TALIBAN WARNS OF A NEW CRUSADE
Izvestia, December 28, 2000, p. 7
Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar is calling on the Islamic world to unite. He says that Russia and the United States wish “all true Muslims around the world destroyed” and therefore Muslims should prepare to counter a new “crusade”.
Omar went on air to congratulate Muslims on the end of the Id al-Fitr (uraza-bairam) which ends Ramadan. All Muslims were told in no uncertain terms to beware of the infidels.
Russia and the United States are indeed opposed to the Taliban. They were behind a recent resolution of the UN Security Council which imposed severe sanctions against the Taliban.
It does not take a genius to work out whom Omar sees as “true Muslims”. They are Osama bin Laden, the extremists in Chechnya, and Islamic militants in the Philippines and Kashmir. All of them are trained on territory controlled by the Taliban. The Dagestanis, who have refused to receive militant Wahhabi fundamentalists or representatives of the Afghani Northern Alliance, are not “true Muslims”.
“True” Muslims do have something to fear. Terrorists are fought, whether they are followers of Jesus, Mohammad, Shiva, or atheists. Terrorists are either caught or killed. Their accomplices are punished as well. Anti-Taliban sanctions are now in effect. The Taliban is finding life difficult, but still provides shelter for bin Laden and thousands of others like him. That is why the Taliban has only itself to blame.
KOVALEV WILL NOT REPRESENT RUSSIA AT THE PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY
Izvestia, December 28, 2000, p. 2
News agencies quote Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Duma Foreign Affairs Committee, as saying that Sergei Kovalev will not longer serve as Russia’s official envoy at sessions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
Rogozin refers to a letter from Boris Nemtsov, leader of the Union of Right Forces faction in the Duma, saying that Kovalev will be an assistant envoy of the Union of Right Forces faction, not the envoy. The envoy will be Oleg Naumov.
Rogozin: The assistant envoy may go to Strasbourg only when the envoy is unable to attend; but it’s the envoy alone who has voting rights.
Among other things, Rogozin referred to “deputy Kovalev’s anti-Russia stand” in Strasbourg.
Kovalev himself describes the decision to replace him as an attempt “to follow the trends, because patriotism is fashionable now. This is the price my colleagues in the faction are ready to pay to avoid criticism.”
Kovalev: I don’t care, actually, because I fully intend to attend future sessions of the Parliamentary Assembly. If my colleague is not there, I may even vote. Actually voting is not important, but a chance to voice my opinion is. My Duma colleagues are probably glad now, because the Russian delegation will be voting unanimously from now on.
THE RUSSIAN-BELARUSSIAN UNION: AN UPDATE
Izvestia, December 28, 2000, p. 2
The staff of the Russian-Belarussian Union summed up results for 2000 yesterday. State Secretary of the Union Pavel Borodin called a press conference and was optimistic about the future, as usual.
An increase in the Union’s budget may be viewed as indirect evidence that the process of unification is moving into high gear. The budget was 2.3 billion rubles this year, and Borodin says that it was fully paid. The budget will be 3 billion rubles in 2001. The draft budget will be discussed by the Union Council of Ministers in January.
According to Borodin, the November summit in Minsk was the event of the year, resulting in some vital agreements.
Borodin was also optimistic about the prospects for holding elections to the Russian-Belarussian parliament. He believes the elections may be held in late 2001, but will probably be postponed until after the presidential election in Belarus, i.e. until 2002.
MIR IN TROUBLE AGAIN
Trud-7, December 28, 2000, p. 2
Contact with the Mir space station has been reestablished, but a rocket and Soyuz TM manned craft are ready for launch at the Baikonur space center. In case of another emergency, they will go to the space station to prepare it for the arrival of a Progress tanker. It is the tanker that is supposed to “push” Mir out of orbit.
Until yesterday, cosmonauts Salizhan Sharipov and Pavel Vinogradov had been in training for a flight which seemed very unlikely to take place. The breakdown of contact with Mir, however, made it clear that the situation was probably serious enough to demand a crew in place on the space station.
In any case, Yuri Koptev of Rosaviakosmos repeated yesterday that Mir’s descent from the orbit would be controlled.
ORDZHONIKIDZE RECOVERS ENOUGH TO TALK TO DETECTIVES
Moskovsky Komsomolets, December 28, 2000, p. 2
Iosif Ordzhonikidze, Deputy Mayor of the Moscow government, has been strong enough to talk to detectives. The questioning session lasted 20 minutes. The official said he had been attacked by one person.
Moscow Prosecutor Mikhail Avdyukov says that last week’s assassination attempt is attributed to Ordzhonikidze’s performance in office. All other theories have been discarded.