RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly – 04/02/2004

RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
_________________________________________ ____________________
RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly
Vol. 4, No. 12, 2 April 2004

A Weekly Review of News and Analysis of Russian Domestic Politics

COMPLETE REACTION AND WRAP-UP OF RUSSIA’S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.
Get comprehensive analysis and all the breaking news about the
Russian elections at RFE/RL’s dedicated webpage “Russia Votes
2003-04”:

************************************************************
HEADLINES:
* PUTIN CONSOLIDATES HIS ADMINISTRATION
* IGOR SECHIN: GATEKEEPER OR INDEPENDENT POLITICAL ACTOR
* RUSSIA’S EVOLVING LIBERALISM
************************************************************

KREMLIN/WHITE HOUSE

PUTIN CONSOLIDATES HIS ADMINISTRATION

By Victor Yasmann

During a discussion with journalists at the president’s
Black Sea residence in Sochi on 27 March, President Vladimir Putin
announced that the sweeping reorganization of the presidential
administration, following shortly after the reshuffling of the
government earlier this month (see “RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly,”
12 March 2004), should complete the first stage of the country’s
administrative reform.
Like the government reorganization, Putin’s rearrangement
of the presidential administration was essentially
technical-bureaucratic in nature, rather than political. Under the
plan, which was drafted by administration chief of staff Dmitrii
Medvedev, the new structure will have three levels. At the top will
be Medvedev and his two deputies (under the old system, there were
eight deputy administration heads). The two remaining deputies are
Vladislav Surkov, who formerly oversaw elections and work with
political parties and public organizations, and Igor Sechin, who
until recently was responsible for the president’s schedule and
for work with documents. Surkov is reputed to be close to the
so-called Family of the era of former President Boris Yeltsin, while
Sechin is associated with the “St. Petersburg chekisty,” leading
analysts to believe the two will maintain a balance between the
interests of these groups.
The remaining six deputy-administration-head slots have been
abolished, and many of the former deputies have been given the status
of presidential aides. Under the new scheme, former deputy
administration head Aleksandr Abramov, who was responsible for
federal issues, will become a presidential aide and will also serve
as secretary of the State Council. Former deputy administration heads
Dzhakhan Pollyeva (who oversaw the Kremlin experts’ group and
speech writing), Igor Shuvalov (economics), and Viktor Ivanov
(personnel matters) will become presidential aides. Sergei Prikhodko
will continue as presidential foreign-policy aide. Rounding out the
administration’s second tier, State Legal Department head Larisa
Brycheva has also been given the status of a presidential aide.
The third level of the administration will comprise the heads
of 12 functional departments and other administration units.
Outside of this three-tiered system, but also part of the
presidential administration, there will be the offices of the
presidential envoys to the seven federal districts, the Security
Council and its apparatus, the presidential chancellery, and the
secretariat. Aleksei Gromov will remain head of the presidential
press service, and Igor Shchegolev remains chief of protocol.
Speaking to journalists on 27 March, Medvedev said that the
precise division of labor among the deputy administration heads, the
presidential aides, and the department heads is yet to be worked out.
He indicated that most of the administration’s 2,000 personnel
will keep their jobs, although there could be some cuts in
departments that will be abolished. It is believed, for instance,
that the administration’s economy departments will be
incorporated into the structure of the experts’ groups, while the
Domestic Policy Department will be folded into the Territorial
Department. Likewise, the Information Department will become part of
the presidential press service.
The administration reform parallels the recent government
restructuring proposed by Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov. That
three-tiered system consists of 14 “super-ministries” responsible for
policy formulation and decision making, followed by a layer of
federal services responsible for policy implementation, and a tier of
federal agencies responsible for monitoring and oversight.
The parallel structures should help consolidate the
administration and the government and enable Putin to be more
actively involved in the workings of the cabinet than he was when
Mikhail Kasyanov was prime minister. The abolition of the
presidential administration’s Economy Department is indicative of
this consolidation. Under Kasyanov, the administration’s Economy
Department was headed by Anton Danilov-Danilyan, who frequently
debated economics with Kasyanov and the government,
“Kommersant-Daily” reported on 26 March. Analysts believe that Putin
has such confidence in Fradkov’s economic judgment that he does
not feel the need to monitor the government’s economic-policy
ministries any longer.
Speaking about the administration reform during the press
briefing in Sochi on 27 March, Putin noted that the administration
had not been restructured since it was created in 1991. “That was a
time of revolution, and the administration was founded as the
headquarters of revolution,” Putin said. “Now we need an efficient
tool of government that will correspond to its tasks and will not
intervene in the spheres of jurisdiction of other power bodies,
including the government.”
Putin also spoke about his decision to dismiss Kasyanov’s
government on 24 February, just over two weeks before the 14 March
presidential election. At the time, Putin said that he wanted to
present his new government to the electorate before the vote. On 27
March, however, Putin said that Kasyanov’s government had lost
the momentum of reform and that it is necessary “from time to time to
shake up such a structure because people…begin to value their
posts” more than working effectively.
Neither explanation, however, seems convincing, since very
few key officeholders lost their posts as a result of the government
shake-up, with the notable exception of Kasyanov himself. Many
analysts continue to believe that the shake-up was rushed through
before the election in order to eliminate Kasyanov as a real or
imagined political rival to Putin. Some forces within the Kremlin
likely viewed Kasyanov as a figure capable of consolidating the
anti-Putin political forces and gaining support both at home and
abroad among those who are irritated by Putin’s style of
governance.

