Tag Archives: Vladimir Putin
A decade after Chechen militants seized a Moscow theatre in a hostage crisis which left 130 people dead, victims’ families are still seeking answers about use of a deadly gas by Russian forces to end the siege.
A total of 912 people, many of them children, were held hostage in the Dubrovka theatre for three days after coming to watch Nord Ost, a popular musical, on October 23, 2002.
The crisis ended on October 26 when Russian special forces filled the building with an unknown gas to neutralise the attackers, who had threatened to blow up the venue unless Russia pulled its troops out of Chechnya.
The effects of the gas killed 125 people, as well as the 40 attackers who were shot after being knocked out by the gas. The hostage-takers themselves killed five people.
The bloody end to the siege, two years into Vladimir Putin’s presidency, damaged his image as it appeared his regime had not made it a priority to prevent the deaths of the trapped civilians.
Survivors and victims’ relatives remain highly critical of how the authorities handled the crisis.
“We sat without moving in our seats right next to the stinking orchestra pit which had been transformed into a toilet,” a former hostage who wanted to be identified only as Oleg told AFP.
“We were exhausted after three days without food or water,” and were waiting for an assault as “our only chance to be liberated from that nightmare”.
But what followed was “chaos,” he said.
“Ten years have gone by, but so many questions are still unanswered,” said Natalia Kurbatova, whose 13-year-old daughter Kristina, one of the young stars of the musical, was among those killed.
“Why didn’t the authorities negotiate with the militants’ leader, at least to let the children go? What was the gas that killed our loved ones?” Kurbatova demanded.
“I still don’t know how she died,” she said in an interview with AFP. Her daughter was only found in the morgue the day after the security forces stormed the building.
Medical aid to the exhausted hostages who inhaled the gas was poorly organised, said survivors, with most of the deaths resulting from suffocation rather than from explosions or gunshots.
Russian courts however have systematically rejected lawsuits from the former hostages, who have blame the authorities and demanded compensation.
Last December, the European Court of Human Rights ordered Russia to pay 1.25 million euros ($1.6 million) to 64 claimants, including ex-hostages and relatives of those killed during the siege.
“The gas didn’t kill people right away, and many people died because they weren’t properly tended to,” said lawyer Igor Trunov, who represented the Nord-Ost victims in court.
“The doctors didn’t know the composition of the gas. To this day it is classified. There wasn’t enough of the antidote. The ambulances didn’t have access to the building, and the hospitals weren’t ready to accommodate so many ex-hostages.”
While the Strasbourg court did not criticise Russia’s use of force and the noxious gas, it did highlight the lack of preparation for the rescue operation.
The European court ordered Russia to reopen its investigation into the victims’ deaths and possible negligence by officials, but Moscow’s powerful Investigative Committee has refused to do so.
Moscow has experienced more horrifying attacks since Dubrovka. A 2011 suicide bombing in its main Domodedovo airport killed 36 people and a double suicide bombing in the metro in 2010 killed 40.
A recent poll by the independent Levada Centre pollster found that 53 percent of Russians expect more acts of terror and hostage-takings.
“The main way to protect ourselves from attacks is the work of the special forces, using agents to infiltrate terrorist networks to prevent attacks,” said military analyst Alexander Golts.
“But I wouldn’t say Russia’s special forces have advanced far on that front,” he added.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]
Position: General Director of “Gazprominvestholding”
Born September 9, 1953 in the city Chust of the Namangan region, Uzbekistan SSR. In 1976, he graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (”MGIMO”), International Law department. After graduation, Usmanov worked as a junior researcher at the Center of Scientific Information in the presidium of the Academy of Sciences of the Uzbek SSR; he was a senior consultant for the Central Committee of Komsomol of Uzbekistan, Director General of Foreign Trade Association of the Soviet Committee for Defense of Peace (“SKZM”).
In the late 1980’s, he engaged in intense business activities. According to several media sources, in those years Usmanov was vice-president of Uzbek-Belgian joint venture “Vita” (Tashkent).
In 1990-1994 he worked as first deputy general director of JSC “Intercross” (according to other sources, he was president of JSC “Intercross”). In December 1992, he acted as the founder of the Moscow OOO “Company ‘Bars’ (Moscow)”, in June 1993 he became head of the finance and investment company AOZT “PRNB-Invest” (a subsidiary of the First Russian National Bank).
In August 1994, he became the founder of the AOZT “Goldkross”.
