HELICOPTER CRASH: THE CREW SURVIVED

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HELICOPTER CRASH: THE CREW SURVIVED

Moskovsky Komsomolets, August 21, 2002, p. 3

Major-General Viktor Ivanov, deupty commander of Army Aviation, on the transport helicopter crash near Khankala in Chechnya:

“The five-man crew led by Major Oleg Botanov, military pilot second class, was fairly well-trained. The chief pilot had a total of 1,950 hours flying experience, including 130 hours this year. He had been working in Chechnya regularly, and knew the local routes well, including the route from Mozdok to Khankala. So it is most unlikely that pilot error was responsible for the crash. Personally, I am inclined to believe that the MI-26 helicopter was shot down. This is because it fell to earth very rapidly. The crew must have made some attempt to save the helicopter and its passengers, but they simply didn’t have time. The helicopter was one of the newest in Army Aviation, having only been in use for seven years.”

SENIOR RAILWAY OFFICIAL MURDERED IN MOSCOW

Moskovsky Komsomolets, August 21, 2002, p. 2

Unknown hitmen have brazenly murdered Sergei Paristyi, deputy head of the Moscow Railroad. What lies behind this murder? Yesterday, detectives and the dead man’s colleagues were proposing several theories for the murder. They essentially correspond to Paristyi’s job responsibilities.

One of his duties as deputy head of the Moscow Railroad was to monitor the implementation of agreements and contracts. Paristyi’s recent projects involved reducing overcrowding in the Moscow metro. One of his proposals was to increase the number of suburban trains running between Moscow and Tsaritsyno, which would help reduce the number of passengers using the underground as well as the number of cars on Moscow’s roads. There were also plans to open a railway line between central Moscow and Kolomenskoe. Moreover, Paristyi was taking part in developing a plan for passenger transport on the Moscow ring railroad.

All these activities seem harmless enough, but the murder might well have been prompted by a conflict with some contractor involved in these projects whom Paristyi had found to be dishonest.

Another “slippery” field of activity for Paristyi was improving taxation conditions for Moscow Railroad enterprises. In his efforts to bring order to taxation in this area, Paristyi might have posed a threat to someone’s unlawful revenues.

Paristyi recently criticized his collegues at the Oktyabr Railroad, especially the management of the Leningrad Terminal. Given the cool relations between the managers of these two rail enterprises (Moscow and Oktyabr), and the fact that a chief supplier of the Oktyabr Railroad was shot by a hitman in St. Petersburg two months ago, the trail of Paristyi’s murder might lead back to St. Petersburg.

The final theory is that Paristyi was murdered by organized crime groups that run a black market in railway tickets. Analysts say Paristyi was trying to counter this practice; over summer, as demand for rail journeys to southern Russia reached a peak, he managed to create plenty of difficulties for the black marketers. He even received telephone threats, but apparently did not take them seriously.

US REVISING GEORGIAN-RUSSIAN RELATIONS

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, August 21, 2002, EV

Against the backdrop of steadily deteriorating relations with Russia, the Georgian government is making it more and more clear that it has come to a final decision about its friends and allies: the Stars and Stripes is being seen more often at Tbilisi Airport.

Eight members of Congress visited last week to acquaint themselves with the situation in Georgia and the reasons behind the dispute between Georgia and Russia; then two senators arrived – Vietnam war hero and former aspiring presidential candidate John McCain (Arizona), and Fred Thompson (Tennessee). Their visit, which began on Monday, has the same aim: to demonstrate that there is some substance behind closer US-Georgian relations. According to Senator McCain, the United States, having declared war on international terrorism, gives special weight to cooperation with Georgia in precisely this field. Senator McCain said something fairly important here: Georgia is capable of restoring order along its borders on its own, but it would be better to do this “in close cooperation with Russia”. The US senators keep emphasizing that Georgia and Russia can and must find a peaceful solution to the tension between them. According to Senator Fred Thompson, given that the neighboring nations have presidents of the caliber of Eduard Shevardnadze and Vladimir Putin, this is “entirely feasible”. Senator Thompson emphasized that Moscow only needs to remember that Georgia is a sovereign, independent state.

KALININGRAD NEWS

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, August 21, 2002, EV

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, stated at a meeting of the leaders of eight Baltic and North European nations yesterday that the EU will not agree to creating a corridor between Kaliningrad and “mainland” Russia via Lithuania. Mr. Rasmussen noted that the EU “has strong arguments against creating such corridors”. According to him, the solution to the Kaliningrad problem should be based on the terms of Schenghen agreements, which will evidently be connected with some changes to the current visa requirements. The Danish prime minister said: “We are prepared to take Russia’s interests into consideration and reach a compromise.”

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