PUTIN ARRIVES EARLY
Moskovsky Komsomolets, January 10, 2001, p. 2
According to our sources, President Putin’s visit to Azerbaijan was in doubt until the last moment. Chechen guerrillas who have managed to enter Azerbaijan were likely to attack the Russian president. Federal Security Service chief Nikolai Patrushev even visited Baku in November. President Geidar Aliev of Azerbaijan guaranteed absolute security for Putin at his meeting with Patrushev.
Experts thought the Baku airport would be the most convenient place for any attempt on Putin. It would be easy to hide an anti-aircraft system somewhere nearby, and open fire on the president’s plane. Special helicopters patrolled the area. Putin’s guards were on alert too, and the timing of his landing in Baku was changed several times. Although he was scheduled to arrive in Baku at 11:30 a.m., he actually arrived at 8:00 a.m.
VLADIMIR SHAMANOV INAUGURATED
Trud, January 10, 2001, p. 2
On January 6, newly-elected Governor Vladimir Shamanov of the Ulyanovsk Region was inaugurated. At the ceremony General Shamanov announced that the salaries of state-sector employees in the region have been increased by 50% from January 1, although this figure is much lower for Russia on average.
The general also announced his intention to combat crime, corruption, and tax evasion. He said that the government should not be involved in business, and business should not be merged with the government.
NTV MAY BECOME SLIGHTLY AMERICAN
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, January 10, 2001, p. 3
Ted Turner of CNN and Time-Warner Inc. has announced that he is talking about investing in a major Russian enterprise. He made it clear that the company he meant is the NTV television network.
A source at the Prime-TASS news agency says that certain influential figures may disrupt such a deal, since it is President Putin who needs to make the final decision on whether NTV shares can be sold to Americans. One of our sources has noted that Ted Turner’s chances of buying into NTV are not looking good.
FOUR RUSSIAN BUILDERS KILLED IN ALGERIA
Izvestia, January 10, 2001, p. 2
Four Russian citizens have been killed in Algeria. According to the local police, this was the first murder of foreign citizens in the past four years.
The bodies of Yury Zhilyakov, Alexander Popov, Nikolai Cherdakov, and Vladimir Terentyev were found by police in a forest near the village of Ued-al-Anab, 30 kilometers from the city of Annaba. Alexander Zolotov, an adviser at the Russian Embassy in Algeria, told us that the Russians went to the forest to pick mushrooms. Their burned-out car was found in the forest. The four Russians had their throats cut.
Local detectives have already announced that two Algerians have been detained on suspision of involvment in the murder. Presumably, they are members of an extremist Muslim gang led by field commander Kamillo.
Officials of the Russian Embassy in Algeria told us that the four Russians came to Annaba two years ago, having concluded private contracts with the Russian-Algerian joint venture Somerek. They were repairing the local metals plant El-Khadjar, which was built in the early 1980s by Soviet specialists. Overall, about 80 Russian citizens are now working at this plant.
The four builders had wives and children in Russia. Their employer, the Domnoremont company, as well as the Russian government, are shocked by this tragedy.
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has contacted his Algerian counterpart Abdelaziz Belkhadem and appealed to the Algerian government to investigate this crime very thoroughly and intensify measures to provide security for Russian citizens. The bodies of the four Russians will be taken to Moscow on January 15.
SPY SCANDAL IN KALUGA
Izvestia, January 10, 2001, p. 3
Igor Sutyagin, head of a branch of the US-Canada Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, has been charged with treason and spying for the US. On January 9, the Kaluga Regional Court complied with the request of Sutyagin’s lawyer Anna Stavitskaya, who for some time to study the materials of the case. The court rescheduled the hearing for February 26.
Igor Sutyagin was arrested by the Kaluga Department of the Federal Security Service on October 27, 1999, in the city of Obninsk, the Kaluga Region. He was suspected of collecting state secrets and passing them to foreign intelligence services. He was charged with treason. If found guilty, Sutyagin will face a sentence of 12-20 years.
Sutyagin’s arrest is not connected with his activities at the US-Canada Institute. According to our sources, in February 1998, while on a business trip in the UK, Sutyagin started cooperating with the Alternative Futures commercial enterprise. This company was allegedly involved in scientific research, but in fact was a cover for a foreign intelligence service. For the next eighteen months, during his trips to the UK, Belgium, Italy, Poland, and Hungary, Sutyagin met with employees of this company and gave them information about the combat readiness of Russia’s nuclear weapons and warning systems. He also reported on tactical and technical specifications of some Russian weapons systems.
TENGIZ-NOVOROSSIISK OIL PIPELINE TO BE LAUNCHED IN JUNE 2001
Izvestia, January 10, 2001, p. 5
The pipeline of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) is likely to deliver its first oil in March 2001. However, the CPC authorities say this will not affect the terms of supplying Caspian oil to the world market.
As CPC officials told us, the decision on activating the Tengiz-Novorossiisk pipeline was made at the end of 2000. However, the consortium has failed to fully examine the Kazakhstan sector of the pipeline. Initially it was planned to activate the pipeline in January.
Officially, construction of the surface part of the pipeline meant to transport Caspian oil for export was completed in November 2000. Its capacity will be approximately 28 million tons of oil a year, and in the future it is planned to be extended to 67 million tons. The entire system will be ready in June 2001, when the sea terminal at Novorossiisk is completed.
However, before large-scale pumping of oil begins, a certain amount of oil needs to be placed in the pipeline in order to maintain the necessary pressure. According to Zinon Abdrakhmanov, manager of the Eastern region of the CPC, for this purpose it was necessary to update some equipment and conduct extensive tests of it.
Initially the pipeline was meant to transport oil from the Kazakhstan field of Tengiz. Later it was decided to use the pipeline for Russian oil as well, since the Tengiz oil is not enough to fully use the pipeline’s capacities. Any delay in this project is bad for Russia, since this is one of its most promising projects. This pipeline will bring a great deal of revenue for the state, although the state did not spend a single ruble on its construction (it was paid for by the CPC’s private shareholders). Besides, the alternative Baku-Ceyhan pipeline for transporting Caspian oil will be completed only in 2003-04.
However, the CPC asserts that 105 days will be enough to complete all construction operations and start exporting Caspian oil in June.
HOW TO CHANGE AN ALPHABET
Izvestia, January 10, 2001, p. 4
A group of federal Duma deputies is coming to Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, on January 10. They intend to study the issue of transferring the Tatar language from the Cyrillic alphabet to the Latin alphabet. Many experts see a threat of separatism in the upcoming reforms to the alphabet in Tatarstan. However, local academics say that Cyrillic characters were imposed on the Tatar language by Stalin’s order. As a result, “seven million Tatars have been tormented by distorting their beautiful language into this commissars’ ersatz for 60 years.” Besides, Tatar scholars note that it is easier to use Latin characters in working with computers. It will also be easier for Tatarstan to develop relations with other Turkic countries, which have already adopted Latin characters. The Tatarstan State Council passed the corresponding law in September 1999. The law will come into effect on September 2001.