BORDER GUARDS: A SPECIAL DETACHMENT
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, March 7, 2003, EV
A special detachment of border guards has been formed along the Chechnya sector of the Russian-Georgian border, near the village of Borzoi. There has never been anything like this in the Federal Border Guards Service (FBGS) before. According to Army General Konstantin Totsky, director of the FBGS, the detachment has been created for one purpose: in order to have a mobile reserve in the Caucasus, capable of reinforcing border security in the most problematic areas.
It is worth noting that information about the detachment began to appear soon after the end of trilateral command-staff exercises in Kaspiisk; as well as the FBGS, the border guards of Azerbaijan and Georgia also participated in these. The exercises were intended to develop cooperation in the event of difficulties arising on the border. No results of the exercises have been released to the public, but it appears the Russian border guards have once again been convinced that they should not rely on help from their counterparts in the Trans-Caucasus nations in the battle against Chechen guerrillas who regularly cross the border.
No information has been released about the numerical strength of the detachment, or how it is equipped. Reports only say that its core is made up of officers from the North Caucasus border directorate, as well as soldiers and sergeants with over a year of experience. However, it cannot be ruled out that the new force may also have some personnel from the most elite and ultra-secret divisions of the FBGS, analogous to the well-known Alpha or Vympel squads. The commander of the new special detachment is Colonel Alexei Orlov, who is no novice to the North Caucasus: he and his subordinates have repeatedly distinguished themselves in operations in the Argun canyon.
The special detachment will become active very soon, and will operate only along the Chechnya sector of the border. According to reports from the FBGS, its intelligence sources have brought in information about the immediate plans of the Chechen guerrillas. The Chechen armed separatists and mercenaries who are currently at bases in the Pankisi gorge or living in Georgia in the guise of refugees are planning to return to Chechnya.
GAZPROM SEEKS TO RAISE PRODUCTION
Trud, March 7, 2003, EV
According to official figures, Russia produced 108.12 billion cubic meters of natural gas in January and February 2003; this is 2.5% higher than the figure for the same period of 2002.
According to Gazprom, its enterprises predict that gas production will be increased to 541.9 billion cubic meters in 2004, or 10.2 billion cubic meters more than the target for 2003. Gazprom’s consolidated net profit is expected to reach 200 billion rubles in 2004.
Gazprom intends to boost production and profits by increasing hydrocarbon reserves – these are expected to more than triple in 2004. Internal reserves are also being taken into account; these were discussed by President Vladimir Putin at his recent meeting with some veteran Gazprom executives. President Putin noted that Gazprom has managed to concentrate its resources and complete consolidation of shares. Gazprom, its subsidiaries, and the state now control over 51% of shares.
The president pointed out that Gazprom still faces a number of challenging tasks in terms of improving its performance. These include raising the quality of corporate management, optimizing the company’s structure, attracting investment, and consolidating its profile assets. President Putin also emphasized that a cautious, balanced approach is required for any moves to reform Gazprom.