ARMS EXPOS AS AN ELEMENT OF INTERIOR RIVALRY

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It seems that the Russian leadership will soon determine the place of the main center of arms expo business. Vladimir Paleshchuk, director of the federal service for military-technical cooperation, said that Russia plans to create two such centers in the Moscow region – Krasnoarmeisk (MVSV – expo of weapons for the Ground Force) and Zhukovsky (MAKS air show) – and one in St. Petersburg (a naval expo). The government intends to support these expos and probably finance them from the budget. In other words, other expos experienced in displaying weapons and military hardware (Nizhny Tagil, Omsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Gelendzhik) will automatically become regional. The prime minister has not signed the documents regarding arms expos yet. However, Vladimir Paleshchuk said that Moscow and St. Petersburg, which have the necessary infrastructure for business contacts, will become the main gates for foreign visitors. At the same time, Paleshchuk thinks that the federal center does not plan to abandon arms expos in Nizhny Tagil and other cities.

He said, “I would consider such plans as conflicting with national interests.” He noted that the federal center seeks to create as many efficient expos as possible but it will never support expos, which do not attract foreign participants and guests.

It’s no coincidence that Paleshchuk mentioned the necessity of developing arms expos in other Russian regions. Some experts think that Russian ExpoArms, which was held in Nizhny Tagil in 2002 and 2004, has proven its efficiency. Producers displayed different types of weapons for the Ground Force, including multiple rocket launchers with a range of fire of 40 kilometers, in action. It’s impossible to organize such demonstrations in Krasnoarmeisk. The leaders of 19 Russian regions sent an open letter to President Vladimir Putin three years ago, asking him to support the project in Nizhny Tagil. They stated that all producers are satisfied with the expo site. They also noted that producers from Siberia and the Urals would not be able to participate in expos in other regions because of high transportation costs. It seems that the Kremlin has reacted to that request. At present arms expos can be organized in any Russian region.

In the meantime, it’s obvious that regions differ. Paleshchuk recently told journalists that it is intended to deploy a permanent exposition of weapons and military hardware in Krasnoarmeisk, which will host the international expo of weapons for the Ground Force in 2006.

He said, “However, this is not a reason to close a similar expo in Nizhny Tagil. We want to organize expos in the center of the country in even-numbered years, and in Nizhny Tagil in uneven years.” He said that organizers of the expo in Nizhny Tagil will surely understand the advisability of such solution.

Paleshchuk said, “We do not intend to exert pressure on anyone. Organizers of the expo in Nizhny Tagil must decide if it’s advisable to organize their expo on parallel tracks with the expo in Krasnoarmeisk. We will give them an opportunity to see the advantages of our solution.”

In the meantime, it’s evident that the representative of the federal service for military-technical cooperation is cunning. It’s no coincidence that government officials have decided to organize expos in Krasnoarmeisk. As is known, Moscow businessmen lobbied this project. The state will allocate land plots, build roads and parking lots. To date 28,000 square meters of pavilions have been built. Organizers will use the proving grounds of the Geodesia research institute. The international expo of military products for the Ground Force (organized by Interpolitech) will be combined with the international festival of pilot groups (organized by Aviasalon), which will be held in Zhukovsky.

Organizers of these expos note that they have already sent invitations to around 6,000 organizations (4,500 Russian companies, 347 CIS companies and 1,287 foreign companies); 127 companies have already agreed to participate. Four countries – Austria, Italy, Slovakia and the Czech Republic – have already concluded contracts to buy 1,500 square meters of expo rooms. Turkey, Poland, South Korea, India, Republic of South Africa, Germany, Belarus, Ukraine, Greece and other countries also intend to participate in the expo in August 2006.

It’s evident that the destiny of the expo in Nizhny Tagil will be very difficult. But the question is if the expo in Moscow will be able to work efficiently. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to answer this question. Krasnoarmeisk has an unsuccessful experience in this sector. In particular, Interpolitech-2004 was organized in this town in 2004. It was combined with the first expo of weapons for the Ground Force.

The federal agency for industry was dissatisfied with that expo. The agency stated that organizers failed to attract enough visitors and the media. As a result, a range of enterprises refused to participate in the next expo. Organizers did not even solve the transportation problem. Delegations had to wait in traffic jams on the road from Moscow.

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