17 October 2001, Volume
NOTE TO READERS:
The next issue of "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report" will appear on 31 October.
FAR NORTH LEADERS WANT TO LIMIT MIGRATION FROM MUSLIM COUNTRIES...
Regional officials continue to call for tighter migration controls, fearing an influx of refugees following U.S.-U.K. air strikes against Afghanistan (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 11 and 3 October 2001). The latest leaders to do so are Khanty-Mansii Autonomous Okrug Governor Aleksandr Filipenko and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug Governor Yurii Neelov, who have called for limiting the entry into Tyumen Oblast of not just Afghans but "representatives of Muslim populations," "Vremya novostei" reported on 12 October. Interior ministry representatives in Tyumen Oblast announced on 11 October that around 80 percent of the citizens from Central Asia who arrive in the region do not return to their homeland. And "in connection with this," according to the daily, Petr Latyshev, presidential envoy to the Ural federal district ordered that security measures be increased around all important facilities in the district, and chief federal inspector to Tyumen Oblast Sergei Smetanyuk proposed creating an information center, where all those persons arriving from Central Asian and Caucasus CIS states would be concentrated. Tyumen police officials also reported that they recently arrested a group of people engaged in smuggling Afghans into the region, and that hundreds if not thousands of Afghan refugees have entered the oblast illegally. JAC
...AS SIBERIAN OFFICIALS LIMIT AIR, RAIL LINKS WITH CENTRAL ASIA, MIDDLE EAST.
Meanwhile, in Novosibirsk Oblast, members of an antiterrorist commission organized by the oblast's governor, Viktor Tolokonskii, met on 15 October to discuss strengthening security measures for passenger and cargo traffic along the region's roads, railways, and air corridors, Interfax-Eurasia reported. The leadership of the West-Siberian railway and West-Siberian regional administration of the Federal Aviation Service has decided to reduce flights and trains from Central Asia and the Middle East. The private carrier, Sibir, has decided to temporarily suspend flights from the UAE. In addition, the head of Novosibirsk Oblast's migration service has suggested strengthening the rules for reporting the arrival to the oblast of all foreigners and persons without citizenship. JAC
MEDIA LEFT GUESSING ABOUT ATTITUDE OF SHAIMIEV, RAKHIMOV TOWARD AFGHAN CONFLICT...
Neither Tatarstan's President Mintimer Shaimiev nor Bashkortostan's President Murtaza Rakhimov have commented publicly on the U.S.-led bombing campaign against Afghanistan, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 11 October, and the daily concluded that their silence may indicate "at least ambivalence within Russia about the latest developments." Meanwhile, the religious leaders in their regions are not refraining from comments. Mikaddas Bibarsov, chairman of the Volga Muslim Religious Board, has remarked, "The U.S., the global policeman, and its allies are reshaping the world and killing civilians -- using the slogan of combating terrorism as a pretext," according to the daily. And Tatarstan's Muslim Religious Board noted that bin Laden and the Taliban "emerged with the help of the U.S. and Pakistan special services," and that the bombing "only contributes to the civil war in Afghanistan," RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. Meanwhile, NTV reported on 12 October that "25 fighters for religious causes in Naberezhnye Chelny have applied to the local branch of the Tatar Public Center asking to be sent to Taliban positions." JAC
...AS OTHER REGIONAL LEADERS VOICE SUSPICION OF U.S.
Commenting on the 11 September terrorist attacks, Chavash President Nikolai Fedorov suggested that they were a natural outgrowth of the failure of the "international community, and particularly the G-7, [who] have failed to offer a real alternative to several generations in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan.... Sure, we can respond with further retaliatory strikes -- but I think that will only swell the ranks of the terrorists who are prepared to die and take with them as many 'infidels' as possible." Other regional leaders saw the U.S.'s retaliatory air strikes against Afghanistan as part of a complex plan to expand its sphere of influence. Addressing a session of the Vologda Oblast administration, Governor Vyacheslav Pozgalev said that the West is "hypocritical when it talks about an international war against terrorism," regions.ru reported on 15 October, citing "Rosbalt." He continued: "Today's situation was created especially for Russia. Now a war is ongoing without borders or laws. Through the southern borders, the Taliban will forge directly into Russia. We are the ones that are threatened. This is a conscious act of world imperialism." Meanwhile, in Samara Oblast, the local committee of the Communist Party is distributing an appeal protesting U.S. air strikes. According to the appeal, the roots of terrorism lie in U.S.-NATO policy and "it is not excluded that after Iraq, Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan, the U.S. will start a war against Russia with its reserves of oil, gas, and timber." JAC
QUESTIONS RAISED ABOUT TRUE ALLEGIANCE OF NEW SENATORS...