In 1994-1995 he was adviser to the director of the Moscow Aircraft Production Association (“MAPO”). In 1995 he became first deputy chairman of the MAPO-Bank. In 1994-1998, he led the Interbank Investment -financial company “Interfin” (ZAO “MIFK Interfin”), one of its founders was MAPO-Bank.
In 1997 he graduated from Finance Academy under the Government of Russia with a degree in Banking.
In 1997-2001, served in the Board of Directors of OAO “Arkhangelskgeoldobycha” (“AGD”) (according to other sources, in 1997 he became a member of the Board of Directors of “AGD-Invest”, and in 1998 – joined the Board of Directors in AGD.
In 1998 he became first deputy general director of OOO “Gazprominvestholding”, and in February 2000 he was appointed CEO of the holding.
In 1999 he became a member of the Board of Directors of ZAO “Arkhangelsk Almazy” (“Arkhangelsk diamonds”).
Starting from November 2000 to July 2001 was an adviser to chairman of Gazprom, Rem Vyakhirev.
In January 2005, he became co-owner of ZAO “Metalloinvest” – the former management company of Mikhailovsky GOK (“Mining and Processing Combine”) (MGOK), which had need acquired by Usmanov shortly before.
In August 2006, Usmanov became the owner of the publishing house “Kommersant” (he acquired both the media and the property owned by “Kommersant” with total area of 7.5 thousand square meters in Moscow and St. Petersburg). “Media holding” is listed as the owner of Kommersant – it is a registered overseas personal company of Usmanov. In December 2006, PB “Kommersant” and the company Metalloinvest also purchased some assets of PB “Sekret firmy” (“The secret of the company”) with its magazines: “The secret of the company,” “You have got the right”, “All is clear”, and the online newspaper Gazeta.ru.
On June 22, 2007 it became known that Usmanov had bought 75 % stake of the music channel “Muz-TV”. On August 30, 2007 he became co-owner of the London soccer club “Arsenal”. On September, 6 the businessman bought the American company Films by Jove and gave VGTRK the right to run 550 Soviet cartoons in the world (including “Cheburashka”, “Snow Queen”, “Mowgli”, “Hedgehog in the Fog”). According to some reports, the amount of the transaction amounted to 5.10 million dollars.
On September 17, 2007 the press reports appeared that the businessman bought a collection of paintings belonging to the singer Galina Vishnevskaya and her late husband, musician Mstislav Rostropovich. The singer was going to sell this collection at London auction Sotheby’s on September, 18-19. The deal amounted to 72 million dollars. On October 1, 2007 Usmanov officially announced the transfer of the collection of Rostropovich-Vishnevskaya to the Konstantin Palace in Strelna near St. Petersburg.
On May 7, 2008 the firm by Usmanov “AF Telecom Holding” and the IPOC Fund agreed to purchase through the Usmanov firm an 8 % stake in MegaFon and 58.9 per cent stake in Telecominvest, which, in turn, owned 31.3 % stake in Megafon . After the elimination of IPOC Usmanov has become the full owner of that share.
In June 2008, Usmanov and the owners of the company “SUP” (“Soup”), including the financier Alexander Mamut agreed to expand the partnership and exchanged their web assets. As a result, Kommersant received up to 50 % of “SUP” (which owned an Internet service LiveJournal), as well as an opportunity to appoint two members of the board of the company, and “Soup” became the owner of 100 % Internet-edition “Gazeta.ru”.
Usmanov is the executive vice-president of the British company Middlesex Holdings.
Usmanov’s company New Media Technologies was called the largest shareholder of the co-owner of one of Russia’s most popular social network “Odnoklassniki.ru” by the Company Digital Sky Technologies (DST). As of December 2009, the share of New Media Technologies in the company was 35 %.
In December 2008 he was elected president of the International Fencing Federation (FIE).
Usmanov is married. His wife Irina Viner is a head coach of Russia in rhythmic gymnastics. In December 2008, he was elected president of the All-Russian federation of the sport.
Source: lenta.ru (Updated on 22.12.2009)
In the world ranking of Forbes-2010 Usmanov has held the 100th place. His fortune by this year has been estimated at $ 7200 million; while in the last year it was $ 1600 million
Usmanov has two kids.
