#19 - JRL 7061
Russian MPs resent energy reform, government official's manners
Source: Centre TV, Moscow, in Russian 1900 gmt 11 Feb 03
[Presenter] Now about domestic policy, big and bright. It seems that the State Duma has decided to live the pre-election year according to the slogan: Not a day without a row. The absence of a plenary session does not prevent the members from doing so.
Today the chairman of the Federal Energy Commission, Georgiy Kutovoy, could repeat the fate of Liberal-Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovskiy who had nearly lost the post of State Duma deputy chairman for his non-parliamentary statements. Deputies threatened to relieve Kutovoy of the post for his non-parliamentary tone of speech.
[Correspondent Vera Kuzmina] On 14 February, the day of all lovers, the State Duma is going to consider the package of energy bills in the second reading. On the eve of the decisive vote, deputies were rehearsing the debate in their factions. Centrists paid special attention to electricity and heating tariffs and invited Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref and Kutovoy. It seems there was no love lost at the session.
[Yevgeniy Primakov, member of the State Duma Fatherland-All Russia faction] The moralizing and humiliating tone of your statement is posing a threat to the adoption of the law in general, if you want to know it. Please learn how to address deputies.
[Vyacheslav Volodin, the leader of the State Duma Fatherland-All Russia faction] Tomorrow [12 February] is the day when the question, to be or not to be, for the chairman of the Federal Energy Commission, will be decided.
[Correspondent] The reason for such statements was Kutovoy's phrase meant for a faction member: You are not at a rally. The matter is that Kutovoy actually called into question the professionalism of people's deputies. He believes that the idea of single tariffs all over the country is rubbish, similar to the average temperature in hospital [allusion to a popular joke to the effect that the temperature in wards and in the morgue are different].
[Kutovoy] If you invite three economists and financiers over to your session, you will have three different points of view on how the cost of natural monopolies' services influences inflation.
[Correspondent] Gref was sitting quietly in the corner during the first part of the meeting, while making heroic attempts to reconcile everybody without offending anyone in the second. The situation reminded everyone of the famous episode in the film "Beware of the Car" - Kutovoy is guilty but he is not actually guilty.
[Gref] Kutovoy has not got an opportunity to control the decisions of regional energy commissions...
[Correspondent] Such was the eve of St Valentine's Day. Mind you, Gref and Kutovoy have not visited the Communist faction yet.