At a meeting of Federation Council representatives of regions in the Central federal district, the new senators revealed that "problems arose" when they voted in favor of the Land Code after more than 30 regional legislatures had recommended that the bill be rejected, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 13 October. The Land Code passed on 10 October in the upper chamber with 103 votes in favor and only 29 against. Valentina Demina, who represents Bryansk Oblast's legislature, said that she has already been "threatened" for her vote in favor of the bill. In response to these reports, presidential envoy to the Central federal district Georgii Poltavchenko, who chaired the meeting, pledged that "if issues arise about limiting of the rights of senators as citizens to fulfill their responsibilities, then naturally we will intervene." According to unidentified sources, the presidential envoys to the federal districts, including Poltavchenko, were "actively involved in the process of selecting cadres for the upper chamber." It was reported earlier that during one session, some senators received faxes from an unnamed presidential envoy telling them how to vote on specific bills (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 25 July 2001). "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported that only the Moscow city legislature has made its representative to the Federation Council formally responsible to serve its wishes. It passed a decree clearly stating that its representative should do as it wish or he will be fired. JAC
...AS THEIR RANKS SWELL.
At the opening of the council's fall session, eight new senators were confirmed, "Kommersant-Daily reported on 11 October. Former Deputy Economy Minister Sergei Vasilev will represent Leningrad Oblast's administration. Igor Morozov, former advisor to envoy Poltavchenko, will represent Ryazan Oblast's duma. Valerii Manilov, former first deputy head of the Armed Forces' General Staff, will represent Primorskii Krai. Valentin Zavadnikov, former deputy head of administration for Unified Energy Systems, will represent Saratov Oblast's duma. Aleksandr Karpov, former first deputy general director of the Pervouralskii factory, will represent Amur Oblast's governor. Valerii Fedorov, former first deputy minister of internal affairs, will represent the governor of Vologda Oblast. Viktor Dobrosotskii, deputy general director of the firm Mineral Trading, will represent Perm Oblast's legislature. Vladimir Plotnikov, who is currently a Federation Council member, will represent the Moscow city duma. The upper chamber also refused again to suspend the powers of the former speaker of Chuvash's legislative assembly, Nikolai Ivanov, until a court case between Ivanov and those who fired him has been completed. According to Interfax on 10 October, there are now 85 senators working on a "permanent" basis. JAC
KOZAK GIVES REGIONS DEADLINE TO FIX AGREEMENTS...
Dmitrii Kozak, head of the presidential commission on power-sharing agreements, told a Federation Council hearing on 16 October that regions have until 28 July to bring their power-sharing agreements into compliance with federal law. Earlier news reports had listed earlier dates (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 October 2001). According to ITAR-TASS, Kozak also stated that agreements that have not been brought into conformity with federal law should be canceled. He added that if a mutual understanding between the center and the regions is not achieved by July, then the matter may be resolved in court. Kozak explained that the agreements come last in the hierarchy of Russian laws: First is the constitution, then federal laws, decrees of the president, and resolutions of the government. JAC
...EXPLAINS LEGISLATIVE PROCESS...
Commenting on the process of harmonizing local and federal laws, Kozak acknowledged that while many regional leaders contend that some of their laws and regulations are better than the federal versions, they are welcome to try to change federal laws through legally accepted manners, that is, legislative initiatives to introduce changes to federal law, strana.ru reported. In an interview published in "Rossiiskaya gazeta" on 10 October, Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel said that harmonization is being carried out backwards. He said that instead of federal subjects being compelled to bring their legislation into line with federal laws, federal officials should carefully study the various approaches adopted locally and then introduce those changes into federal legislation. JAC/PG
...AS DAILY HINTS AT POSSIBLE POLITICAL INSTABILITY DOWN THE ROAD.
