TERRORISTS’ HOSPITAL DISCOVERED

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TERRORISTS’ HOSPITAL DISCOVERED

Izvestia, February 17, 2000, p. 2

ITAR-TASS news agency reports that servicemen of the detachment of the Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime of the federal Interior Ministry discovered a commandos’ hospital in Grozny outskirts (the settlement of Oktyabrsky). The hospital was properly equipped – Philips diagnostical gear discovered there was worth almost $20 million.

The equipment was transported to the nearest Internal Troops hospital.

DRAMATIC CHANGES AT THE TV-CENTER NETWORK EXPECTED

Izvestia, February 17, 2000, p. 3

The new management team of the TV-Center network (3rd Channel) intends to change the broadcasting policy, Chairman of the Board Alexander Muzykantsky announced at a press conference. According to him, the recent personnel changes in the top echelons of the network were attributed precisely to the necessity to change its policy.

Muzykantsky: The network will become more political, serious, and informative…

FULL FUNDING FOR SOWING

Izvestia, February 17, 2000, p. 6

This year the government intends to allocate 20 million rubles from the federal budget for crop sowing, Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Scherbak announced at the plenary session of the Federation Council.

VYAKHIREV: THIS PIPELINE IS A POLITICAL ISSUE

Izvestia, February 17, 2000, p. 6

The proposal to build a gas pipeline across Slovakia to western Europe (bypassing the territory of Ukraine) is purely political, said Rem Vyakhirev of Gazprom when signing an agreement with the Ryazan Region.

Vyakhirev: Actually, this issue must first be discussed with every party involved.

Gazprom is drafting plans for a 600-kilometer pipeline from Belarus via Poland to Slovakia. If the project goes ahead, Russia will be able to transport up to 30 billion cubic meters of gas.

DRAFT NATIONAL EDUCATION POLICY

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, February 17, 2000, p. 1

A session of the Russian Cabinet will discuss the draft national policy on education.

In August 1999, Vladimir Putin became chairman of the government commission set up to draft the national policy. The document has been discussed a great deal, and 76 parts of the Russian Federation have endorsed it.

SHIELD 2000 EXERCISES WILL TAKE PLACE IN MARCH

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, February 17, 2000, p. 1

The Shield 2000 large-scale military exercises will take place in Central Asia in March. Russian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Tajik, and Uzbek units will be involved.

SECRETARY OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL WILL VISIT THE UNITED STATES

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, February 17, 2000, p. 1

Invited by US presidential advisor Samuel Berger, Secretary of the Security Council Sergei Ivanov will visit the United States this week to discuss nuclear non-proliferation and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense Treaty.

UNIQUE GRENADE LAUNCHERS MADE IN TULA

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, February 17, 2000, p. 2

Foreign customers are particularly interested in the 6G-30 grenade launcher and the AGS-17 and AGS-30 standard automatic grenade launchers. Others are attracted by RPG-17 and RPG-29 antitank rechargeable grenade launchers, and the SPG-9 grenade launcher.

MABETEX LEAVES SWITZERLAND

Komsomolskaya Pravda, February 17, 2000, p. 2

Businessman Behdjet Paccoli, well-known in Russia for his involvement in the Kremlin financial scandals, has resolved to wind up his business in Switzerland because of the negative atmosphere he found himself in after the scandal around the Mabetex company. He will probably move to Italy or Austria.

ACTING PRESIDENT’S FORMER COLLEAGUE DESCRIBES PUTIN

Komsomolskaya Pravda, February 17, 2000, p. 8

I found Igor Antonov, KGB Lieutenant Colonel (retired) and Putin’s former colleague, at a bank in St. Petersburg.

Antonov: I recently watched the program “Sovershenno Sekretno” (Top Secret). The one with the interview with General Kalugin. He says that Putin was a failure as an intelligence officer. This is not true, to put it mildly. Moreover, Kalugin never worked with Putin.

Antonov himself spent five years at the Leningrad Directorate of the KGB. Afterwards, when Putin served in East Germany, Antonov was Sobchak’s deputy and stayed in touch with Putin.

Putin and Antonov met in 1980.

Antonov: I can say that the sphere Putin handled is traditionally considered one of the most responsible and important. Have you ever heard of Kim Philby? I do not mean to say that he worked with Philby, but he did work with such people.

According to Antonov, Putin has always been a reliable man.

Antonov: He is a kind of workaholic, he can learn, he has intuition, and he is a great analyst…

ANOTHER RUMOR SHOT DOWN

Trud-7, February 17, 2000, p. 3

There were some reports recently that two refrigerated railway cars were discovered in Chechnya, containing the remains of Russian soldiers and officers killed during the first Chechen campaign. For comments and explanations we approached Vladimir Scherbakov, Director of the 124th Central Laboratory of Forensic Identification.

Scherbakov: All reports on the allegedly abandoned refrigerated railway cars are an exaggeration, to put it mildly. The media needs some sort of sensation, you know. There are indeed some refrigerated railway cars near Grozny, but they are part of the laboratory established there by an agreement reached with the Ichkerian authorities in 1997.

Before June 1999 the laboratory was funded by the Russian authorities. The Chechens say that no money for the laboratory was paid after June. Nobody knows whether that is true or not. In early June, however, two Russian servicemen assigned to the laboratory were abducted by the criminals.

The hostilities in Chechnya began anew last summer, and thereafter all funding was out of the question.

