What the papers say - 18 August, 2003


Everything is getting underway with regard to Russia's forthcoming parliamentary elections. Parties are beginning to fight for votes through various means, such as television adverts, face-to-face meetings with the public and billboard posters. The most traditional and reliable form of campaigning, i.e. through the papers, will be employed to the maximum. However, the specific feature of the new elections is that the press will have to obey new rules. Newspapers are not supposed to show their own political preferences and are obliged to make a clear distinction between "information during the election campaign" and "election campaigning." The problem is that sometimes even the most eminent experts cannot tell the difference between the two.


Akhmad Kadyrov is concerned about the presidential elections in Chechnya being disrupted. The illegal armed formations are afraid of the forthcoming vote, knowing that the Chechen people will have the chance to elect its own president and parliament for the first time in history, the head of the provisional administration has announced. "The national vote will be the death nail in the political career of Aslan Maskhadov, who still calls himself 'the president of Ichkeria,'" Kadyrov stressed.


If power cuts hit Russia, hospitals will be the worst affected. The emergency services claim that they are prepared for virtually any situation. At any rate, power blackouts do not worry them. The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry has worked out an action plan for various technical disaster scenarios. In the event of power cuts, medical establishments will be faced with the greatest problems, as many of them do not have their own generators.


The Anti-Trust Ministry's go-ahead for the Yukos-Sibneft merger has not only led to a surge in the share prices of virtually all Russia's major companies. The decision has returned investors' funds to the market, whose participants believed that nothing serious would come from the Yukos saga and that the results of privatisation would not be revised. This is the main result of the ministry's decision, the paper stresses.


Russians are getting poorer, but they are intending to do more shopping. Consumer confidence slightly increased in the June-July period. Inflation expectations dropped and price growth concerns diminished. Estimates about the current prosperity and the prospects for economic growth continued to deteriorate, but the people's hopes for an improvement in their personal material situation grew. This can be explained by expected increases in pensions and public sector wages. The consumer sector could retain the signs of improvement, as ever growing number of citizens intend to buy on credit.

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