In an article that appeared before Kozak's appearance, "Izvestiya" reported on 11 October that it had obtained a protocol of Kozak's presidential commission. According to the protocol, those persons and state organs within the regions who have not brought their region's laws into compliance could be held criminally and administratively responsible. Unidentified sources "close to the presidential envoys to the federal districts" told the daily that the "federal center does not exclude [the possibility] that political tension could arise in one of the especially powerful regions, which are not ready for this." JAC
LEGISLATOR SAYS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DOING BETTER JOB WITH NORTHERN DELIVERY.
In an interview with "Krasnaya zvezda" on 13 October, Valentina Pivnenko, chair (People's Deputy) of the State Duma's Committee on Problems of the North and Far East, said that she thinks the problems of financing the northern delivery have eased. According to Pivnenko, some 3 billion rubles were set aside for the northern delivery in the 2000 federal budget, and in the 2001 budget, this sum was increased to 6.650 billion rubles. And her committee was able to get an additional 350 million rubles allotted. She added that the money for deliveries is being sent to the regions according to plan rather than in the delayed fashion that occurred in previous years. Regions typically wouldn't receive their money until the end of the summer but needed to start making deliveries in May. At the same time, Pivnenko said that while the level of financing has grown, it needs to grow further to a "minimum" of 13 billion rubles a year. According to Pivnenko, the biggest problem currently is the poor condition of local housing stock and infrastructure, such as gas and water pipelines and boilers. JAC
PRIME MINISTER A STEP BEHIND FINANCE MINISTRY?
On a trip to Yaroslavl to dedicate an ice hockey arena on 12 October, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov told reporters that it would be inexpedient at present to change the principle of interbudgetary relations, in which 60 percent of budget revenues flow to the federal center. "We are trying to establish the law dividing revenues 50-50, but now we need a not large 'reserve of money' so the center can fulfill a series of important responsibilities -- international responsibilities such as repaying the state debt and internal ones such as reforming the army and judicial system," he said. Kasyanov acknowledged that there are 20 regions in Russia that have insufficient resources for paying the wages of state workers, and to fully resolve this problem, "corrections," such as raising assistance to the regions by 16 billion rubles ($543.6 million), have been introduced into the draft 2002 budget. However, on the same day, Deputy Finance Minister Yevgenii Bushman told a State Duma hearing that the Finance Ministry is recommending that the government increase assistance to the regions by 23 billion rubles, the website strana.ru reported. Bushman said that the ministry has decided that the 16.5 billion-ruble increase was insufficient. JAC
UNITY SUPPORTS STROEV IN BID FOR THIRD TERM.
The presidium of the Unity party's political council has decided to support incumbent Orel Oblast Governor Yegor Stroev in 28 October gubernatorial elections, Interfax reported on 16 October. Stroev has already served two terms as governor. "Novye izvestiya" reported on 16 October, without identifying its sourcing, that the reason why the Unity faction in the Duma reversed its position on a bill giving most regional governors the opportunity to seek a third term was because of an "agreement between the Kremlin and current speaker of the upper house Yegor Stroev guaranteeing his re-election" (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 20 June 2001). According to the daily, the Duma's Committee on Regional Policy has recommended that deputies try to overcome in the near future the upper house's rejection of the bill last July (see "RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly," 11 and 23 July 2001). According to RFE/RL's Orel correspondent on 27 September, Stroev has essentially already served more than two terms, having played a dominant role in the region since 1975 as an upper-level Communist Party official. JAC
PRESSURE ON VLADIVOSTOK LEGISLATOR TURNS VIOLENT.
A deputy from Vladivostok's duma, Irina Keldyusheva, was severely beaten by two unknown assailants on 12 October, and doctors say her condition is critical, Interfax-Eurasia reported. Boris Danchin, chair of the city duma, said that a number of deputies have received telephone threats demanding that they resign. Earlier in the month, the city duma took control of the administration and leasing of municipal properties. And on 4 October, deputies approved a decision to direct an inquiry to Vladivostok Mayor Yurii Kopylov about transactions with municipal property over the last few years. Earlier, two of Kopylov's deputies were accused of abuse of office in connection with their handling of municipal real estate (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 July 2001). JAC
DIAMOND OLIGARCH TO SEEK PRESIDENCY.
