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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A brief look at the stories making headlines in the Russian-language press


No convicts will face the death penalty by May or even June. This was stated by Anatoly Pristavkin, head of the Pardon Commission under the president. According to the latest ruling of the Constitutional Court, which has forbidden capital punishment, all their cases will be revised.

The Railways Ministry intends to raise tariffs, most significantly on cargo transportation and possibly as soon as May. This was stated Thursday by minister Nikolai Aksenenko.

Feb. 15 will mark the fifth anniversary on the Tatarstan-Russia Treaty on dividing powers between the republic and federal power, which has played a significant role in maintaining friendship between the two republics. In an interview, Farid Mukhametshin, head of the State Council of the Republic of Tatarstan, speaks in part about frequently controversial interpretations of the Treaty.

According to results from the recent national referendum, Syria's President Khafez Asad will remain president for a fifth term. He is the most devoted ally of Moscow in the Middle East, without whom Russia may lose its free Mediterranean military base Tartus in Syria. The story comments on Asad's significance for Russia.

This story comments on an unsuccessful meeting of Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov with State Duma faction leaders Thursday to discuss the prime minister's proposed political peace treaty. Other issues (postponement of the parliamentary elections to the year 2000) were also discussed. A similar article appeared in Kommersant Daily.

FIAT and GAZ have signed the final agreement on the construction of an auto factory in Nizhny Novgorod. The story comments on the deal focusing on its political aim.

The Snezhnaya Koroleva (Snow Queen) trading house, selling sheepskin coats and leather goods, was unexpectedly closed Thursday. Its buyers saw a note on its door stating "Closed for technical reasons." The story describes what happened in this popular shop. A similar article appears in Kommersant Daily.

Political observer Valery Vyzhutovich highlights the vigorous activities of Communist Party regional, district and city committees, which, as the authorstresses, keep intact the "face and body" of the former CPSU. The observer offers Voronezh city and district as an example.

How much does the State Duma and Federation Council deputy cost the federal budget? The story reveals the essence of the draft law concerning the deputy's status, which the State Duma passed almost unanimously on Feb. 10 and which provides MPs with unprecedented material benefits.

This story looks at an alarmingly poor position of all state archives, including the State Historical Archives in St. Petersburg. Facts and figures are given.

Theatrical critic Alexei Filippov previews a new production named "Nizhinsky" staged by artistic director Andrei Zhitinkin at the Moscow Mossoviet Theater. The author describes it as kitsch.

Prima donna Alla Pugacheva has become a producer of a new album by variety show star Natalya Medvedeva. The story highlights Pugacheva's new role.


The Defense Ministry is unable to afford the design and assembly of new military helicopters. Instead it prefers to modernize old models. The story describes the new aviation project.

In an interview, Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov speaks about the 1999 budget, focusing on government efforts this year to combat inflation. The minister also talks about his agency's regional policy and about the latest IMF visit to Moscow.

Lithuania's authorities are deciding the fate of former KGB men living in the republic. The Constitutional Court has to decide whether the recently passed law concerning the KGB is in line with the republic's Constitution. The story comments on the issue.

Moscow and Riga are continuing to discuss the problems of the Russian minority living in Latvia. Foreign Minister Birkas stated that the amendments to the Law on Citizenship, which were recently passed by Latvian Parliament, have made the law the most democratic in Europe and Moscow has not acknowledged this. The story looks at the law's major provisions.

Several idle Nizhny Novgorod factories plan to build river and sea vessels for Iraq. This agreement was reached during the recent visit to Iraq by a regional government delegation and officials from ship-building enterprises. The story looks at the agreement.

Local police in Rudnya (Volgograd region) have arrested Afghan veteran Viktor Filippov, who over the last year has terrorized head of the local administration Galina Gorban, demanding moneyfrom her and killing her daughter's friend.

Agence France Presse reported that the French association of holders of Russian bonds (annulled by the Bolsheviks 80 years ago) intends to make the French government rather than Russia pay back on them - the amount reaches 10 billion francs (about $1.8 billion). Vladlen Sirotkin, head of the International Experts' Council on Russian Material and Cultural Values Abroad, comments on the issue.

