Izvestia, March 15, 2002, p. 2

The government discussed and passed the volume of investments in the gas industry in 2002. Gazprom is allowed to spend 140.8 billion rubles on developing gas deposits and various “gas” construction; independent gas produces – 16.2 billion. And it means that gas prices will go up in the middle of the year. By the middle of March the government managed to approve all the investment programs of natural monopolies for this year.

The major question still remains unanswered: if the government will agree to raising prices on gas and electricity, or only to increasing tariffs. Judging by the fact that the investment programs for gas producers were approved in corpore, re-consideration of gas prices is inevitable. Otherwise, it is obscure where Gazprom will get money for their think investment program.


Izvestia, March 15, 2002, p. 3

President George Bush said at a news conference on foreign affairs that he hopes to sign an agreement on nuclear arms cuts during his visit to Russia in May.

Nikolai Zlobin, director of Russian and Asian programs of the Defense Information Center: “Both parties have come closer to a compromise. But Washington is still anxious about possibilities to actually control this process. They say that in Moscow there are Vladimir Putin and Sergei Ivanov, but beneath the highest political level there is unpredictability: people like Kvashnin and Ivashov. That is why they want this agreement, but they will not hurry to sign it until they get guarantees of monitoring. However that may be, the visit of Sergei Ivanov was a success.”


Moskovskaya Pravda, March 15, 2002, EV

Yesterday Mosenergo tried again to cut off electricity to the State Scientific Center for Applied Microbiology in Obolensk.

According to the press service of Mosenergo, the institute has not paid for electricity since 1998.

Representatives of the scientific center assure that consequences of shutting electricity off are unpredictable. The matter is that the institute has the “first rate of pathogen”. This is the most dangerous of the four existing rates, since anthrax, plague and other fatal viruses are studied there. If electricity is cut off in the middle of some experiment, lives and health of many people will be in danger.


Moskovsky Komsomolets, March 15, 2002, p. 2

The lawlessness of the army exceeds any limits imaginable. Even the veterans cannot recall so many people deserting with weapons. Both new recruits and experienced soldiers desert. The army and naval units, border posts and units of the interior forces are taking the lead in desertions with weapons.

Two serious emergencies at once marked the last day. Private Arkady Muratov of the railways Forces became the first to “distinguish.” He assumed the guard in the town of Partizansk (the Primorye territory) on Wednesday evening – he was supposed to guard a depot of fuel and lubricants. At 4.30 a.m. Thursday he was missing. A deserter, 18, vanished from the post with a machine gun and 60 bullets.

As usually happens in similar cases, Muratov’s commanders are at a loss now: the guy has served six months and nobody has noticed anything strange after him. Naturally enough, the officers primarily reject the version of harassments over the young soldier. However, as the practice shows, in 80 cases from a 100 the hazing induces the guys to desert from the units.

The interception plan Sirena has been announced in the Primorye territory. Police and military posts have been placed to all roads.

No sooner had the military recovered from the events of Partizansk, than another serious incident happened to a guard in Chechnya. A soldier of the 674th Regiment of the Internal Troops, who was on duty in the Leninsk district of Grozny (his name is not disclosed yet), shot a teenager. The incident was provoked, the military sources at Khankala said: having approached the checkpoint, Ibragim Akhmadov started throwing stones at the guard. In response, the guard opened fire without hesitation… Later on, two used shells of 5.45 caliber and an abandoned Kalashnikov automatic rifle were found there.

As we went to print, the Internal Troops Main Command had not confirmed this report.

“We do not know what kind of a teenager he was or what ‘stones’ he had in his hands,” says Internal Troops spokesman Vasily Panchenkov.