PROFILE

IGOR SECHIN: GATEKEEPER OR INDEPENDENT POLITICAL ACTOR. Even as
analysts continue to sift through the various appointments and
reappointments and the renaming of many federal agencies of the last
few weeks, at least a few clear winners have emerged: the new
government chief of staff Dmitrii Kozak and the two remaining deputy
presidential heads, Vladislav Surkov and Igor Sechin.
Sechin’s continued prominence comes as little surprise.
For the past 13 years, Sechin has worked by Putin’s side. Sechin
is the only official whom Putin has taken with him to every new job,
“Moskovskii komsomolets” noted on 2 February 2000. Little outwardly
has changed in the function of his posts, although his title has
changed over the years. Sechin keeps Putin’s schedule, overseeing
the flow of people and documents to him.
Perceptions of Sechin have altered over the years. In St.
Petersburg, he was viewed more or less as a selfless executor of
Putin’s will. However, since coming to Moscow, press reports have
proliferated about his supposed pursuit of various agendas.
Sechin, 43, was born in Leningrad. He studied Portuguese and
French at Leningrad State University (LGU). He is also fluent in
Spanish, according to “Kadrovaya politika,” No. 2 (2001). After
graduating from LGU in 1984, he went to work as a military
“translator” in Angola and later at the Tekhnoimport company in
Mozambique. His work in a conflict zone has caused some analysts to
conclude that he must have been — and might still be — connected
with the Russian intelligence services. His official biography
includes no such information. “Kommersant-Vlast,” No. 9, reported
this year that according to an unidentified source in Russian
Military Intelligence (GRU), Sechin once worked as a translator for a
Soviet military adviser who worked for the GRU.
Certainly, Sechin possesses certain personal characteristics
valued by the intelligence services. “Profil,” No. 27 (2001),
reported that, according to his former colleagues in St. Petersburg,
Sechin does not reveal information about his personal life or
demonstrate emotion. His former supervisor from the Leningrad City
Soviet, Margarita Gromyko, noted that he didn’t volunteer the
information that he had been a military translator, saying she
learned the facts of his biography only from his employment form.
Another colleague from the St. Petersburg mayor’s office recalled
that Sechin was unusually communicative, but still closed at the same
time. “No one knew about his personal life or his family situation,”
he recalled.
After his experience in Mozambique, Sechin served a stint in
the Soviet Army. Then he became a foreign-languages instructor at
LGU, and he served as a specialist in international economic
relations for the Leningrad City Soviet’s Executive Political
Committee from 1988 until 1991. Sechin’s City Soviet supervisor
at the time, Gromyko, described him as mild and kind and not one of
those people who climbs to the top over the bodies of his
competitors.
During a trip to Brazil for the mayor’s office — one of
St. Petersburg’s sister cities is Rio de Janeiro — Sechin first
became acquainted with Putin, who was then a not-very-prominent,
quiet assistant to St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak, according
to “Profil.” Later, when Putin became deputy mayor, he made Sechin
the head of his secretariat.
A former colleague recalls that Sechin quickly became the
center of that office. He has a prodigious memory, and he works “like
a loyal dog, never biting anyone on his own initiative, but only for
