IT MAY BE USEFUL

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IT MAY BE USEFUL

Izvestia, July 25, 2002, p.4

On July 26, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov sets off on a week’s business trip to South-East Asia. Experts expect the trip to be tightly scheduled: the minister will visit the two Koreas, Xianggang, Macao and Brunei.

The starting point of the trip is South Korea. There Mr. Ivanov will attend the ceremony of opening a new building of Russia’s Embassy. According to a source with Russian diplomatic circles, previously the embassy was located in an inconvenient place. The new building covers a hectare of ground right in the central part of Seoul. Diplomats believe that “Russia’s long-term presence in the region” will be declared this way. Mr. Ivanov is scheduled to meet with President Kim Dae-jung, the Foreign Minister of South Korea and chief contenders for the post of head of state (the presidential election in the republic will take place in December).

From Seoul the Russian Foreign Minister will set off for Pyongyang “to consolidate positive trends in relations with North Korea”. There he will meet with his North Korean counterpart Paek Nam-sun. At the meetings in Seoul and Pyongyang Mr. Ivanov will discuss the project of linking the Trans-Siberian Railway to Korean railways. The principal agreement of parties interested has already been obtained but this amalgamation will be possible only if both Koreas join their trunk railway. Apart from that, attention will be given to an oil project – construction of a pipeline connecting Kovykta oil field (Russia) to China and Korea. The project which has aroused great interest in both Seoul and Pyongyang is estimated at nearly $10bn. Besides, Russia and North Korea participate in the establishment of a free trade zone, which requires discussion of current issues. According to a source of information with the Embassy, the subject of fishery and fish poaching in the territorial waters of the Russian Federation may also be brought up.

Then the Russian foreign minister will visit autonomous areas of Macao and Xianggang. The commodity turnover between Russia and Xianggang reached nearly $0.5bn last year. Both autonomous areas are interested in the oil project.

Mr. Ivnov will finish his trip to South-Eastern Asia in Brunei where in late July-early August an ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Regional Forum on Security will be held, with the USA and EU participating. The question of amalgamation of the two Koreas and regional security aspects will be discussed at the forum. The agenda has been readjusted to focus the attention of participants on the problem of counteraction to terrorism. For South-Eastern Asia which population is Moslem for the most part this problem is a top priority: Al-Qaeda’s traces can be found in many countries of the region. It is expected that a declaration on financial measures aimed at counteraction to terrorism will be adopted at the forum. It will also be proposed to enhance the presence of representatives of defense ministries at forums.

Unfortunately, Russia’s commercial relations with South-Eastern Asia are less fruitful than political ones for the time being. But the Russian Foreign Ministry hopes that ASEAN countries will still make up their minds to establish an insurance system for energy carriers. The experience and capacities of Russian oil and gas producers and power suppliers may come in handy in that respect.

PRE-REFORM PURGE

Izvestia, July 25, 2002, p.6

Railway Minister Gennady Fadeyev introduced in Rostov-on-Don a new head of the North Caucasus Railway. A former deputy head of the Moscow Railway, Vladimir Vorobyov, has replaced Alexander Bogatyryov as chief of the North Caucasus Railway. Previous chiefs of the railway used to be promoted to offices in Moscow. Bogatyryov was the first one to be sacked.

Rumors about a possible dismissal of Alexander Bogatyryov who had been at the head of the North Caucasus Railway since 2000 have been circulating for the last several months. It was alleged that Gennady Fadeyev strongly criticized Bogatyryov for his inability to control such large and complex facilities.

“The difficult situation at the North Caucasus Railway has induced me to take a prompt action regarding the head of the railway,” Gennady Fadeyev claimed in Rostov. “Basic assets are heavily depreciated, the allocated funds to a sum of 5.2 billion rubles were made little use of, the implementation of an investment program worth 800 million rubles was disrupted. I could not turn a blind eye to all that”.

For the last ten years the North Caucasus Railway which is the largest tax-payer in the Rostov region has been headed by six different people. Governor Vladimir Chub of the Rostov region complained at a meeting with the railway minister about very frequent changes in the top management of the railway. Mr. Fadeyev does not rule out that there will be new dismissals in the management of the North Caucasus Railway. One of the main faults of the previous head of the railway, according to the minister, was his inability to solve the problem of congestion of lines running to ports of Novorossyisk and Tuapse.

“After transportation charges were unified, railway freight traffic to sea ports considerably increased,” the minister pointed out. “However, the North Caucasus Railway proved unprepared for this. The situation required prompt decisions on the part of the railway’s administration which were never taken”.

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