ALROSA President Vyacheslav Shtyrov has decided to run for the presidency of Sakha (Yakutia) Republic, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 16 October. According to the daily, Shtyrov will soon become chief favorite in the election competition and the "official successor to Mikhail Nikolaev if he does not manage to become a candidate." Earlier in the month, local legislators failed to pass a bill amending the republic's constitution to allow current President Mikhail Nikolaev to seek a third term in office, Russian agencies reported on 11 October (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 11 October 2001). The measure needed support from two-thirds of the local legislature, according to Interfax-Eurasia. The speaker of Sakha's legislative assembly, Vasilii Filippov, commented that the result of the vote is that Nikolaev has no legal basis to seek reelection. Central Election Commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov made a similar comment earlier. JAC
DUMA SAVED FROM DISSOLUTION.
Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Eduard Rossel signed a decree late on 12 October bringing the oblast's regulations into conformity with federal legislation, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 15 October. According to "Kommersant-Daily" on 16 October, Rossel's measure was designed to save the oblast's legislature from dissolution. Earlier in the month, presidential envoy to the Ural federal district Petr Latyshev said that if the oblast's duma did not bring the region's laws into compliance, he would ask President Putin to disband the legislature (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 October 2001). Work has been paralyzed in the local legislature due to a dispute over the duma's speaker, making it impossible for the legislators to meet a 12 October deadline set by the Russian Supreme Court to revise local laws. JAC
COWS COME DOWN WITH ANTHRAX IN SIBERIAN REPUBLIC.
Tuvan health officials have reported that some livestock in a village in the Maren Erzinskii raion where the republic borders Mongolia have come down with anthrax, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 16 October. According to the daily, the republic's veterinarian service has confirmed three cases in October. Restrictions on the export of meat or dairy products from the raion have been introduced and cattle in the surrounding area have been vaccinated. JAC
TATAR NATIONALIST GROUPS ISSUE NEW CALL FOR INDEPENDENCE.
More than 2,000 people gathered in Kazan on 14 October to mourn those who defended the city against Ivan the Terrible in 1552, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 15 October. Some participants burned likenesses of the Russian state symbol as well as historical maps. Leaders of moderate nationalist groups also made speeches, decrying Moscow's "mistaken policies toward ethnic groups within Russia" and growing federal government pressure on Tatar legislators. According to the bureau, demonstrators also called on Tatarstan's government and the federal government to "adopt an act on Tatarstan's full independence and create an Idel-Ural confederation, reject Russian passports and introduce [Tatarstan's] own, and [transfer] law enforcement and military bodies [to] local authorities." According to "Izvestiya" on 15 October, there were also calls to form a people's front and "liquidate 'colonial vertical Russian power.'" JAC
KIRIENKO CANDIDATE WITHDRAWS FROM MAYORAL RACE.
Following a suggestion by presidential envoy to the Volga federal district Sergei Kirienko that he withdraw as a candidate in 21 October mayoral elections in Izhevsk, chief federal inspector to Udmurtia Sergei Chikurov announced on 15 October that he was leaving the race, the website strana.ru reported on 16 October. Kirienko had made the suggestion to "stabilize" the political situation in Udmurtia. Federal and local officials have been engaged in a tug of war over Udmurtia Television, an affiliate of the All-Russia State Television and Radio Company's (VGTRK). VGTRK head Oleg Dobrodeev had said earlier that he believes the leadership of the republic wants to gain control over the company because of the impending mayoral elections (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 10 October 2001). According to strana.ru, Chikurov had been one of the favorites, and some analysts believe the share of votes "against all" will increase from the 20 percent level that had already been forecast. Meanwhile, on 16 October, Udmurt legislators remained defiant, saying that they will continue to support the old director of Udmurtia Television, whom Dobrodeev has sought to replace. JAC