TRACES OF CHEMICAL WARFARE MEANS FOUND IN KHANABAD, UZBEKISTAN

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TRACES OF CHEMICAL WARFARE MEANS FOUND IN KHANABAD, UZBEKISTAN

Vremya Novostei, June 10, 2002, p. 2

The Soviet military machine has finally caught up with the Americans at the former Soviet airfield in Khanabad, Uzbekistan. Last week, the Americans discovered three sites with traces of chemical warfare means.

Major Chatt Kemp (he is in charge of radiation, chemical, and germ security of the Bagram US Base near Kabul, Afghanistan) is confident that the chemical warfare means have been in Khanabad since the time of the Soviet Union.

This is not the first time the Khanabad base, 12 kilometers from the town of Karshi (Kashkadarja region), would be featuring in the Afghanistan events. In the Soviet time, it quartered a regiment of reconnaissance aircraft and another of SU-24M frontal bombers. The latter were used against targets in Afghanistan. In late 2001, the Khanabad became one of the major bases of the American operation of vengeance in Afghanistan. It housed 5,000 American troopers. Today the American contingent there is approximately 1,000 men strong.

THE UNITED RUSSIA: AN UPDATE

Vremya Novostei, June 10, 2002, p. 4

Alexander Bespalov, the founding father of the pro-presidential United Russia, is a senator now. Recently re-elected Penza Governor Vasily Bochkarev appointed Bespalov (head of the United Russia General Council) as his representative at the Federation Council. Penza legislature unanimously supported Bespalov.

Bespalov admits that occupying a seat on the upper house of parliament is not his personal choice but a decision “made at the top”. According to information compiled by this newspaper, Bespalov was informed of his appointment as senator personally by Bochkarev.

A source in the Federation Council assumes that “Bespalov perhaps did not live up to expectations by failing to accomplish certain tasks. His election into the upper house of parliament should therefore be regarded as a kind of honorary exile.” It follows that provided Bespalov retains his membership in the party, he would probably be a rank member by the time the parliamentary election rolls by.

Bespalov himself does not contemplate quitting the party. He is full of ambitious plans and projects and takes evident pride in talking about them. The centrists intend to set up “a model of the future Russia” soon, he told the INTERFAX news agency. The model will be set up together with “the regional industrial and intellectual elite” the United Russia plans to gather in Moscow by June 18 for a conference of “successful directors”.

New party cards will be issued in July, and Duma deputies will be the first to receive them. Mass mobilization of the population into the party is planned as well. The United Russia members currently number 29,000 but should increase to 800,000 activists in future, Bespalov said. In July and August the General Council will inspect the course of party formation in the regions. A tour of 16 territories in all federal regions will be organized.

Bespalov: As far as preparations for the parliamentary election are concerned, we should evaluate the state of affairs in the federal regions and consolidate all healthy forces there. We want a United Russia candidate in all 225 constituencies all over Russia.

PROSECUTOR GENERAL VLADIMIR USTINOV MEETS WITH US PROSECUTOR GENERAL JOHN ASHCROFT

Izvestia, June 11, 2002, p. 2

Initially, Ashcroft’s visit to Moscow might have bee termed as a visit of politeness. As Ashcroft put it before leaving Washington, “the purpose of the trip is to tell the Russian people and Russian law enforcement agencies how we appreciate their help in the war on international terrorism.” All the same, the prosecutors did found time to discuss some specific criminal cases as well.

Ashcroft: On my return to the United States, I will bring up the issue of extradition to Russia of citizens of Russia captured by our army in Afghanistan and transferred to Guantanamo. We know that Russia itself has pressed charges against them and is prepared to have these Talibs tried.

Ustinov nodded in agreement. According to the latest reports Ustinov’s deputy Sergei Fridinsky referred to yesterday, there are seven Russian Talibs in Guantanamo. Four of them, aged between 20 and 45, have not been identified yet.

Ustinov: Currently, we are working together only within the framework of the treaty on legal assistance. In other words, everything boils down to the principle of “Extradite a man or try him”.

This time it was Ashcroft who did the nodding. He ducked the question of when the treaty on extradition between Russia and the United States might be signed and merely said that he had invited Ustinov to Washington to continue talks.

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