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Press Review

IZVESTIA (11, 12, 13/3/2005)

Polish highly-placed diplomats lately have been making tough statements accusing Moscow of killing Ichkeria' s President Aslan Maskhadov. Polish Foreign Minister Adam Rotfeld (Sp. ?) was the first to make such a tough statement, in which he called the liquidation of Maskhadov a political error. Polish Foreign Ministry Press Secretary Alexander Khechko (Sp. ?) called the killing of Maskhadov a crime. The story comments on these statements, saying that they are likely to cause a serious political scandal. (1, 2)

Three highly-placed state officials and politicians share their viewpoints on Poland' s reaction to the liquidation of Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov. (2)

In an interview Aslan Maskhadov' s twenty-nine year-old son Anzor Maskhadov, says how his father was killed in reality, which he learned from his reliable sources. He also says that Abdul Khalim Saidulayev, Chairman of Ichkeria' s Shariah Court, will be a new rebel leader. (1, 5, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, March 11, p. 2, Gazeta, March 11, p. , Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 4, MK, March 11, pp. 1, 3)

Ever more heroin is delivered to Russia from Afghanistan, and the Interior Ministry and the FSB do not conceal that this tendency is directly linked up to American troops' invasion of this country. The story gives facts and figures from Izvestia' s own investigation to illustrate this point. (1, 6)

President Putin on Wednesday and Thursday met with Economic Development Minister German Gref, who told him about his idea concerning the creation of a new Investment Fund and about amendments and proposals on the medium-term gvt economic program. Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, who criticized this program, was not invited. The story examines what else the president and Gref discussed at their meetings. (1, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, March 11, p. 2, 9, Trud, March 11, pp. 1, 2, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 3, Russky Kuryer, March 11, p. 6, Komsomolskaya Pravda, 5)

Japan' s Prime Minister Dzyunitiro Koidzumi (Sp. ?) has refused to come to Russia to attend festivities devoted to the 60th Victory Anniversary. The reason is an unresolved territorial dispute. The story comments on the prime minister' s refusal, saying how Moscow may regard it. (1, 2, Gazeta, March 11, pp. 8, 9, Noviye Izvestia, March 11, p. 3, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 6)

Bloomberg on Thursday reported that the G-7 finance ministers would not support Russia with its intention to become a full-fledged member of this organization. G-8 is an informal club of presidents, and Russia is its member, but G-7 is the club of finance ministers, and Russia so far has not been invited to be its member. The story says why. (2)

Patriots of Russia coalition leader Gennady Semigin on Thursday presented a so-called people' s gvt consisting of 22 ministers. Gennady Semigin has become its Prime Minister. The story comments on this shadow gvt, focusing on its structure -- 22 people' s ministries and 4 committees united into 3 blocs -- economic, social and legal. Its first session is scheduled for early April. A list of key ministers. (3, Vremya Novostei, March 11, p. 4, Gazeta, March 11, pp. 1, 2, Russky Kuryer, March 11, pp. 1, 5, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 2)

The story describes an improved state of health of actor Nikolai Karachentsev, who is staying at the Sklifosovsky Hospital. (3, Komsomolskaya Pravda, March 11, p. 4, March 12, p. 2s)

The mothers of filmmaker Sergei Bodrov and actor Timofei Nosik, who perished in a tragedy in the Karmadon Gorge (North Ossetia) on Sept. 20, 2002, are suing the gvt. They are demanding $500, 000 and $400, 000 compensations respectively for the death of their sons. The story details the case. (3)

American billionaire George Soros will go on trial. A dog belonging to his son bit a floor rug laying specialist, who decided to sue the billionaire. The story details his case. (4)

The Finnish public organization " Pro Karelia" has made public a detailed Plan for reforming the border regions, according to which Finland may receive back territory that Russia conquered in 1939-1940 and 1941-1944. Official Helsinki has stated that it has no intention to raise the issue on re-dividing the borders, but 100, 000 Finnish residents have already supported this idea. The story examines the issue. A map. (4)

The Supreme Court' s Military Collegium on Thursday began to consider a protest petition filed by the Prosecutor General' s Office on the second verdict of ' not guilty' on the murder case of journalist Dmitry Kholodov. In June last year the Moscow Regional Military Court during the repeat consideration of the case, ruled that the six defendants were not involved in the crime. But the Prosecutor General' s Office for the second time has not agreed with this ruling. The story examines the case. (5)

