Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

#14 - JRL 7241
No. 45, Thursday, June 26, 2003
Translated by Luba Schwartzman

* ISSUE THEME: Novaya Gazeta Editor Sergei Mikhalych writes about the recent mop-up operation in the police structure. Will it be carried out throughout the nation? From the experience in the provinces, we can conclude that the uniforms of all administrations are the same color – green, like dollars – and the courts are not overly eager to jail their friends in the police. Still, the pre-election mood gives reason to hope for justice this time. We’ll wait and see. But some conclusions can already be made. The Security Directorate for Internal Administrative Affairs within the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) and the Federal Security Service (FSB) carried out the recent sting operation against corrupted police officers – this prevented information leaks. MVD officials know that they can’t trust anyone else to fight internal corruption. The second conclusion is that the MVD really is following through on plans to publicly cleanse its ranks. First, a relevant directorate for internal security was created and became a key MVD structure. Then, the anti-Rushailo campaign began. The next step was the subordination of regional directorates for the fight against organized crime. And then the central apparat was shaken up – albeit, most of the high-ranking officers left the MVD quietly, without any trials or sentences, even if not of their own free will. The “fear and trepidation” in one ministry is worthy of respect. Like the Decembrists' Uprising. But it holds little promise. When you catch a police officer taking a bribe, the trail leads to his superiors… and then further on to people who don’t give a damn about the laws.

* SPECIAL REPORT: Novaya Gazeta correspondent Yuri Safronov visited one of the maximum security prisons in Tver, and witnessed an unusual experiment in social rehabilitation of the prisoners. The Director of the Press Service of the Tver Penitentiary Directorate Major Ditkovskii began conducting contests, traditional Russian “quiz shows” of wits and resourcefulness (known as KVN). According to our correspondent, the inmates can easily compete with national teams. Prison directors phrase their goals in the following words: “If, in 2007, at least a couple of the players do not return to our league, we did not play in vain. Read about the sad and happy details of these contests in “Prison KVN. Laughter is the Best Medicine… Against Long Sentences.”

* ISSUE DETAILS: At a June 20 press conference in the Kremlin, President Putin replied to a question about search-and-rescue work in the Karmadon Gorge: “We’ll work as long as we have to.” Putin the politician demonstrates humanity. Experts believe that it is hopeless to search for the people who died under the glacier. But the relatives of the victims and dozens of volunteers continue the search. They believe that they have to find and bury the bodies. Novaya Gazeta columnist Zoya Yershok visited the Karmadon Gorge. In her article, “The Tunnel,” she writes about the people who have been working there for nine months.

* ISSUE DELIBERATIONS: The author of the “Law and Order” column in Novaya Gazeta, attorney Alexander Dobrovinsky declares: “Presidential elections will cause another banking crisis and the strengthening of the financial oligarchs.” His article, “Central Bank Obituary,” is about the presidential elections of 2008. There are rumors in Moscow that various banks are preparing to close up, while others are acquiring competitors and introducing new regulations. Soon, small and medium-sized banks will be closed down by the Central Bank, as the large “sharks” of banking make their attack. The worst of the fighting will go on in the regions. Everyone knows that any self-respecting governor has his own bank. These banks will also receive “obituaries.” The governors will then have a choice – succumbing to Moscow rule, or beginning the war in advance and seizing control of all regional financial structures. While the Kremlin still hates the oligarchs, it is praying for their success – because it is easier to gather “fees” from 10 than from a 1000. And it is easier to control 10 than a 1000 – and after all, what’s the General Prosecutor’s Office for? The government is setting one condition for stability – an agreement with the government.


- In the “Music Today” column, we publish the closed letter the Central Committee of the Youth Communist Party Organization sent to all local structures in 1985. It listed “foreign musical groups and performers whose repertoires contain ideologically harmful compositions.” These included Tina Turner, Julio Iglesias, Scorpion, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, etc.

- The “Item from the Archive” column carries an article by historian Yaroslav Leontiev: “Secret of Government Lies – 50 years ago, Laverntii Beria did not attend the Bolshoi Theater.”

– “Useless People.” Anna Politkovskaya writes from Chechnya: A special home for the deaf and the blind asks for help… and survives, despite the existing system.

- Special report from the Sakhalin by our correspondent, Yekaterina Ignatova

– the island of fisherman caught in the nets of the oil pipelines.

– In “Anatoly Bykov: Criminal-Deputy,” Krasnkoyarsk correspondent Alexander Teterin writes about the “political trial” of the Krasnoyarsk mafia man.

Contact Information for Novaya Gazeta
(095) 923-9485

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