LESZEK MILLER: WE HAVE NO INTENTION OF CREATING A NEW IRON CURTAIN

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LESZEK MILLER: WE HAVE NO INTENTION OF CREATING A NEW IRON CURTAIN

Izvestia, December 19, 2001, pp. 1, 4

Today Poland’s Prime Minister Leszek Miller arrives to Russia with an official visit. The agenda for Putin’s upcoming January visit to Warsaw is the basic topic of his meetings. Leszek Miller relates to Izvestia’s reporter Svetlana Babaeva about new relations between Russia and Poland, economic problems of both countries and his own dreams.

Question: Mr. prime minister, do you plan to reach specific agreements in the course of your meetings, or this is more likely to be a familiarization visit before Vladimir Putin’s trip to Poland?

Leszek Miller: Quite possibly we will sign a declaration of economic cooperation. For many years Poland’s economy was totally oriented for the Soviet economy and we were dispatching the major part of our export there.

The cooperation should not be reduced to the fact of Poland’s purchasing energy resources and selling agricultural produce. It should cover high technologies and innovation sphere.

Question: Who or what hampers that?

Miller: The relations between Poland and Russia were far from being perfect over the past few years. One might say, the political relations have been in a slumber. This trend has been changing recently. Prime Minister Kasianov paid us a visit in spring, I am to set off now, and president Putin will arrive in January. A warming in political relations will influence the economic sphere as well.

Question: Unlike many others, Poland retains easy entry for Russians, postponing giving effect to full visas. However, you will have to do that anyway before joining the EU. So, when will it happen?

Miller: It is not settled yet. It seems to me that our eastern border must be impermeable for crime and smuggled goods but open for people, what means that we will be seeking for solutions, which would provide for such a border.

A NEW WISH TO IMPRISON GRIGORY PASKO FOR HIGH TREASON

Izvestia, December 19, 2001, p. 2

Yesterday at the trial against military reporter Grigory Pasko, which is taking place in Vladivostok, the defendant was given the final plea. He did not admit himself guilty of high treason and accused the FSS of falsifying the criminal case. The court martial will announce the verdict on December 25, next week.

Grigory Pasko had already been judged for high treason: in July 1999 the same Pacific court martial had already sentenced him to three years in prison not for the high treason which had never been vindicated, but for abuse of duty authority.

Pasko had been amnestied right in the courthouse, but the reporter had not quieted down and decided to obtain for revision of the sentence. Last month the military panel of judges of the Supreme Court of Russia sent his case for a repeated consideration to Vladivostok.

The new consideration was quick, but in this case the prosecutor demanded that Pasko must be sentenced to nine months in prison “for high treason,” that is exactly what he had been found not guilty of. In his final plea Pasko said that “during the retrial the prosecution did not even tried to prove my guilt,” and, in his opinion, those who had instituted criminal proceedings against him “must be put to the bar.”

Pasko explained whom he meant – officers of the FSS department and the military court martial of the Pacific Fleet, “who were defending esprit de corps instead of Russia’s security.” Now, it’s the judges’ turn – they will announce their verdict on December 25.

Meanwhile, Pasko draws rapt attention of the country’s leaders.

The trial of Vladivostok proves the necessity for continuation of the judicial reform further, a source in the leadership of Russia’s legislative branch of power said to Izvestia.

Our source stressed that the 275th Article of the Criminal Code of Russia, “high treason” was meant, since people like Pasko, who divulge agency-level secrets, but not state secrets are condemned in accordance with it. According to our source, “being a servicemen and collecting information, Pasko had merely been fulfilling his job of a reporter” and “had dealt in the issue of inflicting ecological damage, which is exactly what the entire world is worried about.”

According to our source, “the damage and the specific punishment measure existing in the current Criminal Code are absolutely incommensurate.”

FIGHTERS FOR ALL TIMES

Izvestia, December 19, 2001, p. 10

Bulgaria has announced an international tender for upgrading MiG-29 fighters produced in the times of the Soviet Union. This step is aimed at bringing the national Air Force into accord with the standards, required to join NATO. To date, five companies (from Russia, Israel, Ukraine, Germany and Belarus) displayed their intentions to compete in the tender. According to experts, Russia has the best chances to win the tender.

