9 August 2000, Volume
KREMLIN PREPARES FOR NEXT ROUND OF ELECTIONS....
By the end of 2000, gubernatorial and mayoral elections as well as ballots for regional legislatures will be held in 38 Russian regions, "Kommersant" reported on 5 August. According to the daily, in which Boris Berezovskii has a controlling interest, the Kremlin is planning to aid the competitors of at least two incumbent governors, Kaliningrad Governor Leonid Gorbenko and Kursk Governor Aleksandr Rutskoi. Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly plans to back Baltic Fleet commander Admiral Vladimir Yegorov for the Kaliningrad post, although Yegorov has not officially announced his intention to run. "Segodnya" suggested on 1 August that Yegorov is not the only security officer whom the Kremlin in backing for "promotion" at the regional level. The daily, which is owned by Vladimir Gusinskii's Media-MOST, alleges without reference to sourcing, that the Kremlin is reportedly planning to support the candidacy of General Vladimir Kulakov, 56, head of the Regional Directorate of the Federal Security Service (FSB), for the governor's seat in Voronezh Oblast. Four days later, both "Segodnya" and "Kommersant-Daily" reported Lieutenant-General Vladimir Shamanov, who currently commands the western group of forces in Chechnya, has almost "made up his mind" to run for governor's seat in Ulyanovsk Oblast. JAC
...AS MORE GENERALS HOPE TO BECOME GOVERNORS.
"Moskovskii komsomolets" also reported that the Kremlin is planning to unseat several governors in favor of its own candidates. In Kursk Oblast, it reported on 4 August that the local business community in Kursk Oblast is likely to float its own candidate to oppose incumbent Governor Rutskoi. According to the daily, Rutskoi has strong internal opposition not only in the local business community but also in the oblast legislature. The daily, which is close to Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, also alleges that "kompromat" implicating Rutskoi for abuse of office will be used during the campaign. The newspaper also cites "rumors" that former head of the Federation Council's Committee on Constitutional Legislation, Sergei Sobyanin, will challenge Tyumen Governor Leonid Roketskii. Roketskii was recently critical of President Putin's federation reforms, and Sobyanin is now a deputy to the presidential envoy to the Ural district (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 7 June 2000). Among the other regions where governor's races will occur in 2000 are the republics of Marii El and Udmurtiya, the Aginsk-Buryatia and Koryak autonomous okrugs, and Murmansk, Pskov, Sakhalin, Chita, Kaluga, and Kamchatka oblasts. JAC
ALL PIECES OF FEDERATION REFORM PACKAGE FALL INTO PLACE...
On 5 August, President Putin signed into law the third of three bills that he submitted to the State Duma reforming the Russian Federation. The bill allows the president and regional leaders to dismiss mayors and the heads of towns if they violate federal laws. JAC
...AS ANALYSTS CONSIDER LONG TERM CONSEQUENCES OF FEDERATION RESTRUCTURING.
President Putin's administrative reform of the Russian Federation may lower the "formal political status" of the regions, but it will not influence the real opportunities of the local elites, Vladimir Shpak argued in "Vremya novostei" on 26 July. According to Shpak, for a variety of the electorate in the region it makes little difference whether they pay their taxes to their local governor or the federal Finance Ministry: The main thing is how much they have to pay and how often. The average regional business will now have to seek the support of large federation-wide corporations, and local bureaucrats will flee to federal-level departments. According to Shpak, that process is already beginning. Writing in "The Moscow Times" on 2 August, commentator Yulia Latynina argues that one of the consequences of Putin's reform of the Federation Council will be the opposite of that desired. The members of the upper house may become more important in the legislative process, not less. Previously, a governor "didn't have time for details; his job was just to punch a button" and "it was rare for senators in the upper house to meet in committee to discuss legislation." Now, the new representatives "will run around, lobby, twiddle their thumbs, earn their pay but now not a single law will be passed without being discussed in committee." Latynina implies that those seeking to smooth the way of any piece of legislation may now have to bribe not only Duma deputies but also Federation Council members. JAC
GOVERNMENT OPENS 'EMBASSIES' IN FEDERAL DISTRICTS.
According to Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko, the Russian government will open its own representative offices in the seven federal districts to coordinate the work of ministries and agencies there, according to "Segodnya" on 5 August. He said that the decree on this will be issued by 13 August. Officials told the paper that this arrangement will increase the power of the federal agencies relative to that of the governors. Meanwhile, on 7 August, President Putin appointed Gennadii Apanasenko as the first deputy to his representative in the Far Eastern Federal District and Vladislav Tumanov as first deputy presidential representative in the Urals Federal District. Prior to their appointments, Apanasenko had been first deputy head of the Khabarovsk regional administration, and Tumanov had served as first deputy minister for federation affairs, nationalities, and migration policy. PG
SOME GOVERNORS CALL FOR NEW STATE COUNCIL TO BE INCLUSIVE...
