POACHER VESSEL SUNK IN RUSSIAN FAR EAST
Rossiyskaya Gazeta, February 23, 2001, p. 2
Russian border guard troops have sunk a poacher vessel near the Kuril Islands. The Albatros-101 vessel did not respond to the request by the Pagella border guard patrol boat. Border guard patrol ships and planes pursued the intruder for a whole day. A border guard plane eventually opened fire on it. The poacher vessel caught fire, but it continued trying to escape pursuit. A second plane fired on the vessel at 5 a.m. Moscow time. The vessel sank on the border of Russian waters.
The poacher vessel’s crew of 28 were rescued by a patrol boat. They said the captain had drowned. This may be a lie; the captain could be disguised as an ordinary sailor.
This is the second border violation in the past day. Border guard patrol boats also pursued the SMT-17 vessel, which managed to escape to Japan.
RUSSIAN MONEY TO FOREIGN BANKS
Moskovsky Komsomolets, February 23, 2001, p. 1
According to our sources, the government is preparing to relax hard currency regulations. It is proposed to allow Russian citizens to open accounts in foreign banks. In addition, it is planned to reduce the proportion of hard currency revenues which exporters must sell for rubles: from 75% to 50%. This measure would help keep consumer prices down.
According to Duma deputy Alexander Shokhin, people should be able to take their money out of Russia legally. However, it is possible that plans to relax hard currency regulations will not be implemented – so don’t be in any hurry to open an account with a foreign bank.
RUSSIA WILL NOT FIGHT FOR IRAQ
Moskovsky Komsomolets, February 23, 2001, p. 2
The Duma condemned US-British air strikes on Iraq at its meeting on February 22.
The deputies had to discuss two versions of their official statement. The first version called for Russia to unilaterally lift sanctions against Iraq, and reconsider the missile technologies control program and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. The second version is more realistic: Russia should not lift sanctions against Iraq. However, Moscow should make the UN do this. The president should make an official statement, and the Foreign Ministry should inform the UN about the president’s decision.
The first version was defended by Alexei Mitrofanov, a member of the LDPR faction headed by Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Most Duma deputies called his proposal a provocation. If Russia lifts sanctions against Iraq, the UN may impose sanctions on Russia.
The second version was supported by the majority of the Duma factions and the Foreign Ministry.
THE FSB SEIZES UDUGOV’S ARCHIVES
Tribuna, February 23, 2001, p. 1
A team from the Voronezh division of the Federal Security Service (FSB) has found separatist leader Movladi Udugov’s archives near a Chechen village in the Argun canyon. The archives consist of about 150 videotapes of tortures and executions.
In addition the FSB found many pamphlets with appeals to kill “Russian swine” and specific hit-lists naming officers of the FSB, the Interior Ministry, and the Defense Ministry.
GREF WORKING ON A DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM FOR THE NORTH CAUCASUS
Izvestia, February 23, 2001, p. 3
The economic services of regional governments within the Southern federal district, and officials of federal ministries, are working on a federal program for developing the North Caucasus. The program will be submitted to the Cabinet in March.
Victor Kazantsev, presidential envoy for the Southern federal district, called the prime minister and the president in order to invite Economic Development Minister Herman Gref to the Rostov region. Gref visited the region last week. It seems that regional authorities have managed to convince Gref of the need to pass the program. Gref said that despite the foreign debt burden, the program will receive state funding.
The program aims to increase budget revenues within the Southern federal district by 300%. Coal, oil, and gas extraction will increase. Agricultural output should increase by 50% in comparison with 2000. Every year, 15-20 million people will visit resorts in the North Caucasus. Over 700,000 jobs will be created in all branches of industry.
CHECHEN GUERRILLAS PROMISE MORE TERRORIST ACTS
Trud, February 23, 2001, p. 2
Chechen separatist leaders are threatening more bombings to mark the anniversary of the deportation of the people of Chechnya during the Stalin era. Aslan Maskhadov has asked all his supporters to strengthen opposition to the federal forces. According to the military, guerrillas may try to seize Gudermes and the villages of Kurchaloi and Tsentoroi.
Urus-Martan and Grozny are surrounded by additional federal units. Akhmed Kadyrov, head of the government of Chechnya, has prohibited any demonstrations on February 23. Local observers do not consider such measures excessive. According to the special services, terrorists are distributing leaflets with appeals to organize unrest in the villages. Family members of separatist guerrillas have received a total of $250,000 from Maskhadov for participating in demonstrations.
The separatists are receiving money and weapons via Georgia. According to the special services, the federal forces cannot block the Russian-Georgian border completely. The extremists use mountain paths for transporting money, weapons and mercenaries.