CIS FREE TRADE ZONE WILL INCLUDE FIVE COUNTRIES

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CIS FREE TRADE ZONE WILL INCLUDE FIVE COUNTRIES

Izvestia, December 15, 1999, p. 3

Yury Yarov, the Executive Secretary of the CIS, has reported that on January 25, 2000 a meeting of CIS leaders will be held, and the Foreign Ministers will meet a day earlier. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has already approved the date. In the words of Yarov, the activities of the CIS include two main directions: developing the free trade zone and resolving conflicts on CIS territory. So far, only four countries of the CIS – Belarus, Uzbekistan, Moldova, and Tajikistan – have ratified the 1994 Agreement on the free trade zone and its Protocol of April 2, 1999, which contains 76 amendments.

Besides, Yarov states that Ukraine will move towards ratification in the near future. It should be noted that the free trade zone will come into force on January 1, 2000.

ASSAULT ON PRINTING EXECUTIVE IN RUSSIAN FAR EAST

Izvestia, December 15, 1999, p. 3

On December 14 the police defused a combat grenade which had been hung on the door of Maya Schekina’s apartment. Ms. Schekina is the CEO of Dalpressa, the main printing plant of Primorye (Maritime Region). Dalpressa has printed all the ballot papers for the December 19 election.

FASCISTS ARE LONGING FOR POWER

Moskovsky Komsomolets, December 15, 1999, p. 3

Dmitry Vasilyev, the leader of the Pamyat nationalist-patriotic front and a candidate for Moscow mayor, has held a meeting with voters at one of Moscow Culture Centers. The meeting ended in a common brawl with some people from Azerbaijan who happened to be at the meeting.

COMPROMISING MATERIALS ON LUKASHENKO

Moskovsky Komsomolets, December 15, 1999, p. 2

The Belarus Parliament has unanimously ratified the Treaty on establishing the union state of Russia and Belarus. At the same time, the Belarus Freedom Party has concluded an agreement with the Ukrainian National Socialist Union on cooperation against the “imperial regime”. Thus Russia has not only increased the number of its supporters, but also doubled the number of oppositionists. Some members of the Belarus underground have even risen from the grave. After several years of silence, Tamara Vinnikova, the former Director of the National Bank of Belarus, who disappeared in April 1999, has reappeared. As she announced, she has been living in perfect security in a European country, and she is ready to struggle against Lukashenko’s regime. During her first interview she began to expose secret transactions worth billions of dollars, which had ruined the Belarusn economy. So far, rumors about huge hard-currency accounts have only concerned the Russian president. Lukashenko used to be a model of honesty and incorruptibility for the Russian left opposition. Now they will hear a lot of interesting things about illegal financial transactions in Belarus. Well, a union state means not only common industry and economic problems; it means common compromising materials too.

BIN LADEN SENDS EMISSARY TO CHECHNYA

Rossiyskaya Gazeta, December 15, 1999, p. 1

According to the temporary press center of the Eastern group of the federal forces in Chechnya, an emissary of notorious terrorist Osama bin Laden arrived in Chechnya recently, and is currently staying in the Shalinsk district. The emissary is trying to find out how much aid the Chechen guerrillas need. Osama bin Laden had already formed a detachment of 5,000 mercenaries, which he calls Al Dago. The detachment is supposed to not only take part in the Chechen war, but also to carry out terrorist acts at the rear of the Russian army, as well as in major Russian cities.

ENTREPRENEURS WILL SUPPORT FATHERLAND – ALL RUSSIA

Trud, December 15, 1999, p. 1

A meeting of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RUIE) was held yesterday. Those present discussed not only the economy, but also, and primarily, the position of the RUIE in the forthcoming election. As Arkady Volsky stated in his report, the board of directors of the RUIE would not impose any of the election programs, but it seemed that the ideas of the Fatherland – All Russia alliance were the closest to the position of the RUIE. Apparently, the main argument for such a choice was bloc leader Yevgeny Primakov. According to analysts, it was Primakov’s government that over a short period of time (8 months) managed to avert the threat of complete ruin for the Russian economy, and to lay the foundation for the industrial growth which is now apparent. Finally, the delegates of the Tenth Conference of the RUIE decided to support the Fatherland – All Russia alliance in the election.

MEETING OF PRESIDENTS OF RUSSIA AND MONGOLIA

ORT, Novosti, December 14, 1999, 15:00

A meeting between President Boris Yeltsin of Russia and President Natsagin Bagabandi of Mongolia was held in the Kremlin today. The main subject of the meeting was construction of a gas pipeline and a power line to connect Russia and China. Mongolia has for a long time counted on participation in this profitable project.

The once-close relations between Russia and Mongolia are not so perfect today. According to Sergei Prikhodko, deputy head of the Presidential Administration in charge of foreign policy, the presidents decided to improve the situation. Prikhodko reported that the negotiations covered the issues of military technical cooperation and relations between border regions.

PRIME MINISTER PUTIN VISITS LAUNCH CENTER IN PLESETSK

ORT, Novosti, December 14, 1999, 15:00

Today Prime Minister Vladimir Putin began his working day at the space center in Plesetsk, Arkhangelsk region, where he arrived to observe the launch of a Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile. Defense Minister Igor Sergeev and Vladimir Yakovlev, Commander-In-Chief of the Strategic Missile Forces, were also present at the launch. All preparatory operations and the launch itself are reported to have gone strictly according to plan. Having covered about 8,000 kilometers, the missile hit its target at the testing ground of Kura, Kamchatka region. As the press service of the Strategic Missile Forces emphasized, the launch was a success; it was approved by the prime minister, the defense minister, and the commander-in-chief. Following the launch, Putin was flown by helicopter over the territory of the Plesetsk space center, where the launch sites of Rokot, Soyuz, Angara, Kosmos, and Tsiklon missiles are located.

TWO HELICOPTERS LOST DURING SEARCH FOR MISSING PILOTS

NTV, Segodnya, December 14, 1999, 12:00

Interfax reports, citing sources in the command of the Russian group of forces in the North Caucasus, that during the search for the pilots of the recently crashed Su-22 plane two helicopters were lost. The agency reports that they are a Mi-8 helicopter of the search and rescue service and a Mi-24 combat helicopter. According to the information of the military, the helicopters landed in the Shatoi district of Chechnya and were fired on by the guerrillas. The Mi-24 managed to take off, but could not reach the base in Mozdok, and crashed. Six servicemen were killed. The crew of the Mi-24 ejected. This information has not yet been officially confirmed. Moreover, the ITAR-TASS agency quoted the press service of the united group of forces in the North Caucasus as saying that only two servicemen were killed yesterday, and six were wounded. As for the search, the military states that it is still going on. The military also denies the statement of Chechen guerrillas that the pilot was captured.

Today the Interior Troops began their clean-up operation in the Shali district. Yesterday the command of the Eastern group of forces held a meeting with the Shali residents and received their consent for the clean-up to begin today. It is expected to go well, as in Argun and Gudermes. Local residents said that they have done their best to expel the guerrillas from the town.

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