(Rapaport… October 28, 2003) According to Russian newspapers, Utrennaya Gazeta and Kommersant, Russia intends to apply for the post of the next Kimberley Process chairman when current chairman, South Africa’s Abbey Chikane, steps down later this year. Russia’s candidate to chair the Process is Vyacheslav Shtyrov, the governor of its diamond-rich Yakutia region in eastern Siberia. If this proposition is accepted, Russia will coordinate the struggle against conflict diamonds in 2004.
The Ministry of Finance has provided the information about the country’s intention. According to Yury Zubarev, the official spokesman of the Ministry of Finance, “Russia, being a full member of the Kimberley Process, fulfils all its requirements and contributes actively into the global system of diamonds certification. So, Russia will be able to coordinate the work concerning this system creation and to assist other countries.” The chairman is elected for one year and coordinates all the activity of the world organization. This year Russia, Canada and Botswana are all candidates for the position.
Additionally, Interfax reported that the government has approved procedures for controlling imports and exports of natural rough diamonds and polished diamonds. This will toughen import-export rules so natural rough diamonds can be certified and tagged according to the Kimberley Process. This code also stipulates that certified rough diamonds can only be shipped to countries participating in the process.
Russia has also taken its first steps towards declassifying all data on precious metals and gemstones. Interfax reported that the parliament last week amended the law of state secrecy. This will allow the government to declassify information about the production and sales of precious metals and gemstones. Russia’s secrecy regarding data on the production and sale of diamonds has gone against international trade protocols like the Kimberley Process. The Russian government had to begin declassifying data or invite the risk of not being able to trade in international markets. In the long term, the Russian government said that it will also declassify data on platinum-group metals and state holdings of rough diamonds.