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Press Review

IZVESTIA (24/12/2003)

The Moscow Basmanny District Court on Tuesday extended the custody of Mikhail Khodorkovsky up to March 25, 2004. And the Moscow City Court also extended the custody of Yukos shareholder Platon Lebedev. The story comments on the courts' rulings. All central papers devote their stories to these court trials. (1, 2, Kommersant, 1, 2, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, 1, Gazeta, 3, Vremya Novostei, 1, 2, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 1, 2, 10, Zhizn, 6, Komsomolskaya Pravda, 2, MK, 1, 4)

In an interview highly-regarded French lawyer Jacques Verjeau (Sp. ?) says why he has agreed to defend former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. (1, 2)

SPS and Yabloko democrats today are expected to hold the first session of the United Democratic Council (UDC) that they created several days ago. In an interview SPS co-leader Boris Nemtsov talks about the future of UDC and of the democratic movement and about the plans of the losers of the recent parliamentary elections. (1, 3, Kommersant, 3, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 1, 2)

The American Prosecutor' s Office on Tuesday brought in an indictment against Irma Pavlis, who beat to death a 6-year-old boy adopted from Russia last month. And the jury court in Philadelphia on Tuesday announced a verdict on the death of another little American boy of Russian origin, who was adopted in October 2001. The story describes these cases. (1, 4, Gazeta, 1, 4, Komsomolskaya Pravda, 5)

President Putin at a session of the Management Board of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce confirmed his earlier statements that the gvt does not plan a massive revisiting of privatizations. Along with this, the president stated that it did not concern those who " did not observe the law" . The story reveals the essence of Putin' s statement. (2, Kommersant, 13, 20, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, 1, 3, Gazeta, 1, 3, Vremya Novostei, 1, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 1, 2, Komsomolskaya Pravda, 2, MK, 2)

The press-release prepared by the Justice Ministry for its collegium states among other things that the number of convicts in all prisons and pre-trial detention centers over the past 2 years decreased by 330, 000 and amounts now to 850, 000. The story examines the content of the press-release. (1, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, 3, Vremya Novostei, 2, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 2)

Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov, the leader of the Party of Life, stated on Tuesday that he is willing to nominate his candidature to run for president in the March 14 presidential elections. Such a proposal was made to him by activists from the party' s St. Petersburg branch. The story comments on the proposal and Mironov' s decision. (3, Kommersant, 3, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, 3)

Adzharia' s head Aslan Abashidze does not agree to hold the earlier presidential elections on Jan. 4-- he does not trust the Tbilisi official authorities and needs the guarantees of security and the preservation of his power. And the American Ambassador to Georgia alone can act as the guarantor. The story examines Abashidze' s stand on these issues, focusing on the latest statements on Adzharia by Georgian main presidential candidate Mikhail Saakashvili. (4, Kommersant, 10, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, 2, Vremya Novostei, 1 )

The story reflects on Russians' choices of foreign currencies for their bank deposits, focusing on possible profitableness of ruble and euro deposits next year. (5, Gazeta, 10)

The Defense Ministry next year for the first time over the past 20 years of the state defense purchase program, will buy 14 new tanks T-90 for the Ground Troops. New military machines will be also bought for other types of troops. The story comments on the new planned purchases. (5)

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has visited Latin America lately with the aim of boosting economic and political contacts with states in this region. The story examines main results of his visit. (5)

The gvt plans to open its portal in the Internet in the first quarter of 2004. This was stated by the gvt information department. Brief. (5)

The Russian Communal Systems (RCS) company has joined the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. This was stated by the RCS press service. Brief. (5)

The tax agencies, starting 2004, will help domestic entrepreneurs become more transparent. Tax inspectors will sell them (legally) for 1, 200 rubles information about their competitors. The story comments on this novelty. (6)

The Management Board of the Association of Russian Banks decided to create a Committee on Private Banking Servicing with Sergei Leushkin, Director- General of the Private Investment Bank, as its head. Brief. (6)

Tatyana Trefilova, head of the Federal Financial Recovery Service, stated on Tuesday that the number of bankruptcy cases this year has almost halved. And, according to reports from the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, 50 percent of all such cases has been made to order. The story comments on Trefilova' s statement. (7, Kommersant, 14, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, 6, Vremya Novostei, 4, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 3)