the team.” The key to his success, according to the same colleague,
was that he “never exceeded his responsibilities” and “never
expressed any emotion.” From 1991 until the end of Sobchak’s
administration in 1996, Sechin rose as Putin rose, from assistant to
the director to head of the apparatus of the deputy mayor, to head of
the apparatus of the first deputy mayor.
In 1997, when Putin came to Moscow to head the Kremlin’s
Control Department, he took Sechin with him. “Rossiiskie vesti”
suggested on 9 October 2002 that Sechin has changed since coming to
Moscow, becoming more of an active “instrument” for taking actions
that Putin, for whatever reasons, wishes to distance himself from.
For example, it was reportedly Sechin who took concrete measures to
bring down former Railways Minister Viktor Aksenenko and to rein in
former Media Minister Mikhail Lesin. According to the weekly, several
analysts have suggested that Sechin has grown over time into a
political actor, following the path of Vladimir Kryuchkov, who was
the director of the personal secretariat of Yurii Andropov when he
was chairman of the KGB.
Ivan Goryachev, writing on grani.ru, a website funded by
former oligarch Boris Berezovskii, on 12 February 2002 alleged that
Sechin lobbied the idea of creating a national sports channel to
replace TVS. In other reports, Goryachev suggested that Sechin,
together with fellow deputy presidential administration head Viktor
Ivanov, locked horns with fellow deputy presidential administration
head Vladislav Surkov over control of the pro-Kremlin Unified Russia
party. In addition, Sechin and banker Sergei Pugachev reportedly
supported a 2001 Duma inquiry against then-presidential
administration head Aleksandr Voloshin.
At the same time as grani.ru and other websites detailed a
pattern of behind-the-scenes machinations by Sechin, other reports
periodically appeared suggesting that Sechin’s star had faded and
his power was waning. “Moskovskii komsomolets” on 20 June 2000
claimed that problems with Sechin’s performance during the first
months of Putin’s presidency enabled his rivals to overshadow him
and remove him from the “big leagues.” Sechin tried to take on a
“political role” too quickly after Putin became president, and there
were reportedly constant problems with Putin’s schedule. During
one trip to Germany, Putin reportedly had to take part in 24 events
in one day. Similarly, “Kto est kto” on 3 September 2001 argued that
since Dmitrii Medvedev became head of the presidential apparatus and
Dmitrii Kozak was moved to head the government apparatus,
Sechin’s influence within the presidential administration has
weakened.
If these reports are correct, then Sechin’s influence
waxes and wanes fairly frequently. At the same time, by all outward
appearances, his standing with Putin has remained unchanged over the
years. Sechin’s former supervisor Gromyko laughs at the notion
that Sechin would pursue his own political agenda, according to
“Profil.” The weekly also interviewed an unidentified former KGB
general who has known Sechin for many years who perhaps provides an
alternative explanation for the Sechin’s alleged
behind-the-scenes activities. “In my life there exist four people
whom I trust in any situation unconditionally,” the general said.
“One of these is Sechin. I can say definitely that it is possible
that what these newspapers describe takes place in real life. But
only Sechin has never done anything without an order from above. Does
this mean that everything that takes place occurs at the initiative
of the president? Understand that as you will.” (Julie A. Corwin)

