activist and State Duma Deputy Aleksandra Burataeva (Unity) attended the meeting in support of Borlikov. She claimed that independent opinion polls show that 80 percent of the electorate opposes Ilyumzhinov, despite "official data" showing him in the lead. JAC

More than 3,000 schoolchildren in Krasnodar have reportedly volunteered to spend part of their summer vacations picking fruit, reported on 21 August, citing According to the report, the turnout at the Ivushka Camp of Labor and Rest was greater than expected and local authorities had to organize an additional shift for the children. On 20 August, 162 children were sent to work at the Krasnodarskii collective farm. RC

Former Krasnoyarsk Aluminum plant head Anatolii Bykov has expressed his support for the candidacy of Aleksandr Uss, chairman of Krasnoyarsk Krai's legislature, in the 8 September gubernatorial election, Russian agencies reported on 29 August. Bykov made the statements in an interview with the local newspaper "Krasnoyarskaya gazeta." According to RFE/RL's Krasnoyarsk correspondent, Bykov said that he hopes Uss will win in the first round. Local analysts believe that Bykov's expression of support will add no less than 10 percent of the total vote to Uss's tally. Bykov, although a convicted felon, remains popular in the region. Previously, some media speculated that Bykov was supporting Uss behind the scenes -- if not publicly (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August 2002). JAC

According to the Krasnoyarsk Krai Election Commission, Krasnoyarsk Mayor Petr Pimashkov has been the most frequent victim of "black PR" in the current campaign for krai governor, RosBalt reported on 28 August. The commission has investigated nearly 350 complaints so far, more than 80 percent of which involve accusations of mass-media violations of election laws. Just 7 percent of the accusations were leveled against candidates themselves. According to RosBalt, workers at Norilsk Nickel were handed leaflets urging Pimashkov to give back the money that oligarchs paid for his campaign. Pimashkov denies that he has received any contributions from oligarchs. A program called "Operation P" that alleges that Pimashkov's campaign is collecting compromising information about other candidates has been shown on local television in the krai several times. Pimashkov has asked prosecutors to file criminal charges against the film's producers. RC

The Supreme Court on 28 August ruled that an officer from outside Moscow named Anatolii Uss does not have the right to run for governor of Krasnoyarsk Krai, RosBalt and other Russian news agencies reported. Uss has the same last name as one of the leading candidates in the race, krai legislature Speaker Aleksandr Uss. Earlier, a local court ruled in favor of a complaint by Aleksandr Uss that argued the local election commission should not have registered Anatolii Uss, who was described in the complaint as "a front man who is clearly involved in a well-known 'black PR' tactic." The election commission appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, resulting in the latest ruling. According to Aleksandr Uss's lawyers, the Supreme Court ruling "has put an end to this unscrupulous matter." RC

Two of the five candidates running for mayor of Nizhnii Novgorod pulled out of the race on 28 August, urging their supporters to vote for Duma Deputy Vadim Bulavinov, "Izvestiya" reported on 29 August. Deputy Speaker of the oblast's Legislative Assembly Mikhail Dikin and Deputy Governor of Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Yurii Sentyuri -- both of whom were considered to have little chance of making it into a second round of voting -- threw their support behind Bulavinov, who is also supported by presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko. The moves put considerable pressure on the frontrunner in the race, businessman Andrei Klimentiev. According to the paper, the announcements came as a result of intense negotiations involving Kirienko, Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Governor Gennadii Khodyrev, and the head of the presidential administration, Aleksandr Voloshin. The first round of voting will be held on 15 September. RC

Earlier, in a closed session on 27 August, a municipal court in Nizhnii Novgorod upheld a decision by the local election commission to register candidates for mayor who have the same names as other candidates, RTR reported. The use of so-called doubles is a widespread dirty trick in Russian regional elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August 2002). "This is a blow to elections as such," said Vita Vladimirova, lawyer for the plaintiff in the case, State Duma Deputy Vadim Bulavinov. Bulavinov is a leading candidate in the 15 September poll, and he filed the complaint after another candidate -- an unemployed local man who legally changed his name to Vadim Bulavinov in July -- was registered. The second Bulavinov has not been seen in public since he submitted his papers to the election commission and police have declared him missing (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 August 2002) and launched a search. RC

