RUSSIAN WARPLANES WRITE OFF KYRGYZSTAN’S DEBTS
Izvestia, December 6, 2002, p. 2 EV
President Vladimir Putin arrived in Bishkek yesterday – to show support for President Askar Akaev of Kyrgyzstan and assess the progress made on building a Russian airfield. Putin was expected to visit the Kant airfield, but he decided to limit himself to hearing a report from Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, who had inspected the facility.
Officially, the airfield is a joint project for all member nations of the CIS Collective Security Treaty. In reality, it is a Russian project.
Presidents Putin and Akaev discussed details of the use of the Kant airfield. The main points – the number of planes to be stationed there, and payment terms – have been agreed upon and are known; however, the agreements specifying all the details are only likely to be signed next spring. Moscow will pay for using the airfield, but payment is likely to take the form of writing off some of Kyrgyzstan’s debts. Around $150 million – not much, from Russia’s perspective, but quite significant for Kyrgyzstan, with its billion-dollar foreign debt and declining economy. It is believed that around two-thirds of Kyrgyzstan’s debts to Russia will be written off in exchange for the use of the Kant airfield.
The Kant airfield is only 30 kilometers from an American base at Manas.
Ivan Safranchuk, director of the Moscow office of the International Defense Information Center: “At first, the Defense Ministry was greatly concerned about the Americans showing up within Russia’s traditional influence zone. However, it has subsequently become clear that although the Americans will be there for a long time, they will not stay forever.”
CHECHNYA VETERANS BANKRUPTING THE INTERIOR MINISTRY
Izvestia, December 6, 2002, p. 3 EV
Legal action taken by police troops after their tours of duty in Chechnya is threatening to bankrupt those who sent them there – regional directorates of the Interior Ministry. The Interior Ministry has been slow in paying out combat pay; large numbers of police troops are turning to the courts; the courts are ruling in their favor; and regional branches of the federal Treasury are withdrawing the corresponding sums from the bank accounts of the Interior Ministry’s regional directorates. As a result, other police troops in many Russian regions – those who haven’t served in Chechnya – are experiencing wage payment backlogs running into several months.
In the Novgorod region, the number of lawsuits filed by Chechnya veterans against the Interior Ministry recently exceeded 500. The region’s courts have already issued decisions in their favor to the tune of over 31 million rubles.
Sergei Chernei, head of the education and personnel directorate at the Interior Ministry in the Novosibirsk region: “As at October 1, 2002, 470 lawsuits filed by Interior Ministry personnel who have served in Chechnya had been considered. Their total value is almost 15 million rubles.”
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, December 6, 2002, EV
Denmark’s refusal of Russia’s request for the extradition of Akhmed Zakaev, emissary of Aslan Maskhadov, has drawn a strong response around the world.
Sergei Fridinsky, deputy prosecutor general for the Southern federal district, explained Russia’s stand on the matter yesterday: the Prosecutor General’s Office can see no legal foundation for Denmark’s refusal to extradite Akhmed Zakaev.
According to Fridinsky, Denmark “failed to understand how the witnesses could know of the circumstances involved”. Fridinsky says that in order to understand this, it is necessary to study the documents relating to the case carefully.
Fridinsky: “I don’t know what further evidence is required, when you have a person stating that his fingers were shot off by Zakaev himself.”
And Denmark was presented with plenty of such materials detailing the criminal activities of Zakaev – around 200 pages.
According to Fridinsky, the Prosecutor General’s Office intends to seek Zakaev’s extradition, wherever he may be. Fridinsky said that Zakaev is still wanted, and the international warrant for his arrest is still outstanding; he added that more and more evidence is coming in against Zakaev.