SPACE SAFARI OVER

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SPACE SAFARI OVER

Kommersant, May 6, 2002, p. 3

Astronauts Yuri Gidzenko (Russia), Roberto Vittori (Italy), and space tourist Mark Shuttleworth (Republic of South Africa) landed in the Kazakh steppes yesterday after ten days at the Alpha space station.

The tourist was so impressed that he decided to buy the landing module and his own spacesuit.

AMERICA IS WAITING FOR RUSSIAN OIL

Kommersant, May 6, 2002, p. 9

Russian Energy Minister Igor Yusufov met with US Vice President Richard Cheney on May 1. The minister flew to Washington for a meeting with the author of the American national energy strategy and in order to pass on to Cheney Russia’s analogue of the document, the draft Russian energy strategy until 2020.

The personal meeting was much more interesting than the study of documents. America almost openly made Russia a proposal too good to refuse. The United States wants Russia to become a regular supplier of oil to America. Saddam Hussein was not directly referred to at the talks but the Russian delegation condemned “certain states using energy sources as chips in their political games.”

George W. Bush’s visit to Moscow this May will show whether or not the United States means business this time. Actually, Yusufov’s negotiations with Cheney were an element in preparations for the summit. America’s seriousness in the idea of making Russia its major oil supplier will be revealed in who accompanies Bush on his oncoming visit to Moscow. If Cheney comes (he is known to be a representative of the American oil lobby), his presence alone will elevate the discussion to the level of premier and the Russian delegation at the talks will be headed by Mikhail Kasianov. If Yusufov’s counterpart Spencer Abraham comes, the consultations will be held on the level of ministers.

CHECHEN SEPARATISTS SURRENDER

Izvestia, May 6, 2002, p. 3

Thirty-seven members of Chechnya’s illegal armed formations surrendered in the village of Tsentoroi last Saturday, according to RIA-Novosti news agency. The ‘ceremony’ was attended by leaders of the republic and commanders of the Unified federal group. Kremlin-appointed leader of Chechnya Akhmad Kadyrov promised the ex-gunmen that everybody who had not tainted himself with crimes would be permitted to return to peaceful life. The promise was confirmed by United federal group Commander Vladimir Moltenskoy.

BERLIN IS TO HOST AEROSPACE SHOW

Izvestia, May 6, 2002, p. 4

ILA’2002 aerospace show will take place in Berlin between May 6 and 12. Russian arms manufacturers and exporters will display the multipurpose MIG-29M2, combat-training MIG-AT, amphibians BE-200 and BE-103, and multifunctional AN-38 and IL-103. The Russian delegation will be headed by Yuri Koptev of the Russian Aerospace Agency. According to Aviaexport Director Alexander Voinov, the Russian exposition will represent over 50 manufacturers of end products and spare parts.

A Russian diplomat was quoted by ITAR-TASS news agency as saying that: “There are real opportunities for reaching an agreement on the new form of cooperation” before the Reykjavik meeting of Russian and NATO foreign ministers. The source says that so far the sides disagree on whether or not the existing Russian-NATO Joint Permanent Council should be preserved and on the list of subjects Russia will have equal rights with NATO states in discussing. The Russians insist on a list longer than what NATO is prepared to accept.

PASSPORTS IN RETURN FOR AUTOMATIC RIFLES

Vremya Novostei, May 6, 2002, p. 2

Thirty-seven fighters of “Aslan Maskhadov’s presidential guard” and several separatist militant gangs arrived at the village of Tsentoroi and publicly laid down their arms in the presence of high-ranking officials from Grozny and journalists. The show was organized in front of Akhmad Kadyrov’s house. The Kremlin-appointed leader of Chechnya referred to the guarantees from United federal group Commander Vladimir Moltenskoy and Prosecutor of Chechnya Vsevolod Chernov and promised the ex-separatists new Russian passports and immunity in return for their automatic rifles.

Sources in Kadyrov’s administration emphasize the propagandistic effect of the action and assume that it will pave way for other similar surrenders. Sources say that they have been working on it since early 2002. Kadyrov’s emissaries supposedly toured Chechnya, establishing contacts with gunmen via their relatives. According to the sources, contacts with several hundreds were thus established and 37 of them were persuaded to surrender. The republican administration considers even this result a success.

According to Chairman of the Security Council of Chechnya Rudnik Dudayev, many more separatists might have surrendered but for the negotiations between Maskhadov’s envoy Akhmed Zakayev and Viktor Kazantsev last November. Dudayev says that many separatists were afraid that Russia would once again negotiate peace with Maskhadov and promote him to the republican leader.