Rostov Oblast Governor Vladimir Chub held a meeting with the heads of the companies exploiting the Markovskoye natural-gas field in order to compel them to pay their taxes, reported on 21 August, citing According to the report, Chub told the heads of Soyuzprominvest, Dongazdobych, and Kubangazprom that he expects gas production to be the leading source of revenue for the entire oblast and that he is disappointed that tax payments from the companies have been declining in recent months. In the course of the meeting, Soyuzprominvest reportedly agreed to register itself in Rostov Oblast. The company is currently registered in Moscow Oblast and pays part of its taxes there. At the same time, Dongazdobych agreed to work with the administration of the oblast's Tarasov Raion on a local community-development plan. RC

A criminal investigation of St. Petersburg Deputy Governor Aleksandr Potekhin has been closed, RosBalt reported on 26 August. According to Deputy Prosecutor-General Vladimir Zubrin, some of the charges against Potekhin were dropped because they fell under the terms of Duma amnesties. Others were dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired. Potekhin was being investigated for allegedly engaging in commercial activity while serving as a public official. Potekhin was one of several close associates of St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev -- including former Deputy Governor Valerii Malyshev and Deputy Governor Anatolii Kagan -- to be investigated by federal prosecutors on a range of corruption charges. "Society must become accustomed to respecting the presumption of innocence," Yakovlev's spokesman, Aleksandr Afanasiev, was quoted as saying. "The Kagan case will turn out just the same, as did the Malyshev case." RC

The Sverdlovsk Oblast Court has ruled that provisions of the oblast law on local self-government that allowed mayors the choice of not enacting certain local laws contradicts federal legislation, "Izvestiya" reported on 22 August. Under the old law, mayors often squelched laws of which they did not approve by simply not signing them, since the law did not specify a deadline for them to do so if they declared that they intend to contest the law in court. The daily reported that Yekaterinburg Mayor Arkadii Chernetskii, for example, has used the tactic to delay some local legislation as long as seven years, although he never filed any actual complaints. "As a result, it is useless for deputies to pass legislation that has not been previously agreed upon with the executive branch," said Sergei Belyaev, president of the Sutyazhnik society, who filed the suit. According to the paper, the oblast duma will amend the law in its upcoming session, requiring mayors to sign legislation within a certain time frame and allowing them to contest laws in court only after they have come into force. RC

On the eve of President Putin's visit to Kazan, Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev told delegates at the third International Congress of Tatars on 29 August that the federal center has begun moving away from the practice of building relations with the regions on the basis of agreement, and "words like 'sovereignty of the republics' and even 'federalism' continue to disappear from this vocabulary," RIA-Novosti reported. He added that the "center is even trying to take upon itself more authority." RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day that in their speeches at the congress, Professor Abdulkhan Akhamzyan of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations and republican legislator and Tatar playwright Tufan Minnulin spoke about the federal government's "increasing pressure on the ethnic republics" and its "refusal to develop federalism." In his speech, Minnulin said, "Only Tatars can save their nation, since Russia isn't interested." JAC

In his remarks to congress delegates on 30 August, Putin said that it is necessary "to defend the good relations among nations that have been built up over centuries from those who, from selfish motives, manipulate them with extremist and nationalist slogans and try to foster distrust, aggression, and intolerance," according to Putin added that "it is perfectly obvious that society itself must develop immunity from this illness." RC

In the same address, the president said that the upcoming national census is "an extremely serious state enterprise that demands the maximum correctness and tact, first of all from government representatives," reported. He said that state policies on "matters of facilitating national-cultural development and preserving national languages and traditions" will be based on the census results. RC

President Putin also told congress delegates that the state should not tell religions "how they should act, who they should select, and how they should unite," RIA-Novosti reported on 30 August. "We must help them create conditions in which they can work and do everything we can to ensure there are no barriers between them and the citizenry." He said that although it is important to keep religion separate from the state, "it would be a mistake to separate the people from religion." The president, responding to a question concerning whether Muslim women should be allowed to wear their traditional headscarves for their document photographs, said that such photographs must conform to "national standards," RIA-Novosti reported. RC

