Izvestia, July 31, 2002, p. 4

A conference on international terrorism and extremism in the Russian Far East opened yesterday in Vladivostok. Representatives of nine countries are taking part in it. Russia is proposing to create an international anti-terrorism center in Primorye (Maritime territory), for all the countries of the Asia-Pacific region.


Izvestia, July 31, 2002, p. 3

ITAR-TASS has quoted Major-General Sergey Kirichenko, police chief of the Kaliningrad region, as saying that for the first time in the region’s history, someone has been charged with inciting ethnic hatred. The accused is a 38-year-old Kaliningrad resident who works for a construction firm. He was distributing propaganda leaflets “of a fascist and anti-Semitic nature”, placing them in mailboxes. A great amount of neo-Nazi literature and materials was confiscated during the search. Charges were laid under article 282 of the Criminal Code: inciting ethnic, racial or religious hatred. The penalty could be a fine or imprisonment for two to four years.


Izvestia, July 31, 2002, p. 1

A Federation Council delegation has visited the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, and proposed some modest gifts. They are saying it is necessary to give back the land once owned by the Russian Orthodox Church, noting that the Church owned a great deal of land before 1918. Ivan Starikov, chairman of the Federation Council’s agriculture committee, has proposed to transfer land from the state reserve fund to the Russian Orthodox Church and other faiths. Although Patriarch Alexiy II has spoken about the restoration of church property expropriated by the Bolsheviks, he does not wish to appear as a supplicant. However, according to Starikov, the Patriarch approved of the idea of restoring farmland to the Church.


Rossiyskaya Gazeta, July 31, 2002, pp. 1-2

Dmitriy Rogozin, special presidential envoy for the Kaliningrad region and chairman of the Duma foreign affairs committee, has reported to President Putin on the issue of Kaliningrad.

Rogozin investigated the negotiations with the EU, consequences of the visa procedure establishment in the Kaliningrad region, possibilities and options for resolving the problem. According to Rogozin, the president agreed with most of conclusions.

Rogozin: “We should communicate with the EU without using the terms which are popular with the Russian patriotic audience. Both sides should feel that they are not losing face. It is necessary to find a compromise which will let Europe have all the guarantees of its border security, get all the information concerning the transit of foreigners across its territory and territories of the EU candidates. The most important thing for Russia is to have easy access to the Kaliningrad region. It is possible if all the control procedures remain. The right of Russian citizens to go to Kaliningrad and the right of Kaliningrad residents to travel back and forth between their region and the rest of Russia should not depend on the wishes of any European officials, or the weather.”


Inostranets, No. 27, July 30, 2002, p. 6

The official casualty figures of the federal forces in Chechnya from August 1999 to July 2002 have been updated; they now stand at 4,249 killed and 12,285 wounded. In comparison, the USSR lost 13,000 killed in Afghanistan over 11 years. The result of these calculations is that the federal forces in Chechnya are losing about 1,500 personnel a year; compared to Afghanistan losses of 1,000 a year for the Soviets.

Besides, the official information concerning the battle casualties is changing all the time. For example, in January 2001 Deputy Interior Minister Golubev stated that the Interior Troops alone had lost 2,700 killed. In May 2001 Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said that the casualties of the regular army amount to 2,026 killed. If we sum up all these figures, the regular army and Interior Troops had lost 4,726 killed by last May, not counting all the other security forces involved. Besides, the last official statement says the army lost 32 killed between July 15 and July 22.

That January the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers stated that, according to its sources, federal casualties in Chechnya over two years of war had included 6,500 dead. It should also be noted that not all of the 12,000 listed as wounded recovered; some died in hospital, but they are not included in the casualty figures.


Izvestia, July 31, 2002, p. 3

US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made a statement yesterday which can be considered an “ideological foundation” for the inevitability of a ground war with Iraq. Rumsfeld spoke at a meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Suffolk (Virginia), saying that Iraq’s chemical, biological, and probably nuclear weapons are hidden in special shafts, so air strikes would be useless. Rumsfeld considers it necessary to invade Iraq; and only US troops can neutralize Saddam Hussein’s arsenals.

Rumsfeld’s statement is the latest and probably the most significant argument in the debate between the moderates (e.g. Secretary of State Colin Powell) and hardliners. Rumsfeld doesn’t doubt that Iraq has all these kinds of weapons and it is necessary for the US to take the offensive, the sooner the better.

Iraqi Ambassador in Russia Abbas Halaf Kunfud: “We have information concerning the Pentagon’s plans. The Americans know that our people are ready to repel their attack. Washington is not only going to destroy our cities and villages. It is going to destroy the state infrastructure, and bring our oil production under its own control. I think Washingtons understands that our people are not afraid of air strikes. Most likely, they will try to conquer our country with the help of ground troops; but the experience of 1991 shows that this is almost impossible. Our army is very well trained and armed. As for the US statements concerning weapons of mass destruction, I hereby state that we do not have any, and have never had any.”

The “World Tribune”, citing Kuwaiti newspaper “Ar-Ray al-Amm”, has reported that Kuwait is preparing for war against Iraq. The government has released a two-year plan for counteracting a possible Iraqi invasion. This document was prepared in cooperation with US specialists.