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Russia Report: December 20, 2000

20 December 2000, Volume 2, Number 46
"Kommersant-Vlast" in its issue number 49 provides more details about the bureaucratic wranglings between members of the presidential administration and the seven presidential envoys to the federal districts. The weekly reports without naming a source that the head of the presidential territorial administration, Sergei Samoilov, and Alexander Abramov, deputy head of the presidential administration in charge of regional policy, among others, have managed to protect their turf from incursions by the presidential envoys (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 15 November 2000). Last August, envoy to the Volga District Sergei Kirienko sent a memorandum making suggestions for additional powers for the envoys including the capacity "to directly influence the distribution of budget and non-budget funding directed to their regions." According to the weekly, this request, issued by Kirienko on behalf of all the envoys, "alarmed" the administration, which did not want its role in the regions reduced to "the purely technical functions" of supporting the work of the envoys. As a result, Kirienko's request was rejected, and instead, the envoys' own powers were trimmed back rather than expanded. For example, they were asked to clear all their staff appointments with the Kremlin's personnel department. In addition, as a response to the envoys' efforts to expand their role, Kremlin personnel have reportedly started to look for their own supporters among regional members of the State Duma. For example, Vladimir Surkov, deputy head of the presidential administration, allegedly told members of the Russian Regions faction that he is concerned that all the envoys "are rushing to establish their own structures in the federal districts." He continued, "It is dangerous because regional hyper-bureaucracies are likely to be established, which will gradually rob and corrupt the Russian Federation." JAC

The Federation Council on 20 December honored the request of two governors to quit that chamber, Saratov Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov and Nikolai Volkov, governor of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast (EAO), ITAR-TASS reported. In his place, Volkov is sending Igor Gukhovskii to represent EAO's interests, "Kommersant- Daily" reported on 14 December. Gukhovskii, according to members of EAO's legislative assembly, heads an energy association somewhere in central Russia. According to the daily, Volkov never explained why he picked Gukhovskii and the deputies in the assembly back home "apparently are not too interested." Meanwhile, the recently elected governor of Kaliningrad Oblast, Vladimir Egorov, announced that he is sending a deputy from the oblast's duma, Sergei Medvedev, to the Federation Council to represent Kaliningrad's interests. JAC

"Segodnya" reported on 14 December, citing unidentified sources in the executive committee of the pro-Kremlin party Unity, that at the beginning of next year an initiative will be presented to reorganize the Federation Council along party and faction lines as is done in the State Duma. The new Unity faction would be the chamber's largest, these sources believe. This initiative will be put forth by "new senators" sent to the chamber. When asked about the planned change, Samara Governor Konstantin Titov was blase, noting that "today in the senate such a situation already practically exists." According to Titov, Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov regularly drops by the council and conducts sessions with "his governors." JAC

In an interview with "Izvestiya" on 14 December, Justice Minister Yurii Chaika reported progress in bringing regional laws into line with federal ones. He said that according to a study the ministry launched four months ago, over 30 percent of all regional laws were inconsistent with federal law and the Constitution. But he added that now this figure is down to 12-13 percent. Chaika also noted that according to the deadline set earlier by Russian President Vladimir Putin, all regional laws must be brought into compliance with federal ones by 1 January 2001, and all legal acts within the first six months of 2001. JAC

In its issue number 48, "Versiya" published its monthly round-up of conflicts between authorities and the press based on data provided by the Glasnost Defense Fund. In Toglyatti, Sergei Loginov, chief editor of a local television company, Lada TV, was hit by a car after closing his garage door and later died. The general director of Lada TV had been killed outside his home the previous month (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 1 November 2000). In Kaliningrad, a correspondent for "Krasnaya Zvezda," Captain Valerii Gromak, was severely beaten. In Volgograd Oblast, members of the militia beat the freelance correspondent for "LIK-Kurer," Igor Lobachev, and smashed his camera. In the city of Elektrostal, a former mayoral candidate in that city and general director of the firm, "Elitelekom," Aleksandr Zamyatin, severely beat Sergei Shebalin, the correspondent of a local newspaper, "Novosti nedeli." Shebalin sustained a concussion, a broken nose and legs. Zamyatin allegedly didn't like a critical article that was published about him. JAC

