TWO GANGS FOUND IN ST. PETERSBURG
Tribuna, April 19, 2000, p. 1
Officers of the St. Petersburg Department of the Federal Security Service (FSB) have uncoverd two gangs that were trading in weapons and ammunition. Overall, 12 people have been arrested.
One of the gangs was led by a cadet of the St. Petersburg police force. In the gangs there were also several weapon-hunters who were engaged in seeking and restoring weapons on World War II battlegrounds.
During the search a great deal of weapons were confiscated from then criminals. There were new and restored cartridges, explosives, homemade knives, and a lot of fascist symbols and literature. It has turned out that all the members of the gangs belong to a St. Petersburg ultra-nationalist organization. This organization is also suspected of involvement in a number of murders and robberies.
REFUGE OF ALIENS IN NEVADA?
Komsomolskaya Pravda, April 19, 2000, p. 3
A Russian satellite has found a top secret American base, whose existence has been officially denied until now.
For the first time, five pictures of Area 51, a base of the US Air Force, have been published on the Internet, at www.terraserver.com. According to ufologists, the US military has hidden UFO remains there. Previously, there was only a photo of the site taken from space in the 1960s; but it was too indistinct.
The high-resolution photographs were taken from a satellite that was launched from Baikonur two years ago, as part of a joint project of Microsoft, Kodak, and the Russian Sovinformsputnik agency.
HOW MANY TERRORISTS HEADING FOR MOSCOW?
Komsomolskaya Pravda, April 19, 2000, p. 2
A few days ago, Federal Security Service (FSB) officers arrested a group of terrorists in the North Caucasus. The group consisted of four Karachais, who were armed and equipped with explosive devices; they intended to go to Moscow via Karachaevo-Cherkessia and Mineralnye Vody.
Currently, the terrorists are in the Lefortovo prison. But according to some rumors, this was not the only gang that was heading for Moscow. Another gang was moving via Dagestan.
The FSB press service has refused to confirm this rumor, stating that there is no official information about this as yet. However, it says that FSB investigators may obtain such information from interrogations.
In any case, it is not known how many subversive groups are moving toward Moscow at the moment. We only know that all the terrorists were trained in Khattab’s terrorist center “Caucasus” and once served in Achimez Gachiyaev’s detachment. It was Gachiyaev who organized the explosions in Moscow last fall.
SBERBANK INTEREST RATES FALL AS PENSIONS RISE
Moskovsky Komsomolets, April 19, 2000, p. 1
On April 15, Vladimir Putin signed a decree on compensation payments to pensioners, according to which monthly pensions will be increased by 100-160 rubles beginning from May 1, 2000. At the same time, the minimum pension will be increased to 400 rubles a month. The financial source for this measure is the Pension Fund. Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matvienko has reported that pensions will be increased by 7%. She has also promised that the amounts of the pensions are based on the financial capacities of the government.
On April 11, Sberbank unilaterally reduced the rate of interest on pension deposits from 28% to 18.5% per annum. It is an open secret that it is pensioners who keep their scanty savings in this bank.
Recently the authorities promised to bring the average pension up to 1,000 rubles a month, the maximum pension to 1,500 rubles, and the minimum pension to 550-600 rubles by the middle of 2000. Where will the government get the necessary money this time? Who will it take this money from?
COUNTERINTELLIGENCE GROWS MUSCLES AT THE EXPENSE OF GOVERNMENTAL LIAISON WORKERS
Moskovsky Komsomolets, April 19, 2000, p. 1
To all appearances, one of the intentions of the Russian authorities for the near future is to merge the Federal Agency for Governmental Liaison and Information (FAGLI) and the Federal Security Service (FSB).
According to our sources, the mechanism of the merger is now being developed. In all likelihood, in the structure of the FAGLI only the Main Department for Governmental Liaison may be modified. Other departments will be included in the new special service without any changes. They will have to service both governmental liaison and counterintelligence. As for the Main Department for Governmental Liaison, a small agency servicing the president only will be created on its base. This agency will be subordinate either to the president or to the presidential chief-of-staff. Other departments and agencies of the Main Department for Governmental Liaison will be included in the joint special structure.
The worst problem connected with the merger of the FSB and the FAGLI is the fate of the FAGLI generals. In the time of the KGB, there were only four generals in the Main Department for Governmental Liaison, the 8th Main Department, and the 16th Main Department (these departments made up the framework of the FAGLI). Currently, there are dozens of generals there. In all likelihood, after the retirement of the current generals, their positions will be occupied by colonels.
SUBSTITUTE FOUND FOR RUSHAILO
Moskovsky Komsomolets, April 19, 2000, p. 2
According to our sources in the Presidential Administration, Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo could actually soon be dismissed.
A new candidate for this position is being openly discussed in the Kremlin corridors. The most likely candidate is Pyotr Latyshev, the current Deputy Interior Minister. The major police forces are subordinate to Latyshev now. He manages the police of social security, transport public order agencies, special facilities guards, etc.
Besides everything else, Pyotr Latyshev is on friendly terms with Dmitry Kozak, head of the governmental apparatus and Vladimir Putin’s friend. It is Mr. Kozak who has apparently suggested the candidacy of Pyotr Latyshev for this position.
