Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 210

Boris Berezovsky, the former banker whose appointment to Russia’s Security Council created an uproar last month, is back in the Ingush capital Nazran today for meetings with Chechen deputy prime minister Movladi Udugov. (Interfax, November 7) No details were released, but it is believed that the talks will center on the Russian government’s plans to declare all of Chechnya a free economic zone. A draft federal law on this topic is to be placed before the Russian parliament next week. According to Deputy Duma Speaker Mikhail Gutseryev, who has been involved in discussions of the draft, the aim is to facilitate the rebuilding of Chechnya’s war-torn economy without drawing on Russia’s cash-strapped federal budget. This sentiment was echoed by First Deputy Speaker Aleksandr Shokhin, who predicted that the bill will have a smooth passage through the Duma. He said there would be no objection to the fact that the bill would absolve Chechnya from paying federal taxes. Chechnya has not paid any federal taxes for at least five years, he pointed out, and it would therefore be "no disaster" if the situation was regularized to allow the Chechen people to restore their economy themselves, without depending on funds from Russia. (Itar-Tass, November 7)

The row over rumors that Berezovsky holds both Russian and Israeli citizenship seems set to deepen following a report that Israel’s Ministry of Absorption has confirmed that Berezovsky was granted Israeli citizenship when he and his family emigrated to Israel in November 1993. The family left Israel four months later without, apparently, renouncing their Israeli citizenship. (Jerusalem Post, November 6) Russian law on citizenship, which is still in the process of evolution, permits dual citizenship and is vague on whether or not it should disqualify an individual from holding state office. But Russia’s extreme right-wing groups and newspapers, which have a strong anti-Semitic tinge, are sure to use the report to fuel their propaganda against the Yeltsin government as a whole.

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