IRANIAN SPECIAL ENVOY IN MOSCOW

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IRANIAN SPECIAL ENVOY IN MOSCOW

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, August 9, 2001, p. 1

The Caspian resolution was the central issue discussed yesterday in Moscow at talks between Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Ahani and Viktor Kalyuzhny, the Russian president’s special envoy for the Caspian Sea. The negotiations were preceded by a telephone conversation between Russian and Iranian foreign ministers Igor Ivanov and Kamal Harrazi. The ministers agreed on the need to find a solution to the problem of the Caspian Sea’s status. Teheran thinks that the Caspian Sea should be an arena of cooperation, not rivalry.

RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER AND U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY WILL MEET IN MOSCOW

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, August 9, 2001, p. 1

US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will visit Russia on August 12-14. His negotiations with Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov will cover a broad range of issues in international security and bilateral relations in the military sphere. Maintenance of strategic stability, Russia-NATO relations, and joint operations within the framework of SFOR and KFOR in the Balkans will be discussed as well.

Ivanov and Rumsfeld also plan to discuss European security and cooperation on nuclear non-proliferation, and the possibility of amending the ABM treaty of 1972.

MONEY-LAUNDERING: THE DISCUSSION BEGINS

Izvestia, August 9, 2001, p. 5

Analysts agree that the only practical corollary of the new law is that Russia will be removed from the FATF blacklist. Russia has been on the list for years, together with the major money-laundering centers like Nauru and Cyprus. Needless to say, this situation affects Russia’s business reputation, and international organizations insist on improvements to Russian legislation.

The law will come into effect in February 2002. According to Deputy Finance Minister Yuri Lvov, a special financial intelligence agency will be established within two years. The structure will track all suspicious transactions. Actually, it took Russian legislators so long to pass the law because too many Russian security ministries were vying for the prerogative of surveillance over business.

How the Federal Tax Police Service will cooperate or coordinate its work with the financial intelligence agency is not yet clear. Neither is it clear exactly what kind of transactions will be classified as suspicious. Lvov says that the list will be extended soon, and may include real estate deals. At present, there is only one criterion: a transaction is suspicious if it is over 600,000 rubles…

SOME DEMOGRAPHIC FIGURES

Trud-7, August 9, 2001, p. 4

Forecasts in the Annual Demographic Almanac of the Russian Federation indicate that by 2016 there will be 42-45 pensioners for every 100 working-age citizens. This figure is lower at present, but will steadily grow. Ageing of the population is an alarming trend, since Russia will desperately need active and skilled workers in all spheres: industry, transport, science, and services. The population is still falling, and is expected to be 138.7 million by 2016.

RUSSIAN TOURISTS BRING $1.5 BILLION TO TURKEY EVERY YEAR

Trud-7, August 9, 2001, p. 4

Russian tourists bring $1.5 billion to Turkey every year, while the Russian-Turkish turnover of what is known as the “shuttle trade” amounts to $1.5-2 billion, the RIA-Novosti news agency reports.

The figures were revealed by Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko. He said that a great many construction projects in Russia are being implemented by Turkish companies. Their total value is estimated at $7.5 billion.

Russian-Turkish trade turnover amounted to $4.3 billion in 2000, not counting the shuttle trade, Khristenko said.

ON THE TWO DEFECTORS TO HUNGARY

Trud-7, August 9, 2001, p. 10

The detainees said they had served in Chechnya as lieutenants and left their unit because they had not been paid for two months. The deserters first went to Georgia to visit relatives, and had a Hungarian driver take them to Hungary for $1,000 each. At present the deserters are in a migrant camp in Hungary.

When broadcast by Radio Liberty, this information did nothing to improve the image of the Russian army. There are, however, a few questions. For instance, why were lieutenants from the impoverished Russian army, who had not been paid for months, carrying $2,000 for a trip to Hungary. An officer of the PR department of the Russian Defense Ministry asks an even more reasonable question: “Why would they run the risk of deserting when they could take a vacation and go wherever they wanted? Russian servicemen can visit Georgia as easily as those stationed at military bases there.” What if the detainees aren’t really who they say they are?

The Guardian provides a different story: “The runaways were dressed in dirty rags. They told border guards they were citizens of Georgia who feared going back to Georgia because they had fought in Chechnya. Georgia assists the Chechens who fight the Russian federal troops.”

Sources at the Russian Embassy in Hungary say that some reports (unverified) indicate that the “officers” are really citizens of Georgia, who may have absolutely nothing to do with the Russian army. The papers they produced were highly dubious.

INTERIOR MINISTRY OFFICERS MAY HAVE STOLEN 1.5 MILLION RUBLES

Trud-7, August 9, 2001, p. 20

The prosecutor’s office for the Urals Military District is about to complete its investigation into the activities of some senior officers of the Interior Ministry suspected of embezzling a large sum intended as combat pay for servicemen fighting in Chechnya.

According to available information, all the officers involved worked at the financial service of the military district. The coordinator issued fake certificates for participation in the hostilities to his accomplices, who then received 40,000 rubles on showing these papers. Half of the money was paid to the coordinator.

According to some estimates, the officers thus pocketed 1.5 million rubles.

The investigation will be completed by November.

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