KURSK SUBMARINE SENT OFF TO BE SCRAPPED

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KURSK SUBMARINE SENT OFF TO BE SCRAPPED

Izvestia, April 26, 2002, p. 3

An operation began yesterday to transport the Kursk nuclear submarine from the shipyard in Roslyakovo to the Nerpa shipyard.

“The Kursk will be supported by pontoons, and transferred from the PD-50 floating dock into our shipyard’s dock,” said Nerpa general director Pavel Steblin. “This is the most difficult phase. Then the submarine will be delivered to Snezhnogorsk.”

The journey to Nerpa across the Kola Bay will take 12-14 hours. At the shipyard, the submarine’s remaining missiles will be removed from tubes which were damaged in the explosions. Unloading these missiles at Roslyakovo would have been extremely dangerous. Nuclear fuel from the sub’s reactor will be transferred to a special unloader vessel. Then the submarine will be set into a slipway, after which an interdepartmental commission will decide which parts and equipment might be salvaged for re-use on similar submarines. The hull and the completely ruined equipment will be scrapped by the end of this year.

BELARUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY REPRIMANDS NTV JOURNALIST

Izvestia, April 26, 2002, p. 8

NTV journalist Pavel Selin has received a reprimand from the Foreign Ministry of Belarus for his “biased account” of events in Belarus. This was the response of the Belarussian government to three reports screened last week on NTV: about events in Kuropaty, a mass grave site for victims of Stalin’s terror; a report on “Bela-emigration” in the Sunday current affairs program Namedni; and about the brutal methods used by the Belarussian police to disperse a protest demonstration under the banner “This is no way to live!”

Selin disagrees with the accusation that his coverage of the events was biased. He believes NTV has nothing to apologize for. If Selin is given another warning, he may lose his media accreditation in Belarus.

GEORGIA WANTS MONEY

Moskovskii Komsomolets, April 26, 2002, p. 2

Yesterday, Moscow was scheduled to see another round of talks on withdrawing Russian bases from Georgian territory. Experts from both sides were meant to participate in the talks.

According to provisional data from the Russian Defense Ministry, about the schedule for shutting down the 12th and 62nd military bases in Batumi and Akhalkalaki, Georgia is still being stubborn: it says Russia must shut down the bases within three years. Meanwhile, Russia insists on different terms: from ten to fourteen years. It is hard to say what option the experts will finally choose. But even if it is the option favored by Russia, this could still be fraught with problems, as Georgia may demand rent for the bases. The Georgian government is currently considering this issue. Besides, in the words of Georgian finance minister Zurab Noghaideli, Georgia is still claiming part of the USSR’s arms and military hardware, as allocated in the early 1990s under the Tashkent agreement.

PACE IS BUILDING BRIDGES

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, April 26, 2002, p. 3

Yesterday the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) session in Strasbourg discussed the situation in the Middle East. For the first time, the report on this key topic had been assigned to Russia.

In his comments to us, Mikhail Margelov, who chairs the Federation Council international affairs committee, called this a breakthrough for Russia. The last report on the situation in the Middle East mentioned Russia only once, and not favorably. Now there is a real opportunity not only to give a proper assessment of Russia’s role as a co-sponsor of the peace process, but also to set out our position on Middle East settlement.

One idea supported by the Russian delegation was to hold conferences and in future to create an organization for peace and cooperation in the Middle East, along the lines of the OSCE. A similar idea had already been expressed a few years ago. The PACE was also asked to consider the possibility of allowing representatives of Palestine and Israel to participate in PACE meetings.

Mikhail Margelov spoke against suspending Israel’s observer status at the PACE. Instead, he proposed giving the Palestinians the same status, to balance the situation.

A BUCKET OF ALCOHOL FOR EVERYONE, FROM INFANTS TO THE ELDERLY

Trud, April 26, 2002, p. 2

Gennady Onishchenko, first deputy health minister, says that up to 40% of physical – let alone psychological – illnesses in Russia are linked in some way to alcohol consumption.

According to Onishchenko, alcohol consumption is increasing with every passing year, and has long since exceeded a level which is destructive for the national gene pool. Instead of the “borderline” eight liters of alcohol a year, average consumption in 2001 was the equivalent of a bucket of alcohol for every Russian citizen. These are only the official statistics, taking into account only legal sales of alcoholic beverages.

“The problem is exacerbated by the fact that up to 40% of alcoholic beverage sales are illegal,” added Onishchenko. “And this not just unregistered hard liquor. Consuming low-quality home-brewed vodka, or alcohol derived from perfume, leads to a rising incidence of poisonings among the public. However, this does not deter those who seek to make money, the heirs of those who produced the unforgettable ‘treble eau-de-cologne’ which was so popular with alcoholics in the 1960s and 1970s.”

According to the deputy health minister, 37,000 Russian citizens died in 2001 of acute alcohol poisoning.

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