FEDERATION COUNCIL CONDEMNS THE UNITED STATES

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FEDERATION COUNCIL CONDEMNS THE UNITED STATES

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, March 25, 2003, EV

International Committee of the Federation Council met yesterday to discuss its position with regard to the Iraqi situation.

According to Chairman Sergei Mironov, the Federation Council will adopt a special resolution come Wednesday which will become a “kind of reaction to the military operation of the United States and its allies in Iraq.” Mironov ascribes the necessity of the resolution to the “growing casualties in Iraq, and the lengthening of the action that escalates tension in the world.” The upper house of the parliament will appeal to the president to set up a “special crisis group to supervise Russian specialists during the action and, more importantly, in the course of handling its consequences.” Commenting on statements of some American officials blaming Russia for arms export to Iraq, Mironov called it “blame-shifting”.

The upper house of the parliament is going to ask the Duma to revise its decision concerning the Treaty on Strategic Offensive Potentials Reduction. The Federation Council considers it much too emotional. “The treaty will bolster our defense capacity and enable us determine our own strategy of development of the national nuclear missile potential,” said International Committee Chairman Mikhail Margelov.

"REFUGEES HAD BETTER BE STOPPED ON THE IRANIAN BORDER"

Izvestia, March 25, 2003, EV

Russia is sending relief aid to Iraqi refugees. According to immigration officials, it is supposed to prevent the refugees from making it into Russia and stop them in Iran.

“The Russian Emergency Ministry is sending humanitarian aid with consent of the UN Supreme Commissariat for Refugees,” said Irina Andrianova of the Emergency Ministry PR department. “The whole consignment has been delivered to the crisis center established by the Interior Ministry of Iran. There are almost 2 million refugees on the territory of this country nowadays, mostly from Afghanistan. Appearance of Iraqi refugees will make the situation much more complicated and pressure harder.”

The Emergency Ministry of Russia has an operational team in Iran, discussing the place for the refugee camp with the local authorities. Assistance to Iran is being rendered on the orders from the Russian Cabinet. The whole consignment consists of state property from special reserves stockpiled against an emergency. Refugees from Iraq may constitute such an emergency for Russia.

“We have not contemplated it yet,” said Vladimir Kuznetsov, Deputy Director of the Immigration Control Department of the Immigration Service of the Russian Interior Ministry. “My personal opinion, however, is that the Emergency Ministry was right to send relief aid to Iran. The refugees had better be stopped on the Iranian border than permitted to reach Russia.”

IRAQI ACCOUNTS WILL BE LEFT ALONE

Izvestia, March 25, 2003, EV

Russian legislation permits to freeze bank accounts when their owners are suspected of money laundering or involvement in terrorism, but Russia does not have this sort of information with regard to Saddam Hussein, Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin said in response to Washington’s demand to block Hussein’s bank accounts all over the world. “We need evidence,” Kudrin says.

Presidential Economic Advisor Andrei Illarionov does not think either that Russia has any grounds for freezing Iraqi bank accounts.

SOUTH OSSETIA OFFERS ITS TERRITORY FOR RUSSIAN BASES

Izvestia, March 25, 2003, EV

President of South Ossetia Eduard Kokoyev says that his republic is ready to ask Russia to increase its peacekeeping contingent in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict area and offer its territory for Russian military bases withdrawn from Georgia. According to Kokoyev, President of Georgia Eduard Shevardnadze relies on the United States and supports the anti-Iraqi coalition because he no longer sees international institutions as an instrument of South Ossetia’s and Abkhazia’s return to Georgian jurisdiction.

Kokoyev is worried by the disturbance of seismic balance in the Caucasus by the use of powerful ordnance in Iraq and by the threat of germ and chemical contamination of wide territories.

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