Communist candidates won in four of the seven run-off elections which took place across the Russian Federation on 17 December. Vyacheslav Lyubimov of Ryazan Oblast and Aleksandr Chernogorov of Stavropol Krai both had little difficulty holding on to their "red" gubernatorial seats, while in Kamchatka and Ivanovo Oblasts, the heads of the regional committees of the Communist Party secured victory. (The incumbent governor of Kamchatka, Vladimir Biryukov, declined to run in this fall's ballot; according to several media reports, he was among those regional heads whom the Kremlin had wanted to see ousted.) These "red results" prompted party chief Gennadii Zyuganov to claim a "notable success" for the Communists, but "Vremya novostei" pointed out on 19 December that the new red governors appear to be more ready to follow the Kremlin's line than were some of their predecessors. For example, Mikhail Mashkovtsev, who has been a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party since 1993, was quoted as saying in his first speech as governor-elect of Kamchatka that his program is a "logical development of the president's ideas." Meanwhile in Arkhangelsk Oblast, the incumbent succeeded in winning re-election, beating the former head of the oblast's government, while in the Komi Permyak Autonomous Okrug Nikolai Poluyanov, the administration head of the past four years was ousted by the chairman of the oblast Audit Chamber,Gennadii Saveleev. JC

In Marii El, Vyacheslav Kislitsyn, the incumbent president and the candidate of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, failed in his bid to gain a second term in office. He lagged well behind Leonid Markelov, the 37-year- old deputy head of the Rosgosstrakh insurance company and a former State Duma deputy who belonged to the faction of Vladimir Zhirinovskii's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. Markelov enjoys the Kremlin's backing, while Kislitsyn came under strong pressure from the center in the run-up to the elections. Earlier this fall, deputy presidential representative to the Volga district Valentin Stepankov, who headed a commission tasked with investigating Kislitsyn's alleged ties to criminal circles, reported on "unjustified privileges" accorded to those in power in the republic and declared the region to be "practically bankrupt" (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 1 November 2000). That investigation followed a letter from four local leaders to the Kremlin requesting that Kislitsyn be removed from office and the republic placed under the direct rule of Moscow (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 29 March 2000). JC

Arkhangelsk_________Anatolii Yefremov (58.5%)_____Nikolai
Malakov (31.6%)
Ivanovo___________Vladimir Tikhonov (62.45%)_____Anatolii
Golovkov (33.1%)
Kamchatka_________Mikhail Mashkovtsev (46.2%)____Boris
Sinchenko (42.2%)
Komi-Permyak_______Gennadii Saveleev (44%)_______Nikolai
Poluyanov (40%)
Marii El____________Leonid Markelov (57.9%)_______Vyacheslav
Kislitsyn (33.8%)
Ryazan____________Vyacheslav Lyubimov (65%)_____Valerii
Ryumin (26.92%)
Stavropol___________Aleksandr Chernogorov (56.4%)__Stanislav
Ilyasov (36.3%)

Source: ITAR-TASS, Interfax, and, 18 December 2000.

A raion court has ruled that former Governor Leonid Gorbenko cannot return to his position as head of the Kaliningrad Naval and Fishing Port (KMRP) until there is clarification of a directive issued by the State Fishing Committee, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 15 December. According to the directive, which was issued earlier this month, shortly after Vladimir Yegorov was inaugurated as head of the exclave, Gorbenko was to replace Vladimir Boichenko in that post, despite the fact that the latter's contract is not due to expire until 2002. Lawyers for the KMRP argued that the directive violated Boichenko's rights, while the law allowing Gorbenko to return to his former post, is considered to have "a multitude" of questionable clauses. Yegorov himself has protested the State Fishing Committee's directive to presidential representative for the Northwest District Viktor Yerkesov and federal Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov. According to "Kommersant-Daily," the governor is keen to ensure that the port--"the only desirable property in the oblast that has not yet been divided up"--remains in one piece. During his tenure as governor, Gorbenko had sought to "dismember" the port but succeeded only in "removing" the oil depot. Hearings aimed at clarifying the legality of the committee's directive re-appointing Gorbenko are scheduled for 22 December. JC

More than 60 percent of the murders registered in 2000 in Khabarovsk Krai were committed on the basis of overindulgence in alcohol, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 18 December. In 2000, some 447 murders so far are attributed to this cause compared with 422 last year, a rise of 6 percent. Aleksandr Bezkorovainyi, head of the criminal police unit at the Interior Ministry's Khabarovsk Krai directorate, told the agency that the main reasons for the increase in such murders is the wide availability of cheap surrogate alcohol, which is produced in large volumes in the krai. JAC

