|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Mankind Needs Nuclear Power, Say Russians
June 7 (EIRNS)The third International Forum ATOMEXPO-2011 opened June 6 in Moscow, with representatives from international organizations, individual nations, and U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who is on a week-long trip to Russia. It is entitled, "Development of Nuclear Power: Pause or Continuation?"
In what AFP described as an "impassioned defense of atomic energy," Rosatom head Sergei Kiriyenko stated in his opening remarks: "In the next 10 years, nuclear power is a necessary condition for the safe and stable development of the world economy.... Nobody has the right to stop a country from gaining access to this reliable and stable source of energy.... Nuclear power is the locomotive of the innovative development of mankind."
Although there will be discussions during the conference on the safety and security of nuclear plants, as a fallout of the Japanese situation, Russian representatives stress that they have the most advanced nuclear technologies in the world. Kiriyenko said that the forum should recognize that it is "new technologies that will ensure security of nuclear power plants," and set guidelines for the development of the world nuclear industry. One roundtable session will discuss education, the problems the nuclear industry comes up against in machine building, and new uranium-production technologies.
On the last day of the Forum, it is reported, the Russian Foreign Ministry and Rosatom will sign an agreement to assign Rosatom envoys as diplomats to several Russian embassies.
Russian Duma Speaker Urges Total War on Drugs
June 8 (EIRNS)A strong voice against drugs, the speaker of Russia's State Duma, Boris Gryzlov, said the country should declare a "total war on drugs." In a country of 141 million, there are 6 million addicts (1 in 25 people). Gryzlov stated that the drugs kill 100,000 every year. "We are standing on the edge of a precipice," he said. "Either we squash drug addiction or it will destroy us, because the problem threatens Russia's gene pool."
Gryzlov, along with Victor Ivanov, head of the Russian Federal Narcotics Control Agency, had been the strongest voice against the Afghan heroin that is flooding Russia and destroying its youth. In September 2009, addressing the Group of Eight meeting of parliamentary speakers at Rome, he had said: "I propose considering the issue and finding an acceptable format ... to address the UN to include tasks and responsibility to eliminate drug-containing crops as well as the drug production infrastructure in Afghanistan into the international forces' mandate." Gryzlov said Russian parliamentarians have to state that anti-drug efforts in Afghanistan are clearly not enough. "Moreover, there could be an impression that the effect is even inversein the past eight years opiate production in Afghanistan grew more than 40-fold," he said.
Under legislation promoted by the United Russia party and now being reviewed in parliament, drug addicts will be forced into treatment or jailed, and dealers will be handed heftier custodial sentences. "The barons of narco-business must be put on a par with serial killers with the appropriate punishment in the form of a life sentence," said Gryzlov.
The Soros-linked organization, such as Andrei Rylkov Foundation president Anya Sarang, immediately attacked Gryzlov, saying that "sending more people to prison will not reduce drug addiction or improve public health." "What we need instead of this harsh drug-control rhetoric is greater emphasis on rehabilitation, substitution treatment, case management for drug users, and protection from HIV," she added.
Russian Official Urges International Fight Against Afghan Drugs
June 10 (EIRNS)Addressing the Asia-Pacific Security Summit at Singapore on June 5, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said the international community should classify Afghan drugs as a threat to peace and security, because they have become an important source of funds for the Taliban and other insurgent groups
"We are not happy with what the world community is doing in the anti-drug war" in Afghanistan, Ivanov said. "The whole international community and, first of all, those who took the responsibility for ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan, namely the International Security Assistance Force, should make a strong commitment to fight this drug threat," Ivanov said. Russia is ready to "make several counter-drugs rings around Afghanistan to intercept drugs," he said, without elaborating.
Ivanov said that while the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s may have ultimately failed, it did succeed in cracking down on the drug trade by burning the fields and providing economic alternatives to local farmers. He said today the international community should follow the Soviets' example.
"The Soviet Union invested money in cultivating normal agriculture and then buy the products, the agricultural products at a price higher than the market," he said. The Deputy Prime Minister's comments were seen by many at the conference as a criticism of the U.S.-led coalition of NATO states fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Russia Keen To Develop Mongolian Railroad
June 10 (EIRNS)Vladimir Yakunin, CEO of the Russian Railways monopoly OAO, stated that Russia is prepared to invest $1.5 billion to develop a train network to help boost trade between Russia and Mongolia.
Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj was in Russia recently, meeting with President Dmitri Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. One of the key issues under discussion was the development of an additional 5,700 kilometers of rail track, a project is now at the bid stage, but it is likely that Russia will be awarded the contract.
The planned network eventually will stretch directly from Tavan Tolgoi to China and Russia, and will extend the railroad west and north to link with untapped metals deposits, according to Eurasia Capital, Mongolia's biggest investment bank.
Russia is moving quickly into the Mongolian mining sector. Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom director Sergei Kiriyenko told journalists that an agreement signed by the Russian and Mongolian governments to establish a uranium mining enterprise Dornod Uran is moving forward despite delays, Agentstvo Voyennykh Novostey news agency reported.
The landlocked nation's drive to lay 5,700 kilometers of track across the country and to Russia's Far Eastern ports, stands to benefit such companies as Australia-listed Aspire Mining Ltd. (AKM) and Canada's Prophecy Resource Corp. (PCY), said Richard Harris, chief executive officer of Hong Kong-based Quam Asset Management.
"The missing link in the Mongolian gold rush now is transportation infrastructure," said Roland Nash, who helps manage about $150 million of Russian stocks at Moscow-based hedge fund Verno Investment Management Ltd. The key for the Mongolians is to attract investments from as many different countries as possible to lessen their dependence on China.