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Darya Guseva and Dmitry Chernov

Realistic and fantastic projects
Yabloko wants to ban state ownership of television stations

Vremya MN, April 7, 2001, p. 3

The Union of Right-Wing Forces (SPS) and Yabloko do not want to force the delicate process of their merger. However, they sat down at the same table to account for their legislative activities. Boris Nemtsov and Grigory Yavlinsky last met at the same forum nine years ago. However, on April 6, at a conference on "Russian Law: Strategies and Development on the Path to a Civil Society", the leaders of the two right of centre Duma factions promised that the situation would be different in future. They were obviously not referring to the merger of the URF and Yabloko.

Participants in this conference concluded that freedom, law and property rights are not fully developed in Russia.

Analysing the current situation in legislation, Nemtsov said, "To cut a long story short, everything is very bad in this field." However, Nemtsov and many others were somewhat encouraged by the adoption of Chapter 17 of the Civil Code, which concerns the purchase of land. The right certainly agrees to compromises, especially regarding land reform. However, according to Nemtsov, liberal ideas should be fully implemented in this area.

An attempt to strip Duma members of parliamentary immunity failed, to the great disappointment of conferenceparticipants.

Nemtsov mentioned three possible ways of reforming the military, which currently intimidates its own conscripts more than any enemies. It is practically impossible to cancel the draft this year, as neither deputies nor the hesitant president have enough courage to do this. It is also quite possible that this issue will not be debated at all for some time, and that this silence will be masked by preparations for impending militaryreforms.

According to the right-wing parties, mandatory military service could be cut radically to six or eight months. The gap will be filled by contract servicemen. The SPS also proposes a radical reform of public service and of salaries for state officials. Nemtsov proposes that the prime minister's salary should be $10,000 a month, and that an “ordinary” minister should receive $8,000 a month. According to the calculations of the URF, this would beenough to stop corruption.

Of course, Nemtsov mentioned the NTV network situation. He noted that at a meeting of the coordination board of the SPS and Yabloko, an announcement was made on this topic: it is necessary to prevent NTV from being transferred to state control, which could happen if Gazprom-Media obtains a controlling interest.

Then conference participants started to discuss reforms of the judiciary. The SPS is concerned about the independence of courts, as some of them are prepared to exchange justice for money.

Nemtsov said his faction had developed amendments to the law on prosecutor's offices. According to these amendments, the task of prosecutor's offices concerns the procedural administration of investigation and supportfor court prosecutions.

The leader of Yabloko Yavlinsky divides reform of the judiciary into four parts, with rather general formulations: consolidation of the judiciary as an institution, protection of civil rights and liberties, financial support and politicalindependence.

The current events in telecommunications have made Yabloko propose the idea of a special law on television. Yabloko believes that this law should ban purely state-run TV companies. Yabloko also hopes to submit a bill on public monitoring of the special services to the Duma in the near future.

Vremya MN, April 7, 2001, p. 3

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