PARTIES

RUSSIA’S EVOLVING LIBERALISM

By Robert Coalson

Since the failure of either of Russia’s liberal parties
— Yabloko and the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) — to enter the
Duma in the 7 December elections and the failure of the liberal
wing’s least-sullied figure, former SPS co-leader Irina Khakamada
to pick up even 4 percent of the vote in the 14 March presidential
election, analysts have been avidly discussing the demise and even
death of Russian liberalism. Advocates of the resurgent
“national-patriotic” ideologies — who are getting ever more space in
the national press — have lauded the country’s supposed
rejection of liberal ideals, which they say have led to great divides
within society and to the collapse of Russia as a respected world
power.
Jailed former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovskii, still
Russia’s richest person and for many the embodiment of the
injustices of the liberal policies of the 1990s, published in
“Vedomosti” on 29 March a long, soul-searching commentary titled “The
Crisis Of Liberalism In Russia.” In his article, Khodorkovskii
rejects the notion that liberalism is somehow inherently unsuitable
for Russia or that there is something fundamentally wrong with
liberal precepts. Instead, he admits ruefully, “those whom fate and
history entrusted to be the preservers of liberal values in our
country could not cope with that task.” To his credit, Khodorkovskii
includes himself among this number, among those who betrayed liberal
values for their own selfish interests and who smugly decided that in
Russia it is not necessary to take into consideration the interests
or views of the masses.
Khodorkovskii’s article blames the liberals for failing
when they had power in the 1990s under former President Boris Yeltsin
to care for the “90 percent” of the population that was not prepared
to do without state paternalism. He lambastes big business for
fostering and propping up a weak state system in order to pursue its
own interests. He labels the governments that presided over the 1998
financial crisis and its consequences “irresponsible and incompetent”
and regrets that those liberals who might have been able to prevent
the crisis did not insist more strongly that something can and should
be done.
He castigates the liberal elite for betraying its values and
“doing everything possible to establish financial and administrative
control over the media” in order to control public opinion. Likewise,
he criticizes the elite’s manipulation of the election process.
“How can I — one of the biggest sponsors of the 1996 presidential
campaign — forget what truly monstrous efforts were required in
order to force the Russia people ‘to vote with their
hearts’?” Khodorkovskii asks.
Clearly, Khodorkovskii argues, Russian liberalism has dug
itself into a deep hole, and it will take considerable effort to
return the country to a path of liberal development. He offers
several suggestions for beginning that process, including developing
“a new strategy” for interacting with the government after asking
oneself, “What have you done for Russia?” He calls on Russian
liberals to eschew popularity in the West for the esteem of their
countrymen. He urges them to recognize the legitimacy of President
Vladimir Putin and of the presidency as “the institution that
guarantees the integrity and stability of the country.” According to
Khodorkovskii, the development of civil society is impossible without
the government playing a leading role.
Business, he argues, must renounce the shortsighted benefits
of a weak state and an undeveloped civil society. It must seek to
legitimize the 1990s-era privatizations in the eyes of the public by
endorsing tax reforms that “will force business to share with the
people” and other steps “that will not be very pleasant for major
owners.”
Much of what Khodorkovskii advocates can be boiled down to
“overcoming the complexes and phobias” that have characterized the
entire history of Russian liberalism, including the last decade.
Civil society, he notes, is formed over generations “and not in an
instant by the wave of a magic wand.”
In an article on politcom.ru on 29 March, Center for
Political Technologies Deputy Director Aleksei Makarkin, analyzing
the data from a recent survey of Russian attitudes by the Ekspertiza
foundation, argues that, despite the mistakes of the liberals and
contrary to the crowing of the “national-patriotic” ideologues, the
public at large is slowly, but inexorably becoming more liberal.
Makarkin, for instance, notes that, although xenophobia
remains high in Russia, negative attitudes toward the Soviet-era
official “enemy” — Jews — are declining, despite the concerted
efforts of nationalists to enflame anti-Semitism with references the
hated oligarchs or Unified Energy Systems head Anatolii Chubais. He
argues that much of the increase in xenophobia is a reaction to real
social problems like poverty, crime, and terrorism rather than an
irrational phobia or the result of a state policy.
Likewise, Makarkin noted that 37 percent of respondents
agreed with the statement that “relations between Russia and the West
can be genuinely amicable,” despite recent events such as the
complete discrediting of Russia’s pro-Western reformers, the NATO
bombing of Yugoslavia, the U.S.-led military action against former
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, the U.S. abrogation of the 1972
Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and the current eastward expansion of
NATO.
He also drew attention to the fact that an ever-decreasing
percentage of Russians agrees with statements such “it is immoral to
be rich in a poor country.” In the Ekspertiza poll, 39 percent of
respondents agreed with this proposition, while 47 percent disagreed.
He also notes that, compared to Soviet times, support for the death
penalty is much weaker now, with only 29 percent of respondents
agreeing that “enemies of the people should be executed.” Twenty
percent agreed that bribe-taking officials should be executed.
Forty-eight percent of respondents agreed that it is worse to condemn
an innocent person than to let a guilty person go free, while just 28
percent felt the opposite.
In short, Makarkin argues that, despite the fact that in the
Soviet era “the pluralistic political tradition was almost entirely
lost in Russia” and despite the peculiarities of the Soviet-era
dissident movement — such as the role played by Jewish refusniks who
were fighting largely for their individual rights rather than for a
liberal restructuring of the country or the prominence in the
movement of right-wing nationalists — liberal ideals are making
steady inroads in the public consciousness.
Makarkin concludes that these shifts in attitude are making
it steadily more difficult for the government to act in heavy-handed,
authoritarian ways. He notes for example that that Federal Security
Service (FSB) has been forced to launch a publicity campaign to
garner support for the idea that juries should not hear cases
involving state secrets. In the past, he implies, the FSB could
simply have manipulated the courts or the political system to achieve
its ends. Such tendencies could be more fundamental and lasting than
the current “crisis” in the upper echelons of liberalism