Following President Putin's call for members of Russia's upper and lower houses to submit "proposals regarding the status and composition" of the proposed State Council (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 July 2000), Russian newspapers have been asking members of the Federation Council for their views on the new body. Saratov Oblast Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov told "Kommersant-Daily" of 29 July that it would be pointless making the State Council a replica of the Federation Council, arguing that "only the most literate and respectable regional leaders should be included in it." On the other hand, Lipetsk Governor Oleg Korolev, who is also deputy speaker of the Federation Council, insists that all the regions should be represented in the new body and that the president should determine who sits on the council and what its functions are. That view is shared by Chelyabinsk Governor Petr Sumin, who in an interview with "Trud" of 1 August said he believes the heads of all republics, krais, and oblasts should be included in the State Council. He also argued in favor of transferring some of the functions of the Federation Council to the new body, including determining fundamental economic and political strategies as well as announcing a state of war. Volgograd Governor Nikolai Maksyuta, for his part, told "Trud" that the federal constitution will have to be amended to ensure that the State Council has "serious powers," otherwise, he argued, the new body will simply be a "governors' club without concrete duties and responsibilities." JC
...AS SHAMIEV, DZASOKHOV SUGGEST PUTIN AS STATE COUNCIL HEAD...
Six days later, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev told TatarInform on 7 August that the planned State Council "must be headed by the Russian president and must represent the heads of the Russian territorial entities," RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 8 August. He advocated amending the Russian Constitution as soon as possible to define the status and functions of the new body, which, he said, should include the right of legislative initiative. In an interview published in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 8 August, North Ossetian President Aleksandr Dzasokhov similarly said that Putin should head the new State Council, adding that he should have a permanent deputy. Dzasokhov said that the heads of government of all federation subjects should be members of the state council, and that the possibility of extending membership also to the government heads of smaller autonomous formations within those 89 federation subjects should also be discussed. LF
...AND DUMA SPEAKER CALLS FOR BODY TO INCLUDE FEDERAL AS WELL AS REGIONAL LEADERS.
In an interview with "Rossiiskaya gazeta" on 5 August, State Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev suggested that the new State Council should include not only regional leaders but also representatives of the presidential administration, the secretary of the Security Council, the speakers of the State Duma and Federation Council, the prime minister, and the presidential envoys to the seven federal districts. Last month, President Putin called on members of the State Duma and Federation Council to put forth their proposals for how the proposed State Council should look (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 July 2000). JAC
FATHERLAND TO FORM DISTRICT BRANCHES.
Andrei Isaev, a top official in Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov's Fatherland, told "Segodnya" on 5 August that the movement plans to form seven branches that would align with the seven federal districts. He added that the movement also plans to participate in the upcoming regional elections and hopes to get as many members of the Fatherland movement into the new Federation Council "as possible." JAC
REPUBLIC BECOMES FEDERAL TAXPAYER.
As of 1 July, Bashkortostan started paying taxes to Moscow--something it never did during the Yeltsin era, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 5 August. According to the paper, Putin's "victory" over Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov was not won easily. Last April, the government went to court demanding money that Bashkortostan had not paid over the last years (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 26 April 2000). The daily concluded that Putin's government plans to use the increased monies that it will be collecting from places such as Bashkortostan to increase spending on the military and intelligence services. However, Finance Minister Kudrin suggested earlier that at least some of the increased monies being directed through the center will be used to even out economic disparities between the regions. JAC
GOVERNOR'S GUARDS ROUGH UP ENVIRONMENTAL PROTESTORS.
Environmental activists protesting Chelyabinsk Oblast Governor Petr Sumin's decision to use the region as a dumping ground for imported radioactive nuclear waste were harrassed and beaten by Sumin's guards, "The Moscow Times" reported on 5 August. The protestors had blocked the driveway to Sumin's office. According to the Moscow-based Ecodefense environmental group, two of the 30 protestors had to seek medical assistance at a local hospital while 10 in all were beaten. Last February, more than 500 local residents demonstrated at the building site of the South Chelyabinsk nuclear power station demanding that work on it be resumed after a 10-year hiatus. A decade ago, a much larger group of protestors had demanded that work on the plant be stopped (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 9 Febuary 2000). JAC
LOCAL 'KOMSOMOLSKAYA' TOLD TO TOE REPUBLIC LINE.
Early last month, local newspapers more or less independent of the republican authorities wrote about the situation surrounding "Komsomolskaya pravda v Karelii," Petrozavodsk's "Gorod" reported on 5 July. According to those reports, the republican authorities had complained to the Moscow headquarters of "Komsomolskaya pravda" about an article written by journalist Natalya Yermolina expressing a personal, and presumably somewhat critical, view of the celebrations for the Day of the Republic in Karelia. The Moscow management of "Komsomolskaya pravda," apparently not wanting to spoil its relations with Petrozavodsk, ordered its Karelian branch to seek a replacement for Yermolina. Obeying orders from the capital city, the Karelian branch hired one Olga Mimmieva, who until recently had worked for the pro-administration newspaper "Karelia" and at some time or other reportedly studied with none other than Karelian Prime Minister Sergei Katanandov. Vladimir Potanin's Interros Group and LUKoil are major shareholders in "Komsomolskaya pravda." JC
GOVERNOR DEFIES MOSCOW.
