Speaker Gennadi Seleznev of the State Duma met with spokesmen of the American-Russian Business Council in Washington, D.C., last night within an official visit of Russia's lower parliamentary house delegates. He expressed heartfelt gratitude to the council top for spectacular efforts to make economic investment in Russia more attractive to US business circles. Mr. Seleznev expects to be one of his country's few spokesmen who would not expressly call but only advise--however insistently--to invest in Russia, he said. All political forces represented in the Duma--Lefts, Rights and the Centre alike--are unanimously appealing for quicker national economic progress, which the parliamentary leader described as a hard but by no means baffling job. It requires a number of ambitious reforms in Russian social and economic policies with due legal backing, he added. Supported by the parliamentary majority, Russia's cabinet will quite soon do more to ease the legal burden on private enterprise and extend its administrative limits. Gennadi Seleznev thinks the Russian Industrialists' and Entrepreneurs' Guild had good reason to make its recent appeal for targeted government support of high-tech manufacturing economic branches--a prospect of special importance now that Russia is striving to join the World Trade Organisation. Of no smaller importance are efforts to make Russian fiscal legislation more steady, consistent and predictable. Corporate bankruptcies are another point of grave concern to legislators, employers, and millions of employees alike. Property holders' rights will soon be extended, now that the Duma has approved in an initial reading an updated version of the Bankruptcy Law. Thoroughly considered and precisely targeted state regulation on a limited scale by no means undermines a market-oriented economy, as US and certain other countries' practice has convincingly proved, remarked Mr. Seleznev. Russia, too, sees parliamentary and governmental efforts against underhand financial deals. More than that, an ad hoc team has been set up on the currency monitoring board of the Finance Ministry to track down money expected to finance terrorism and other international crime. So Russia is determined not merely to fight money-laundering but to join the USA and other countries in active combat against terror financing, the MP said emphatically. The Russian land reform is entering a new stage. Thus, the Duma will soon debate a package of seven bills on farmland sales and purchases, he added. The banking reform is also essential, and promises spectacular improvements. Parliament insists on a federal law to be passed launching private deposit guarantees in commercial banks. The legislative initiative has won support from Sergei Ignatyev, Central Bank president, and MPs are also looking forward to have help from the cabinet. Russia is known far and wide for venturesome investment. That is true, and investment cannot be perfectly safe considering fundamental reforms now underway. It is, however, quite wrong to turn a blind eye to spectacular current improvements, and to shrug them off means to undermine investors' commercial interests, stressed Gennadi Seleznev. The Duma intends to carry on dynamic efforts for a reliable legislative basis of the best possible investment terms in Russia, said the parliamentary leader as he was rounding off his speech.
Near the United Nations Glass Palace in New York, there is a metallic sculpture entitled "Evil Defeated by Good", representing Saint George transfixing a dragon with his lance. It was donated by the USSR in 1990 to celebrate the INF Treaty concluded with the USA in 1987