According to press reports, in 1980, Alisher Usmanov- the son of the prosecutor of Tashkent – was sentenced by a military tribunal of the Turkestan Military District for extortion. It was reported that his accomplice had been an operative of the special department of the KGB Nasymov, son of Vice-Chairman of the KGB in Uzbekistan. Usmanov was sentenced to 8 years of imprisonment in a penal colony with confiscation of property. After the scandalous trial fathers of both convicts lost their jobs. In 1986, Usmanov was released on parole “due to sincere repentance” and “for good conduct.” Subsequently, Usmanov said that he was a victim of political repression. There is no information on the circumstances of the crime committed by Nasymov and Usmanov because the criminal case files had been destroyed, according to the media: in July 2000, the Uzbek Supreme Court fully rehabilitated Usmanov and called the criminal case against him as fabricated.
Sources: “Sobesednik” on 23.10.2007, “The Company” from 14.08.2000
Since the late 90-s the press began to report on a close acquaintance of Alisher Usmanov with a lieutenant colonel of foreign intelligence in the KGB Yevgeny Ananyev, as well as with Sergei Yastrzhemsky, in 2000 he became assistant to Russian President Vladimir Putin. It was reported on the ambiguous relationship of Usmanov: his name was mentioned in one context with Sergei Mikhailov, known under the nickname “Mikhas” and was considered the leader of the Solntsevo OPG. It was also reported on Usmanov’s dealings with State Duma deputy Andrei Skotch and businessman Lev Kvetny (both appeared in the media as members of the Solntsevo OPG, first – under the nickname “Scotch”, the second – “Kvetnoy”), as well – with the North Caucasian mafia clan.
According to the press, Usmanov met Ananyev in the late 80’s. After graduating MGIMO Usmanov headed the firm “Association of the 8th day”, which as written in the media, arranged hunting rare animals in the Pamirs for wealthy foreigners. It was reported that one of the customers allegedly tried to recruit Usmanov. But he tipped about the queer client to deputy chairman of the KGB Uzbekistan, after which he met the officer of the 6th Directorate of the KGB, USSR – Yevgeny Ananyev. When Usmanov opened shop for production of plastic bags in the Moscow area based on Ramensky plastics plant Ananiev allegedly helped him avoid the second arrest, according to press reports. The local police became interested in the shop : according to some sources, the waste of which the packages had been made in fact was a first-class raw material from the factory.
According to the press, in April 1993 MAPO-Bank was established with the participation of the first Russian Independent Bank, Usmanov was in the board of directors there. The bank reportedly was needed to serve the financial contracts of the state enterprise generating aircraft MAPO “MiG”. It was also reported that by the request of Usmanov shortly before the establishment of MAPO-Bank Evgeny Ananievwas introduced to the surrounding of Vladimir Kuzmin, then head of MAPO “MiG” , and was appointed an adviser.
As written in the press, according to some data, the bank enjoyed the patronage of the then Vice-Premier Oleg Soskovets and the Chief of Security Service of President Alexander Korzhakov. In August 1997, Ananiev was appointed director general of Rosvooruzhenie by decree of Boris Yeltsin. As a result, according to the press, MAPO-Bank received a serious clientele in the face of the FSB, SVR(Foreign Intelligence Service) and Rosvooruzheniye.
As written in the media with reference to operational data, before the establishment of MAPO-Bank Ananiev had met with one of the most influential in Central Asia boss nicknamed Gafur (Gafur Rakhimov) in the country house of Usmanov . Reportedly, then Usmanov allegedly had met with a criminal leader Sergei Mikhailov several times.
According to the press, accounts of the FSB, SVR and Rosvooruzheniye were transferred to other banks because of strengthening the position of organized crime in the MAPO-bank. As reported, starting from August 1996 MAPO-Bank focused on serving the project on creation a financial-industrial group “AtomRudMet” developed with the participation of Usmanov.
According to the press, MAPO-Bank became the main bank of “AtomRudMet”, its authorized capital consisted of the collective funds. Citing the security sources, the press reported it was through the export flows of “AtomRudMeta” the foreign currency funds of the North clan had been transferred abroad. And then there was information that the “collective funds” of the North Caucasian clan having been located in MAPO-Bank for almost four years, was removed and transferred to one of the offshore zones. Then on February 16, 2000 the Bank of Russia decided to revoke the license for banking operations of the MAPO-Bank, according to official information, it was due to its “inability to satisfy the claims of creditors on monetary obligations”.
