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#2 - JRL 7259
July 21, 200
YUKOS case to be settled

Speaking at a meeting with the heads of TV channels last Friday, the chief of the Presidential Administration Alexander Voloshin spoke about the YUKOS company, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper reports.

According to the participants of the meeting, they were presented with a plan for a gradual settlement (without losing face for the main players) of the conflict around Russia's largest oil company -- the situation that is reverberating not only across the country, but also among foreign investors and politicians. Under this plan, the confrontation between law enforcement agencies and the business community should cease gradually, but the propagandistic effect achieved by the organizers of the "YUKOS case" should not be lost.

As a rule, the participants of such meetings -- Kremlin officials, the heads of TV channels and experts -- discuss the information accompaniment of political campaigns. However, according to the newspaper, the latest meeting, which was officially devoted to the upcoming elections, was in fact used to search for compromise solutions in the "YUKOS case". According to some opinion polls cited at the meeting, Russians welcome high profile arrests and the questionings of oil magnates. At the same time, a survey carried out by the Public Opinion Foundation, showed that more than half of Russian people had not even heard about the investigations. According to those present at the meeting, the electoral effect from the arrests is incomparable with the damage to the country's image abroad.

According to the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper, it was said at the meeting that Vladimir Putin's advisors will recommend that the President should issue a special statement that would become a kind of overture to lifting the tension around YUKOS. According to some information, presidential advisers have already started working on the wording of the statement, in which the President should comprehensively and clearly express his position on the issue. It is expected that he should criticize both sides in the conflict. Vladimir Putin can scold law enforcement agencies for using clumsy methods when investigating complex financial cases, and the representatives of big business for occasionally "abusing", in the opinion of the authorities, their powerful economic resources when lobbying their political interests.

Perhaps, some other oligarchs will also be affected. In order to maintain balance, a "tactical" political jab might be made at, for example, Anatoly Chubais, head of RAO Unified Energy Systems of Russia, who has gotten used to such "attacks". No doubt, this move will be popular with the people; it will show that all are equal before the law in Russia, including "new St. Petersburgers" (Putin's team) and their opponents.

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