ELECTIONS

FAR NORTHERN INCUMBENT UNSEATED… Arkhangelsk Oblast Governor
Anatolii Yefremov lost his bid for a third term by a large margin in
the second round of the oblast’s gubernatorial election on 28
March, Russian media reported. According to preliminary results with
86 percent of the votes counted, Yefremov’s challenger, local
dairy director Nikolai Kiselev, received 74.36 percent, compared with
just 17.88 percent for Yefremov, RIA-Novosti reported on 29 March.
Yefremov’s chief rival in the race, State Duma Deputy and local
oligarch Vladimir Krupchak, withdrew from the first round after a
meeting in the Kremlin just one week before the voting (see “RFE/RL
Newsline,” 5 March 2004). According to “Kommersant-Daily” on 26
March, local analysts believe that although the Kremlin asked
Krupchak to withdraw, it did not necessarily support Yefremov.
Presidential administration officials were simply not willing to work
with Krupchak. According to ITAR-TASS, Kiselev is a member of the
Unified Russia party, although the party did not nominate him for
governor. JAC

…AS GENERAL JOINS GOVERNORS’ RANKS IN CENTRAL DISTRICT.
Recently elected Motherland State Duma Deputy and former Airborne
Troops commander General Georgii Shpak was elected governor of Ryazan
Oblast on 28 March in the second round of the gubernatorial election
there, Russian media reported on 29 March. With more than 99 percent
of the ballots counted, Shpak had 53.65 percent of the vote, compared
with 40.17 percent for Unified Russia Deputy Igor Morozov, RBK
reported on 29 March. Just over 5 percent voted “against all.” The
turnout was 48.61 percent. “Moskovskii komsomolets” reported on 25
March that rumors were circulating in Ryazan before the ballot that
Morozov did not have the support of the presidential administration
— as he had claimed. The rumors were fed in part by a televised
remarks by presidential envoy to the Central Federal District Georgii
Poltavchenko, who reportedly said, “And who is Morozov?” The daily
also reported that recent polls showed a surge in popularity for
Shpak that was almost in direct proportion to the attacks on him.
Newspapers and leaflets were reportedly circulated accusing him of
being a thief and drunkard. JAC

