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Press Review

IZVESTIA (1/2/2005)

he Istra City Court on Monday held a preliminary hearing on the case of Julia Zurabova, wife of Health Minister Mikhail Zurabov. The local Prosecutor' s Office is suing Zurabova, , the city administration and the local Property Committee for an illegal land allotment. The story details the case. (1, 2, Kommersant, 7, Gazeta, 3, Trud, 5, Komsomolskaya Pravda, 7, Zhizn, 2, MK, 2)

In an interview Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who on Sunday arrived in Moscow on a 3-day visit, talks about the aims of his visit, focusing on results of his negotiations with President Putin on Monday. (1, 3, Kommersant, 1, 2, 10, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, 1, 3, Noviye Izvestia, 4, Krasnaya Zvezda, 3, Gazeta, 4, Vremya Novostei, 1, Trud, 1, 4, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Zhizn, 2, Sovetskaya Rossiya, 3)

Chechnya' s Prosecutor Vladimir Kravchenko on Monday stated that his office had instituted 8 criminal proceedings on the fact of abduction of Chechen separatists leader Aslan Maskhadov' s relatives. The story details the case. (2, Kommersant, 4, Noviye Izvestia, 6, Vremya Novostei, 3, Gazeta, 2, 3, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 9, )

The local district court in St. Petersburg on Monday acquitted Vladimir Soloveichik, who was detained last week on charges of organizing an unsanctioned public rally in protest against the cancellation of social welfare benefits. The story comments on the court' s ruling. (2, Kommersant, 7, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 4)

The gvt has officially recommended to the regional governors to impose, starting Feb. 1, the unified transport ticket for benefit-recipients. The story comments on the measure, focusing on its aim. (2)

The notorious law concerning the monetarization of social welfare benefits has ended the awarding the title Labour Veteran that allowed people to enjoy several efficient benefits. The story examines them in detail. (2)

The parliamentary opposition on Monday collected the necessary number of signatures under the demand for the resignation of the Mikhail Fradkov government. The story examines this act, saying who signed the document. (2, Kommersant, 3, Vremya Novostei, 4, Noviye Izvestia, 2)

President Putin on Monday nominated the candidature of Primorsky regional head Sergei Darkin to be endorsed by the local Legislative Assembly to the post of governor. Thus, Darkin will become the first appointed governor. (3, Kommersant, 3, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, 1, 2, Gazeta, 2, Vremya Novostei, 2, Noviye Izvestia, 2, Trud, 2, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 4, Komsomolskaya Pravda, 2)

A small number of people will be amnestied on the occasion of the 60th Victory Anniversary. This was stated on Monday by State Duma Legislation Committee head Pavel Krasheninnikov. Among those to be amnestied in the first place will be World War II veterans, whose number, as it has turned out, is still considerable. The story comments on his statement. (3, Noviye Izvestia, 2)

Russia is being suffocated by snow. The story describes regions and cities, in which a powerful snow-storm has paralyzed the work of all s services and transport. (1, 3, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, 2, Trud, 2, Vremya Novostei, 3, Komsomolskaya Pravda, 6, MK, 2)

Eduard Lozansky, President of the American University in Moscow, offers his analysis of Russia' s main mistakes in Ukraine. He also examines what Russia could gain from Bush' s victory of the presidential elections and the appointment of Condoleezza Rice to the post of State Secretary. (4)

Leonid Grigoryev, President of the Association of Independent Economic Analysis Centers, examines Russia' s several fundamental specific features that should be taken into consideration in carrying out any large-scale reform. (4)

OSCE Chairman Dimitry Rupel (Sp. ?) , Foreign Minister of Slovenia, begins his official visit to Moscow on Feb. 1. In an interview he talks about OSCE' s tasks in 2005 and about his forthcoming negotiations with his colleague Sergei Lavrov. (5)

In an interview Leonid Peven, Chief of the Armed Forces Sociological Center, talks about main problems worrying servicemen today, focusing on their stance on today' s developments in the armed forces and in Russia as a whole. (6)

The first peace-keeping brigade (about 2, 000 servicemen) has been created in the Russian army. On Feb. 1 this brigade will begin its special training. The story looks at its program. (7, Krasnaya Zvezda, 1)

