TERRORISTS PLANNED TO BOMB ST. PETERSBURG

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TERRORISTS PLANNED TO BOMB ST. PETERSBURG

Argumenty i Fakty, June 18, 2003, p. 5

Newspapers abroad have reported that on the eve of the recent summit in St. Petersburg, the Federal Security Service (FSB) managed to prevent a major terrorist attack. FSB chief spokesman Alexander Murashov commented as follows: “We received information from Chechnya that some members of Chechen militant groups, in association with Islamic terrorists and an international terrorist organization, were planning explosions at several sites in St. Petersburg. For this purpose, they had sent a convoy of trucks loaded with explosives. The convoy was stopped near St. Petersburg, and thus the terrorist acts were averted. The dangerous cargo was destroyed together with the vehicles, and the people involved were detained.”

UNITED STATES EDGES RUSSIA FROM SPACE

Argumenty i Fakty, June 18, 2003, p. 5

The United States intends to establish control over part of outer space, according to The Daily Telegraph reported.

The U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) has been developing a strategy under which nations other than the United States would not be allowed to place satellites in orbit without Washington’s permission. For this purpose U.S. engineers are designing high-speed military spacecraft which are meant to destroy hostile and rival satellites and guard American space sites. The first spacecraft of this type is expected to be ready in 2005 and be adopted by the U.S. military by 2014. Pentagon officials consider that the battle over outer space is another stage of the global arms race, and the United States obviously wants to win it.

RUSSIAN ARMED FORCES: LITTLE MONEY, MANY GENERALS

Argumenty i Fakty, June 18, 2003, p. 5

On the eve of Russia’s Independence Day, around ninety officers were promoted to the rank of general. Among them were Nikolai Kormiltsev, deputy defense minister and commander of the Ground Forces; and Valentin Korabelnikov, head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff.

Meanwhile, the Auditing Commission disclosed some financial irregularities at the Defense Ministry. “The total value of the violations is nearly 2.4 billion rubles,” said Alexander Piskunov, an auditor with the Auditing Commission. According to the commission’s report, the costs of acquisition and maintenance of hardware has been overstated, and the number of senior officers is disproportionate to troop numbers. Conditions in the Armed Forces have not improved, even though the military has received the full amount of state funding allocated for defense. Three criminal cases were presented to the Prosecutor General’s Office as a result of the audit. Investigators are trying to find the money obtained from commercial space launches at the Baikonur, Plesetsk and Svobodnyi launch centers. Some military personnel are also facing major fraud charges.

CHECHEN BUSINESSMEN TO PAY FOR INFORMATION ABOUT ASLAN MASKHADOV

Izvestia, June 18, 2003, p. 3

A special non-profit foundation set up in Grozny has undertaken to pay monetary rewards for any information about Aslan Maskhadov, leader of the Chechen separatists. Chechnya’s acting president Akhmad Kadyrov had recently promised to pay rewards for such information as well. According to Kadyrov, the rewards will be handsome: “Enough for a person’s children and grandchildren to live on.”

“Our foundation has almost started work already. We are doing some organization at present,” says Federation Council member Akhmar Zavgayev, whose idea it was to set up this foundation. Speaking about funding sources, he said that an agreement on donations had been reached with some business leaders.

SPLIT DEEPENS IN THE LIBERAL RUSSIA PARTY

Argumenty i Fakty, June 18, 2003, p. 5

The Liberal Russia party, which has long been suffering from a split personality in terms of its leadership, has held two meetings. Supporters of Boris Berezovsky elected him as leader, expelling former co-chairman Victor Pokhmelkin from the party. Meanwhile, at the other meeting the political council headed by Pokhmelkin formed an election bloc of its own: this includes the Russian Republican Party, the Forward, Russia! Movement, and the Russian Auto Enthusiasts movement.

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