The new owners of the Transvaal aquapark in Yasenevo in the next 3 years plan to spend about $30 million on the expansion of the complex. Brief. (7)

ALROSA next year intends to produce $1. 856 billion worth of diamonds (together with its subsidiary ALROSA-Nyurba. This plan was endorsed by the company' s Management Board on Tuesday. Brief. (7)

Agros, a leading domestic operator on the food product market, has bought 96 percent of shares of the Saomi macaroni factory in the Smolensk region. Brief. (7, Kommersant, 17)

The Moscow Golovinsky District Court has frozen 100 percent of shares of Nestle Waters Coolers SNG, the former Clean Water company that the Swiss Nestle corporation bought in February 2003. The story reports on how it happened. (7, Kommersant, 17)

Norilsk Nickel and Almazyuvelirexport in Switzerland have registered a joint venture to export platinum-group metals that will begin to function in 2004. The story describes the new enterprise. (7)

KOMMERSANT (24/12/2003)

The gvt Housing Policy Commission headed by Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Yakovlev on Tuesday discussed new housing maintenance rules that have been drafted by Gosstroi. The story examines them in detail, saying that they were criticized by the Russian Communal Systems private company that has announced its participation in the communal business. (2)

Supporters of the Homeland (Rodina) election bloc held a meeting on Tuesday that announced the creation of an organizing committee on convening a founding conference of the people' s patriotic Union " Rodina" . This new organization is called upon to unite all supporters of the bloc. The story describes the meeting, its participants and decisions. (3)

The leadership of the Leningrad Region is opposing the merger with St. Petersburg. The story explains its stand on the issue. (3)

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov on Tuesday visited the 76th airborne division in the Pskov region that has fully switched from conscripts to volunteer professional soldiers. The story describes his visit, and promises of higher wages. (3)

An unidentified assailant in the Sibai city (Bashkiria) on Tuesday killed Prosecutor Khanif Karachurin. The story gives details, saying that it' s the first murder of the prosecutor in the history of the republic. (5)

The Belarussian Supreme Court on Tuesday sentenced Mikhail Leonov, former Director of the Minsk Tractor Plant, to 10 years in prison. He was accused of huge embezzlement. The story describes his case. (5)

The Education Ministry collegium on Tuesday endorsed the new standards of school education that had been discussed for 4 years. The story examines the document. (7)

The American authoritative magazine " Time" summing up results of 2003, has chosen the best persons of the year -- Arnold Shvartsenegger, Vladimir Putin and Kim Chen Ir. The story comments on Time journalists' choice. (7)

The Moscow gvt session on Tuesday again caused a conflict between city authorities, the State Property Ministry and the Culture Ministry over the belonging of the monuments of history and architecture. The story reveals the essence of the conflict, focusing on Mayor Yury Luzhkov' s stand on the issue. (8, Izvestia, 9)

The Central (CB) Board of Directors has rejected former CB head Viktor Gerashchenko' s request to pay him a pension from the bank' s expenditure estimate. The story describes the conflicting situation, focusing on Gerashchenko' s firm demands. (8)

The story looks at a sensational note by Insurance Surveillance Service head Konstantin Pylov to First Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Shatalov. The note contains harsh criticism of the Russian Auto Insurers' Union (RSA) , the leadership of which is accused of incapability and the failure of the PR auto civil responsibility insurance campaign. (13)

London-based Moscow Narodny Bank, an affiliate of the Central Bank, for the first time has revealed its stand on its $219. 8 million debt. Its Chief Executive Director Clif Noulden (Sp. ?) said: " We don' t have any debts to the Russian gvt. ". Brief. (13)

The Natural Resources Ministry has suspended construction work on an oil deposit of " LUKoil-Kaliningradmorneft" . The brief says why. (13)

President Putin on Tuesday signed a bill into law allowing the entrepreneurs to use the " one window" principle when registering their companies. The story reveals its essence. (13)

Presidential Human Rights Commission members Sergei Borisov and Alexander Auzan in the Independent Press Center on Tuesday told journalists about responses by President Putin and General Prosecutor Vladimir Ustinov to the Commission' s proposal to limit siloviki' s interference into the economy. The story looks at their pronouncements. (14)

