AMBASSADOR OF THAILAND ROBBED
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, May 6, 1999, p. 1
Vichien Chensavatdichai, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand to Moscow, has been robbed on the Moscow – St. Petersburg train. The diplomat and his spouse were going to St. Petersburg on the Number 4 train, and had seats in railroad carriage Number 13. The incident took place somewhere between the Tver and Vyshny Volochek stations of the October Railroad.
TWO KAMCHATKA SUBJECTS SIGN A COOPERATION TREATY
Izvestia, May 6, 1999, p. 2
Last Wednesday, heads of administrations of the Koryak Autonomous District and the Kamchatka Region, Valentina Bronevich and Vladimir Biryukov, signed a treaty on cooperation. Such treaties signed between Russian regions have already become a common practice. In this case, however, the signing took place after some drawn-out and difficult negotiations. The problem is, the Koryak Autonomous District is territorially a part of the Kamchatka Region, a fact which predictably causes a lot of friction in relations. As for the rumors about a merger of the two entities, representatives of the Kamchatka Region deny them as groundless.
AT LEAST 1,000 SLAVES IN CHECHNYA
Izvestia, May 6, 1999, p. 2
Five hostages, released during the May celebrations through the efforts of Alexander Lebed’s peacemaking mission, had been forced to work in Chechnya, according to mission consultant Dmitry Buchnev. Buchnev claims that Chechens are actively using captive Russians as slaves.
Buchnev: Until recently, official statistics estimated the number of slaves in Chechnya at about 400. The data revealed by former prisoners who were kept in the mountain areas of the republic introduces some serious corrections into the figure. In fact, there must be at least a thousand slaves in Chechnya.
TRIUMPH TAKES OUT AWACS PLANES
Parlamentskaya Gazeta, May 6, 1999, p. 1
The new Russian S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft systems are capable of bringing down AWACS planes, an ability which strengthens their competitive capacity on international markets.
This is what is claimed in an article published in the May issue of “Voyenny Vestnik” magazine.
“There is nothing in the world comparable to this long-range missile. It is at least twice as good as the American Patriot-3 and French Aster…”
KOTLYAKOVSKOYE CEMETRY TRIAL POSTPONED
Trud, May 6, 1999, p. 1
The trial of the alleged perpetrators of the explosion at Kotlyakovskoye Cemetery has been postponed to May 17.
According to Vladimir Aleskeev, Deputy Chairman for Legal Matters of the All-Russian Public Organization of Afghan War Veterans, the materials compiled by investigation differ from what the suspects said in the courtroom to such an extent that many wonder whether the suspects are sane. Valery Radchikov, Andrei Anokhin, and Mikhail Smurov maintain that they were forced to shoulder the blame and that investigators used psychotropic drugs on them. Anokhin even claims to have been interrogated by Yuri Skuratov himself.
The judges decided that the suspects should undergo psychiatric assessments.
YURI SKURATOV IS GIVEN A TIME-OUT
Moskovsky Komsomolets, May 6, 1999, p. 2
On April 29, Yuri Skuratov spoke with investigators of the Military Prosecutor’s Office about the case instigated at his own request (violation of privacy, and blackmail). Skuratov refused to discuss matters related to the second case brought against him, claiming that the charges are groundless.
His lawyer Leonid Proshkin: The charges were brought in an invalid manner. Were I in his shoes, I’d have refused to testify at all.
In the near future, nobody will summon Skuratov for interrogation. Today, he is supposed to address the senatorial commission on corruption and “to give them information on the most important cases”.
PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY VIKTOR CHERNOMYRDIN IS BACK IN MOSCOW
Russian Television (RTR), “Vesti” program, May 5, 1999, 11:00
Chernomyrdin himself describes the negotiations in Washington and New York as fairly difficult.
Chernomyrdin: Finding the points on which we agree is not easy here, but it is something we must do.
On Tuesday, Chernomyrdin met with United Nations executives, and observers maintain that two major issues formed the substance of his conversation with General Secretary Annan: NATO’s and Russia’s resolution plans. Chernomyrdin and Annan agreed that resolution of the Kosovo crisis required first and foremost Slobodan Milosevic’s and the Alliance’s political will. Both parties need a compromise, and it had better be sought under the aegis of the United Nations.
According to Chernomyrdin, no political breakthrough has been achieved so far, particularly on the matter of international peacekeepers in Kosovo. Belgrade claims that it will not put up with intervention. NATO insists on deployment of its own troops.
During his conference with Annan, Jesse Jackson, and Knut Vollebek, Chernomyrdin announced that he was returning to Moscow but would probably make another trip to Belgrade soon. According to Yeltsin’s envoy, he is prepared to keep shuttling between world capitals until the Yugoslavian crisis is resolved.
The ITAR-TASS news agency reports indicate that last night Chernomyrdin phoned President Yeltsin and updated his patron on results of the trip.
BELARUSSIAN PARLIAMENT SUPPORTS ACCEPTING YUGOSLAVIA AS A MEMBER OF THE RUSSIAN-BELARUSSIAN UNION
Russian Television (RTR), “Vesti” program, May 5, 1999, 14:00
Today, the House of Representatives of the Belarussian National Assembly endorsed the decision of the Yugoslavian parliament on joining the Russian-Belarussian Union. A resolution was adopted in which the president and the government of Belarus are asked to consider all aspects of the matter.
HANDGUNS ON UKRAINIAN PLANE IN MOLDOVA
NTV (Independent Television), “Segodnya” program, May 5, 1999, 12:00
Moldovan customs officials seized a Ukrainian plane filled with light weapons today. Citing a press release of the National Security Ministry, local media reported at first that the plane would soon be released, but this did not happen. An investigation turned up some evidence that make legal aspects of the transportation dubious.
Belonging to Air Lines, a private Ukrainian company, the plane was chartered by Hungarian Airlines for transportation of Hungarian-made handguns. The weapons belonged to a Hungarian company with a proper license issued by the government of that country.
The cargo was sent from Budapest to Burgas, and its owners requested a stopover for refuelling in Kishinev and indicated that the plane was carrying oil equipment. When the Ukrainian AN-26 plane landed, however, they declared the presence of 5,000 handguns.
The owners maintain that the cargo consists of personal weapons, which therefore cannot be described as “firearms and ammunition” and do not need special permission. Moldovan customs is clearly of a different opinion. The plane was detained precisely because it lacked the necessary permission from the state commission.
Furthermore, the number of handguns in the AN-26 differs from the figures specified in the contract on arms deliveries from Hungary to Yemen.
The Moldovan prosecutor’s office has instigated criminal proceedings, viewing the cargo as smuggled goods. The handguns are estimated to be worth $350,000.