No all participants of the tender were announced thus far, said to Izvestia Victor Kalugin, assistant Russia’s trade representative in Bulgaria. It is known only that MiG aircraft building corporation will compete in the tender on the part of Russia. According to Kalugin, this very company “has the best chances for victory.”

There is another alternative: Bulgaria’s government might conclude an agreement with MAPS, a joint Russian-German venture, a 50% stock of which belongs to Dasa German concern, 36% of shares are owned by MiG corporation and the remaining stock of 14% belongs to Rosoboroneksport. According to Kalugin, the problem is that the companies, which applied for participation in the tender, must possess licenses to fulfill such kind of work. So, most probably the list of participants will not be long.

Restoration of MiG fighters is carried out within the framework of the military reform, which had been declared in Bulgaria two years ago. The reform envisages double reduction of the armed forces with the personnel of 93,000, technical retrofitting of the army, including “total modernization” of the air fleet. The funds for repairing and modernization of fighters have been installed into a separate article of expenditures in the next year budget.

In order to bring MiG-29 fighters in conformity with NATO standards, new friend-or-foe identification system, new navigation systems, communications equipment and additional fuel tanks to increase the range ability must be installed in the fighters.

Negotiating with Moscow is underway already. Sofia declared that MiG fighters would be modernized two months after Hungary, another member state of the Warsaw Pact, had made the same decision.

A WEAK LINK

Argumenty I Fakty, No. 52, December, 2001, p. 2

B. Berezovsky in London has been growing into the role of Gertsen, stinging not the president only but also superior officials. S. Stepashin, chairman of the State Auditing Commission was blamed this time. Supposedly, while prime minister he knew about preparations of the gangs of Chechen Wahhabies to invade to Dagestan and did nothing.

Meanwhile, everybody knew already about those preparations at that time, even the newspapers, not to mention superior officials. According to our sources, S. Stepashin even charged that time Interior Minister V. Rushailo with preparation of a plan of counter measures with the Interior Forces involved against Basaev’s gang. However, almost nothing was done. It was said that it was exactly Berezovsky to organize and conduct the entire Dagestan’s episode. Allegedly, a small triumphant war was among his plans, but closer to the presidential elections.

What was the authentic goal of attacking Stepashin nowadays? Chairman of the State Auditing Commission too ardently started investigating whereto the money were “leaking” from the budget, including from the structures, headed by Berezovsky’s affiliates. At the same time Stepashin remains a person off V. Putin’s closest circle. Therefore, casting a shadow on his reputation allows killing two hairs at one stroke – protect the last representatives of the Yeltsin’s epoch in the authorities and large-scale state-run business and, in case it is a success, get rid of S. Stepashin as a “weak link” in the president’s close circle.

MASKHADOV IS IN THE WARM AND WITH OLD LADIES

Argumenty I Fakty, No. 52, December, 2001, p. 2

“Basaev and Maskhadov are in the Chechen Republic, surrounded by their armed formations. Maskhadov, for instance, lives in a warm apartment; he has several old ladies to look after him, to cook him meals and wash clothing, and a few Ingush policemen. Anyone in Chechnya can call you the village where Basaev is situated and also where Maskhadov was a day before,” chief federal inspector in the Southern federal district Bislan Gantamirov said at the press conference in the editorial office of Argumenty I Fakty. According to Gantamirov, it is not hard to find field commanders at the moment; the problem is whether Russia’s special services would want to search for them.

Gantamirov also said that the working group under his supervision submitted two drafts of the Chechen constitution into the legal department by Russia’s president: one of them for the presidential republic, and the other for the parliamentary one.

In general, it has become a good manner to compose drafts of the Chechen constitution over the couple past months. Undoubtedly, Chechen administration head Kadyrov availed him of the best lawyers as well. According to experts, everything is envisaged in his draft constitution: intolerance to the religious extremism, serious control over the future head of the republic on the part of Jirga – the people’s assembly. Chechnya is envisaged to have at least the status equal to that of Tatarstan. Kadyrov will discuss that at his meeting with President Putin.

Over a million people will vote in the impending elections for the head of the Chechen Republic. Although the population of the republic is only 800,000 nowadays, Russian refugees from Chechnya residing in Russia (over 300,000 people) will also vote in the elections.

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