DEBT-FREE AFRICA

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DEBT-FREE AFRICA

Kompania, September 9, 2002, p. 6

According to the calculations of Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov, who recently attended the Johannesburg Earth Summit, over past several years Russia has written off over $35 billion of debts for African states, which is approximately half of all debts other creditor nations have written off for Africa. Having modestly pointed out Russia’s outstanding role, Kasianov called on the developed world to follow Russia’s example in restructuring the debts of the poorest nations. However, Kasianov chose not to mention that the majority of write-offs were not voluntary but made in accordance with the obligations to Russia’s own creditor, the Paris club of creditor nations. By joining this organization in 1997, Russia hoped for their aid in recovering the $100-150 billion debts owed by other countries to Russia. However, it soon turned out that the creditors did not plan to help Russia; moreover, Russia had to write off debts under pressure from the Paris club of creditor nations.

RUSSIA’S SPENDING ON FIGHTING AL QAEDA

Kommersant-Vlast, September 9, 2002, p. 8

Over the year since September 11, the Russian president has expressed support for his US counterpart, speaking about the necessity of the war on terrorism 48 times. Over the same period, George Bush made only 39 analogical statements. At the same time, the US has invested $343 billion in the defense and national security areas, which is 12.9 times as much as Russia’s investments. Thus, every militaristic statement of the Russian president can be estimated at $554 million, while the same statement of the US president costs $8.79 billion, or 15.9 times more expensive.

Russia’s successes in the anti-terrorist operation also differ from the successes of the US. Since September 11, 2001, 130 Arab mercenaries were killed in Chechnya, while the number of Talibs killed over the 120 days of the US’s military operation in Afghanistan reached 4,000 people.

DEFENSE MINISTER RESTORES MILITARY INSPECTORATE

Kommersant-Vlast, September 9, 2002, p. 8

On September 15, the restored military inspectorate of the Defense Ministry will start working in full. The Main military inspectorate existed in the Russian Army from September 1992 to May 1997. After its head, Konstantin Kobets, was dismissed for abuse of power, Boris Yeltsin formed the State Military Inspection in August 1997 and appointed Security Council Chairman Andrei Kokoshin as its leader. After the Security Council merged with the Defense Council, the Main Military Inspection was transformed into the military inspection department. In spring this year, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov decided to restore the military inspectorate in order to monitor the situation in the Armed Forces personally. Alexander Lukin, formerly the head of the Main Operative Department, was appointed as the head of the restored military inspectorate.

BEREZOVSKY BUYS UP RUSSIAN DEBTS

Versia, No. 35, September, 2002, pp. 18, 19

Recently, the press reported that Boris Berezovsky had bought a large stake in the French Credit Agricole Bank, which is the creditor of the notorious Swiss Noga firm. Rumor had it that the exiled tycoon in fact took over Noga, a company to which the Russian government owes money. However, Berezovsky’s representative Demyan Kudrayvtsev officially denied buying Noga or its debts. According to another theory, Berezovsky bought the shares of the French Bank as it has frozen the accounts of the Andava and Forus companies, which Berezovsky is still controlling.

MASKHADOV HIDES FROM AUDITORS

Argumenty i Fakty, No. 37, September 11, 2002, p. 5

Last week, there were rumors that Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov was dead. The Chechen field commanders say after Khattab’s death Maskhadov took charge of the money coming in from abroad to support the “holy war” in Chechnya. However, foreign sponsors suspected him of misappropriating a million dollars, and sent their auditor to Chechnya. After this, Maskhadov disappeared. But the Federal Security Service has a different theory: the security structures obtained an audiotape with a record of Maskhadov’s proposal to get the money for Chechen guerrillas from blackmail of Chechen businessmen in Russia and abroad. He has already charged people with collecting the “presidential tax”. Most likely, Maskhadov has disappeared for as long as it takes to complet this task. At least, Federal Security Service Director Nikolai Patrushev says cautiously, “Maskhadov is more likely to be alive than dead.”

UKRAINE HAS MORE OPTIMISTS THAN RUSSIA

Inostranets, September 10, 2002, p. 5

According to the latest poll, Ipsos-Reid simultaneously carried out in 12 countries (US, Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Hungary, Romania, Ukraine, Czechia, France, Russia, Poland, and Germany), only 4% of Ukrainians estimate their living standard as high; 10% of Russians, 8% of Poles, 36% of Frenchmen, and 64% of Americans are satisfied with their living standard. At the same time, there are more optimists in Ukraine than in Russia: 36% against 23% respectively. Poles are the most pessimistic, 22%, and residents of the English-speaking countries are the most optimistic: 61% of Americans, 45% of Australians, 43% of Canadians, and 42% of Englishmen. The pessimism of Russians has been stable for the past two years, 23%. At the same time, since 1999, Russians have increased the estimation of their living standards.

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