From Volume 37, Issue 42 of EIR Online, Published Oct. 29, 2010
Russia and the CIS News Digest

Pirates of the Caribbean Detail New Privatization in Russia

Oct. 21 (EIRNS)—Reflecting the ongoing poisoning of Russian policy by British free-trade doctrines and the people who implement them—the "Pirates of the Caribbean" clique of financial interests operating in Russia, while registered in British-run offshore zones—the Russian government has released more details of the privatization binge announced by Sub-Prime Minister Alexei Kudrin in August.

Following a closed-doors meeting with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov yesterday revealed more on the biggest planned privatization since the 1990s, intended to raise up to 1.8 trillion rubles ($60 billion) by 2015. Total or partial stakes in up to 900 companies are to be sold, including 15% of the state-owned oil company Rosneft and, in 2013-15, up to 25% of Russian Railways (earlier said by the Economics Ministry to have been off the list).

Kudrin has said that up to $30 billion raised in 2011-12 would go chiefly for budget-balancing purposes—because, since 2008, Russia has already spent nearly all of its previous oil and gas export-derived Stabilization Fund earnings on the rescue of teetering banks and large companies—and to fill budget holes. As of yesterday's meeting, the time frame has been extended by two years and the money-raising target doubled.

"They'll have trouble selling it," Lyndon LaRouche said at the time of Kudrin's announcement in August, adding that the approach of trying to attract foreign streams of money, stemmed from the "British Intelligence penetration of Russia." Since then, Kudrin has been named Finance Minister of the Year by Euromoney magazine.

Shuvalov said the government may sell part of its 51.2% stake in Aeroflot-Russian Airline. He said Russia was prepared to privatize Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport, but needed time to integrate all three Moscow airports into one hub, which he admitted could not be achieved through privatization. A 100% stake in the United Grain Company and 50% minus one share in the state-owned shipping company Sovkomflot, will be offered during the next three years.

"We're sending investors a clear signal for the next three years, and we're prepared to discuss the sale of even larger stakes," Shuvalov was quoted in Russian media. Smaller pieces of the Federal Grid Company (electricity), RusHydro, Rostelecom, and Rosagrolizing (agricultural leasing operations) are on the list. Shuvalov confirmed that stakes in the state-owned banks Sberbank, VTB, and Rosselkhozbank (the agriculture bank) will be for sale, including up to 50% minus one share of Sberbank, the state savings bank, which has the country's largest deposit and loan base. He said the government might yield control of VTB.

While Shuvalov made these announcements in Moscow, 1990s privatization orchestrator Anatoli Chubais, the former "young reformer" deputy premier who now heads the Rosnano nanotechnologies venture, arrived in San Francisco to entice U.S. "venture capital" into an increasingly privatized Russia.

LaRouchePAC organizers had a vocal and visible presence outside the Russian-American Business Council meeting addressed by Chubais and fellow oligarch Victor Vekselberg (head of the Bahamas-registered Renova Group, as well as Medvedev's Skolkovo "modernization" project), with a large banner saying "Free Russia from the Pirates of the Caribbean" in Russian.

Russian-German Maglev Plan Comes under Attack in Poland

Oct. 19 (EIRNS)—Ongoing talks between Russian Railways and German officials on building a magnetically levitated train line between Berlin and Moscow are advanced enough to have come under attack in the Polish Parliament by members of Jaroslaw Kaczynski's opposition Law and Justice Party (PiS). Many in the PiS remain staunchly opposed to the warming of Russian-Polish relations, led by Prime Ministers Vladimir Putin and Donald Tusk, after the plane crash last April near Smolensk in which President Lech Kaczynski, the PiS leader's brother, died, along with 95 others.

The Polish daily Nasz Dziennik yesterday reported that Artur Gorski, a PiS Member of Parliament, has submitted a parliamentary question, aimed against construction of a maglev line between Germany and Russia, across Poland. Gorski demands that Prime Minister Tusk "present the government's position" on plans to build it. Calling the project "an unprecedented undertaking," if it happens, Gorski says that such a line "would connect an EU member country with a state which is not part of the EU organization, while cutting across Poland."