Source: “Version” from 20.06.2000
According to the press, Usmanov co-founded the Inter-bank investment-financial company Interfin, which became a shareholder in MAPO-Bank; he did so at the same time with the creation of MAPO-Bank
As reported, this time the partner of Usmanov appeared to be Andrei Scotch, a former head of the firm “Oka-Oil” – an oil products trader. Since 1999, Andrew Scotch was member of the State Duma. In the press there is evidence of Scotch’s involvement in the Solntsevo OPG. In early 2003, Usmanov said in an interview that the group “Interfin” was owned by three partners. As reported, he said those were him and Kvetnoy. The third one, as suggested by journalists, was Scotch. The media suggested that the latter was not named because of his parliamentary mandate.
Sources: “The Company” from 15.09.2006, “Kommersant” dated 22.07.97, Kompromat.ru
In 2003, as it was written in the press, Alisher Usmanov became the owner of an asset with a bad reputation. As reported that the fall of 2002, he sided with General Director of “Russian Aluminum”, Oleg Deripaska, in a struggle for possession of “NOSTA” – Orsk-Khalilovsk steel plant. On a par with Deripaska Usmanov created LLC “Ural Steel”, which in October 2003 purchased the assets of “NOSTA”. Media reported that since the beginning of the 90’s the owner of “NOSTA” (as well as Avtobank Ingosstrakh, etc.) was Andrei Andreev – former senior officer of OBKhSS. According to press reports, the participation of Andreev in the bank’s capital and the insurance company was camouflaged by offshores and cross-ownership. But attempts by Andreev to work in a highly competitive industries had not been supported by sufficient financial and administrative resources. As a result, in 2001 Andreev lost his business empire. The owner of its assets became the consortium, consisting of Basic Element, Millhouse Capital and Nafta-Moscow (Abramovich and Deripaska). As the press wrote, later the entrepreneur insisted he had not sold Avtobank, Ingosstrakh, Nosta and others, but that they had actually stolen them from him. Ingosstrakh stayed with Oleg Deripaska, “Nosta” came under the control of Alisher Usmanov. Avtobank became an integral part of Uralsib (Nikolai Tsvetkov).
Source: lenta.ru with reference to the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Development of 24.06.2004, “The Secret Companies» # 39 (174) on 23.10.2006, # 6 (141) on 13.02.2006
In 2004, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray publicly accused Usmanov of a number of serious crimes. It was reported that Murray had been British Ambassador to Uzbekistan in 2002-2004, then he accused the Uzbek government of violating human rights. Later he wrote the book “Murder in Samarkand”. In that book Murray wrote about the beginning of negotiations between Gazprom and Uzbekistan over the expansion of the gas trade. Citing its own sources, the author claimed that a key figure in this business had been an oligarch Alisher Usmanov. He had allegedly given bribes over 80 million dollars to President Karimov’s daughter, Gulnara Karimova (the company, in which she had interests, was listed in the media as a link between the management of Uzbekistan and Gazprom).
Source: newsru.com of 9.04. 2008
Murray wrote in an article posted in the British press that:
“Large sums for bribing ‘necessary” people had been sent through ‘Gazprominvestholding’ of Usmanov. Thus, in November 2004 they paid 44 million pounds to the president’s daughter Gulnara Karimova who allowed Gazprom to snatch a contract with Uzbekistan from the Americans. In exchange for the money Putin gave instructed Karimov to kick out the Americans from the military base that was controlling the Central Asian region, and Gazprom received a strategic bridgehead for hegemony over the gas reserves of Central Asia and Caucasus.
Source: “The Mail on Sunday” (Translation: InoSMI.Ru from 28.05.2007), “Sobesednik” on 23.10.2007
Press wrote that once the site of Craig Murray (at that time – the famous British blogger) came with the publication of allegations against Alisher Usmanov, web hosting company shut off several well-known political sites. As they explained in the hosting company, the work of the site of Craig Murray had been suspended due to the fact that “potentially dangerous defamatory material.” had been placed on it. And it was done after the London law firm Schillings had submitted the provider a demand to remove the contents of the site Murray, representing the interests of Usmanov in the UK.