STATE DUMA

DUMA GIVES INITIAL NOD TO BILL INCREASING NUMBER OF PAYING STUDENTS
AT PROFESSIONAL SCHOOLS… The Duma approved on 26 March in their
first reading amendments to the federal law on education that would
remove limitations on the number of paid admissions to specialized
educational institutions, such as law schools and state- and
municipal-administration schools, RIA-Novosti reported. The vote was
333 in favor and 94 against. “For the last 10 years there has been a
huge growth in the number of non-state-sector educational
institutions preparing students in prestigious specialties,” State
Duma Education and Science Committee Chairman Valentin Ivanov
(Unified Russia) told gazeta.ru. “Rectors of state institutions
consider the [current] situation discriminatory and believe it is
leading to the pushing of students out to the private sector.”
According to gazeta.ru, opponents of the bill fear it will lead to
the destruction of the system of free education. The bill was
originally sponsored by deputies from the last Duma — Aleksandr
Shishlov (Yabloko) and Sergei Yushenkov (independent). JAC

…AND REDUCES DUMA STAFF. Deputies also approved on 26 March
amendments to the law on the status of members of the Federation
Council and the State Duma governing the certification of
legislators’ assistants, RosBalt reported. The bill passed
narrowly, with just 226 in favor — the exact number required for
passage. Under the bill, which was sponsored by the Unified Russia
faction, each legislator would be allowed five staff assistants and
40 so-called public assistants. According to gazeta.ru, the Liberal
Democratic Party of Russia, the Communists, and Motherland opposed
the bill. If enacted, the bill would deprive public assistants of the
right to ride free of charge on public transportation and of immunity
from arrest. Duma Regulations Committee Chairman Oleg Kovalev
explained that sometimes “dubious personalities” become public
assistants and use their status for various misdeeds and even
“crime,” gazeta.ru reported. JAC

COMINGS & GOINGS

IN: Kirov Oblast’s legislature on 25 March confirmed Aleksei Klishin
as its representative in the Federation Council, “Kommersant-Daily”
reported on 26 March. Klishin previously headed the Moscow
Interterritorial College of Lawyers. Klishin replaces Mikhail
Mikheev, who has served in the upper chamber since April 2001. An
unidentified source in the oblast administration told the daily
that Klishin has very good — but private — connections in Moscow.
He specializes in the regulation of foreign investment, tax
legislation, and property rights.

IN: Also on 25 March, Tomsk Oblast’s legislature confirmed Aleksandr
Suvorov as the new Federation Council representative for the
oblast’s executive branch, the daily reported. Suvorov was most
recently the chief federal inspector for Tomsk Oblast. He replaces
Vladimir Zhidkikh, who was elected to the Duma in December.

IN: Former Audit Chamber auditor Gennadii Batanov will head the
Pension Fund, RosBalt reported on 26 March, citing the government
information department. Former Perm Oblast Deputy Governor
Anatolii Temkin will become a deputy natural resources minister.
Former First Deputy Culture Minister Denis Molchanov will become
director of the Government Information Department, replacing Aleksei
Gorshkov. Ramil Khabriev will head the Federal Health Care and Social
Development Supervisory Service. According to ITAR-TASS, Khabriev was
previously director-general of the Biopreparat joint-stock company.

IN: On 25 March, government chief of staff Dmitrii Kozak issued a
decree appointing Aleksandr Zharov as his assistant for press
relations, ITAR-TASS reported. Zharov is a former Health
Ministry spokesman and adviser to the chairman of RIA-Novosti. On 25
March, Prime Minster Fradkov appointed Stanislav Ilyasov director of
the Federal Fisheries Agency. On 24 March, Fradkov appointed Oleg
Vyugin to head the Federal Financial Markets Service. Vyugin is a
former Central Bank deputy chairman, a former deputy finance
minister, and a former chief economist at Troika-Dialog.

IN: State Duma Deputy Vladimir Katrenko (Unified Russia) has been
selected by his faction to replace Aleksandr Zhukov, who was
recently appointed deputy prime minister, as deputy Duma speaker,
RosBalt reported. Katrenko is a former deputy governor of Stavropol
Krai, and he served as chairman of the Duma’s Transportation,
Energy, and Communications Committee in the last Duma.

