ILYA KLEBANOV HAS RESOLVED THE KURSK PROBLEM

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Andrei Ivanov Kommersant, May 16, 2001, p. 10

Judging by Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov’s statements, Russia will be able to organize the Kursk operation without foreign financial support. However, no one has seen the money yet

In Moscow Monday, the Government Commission for investigating the Kursk disaster approved a plan for raising the submarine from the Barents Sea-bed. Ilya Klebanov has stated that “the operation will end by September 20”. The Deputy Prime Minister’s forecasts concerning the timing of negotiations with foreign members of the consortium to be created for raising the Kursk were surprisingly precise, “All contracts are to be signed by May 20.” Vremya Novostei’s well-informed sources have explained that Mr. Klebanov’s optimism is linked with “the impending visit of representatives of the European Union to Moscow. The Kremlin has demanded that the Kursk problem be resolved or at least appear to be resolved during the summit.”

It seems that Ilya Klebanov has coped with this task with success.

(…)

In reality, negotiations held by the Rubin design bureau with two Dutch and one Norwegian company on behalf of the Russian government are not progressing. The signing of “the final terms of the contract” has been postponed three times since the end of March. The past two weeks have not given cause for optimism; the government’s decree on “raising, transporting, and docking the Kursk nuclear submarine” signed by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov on March 23 is still the basic document regulating the operation. This plan relies on “money from the Kursk international fund ” (from 40% to 50% of the total cost of this operation).

The fund has proposed terms which do not suit Moscow. (…)

However, the Russian leadership has stated that the Kursk can be raised without foreign aid. This will require between 500 and 600 million rubles. Currently the government cannot find financial sources for the purchase of diving equipment. Kasyanov promised to allocate “up to 900 million rubles” for organizing the underwater operation. Vremya Novostei’s sources in the Russian Navy acknowledge that the Finance Ministry is delaying allocations “for restoring the technical readiness of men-of-war and support vessels involved in raising the Kursk nuclear submarine (the Ministry had to allocate “up to 500 million rubles” to the Navy)”.

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