Source: RB.Ru from 24.09.2007
In May 2005, as the press wrote, Usmanov made a “capture attack” on “Magnitka” – Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works (“MMK”). It was reported that the businessman had intended to subordinate the factory itself. But its leader Viktor Rashnikov proved intractable. The MMK historically lacked the proper raw materials, and Usmanov, “put” it on the “raw diet”. In May 2005, the supply of iron ore from the mining and concentration complexes (Mikhailovsky and Lebedinsk) controlled by Usmanov were stopped. Usmanov also persuaded the Kazakh colleagues, Sokolov-Sarbaiskoye mining production enterprise (“SSGPO” previously provided 70% of MMK) to join the “raw blockade” of Magnitka. As the press wrote, in a few days the largest company of the steel industry in the country, which share of Russian production was 20%, appeared to be without a supplier. MMK was on the verge of stopping. But, as reported, Rashnikov’s relations in the Kremlin helped him avoid a takeover by Metalloinvest.
Sources: “The Company” from 15.09.2006, http://www.met1.ru, http://www.metalloprokat.ru from 30.05.2005
In May 2005 the press reported that two months beforehand Usmanov had bought a luxurious mansion secretly in London, formerly belonging to the Emir of Qatar. It was reported that the house had been built in the style of the English Empire and was located in an area of 11 acres in North London. According to media reports, it was put up for sale in January 2004 for 65 million pounds. Usmanov paid much lower price – 48 million pounds, but he bought the estate which is still proved to be one of the most expensive real estate in the history of London. Journalists noted that, based on cadastral documents, Usmanov bought real estate through a company registered on the Isle of Man.
Source: The Sunday Times (Translation: Inopressa.ru from 19.05.2008)
In August 2006, Alisher Usmanov bought PH “Kommersant” from Badri Patarkatsishvili,which had been previously owned by Berezovsky. The press went burst with the publications of the cardinal change of the situation in the Russian media market. Media broadcast the views of analysts who suggested that Usmanov had been acting on behalf of Gazprom which since 2001 had been buying up the media in the interests of the Kremlin.
Source: Press Attashe.Ru of 31.08.2006
It was reported that Usmanov himself claimed that he had bought Kommersant at his own expense, for $ 200 million. Usmanov called the new purchase a “long-term investment in business which was new for him.
Source: Regnum from 31.08.2006
A number of analysts expressed the view in the press that the purchase of Kommersant confirmed the story of the task posed by the Kremlin to create media holding on the threshold of the forthcoming parliamentary (2007) and presidential (2008) election, which was to have credibility in the eyes of potential voters. National News Agency, for example, wrote that the purchase of Kommersant virtually ensured the victory of the current government in the upcoming elections, as the leading publications of the country had already been under the control commercial and governmental structures close to the Kremlin(Promsvyazbank, Gazprom-Media) Source: National News Agency of 25.12.2006
In October 2007 the press reported that the multinational diamond company De Beers accused Alisher Usmanov of fraud. It was reported that a subsidiary of De Beers – Archangel Diamond Corporation (ADC) – filed a lawsuit in the U.S. court to recover the losses incurred due to the ill-fated collaboration with a former business of Usmanov – Arkhangelskgeoldobycha (“AGD”). Press wrote that, according to plaintiffs, De Beers lost control over the diamond fields due to the fact that Usmanov deliberately had been buying its shares. According to media reports, the subject of the claim was a long-standing deal between the ADC (which owns a controlling stake in De Beers) and AGD (former company of Usmanov). Referring to the materials of the case, the press wrote that in the late 90’s De Beers became the majority owner of the diamond pipes named after Gribov in the Arkhangelsk region. According to the position of the plaintiffs, the shares of the pipes named after Gribov had been bought by Alisher Usmanov, and after some time the company was privatized. De Beers lost its access to the diamond fields. According to press reports, the plaintiffs pointed out that the deposit was explored in 1996, and Usmanov, served in the Board of Directors of AGD from 1997 to 2001.
It was reported that De Beers estimated its damage from the alleged fraud at 30 million dollars of investments. According to the press, the plaintiffs also argued that they had lost at least $ 400 million of guaranteed profits. According to the documents of the state of Colorado court, as journalists wrote, the position of ADCwas reduced due to the fact that Usmanov and other interested persons from Russia “had entered into a criminal conspiracy in order to mislead” the company “about the agreement on the right for 40% of the company which was having the right for exploitation.
According to press reports, hearings on the suit of ADC in the court of Colorado had to begin in November 2007.
Source: newsru.com of 8.10. 2007, The Sunday Times 08.10.2007, “version” of 20.06.2000
Media reported that on the day of the news appearance about the lawsuit in the court of Colorado, the press office of the businessman denied the message. As they explained to reporters, the information in the press did not correspond to reality, and Usmanov was not a defendant on the claims of the company ADC.