Region_______________Maximum level of tariff increase for local
_____________________ telephone service for July 2002

Sakhalin Oblast_______________________8,000 rubles ($253)
Kabardino-Balkaria Republic,
Murmansk Oblast_____________________7,000 rubles
Kostroma Oblast______________________6,500 rubles
Amur, Voronezh, Pskov oblasts, Altai Krai
Komi and Marii El republics______________6,000 rubles
Altai Republic________________________5,000 rubles
Khakasia Republic_____________________4,000 rubles

Source: Ministry for Anti-Monopoly Policy as cited by Interfax, 28 June 2002

OUT: State Duma Deputy Vladimir Golovlev, an independent formerly of the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) faction, was murdered near his Moscow home on 21 August, Russian and Western news agencies reported.. Golovlev left SPS in early 2001 to become a co-chairman of Boris Berezovskii's Liberal Russia. Last fall, the Prosecutor-General's Office asked the Duma to lift Golovlev's immunity from prosecution in order to investigate his activities when he headed the Chelyabinsk Oblast State Property Committee in 1991-92 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 December 2001).

IN: Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov on 27 August signed a decree appointing two new first deputy finance ministers, Russian news agencies reported on 28 August. According to RosBalt, one of the appointees is St. Petersburg native Sergei Vyazalov, who was a member of the economics team created in the city by current Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin in the mid-1990s. He will oversee interbudgetary relations. Under the same decree, Deputy Finance Minister Tatyana Golikova was promoted to first deputy finance minister; she will head the budgetary-policy office.

5 September: Hungarian Foreign Minister Lazlo Kovacs to meet with Prime Minister Kasyanov and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov

6 September: Cabinet of ministers will discuss reform of the railway sector

7 September: State Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev's Rossiya movement to hold founding congress in Moscow

7 September: Syrian Minister for Oil and Natural Resources Ibrahim al-Haddad will arrive in Moscow

8 September: Gubernatorial election in Krasnoyarsk Krai

8 September: Singapore Foreign Minister Sanmugam Jaykumar will arrive in Moscow

10-11 September: The fourth annual conference of the regional administrations of countries in Northeast Asia will take place in Khabarovsk

11 September: An International Monetary Fund mission will arrive in Moscow to assess Russia's financial sector, Prime-TASS reported on 8 August

11 September: State Duma will open

14-23 September: The World Association of Female Entrepreneurs will hold its 50th international congress in St. Petersburg

15 September: Mayoral election will be held in Nizhnii Novgorod

15 September: Government will submit to the Duma amendments to the law on Russian as a state language

18 September: First plenary meeting of State Duma's fall session

19 September: Date by which Russian cabinet will make a final decision on the nature and extent of its intervention in grain markets

26-27 September: Association of Election Organizers from the Countries of Central and Eastern Europe will hold a special conference in Moscow, according to "Izvestiya" on 17 June

29 September: By-election in single-mandate district in Omsk Oblast for State Duma seat formerly occupied by Aleksandr Vereteno, who died in April

1 October: Ferry service will start between Kaliningrad and St. Petersburg, according to deputy presidential envoy to the Northwest Federal District Andrei Stepanov

5 October: Criminal investigation by Prosecutor-General's Office of oligarch Boris Berezovskii to end officially

7 October: CIS summit to be held in Chisinau, Moldova, according to Interfax on 13 May

12-14 October: Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi will visit Russia

20 October: By-election in single-mandate district in Khanty-Mansii Autonomous Okrug for State Duma seat once occupied by Aleksandr Lotorev, who now directs the Duma's apparatus

26-27 October: Putin to attend APEC summit in Los Cabos, Mexico

20 October: Presidential elections in Kalmykia

14 November: Meeting of united political council of Union of Rightist Forces and Yabloko scheduled

1 January: Date by which Unified Energy System plans to redeem 80 percent of debts to Russian coal companies, according to company statement on 29 August.