International Standard & Poor' s rating agency has given Russia the investment rating BBB-. Before the similar decision was already made by the Moody' s and Fitch agencies. The story reports on what this rating means to Russia. (1, 9, Kommersant, 1, 14, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, 1, 9, Gazeta, 9, Vremya Novostei, 1, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 3, Trud, 2, Komsomolskaya Pravda, 4, MK, 2)

The gvt on Monday tried to solve the problem of providing benefits-recipients with free medicines. The story examines regional difficulties in this sphere, focusing on Health Minister Mikhail Zurabov' s proposals. (9, Kommersant, 2, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, 2, Komsomolskaya Pravda, 4)

The Arbitration Court in the Vladimir Region on Monday launched a bankruptcy procedure against the Kolchuginsky Non-Ferrous Metals Processing Plant, a major supplier of the Mint Company. The enterprise' s credit debt amounts to 1. 6 billion rubles. The story describes the enterprise and its serious financial problems. (10)

The Yakutian ALROSA company in Tokyo on Monday held its first foreign auction. Its proceeds from the sale of diamonds amounted to $420, 000. It' s not much for this company, but it' s sure that this is only the beginning. The story describes the auction and the company' s plans. (10 (10)

French entrepreneurs intend to take part soon in several tenders to be conducted by Moscow authorities. The story examines what the French Small and Medium-Size Business Minister Christian Jacoub (Sp. ?) said on this issue. (10)

The Sheremetyevo Board of Directors on Monday agreed to retain Aeroflot' s control during the construction of the third terminal. The Airport will obtain 25 percent plus one share of the Terminal company and the rights to obtain as package of no less than 25 percent after the completion of the construction of Sheremetyevo-3. (10)

Gazprom has announced the preparation for a new stage of reform. It will have to create three new subsidiaries. The story examines what the company plans to do this year. (10)

The story examines who is buying apartments in new housing developments. Analysts from the Region company have studied 1, 600 potential buyers of such apartments. (13)

KOMMERSANT (1/2/2005)

The story examines in detail several presidential amendments to the Tax and Criminal codes promising serious problems to domestic business. (1, 13)

President Putin on Monday presided over a traditional gvt session, at which Financial Minister Alexei Kudrin this time told ministers about his forthcoming trip to London to meet with G-8 finance ministers. He also reported about his trip to Kazan on Saturday. The story examines s what Kudrin told the ministers. (2)

The Khabarovsk Regional Duma on Monday endorsed the candidature of Yury Solonin, Dean of the Philosophy Faculty of the St. Petersburg State University, as a representative of the regional gvt in the Federation Council. The story examines this candidature. (3)

It became known on Monday that State Duma deputy Kirill Ragozin, a co-owner of the Veda-Sistema holding, had fallen through ice covering the sea outside St. Petersburg and drowned. The story describes the accident. (4)

The Interpol has posted on its official site (interpol. com) data on Yukos shareholders Vladimir Dubov and Mikhail Brudno, whose names way back a year ago were put on the Interpol wanted list. The story comments on the site publication, saying what the wanted shareholders' lawyers think of it. (4)

Academic Yury Ryzhov Monday confirmed that he had been summoned to the FSB' s Public Relations Center, but he noted that he had no idea why he was wanted. The story details the case. (4)

The Moscow City Duma Education Commission on Monday decided to submit to the Moscow Prosecutor' s Office a complaint against the Finance Ministry that since Jan. 1 has failed to supply budget funds to 11 Moscow elite schools. The story describes the conflicting situation. (7)

The story examines preliminary results of the Sunday parliamentary elections in Iraq. (9, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, 8, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 8)

Nothing is preventing Julia Timoshenko from becoming Prime Minister on Thursday, when, as it was announced in Kiev, the voting will take place in the Supreme Rada. The story comments on President Viktor Yushchenko' s statement on this issue. (10)

The No. 122 Federal Law concerning the replacement of state social welfare benefits and guarantees with cash compensations has sparked over 200 protests in the majority of regions in January. As many as 200, 000-300, 000 people took part. People' s discontent has negatively affected President Putin' s rating that has fallen to the lowest level over the whole period of his presidency. (11)

Russia has consolidated its positions as the world leader in writing off foreign debts. The story comments on the rating of the largest " debt amnesties" declared by Russia. (11)

VEDOMOSTI (1/2/2005)

Despite high risks, the international Standard & Poor' s rating agency has given Russia the investment rating BBB-. The story reports on what it promises to Russia. (A1)

