|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Russia Will Build Floating Nuclear Plants
Academician Yevgeni Velikhov, head of Russia's Kurchatov nuclear research center, announced June 12 that the Russian Atomic Energy Agency was about to sign a contract with the Sevmash company, for construction of a prototype floating nuclear plant. The plant, with a small reactor, can be transferred to any distant site by water routes. Its production will proceed like any vessel, in a shipyard owned by Sevmash in the Arkhangelsk Region.
Velikhov emphasized that this could bring electric power to energy-poor regions of the north. Nuclear industry official Sergei Obozov elaborated to RIA Novosti on June 14, that floating power stations are being planned for Kamchatka, Chukotka, Yakutia, and the Krasnoyarsk region, which are all in Siberia or on the Pacific Ocean.
Velikhov also voiced optimism that the first thermonuclear-fusion power plant can be built at the end of the 2020s. The technology applied will be the design by Velikhov, for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) 500MW project in Cadarache, whose construction will begin in 2007.
Russian Leaders Address U.S. Economic Weakness, Possible Monetary Changes
The 10th Annual St. Petersburg World Economic Forum took place the week of June 12. Originally set up to be a "Russian Davos," the event this year was addressed by a good portion of the top Russian leadership: President Vladimir Putin, Deputy Premiers Dmitri Medvedev, Sergei Ivanov, and Alexander Zhukov, among others.
Featured June 14 in the government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta was the speech by First Deputy Premier Medvedev, whom Putin last year put in charge of his National Projects (hard and soft infrastructure areas, and agriculture, within Russia). Medvedev took this opportunity to address broader questions, specifically some ideas about near-term changes in the world monetary system. He called for "a safer financial system, in which there is no dominant currency." According to Rossiyskaya Gazeta's summary, Medvedev said it could not just be a question of shifting to the euro as a reserve currency, but there should be "several reserve currencies," from countries with high growth rates, and the ruble could become one of them.
Opposition economists like Sergei Glazyev have long advocated shifting oil and other trade transactions to ruble-denominated exchange, and President Putin has made comments in the direction of broader use of the ruble. What was evidently new in Medvedev's presentation, was his presenting the need for far-reaching monetary changes, as being necessitated by the economic crisis, including in the USA: "The current state of the economy in the United States, the issuer of the world's sole reserve currency, raises concerns."
NATO Maneuvers Wrecked by Crimea Protests
The last of 200 U.S. Marine Reservists, who had come to the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine to take part in NATO's Sea Breeze-2006 maneuvers in the Black Sea, left the Port of Feodosiya on June 12, and were airlifted to Germany. Mass protests, sustained since May 27, had made it impossible to unload the materiel they brought. A U.S. Embassy spokesman in Kiev told wire services that the Sea Breeze maneuvers were essentially blocked from taking place. The website of Natalia Vitrenko's Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, which co-initiated the anti-NATO picketing, celebrated the departure as a victory against "NATO occupiers."
Orange Revolution Redux Flops
On June 12, Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine movement announced that attempts to put together a government in alliance with the Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko and the Socialist Party, have definitively failed. Nownearly three months after the electionsYushchenko is calling for talks on a broader coalition.