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BBC Monitoring Service: Summary of Russian press for Tuesday 31 July 2007

Published: Jul 31, 2007

Kommersant

1. Nataliya Grib et al. report says businessman Mikhail Gutseriyev is giving up almost all his business in Russia, after announcing on 30 July that he is selling Russneft and stepping down as president of the company. He is also said to be selling Russkiy Ugol (Russian coal) and other assets worth 1bn dollars. He says he is temporarily giving up business to pursue academic research. Some experts note that Gurtsiyev is getting rid of his assets due to pressure exerted by the authorities; pp 1, 9.

2. Pavel Kaledin et al. report looks ahead at a planned strike at the Volzhskiy car factory (AvtoVAZ). The Yedinstvo (Unity) independent trade union claimed that law-enforcement agencies were trying to put activists of the organization under pressure to disrupt the strike. Trade union activist Anton Pustovoy has been detained. Law enforcers are checking the leaflets distributed at the factory to find out if they contain any extremist information. Opposition leaders compare methods used to prevent the strike with the authorities’ disruption of the Dissenters’ Marches; pp 1, 5.

3. Nataliya Skorlygina article says the Kazakhstan authorities have followed the example of Russian gas giant Gazprom and decided to review the production sharing agreement with the Italians. Italian company Eni, which is developing the Kashagan oil deposit, has demanded that its cost estimate be increased from 57bn dollars to 136bn dollars. The Kazakhstan authorities are ready to meet the demand only if their share of profit is increased from 10 per cent to 40 per cent. The author recalls that Russia made similar demands to Shell regarding the Sakhalin-2 project, which resulted in Gazprom taking the project under its control; pp 1, 10.

4. Aleksey Shapovalov interview with Maksim Medvedkov, director of the department for trade negotiations of the Russian Economic Development and Trade Ministry, who talks about the issues hampering Russia’s joining the WTO and the claims made by other members of the organization; pp 1, 2.

5. Petr Netreba article says Russia has decided not to allocate the 1.5bn dollars in credit to Belarus that was negotiated with Russia’s Finance Ministry in June. Belarusian Prime Minister Syarhey Sidorski, who arrived in Moscow to conclude the talks, was told by his Russian counterpart Mikhail Fradkov that such issues “cannot be resolved in a flash”. The author believes the talks failed as Belarus refused to borrow Russian money to pay gas debts; p 2.

6. Dmitriy Butrin and Arina Sharipova article says the EU is getting ready to introduce single European work permits for immigrants. Highly qualified immigrants are expected to work in the EU under the blue card system. If the new rules turn out to be a success, Russia will face a lack of qualified labour, experts predict; p 2.

7. Roman Yarmoshevich article says former governor of Kamchatka Region Mikhail Mashkovtsev is forming a left-centrist coalition in the regional parliament. Mashkovtsev said that he would like to head the legislative assembly of Kamchatka Territory after the December elections. He has started talks with the Communists and A Just Russia on forming a broad coalition. However, experts doubt that Mashovtsev can carry out his initiative as he has lost his administrative resources; p 3.

8.Irina Paramonova report on a scandal in the Tula Region branch of the Communist Party: party veteran and former Tula Region governor Vasiliy Starodubtsev has not been elected as delegate to the party’s congress and he has been threatened with expulsion from the party; p 3.

9. Yekaterina Zapodinskaya report on the Moscow’s Basmannyy court requesting the seizure of exiled businessman Boris Berezovskiy’s property in France; p 4.

10. Olga Allenova interview with Abkhaz leader Sergey Bagapsh, who talks about the breakaway region’s plans to become independent from Georgia. Bagapsh believes that Kosovo’s independence will give grounds for international recognition of Abkhazia; p 6.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta

1. Svetlana Gamov and Igor Naumov report, citing Russian Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin, says Belarus receiving credit from Russia is just a question of time. Experts say Russia’s approach is attributable to its need to provide reliable security on its Western borders; pp 1, 4.

2. Political analyst Dmitriy Orlov comments on a rating of the 100 most influential Russian politicians. Russian President Vladimir Putin tops the list, followed by first deputy prime ministers and possible successors Sergey Ivanov and Dmitriy Medvedev; pp 1, 8.

3. Yuriy Simonyan article comments on Russian-Armenian plans to set up a joint venture in Armenia to extract and process uranium ore. An agreement between the two countries was signed in April 2007. Nuclear Threat Initiative, a US foundation, published a report saying that there are no uranium mines in Armenia. The author notes that neither the Russian nor the Armenian authorities have commented on the plans and quotes an Armenian expert as saying that a deposit of some 30,000 t of uranium was found back in Soviet times; pp 1, 6.

4. Natalya Kostenko article looks ahead at a rehearsal drawing of lots by Russia’s Central Electoral Commission to practice distributing places on ballot papers for the December Duma elections. The commission is trying to prevent the scandal involving One Russia that occurred in March 2007, when the party was listed first on ballot papers in most regions. The author also notes that new electoral legislation might cause many problems to political parties, as independent candidates might sue parties refusing to include them in their regional tickets; pp 1, 3.

5. Aleksandra Samarina article comments on initiatives by Federation Council speaker Sergey Mironov, who has suggested that Vladimir Putin be re-elected Russian president in 2012 and that the presidential term could be extended to five or even seven years. Meanwhile, Mironov’s party, A Just Russia, is going to nominate its candidate for the upcoming presidential election; p 3.

