in brief - 2006-06-07

  • 2006-06-07
Vladimir Ustinov, the Kremlin's long-time chief prosecutor, was unexpectedly dismissed on June 2, The Moscow Times reported. Senior aides are now jockeying for Ustinov's position. Officials believe that President Vladimir Putin's possible frustration with the prosecutor general for acting on his own and making public statements about government corruption, could be the reason he was fired. First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, a Putin confidant and 2008 contender, could also be behind the move, although certain reasons for Ustinov's dismissal are presently unavailable. In his letter of resignation and in Putin's accompanying letter, both sent to the Federation Council on May 1, no reasons were provided. On May 2, the Federation Council voted 140-0 to honor Ustinov's and Putin's requests, ending the former's tenure. There were two abstentions.

The Riga District Court has sentenced former Soviet special forces trooper Vyacheslav Sorokin to five years in jail without confiscation of property. Court spokeswoman Evita Naglinska told the Baltic News Service that the prosecutor had asked for Sorokin's property to be seized. The defendant can appeal the sentence at the Supreme Court Chamber of Criminal Cases. The charges against Sorokin and other former Soviet troopers were pressed for an attempted coup in 1991. They include attacks on police officials and people defending strategic locations, looting and demolition. Russia has refused to extradite Sorokin. The Riga Regional Court has split the criminal case against three accused former troopers, as Mikhail Bruy is still being searched for and Russia has yet to extradite Mikhail Sevestyanov.

KazMunayGaz, the Kazakh state-run oil and gas company that lost the battle for control over Lithuania's Mazeikiu Nafta, will follow the Kremlin's advice to stay out of Lithuania's market, the Lietuvos Rytas daily reported on June 2. As previously reported, the Kazakh company abandoned its plans to acquire the sole Baltic oil refining and transportation complex after Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev met with Putin a couple of weeks ago. After the meeting, KazMunayGaz representatives called off their visit to Lithuania and cut talks with the Baltic state's government. The Kazakhs were expected to submit an improved offer for the 53.7 percent stake in Mazeikiu Nafta at the time. The price, as reported by sources, was to be raised to $1.425 billion (1.1 billion euros), from $1.2 billion. Warnings followed that Moscow might pose obstacles to Poland's PKN Orlen, the buyer of the Mazeikiai complex. Still, the supply has so far been stable. Although KazMunayGaz opted to move its office from Lithuania to another European country, Lithuania would remain a key transit state.