DRAFT LAW "ON PREVENTION OF EXTREMISM" WILL BE DISCUSSED BY THE DUMA IN EARLY JUNE

Moskovsky Komsomolets, May 7, 2002, p. 2

Pavel Krasheninnikov, Chairman of the Legislative Committee, calls the law against extremism, which will be discussed in the spring session, a vital legislation to facilitate a “more effective war on fascism and extremism.”

It took President Vladimir Putin’s personal involvement to make the Duma see the importance of the law. Two weeks ago, deputies thought the problem of extremism was exaggerated and even refused to convene a special parliamentary hearing. An analogue of Putin’s draft law was first forwarded to the Duma in 1998 only to be tabled and forgotten there.

ILA’2002 AEROSPACE SHOW OPENS IN BERLIN

Izvestia, May 7, 2002, pp. 1-2

Sources from MIG Corporation ascribe the decision to the refusal of the Germans to give guarantee that they will protect the aircraft from claims by the Swiss company Noga. Noga harbors financial grudges against the government of Russia and has already tried to confiscate a number of Russian property abroad (attempt to arrest the Sedov in Brest, France, kicked up a serious scandal).

Sukhoi, another Russian aircraft manufacturer, refused to be intimidated by the Noga. “The top management is of the opinion that the ILA’2002 is a unique opportunity to make contacts with potential clients”, Sukhoi press Secretary Yuri Chervakov was quoted as saying. Manufacturers of the YAK-130D and BE-200 are sending their aircraft to the show as well. Analysts believe that in actual fact, it only shows that MIG fears possible problems with its German partners from EADS much more than potential row with Noga, which is used only as a pretext. The Germans are involved in the project of modernizing Central and Eastern European armies possessing MIG-29s. The EADS might have taken offense when the Russians signed a contract with Bulgaria to modernize its twenty MIG-29s and did no bother to make sure that the German concern would get its share of the dividends.

Sources in MIG told this correspondent several days ago that the fighter should have made it to Berlin on its own. A spokesman for the Rosoboroneksport spoke of it as of a fait accompli…

PUTIN CASTIGATES THE CABINET AGAIN

Izvestia, May 7, 2002, p. 5

The first time the president castigated the government’s economic policy was a month ago, when the forecasted rate of GDP growth – about 4% a year – was condemned by Putin as not ambitious enough. Putin anted the Cabinet to do better than that and said so in no uncertain terms. The government pinned the blame on the Ministry of Economic Development, which had failed to take into account the positive effect structural reforms were having on the economy.

GERASCHENKO AND PARAMONOVA SAY THEIR WORD

Izvestia, May 7, 2002, p. 5

Investigations launched into the activities of the Central Bank by the Prosecutor General’s Office in 2002 is still underway. Former senior deputy chairman of the Central Bank Tatiana Paramonova was summoned yesterday by prosecutors to witness against Alexander Alekseev, deputy head of the Moscow Main Territorial Directorate of the Central Bank, who is facing charges of abuse of office. Ex-chairman Viktor Geraschenko was also summoned but never turned up in the courtroom. He sent a letter to the judge instead, explaining that Alekseev’s actions had never harmed the Central Bank or the state.

The Prosecutor General’s Office accuses the Central Bank of having engaged in detrimental activities that cost the state approximately 6 billion. That was the sum of the stabilization credit SBS-Agro bank received from the Central Bank in 1998 and 1999. The money was never returned to the Central Bank. The accord with the SBS-Agro bears Alekseev’s signature.

INTERFAX news agency quotes Paramonova as saying that it is too early to talk of any harm done to the Central Bank. The SBS-Agro and its creditors (the Central Bank included) agreed that the debts would be paid within 25 years. Paramonova denies that any harm was done to the state because “the Central Bank does not answer for state obligations and vice versa.”

AN AGREEMENT WITH VENEZUELA TO BE SIGNED

Izvestia, May 7, 2002, p. 5

Premier Mikhail Kasianov has signed a resolution approving of the draft agreement between the Russian Federation and Venezuela on cooperation in the sphere of fuel and energy complexes. Among other things, the agreement stipulates cooperation in exploration, extraction, transportation, processing, enrichment, purification, sale, and use of oil, natural gas, coal, and other energy resources. The Russian Ministry of Energy has been instructed to conduct negotiations with Venezuela and afterwards sign an agreement on behalf of the government of the Russian Federation.

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