The representatives of the press-service said that ADC lost all claims against AGD filed in 1998-2003. AGD won the courts on the territory of Russia, as well as in the Stockholm court (Sweden) and in the district court of Denver (USA). According to the press service, the only case lasted in Colorado was against JSC “LUKoil (AGD was called subsudiary of the oil company). Meanwhile, as the press service told, during the trials the facts of fraud had been established committed by the persons representing the interests of ADC. For example, there were indications that the basic document ADC based its claim turned out to be false.
Source: “Times” of 08.10.2007
In late 2007, the press mentioned the wife of Alisher Usmanov – the legendary coach Irina Viner in connection with an ugly story. It was reported that she had appropriated to heself the roof of the luxury house at the street Krylatsky hills, taking 100 sq meters of the property. According to press reports, Irina Viner bought an apartment in 200 sq.m. in that house. The scandal burst because of the superstructure on the roof made by the coach without the consent of the other tenants. The heads of the housing cooperative “AlStar” filed a lawsuit to court.
As reported in the press, during the proceedings Viner allegedly said “I am not aware of what is happening there. I do not live at that address, but do repairs!”. The Kuntsevsky court granted the plaintiffs, ordering Viner to dismantle the substructure.
Source: “Express-Gazeta” on 02.10.2007
In early 2009, Usmanov’s name was mentioned in the press in connection with the development of Udokan copper deposit scandal. According to media reports, in September 2008 a subsidiary of Metalloinvest – Mikhailovsky GOK in a concession to Rostechnology received the right to develop this deposit. In early 2009, there were indications that ” Metalloinvest did not pay the remaining 10.5 billion rubles for the license to develop Udokan. In this regard, the press wrote that Metalloinvest seemed to find a powerful patron in the person of Deputy Head of Federal Agency for Subsoil Use, Vladimir Bavlov because the company offered a six-month delay in paying the rest of the amount. The press reported that because of the economic crisis Metalloinvest was going to reconsider the license conditions by changing the terms of the construction (from 7 years to 9-10 years) and payback period of mining-processing enterprise.
The press wrote that Usmanov has decided to seek assistance from the State Bank like several other oligarchs suffering a difficult situation. It was reported that the head of state corporation “Rostehnology” Sergey Chemezov was negotiating with Vnesheconombank for a loan of 10 billion rubles for the start of Udokan development. By the words of Chemezov, the funds were scheduled to be received by the spring of 2010.
Source: “Moskovsky Komsomolets” from 23.04.2009
According to media reports, in early 2010 the management of Metalloinvest argued that the company was showing signs of recovery. But it was reported that strup of the development of Udokan, which had been scheduled to begin in spring 2010, was postponed.
Sources: moscow-post.ru from 13.01.2010, expert.ru from 23.11. 2009
The press wrote that the business of Alisher Umanov suffered greatly from the economic crisis. The businessman does not deny this also. According to media reports, in 2009 Usmanov admitted that Metallinvest had huge debts. As of April 2009, the oligarch estimated them at $ 5 billion. In an interview with Vedomosti and Kommersant, he acknowledged that he was doing not very well. The press reflects the opinions of experts who believe that debts of Usmanov exceed 5 billion dollars. Journalists wrote that Usmanov was selling non-core assets. He has already sold 75% in the operator of the South Tambeyskoye gas condensate field. According to the staff of Center political conjuncture of the entrepreneur’s business structure have owed about $ 10 billion altogether.
Source: “Case of the Week” from 23.04.2009
Position: Advisor to Governor of Tula region
Korzhakov was born on 31 January, 1950 in Moscow. He comes from the family of workers.
In 1967-1968 he worked as a second-class assembly mechanic at Moscow Electromechanical Plant.
In 1969-1970 served in the Kremlin regiment.
In 1970-1989 he worked for the Ninth Chief Directorate of the KGB. He was engaged in protection of superior government officials. In 1971 Korzhakov joined the Communist Party and became a member of the party bureau and a member of the Komsomol committee of the Ninth Directorate.
In 1981-1982 he served in Afghanistan.
In 1985 – 1987 he was a bodyguard of Boris Yeltsin, the first secretary of Moscow city party committee.
In 1989 he was dismissed from the KGB “on age and health grounds”, but the actual reason was his support to Yeltsin who had quarrelled with the government by that time. Korzhakov remained Yeltsin’s bodyguard and worked under his direction at the reception of chairman of the Supreme Soviet construction and architecture committee.