PRIMORYE IN THE DARK
Trud, April 19, 2000, p. 1
Progressive power cuts lasting for many hours have been resumed in Primorye (Maritime Territory, Russian Far East). The central dispatching service of the Dalenergo electricity supply company has reported that the length of the cuts may increase to 6-8 hours a day.
The electricity shortages are caused by a decrease of power production at the Primorye power plant.
The situation at Dalenergo is extremely tense, because of lack of money for fuel. Enterprises of the Primorskugol stock company have practically discontinued coal mining for the same reason.
The current energy crisis, caused by consumers’ payments arrears, is likely to become the longest one. This crisis may lead to severe consequences for the economy of the territory.
CIS INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES GATHER IN MOSCOW TO FIGHT TERRORISM
Izvestia, April 19, 2000, p. 2
On April 18, an extraordinary meeting of the intelligence agencies of CIS countries began in Moscow. Intelligence agencies of the former Soviet Union have assembled in Moscow in order to discuss a package of counter-terrorist measures.
Following military and border guard bodies, intelligence agencies are to discuss and endorse a program for fighting international terrorism and other aspects of extremism for the period until 2003, as well as an inter-state program of joint measures for fighting crime in 2000-03.
The aforementioned documents are not only a set of intentions, but a list of specific obligations by the parties. In particular, intelligence agencies of CIS countries are undertaking an obligation to implement joint special operations for preventing terrorist and extremist crimes. Participants in the programs will seek sponsors of terrorists, sources of finance, weapons, equipment, and mercenaries. They will also be engaged in looking for training camps, bases, etc. Work on creating a joint database will certainly be continued. It is planned to introduce the second stage of the database of the CIS.
DUMA TO REPLACE THE SECRETARY OF THE STATE AUDITING COMMISSION
Independent Television, Segodnya, April 18, 2000, 14:00
It is possible that on April 19 the delayed and complicated process of replacing the secretary of the State Auditing Commission will be over. At the morning meeting of the Duma Council, all factions agreed that on April 19 the deputies will appoint a new secretary of the Commission. Former prime minister Sergei Stepashin remains the only candidate for this post. It is not likely that current Secretary of the State Auditing Commission Khachim Karmokov will retain his position. Seleznev’s decision to thank Karmokov for his work before the end of the meeting of the Duma Council can serve as an indirect indication of this. The references of the Unity faction and the LDPR leader, who is the most sensitive indicator of the Kremlin’s mood, testify in Stepashin’s favor.
Boris Gryzlov, Unity faction: “The Unity faction has considered Stepashin’s candidacy and will support him tomorrow.”
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, LDPR leader: “The post is very important, which is why Stepashin will receive a very good post and will have to display his capabilities.”
Stepashin as potential secretary of the State Auditing Commission was inconvenient only to the Communists and Agrarians. But the CPRF refused to comment on tomorrow’s vote, and the leader of Agrarians spoke about the views of his colleagues rather evasively.
Nikolai Kharitonov, leader of the Agroindustrial group: “We understand the intention of certain forces to gain control over the State Auditing Commission, which is why certain political circles will do their best to secure the job for Stepashin.”
On Friday the Duma will try to make use of the positive momentum which appeared during ratification of START II, and try to pass another significant international treaty – the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Dmitry Rogozin, Secretary of the Duma Committee for International Affairs: “This treaty must be considered within the framework of START II and the documents connected with the ABM treaty.”
It is no secret that this treaty, like START II, will be accompanied by a series of discussions and conditions, and will become a new instrument of political battle, though not as efficient and notable as its predecessor.
CHECHEN GUERRILLAS LACK WEAPONS
Independent Television, Segodnya, April 18, 2000, 12:00
During the past week the federal forces in Chechnya have been relying on special forces which raid the territory at night, make ambushes, search and destroy groups of armed guerrillas. On April 17 they destroyed a convoy transporting weapons. Last night they found an armed group on the border with Dagestan. This group attacked checkpoints of the Interior Troops.
According to the command, the main groups of armed rebels headed by Basaev and Khattab are concentrated in the Vedeno and Shatoi districts. The number of guerrillas is about 2,000-3,000. The main task the federal forces face is to support groups of special forces when they find groups of rebels. They have to blockade and destroy them.
In addition they have to seek out weapons and ammunition depots and food stores. For this purpose Chechens usually use containers which they bury in the ground or hide in caves. All this must be destroyed.
According to weapons specialists, Chechens use weapons produced in the 1980s. As a rule they use Kalashnikov machine guns. Specialists say that Chechen rebels are having problems with weapons supplies.
FATE OF GROZNY WILL SOON BE DECIDED
Independent Television, April 18, 2000, 14:00
A governmental commission for restoring Grozny begins its work on April 18 in the Chechen capital. The results of the work of the commission will be reported to the government. The decision on whether to restore the city will depend on the approximate cost of the work.
The ruined city has an oppressive air. All representatives, including the representatives of international organizations who have visited Grozny, noted this. Earlier, unofficial reports used to appear in press according to which it would be cheaper to move the Chechen capital to some other city, because large sums of money are needed for restoring Grozny. It is evident that this issue will be solved at the highest level after the commission finishes its work in Grozny.