SERGEI IVANOV ARRIVED IN BRUSSELS
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, September 26, 2001, p. 1
On September 26 Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov will participate in an unofficial meeting with defense ministers of NATO member nations. Initially, this meeting was scheduled for September 26-27 in Naples. However, in connection with preparations by NATO members to take part in the US operation against terrorist centers in Afghanistan, it has been decided to hold a one-day meeting in Brussels.
Not all of the ministers will arrive in the capital of Belgium: the US defense secretary will not be there, though Ivanov has a confidential meeting with him planned. In Brussels it is planned to discuss international terrorism, the situation in the Balkans, and also issues connected with Russia’s prospective cooperation with NATO and plans for NATO eastward expansion. There will be bilateral meetings between Ivanov and NATO Secretary General Robertson and other defense ministers of NATO member nations.
CIS SECURITY MINISTERS TO DISCUSS INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, September 26, 2001, p. 5
A meeting of security ministers of CIS member nations will take place at the CIS headquarters in Minsk. According to the press service of the CIS executive council, at the meeting security ministers will discuss cooperation between CIS inter-state structures on joint measures to combat crime over the period to 2003. Apparently, in connection with the recent events in the US, the topic of combating international terrorism will be among the priorities at the upcoming meeting.
A FEAR OF FLYING
Izvestia, September 26, 2001, p. 2
Terrorist attacks on the US would not have a significant impact on the annual financial results of Aeroflot, the company’s press service stated yesterday. The airline is sure that despite the delay of 16 flights bound for five US cities and Toronto, Canada, its financial indicators this year will be higher than in 2000. Aeroflot Director Valery Okulov was quoted as saying there are no grounds for speaking about negative consequences for Russian domestic air traffic as a result of the terrorist attacks.
However, airlines in other former Soviet republics are seriously concerned about their results.
Georgia has noted a sharp reduction in volumes of aviation traffic in Transatlantic and Asian directions over its territory, which may lead to a considerable drop in the revenues of its air navigation services. After the terrorist attacks on September 11, many airlines whose routes passed through Georgian airspace were forced to cancel most of their flights. The airlines began to fly to South-East Asia over Turkey and other Mediterranean states, which unexpectedly received additional revenue.
Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, which intend to appeal to the directorship of IATA together with Georgia, are experiencing similar difficulties. However, this would be unlikely to alleviate their financial position. IATA can only compensate for losses, whereas national governments are supposed to render specific assistance themselves.
SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS JOHN TOBIN’S CONVICTION
Izvestia, September 26, 2001, p. 3
As reported yesterday, the Russian Supreme Court panel of judges for criminal cases has rejected a prosecutorial appeal on the case of US citizen John Tobin, who was sentenced to a prison term in the Voronezh region for possessing and distributing marijuana. As we were told at the Bar, a member of which represented Tobin at the Supreme Court, the former post-graduate student of Voronezh University had counted on complete acquittal. Having failed to obtain acquittal at this level of the court system, Tobin has no further intention of disputing the sentence which has already cost him several months in the Rossosh penal colony in the Voronezh region.
OPEN SKIES OVER UKRAINE
Tribuna, September 26, 2001, p. 2
Ukraine will grant use of its airspace to US military-transport planes flying east into the zone of the counter-terrorist operation. The Ukrainian national security and defense council made this decision in response to Washington’s enquiry. The Americans assured Kiev that the planes would not be transporting either weapons of mass destruction or their components. However, no politician has yet provided a clear explanation of how cargos would be monitored.
Apart from granting use of its airspace, Kiev also says it is ready to join the anti-terrorist coalition being organized by Washington. According to Vladimir Litvin, head of the presidential administration, Ukraine will have an appropriate role in this coalition.
THE NORTHERN ROUTE IS A REALISTIC PROSPECT
Trud, September 26, 2001, p. 1
Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller thinks that construction of a north-European gas pipeline along the floor of the Baltic Sea may be initiated in 2006-07.
According to Miller, a consortium to carry out the project has been founded already and preliminary studies show that the project is “economically expedient and technically feasible.” The head of Gazprom said construction of this gas pipeline would make it possible to diversify gas supply routes to Europe.
Speaking about Gazprom’s economic policy, Miller said that the share of foreign companies in Gazprom’s authorized capital would be increased gradually. A commission on liberalizing trading in Gazprom shares has decided on measures aimed at trading Gazprom shares on all stock exchanges, as well as “filling in” the 20% foreign ownership quota.
Gazprom’s priority is to increase the value of its shares. “The most important thing is that the share price should reach its fundamental level, commensurate with Gazprom’s actual value, since at the moment it is considerably undervalued,” summarized Miller.