RUSSIA AS CREDITOR

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RUSSIA AS CREDITOR

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, June 27, 2003, EV

A Cabinet meeting on June 26 discussed foreign loans: how much Russia should borrow, and from where, as well as how much Russia should lend in 2004, and to whom. It was decided that Russia will lend around $670 million to other states (Russia provided credits of $800 million in 2002 and $500 million in 2001). These sums will represent credit tied to large-scale projects implemented by Russian companies abroad. Russia will lend money to those countries which order construction of nuclear power plants by Russian specialists. However, sometimes it is extremely difficult to get such debts repaid. We interviewed Leonid Lebedev, deputy chairman of the Federation Council Committee for Economic Policy, about debts owed to Russia.

Question: Is there a lot of money owed to Russia?

Leonid Lebedev: The last time statistics for countries owing debts to Russia were given was in the law on the 2001 federal budget. Since then, everyone has been more concerned about what Russia owes to others. Meanwhile, developing nations owe Russia nearly as much as Russia owes to developed nations. For instance, Syria owes Russia about $10 billion, Vietnam owes us $5-7 billion, Afghanistan’s debt is $5-6 billion, Iraq owes Russia $5 billion, Ethiopia’s debt is $5 billion, North Korea owes $4 billion, Algeria owes $2-3 billion, and Libya’s debt is $2 billion.

Question: Can Russia’s treasury seriously count on this money being repaid?

Leonid Lebedev: As far as I know, the Russian government is holding talks with debtors, although participation by private business would considerably assist in solving the debt problem. Private enterprise is more effective in this connection, as global experience indicates.

Question: What mechanisms for regulating liabilities can be used today, besides writing off debts?

Leonid Lebedev: This could include participation by Russian companies in development of natural resources deposits in countries owing money to Russia. It is also possible to repay debts with products. However, participants in the market often cannot assess what kind of goods can adequately replace repayment of monetary debts. The negative attitude of the public to participation by private companies in returning foreign debts may be attributed to a lack of government oversight.

So far, the Russian treasury has been receiving no more than $50 million a year from its debtors. At this rate, it will take Russia about 200 years to get all the money back.

THE BIG COMPANY SECRET

Trud, June 27, 2003, EV

State security agencies are sounding the alarm: defense companies are desperately short of professionals with the skills required to ensure information security.

Meanwhile, slightly under 600 enterprises using top secret data in their activities operate in the Chelyabinsk region alone. According to the Chelyabinsk branch of the Federal Security Service (FSB), over 500,000 documents marked “specially important” or “top secret” are used in the region currently.

However, professionals keeping state secrets have quit the enterprises over the past decade: some seeking more lucrative job, others retiring. So this personnel shortage remained unfilled.

Aware of these problems, the South Urals State University, which has some “secret” departments, has taken up training information security experts.

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