Kemerovo Governor Aman Tuleev signed a decree establishing a minimal electricity tariff for residences of 15 kopeks per kilowatt as of 1 July, which conflicts with a decree signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov that set the minimal tariff for the Kuzbass region at 23 kopeks per kilowatt, "Segodnya" reported on 3 August. According to the daily, Tuleev sent a letter to Kasyanov complaining that his May decree represented a "crude interference with regions' economic rights" and declared that he did not want to participate in "robbery" of the regions' residents that a 23 kopek minimum would represent. JAC
LOCAL OLIGARCH TO STAND TRIAL FOR EMBEZZLEMENT.
The oblast branch of the federal Tax Police has concluded its investigation into the 1997 embezzlement of 67 million rubles ($2.4 million at the current exchange rate) and handed over its findings to the court, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 27 July. The principal figure in the so-called Proton case is Sergei Nikitin, who at the time was deputy director-general of the Samaratransgaz company and more recently took part in the Samara gubernatorial elections. Last December, Nikitin was imprisoned for three days in connection with the case; by this time, he was director of the Middle Volga Gas Company, which has had close ties to Governor Konstantin Titov. Since Titov at the time was preparing to run in the federal presidential ballot, the detention of a figure closely linked to his most important economic base in the oblast was perceived as a blatant political act. When Nikitin decided to run last month's gubernatorial ballot against Titov, it was widely rumored that Nikitin was seeking, above all, the immunity that a seat in the Federation Council would have secured him. Instead, he now faces charges of embezzlement, tax evasion, and illegal commercial dealings and, if found guilty, could face up to 10 years in prison. JC
PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY WARNS SVERDLOVSK GOVERNOR.
In remarks to reporters following a meeting with Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel on 4 August, presidential envoy to the Ural federal district Petr Latyshev called Sverdlovsk Oblast the most corrupt region in his district and declared that for this reason his staff would focus more energy on Sverdlovsk than other regions. Latyshev added that he had told Rossel directly "that it is very difficult to say that we are satisfied with the actions [of the regional government]." Rossel's meeting with Latyshev followed a meeting earlier with Boris Berezovskii, who has cited Rossel as one of the governors he is hoping to lure into the new political party that he is trying to form (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 August 2000). According to Berezovskii, he has met twice with Rossel on this topic; however, Rossel as well as other governors consulted by Berezovskii have refused to comment publicly on the content of the meetings. JAC
TATAR OPPOSITION DRAFTS LEGISLATION REAFFIRMING INDEPENDENCE.
The moderate nationalist All-Tatar Public Center on 8 August submitted to President Mintimer Shaimiev and parliament speaker Farit Mukhametshin a draft law "On reviving the independence of Tatarstan and establishing equal treaty-based relations with the Russian Federation and other independent states," "Izvestiya" and RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. The legislation was drafted in response to the 27 June ruling by the Russian Constitutional Court that the use in the constitutions of federation subjects of the term "sovereignty" is incompatible with the sovereignty of the Russian Federation and proposes declaring that ruling invalid on the territory of Tatarstan. The draft law also proposes reviving Tatarstan's state independence, and formally appeals to the parliaments of other Volga-Ural republics to form a confederation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 August 2000). LF
KIDS TO GET MORE THAN THEIR FAIR SHARE OF DOUGH.
RFE/RL's "Liberty Live" on 28 July reported that the Kimovsk Raion authorities have come up with a new arrangement for settling mutual debts between the budget, the local bakery, and those entitled to child benefits. The bakery has long ceased paying its contributions to the city's budget, which in turn has chalked up large arrears in benefits for families with children. Now, the raion Committee for Social Protection is issuing bread coupons to those families. However, each of those coupons has a face value of no less than 60 rubles ($2.20) and must be redeemed immediately. Assuming that supplies are available, even the largest families in Kimovsk might be hard put to consume the 10 or so loaves a day that the coupons would buy--a loaf of bread cost 5.5 rubles in nearby Moscow earlier this year (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 31 May 2000). JC
MASLYUKOV IS COMMUNISTS' CHOICE FOR PRESIDENT.
The republican branch of the Communist Party told Interfax on 1 August that it intends to propose State Duma deputy and former First Deputy Prime Minister Yurii Maslyukov as its candidate for president of Udmurtiya. The republic's first president is to be elected in a ballot scheduled for 15 October. Udmurtiya previously had a parliamentary form of government (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 29 March 2000). JC
REGIONAL INDEX: Housing Starts Show Mixed Pattern Across Russia
About one-third of the Russian regions experienced either a sharp reduction in housing construction or witnessed no construction at all during the first six months of 2000, "Rossiiskaya gazeta" reported on 4 August. Among the regions that saw construction decline were Vladimir, Voronezh, and Ivanovo oblasts. However, other regions saw sharp increases, such as parts of the North Caucasus that were receiving large numbers of refugees from Chechnya. Other regions with a vibrant construction sectors were those with populations between 1.5 and 2 million persons. JAC
Region_______Percentage Change, 1st Half 2000 vs. 1st Half 1999
Source: State Statistics Committee as cited by "Rossiiskaya gazeta" on 4 August 2000