In 1990 – 1991 he was the head of security department under chairman of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet Boris Yeltsin.
In 1991 – 1996 he was the chief of the Presidential Security Service
In 1991 – 1995 he was the first deputy chief of the Protective Service of Russia.
In 1996 he was a member of Yeltsin’s election staff. In June 1996 was removed from all the positions he had taken. A few months later he allied with general Alexander Lebed.
In 1997 Korzhakov was elected State Duma deputy from the Tula region. At that time he also published a book titled Boris Yeltsin: From Dawn to Dusk.
Since January 2000 he has been deputy chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee.
Order For Personal Courage
Korzhakov has two daughters, Galina and Natalia, by his first wife Irina Semyonovna Korzhakova. In 2008 he married to his assistant Galina.
In 2010 Korzhakov earned 2.4 million rubles. He had an apartment provided for free use that had an area of 68 square meters. Korzhakov owned a land plot measuring 3,400 square meters and a house. He owned Chrysler 300 car, Chevrolet Avalanche truck, Chevrolet-Express j3500 bus and ATV.
While being the chief of the Presidential Security Service, Korzhakov had profound influence on Yeltsin. The service was established by special Yeltsin’s decree and was not regulated by law. To control it Yeltsin issued Presidential Security Service Regulations that became classified information. Security Service was engaged in operational-search activity and surveillance of potentially dangerous citizens. The service used hidden camera techniques, phone tapping and so on, although the Presidential Security Service was not mentioned in the law On operative-search activity that granted a licence for that kind of activity. Security Service call-forward was included in confidential part of the budget message avaliable only for specially authorized officials, including members of the Duma Security Committee. No one, but the Kremlin officials, was supposed to know about fund amounts and expenditure pattern of Korzhakov’s departments.
Source: Dossier on Korzhakov by Most group.
The Communists reported that on 3-4 October 1993, during the armed conflict in Moscow, Korzhakov had been involved in shooting defenders of the government quarters. He was said to demand their execution after they had been captured and brought to the stairs of the quarters: “I am ordered to liquidate all the uniformed people!”
But in fact, Korzhakov’s role was insignificant. He confined himself to arresting security officers Rutskoi , Khasbulatov and Makashov. Rumours about “bloody butcher Korzhakov” are still not confirmed. There is no evidence of the very fact that militants who had surrendered were shot.
Source: old.flb.ru, 21 November 2007
The first overt conflict between Korzhakov and Gusinsky-Chubais alliance was provoked by Korzhakov’s attack on Gusinsky’s Most holding corporation. On 2 December1994 officers of the Presidential Guard were ordered by Korzhakov to raid Moscow office of Most-bank, located at the City Hall quarters in Novy Arbat street. Officers blocked the office for several hours. A criminal case on the raid was dismissed “for lack of corpus delicti”. Moreover, chief of Moscow FSB office Evgeni Savostyanov, who then had come to the aid of Gusinsky along with his officers, was immediately discharged. Soon after that Gusinsky left for London and spent there five months
Source: Vremya novostey, 16 June 2000
On 19 June 1996, in the evening, Arkadi Yevstafyev and Sergey Lisovsky, members of Yeltsin’s campaign staff, headed by Chubais, were detained while carrying a photocopier box out of the Government House. Cash amount totalling 538 thousand U.S. dollars was found in the box. After questioning Yevstafyev and Lisovsky were released. Chief of the Presidential Security Service Korzhakov, the FSB director Mikhail Barsukov and first deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets, who had initiated their detention, were forced to resign because of vigorous campaign launched by certain media.
In fact, half a million dollars turned to be costs of eliminating the group undesirable for Chubais. Korzhakov, Soskovets and Barsukov were no longer close to Yeltsin. As Korzhakov claimed in his memoirs, Security Service received reports on “plundering” of the campaign funds. On 19 June1996 Security Service secretly broke open a safe of Deputy Finance Minister German Kuznetsov and allegedly found 1.5 million U.S. dollars there. Korzhakov stated that the amount had been kept there without any documents indicating its source, while payment warrants of the foreign banks were found.
According to Korzhakov, after his resignation Chubais asked Korzhakov’s deputy to “return his 500 thousand”. In 1999 prosecutors dismissed the case.
Source: Riw.ru, 2001
In February 2004, while being a State Duma deputy, Alexander Korzhakov filed a request with the President, the Prime Minister, the Prosecutor General’s Office, the FSB, the Chamber of Accounts and Gazprom company. He reported on the activities of Gazprominvestholding director-general Alisher Usmanov and former department head of Gazprom public company Alexander Krasnenkov.
