PAVEL BORODIN PROMISES RESIDENTS OF RUSSIA AND BELARUS COMMON CITIZENSHIP AND CURRENCY

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PAVEL BORODIN PROMISES RESIDENTS OF RUSSIA AND BELARUS COMMON CITIZENSHIP AND CURRENCY

Novaya Gazeta, April 7-9, 2003, p. 5

Pavel Borodin, State Secretary of the Russian-Belarussian Union, promised Russians and Belarussian common citizenship and currency in the near future at his Internet press conference on April 2. According to Borodin, a referendum is to be organized in the near future and the future constitutional act will define the major directions of cooperation between Russia and Belarus.

The dates by which all of that is supposed to be accomplished change all the time. This time Borodin promised that introduction of common citizenship would require eighteen months and a common monetary unit would be introduced in January 2004.

Sergei Miktrokhin, Deputy Chairman of the Duma Committee for Local Self-Rule: This is just a statement. The phrase on common citizenship is clearly a PR trick. Borodin has to convince everybody that he is desperately needed. That is why he regularly comes up with statements on another momentous accomplishment.

Sergei Kalyakin, Chairman of the Communist Party of Belarus: We have heard a lot of statements like that. Russia and Belarus disagree on provisions of the constitutional act… I do not think we will overcome the discord soon.

RUSSIAN SHIPS DEPART FOR THE INDIAN OCEAN

Izvestia, April 8, 2003, p. 3, EV

Yesterday, ships of the Russian Pacific Fleet departed their base for the Indian Ocean. Rendezvousing with the Indian Navy there, they will conduct an exercise not far from the American naval group involved in the Iraqi operation. This is the first naval sortie on this scale in the history of post-Soviet Russia.

The group includes big Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) ships Admiral Panteleev and Marshal Shaposhnikov and tender Vladimir Kolechitsky and is commanded by Captain 1st Class Valery Terekhin. According to Pacific Fleet Commander Viktor Fedorov, the sortie does not have anything to do with the hostilities in the Persian Gulf. A source in the Pacific Fleet headquarters says, that Russian and Indian ships will conduct an ASW and antiaircraft exercise in May.

Terekhin: We do not expect any problems in communication with the Indian Navy. Its officers were trained in our country and speak Russian… We executed some joint maneuvers on the Indian Independence Day two years ago.

The involved ships will drill cooperation in dealing with the threat of international terrorism, poaching, protection of civilian navigation, prevention of drug trafficking, and security of civilized economic activities.

Unofficial reports indicate that multipurpose nuclear submarines carrying nuclear weapons will accompany the Russian ships.

The voyage to the designated area will take 20 – 25 days. According to a source, ships of the Pacific Fleet will rendezvous with ships of the Black Sea Fleet near the Sokotra Island.

KHODORKOVSKY READY TO SPONSOR THE UNION OF RIGHT FORCES AND YABLOKO

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, April 8, 2003, EV

YUKOS CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the wealthiest Russian in the opinion of Forbes Magazine, is ready to sponsor the Union of Right Forces and Yabloko out of his own pocket.

Khodorkovsky: In politics I sympathize with the Union of Right Forces and Yabloko.

The businessman refused to specify the sum he was ready to invest in the right-wing political party.

RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR CLAIMS THAT THE AMERICANS OPENED UP ON THE CONVOY DELIBERATELY

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, April 8, 2003, EV

Russian Ambassador to Iraq Vladimir Titorenko believes that the American troops deliberately opened up on the convoy of Russian diplomats and journalists. Specialists say that there are bullet holes in four Russian vehicles, all of them made by American M-16 assault rifles. Three holes were discovered in the ambassador’s personal car.

The convoy made it to Syria. Titorenko himself sustained a minor wound in the arm.

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