INCIDENT IN THE CASPIAN SEA

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INCIDENT IN THE CASPIAN SEA

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, July 25, 2001, p. 1

On July 23, in the southern part of the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea there was an incident which could have serious outcomes for all Caspian states. For two hours, an Iranian Air Force plane monitored the Azeri research vessels Geofizik-3 and Alif Gadjiev, 150 kilometers south-east of Baku. On the evening of July 23, an Iranian Navy vessel approached the Geofizik-3, and the Iranians ordered it to leave the area. The captain of the Azeri vessel replied that he had papers certifying that the operations performed by the Geofizik-3 were legal. However, the Iranians said they would use force if the ship refused to leave.

The Turan news agency has reported this incident. On the same day Turan quoted a letter sent by the Azeri Foreign Ministry to the Iranian government.

On the morning of July 24, Prime Minister Artur Rasi-zade of Azerbaijan summoned Iranian ambassador Ahad Gazai. After talking for an hour and a half, the prime minister announced that the illegal actions of the Iranian military could damage bilateral relations.

It is worth noting that the incident took place right after a visit to Azerbaijan by Hasan Rouhani, Secretary of the Supreme Council for National Security of Iran. In the course of the visit Baku and Teheran signed a memorandum on security cooperation.

In later September and early October 2001, a summit of Caspian states is to be held in the city of Turkmenbashi, in Turkmenistan. However, it is clear after this incident that the summit might be called off, and that the problem of demarcation in the Caspian Sea is unlikely to be solved in the near future.

ZELENOGRAD OFFICIAL ASSASSINATED

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, July 25, 2001, p. 2

Leonid Oblonsky, Senior Deputy Prefect of the Zelenograd Sector of Moscow, was killed on July 24.

Oblonsky was handling trade, city markets, wholesale food stores, etc.

Perhaps investigators will look for the perpetrators among businessmen working in this field. One police official told us that officials working in this sphere are never killed for any other reason than revenge for having spoiled someone’s business. Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov said: “The terrible murder probably happened because the senior deputy prefect denied certain opportunities to some organization. This method of resolving the dispute can only mean that Oblonsky was defending the interests of the state. We never doubted Oblonsky’s honesty.”

THE LAND OF AMBER AWAITS A DECISION

Parlamentskaya Gazeta, July 25, 2001, p. 1

Kaliningrad Governor Vladimir Yegorov intends to appeal to President Vladimir Putin to speed up the passage of a socio-economic development program for the Kaliningrad Region.

This decision is expected to be made at the Security Council meeting on Thursday. In the opinion of the governor of the Kaliningrad Region, it is vital that funding for the program should begin in 2002.

The draft of the new program has been submitted to the Cabinet. However, in the opinion of Vladimir Yegorov, it is necessary to consider all problems of the region at the Security Council meeting in order to make the right decision. The main issues in the program relate to energy security. The region is separated from all other regions of the Russian Federation, so it requires its own source of electricity.

NEW GENERAL DIRECTOR OF NORILSK NICKEL APPOINTED

Izvestia, July 25, 2001, p. 1

On July 23, the board of directors of Norilsk Nickel appointed Mikhail Prokhorov as general director of the company. According to analysts, this appointment means that Norilsk Nickel will soon start developing some foreign projects.

Former general director of the company Djonson Khagazheev has been appointed deputy chairman of the managing board. He will handle all industrial assets of the company; and Prokhorov’s other deputy, Dmitry Zelenin, will handle financial and economic affairs.

According to some sources, the company intends to participate in development of copper and nickel deposits abroad.

The competition on the nickel market is becoming more intense each year, because the main rivals of Norilsk Nickel are developing new metal mining equipment. Now the company has the financial capacities to snatch the initiative from its rivals and start operating abroad.

PAKISTANI AIRCRAFT VIOLATES RUSSIAN AIR-SPACE

Moskovsky Komsomolets, July 25, 2001, p. 2

A Pakistani airliner en route from Islamabad to Manchester recently crossed the Russian air border for unknown reasons. Neither the Russian anti-aircraft defense services nor the civil aviation department had been notified in advance. Pakistan has never done this before; for many years, all required documentation has always been prepared in advance.

If a plane deviates from its course, border guards make contact and try to correct it. Actually, that is what was done this time as well, but the Pakistani Boeing-747 did not respond. After a fighter was sent to intercept the plane, it was too late to make excuses, and it had to follow the fighter to a Moscow airport.

At present it is hard to say what was the real cause for the violation of Russian air-space. It is not ruled out that the documentation for this flight had been lost in someone’s office, or perhaps the airline had decided to economize on this flight and not pay for crossing into foreign territory. The incident was resolved the same day. After Pakistani diplomats arrived at the airport and submitted all the necessary paperwork, the airliner continued its flight to Manchester, this time officially. Islamabad had to apologize to Russia.

MIGRATION POLICY TO CHANGE

Izvestia, July 25, 2001, p. 2

Alexander Blokhin, minister for ethnic and immigration policy, held a news conference in Moscow yesterday. He described a new concept of migration policy which has recently been approved by the government.

The immigration concept has been radically changed: according to the government, if Russia continues restricting migration, its existence as a nation may be endangered. According to expert appraisals, given the current demographic situation in Russia, by 2050 the population is likely to fall to 80 million. According to Blokhin, Russia is now prepared to invite migration – first of all from the CIS and Baltic states, since this is much cheaper: no expenses on learning the language or adjusting to a new country would be required. There are four million people who are ready to move to Russia as soon as possible, while the total migrant potential is about 20 million people.

Simultaneously, the new concept also calls for monitoring migration processes to prevent illegal migration.

THE KURSK’S REACTOR DOES NOT POSE A THREAT

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, July 25, 2001, p. 2

At a news conference called to discuss environmental safety issues involved in the Kursk salvage operation, Nikolai Ponomarev-Stepnoi of the Kurchatov Institute and Alexander Kiriushin, chief engineer at the Afrikantov OKBM, said the submarine’s deactivated nuclear reactor would not pose any safety risk during the salvage operation. There might just be a slight increase in background radiation when silt on the seabed is disturbed. Even the possibility of the remaining missiles exploding has been taken into account. According to the researchers, “the reactor is emitting no more heat than an ordinary kettle”.

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