Twenty-three year-old Jehovah' s witness Maxim Zavrazhnov in Nizhny Novgorod on Thursday went on trial. He is accused of rejecting the alternative civil service. He himself has chosen such a kind of service, but then refused to work in hard conditions for a miserable pay. The story describes his case. (5)

The Levada Sociological Center last week conducted an opinion poll to see how people regard Mikhail Gorbachev' s perestroika that began 20 years ago. The story examines results, saying that not many people have approved it. (8)

The reforms of the mid-1980s and Mikhail Gorbachev himself in Russia and in the world today are assessed in a different way. For some people the changes have brought suffering and despair and for others they have become the beginning of a new and successful life. Thus, have perestroika' s aims been attained ? Six politicians, State Duma deputies and public figures share their viewpoints. (8, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, March 11, pp. 1, 3, )

The dollar/ruble rate on Thursday reached another 5-year minimum--27. 46 rubles per dollar. . The dollar lost another 10 kopecks. The story comments on the Central Bank' s policy toward the dollar. (10)

Authorities already this year will begin to select territories for creating special economic zones according to the bill that was drafted by the Economic Development Ministry and that the gvt approved on Thursday. The story examines the draft bill that was presented by Minister German Gref at a gvt session on Thursday. (10)

Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev at a session of the Federation Council' s Committee on Agrarian- Food Policy, stated that the Bread Inspectorate (Roskhlebinspektsia) that was abolished in December 2004 will be restored soon The story comments on his statement. (11)

The Moscow gvt has approved project of major renovation of Arbat Street in the center of Moscow. The story examines the project. . (17)

KOMMERSANT (12/3/2005)

amara regional governor Dmitry Ayatskov, whose terms of office expires on April 2, stated that soon he will receive a new post, at which he will deal with strengthening the Russia-Belarus union state. From all indications, the point in view is his appointment to the post of Russia' s Ambassador to Belarus. The story reports on how Ayatskov regards it. (1, 3)

The Cabinet of Ministers on Friday actually expressed no-confidence to Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov. The Budget Commission at a session on Friday decided to freeze for 3 years the lowering of tax rates, which means that the commission rejected the plan to lower VAT that was supported by the prime minister. More than that, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin criticized in public Fradkov' s approach to the compilation of the medium-term program. The story examines protesters' victory. (1, 2)

Tatarstan' s President Mintimer Shaimiyev at a news conference on Friday stated that President Putin has asked him to stay in the capacity of president for the 4th term for the sake of stability in the republic, and he agreed. The story comments on his decision. (1, 3)

World chess champion Garry Kasparov late at night on Thursday announced that he decided to give up his chess career and concentrate on big politics and on writing books. The story comments on his decision. (1, 11)

The State Duma on Friday rejected amendments to the Constitutional Law concerning the procedure of admitting and forming new states in the Russian Federation that envisage a simplified procedure of admitting former Soviet republics to Russia. The story explains why the State Duma rejected the amendments. (2)

The Legislative Assembly of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area on Friday confirmed the candidacy of the present head of the region, Yury Neyelov. He has become the tenth governor endorsed in this capacity according to the new election system. (3)

It was not clear on Friday where the body of Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov was -- in Rostov-on-Don or in Moscow ? The story says that the case is acquiring a scandalous character. (3)

The Russian Jewish Congress on Friday demanded from the Prosecutor General' s Office that it institute criminal proceedings against a group of State Duma deputies, who signed the Appeal on the need to ban in Russia all religious and national Jewish associations. The story reports on how lawyers regard this demand. (3)

A serious corporate scandal has erupted in the publishing house " Moskovskiye Novosti" , in which its Director General and Editor-in-Chief of the weekly newspaper MN Yevgeny Kiselyov sacked several staff employees. In response, journalists have accused Kiselyov of professional incompetence. The story reveals the essence of the conflict. (4, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, 2)

The American magazine " Forbes" on Friday published the 19th annual rating of the wealthiest persons in the world The number of billionaires last year increased by 104 people. Russia in the rating is represented by 27 people, including one woman. The story examines the rating. (5)