Gorski says that Russian Railways CEO Vladimir Yakunin touched on the plan for a maglev line between Moscow and Berlin, through Minsk and Warsaw, in a Sept. 20 speech in Berlin. Yakunin reportedly referred to the possibility that Russia's Gazprom might co-finance the project. In his parliamentary question, Gorski notes that the issue had been raised during the July 13-15 Petersburg Dialogue session in Yekaterinburg, attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Putin. In his view, this means that "Germany and Russia are serious about doing this."

The article includes various spurious arguments from Polish sources against maglev trains as being "too expensive," and against this particular scheme as being geopolitically motivated and disadvantageous to Poland, because the maglev line would allegedly be "extraterritorial," i.e., crossing Poland but not stopping, just as Gazprom arranges some of its pipelines. Nonetheless, Nasz Dziennik quoted Prof. Ryba of the Catholic University in Lublin, saying that Poland could "earn transit fees, and the Tusk government has the ability to go for this if they want to, since Poland is a transit nation."

The article also quoted a spokesman for the Polish national railway company, Polskie Linie Kolejowe (PKP), who said PKP would not rule out taking part in the project. "Major investments like building a transcontinental rail trunk require international agreements on the route, and a system for financing the construction. I would not exclude the participation of PKP in the investment process," PKP press secretary Krzysztof Lancucki said.

Russia Offers to Build Floating Nuclear Plant for Indonesia

Oct. 19 (EIRNS)—While discussions are ongoing with Russia to build a conventional nuclear power plant in Indonesia, that country is also a good candidate for a floating nuclear plant, because it as a "country of many islands," said Russian State Duma official Igor Igoshin, Pravda reports today. The first floating nuclear plant, the Akademik Lomonosov with two 25MW reactors, is scheduled to be deployed in Russia's Kamchatka Region in 2012. Pravda reports that if the floating plant were used for desalination, it could produce 240,000 cubic meters of freshwater a day.

Kadyrov Accuses London Over Attack on Chechen Parliament

Oct. 20 (EIRNS)—Chechnya's President Ramzan Kadyrov, a close associate of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, has accused London of harboring Chechen separatist mastermind Akhmed Zakayev, who was behind the terrorist attack on the Chechen Parliament and on the Ministry of Agriculture building on Oct. 19 that killed six people. Zakayev was given asylum by Britain in 2003 and lives in London.

"The authorities in London and Warsaw are harboring criminals. Why do they shield bandits who have shed blood where there is western democracy? Where is the justice? Let them send their representatives and we will prove Zakayev's guilt. Sooner or later Zakayev, Gakayev, Umarov, Vadalov and other criminals will get what they deserve. We will get our hands on them," Kadyrov said in a press release after the attack.

Under the direction of the UN High Commissioner on Refugees, and pressure brought by the British Intelligence-founded Amnesty International and George Soros's Human Rights Watch, many anti-Russia Chechens are now being settled in the outskirts of Warsaw, Poland. Last month, a World Chechen Congress was held in Warsaw, with Zakayev in attendance.

Britain's deployment of Chechens against Russia operates at very many levels. While Zakayev represents Chechen nationalism and Amnesty International attacks Moscow for human rights violations against the Chechens in Chechnya, Britain also runs the Chechen jihadi groups through a number of Islamic terrorist groups that function from Britain. The most important of these is the Saudi-funded Hizb ut-Tahrir (HuT). Many HuT members are well-trained Chechens who migrated to Jordan more than a hundred years ago.

Lyndon LaRouche's March 29 statement on the Moscow subway bombings attributed to Chechen radicals, titled "Look to British Intelligence behind the Moscow Bombings," was widely circulated and currently appears on close to 1,500 web pages in Russian translation.

Ivanov Warns Of 'Catastrophic' Consequences Of Obama Drug Policy

Oct. 23 (EIRNS)—Russia's top anti-narcotics official, Victor Ivanov, gave an interview to Foreign Policy magazine yesterday, in which he lambasted the Obama Administration's failure to shut down the Afghan opium trade, and warned that if California legalizes marijuana in the upcoming ballot referendum, it will have "catastrophic" consequences. Ivanov was in the United States last week for his sixth meeting with his U.S. counterpart, White House anti-drug director Gil Kerlikowske. Before his Washington meetings, Ivanov traveled to Los Angeles to oppose the marijuana legalization ballot initiative.

Next week's issue of EIR Online will report in depth on Ivanov's intervention.

All rights reserved © 2010 EIRNS