Kazakhstan' s President Nursultan Nazarbayev has signed the law concerning advertising, according to which Russian breweries are losing television advertising time in the republic. (17)

Pfizer, a world leading pharmaceutical company, decided to purchase the American company Esperion Therapeutics specializing on medicines for treating atherosclerosis. The story describes this deal, costing $1. 3 billion. (17)

VEDOMOSTI (24/12/2003)

The two leading world stock exchanges -- the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ Stock Market -- trading in securities can merge. If this happens the American stock market can radically changed. (A1)

A psychological attack on business will yield the gvt considerable profit. In defiance of the Finance Ministry' s assurances, the entrepreneurs in 2004 will also be able to receive regional benefits on the profit tax. Big companies, however, are refusing to use them due to fear to be suspected of " schemes" . In 2004 the treasury will earn on this not less than $1 billion. (A1)

When responding to the Chamber of Industry and Commerce' s call to finalize the results of privatization, President Putin said that all in all 5-7 people violated the law in privatization. Therefore, all the rest can sleep peacefully, but they should remember about their social responsibility. Businessmen now are trying to guess who these five persons are. (A1)

Deputy Tax Minister Mikhail Mishustin said that there are about 1. 3 million registered companies that are not doing any business. The minister did not exclude that they can be " one-day firms" . Brief. (A1)

The gvt in the second quarter of 2004 will open its Internet -portal. This was stated by Andrei Koshkin, deputy head of the gvt information department. Brief. (A1)

Russia is willing to increase the insurance of the Belarussian budget when the Russian ruble is imposed. The Russian delegation on Tuesday agreed to increase the credit line for securing the stability of the Belarussian economy and to lend 2 billion rubles in case of an early clearing off of Belarussian securities. (A2)

The gvt Housing Policy Commission headed by Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Yakovlev on Tuesday discussed two documents -- the program of supplying the population with drinking water in 2005-2013 and the rules of delivering communal services in the apartments. The story examines their major provisions, focusing on the commission' s decision. (A2)

President Putin said how superprofits can be confiscated from the oil companies. He believes that such simple instruments as export duties and mineral resources extraction tax could help add $3 billion to the budget. (A3)

Newly-appointed Director-General of the New York Stock Exchange John Tane (Sp. ?) spoke about his new appointment and his business plans at his new post. (A5)


Tatneft and Nizhnekamskneftekhim have announced an ambitious project of building a petrochemical complex, the first state of which alone is estimated at $1. 3 billion. The complex is supposed to be built on the basis of the Nizhnekamsk oil refinery, and Korean LG International Corp. in this project will act as a partner of the Tatar companies. (B1)

Private investors have not given up the idea to fund the completion of the construction project of the Boguchanskaya Electric Power Station. After UES shareholders refused to Russian Aluminum to help it fund the project, it was helped by the Krasnoyarsk regional administration. Several other companies (their names are given) can also help. (B1)

Vympelcom has ahead of time cleared off the release of converted bonds that should be cleared off in 2005. The plans to do it were announced on Nov. 20, 2003. Brief. (B1)

Alfa-Bank has pushed to the market of international capital with a program of eurocommercial securities. The general volume of the program is $200 million. Brief. (B1)

A tender for developing the gold-ore deposit " Sukhoi Log" in the Irkutsk region will take place in the first quarter of 2004. This was stated by Leonid Drachevsky, presidential representative in the Siberian Federal District. Brief. (B1)

Eurazholding Group has sold 39. 94 percent of shares of Amurmetall and 65 percent of shares of " Far-Eastern Metal" to the structures of the Russian Coal company. This was stated by Eurazholding' s Press Service. Brief. (B1)

Before United Heavy Machinery and Siloviye Mashiny merging, these companies will sell their privileged shares. Analysts say that this will simplify the procedure. (B2)

Russian cargo planes have taken part in American military campaigns of the outgoing year. The USA used Russian An-124, which cost the American side $29 million. (B2)


In an interview Chief Military Prosecutor Alexander Savenkov comments on results of investigation of several recent high-profile military crimes. (1, 2)

Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Kudrin stated that the Finance Ministry has drafted a bill on imposing in Russia the international standards of financial accounting. The draft will be submitted to the State Duma early next month. The story looks at the document, focusing on its expediency. (2)

