Izvestia, January 19, 2001, p. 2

Defense Minister Igor Sergeev is on a two-day visit to Ukraine. Sergeev said the main goal of his visit is to establish and strengthen military contacts between Russia and Ukraine.

Sergeev has discussed global and regional issues with his Ukrainian counterparts: from European security and missile defense to the problems of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the Crimea. The latter problem is the most urgent for Russia. A month ago, Vladimir Putin and Leonid Kuchma discussed this topic in Moscow. The presidents agreed that the debt of the Black Sea Fleet to Ukraine ($10 million) will be repaid by writing off part of Ukraine’s debt to Russia ($3 billion in total).

The presidents also discussed joint projects on new weapons. This would involve designing new types of missiles, radar systems, tanks, and more. There are plans to build several new cruisers and frigates for the Russian Navy at the Nikolaev shipyard in Ukraine, the former leader in Soviet shipbuilding.


Moskovsky Komsomolets, January 19, 2001, p. 2

There are rumors that former president Boris Yeltsin has been taken to the Central Clinical Hospital because of high blood pressure. We contacted the Presidential Medical Center, and a well-informed source told us: “Boris Yeltsin is at his residence. As for these rumors, they arise because Yeltsin often visits the hospital. Recently he received treatment for cataracts.”


Moskovsky Komsomolets, January 19, 2001, p. 2

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov thinks the situation with the NTV television network is alarming. He says “the people need independent media” which should reveal any “mistakes or crimes committed by the government”…

Luzhkov hopes the Kremlin understands this, and will not “accept the end of NTV’s existence as an independent network”. NTV views its right to sell its shares to anyone it chooses as the main component of its independence. Ted Turner’s intention to buy into NTV has displeased the Kremlin; Turner says he is waiting for President Putin’s reply. According to Turner, the president has not yet guaranteed that the government will not intervene in the news policy of NTV. On the contrary, Anton Titov’s arrest seems like a serious warning (the chief finance officer of Media-Most was detained this week at the General Prosecutor’s Office, and is now sharing a cell with Andrei Kozlenok, a notorious “gem thief”).


Moskovsky Komsomolets, January 19, 2001, p. 2

Political circles are discussing the theory that Media-Most owner Vladmir Gusinsky allegedly asked the US and Switzerland to arrest Pavel Borodin – in order to “exchange” him for Gusinsky. Considering that this theory has been put forward by Gleb Pavlovsky, the Kremlin’s political consultant, it is clear that such rumors are advantageous for the Kremlin. Putin’s favorite phrase can be used as a reply to this theory: “Everyone should be equal before the law.”


Rossiyskaya Gazeta, January 19, 2001, p. 1

Russia has joined the sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council on the Taliban movement on December 19. Strictly speaking, Russia doesn’t have any contacts with the Taliban.

Major-General Alexander Markin, Chief of the Russian Border Guard Service in Tajikistan, told us: “The Taliban controls Afghanistan territory along the sector patrolled by the Pandzh border guard unit. There are a lot of so-called Afghani refugees near the border, some of whom are armed. But this problem should be solved by the governments of Tajikistan and Afghanistan. We have never contacted the Taliban concerning this issue, or any other issue.”


Rossiyskaya Gazeta, January 19, 2001, p. 1

Pavel Borodin’s arrest at the airport in New York has drawn an immediate response from Moscow and Minsk. The Russian Foreign Minister summoned US Ambassador James Collins and handed him a note of protest.

President Vladimir Lukashenko of Belarus said Borodin’s arrest is an extremely anti-social action by the United States.

Boris Bikinin, head of the Security Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Russian-Belarussian Union, considers this arrest “an attempt by certain forces in the US to prevent the integration of Russia and Belarus”.