What the papers say - 8 August, 2003


President Vladimir Putin and Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko had a working meeting to discuss the organisation of exchange business in oil and oil products in Russia. A document has been drafted regulating this trade and Khristenko expressed his confidence that "Russia needs an open and understandable place for selling oil products, especially in view of the nascent consolidation process in the oil industry."


The Russian Interior Ministry is demanding that free sale of ammonium nitrate, which can be used as explosives, be banned. This agricultural chemical was the basic element in the KamAZ load that was used to blow up the military hospital in Mozdok on August 1. "The addition of a catalyst turns this ordinary fertiliser into a deadly explosive mix, as powerful as TNT," say Interior Ministry experts. Today anyone can buy ammonium nitrate for 70-80 dollars per metric ton in Russia, though its sale is strictly controlled in many European countries. In the past few months, several countries, in particular the USA, Mexico and China have prohibited or curtailed the import of Russian ammonium nitrate.


The opponents of acting head of Chechnya Akhmad Kadyrov have joined forces for the forthcoming presidential elections in the republic. During the second round of voting they will support the candidate who gets the majority of votes. They say that they are not fighting against Kadyrov per se, but to ensure that the elections are democratic. The Kremlin, which has dissociated itself from the election race in the republic in the past few weeks, does not want the election results to be questioned by Chechens or the international community. Kadyrov apparently maintains a good personal relationship with President Putin but this is not enough to get the unconditional support of Moscow.


The Moscow District Federal Arbitration Court has ruled that the Russian companies TNS Gallup Media and TNS Gallup Ad Fact shall remove the word Gallup from their names. This decision may prove highly important for the media and advertisement research market, where the two companies in question have been the absolute leaders in the run-up to the State Duma election campaign. The most respected and popular brand may disappear from the market. The court ruling allows the plaintiff, the US Gallup Organization, to file a request for its registration with the Russian Patent Agency and start working on the Russian market under its original name. The company confirmed that it is considering this possibility.


The gold and currency reserves of the Bank of Russia have grown by 34.86% to 64.454 billion dollars in the first seven months of 2003. According to the Bank, the share of currency in its reserves has grown by 37.8% (to 60.71 billion dollars), while the share of gold changed insignificantly, from 3.739 billion dollars on January 1 to 3.744 billion on August 1.

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