Spending over a year in custody, former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky for the first time has made public his political views, for which, as observers believe, Yukos and its co-owners have paid. In Khodorkovsky' s opinion, the gvt of the parliamentary majority should govern Russia, and the president should turn into a supreme arbitrator. (A1)

The Kremlin is consolidating its positions in Gazprom Thus, three Kremlin officials have been elected to its Board of Directors. The story looks at its structure, saying how minority shareholders can get to it. (A1 )

According to the Levada Analytical Center, 60 percent of Russians disapproves long holidays. Brief. (A1)

The story looks at those State Duma deputies, who are demanding the resignation of the Mikhail Fradkov gvt. (A2)

Big business has detected state officials' willingness to liberalize the tax legislation. RSPP proposes to limit the rights of tax agencies in holding audits and impose a mechanism of a preliminary coordination of consequences of commercial deals. (A2)

The companies with negative net assets should work without fearing of being liquidated--such an idea is contained in the concept of the bill drafted by the Federal Service for Financial Market. The story examines experts' view. (A3)

What provided industrial growth last year were machine-building and the food industry. The story examines their concrete results. (A3)

Economic Development Minister German Gref has come out against the idea of tax amnesty, stating that it' s impossible in Russia. Is it really useless to conduct the amnesty, as state officials assure? Five experts share their views. (A4)

Former Transport Minister Sergei Frank in October 2004 was appointed Director-General of the Modern Commercial Fleet company (or Sovkomflot) . In an interview he talks about the Program of Strategic Development up to the end of 2009, making emphasis on its several provisions. (A6)

VEDOMOSTI. COMPANIES & MARKETS SUPPLEMENT

Yukos may lose one more asset--The Angara petrochemical company, from which an unidentified offshore is demanding $300 million in back debts. Yukos supposes that a competitor, most probably Rosneft, is behind the creditor. (B1)

The long-awaited awarding of an investment rating to Russia by the Standard & Poor' s agency has almost not affected the financial market. If the first investment rating by Moody' s caused the RTS index to upgrade by 7 percent, then the growth on Monday amounted to 2 percent. (B1)

Sibneft shares on Monday became the growth leaders in RTS, and the company' s capitalization reached $14. 75 billion, almost a two-month maximum. (B1)

Vneshtorgbank has placed 10-year subordinated eurobonds to the tune of $750 million with a coupon annual rate of 6. 315 percent. Brief. (B1)

The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (or FAS) has opened a case against SUEK suspecting it of violating the law concerning competition. FAS will analyze SUEK' s pricing policy. Brief. (B1)

Gazprom and TNK-BP in the next 3-4 months can complete the negotiations concerning the creation of a joint venture to develop the Kovykta gas and condensate deposit. This was stated by Viktor Vekselberg, Executive Director for TNK-BP Gas Projects. Brief. (B1)

Yakutia' s tax agencies have frozen the accounts of the Sakhaneftegaz company, 50. 6 percent of shares of which is controlled by Yukos. This was stated by a Sakhaneftegaz manager. (B1)

Group Renova and South African Tutsa Ya Setshaba Holdings will sign an agreement that envisages a joint development of manganese ore deposits located in South Africa. Brief. (B1)

Yevrazholding rather than Severstal can take part in the trading to sell the Czech metals combine Vitkovice Steel. Severstal has refused to take part in the trading. The story says why. (B2)

OMZ is continuing to sell its non-core assets. Thus, the company has sold OMZ-Instrument to managers of this company and its proceeds from the deal amounted to about $7 million. The company from all sales plans to earn $40 million-$60 million. The story examines the company' s further sales. (B2)

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA (1/2/2005)

The television military -patriotic channel Zvezda will go on the air on Feb. 20 at noon. The story examines the aims of this channel and its first programs. (1, 2 )

The newspaper offers a list of 100 leading politicians in Russia in January. An expert' s commentary. (1, 11)

The hunger strike of deputies from the State Duma Rodina faction is coming to an end. One of its participants has been hospitalized. At the same time, state -controlled mass media up to now have been keeping this act secret. Meanwhile, according to its organizers, the strike has partially answered the purpose. In an interview faction leader Dmitry Rogozin talks about it. (1, 2)

Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov has agreed with the proposal to use part of the Stabilization Fund to support the domestic economy and to lower the tax burden. The story comments on his resolution, saying who in the gvt is opposing it. (1, 3)

Belarus does not want any longer to be dependent on Russia' s oil delivery, and is seeking new fuel and energy sources. Minsk plans to independently extract gas and oil on the territory of Russia. The story reveals the essence of its plans. (2)

The gvt on Monday submitted to the State Duma a draft of the Forestry Code. The brief mentions its main aim. (3, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, 5)

The Economic Development Ministry this week intends to submit to the gvt a draft bill concerning the special economic zones. This was stated today by ministry spokesman Said Batkibekov. The brief reveals their essence. (3)

The story describes continuing mass protests in several regions and cities against the monetarization of benefits. Its participants are making political demands. (4)

The Tbilisi Tank-Repairing Plant of the group of Russian troops in Trans-Caucasia was passed over on Monday to the Georgian Defense Ministry as its property. The story comments on the transfer, saying that it was done within the framework of the agreement that was signed late last year. (5)

Vladislav Inozemtsev, Editor-in-Chief of the magazine " Svobodnaya Mysl-XXI" presents an in-depth analysis of Russian democrats' political failures and serious problems in 2004. The focus is on the author' s conclusions. (10)

ROSSIISKAYA GAZETA (1/2/2005)

The story examines draft bills that the State Duma plans to consider and pass this month. (1, 9)

Chief Sanitary Physician Gennady Onishchenko explains why cellular telephones are harmful for health, particularly fir children. (2)

Sergei Glazyev' s supporters from the movement " For Decent Life" together with Communists on Monday held a session to discuss and endorse 14 questions for a national referendum. The final decision on its holding will be made at the KPRF plenary session on March 5. The story examines several questions for the referendum. (3)

In an interview State Duma deputy Nikolai Ashlapov, First Deputy Head of the S. D. Committee on Industry, Construction and Science-Consuming Technologies, shares his negative view on the gvt medium-term economic development program. He offers his own recommendations, saying how to solve several economic problems. (3)

After the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and several pronouncements by President Viktor Yushchenko, experts in Russia have begun to talk about the failure of post-Soviet integration. The fate of the United Economic Space that previously was declared as the last chance to unite the space of the former Soviet republic (they are named) has come into question. The story examines how the Ukrainian revolution may change many political and economic projects. (4)

The draft bill concerning the imposing of a progressive scale of the income tax for the individuals has been submitted to the State Duma. The story reveals its essence, saying how it differs from the existing scale. (5)

Kuzbassrazrezugol, the biggest coal company in Kuzbass, is willing to invest in the region' s social programs over 700 million rubles a year. The story comments on the charity decision, saying how big business in the Kemerovo region is taking an active part in solving social problems. (5)

The story describes how American businessman John Lazzarini, 45, was abducted late last month in the south of Moscow, but managed to escape. (6)

The Federal Culture and Cinematography Agency on Monday held a session to discuss upcoming reforms worrying all workers in culture. The story describes the discussion, proposals and decisions. (6)

NOVIYE IZVESTIA (1/2/2005)

The Center for Macroeconomic Studies has determined who in Russia can be classified as the middle class. From the material point of view, they are people with a per capita income of no less than $300-$400 a month per each member of the family. The number of such people in the country is 25 million-30 million, i. e. about 20 percent. The story comments on the criterion of sufficiency in Russia that is much lower than in the world. (1, 3)

The principles of forming and functioning the Audit Chamber will undergo serious changes soon. In an interview Yury Boldyrev, one of the legislative creators of the Audit Chamber, talks about some changes. (1, 2)

Crimean and Ukrainian authorities have decided to nationalize VIP - dachas that were distributed among Ukrainian highly- placed state officials during Leonid Kuchma' s rule. The story comments on the new authorities' decision. (1, 4)

TRUD (1/2/2005)

Several spin doctors connect the current wave of public protests against the monetarization of welfare benefits with a certain " oligarchic conspiracy" against the president and with the striving of opposition forces to destabilize the situation in the country. Other experts believe that the failure of reforms is a result of authorities' incompetence. The newspaper offers two opposing viewpoints on the issue -- one by Alexander Dugin, head of the Center for Geopolitical Expertise, and the other-- by Alexei Pushkov, host of the TV analytical program " Postskriptum" . (3)