Experts from Rostov-on-Don have gone to Chechnya now, according to Scherbakov. In several days they will return and the fate of the human remains in the refrigerated railway cars will be decided on the basis of their report.

LATVIAN PARLIAMENT DECORATES YELTSIN

Trud-7, February 17, 2000, p. 4

BNS news agency reports that the Latvian parliament decided to give an award to Boris Yeltsin for his contribution to restoring Latvia’s sovereignty.

Aiva Rozenberga, Press Secretary of the Latvian president, says that the decision was made on the proposal of the New Party, led by composer Raymond Pauls. The New Party believes that Yeltsin has done a great deal to help restore Latvia’s independence.

SOME FIGURES ON CHECHEN REFUGEES

Trud-7, February 17, 2000, p. 5

More than 300,000 Russians have left Chechnya since the early 1990s. According to the official data, 250 Russians were murdered in Grozny in 1992 alone, and 300 more disappeared without trace. (From the report of Oleg Makoveev, Chairman of the Russian Community of the Chechen Republic.)

According to the Ministry for Ethnic Affairs, between 1996 and 1999 more than 5,000 Chechens were abducted for ransom. Almost 500,000 Chechens who did not share the separatists’ views were forced to flee Chechnya.

SESSION OF THE FEDERATION COUNCIL

ORT (Russian Public Television), News program, February 16, 2000, 12:00

For the time being, senators do not have any laws to vote on. All laws forwarded to the Federation Council by the previous Duma have already been endorsed, and the new lower house of parliament needs more time.

Senators filled the vacancy in the Constitutional Court by electing Nikolai Bondar from the Law Faculty of Rostov University.

This morning the issue of Chechnya was raised. Actually, the agenda did not include any Chechen issues, but senators came up with an idea they believed would help prevent embezzlement. They proposed that each region of the Russian Federation should be assigned one or more facilities to restore on the territory of Chechnya.

Yuri Neelov, Governor of the Yamal-Nenetsk Autonomous Area: We are a donor region which has always assisted the nation in its hour of need. We helped Armenia, we helped Dagestan, and we will help Chechnya, of course. As I see it, everybody should do what they can. Donor regions should not carry the burden of post-war restoration alone… I agree that we need some arrangement preventing embezzlement of funds. All of us are prepared to take responsibility for some specific facility. I think it would be better than the system we have now – we merely transfer the money and never know what happens to it afterwards.

SENATORS DISCUSS PENSIONS AND TV

ORT (Russian Public Television), News program, February 16, 2000, 15:00

Pensions may be raised from January 1, 2001. Today the Federation Council adopted new rules for setting pension levels. As of now, the average pension will depend on the national average wage. Nothing is known yet about exactly how much money each pensioner will get, but it is already known that the law will require an additional 60 million rubles from the state.

During the so-called government hour, Media Minister Mikhail Lesin briefed the Federation Council on the situation with state-controlled television. Mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzhkov used the chance to voice his objections to the information policy pursued by ORT (Russian Public Television). Essentially, he asked Lesin to punish the ORT network.

Luzhkov: I have a question, Mr. Minister. ORT: is it a state-owned channel, or a channel owned by Mr. Berezovsky?

Lesin: ORT is a joint stock company, as its founders decided. It established a media outlet called the ORT television network. In fact, it would be wrong to call it a state-owned organization. It’s a commercial media company.

Luzhkov: As the minister responsible for the media, why didn’t you do anything to stop the smear campaign against Federation Council member Yuri Luzhkov?

Lesin: According to the law on the media, founders are not allowed to interfere in editorial policy…

NEMTSOV AND LUKIN BECOME DUMA DEPUTY SPEAKERS

ORT (Russian Public Television), News program, February 16, 2000, 15:00

Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Lukin were elected Duma deputy chairs at the second attempt. Two hundred and forty Duma deputies voted both for Nemtsov and Lukin.

The LDPR faction made an attempt to persuade its colleagues to postpone Lukin’s election for two weeks. It is common knowledge that there is no love lost between Lukin, chairman of the international committee of the previous Duma, and Vladimir Zhirinovsky of the LDPR.

Deputies voted down this LDPR proposal. Observers say that Lukin’s consultations yesterday with leaders of factions, influential deputies, and specifically with the People’s Deputy group, must have played a part in his election. Indeed, most deputies of the People’s Deputy group voted against Lukin last week. Not today.

Nemtsov considers it an event of major importance. This is the first time that the left has been in a minority, and the Duma really stands a chance of adopting the Land Code and other key laws.

Nemtsov: This is the first time centrist and right-centrist factions have voted as one and shown what they are capable of. This is the first time in years that the Communists have found themselves in a minority. The Russians’ dream may actually come to pass: Russia in the 21st century without Communists or drugs.

Lukin: Communists do not have a controlling interest in the Duma. They do not even have a blocking interest. If we preserve and enhance this majority, the Duma may be constructive indeed.

Gennadi Zyuganov: As chairman, I will work with all deputy chairs whom the Duma has elected. All I have to decide now is how to keep all of them busy.

With all portfolios distributed, the Duma got down to routine legislative work. The parliamentarians adopted amendments to the law “On higher education”.

The Duma resolved to send a delegation to Chechnya and Dagestan to get firsthand knowledge of the service of Russian soldiers there. The delegation will be headed by General Eduard Vorobiev.

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