Businessman Vladimir Dovgan Tuesday quit the post of head of the Dovgan-Holding board of directors. The story explains why.

The number of insurance companies in Russia will considerably decrease soon and the remaining ones will have to compete not only with one another but also with foreign companies, which will soon get access to the Russian insurance market. In an interview, Ilya Lomakin-Rumyantsev, chief of the insurance department, talks about the situation in this market.

The world famous Iron Maiden rock group has issued its own bonds worth $30 million.


This story describes an unusual feature of Russian generals and marshals - their ability to make luxurious presents and accept them, which are seldom inspired by kindness. The story details several episodes describing magnificent presents given to Marshal Leonid Brezhnev on his 70th birthday.

This story reports on how highly-esteemed show business star Irina Ponorovskaya lost her 11-month-old adopted black daughter Batty, and how they were reunited 17 years later.

Specialists from the Rostov Institute of Neurocybernetics have conducted unique experiments revealing the secrets of human dreams.

In an interview, journalist Tomas Kolesnichenko, head of the ANKOM-TASS information agency, speaks about his long-standing friendship with Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov (starting when the latter was a Pravda reporter), his attitude to ORT "Vremya" host Sergei Dorenko, Boris Berezovsky and about his vision of Russia's future.

This story features Russian politicians' artistic likes - songs and dances, which many of them may skillfully perform for the public.

Many existing oil giants were created with obvious violations of the terms of investment competitions and mortgage auctions. Practically all controlling interests of the existing raw material joint-stock companies were bought on budget money. The story uses LUKoil company as an example.


This story features the Atoll private guard agency, which belongs to CIS Executive Secretary Boris Berezovsky, whose major principle is that no one should be trusted in these times, even himself. The story gives details from secretly recorded talks of Berezovsky and President Boris Yeltsin's daughter, Tatyana Dyachenko, and Berezovsky's ORT "slave" Sergei Dorenko.

The Moscow city government has announced war on illegal sellers of snowdrops flowers, which have entered the Russian "Red Book" of endangered species.

The fund for restoring the Christ the Saviour Cathedral, for the first time, will sponsor a cultural program for the public on its territory during the Shrove-tide holidays. The story features the upcoming event.

Specialists from the Transplantology Institute have completed a unique experiment testing an artificial heart, which was placed in a 3-month-old calf. The story details the experiment and its successful results.

This story reports on how Russian National Unity Party leader Alexander Barkashov rose from an ordinary plummer to a political leader.

"Scooter" is expected to give its first concert in Moscow in Olimpiisky Sports Complex on Feb. 26. The story rates the group as the best group from1998.


A weak point of Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov's possible presidential bid is that he has no political party for social support. If Primakov joined his efforts with Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, then a real party could emerge from such a union. This could be more probable if Primakov joined his efforts with Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky, notes Editor in Chief Vitaly Tretyakov, reflecting on different possible alliances for the presidential election campaign.

The Foreign Ministry and other departments that are interested in a ratification of the Russian-Ukrainian Treaty at the next Federation Council session scheduled for Feb. 17 have developed a political document. The story offers several significant excerpts from it.

Who will replace Armen Medvedev at the post of Goskino head? Filmmakers' Union chairman Nikita Mikhalkov has proposed his devoted friend for the post.

The story describes several police operations in city gas stations, which, as it turned out, made many serious financial violations.

Vladimir Lisichkin, head of the State Duma labor and social policy committee, criticizes a draft presidential pension law, which was developed by the Tax Ministry. The author says that the document may destroy everything positive in the social welfare system. Lisichkin focuses on major provisions of the document illustrating its inconsistency.


In an interview Alexander Livshits, head of the Ekonomicheskaya Politika Fund, shares his viewpoint on the prospects of further negotiations with the IMF and other creditors.

The 49th International Film Festival "Berlinale" has opened in Berlin. Russia, unfortunately, has not entered its main competition program. The story features this great cultural event.

On Monday, Russia will mark ten years of the farmer's movement. On this occasion, the Farmers' Association will hold a congress, and on the jubilee's eve, humanitarian food aid will arrive in Moscow from Western Europe. Whowill be responsible for its distribution?

