SHAMIL BASAYEV STILL ALIVE

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SHAMIL BASAYEV STILL ALIVE

Izvestia, August 23, 2001, p. 2

Colonel Aleksei Kuznetsov, united federal group second-in-command, announced yesterday that Terrorist Number One Shamil Basayev had been wounded and six of his bodyguards had been killed. The Defense Ministry confirms the information while sources in the staff of presidential aide Sergei Yastrzhembsky do not. The PR department of the Defense Ministry says “there are indirect clues that Basayev might have been wounded. The information is now being checked.”

FOUR SUSPECTS ARRESTED IN CONNECTION WITH ASTRAKHAN BLAST

Izvestia, August 23, 2001, p. 2

Sergei Fridinsky, Deputy Prosecutor General for the Southern federal district, says four suspects taken into custody in connection with the terrorist act in Astrakhan are being questioned. According to Fridinsky, the law enforcement agencies are working on two theories: a terrorist act organized by Chechen extremists, or a criminal underworld war. A source in the PR department of the regional administration says ten people are suspected of involvement in the explosion.

The device went off at the marketplace in Astrakhan at 3:45 p.m. on August 19, killing seven and injuring 55.

GAMES FOR PEACEKEEPERS

Izvestia, August 23, 2001, p. 3

Sources at the CIS Headquarters for Coordination of Military Cooperation say that the exercise has nothing to do with the situation in Kyrgyzstan. The decision to hold the exercise there was made in May, when heads of the CIS Collective Security Treaty nations met in Yerevan and resolved to set up headquarters of the Central Asian collective rapid response forces in Bishkek, commanded by Major-General Sergei Chernomordin.

Participants in the exercise say it is needed to test the readiness of the collective rapid response forces to combat international gangs. The military forces of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan intend to drill coordination and teamwork of the structures involved in counter-terrorism operations. According to sources at the Moscow-based CIS Headquarters for Coordination of Military Cooperation, the exercise is to be restricted to preparation of guidelines for the collective rapid response forces.

It is reasonable to assume that the collective peacekeepers will be given two tasks. They are needed to make sure that Islamic guerrillas and drugs from Afghanistan do not penetrate Central Asia and later Russia and Europe. Essentially, Russia and other states have been confronted by these two problems for some time already. Central Asian problems are discussed by Russian and American experts at their unofficial meetings as seriously as the problems of the Balkans and the Middle East. It should be noted, however, that as far as Central Asia is concerned, the international community recognizes Russia’s leading role in the region.

RUSSIAN-BELARUSSIAN AIR DEFENSE EXERCISE

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, August 23, 2001, p. 1

Anti-aircraft and missile batteries of the Air Defense of the Baltic Fleet and anti-aircraft and missile batteries of the Air Defense Forces of the Belarussian Armed Forces are taking part in an exercise at the testing site of the Russian Baltic Fleet. S-300 systems are to be used to repel a simulated air attack.

CABINET ADOPTS THE 2002 DRAFT BUDGET

Parlamentskaya Gazeta, August 23, 2001, p. 1

The major parameters of the budget are as follows: GDP of 10.6 trillion rubles, budget revenues 1.9954 trillion rubles, and budget spending 1.8689 trillion rubles. The budget surplus is estimated at 1.2% of the GDP. The Finance Ministry expects all of the surplus to be spent on servicing state debts. The task of the 2002 budget is to reduce foreign debt to $141 billion.

A CHECHNYA UPDATE

Parlamentskaya Gazeta, August 23, 2001, p. 1

Colonel General Valery Baranov, united federal group commander, says that a gang led by Arab mercenary Rabani has been eliminated. Ten guerrillas were killed and 24 taken prisoner near the village of Alleroi. The prisoners were identified as members of the Akhmadov gang, notorious for the abduction and murder of employees of the British company Granger Telecom, Russian envoy in Chechnya Valentin Vlasov, and special representative of the federal Interior Ministry Gennadi Shpigun.

MINISTER YELAGIN LEAVES FOR CHECHNYA

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, August 23, 2001, p. 1

Vladimir Yelagin, federal minister for coordination of government bodies in the Chechen Republic, has left for Chechnya on the president’s orders to monitor the progress of post-war restoration efforts. Yelagin and Chechen Prime Minister Stanislav Ilyasov will chair a conference attended by the involved ministries and departments and visit some facilities constructed for displaced persons. The minister will attend a meeting of the regional headquarters for security and will study the implementation of social programs, employment programs, and deliveries and distribution of relief aid.

Yelagin will also congratulate Kremlin-appointed leader of Chechnya Akhmed Kadyrov on his 50th birthday and on receiving the Order of Friendship award.

SHANTSEV IS PREPARED TO REPLACE LUZHKOV AS MAYOR OF MOSCOW

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, August 23, 2001, p. 3

Deputy Mayor of Moscow Valery Shantsev is prepared to consider running for mayor if Yuri Luzhkov decided not to seek a third term.

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