Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 161

Acting Justice Minister Pavel Krasheninnikov upped the pressure on the Duma yesterday by pointing out that not a single Russian political organization, including those parties and movement presently represented in the Duma, has the right to participate in parliamentary elections before May 1999. (Russian agencies, September 2) Legislation adopted in September 1997 requires all organizations planning to run in elections to update their charters and register them with the Justice Ministry–something none of them has yet found time to do. Krasheninnikov’s warning was clearly intended to put pressure on the Duma by pointing out that, if it persists in rejecting Chernomyrdin’s candidacy, Yeltsin will have the power to dissolve parliament and call elections in which none of the present parliamentary leaders will be able rely on their existing political machines.

Krasheninnikov was yesterday reconfirmed in his post by presidential decree, as was Interior Minster Sergei Stepashin. On September 1, the two acting ministers signed a long-awaited protocol transferring oversight of Russia’s prisons from the Interior to the Justice Ministry. While this change will not of itself resolve the problems of underfunding and overcrowding plaguing Russia’s penitentiaries, it is an important step toward meeting Russia’s obligation as a member of the Council of Europe to transfer the prisons from the semimilitarized Interior Ministry to the civilian-administered Justice Ministry.