From Volume 6, Issue 22 of EIR Online, Published May 29, 2007
Russia and the CIS News Digest

Russia Reopens Lawsuit Against BONY Cronies of Gore

May 18 (EIRNS)—The Russian Federal Customs Service (FCS) filed a $22.5 billion claim on May 17 against the Bank of New York, related to the money-laundering scandal of 1999, where the bank played a central role in secret transfers. Readers of EIR will remember that the case directly involved the Russian friends of then-Vice President Al Gore.

Vladimir Zubkov, FCS deputy head of external affairs, said the claim, related to unpaid taxes on money taken out of Russia, was filed in the Moscow Arbitration Court. A U.S. investigation looking into the case, which goes back to the radical free-market era of the late President Boris Yeltsin, was closed in the United States in 2005, after the bank admitted criminal conduct and reached a $38 million settlement with Federal prosecutors.

Rice and Putin Agree Only on 'Toning Down'

May 14 (EIRNS)—The only agreement that came out of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's May 15 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin was "to tone down the rhetoric in public statements, and concentrate on concrete business," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced. Rice stuck to the Cheney-Bush provocative policies on missile defense in Europe and Kosovo separatism. Lavrov told reporters, "Our stance on missile defense was reaffirmed," and, as for Kosovo, while "it was agreed to search for a solution on Kosovo independence that could be acceptable for all ... there is no such solution immediately in sight."

Russia Formally Suspends Arms Control Treaty For Europe

May 23 (EIRNS)—Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov told a May 23 Moscow press conference that Russia has declared a moratorium on the CFE (Conventional Forces Reduction in Europe) treaty, according to the Russian television program Vesti 24. The statement is a response to provocations from the West, which include plans to station U.S. anti-missile systems in eastern European nations along Russia's border. Ivanov said that Russia will no longer abide by the treaty, until all signatories have ratified it. Russia will not host any foreign inspectors on its territory, nor notify foreign governments about troop movements.

Also on May 23, Foreign Minister Lavrov, visiting Austria together with President Vladimir Putin, said that an "emergency conference on the future of the CFE treaty is urgent."

Japan and Russia Agree To Bridge Hokkaido, Sakhalin to Mainland

May 17 (EIRNS)—Speaking at a May 17 meeting of the Russian Federation Council Commission for Natural Monopolies in Irkutsk, Vladimir Klimenko, head of the Russian Railroads department for liaison with federal and regional authorities, announced that Japan is ready to invest about 300 billion rubles ($12 billion) to construct a railroad link between Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island, and the Russian island Sakhalin. Plans already exist for a tunnel under the 43-km-wide Laperouse Strait. There are also plans for a tunnel or bridge to link Sakhalin to the Russian mainland, a distance of 7 km. Klimenko said that Russian Railroads and the Sakhalin authorities are preparing applications for funding from the Russian Investment Fund. This rail link is a prominent part of the famous Eurasian Land-Bridge map published in the 1997 EIR Special Report on the "New Silk Road," along with the recently activated Bering Strait Tunnel plan.

At the same meeting, Klimenko said that Russia would need to spend 61.2 billion rubles (about $2.5 billion) to upgrade the Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) until 2020, where cargo traffic is expected to double by 2015. Some sections will have to be double-tracked and electrified, he said. Russian Railroads can allocate only 2 billion rubles to invest in the BAM 2007-09, and needs investors.

Ivanov Sees 'Military-Industrial Complex' As Locomotive

May 21 (EIRNS)—Russia's military-industrial complex will be the "locomotive" for rebuilding the industrial economy and breaking away from dependence on oil exports, First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said in Moscow on May 18. "Generally, there is every reason to call the military-industrial complex the locomotive of diversification" from oil and gas exports, he said. This "locomotive," which accounts for 30-35% of domestic production, is the key to "re-establishing Russia as a strong, thriving and influential government," Ivanov told members of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs at the Baumann Institute of Technology in Moscow, Itar-Tass reported.

Ivanov, formerly defense minister, now runs 26 federal projects, primarily for industry and technology. He said that the equivalent of some $50 billion will be invested in these projects over the next three years, which he called "an impressive sum." The projects will focus on innovation in transport and nanotechnology.

Siberia: Sleeping Resource Giant About To Awaken

May 18 (EIRNS)—"We've got rich reserves of just about the whole periodic table," Alexander Khloponin, governor of Siberia's Krasnoyarsk region, told the Financial Times May 18. In what some are calling the "new industrialization," Khloponin told a conference in Krasnoyarsk in February that more than 300 investment projects, totalling $400 billion, were planned for Russia by 2015-20—two-thirds of it destined for east of the Urals.

Khloponin warned that those projects could not succeed without massive state infrastructure investment—in road and rail links, airports, housing, services—estimated at $150 billion. These are vital, Khloponin said, to attract new settlers and reverse a declining Siberian population.

Russian Official: HIV Spreading Rapidly

May 15 (EIRNS)—The number of Russians registered as infected with AIDS is rising by 8 to 10% a year, the head of the Russian federal AIDS center, Vadim Pokrovsky, announced at a press conference in Moscow on May 15. Up to 1.3 million people are infected with HIV, he said, and not only is that number rising, but "there is an increase in the rate at which the epidemic is spreading." Many of the new users are neither intravenous drug users nor homosexuals. Women made up 44% of the new infections last year. And, while, nationally, one out of every 50 males is infected with HIV, in some cities, the rate is now as high as one out of every ten males, with St. Petersburg being the worst affected, Pokrovksy stated, according to a Reuters news report.

AIDS is just one of the more devastating factors feeding the demographic collapse ongoing in Russia, which for several years has seen its population shrink by more than 1 million a year, "more than double the rate of loss during the period of Stalinist repression and mass famine in the first half of the 1930s," as Russian economist Sergei Glazyev pointed out in his book Genocide. Russia and the New World Order, published in English by EIR in December 1999.

Ungovernability: Ukraine in Turmoil

May 25 (EIRNS)—Crisis in Ukraine escalated May 24, when President Viktor Yushchenko, installed by the 2004 Bush-Cheney "Orange Revolution," fired General Prosecutor Svyatoslav Piskun, because of Piskun's alleged "political views," widely understood to be loyalty to the Prime Minister, Viktor Yanukovych, the key rival to Yushchenko. Piskun—who has been twice fired and reinstated by Yushchenko himself, forced himself back into his own office, protected by officers of the Interior Ministry. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (a U.S. government-supported news agency) claims that "pro-government" (i.e., Yanukovych) forces of the Interior Ministry clashed with officers of the "pro-presidential [i.e., Yushchenko] State Protection Directorate," putting Kiev into turmoil.

Prime Minister Yanukovych rushed back to Kiev from a trip, and the Ukrainian Parliament was rapidly called into session to attempt to deal with the crisis. Interior Minister Vasili Tsushko called the firing of the General Prosecutor, "an attempted coup d'etat."

By late afternoon on May 25, Yushchenko had signed a decree mandating that the Interior Ministry troops report directly to him, instead of to the government, reports the Russian news service RIA Novosti. There were reports of troop movements, the next day.

However, by May 27, emergency meetings between Yushchenko and Yanukovych had led to an agreement to hold elections in September, thus for the moment avoiding a civil war.

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