CHEMICAL WEAPONS STORAGE FACILITY POISONS PENZA

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CHEMICAL WEAPONS STORAGE FACILITY POISONS PENZA

Izvestia, July 13, 1999, p. 2

Russia keeps 17% of all its chemical weapons at a storage facility near the village of Leonidovka, 20 kilometers from the city of Penza. Forty years ago some of the ordnance was “handled”: bombs and shells were fired in the center of the clearing in the woods, and the contents were released into the nearby lake.

The other day Tamara Zlotnikova, Chairperson of the Duma Committee for Ecology, forwarded to Penza environmentalists an official scientific analysis of the chemical weapons storage and destruction sites. It turns out that the arsenic level in the soil near Leonidovka is 100,000 times higher than normal, and the dioxide level is 213,000 times higher. The whole lot is seeping into the Sur reservoir, which provides drinking water to Penza. Yuri Voblikov, a local environmentalist, attributes the city’s high mortality rate to the poisoned water.

Y2K WILL COST RUSSIA 13 BILLION RUBLES

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, July 13, 1999, p. 1

Alexander Ivanov, Chairman of the State Telecommunications Committee, announced at yesterday’s government presidium session that dealing with the Millennium Bug in Russia requires 13 billion rubles. The general state of affairs seems to worry Ivanov. The executive emphasized that all work on the Year 2000 problem should be already finished by November.

RUSSIAN STEEL IS BARRED FROM THE UNITED STATES

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, July 13, 1999, p. 7

Negotiations over Russian steel exports to the US market ended in France yesterday. It was already clear that the outcome would not be what we wanted when on Friday Georgy Gabunia, Deputy Trade Minister and head of the Russian delegation, left Paris early.

Gabunia: We failed to reach an agreement…

The United States will now impose anti-dumping sanctions, which will amount to between 78% and 218%.

Gabunia: As far as Russia is concerned, it means the US market is no longer available.

It other words, Russia is about to lose almost 25% of its foreign steel market.

THE KREMLIN THINKS DEL PONTE SHOULD BE LESS NOSY

Tribuna, July 13, 1999, p. 1

Carla del Ponte, General Prosecutor of Switzerland, is wreaking havoc in Russian political life.

Not so long ago, a search of the offices of Boris Berezovsky’s Andava and Forus companies produced some very interesting documents, which the investigation found very useful. It is now the turn of information about the bank accounts of Boris Berezovsky and his closest associates, which del Ponte has requested from Lausanne and Geneva.

Certain nuances indicate that the Kremlin is irritated by the excess zeal of the Swiss prosecutor. It is being made clear to Bern that del Ponte does not know the first thing about Russian politics, and actually ought to be considerably less nosy.

GEORGIAN GROUP WANTS STALIN BURIED IN TBILISI

Trud, July 13, 1999, p. 1

Professor Grigol Oniani, head of the Stalin International Society in Georgia, suggests that Joseph Stalin’s remains should be brought from Moscow to Tbilisi for re-burial.

Oniani announced at his press conference in Moscow that he has already discussed this possibility with the mayor of Moscow, who was “understanding”. Oniani did not specify when the ceremony would take place, or what the leadership of the country thought of the matter.

PRESIDENT YELTSIN GOES ON VACATION

Russian Television (RTR), “Vesti” program, July 12, 1999, 14:00

This will be Yeltsin’s second vacation this year. The first half of the vacation was spent in late May at the Bocharov Ruchei residence near the spa town of Sochi. This time Yeltsin will be at the Rus residence, 120 kilometers from the capital.

Initially, Yeltsin intended to get some R&R at the Shuiskaya Chupa residence, probably expecting to get some respite from the stuffy heat of Moscow. Nevertheless, the heat has somewhat abated in Moscow and the Moscow region, and in Karelia the temperatures vary from 13 to 18 degrees Celsius.

The Karelian residence is known for pure air, tennis courts, and superb fishing. There are certain reasons to assume, however, that there is another reason as well. Yeltsin wants to remain close to Moscow in order to remain in the loop about what is happening, according to the RIA-Novosti news agency which cites some well-informed and reliable sources close to the president.

Other informed sources in the presidential administration told reporters today not to seek any covert motives or political considerations behind the president’s decision to spend his vacation in Karelia.

During the vacation, Yeltsin intends to be busy with paper-work and to convene some meetings which he said would be open for reporters. On his return from Kiev later this week, Premier Sergei Stepashin is expected in Zavidivo, where he will brief the president on his trip to Ukraine.

PREMIER STEPASHIN INTRODUCES NEW MEDIA MINISTER LESIN

Russian Television (RTR), “Vesti” program, July 12, 1999, 14:00

Premier Stepashin has introduced Mikhail Lesin, Minister for the Media, TV and Radio Broadcasting, and Mass Communication, to his subordinates. If rumors are to be believed, the new ministry is an incarnation of restored censorship, but Stepashin was adamant about there being no punitive measures. On the contrary, Lesin’s ministry is supposed to make relations between the state and independent media as transparent as possible.

Stepashin briefly outlined the tasks of the new ministry: effective management of state property and broadcast frequencies. The premier stressed that “Election campaigns in accordance with the law” is supposed to become the media’s slogan for the forseeable future.

STEPASHIN: RJES AND GAZPROM WILL REMAIN AUTONOMOUS STRUCTURES

Russian Television (RTR), “Vesti” program, July 12, 1999, 14:00

At the government presidium session in Moscow today, Premier Sergei Stepashin made it plain that nobody intends to merge Russian Joint Energy Systems (RJES) and Gazprom into the Fuel and Energy Ministry. Minister Viktor Kalyuzhny declared at his briefing today that reporters must have misunderstood him, and accepted an apology from the INTERFAX news agency.

Kalyuzhny: I’m just like any other man, I’m not out to create something from scratch. Everything has been created already. The ministry sees its task only as consolidating efforts of all its structures in order to deal with the tasks we are all facing. That’s all we ever discussed. Nothing was said about any business-ministries or whatever.

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