Mayor Yury Luzhkov instructed the city government to introduce an amendment to the draft city law concerning the Sales Tax, which frees periodicals and books from this tax. The story looks at the mayor's decision.

Whereas First Deputy Prime Minister Yury Maslyukov assures everybody every day that Russia will receive an IMF credit soon, The Economist, which devoted two stories to the IMF in its latest issue, suggests that this is hardly likely. The magazine has a high reputation in the world and the IMF, without doubt, will read the articles before giving money to the "Russian bear."

Moscow Zoo will mark its 135th anniversary tomorrow. The story highlights its history and its widescale research today.

The Russian State Library (former Leninka) intends to launch a new cultural and historic project, which envisages the publication of five new literary journals. The story details the project.

The story features a police operation that was conducted yesterday in the Snezhnaya Koroleva (Snow Queen) shop of sheepskin coats and leather goods, which was closed the whole day.


The Auditing Chamber, which recently checked the finances of the Central Bank, found major violations in the sphere of currency control and currency regulation. This was stated by chief audit Eleonora Mitrofanova. Thus, in previous years the Central Bank was said to have issued licenses on capital import and export retroactively without informing law-enforcers and without collecting fines.

Russia occupies second place (after Colombia) in terms of the number of assassinated journalists (5 people) last year. This is stated in the report by the International Institute of the Press, which was made public Wednesday.

Illustrious lawyer Dmitry Yakubovsky on Thursday signed an agreement with former St.Petersburg Mayor Anatoly Sobchak and his wife, Lyudmila Narusova, on delivering law services on the criminal proceedings instituted against them. Also covered in Segodnya.

Today, Russian valenkii or felt boots, which are indispensable during Russia's severe winters, have turned 200 years old. The daily production output of the Borskaya Valenki Factory is 1,500 pairs.

The Yerevan auto factory plans to launch assembly of Moskvich cargo and passenger vans from part of the Moscow works.

The results of the second round of the Russian-American negotiations on steel deliveries from Russia to the United States will be known Friday. Unlike during the first round, the Russian delegation does not set the task any longer of reaching the lifting of steel-delivery quotas.

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko allied himself with members of the neo-fascist Russian National Unity, who last week beat up activists from the Khartia (Charter) -97 movement. In addition, Lukashenko promised to wring the necks of democratic opposition representatives. Political observer Alexander Starikevich describes how Lukashenko "flirts" with Barkashovites. Also covered in Segodnya.

Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish authorities have taken stricter measures to combat Russian prostitutes, who have invaded their capital cities.


Soviet Communist rulers 25 years ago stripped Nobel Prize winning writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn of citizenship and kicked him out of the country. The official reason stated in the decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet was "for actions incompatible with Soviet citizenship and for doing damage to the Soviet Union."

Varya Akulova, 6, of Dnepropetrovsk can easily lift two 36-kilogram dumbbells. She can also lift her 95-kilogram father without any difficulty. When Varya was 1 1/2 years old she performed in a local circus, and when she was 6 she lifted 143 kilograms.


The Moscow government has decided to hold a Russian beer festival, which will take place in Luzhniki Stadium July 17 to 25.

This story features the Moscow Ball Bearing Factory, its financial andmarketing problems and its workers and social programs.

How can the government determine a person's nationality, and is it important to state this in identification documents? This story offers three public opinions on the issue.


It took the State Duma three years to create the Ethics Commission with the aim of overseeing the behavior of deputies, which is often out of control.

Millions of Russians, who in Soviet times managed to buy cooperative apartments, have found themselves robbed today due to arbitrary rule of bureaucrats.

In an interview, Omsk Governor Valery Rishchupkin talks about local governmental bodies in his city, which do a great many of useful things to improve the quality of life.

In an interview, Mikhail Surkov, head of the International Discrimination Fund, talks about its aims and tasks.

This story features a humanitarian act by the Emergency Situations Ministry which, acting on a government decision, allowed dozens of Dukhobor families, which Stalin exiled to Georgia to come back to their native lands in Russia.


There are objective criteria for determining the optimal size of the armed forces. What are they and to what extent are they acceptable for Russia? In an interview, Anatoly Klimenko, deputy chief of the Military Strategic Studies Center, answers these questions.