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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

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

Izvestia
Kommersant
Vedomosti
Komomolskaya Pravda
Moskovsky Komsomolets
Novaya Gazeta


Izvestia
www.izvestia.ru

The State Duma on Saturday held its last plenary meeting of this session. The deputies considered amendments to the Land Code. Izvestia gives some statistics of the Duma's work during the spring session. Also covered in Kommersant and Moskovskii Komsomolets.

A Il-76 cargo plane crashed soon after its takeoff from Chkalovskoe military airport, claiming the lives of all nine crew members. It was a charter flight to Norilsk. The plane belonged to leading air transportation company Rus. Flights to and from all cargo airports in the Moscow region (Ramenskoe, Migalovo and Chkalovskoe airports) have been suspended until the catastrophe is investigated. Also covered in Kommersant and Moskovskii Komsomolets.

In an interview, deputy head of the Agency on Restructuring Credit Organizations Andrei Melnikov commented on the July 3 Constitutional Court ruling that changed the way banks are regulated. Melnikov discussed the prospects of returning to depositors money held by banks that went under in the August 1998 financial crisis.

Mark Rozovskii, a member of the Presidential Pardons Commission, commented on the controversy about the commission's activity (or lack thereof). He answered the criticism of Justice Minister Yury Chaika about the work of the commission.

China President Xiang Zemin flew to Russia for a 4-day state visit. The Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation will be signed Monday between Russia and China. The Chinese leader will also give a speech in Russian to Moscow State University students. Also covered in Kommersant.

Prosecutor of Chechnya Victor Dakhnov and the joint group of troops commanders will give a report today to the President's representative in the Southern region (Victor Kazantsev) with the results of their investigation into the reported use of force against civilians in Assinovskoe, Sernovodsk and Kurchaloi (Chechnya).

In the Karlovy Vary film festival, a Russian film by Artur Aristakisyan titled "Place on the Earth" about homeless people in Moscow won the special $5,000 "Freedom" prize. Other awards are listed.

The kickoff of the Commission on the Division of Powers between the Federal Government and the Regions will take place Monday. Members of the State Council will participate. Vologda governor Vyachslav Pozgalev gave an interview to Izvestia about possible transformation of federal relations.

At a Rosoboronexport (the Russian Defense Export) press conference, officials commented on Russia's willingness to provide Peru with MiG-29 fighters. The agreement was heavily criticized in Peru after a MiG-29 plane crashed there in March.

Anatoly Chubais, head of the national energy grid RAO UES, held a news conference on Friday, commenting on the government document "Main Provisions on the Restructuring of the Electric Power System," which was signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov. The text of the document reflects many statements of the Working Group, which is headed by Tomsk Governor Victor Kress.

After the State Duma's approval of the Land Code on Saturday, Communist Party leaders will file a complaint Monday in the Constitutional Court.

Kommersant
www.kommersant.ru

The International Olympics Committee will elect a new leader Monday to replace current president Juan Antonio Samaranch. The two favorites are Belgian Jaques Rogge and Canadian Dick Pound.

The Nizhny Novgorod region held its gubernatorial election Sunday. According to exit polls, Duma Deputy Gennady Hodyrev and incumbent Ivan Sklyarov received the largest slices of the vote.

Yesterday's mayoral elections in Samara demonstrated that corruption still exists in the city. Incumbent Mayor Limansky was the leader, receiving some 47 per cent of all votes cast.

A joint meeting of two commissions — the Commission on Protection Measures and the Commission on World Trade Organization Issues — took place Saturday. Deputy premier Alexei Kudrin commented on Russia's joining the WTO, which some think is a bad idea.

On Sunday an experiment was to begin at Moscow's Riga Station on collecting statistics about citizens' migration. (There are about 800,000 illegal residents in Moscow.) Deputy Mayor Valery Shantsev said that during the experiment all people arriving in Moscow will fill out cards describing their movements. The statistics will be compiled at the Migration Service.

The Mayo sailed to the site of the Kursk disaster Sunday. The Russian and Norwegian divers on board are pleased that the weather in the Barents Sea is good.

Local Chechen resident Malika Umazheva agreed to work as the head of the Alkhan-kala administration. Each of her two predecessors worked for only a few months before being killed by unknown assassins.

World Shield 2001, a set of multinational military exercises comprising over twenty countries, began Sunday in western Ukraine. Russia and Turkmenistan are not participating but merely observing the exercises.

Alexander Remezov, head of Mosenergo, gave his interview to the daily, following strong rumors of his ineluctable resignation. He said that he still has the support of Moscow Mayor Luzhkov.

Despite the extremely hot weather in Moscow, the number of heart attacks or digestion disorders per day in Moscow has not increased. More and more people are diagnosed with allergic reactions to insects bites, however.

Vedomosti
www.vedomosti.ru

The State Service of Civilian Flights reacted harshly to the crash of an Il-76 on Saturday near the Chkalovsky airport in the Moscow region. Flights of planes owned by the Rus cargo company, to which the Il-76 belonged, were suspended. Additionally, three military airports in the Moscow region will stay idle before the latest catastrophe is investigated. This may result in a redistribution of the air-cargo market.

Leaders of Aeroflot, the largest Russian air carrier, have decided to hire the British firm Identica to revamp the airline's image. This follows an admission that the company loses lots of money each month because of its bad image.

On Friday the State Duma passed a bill reducing the rate of mandatory currency sale by exporters to the state from 75 percent to 50 percent of revenues. Even though this will be accompanied by cancellation of some privileges, the bill will result in savings to exporters of $100 million per year.