The working group of the gvt Commission on Foreign Trade Protective Measures on Friday approved a joint proposal made by the Russian Stock-Raising Union and the Dairy-Farm Union on toughening rules of importing cheese. Foreign cheese producers oppose this decision and intend next week to submit to the gvt their own proposals. The story reveals the essence of the joint proposal. (5)

Yakutia' s President Vyacheslav Shtyrov on Friday completed his first foreign visit as Chairman of the Kimberley process. And the first public move of Russia that on Jan. 1 headed the world community' s struggle with " bloody" diamonds has brought real sensation: during his speech in the UN headquarters Shtyrov spoke against lifting sanctions against Liberia. The story describes the Kimberley process, focusing on Shtyrov' s speech. (5)

The German " Germania" aviation company is making efforts to put into effect its project to deliver its used planes MD-82/83 and Fokker 100 to Russia. Germania General Representative in Russia and CIS Guenter Zaibt (Sp. ?) stated that his company is in talks with Russian avia carriers and has reached agreement with the Vnukovo avia repair plant on technical support of these planes. The story examines Germania' s project. (5)

The Germania aviation company specializing on budget transportations has announced its increased tariffs on Russian direction, starting March 28. Brief. (5)

The Transportation Ministry reported on Friday that it and the ruling Safety Flights Committee of the European Civil Aviation Conference in Vienna on March 10 finally agreed to establish a transition period for equipping the Russian planes with automatic emergency radio lighthouses and systems of warning about dangerous land approach. Brief. (5)

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA (11/3-12/3/2005)

Russian and American defense ministers Sergei Ivanov and Donald Rumsfeld last week discussed the possibility for Russia to withdraw from the Treaty of medium- and short-range missiles. The story reveals the essence of the treaty, saying what Russia' s withdrawal would mean for it. (1, 6, Rossiiskaya Gazeta 4)

Samara regional governor Konstantin Titov' s press service on Thursday spread a statement, saying that individual commercial structures in the Samara region are preparing several provocative acts against leaders of the existing state power bodies-- Konstantin Titov, Viktor Sazonov (Chairman of the Samara Duma) , and Sergei Sychev (head of the regional gvt and secretary of the regional branch of the United Party party. (1, 4)

Ukrainian former Prime Minister Pavel Lazarenko, who for 6 years already have been under investigation in the USA, has inflicted several blows on Leonid Kuchma. Thus, Lazarenko is willing to give the new Ukrainian authorities documents proving Kuchma' s involvement in many high-profile crimes committed in Ukraine over the past several years. The story looks at some of Lazarenko' s revelations. (10)

No official statements on the possibility of new terrorist acts have been made, but interior troops in Moscow and St. Petersburg have been put on a heightened combat duty. The story examines what it practically means (1, 7)

The American Court can again ban any operations with Yukos assets. The federal regional court in Houston is considering the company' s appeal on the previous court' s refusal to deal with Yukos' bankruptcy suit. Judge Nancy Atlas before March 18 is expected to bring in a judgement on the oil company' s urgent petition on the defense of assets during the consideration of the appeal. The story describes the Yukos situation in the American court today. (2)

The Defense Ministry on Thursday issued its official response on Georgia' s demand to withdraw two Russian military bases from its territory in the next several months. The story reveals its essence. (2)

The Audit Chamber (SP) will begin to punish organizations and officials, who are ignoring its warrants. SP Deputy Head Alexander Semikolennykh at his meeting with Senators on Thursday said that enterprises and directors, who ignore auditors' claims, will be fined already in April. Meanwhile, the Audit Chamber, too, will be controlled. Thus, the Federal Service for Financial and Budget Surveillance (or Rosfinnadzor) has included a check-up of Stepashin' s Chamber in its 2005 plan. (2)

Alexei Malashenko, a spokesman for the Research Council of the Moscow Carnegie Center, reflects on whether or not Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov' s death will improve the situation in the republic. (4)

The story comments on the final results of the parliamentary elections in Moldova, saying what Communists should do to make Vladimir Voronin Moldova' s new president. (5)

The story describes a complicated political situation in Kyrgyzstan on the eve of the second round of the parliamentary elections. (5)

According to Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko' s latest decree, all Belarussians, who would like to study or work abroad, should receive a special consent from " competent authorities" . The story comments on the presidential document. (5)


