A GOOD PLACE FOR FISHING

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A GOOD PLACE FOR FISHING

Izvestia, January 10, 2002, p. 1 EV

Yesterday, the Prosecutor General’s office officially declared charges filed over apparent asset-stripping of Russia’s biggest and most mysterious company – Gazprom. On Tuesday night, after searches at the Siberian-Ural Petrochemical and Gas Company (Sibur) – a Gazprom subsidiary – three persons were detained. Two of them, according to Izvestia’s data, are first deputy chairman of the Gazprom board Vyacheslav Sheremet and Sibur president Yakov Goldovsky. The third one is Yevgeny Koshits, Sibur vice-president. According to our data, prosecution officers interrogated on Tuesday himself Rem Vyakhirev – the longstanding Gazprom board chairman who is now the chairman of the gas monopoly’s board of directors. Yesterday, Gazprom cancelled the extraordinary meeting of Sibur shareholders that it had earlier scheduled. Now there is no reason to hurry – the struggle for control over Gazprom between the new, pro-Kremlin team of managers headed by Aleksei Miller and the half-feudal divided into clans team of Rem Vyakhirev has ceased. Fishing St. Petersburg style has proved a success.

CHRONICLES

Izvestia, January 10, 2002, p. 6 EV

The State Customs Committee has calculated foreign trade turnover.

Yesterday, the State Customs Committee (GTK) published the official data on the state of Russia’s foreign trade for the period from January to November 2001. Russia’s import in this period increased 22% and amounted to $36.9 billion. At that, this parameter was reached at the cost of trade with distanced foreign countries. The volume of import from CIS countries reduced 2% on the contrary. As for export, for the first time in the past year it proved 0.5% less than in 2000. In January-November 2001, export amounted to $92.6 billion. The overall figures are as follows: the foreign trade turnover in this period amounted to $129.5 billion and increased 5% as compared the with the same period of 2000.

RESOURCES LIKE BEING COUNTED

Izvestia, January 10, 2002, p. 6 EV

The Mineral Resources Ministry has announced a full inventory of licenses issued. The check resulted in 11% of the documents being annulled for violations on the terms of natural resources use.

As the ministry said, 13,890 licenses are now in effect; of the 27,408 given for the licensing period. Another 1,594 licenses are only in effect on paper, their actual term long expired. Most overdue documents are concerned with precious metals (822 licenses), the greatest number of violators was registered in the Far East district. As far as hydrocarbons are concerned, the target extraction levels are achived in only 54% of all licenses, while more than 27% licenses lack data on payments executed by resources users. The ministry affirms that it has already prepared proposals for possible changes in procedures for issuing mining licenses.

NONFERROUS PRODUCERS IN THE BLACK

Izvestia, January 10, 2002, p. 6 EV

According to the Ministry for Economic Development, Russian nonferrous metallurgy enterprises will lose up to $5 billion gross earnings due to reduction of export volumes and prices on international markets. Thus, copper export reduced in 2001 by 6.5% as compared with the level of 2000, while aluminum export fell in 2001 by 5.1%. At the same time, contractual prices declined in 2001 by respectively 8.8% and 10% on average. The overall cost of the Russian export of the basic nonferrous metals (aluminum, copper, and nickel) reduced almost 20%. Nevertheless, the Russian nonferrous producers were able to increase production on the whole. Thus, the actual volumes of Russia’s nonferrous metallurgy production grew in 2001 by 5.3% on average as compared with 2000. As on the provisional data, the increase in production volumes will amount 1.4% for primary aluminum, up to 2% for nickel, and up to 5% for refined copper. The enterprises managed to avoid losses thanks to growth of the inner-Russian nonferrous consumption. For example, the growth of primary aluminum consumption in 2001 will make up to 23% as compared with the parameter for 2000, the growth of copper consumption – 30%, nickel – 33%.

BUSH AND THE BOMB

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, January 10, 2002, p. 2

Two influential American newspapers – The Washington Post and The New York Times – published almost simultaneously an account of a secret Pentagon report “The state of the U.S. nuclear forces”, in which a recommendation was given to resume underground nuclear tests at the proving ground in the state of Nevada.

As was affirmed by U.S. mass media, the report states the general approach to the concept of frightening in the period after the Cold War. The Pentagon recommends not destroying the nuclear charges removed from armament, but simply storing them. This is hardly the way to induce the Kremlin to reduction of the Russian nuclear arsenal at the rate of about 6,000 nuclear charges.

Although the report contains a recommendation to preserve the moratorium for nuclear weapons tests, it also underlines, nonetheless, that if the moratorium is canceled the terms of the preparation for new tests should be brought down from two to one year and less. Many U.S. higher commanders think that one should not hold deep reductions of the American strategic nuclear forces.

The Russian army men perceived this data quite calmly. In October last year, commander of the 12th Defense Ministry Main Administration, Colonel General Igor Valynkin, stated that according to his data the U.S. specialists now keep their nuclear proving ground on the half-year alert for a start of nuclear ammunition tests.

Ranking sources at the Russian General Staff note that the possible resumption of nuclear tests in the US is connected with at least two reasons. First, this is the preparation of programs in the network of creation of the national anti-missile defense. Second, this is the natural ageing of the nuclear ammunition operated and stored in the nuclear arsenals. Russia can also resume nuclear tests, about which Igor Valynkin stated. For these targets, they prepare the Central proving ground on Novaya Zemlya.

SHOPPING

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, January 10, 2002, p. 8

The army budget for 2002 changes considerably its attitude to purchases of armament, materiel maintenance, and scientific-research and experimental-design jobs. The expenses for these goals will in 2002 considerably grow, stated chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee Andrei Nikolayaev. He noted that expenses for the material support of the Armed forces will increase, in particular for supply of fuel to them.

SHAGREEN LEATHER

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, January 10, 2002, p. 8

In the course of 2002, the Armed forces of the Russian Federation are to be reduced to one million. As was stated by commander-in-chief of the Land forces, deputy RF defense minister Nikolai Kormiltsev, there has not lately been a great outflow of the officer staff from the army, as was the case not long ago. The commander-in-chief stated that only those stayed who really serve and noted that the number of the Land forces amounts currently to 40% of the total number of Russia’s Armed forces.

CHECHNYA IN POWER

Moskovsky Komsomolets, January 10, 2002, p. 2

The Chechen republic will soon possibly have a constitution. The document has been worked out already, reported senator Zavgayev.

The Chechen constitution is currently passing through an examination in the Kremlin and the Chechen administration. After the “royal approval”, it will be posed for a nation-wide discussion.

The new main law of Chechnya was worked out in the bowels of the Kadyrov administration with the assistance of the federal inspector for the South Federal District, Bislan Gantamirov. According to the new constitution, Chechnya is to be “a republic with the presidential form of governance”. The president will be elected for five years. The proposal of a special economic status for Chechnya was rejected in the course of discussion, for it was decided that “a special status” gives nothing except for loopholes to remove funds. The nation-wide discussion of the constitution will not only take place in Chechnya, but also on the territories of Chechen refugees’ “compact residence” – for example in Ingushetia.

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