Railroad-cargo tariffs will rise by an average of 18 percent after August 1. Tariffs will make aluminum transport by railroad will be three times more expensive, while tariffs for coal, coke, iron and mineral fertilizers will remain the same.

Leading businessmen commented on a bill amending the law on competition. According to the amendment proposed by Anti-Monopoly Minister Ilya Yuzhanov, all deals between companies with assets exceeding two million US dollars will be subject to the Ministry's approval.

Having passed a new land code in the second reading, the State Duma has increased the price of the land occupied by private companies in Moscow and St. Petersburg by three times.

Government officials and high-profile businessmen commented favorably on the work of the State Duma in the past session. Most considered the major achievements of the lawmakers to be the passage of a new labor code, court reform, tax reform and auditing reform.

Talks between Russian and the Chinese leaders may result in multi-billion dollar contracts to supply Russian oil, gas and weapons to China. Plans to build oil and gas pipelines to China are being actively lobbied for by Transneft and Gazprom.

The Russian aircraft industry will be greatly affected by the merger between Rybinsk Motors and Lyulka-Saturn plants, both of which produce airplane engines.

Vedomosti. Companies and Markets

ClearChannel, an American company with an annual turnover of $8 billion, will play an active role in the Russian market of street advertising. It bought a 60 percent stock in the French Defi and German Wall, both of which have large assets in Russia. This will give a boost to street advertising.

A new swindling scheme that understated gains in order to evade taxes was detected in a Moscow supermarket by the Federal Tax Police Service.

Head of RAO UES Anatoly Chubais said Friday that Mosenergo general director Aleksander Remezov will be fired for abusing company finances. Mosenergo stock prices fell by 6 percent following the statement.

RAO UES, which holds a monopoly on power transmission, has blocked a contract between Rosenergoatom, a nuclear power company, and the German RWE on exporting Russian electric power to Georgia. This could have been an attempt to force nuclear power companies to share their profits with RAO UES.

Sberbank is closing its subsidiaries in Moscow. By September their number will be cut from 34 to 12. The number of offices servicing individual clients will also be reduced.

By the end of 2002 only two banks out of the present fourteen will stay under the management of the Agency for the Restructuring of Credit Organizations, or ARKO. Rossiiskii Credit and SBS-Agro will continue under ARKO, while ARKO will sell its shares in other problem banks to Russian or foreign investors.

Komomolskaya Pravda
www.kp.ru

The mysterious disappearance of 18 children from Kazan has been investigated, and the kidnapper arrested. The kids were identified by a witness and passed to the police thanks to the "NTV-Criminal" TV program.

The Moscow city government deputy premier Boris Nikolskii commented on the proposed housing and utilities reforming program, that will result in considerable growth of rent and other payments that Moscow residents pay for their apartments. At the present time over fifty per cent of maintenance and utilities costs are subsidized by the city government. In the future, only poor households will get subsidies to pay for their housing and utilities.

Almost a year after the fire in the Ostankino television tower, problems still remain with reception of meter and decimeter channels in some parts of the capital.



Moskovsky Komsomolets
www.mk.ru

City road patrols are competing with civilian cars that carry blinking flashlights on tops. Many car owners have installed these devices on their cars illegally. Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov said that the number of these cars with flashing lights will be reduced by 5 times.

The daily wrote about homeless people who make their living in Moscow by collecting empty bottles.

Experts wrote that the true reasons of the Kursk submarine wreck will hardly be investigated, even after the submarine would be raised from the sea bottom.

The Moscow City Court passed a judgement ordering that the state-owned radio station "Podmoskovie" should pay huge royalties to pop-singers and composers, whose works it has been broadcasting illegally since 1995. The radio will have to pay 10 thousand rubles for every pirated song.

Novaya Gazeta
www.novayagazeta.ru

The daily revealed new facts that prove that the Interior Ministry issued special documents to car owners, instead of the usual drivers' licenses, to government officials and high-profile businessmen including Duma deputy Roman Abramovich and Press Minister Mikhail Lesin. The correspondent supposed that this could have been done in exchange for bribes.

The daily got hold of the document stating that, in January 1996, State Property Committee deputy head Alfred Kokh with his wife visited Barbados in the company of Natalia Gurfinkel and Konstantin Kagalovskii, both of whom were later accused of arranging money laundering operations through the Bank of New York. This is more evidence of corruption on the part of then deputy premier Anatoly Chubais.

The unification of Luzhkov's Fatherland and pro-Putin Unity happened very fast. The technical process only took 45 minutes. According to Unity head Sergey Shoigu, there is no ideological controversy between the two parties that severely competed with each other at the parliamentary election of 1999.

Several St. Petersburg politicians, known as close allies of Governor Yakovlev, have become defendants in criminal lawsuits initiated this year. The latest victim of the "hunt on Yakovlev" was deputy governor Valery Malyshev. He is charged with obtaining an interest-free credit in the St.Petersburg Promstroibank.

A new business has emerged in Russia based on exporting dinosaur and other fossils from the country. The Paleonthological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences is charged with the arranging of illegal exports of exhibits from the Institute museum.

The daily interviewed two leading journalists of the Ekho Moskvy, news service director Vladimir Varfolomeev and observer Andrey Cherkizov. Both said that Ekho Moskvy made too many concessions to Alfred Kokh, and that they have decided to resign.

On two pages the daily wrote its chroncle of the Kursk tragedy from August 10 through August 18 last year. The main conclusion is that time for possible saving people's lives was lost on the first days after the wreck.

Anna Politkovskaya wrote about mass killings of civilians in the Makhkety village in the Vedeno district of Chechnya.