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Russia Reform Monitor - No. 1508

Cold comfort for Lebedev;
Less transparency in parliamentary polls

Edited by Jonas Bernstein
October 29, 2007

October 25:

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled in favor of a complaint filed by former Yukos oil company co-owner Platon Lebedev, who was arrested together with Yukos founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky in 2004. Both men are serving eight-year prison sentences on fraud and tax evasion charges and. According to, the Strasbourg-based court ruled that Russia violated Lebedev’s right to liberty and security during his arrest and subsequent pre-trial detention and ordered it to pay him 10,000 euros ($14,230) in damages and for legal costs.

October 26:

The commander of Russia’s Strategic Rocket Forces, Gen.-Col. Nikolai Solovtsov, has said that Russia could rapidly resume production of short and intermediate-range missiles, RIA Novosti reports. “If a political decision is made to produce that class of missile, clearly they will be produced quickly… because everything needed for this is available,” he said.

[Editor’s Note: The 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) banned nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500-5,500 kilometers (300-3,400 miles). Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Russia might withdraw from the INF Treaty unless it is expanded to include other states.]

President Putin has compared U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system in Eastern Europe to the Cuban missile crisis of the 1960s, Rosbalt reports. “Analogous actions by the Soviet Union, when it deployed missiles in Cuba, caused the ‘Caribbean crisis,’” Putin told reporters at the end of a European Union-Russian summit in Portugal. But while Russia removed its Soviet-era bases from Cuba and Vietnam, he said, “threats to our country are being created today on our borders.” Still, Putin said there is nothing like the Cuban missile crisis today mainly because Russia’s relations with the United States and Europe have changed “cardinally.” He added that he agrees completely with President Bush that Russia and the U.S. are now “partners.”

At the same press conference in Portugal, President Putin dismissed speculation he will increase the powers of the prime minister and assume that post after leaving the Kremlin in 2008, Interfax reports. “If somebody thinks I’m going to move, say, into the government of the Russian Federation and hand over principal powers to it, that is not true,” he said. “There will be no infringement of the powers of the president of the Russian Federation, in any case not as long as this is under my control.” Meanwhile, the Financial Times quotes Federation Council speaker Sergei Mironov as saying the issue of a third Putin presidential term has “not been taken off the agenda” despite a constitutional bar on presidents serving more than two consecutive terms.

October 29:

According to the Agence France Presse, Vladimir Churov, head of Russia’s Central Election Commission (CEC), has said that between 300 and 400 observers will be allowed into Russia for the December 2nd State Duma elections - a quarter of the number who monitored Russia’s last parliamentary elections in 2003. The CEC, which has completed registering parties for the State Duma elections, approved 11 parties to participate and rejected three.

According to the income and property declarations provided by candidates running in the upcoming State Duma elections, Vladimir Putin’s income last year was 2,011,611 rubles ($81,190), Izvestia reports. Putin, who is heading the pro-Kremlin United Russia party’s ticket, also declared a small apartment in St. Petersburg, a 1,500 square meter plot outside Moscow, two vintage Volga cars and roughly 3,700,000 rubles (around $150,000) in three bank accounts. In February 2005, the Russian edition of Newsweek published a photograph of Putin wearing a Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar watch, which costs around $60,000.

Related Categories: Russia; Missile Defense; Human Rights

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