FUNERAL FOR VICTIMS OF ST. PETERSBURG TRAGEDY

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FUNERAL FOR VICTIMS OF ST. PETERSBURG TRAGEDY

Izvestia, June 15, 1999, p. 1

On June 14, a funeral was held for victims of a tragic accident in St. Petersburg (several dozen people had been trapped by a falling roof at the entrance to the Sennaya subway station). Emergency Ministry rescue teams and 32 ambulances worked all evening and all night on Saturday. Six people were found dead, and the seventh died later.

LUKIN: THE DECISION TO SEND IN THE TROOPS MUST HAVE BEEN APPROVED BY THE PRESIDENT

Izvestia, June 15, 1999, p. 1

Vladimir Lukin, Chairman of the Duma Committee for Foreign Affairs: Russian generals could not have gone against the wishes of the country’s political leaders. I do not doubt that the decision to send troops to Kosovo was approved by the president…

The Russian battalion was brought to Kosovo in accordance with the resolution of the UN Security Council, according to the parliamentarian.

Lukin: In fact, we were neatly tricked. It was a NATO operation instead of a UN operation, and our troop movments were just an attempt to fulfill the UN resolution…

WILL A BRITISH INTELLIGENCE OFFICER SEEK POLITICAL ASYLUM IN RUSSIA?

Izvestia, June 15, 1999, p. 1

According to the “Sunday Times”, a certain Richard Tomlinson, a former MI-6 officer, has come to Russia as a tourist. Analysts do not rule out the possibility that he may seek political asylum in this country soon.

Our editorial office approached Lubyanka to comment on whether Tomlinson had crossed the borders, but drew a blank. As for political asylum, lawyers maintain that this is a lengthy and very complicated process.

TERRORIST KHATTAB BUYS UNIFORMS IN MOSCOW

Moskovsky Komsomolets, June 15, 1999, p. 2

Men from the forces of the notorious Khattab, a Chechen-Jordanian terrorist, were noticed in Moscow two months ago. As it turned out, they came to the Russian capital to buy uniforms from a certain company with a license to sell them to the Interior Ministry, Federal Security Service, and Emergency Ministry. According to reliable sources, the last deal between the Interior Ministry and Khattab’s emissaries was made 20 days ago, when Chechens bought 200 outfits for cash.

Interior Ministry officers cannot explain Khattab’s decision to buy uniforms in Russia for cash, since in the past he used to purchase them in Turkey and paid with women. Or does he have a patron whom he considers infallible?

YELTSIN AND CLINTON DISCUSS RUSSIA’S PARTICIPATION IN THE PEACEKEEPING CONTINGENT

Russian Television (RTR), “Vesti” program, June 14, 1999, 14:00

Russian and American presidents Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton yesterday discussed by telephone Russia’s participation in the peacekeeping operation in Kosovo. According to information released officially, Yeltsin and Clinton agreed to have the matter thoroughly discussed by high-ranking representatives of NATO and Moscow. According to unofficial leaks, Yeltsin insisted that the Russian formation should remain in the vicinity of the Pristina airport. The conversation must have been serious indeed, because when it was over Clinton immediately called 10 Downing Street.

US Defense Secretary William Cohen has already been forced to announce that relations between NATO servicemen and Russians are congenial. His German counterpart Rudolf Scharping, who is predicted to be the next NATO general secretary, once again reiterated the idea that everybody needs Russia as a part of the international peacekeeping force in Kosovo. As for under whose command Russian peacekeepers should be, Scharping suggests that we all discuss it calmly.

In the meantime, US Secretary of State Albright continues to insist on the need for centralized (i.e. NATO) command. NATO spokesman Jamie Shea maintains that the presence of Russians will allay Serb fears when Albanian refugees start coming back, predictably feeling only hostility towards the Serbs, who they think drove them out in the first place.

In other words, it certainly seems that Russian troops are destined to stay in Kosovo, but the issue of full-fledged participation by the Russian contingent in the peacekeeping operation remains open.

SHPAK AND DEFENSE MINISTRY DENY REPORTS THAT THEY SENT ADDITIONAL UNITS TO YUGOSLAVIA

NTV (Independent Television), “Segodnya” program, June 14, 1999, 12:00

Georgy Shpak, Commander-in-Chief of Airborne Troops, is hotly denying media reports to the effect that some units of Russian troops were dispatched for a peacekeeping operation in Kosovo. In his interview with the INTERFAX news agency, Shpak announced that a political decision was required for that.

At the same time, Shpak was quoted as saying that Airborne Troops were ready to fulfill their mission in the Balkans.

Needless to say, all Russian troop movements immediately become the focus of media attention. And the focus of politicians’ attention too, for that matter. It certainly seems that after the unexpected march of Russian troops from Bosnia to Kosovo, everybody expects a sequel. Today there were reports indicating that some additional units were being sent to Kosovo. According to the Western media, six transport planes that took off from airfields of Tula, Pskov, and Ryazan were headed for Pristina, and about 1,500 Russian troops were expected at the Slatina airfield soon. The Russian Defense Ministry denies all these reports.

In fact, similar denials came pouring in from the cities of Tula, Ryazan, Pskov, and Ivanovo as well. In Ryazan, for example, troops claim they are merely preparing for planned exercises.

Nothing definite is known about the part of the Russian contingent in Bosnia, which according to some reports has been quartered along the border between Serbia and Kosovo, awaiting further orders. This particular unit is a center of assorted rumors and speculations. For some reason however, nobody has managed to film this unit, unlike the battalion that entered Kosovo several days ago. Moreover, nobody can even pinpoint its exact location now.

SECURITY MINISTRIES REPRIMAND FOREIGN MINISTRY

NTV (Independent Television), “Segodnya” program, June 14, 1999, 12:00

Sources in the Moscow security ministries have condemned the Foreign Ministry for its inability to provide an air corridor for the flight of Russian peacekeepers to Yugoslavia.

Talking to a correspondent of INTERFAX, on the condition of absolute anonymity, representatives of the security ministries were quoted as saying that East European countries (meaning Hungary and Bulgaria) do not have the right to deny an air corridor which was requested beforehand and in accordance with internationally adopted procedures.

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