6. Svetlana Bocharova report on the tensions between deputy speaker of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin and Saratov Region governor Pavel Ipatov regarding drawing up local One Russia party electoral lists; p 5.

7. Ivan Groshkov interview with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, who talks about the Middle East crisis, Russia’s stance towards the conflict between Fatah and Hamas and Moscow relations with the Palestinian National Authority; p 7.

Rossiyskaya Gazeta

1. Yevgeniy Arsyukhin article says that Russia is doing its best to complete talks on WTO entry this year; there is a chance it could join the organization in October; pp 1, 10.

2. Olga Zhurman report says another criminal case has been opened against former mayor of Vladivostok Yuriy Kopylov; p 3.

Vedomosti

1. Boris Grozovskiy and Aleksandra Petrachkova article reviews the jobs President Putin could take after his resignation in 2008. The National Energy Security Foundation predicts that Putin will move from the role of Russian leader to global energy provider. So he might head Gazprom, or a company formed from a merger of Rosneft and Gazprom, or even head a gas OPEC. Experts polled by the authors comment on Putin’s prospects; p A1.

2. Yelena Ivanova report says that Mikhail Barshchevskiy’s Civil Force party is to go to the polls under the “new right” brand, presenting itself as a party of taxpayers. Its political programme includes cutting the single social tax from 26 per cent to 12 per cent, joining the WTO, support for small business and judicial and military reform; p A2.

3. Article by general director of the National Energy Security Foundation Konstantin Simonov says more young Russians are willing to go into politics to earn money the easy way. The author warns that the methods used for training young leaders at the popular summer camps of pro-Kremlin organizations might be wrong; p A4.

4. Irina Reznik report entitled “Gutseriyev goes into science” on Mikhail Gutseriyev’s plans to leave business altogether following his sale of Russneft; p B1.

Izvestiya

1. Aleksandr Andryukhin article comments on another criminal case opened against Russian exiled tycoon Boris Berezovskiy. The Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office has petitioned Moscow’s Basmannyy court to arrest in absentia businessman Boris Berezovskiy, who is charged with embezzling 13m dollars from SBS-Agro bank; pp 1, 3.

2. Internet poll conducted by the paper: “What does Russian want from Belarus?”; 29 per cent say they want Belarus to become part of Russia.

3. Pro and contra debate between Denis Dragunskiy, editor in chief of Kosmopolis magazine, and State Duma deputy Konstantin Zatulin: “Russia-Eastern Europe: Pragmatism or friendship?”; p 6.

Gazeta

1. Mariya Lokotetskaya and Vladimir Barinov report on the new criminal case against Boris Berezovskiy, which, according the paper, involves former head of Sibneft Yevgeniy Shvidler; pp 1, 2.

2. Alena Sagdeyeva and Aleksandr Yelisov article says European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is to hear complaints from two Russian journalists today. Viktor Chemodurov from Kursk Region claims that regional governor Aleksandr Rutskoy tried to conceal money embezzled from the regional budget, while Aleksandr Kislov from Penza Region sent an open letter to Putin charging regional governor Vasiliy Bochkaryev with corruption. Both journalists faced persecution and had to appeal to the European court; p 3.

Novyye Izvestiya

1. Vesta Borovikova interview with presidential aide Sergey Yastrzhembskiy, who talks about Russian-EU relations and his career; p 1, 2.

2. Nadezhda Krasilova report comments on a recent public opinion poll showing that only 20 per cent of respondents know the names of political parties and 64 per cent of those polled do not support any political party. Only 30 per cent of respondents said they would cast their votes in December 2007; p 2.

Vremya Novostey

1. Mikhail Vignanskiy interview with Georgian Parliament Speaker Nino Burjanadze, who speaks on the future of the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and warns Russia against building Olympic infrastructure in Abkhazia without Georgia’s consent; p 5.

Komsomolskaya Pravda

1. Aleksandr Petrov, Nikita Krasnikov report on Moscow’s Basmannyy court requesting the seizure of exiled businessman Boris Berezovskiy’s property in France, with telephone comment from Eduard Krasnyanskiy, former press secretary of SBS-Agro bank, which is cited in the new criminal case brought against Berezovskiy by the Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office; p 3.

2. Extensive excerpts of interview with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn originally published in Der Spiegel; p 10.

Moskovskiy Komsomolets

1. Lina Panchenko report on emergence of two new unnamed witnesses who will apparently testify against current suspect Aleksey Frenkel in Central Bank First Deputy Chair Andrey Kozlov murder case. Also cites Frenkel lawyer Igor Trunov on state of investigation; pp 1, 2.

2. Lina Panchenko report on Russian Orthodox Church and public organizations’ plans to combine traditional paratroops’ holiday on 2 August with older celebrations to mark the feast day of the Old Testament prophet Elijah, in the hope of moderating the troops’ traditional drunken behavior on that day; p 2.

3. Yekaterina Petukhova report on renewed concerns for town of Berezniki in Perm Territory, which is built on old potash workings and is gradually sinking into the ground. A new crater has recently appeared; p 2.

4. Nikolay Barvinok report summarizing Economic Development and Trade Ministry’s regular half-yearly monitoring report on Russia’s economic and social development up to June 2007; p 6.

Sources: as listed

Inclusion of items in this list of significant reports from some of the day’s main Russian newspapers does not necessarily mean that BBC Monitoring will file further on them.

For more information or fuller reports, contact the duty editor on 86271 (internal) or 0118 9486 271 (external); email [email protected]

BBC Monitoring

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