General Lebed ignores the Constitution

A serious controversy is growing in Siberia. Krasnoyarsk governor General Alexander Lebed, who is also famous for his severe temper, has launched an open war with governor of the Taymyr (Dolgano-Nenetsk) autonomous district Alexander Khloponin. The conflict has been caused by the decision of the general to take control over RAO Norilsk Nickel. The enterprise provides about 70% of the region’s revenues. This tasty morsel has drawn Lebed’s attention.

The struggle of Alexander Lebed for Norilsk Nickel started long ago, with former governor of Taymyr Gennady Nedelin. When Norilsk Nickel Director General Alexander Khloponin won the gubernatorial elections in the Taymyr district in January’2001 (it is to be mentioned here that Alexander Lebed himself supported the candidate), it seemed that the parties would come to ab understanding on the problem. However, unfortunately, they failed to.

The two governors, General Alexander Lebed and Alexander Khloponin, met in April 2001 to discuss the conflict that arose between the two regions. The situation might result in the separation of the Taymyr district from the Krasnoyarsk region: in accordance with the Constitution, the Taymyr district is a member of the region, but still remains an independent subject of the Russian Federation.

Several days before the meeting, the district Duma of Taymyr adopted an address to the regional authorities and expressed the dissatisfaction about two facts. First, the deputies demanded payment for the use of Norilsk natural resources from Alexander Lebed. According to the agreements on inter-budgetary relations, the debt of the Krasnoyarsk region to the Taymyr autonomous district made up about 40 million rubles since 1995. Now, the Norilsk industrial area pays 67% of the taxes to the region, 12,5% of the sum is to be sent back for social and economic development of Taymyr. The Duma believes that the Krasnoyarsk region does not return the complete sum. To make the demand more convincing, the Taymyr Duma stated that it might appeal to the Constitutional Court and the president of Russia for consideration of the district’s withdrawal from the Krasnoyarsk region. The local press published a lot about Siberian separatism and withdrawal of the Taymyr autonomous district from the Krasnoyarsk region.

As a result of the meeting of the two governors, it was decided to create a joint commission and try to come to an agreement peacefully. But such peaceful attempts failed, mainly because of the general, who had no time to waste with laws. It was not a surprise that Alexander Lebed was the first person who decided to break the non-aggression pact. In his private meeting with Alexander Khloponin, he said that he was well informed about the intention of the presidential administration to extend the RF subjects. In the words of Alexander Lebed, there are several variants of this extension: first, the reduction of the RF subjects in number (from 89 to 30), the consolidation of Moscow and the Moscow region and St.Petersburg and the Leningrad region; and second, abolishment of dozens of underpopulated districts. It is quite natural that Russian government will try to exclude from Russia’s administrative structure such districts as the Evenkia or Taymyr autonomous districts (that are structurally members of the Krasnoyarsk region). Alexander Khloponin received the information calmly.

Next, Alexander Lebed initiated the passing of several laws, according to which the Krasnoyarsk region ha the right to manage the territories belonging to the Taymyr autonomous district. The federal center showed no reaction to the action, when the regional authorities violated the Constitution. The president’s envoy to the Siberian federal district Leonid Drachevsky seems to be ignoring the situation.

The conflict has shifted to Moscow recently. Taymyr Senator Leonid Roketsky defends justice. He accuses the Krasnoyarsk Legislative Assembly of gross violation of the RF Constitution and illegal management of the Taymyr territories. He said this at the press-conference on February 1. Leonid Roketsky thinks that the laws on the management of the Taymyr territories are meddling in the district’s affairs. According to the RF Constitution, the Taymyr autonomous district is a part of the Krasnoyarsk region but remains an independent subject of the Russian Federation. And the district is free to pass decisions on management of its lands, including the territories of the Norilsk industrial area.

It was pointed out that the authorities of Krasnoyarsk violate the Constitution in force and ignore the decision of the Constitutional Court, determining the order of conflicts’ settlement within such composite subjects of the Federation, as the Krasnoyarsk region.”

Last Tuesday, the lawmakers of Taymyr submitted a proposition to abolish the legislative acts, but the Krasnoyarsk regional Legislative Assembly refused to consider the problem. Leonid Roketsky also mentioned that the inter-budgetary agreement signed by the governors of the Krasnoyarsk region and the Taymyr autonomous district in December’2001 has not been ratified yet. According to the agreement, 60% of the tax from the use of the natural resources is to be sent to the Taymyr budget, and 40% is to the Krasnoyarsk regional budget.

Leonid Roketsky says that it is necessary for the federal center to interfere in the settlement of the problem and restore the constitutional order in the district. However, if the conflict is not settled after that, it is not ruled out that the General Office of the Public Prosecutor will be involved in the conflict.

Krasnoyarsk governor Alexander Lebed has recently met with President Putin…

Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

General Lebed

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