DEMOTED: Prime Minister Fradkov announced on 25 March that each
federal minister will have only two deputy ministers, Russian media
reported. According to “Vremya novostei” on 19 March, government
apparatus head Dmitrii Kozak suggested trimming the number of deputy
ministers, a proposal that Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin and
Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref reportedly
vigorously protested. According to the daily, Gref has 12 deputy
ministers and three first deputy ministers, while Kudrin has nine
deputy ministers and three first deputy ministers.

IN: Prime Minister Fradkov announced new federal-government
appointments on 23 March, ITAR-TASS and RBK reported. He selected
former State Reserves Agency Deputy Director Anatolii Ledovskikh to
head the new Federal Mining Agency. Former Federal Mining and
Industrial Monitoring Authority Director Vladimir Kulechev will head
the Federal Technological Inspectorate. Former Duma Deputy Vladimir
Averchenko (People’s Deputy) will head the Federal Construction and
Housing Agency.

OUT: Former Labor Minister Aleksandr Pochinok has been passed over
for the position of head of the new Federal Employment Service,
which has instead been given to one of his former deputies, Maksim
Topilin, gazeta.ru reported on 30 March. Topilin, 36, is a native
Muscovite who graduated from the Plekhanov Economics Institute in
1988.

POLITICAL CALENDAR

1 April: Spring military call-up begins

2 April: German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will pay a brief
working visit to Russia

3 April: French President Jacques Chirac will visit Russia

4-6 April: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to visit Russia

4 April: Second round of gubernatorial elections will be held
in Koryak Autonomous Okrug and Altai Krai

6-7 April: Foreign ministers of five Caspian littoral states
— Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Iran — to meet
in Moscow

7-8 April: NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer will
visit Moscow

8 April: Cabinet of ministers will discuss tax reforms

Mid-April: Interior Ministry to withdraw 3,000 troops from Chechnya

16 April: An international conference on “Russia-EU Neighbors:
Questions of Cooperation Across Borders” will be held in Pskov

17 April: People’s Party will hold a party congress

23 April: First anniversary of the killing of State Duma
Deputy Sergei Yushenkov

24 April: Second congress of the People’s Patriotic Union-Motherland,
which is headed by former presidential candidate Sergei Glazev, will
be held

May: Federal Atomic Energy Agency head Aleksandr Rumyantsev to visit
Iran, according to ITAR-TASS

1 May: Date by which Russia expects talks with EU and its future
members to conclude

3-4 May: Labor Day holiday observed

7 May: President Putin to be inaugurated for his second term

9 May: Date by which a decree elaborating functions of newly
restructured ministries will be adopted and departmental statutes
will be ratified, according to Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Zhukov
on 16 March

10 May: Victory Day holiday observed

19 May: Agrarian Party must settle its financial accounts with the
Central Election Commission or face a ban on political activity

30 May: Date by which prosecutors must either complete their
criminal investigation of former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovskii or
ask a Moscow court to extend his period of pretrial detention

1 June: New deadline for exchanging Soviet-era passports for
new Russian passports

20 June: Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney will perform a concert in
St. Petersburg’s Palace Square

28-29 June: President Putin expected to attend NATO summit in Istanbul

1 July: First anniversary of the creation of Federal Antinarcotics
Agency

2 July: End of State Duma’s spring session

3 July: Communist Party will hold congress to hear reports and elect
new party officials

September: St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum plans to open the
Hermitage Center, which will exhibit works from the Hermitage’s
collection, in the city of Kazan

November: Gubernatorial election in Pskov Oblast

December: Gubernatorial elections in Bryansk, Kamchatka, and Ivanovo
oblasts.

*********************************************************
Copyright (c) 2004. RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved.

The “RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly” is prepared by Julie A. Corwin
on the basis of a variety of sources. It is distributed every
Wednesday.

Direct comments to Julie A. Corwin at [email protected]
For information on reprints, see:

Back issues are online at

http://www.rferl.org/specials/russianelection
http://www.rferl.org/about/content/request.asp
http://www.rferl.org/reports/rpw/