The so-called one - window principle, starting Jan. 1, 2004, will help those who has decided to take up private business to get a registration document in a couple of days. The story describes how it will be done. (2)

Georgia' s Acting President Nino Burdzhanadze is arriving in Moscow today for talks with President Putin. The story looks at the aim of her visit. (2)

In an interview Senator Sergei Shatirov, First Deputy Head of the Federation Council Industrial Policy Committee, examines the country' s economic achievements this year, focusing on several remaining problems. (4)

The Gazprom Board of Directors tomorrow is expected to hold a session to discuss results of this year and production plans for 2004. The focus will be on the problem of the monopoly' s non-core assets. (4)

Several sex-shops have been removed from Moscow city streets with the help of the newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta. The story reports on how it was done and on what streets. (6)

East Line Group has announced the completion of the major renovation of the basic terminal of Airport Domodedovo and made public the program of its development up to the year 2020. The story examines the program' s major provisions. (8)


After his televised call-in show, President Putin stated that he will run for president as an independent candidate and is willing to collect 2 million signatures. This was Putin' s sensational surprise to the United Russia party leaders. The story comments on the president' s statement. (2)

The newspaper offers President Putin' s pre-election program that is based on his answers in the recent televised call-in show. (4)

Economist Mikhail Delyagin, leader of the Russian Taxpayers Union, stated at the recent Founding Congress of his Union, that the country' s budget this year has received 240 billion from tax revenues, the fate of which is unclear. Why? (4, MK, 3)


Highly-regarded politician Yury Boldyrev, one of the founders and deputy head of the Audit Chamber, have written several books in his series " Russian Wonder-- the Secrets of Economic Backwardness " on the basis of the Chamber' s valuable materials. In a far-ranging interview he talks about the essence of his latest books, focusing on reasons why he has given up his active political work. (3)

Gennady Alamiya, Chairman of the Writers Union of Abkhazia, explains why his Abkhazia needs Russia. (2)

When Russia and Europe are pronounced together, Europe is meant rather as civilization than used in the geographical sense of the meaning. Political scientist Vitaly Tretyakov has devoted his study to the Euro-Atlantic civilization (with Russia as its part) and the strategy of its survival. (4)

TRUD (24/12/2003)

The Natural Resources Ministry on its official Internet-site on Dec. 15 posted Order No. 1107 concerning introducing amendments to the lists of members of staff of the state-run natural parks and natural reserves. The story comments on the document, saying how their administrators regard it. (1)

In an interview Ukraine' s Ambassador to Russia Nikolai Beloblotsky describes Ukrainian-Russian relations this year and reflects s on their fate in 2004. (2)

KRASNAYA ZVEZDA (24/12/2003)

The story presents an in-depth analysis of political, economic and military developments in Chechnya last week. (1, 3)

The story features the federal forces' continuing military operation to destroy Chechen rebels in the south of Dagestan, who last week attacked several villages and killed 9 borderguards. (3)


It became known on Tuesday that the presidential administration has offered jobs to the leaders of the Union of Right Forces (SPS) , and the Yabloko leaders have been invited to the gvt. The story reports on how SPS co-leader Boris Nemtsov has regarded the offer. (3)

Cyprus, starting Jan. 1, 2004, has imposed a visa regime for Russian travelers. The story comments on the measure. (4)

In an interview Academician Nikolai Petrakov, Director of the Market Problems, explains why Russians hate the rich people in their country. (5)

The Moscow gvt on Tuesday endorsed a project of building the whole culture and rest ensemble on Poklonnaya Gora with a theater of fountains as its part. The story examines the project. A map. (6)

The 5-percent sale tax that was imposed in 1999 will be abolished, starting Jan. 1, 2004. The story reports on what Russians will gain from it. (9)


A serious situation has shaped in the veterinary service, in which veterinary surgeons are prohibited to perform surgeries on animals with the use of anaesthesia, since the latter has been outlawed. The story describers how it has happened. (1)

When the whole world has declared war on hackers Russia has practically allowed telecommunications swindlers to do their dirty business. And it' s not prohibited by the new law concerning communications. The story looks at its provision to illustrate the point. (1, 3)