Izvestia, September 20, 2000, p. 2
On September 19, the Moscow City Court ruled that it is legal to keep American citizen Edmond Pope, accused of espionage, in prison. The US Consulate’s requests to let him out on bail was turned down. It is not ruled out that on Friday the case of the American “spy” will be sent to court, since the investigation is finished already.
The main argument the defense put forward, insisting on releasing Pope, was a deterioration in his health. According to his lawyer Pavel Astakhov, the former personnel officer of the US Naval Intelligence has bone cancer, and his disease is growing progressively worse.
The Federal Security Service (FSB) does not deny that Pope has cancer, but its representatives assert that his disease is not growing worse. Moreover, not long before the trial Pope was examined by Russian doctors, including oncologists. Their conclusion was presented to the court and evidently played its role.
BORDER BETWEEN RUSSIA AND KAZAKHSTAN
Izvestia, September 20, 2000, p. 2
On September 19, the final conference of the governmental delegations of Russia and Kazakhstan on delimitation of the state border stretching along the Saratov Region took place in Saratov. According to the protocol signed after the meeting, the length of the Russian-Kazakh border in the Saratov Region is about 7,500 kilometers. According to participants of the meeting, this border will not separate the peoples; but, on the contrary, will unite the fraternal states. Meanwhile, in the first half of 2000 alone, almost 90% of drugs confiscated in the Saratov Region came from Kazakhstan.
ACCIDENT IN TESTING AREA
Moskovsky Komsomolets, September 20, 2000, p. 1
Last week the Defense 2000 exercises were held at a testing area in the Astrakhan Region. At these top secret exercises there was an accident. A missile of the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system collapsed without even having taken off. After the missile loaded with a combat warhead left the container, its engine failed and it collapsed into the launcher. The missile managed to turn over and buried itself in the ground. By some miracle the warhead did not explode. If there had been an explosion, the outcome would have been horrible, since there was another launcher 200 meters from it. This launcher would have surely detonated and burst. The number of likely casualties is hard to imagine.
This was the first case when a Russian anti-aircraft system failed. There is no surprise that all circumstances of this accident are kept secret. According to our sources, people were evacuated from this area, and the missile was to be exploded together with the launcher.
GORBI DEFENDING NTV
Moskovsky Komsomolets, September 20, 2000, p. 2
Relations between NTV and Gazprom have entered a phase of opposition. Now it is clear that Vladimir Gusinsky, head of Media-MOST, intends to fight until victory. The scandalous Supplement No. 6 of the contract between Gazprom-Media and Media-MOST is treated differently by each party.
On September 19, the NTV Public Council appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin to grant an audience to Chairman of the NTV Public Council and former President of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev.
TWO STAGES OF RETRIEVING KURSK SAILORS
Trud, September 20, 2000, p. 1
Vladimir Putin has approved a plan for retrieving the bodies of the Kursk sailors.
The operation will have two stages. In October and November 2000, Russian and Norwegian divers will raise bodies from the non-destroyed compartments of the submarine.
The second stage envisages raising the submarine itself, and its transportation to the dock. This operation will be performed in late summer or autumn 2001 and will cost Russia $45 million. American, English, Norwegian, and Belgian contractors are applying to assist Russia in this operation. So far, the Russian side approves of the plan proposed by a Belgian firm.
The bodies of other sailors can be taken from the submarine only after it is raised, since they are blocked between distorted metal parts.
FUEL AND ENERGY SECTOR ENTERING 21 CENTURY
Tribuna, September 20, 2000, p. 1
On September 20, the tenth international congress devoted to new science and technologies for the oil and gas industry, power engineering, and communications was opened. This congress is sponsored by the Russian president under the aegis of the UN. The Russian Academy of Technological Sciences is its main organizer.
Attention of participants of the congress is focused mostly on transnational pipelines Yamal-Europe, the Blue Stream, Kovykta-China, the Baltic Pipeline System, the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, etc. A number of projects on developments of new deposits are also being considered at the congress.
WILL PARLIAMENTARY IMMUNITY BE RESTRICTED?
Parlamentskaya Gazeta, September 20, 2000, p. 1
Currently, the government is trying to prove that the Duma should adopt the 2001 draft budget without any amendments. Simultaneously, deputies are working on a number of other notable bills. For instance, they intend to consider the bill on election of deputies to the Parliament of the Russian-Belarussian Union State. This election is roughly scheduled for the second half of 2001, and it is necessary to prepare a legal basis for it.
Another bill that is sure to arouse a lot of dispute is the bill on cancellation of immunity from criminal prosecution for Duma deputies, senators, and officials of regional administrations. There is no uniform opinion about this bill in the Duma, and therefore the debates on this document will be tense.