A raion-level court in the city of Sochi ruled on 18 December that the results of the 3 December mayoral election are invalid because of numerous violations of election law, "Kommersant-Daily" reported the next day. On 15 December, the State Duma voted to reject an initiative to request information about the Sochi mayoral elections from Central Election Commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov, Interfax reported. During the debate, Union of Rightist Forces leader Boris Nemtsov said that mayoral candidate Yurii Medvedev, a deputy in the krai's legislative assembly, had not been given a chance to campaign properly. Medvedev himself has charged that his chief rival Vadim Boiko, the head of the Fund for the Reconstruction of Sochi and a former vice president of Alfa Bank, was behind the closure of MAKS-TV on 8 December (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 13 December 2000). In the 3 December voting, Boiko scored 27 percent of the votes and Medvedev 19 percent. JAC

Murmansk city officials have ordered trucks to bring in snow to the northern municipality, as a mild spell of weather threatened to put a damper on those wishing to celebrate the traditionally white New Year, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 December. "Poor Murmansk has never known anything like it in its history," the news agency commented. The cost of bringing in the snow from nearby hills is to be borne by the city budget. Local officials said they hope that city residents will "graciously" accept this extravagance, given the advent of the new millennium. JC

On the recommendation of the local prosecutor-general, deputies in the municipal legislature recently voted against allowing a citizens' initiative group to hold a referendum on whether the popularly elected Mayor Yurii Lebedev should remain in office, RFE/RL Russian Service's "Korrespondentskii chas" reported on 9 December. That move, which was approved by a margin of one vote only, has outraged local citizens, who regard it as depriving them of the right to express their will through a plebiscite. The initiative group is now collecting signatures to an appeal to the oblast legislature on the issue of recalling Lebedev from his post. Among other things, Lebedev is considered to have abused his office, violated the law, and acted in ways incompatible with the office of mayor. During his two years in office, his opponents note, the public transportation system has broken down, the payment of child benefits has ceased, and expensive leisure buildings have been built while schools and hospitals have seen their funding cut, and so forth. JC

Tatarstan's President Mintimer Shaimiev met in Ufa on 15 December with his Bashkortostan counterpart Murtaza Rakhimov and presidential representative to the Volga federal district Sergei Kirienko, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. The three men reached agreement on resuming the issuance of passports to residents of the two republics. Both leaderships suspended issuing passports three years ago to protest the failure of new Russian passports to indicate the bearer's nationality (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October and 14 November 1997). Under the agreement reached in Ufa, a special page will be inserted in passports issued in Tatarstan and Bashkortostan giving the bearer's data in the national language. It is not clear whether passports will stipulate the bearer's ethnic nationality, although birth certificates will do so. Rakhimov expressed his satisfaction with the compromise, which, he said, will strengthen federal relations. LF

The speakers of the parliaments of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, Farid Mukhametshin and Konstantin Tolkachev, signed an agreement in Ufa on 15 December on developing bilateral relations, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reported. That agreement also emphasized the need to bring the legislation of the federation subjects into line with that of the Russian Federation in order to create a unified legal space within Russia. But Shaimiev told journalists on his return from Ufa that it is "impossible and unrealistic" for Tatarstan and Bashkortostan to do so "within a month." Russian President Vladimir Putin had set a deadline of 31 December for federation subjects to amend local laws. LF

Tatarstan's two deputies to the Russian State Duma, Fandas Safiullin and Nail Khusnutdinov, expressed concern at a press conference in Moscow on 15 December over the adoption by a Duma commission the previous day of a protocol condemning the planned introduction of the Latin alphabet for the Tatar language as a manifestation of separatism, RFE/RL's Tatar- Bashkir Service reported. Safiullin denied that the move has political implications and described those deputies who oppose it as "ambitious micro-Stalins." LF

During a plenary session on 18 December, Tatarstan's State Council rejected a proposal by opposition deputy Aleksandr Shtanin to amend the law on the presidential election to abolish the requirement that presidential candidates must be fluent in both of Tatarstan's state languages (Tatar and Russian), RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. Shtanin argued in vain that this requirement is discriminatory and violates Russian laws. But State Council chairman Farit Mukhametshin declared that "there will be no amendments to the law on the presidential elections before the next ballot," which is to be held in March or April 2001. LF

The moderate nationalist Tatar Public Center convened a meeting in Chally on 17 December to protest what it termed infringements by the federal center on Tatarstan's constitutional rights, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. Specifically, participants condemned Moscow's ruling that federation subjects should pay a greater proportion of the taxes they collect to the center. They argued that this approach contravenes the main aim of sovereignty, which they defined as economic self-sufficiency for Russia's republics and regions. The protesters also expressed concern that the Moscow is implementing a crackdown on Islam under the guise of eradicating "wahhabism." LF

Where's the Heat?

