Rossiiskaya Gazeta, March 27, 2002, p. 1
On March 26 Deputy Defense Minister Lyubov Kudelina, head of the Main Military Finance and Budget Department of the Defense Ministry, gave evidence at the trial of General Georgy Oleinik.
General Oleinik, the former chief financier of the Defense Ministry is accused of abuse of authority connected with signing an order transferring money to a Ukrainian company. The construction materials specified in the contract, to a value of over $300 million, were never delivered to Russia from Ukraine.
Kudelina answered questions related to the circumstances of $450 million being transferred to pay for material-technical resources. The money was transferred from Ukraine as repayment of its debts for gas supplies from Russia.
Kudelina said that she had not participated in drawing up two contracts which involved seven parties. She said that in May 1996 Senior Deputy Finance Minister Andrei Vavilov offered her the chance to take part in work on a contract between Ukraine and the Russian Defense Ministry. However, she refused, saying that a Cabinet decision ought to be available for such issues “as a guarantee of executing deliveries for the Defense Ministry.” However, when working on an annual report for 1996, Kudelina figured out that the contract had been signed and $250 million had been transferred. She found out about the second contract only two weeks later. After the signing, and on Vavilov’s orders, she sent an order for the appropriation of $200 million more to the treasury.
SHOKHIN MAY QUIT THE DUMA
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, March 27, 2002, EV
Our sources say Alexander Shokhin is planning to resign his Duma seat, and intends to make the corresponding announcement on March 27. According to our sources, Shokhin prefers a businessman’s career to the lawmaking activities in the lower house of parliament: he is to leave the Duma in favor of an office at Renaissance Capital.
Most likely, Shokhin’s decision to quit the Duma is connected with the recent appointment of Sergey Ignatiev as chairman of the Central Bank. Being an active participant in the banking reforms, Shokhin apparently hoped that he would be placed in charge of the Central Bank. However, this was essentially impossible.
It would have made no sense for the Kremlin to replace the independent Viktor Gerashchenko, an uncompromising professional, with almost-as-independent Shokhin – who is not a member of any of the currently active political forces.
It seems there will be a major battle for the Duma committee on credit organizations and financial markets, currently headed by Shokhin. However, taking into consideration the inclination of the centrists to change the Duma’s structure and cut the number of committees and commissions, it should not be ruled out that this committee could cease to exist, merging with the budget committee, as before.
COMMUNISTS WANT SKURATOV AS PRESIDENT OF BURYATIA
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, March 27, 2002, EV
According to Duma deputy Sergey Budazhalov, senior secretary of the Buryatian Republican Committee of the CPRF, the Communist Party branch in the republic of Buryatia has advised the federal Communist Party to consider nominating Yuri Skuratov for president of Buryatia.
Following his failure to become a member of the Federation Council, Skuratov decided to switch to the “regional level”, while remaining involved in federal politics.
Skuratov is starting to prepare for the elections already. He is expected to visit his region of origin – Buryatia – in the near future, in connection with anniversary celebrations at the Buryatian State University. Skuratov, a former prosecutor general, holds a honorary professorship at the university. According to Budazhalov, the nomination might take place in the first ten days of April.
However, the Communists are virtually generating a split in the bloc of left-patriotic forces of Buryatia. Their main “partners” within the Buryatian branch of the National Patriotic Union of Russia (NPUR) are ambivalent about the idea of nominating Skuratov. Moreover, the city council of veterans in Ulan-Ude has already declared its support for incumbent President Leonid Potapov, according to the Union of Women of Buryatia, which is part of the regional branch of the NPUR. Thus far, the trade unions have not made any statements, but their thoughtful silence makes it possible to assume that they also take a critical view of the CPRF’s idea to “nominate Skuratov”.
PRIME MINISTER SYNCHRONIZING WATCHES IN HANOI
Tribuna, March 27, 2002, p. 1
Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov arrived in Hanoi on March 26. There he will discuss Russia’s trade with Vietnam and sign agreements on Russia lending $100 million to finance construction of two hydro-electric power stations, and on cooperation in nuclear energy, meteorology, and medicine. He will also discuss the status of the former Russian naval base at Cam Ranh Bay. Russia insists on this base being used for peaceful purposes only; as distinct from Washington’s plans to make it a permanent base for vessels of the US Navy.
Russia is also concerned about Vietnam’s arms market. Moscow is ready to supply up-to-date fighters and helicopters, ships, air defense and communication systems. Moreover, Russia is in favor of increasing the number of Vietnamese military specialists being trained in our country. In Soviet times, over 13,000 Vietnamese military experts were trained in the USSR.
PILOT OF A CRASHED SU-27 PLANE SURVIVES
Izvestia, March 27, 2002, p. 3
On March 26, a Su-27 plane crashed 40 kilometers north of Vladivostok, at 4:17 p.m. local time. The disaster occurred over the suburb of Kiparisovo. Fortunately, there were no casualties.
Viktor Rutsky, attendant on duty at the headquarters of the Civil Defense and Emergencies department of the Primorye territory: “Immediately after take-off, within two minutes, a Su-27 plane vanished from the radar screen. The pilot managed to eject – he is alive and well, he was evacuated by helicopter and taken to the unit.”
The plane which crashed belonged to the Air Force. It was on a planned flight from the military airfield of Uglovoye near Vladivostok. A commission to carry out a service investigation has been set up at the headquarters of the 11th Army of Air and Air Defense Forces of the Far East military district.