The Federation Council on Friday endorsed two bills toughening punishment for car driving without drivers' licenses and being drunk. Senators also endorsed a program of measures that should lessen the threat of acts of terror in planes. The story comments on the documents endorsed by Senators on Thursday. (1, 3)

Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev in the Federation Council on Friday made a report that was aimed at defending the interests of the agricultural-industrial complex. The story examines several revolutionary concepts that were in the focus of Gordeyev' s speech. (1, 2)

Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin in his lengthy article examines in detail the cost of all aspects of reform replacing the social welfare benefits with cash payments. (1, 3)

A news conference devoted to Russia' s participation in the Paris Book-Salon-2005 took place in the French Embassy on Friday. The story describes the ceremony, noting that Russia for the first time in 25 years of the existence of this Salon has been elected its honorary guest. (2)

A three-day international symposium " Science and Society" opened in St. Petersburg on Saturday. The story examines its aim, program, sponsors and participants. (2)

Lieutenant-General Igor Bykov, new Chief Physician of the Defense Ministry, on Friday made several significant statements on the procedure of medical security of servicemen, members of their families and veterans after the monetarization of social welfare benefits. He also said where the body of Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov is being kept today. (2)

The Federal Service for Financial Monitoring has made an interesting proposal to the Central Bank -- together with the Service, to check up domestic banks laundering money. The Central Bank has revealed several laundering technologies used by private individuals. (5)


Was there a need to kill Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov? Is it a success or a Pyrrhic victory? What can it lead to in the future? Editor-in-Chief Yevgeny Kiselyov and several authoritative politicians and spin doctors share their viewpoints. (1, 4-6)

Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov stated that the investigation in the so-called Katyn case has been completed, and Russia does not make any secret of it. Poland so far has not officially responded to Ustinov' s statement. But the Polish side has harshly criticized Russia' s Main Military Prosecutor' s Office that has given up its agreements with the Polish side to provide it with all documents of the investigation concerning Katyn. It was stopped officially on Sept. 21, 2004. The story describes the conflicting situation. (2)

Ex- President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma on Thursday was questioned in the Prosecutor General' s Office on the case of the murder of journalist Georgy Gongadze. The story examines what Kuchma said. (2)

Heated discussion inside the gvt has been going on for several weeks already between Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov on the one side and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin and Economic Development Minister German Gref on the other side. The subject of the discussion is what VAT should be in 2006. The story reveals both sides' stands, focusing on what really is happening in the gvt. (7)

The president' s rating has again begun to fall, and Vladimir Putin' s presidential rival Mikhail Kasyanov has announced his ambitious plans. The story examines how Putin' s situation when there was no alternative to him has changed with the emergence of Kasyanov. (8)

The world oil prices are souring. The story gives figures to illustrate the point, noting that what is awaiting Russia is not only the dollar influx but economic upheavals as well. (9)

The parliamentary elections in Moldova have shown how the Commonwealth of Independent States (Russian abbreviation SNG) is gradually turning into the Commonwealth of unfriendly (toward Russia) states (with the same Russian abbreviation SNG) . The story describes how it is proceeding. (11)

First Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, authoritative politician Alexander Yakovlev and former MN Editor-in-Chief Yegor Yakovlev are talking about perestroika and its role and place in Russia' s history today. (12, 13)


Economist and host of the TV program " Odnako" Mikhail Leontyev shares his view on Russian 27 billionaires, whom the American magazine " Forbes" has included in its 19th annual rating of the wealthiest people in the world. Besides that, nine politicians, State Duma deputies, party leaders and public figures share their views on Russian billionaires. (3)

Viktor Zubkov, head of the Federal Financial Monitoring Service, in the KP press center on Friday summed up results of his agency' s work last year. The story examines some results. (3)

The feature story offers details of the operation to seize the bunker of Chechen rebel head Aslan Maskhadov that on was conducted in Tolstoi-Yurt on March 8 by officers from the FSB Special Task Center. (4, 5)

Deputy Nature Minister Oleg Mitvol stated that the Solnechnogorsk Court has failed to rule in favour of owners of illegally built cottages on the bank of the Istra water reservoir in their suits. And their cottages will be torn down. The story comments on Mitvol' s statement. (6)

Roman Vilfand, Director of the Hydrometeorological Center, said what troubles can be expected from this coming spring. (6)