By Julie A. Corwin

It's been more than a month since hundreds of residents without heat in parts of Primorskii Krai sent letters and telegrams to presidential envoy to the Far East district Konstantin Pulikovskii appealing for help. And federal officials, up to and including President Vladimir Putin himself, have condemned the Far Eastern region's leadership. Putin called local officials "slovenly and irresponsible," and Pulikovskii's comments led the Krai's Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko to sue him for defamation.

But while the rhetoric has heated up, there hasn't been much additional warmth in the houses of the local population. As of 18 December, some 5,500 residents remained without any heat, three days after the deadline for turning on the heat set by Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu had expired. Adding insult to injury, that night, the amount of snow that normally falls in one month blanketed the region's southern half within several hours.

Shoigu has become Moscow's point man in the crisis, having been tapped to head an interdepartmental federal commission to resolve the heating and energy shortages plaguing the region. Soon after his arrival there, he appeared to lay primary blame for the crisis on lower level officials. His ministry even issued a list of officials, none of them higher than the raion level, whom it considered especially negligent. And, on 14 December, the head of a municipal heating company was arrested and the head of Kavalerovo raion forced to resign.

To people still freezing in their homes, however, these moves provide only the coldest of comfort. Moreover, some Moscow observers of the region have likely been disappointed. Some central newspapers featured articles saying that Putin has wanted Nazdratenko's power curbed if not extinguished since the president's days as head of the Kremlin's Control Department. And the current heating crisis appeared to provide the perfect pretext for removing him.

But Nazdratenko has foiled all previous attempts to remove him, including those of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin. He also evaded prosecution by Yeltsin's presidential envoy to the region, Viktor Kondratov, who was also the head of the Federal Security Services' directorate in the krai. Indeed, many observers said at the time that Kondratov's chief mission as envoy was reportedly to bring Nazdratenko down.

It is clearly too soon to conclude that Shoigu and colleagues will fail as well and that Nazdratenko will once again emerge the victor. Indeed, it may be that the emergencies minister simply wants to work his way up the local chain of command and thus deprive Nazdratenko of his political power base. But one thing does appear clear: Pulikovskii seems unlikely to emerge from this episode unscathed.

Although he cut a strong public profile at the beginning of the crisis, more recently Pulikovskii has apparently been forced to defer to Shoigu, who has a reputation as an extremely effective bureaucrat. Had Pulikovskii managed to bring about a successful resolution to the Primorskii crisis, he would have brought glory not only to himself but also to the office of the presidential envoy, which might then have seen an increased flow of resources and powers. Now when heat begins flowing again to homes in this Far Eastern region, it appears likely that Shoigu, not Pulikovskii, will get the credit.

Of course, Shoigu, as head of the Emergency Ministry, has certain advantages. Not only did he have experience with the task at hand -- providing heat -- but he has the cadres to send out to make sure that things happen. Pulikovskii, a former general with experience in Chechnya, has only a barebones staff. Indeed, it appears that Pulikovskii has been set up, outmaneuvered by officials in the presidential administration and government who do not want him to gain a success.

If that is how the heating crisis in Primorskii Krai resolves itself politically, then it may have the effect of turning up the heat on other officials elsewhere -- even if the people in that Far Eastern region remain out in the cold.


The following table shows the average consumer price of one liter of the high octane gasoline from the beginning of the year compared with the 4 December 2000 in a variety of cities.

Region__________Jan. Price______Dec. Price_______% change
Moscow__________6.75__________8.77__________+30 %
St. Petersburg______7.00__________9.43__________+35 %
Nizhnii Novgorod___6.75__________7.86__________+16%
Samara___________6.80__________8.65__________+ 27%
Omsk_____________n/a__________7.46 Volgograd__________n/a__________7.95

Source: State Statistics Committee, 14 December 2000 as reported by Interfax

FAREWELL It is with great sadness that we report the departure of one of the key contributors to the "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," Jan Cleave, whose many articles have been marked by her initials JC. Jan is returning to England, her birthplace. And all of us involved in preparing this report each week will miss her dry wit, careful reporting, keen attention to details, patient sorting out who's who and what's what in Udmurtiya and Marii El Republics, and her endless consideration for her co-workers.