As Korzhakov stated, he was informed about their arbitrary and lawless usurpation of Gazprom by retired FSB officer and shareholder of Zapsibgazprom Tyumen company Alexey Rudakov. In September 2002 Rudakov sent him a letter.
As Rudakov learned, Usmanov and Krasenkov employed any means to ”prevent Zapsibgazprom from getting improved under external control. To avoid external interference, while having 8 billion rubles payables they reached out-of-court settlement, according to which the company property was to be distrained and sold by auction” .
Krasnenkov Usmanov rejected all the accusations and filed a counter-claim on protection of honor and dignity. Korzhakov was forced to drop the investigation.
Source: Gazeta, 2 February 2004
On 11 January 2010 Yeltsin’s daughter Tatyana Yumasheva posted to Live Journal her own version of the incident “with photocopier boxes “. According Yumasheva, the money found on Lisovski and Yevstafyev was intended for payments to actors who had taken part in the show held in Yeltsin’s support. Businessmen were to convey the money to the recipients.
As Yumasheva claimed, Korzhakov, who controlled Yeltsin’s campaign funds, knew about it and grabbed the opportunity to regain its former influence on the president, having fabricated an embezzlement case. Yumasheva called Korzhakov’s actions “stupidity, baseness and betrayal.”
Alexander Korzhakov replied that he had not controlled the Yeltsin’s campaign funds. “Chernomyrdin, Chubais and deputy Finance Minister Kuznetsov were responsible for that,” he said. Korzhakov added that the operation on the arrest of Lisovski and Yevstafyev had been conducted at Yeltsin’s request, as Yeltsin had suspected stealing money from his funds.
Source: Utro.ru, 19 January 2010
In November 2010 Andrey Bagdasarov, an assistant to State Duma deputy Alexander Korzhakov, was found shot dead at his Moscow apartment. Bagdasarov formerly served as a senior officer in the Federal Protective Service of Russia.
Investigators considered various motives for his murder, including his business activity. However, the most intriguing thing was the fact that Bagdasarov had been a witness of a search of the apartment , where Alexander Tikhonov, the father of lawyer Stanislav Markelov’s and journalist Anastasia Baburova’s murderer Nikita Tikhonov, lived.
Source: Versiya, 11 November 2010
Position: Director General of JSC “Oskol Electrometallurgical Combine
Date of Birth on August 27, 1965
Rogachevo, Moscow region.
Education: Graduated from the Leningrad Institute of Physical Culture in 1989. He graduated from Finance Academy under the RF Government in 1997.
1990-1992 Managing Director of JSC “Pragma-trading”;
1992-1995 Vice-President of JSCB “Montazhspetsbank”;
1995-1996 Deputy Director General of Interfin (the CEO is Alisher Usmanov). Founder of JSC “Financial Consulting and Management”. The representative of the Board of Directors of JSC “Oskol Electrometallurgical Combine “;
1997 Director General of the company “Lukoil-Garant”. Member of the Board of Directors of “AGD Invest”;
1998 Member of the Board of Directors in OAO “Arkhangelskgeoldobycha” and OAO “Lebedinsky GOK”;
1999 General Director of Oskol Electrometallurgical Combine. Member of the Board of Directors of JSC “Arkhangelsk Diamonds”;
2000 Head of holding “Gazmetal”;
2005 Member of the Board of Directors of OAO “Vnukovo Airport”;
2006 Owner of the banks “National Standard” and “Novoroscement”.
Marital status: Married; Has two children.
Since 2006 – the owner of OAO “Novoroscement”
In September 2009, he was re-elected to the Board of Directors of OAO “Vnukovo Airport” (owns the terminal internal lines)
In 2000 Kvetnoy was involved in the conflict between the structures of Gazprom (Gazprominvestholding and Interfin), controlling the Lebedinsky GOK, and the Novolipetsk Metallurgical Complex (NLMC). Shareholders of LGOK did not introduce the representative of the NLMC supervisory council. At the same time shareholders reduced the number of members of the Supervisory Board, so that Chairman of the Board of Directors of NLMK, Vladimir Lisin could not carry his member into the supervisory board of GOK. Lev Kvetnoy entered it among others, while representative of NLMK, Andrey Leschikov did not.
This combination was performed in order to make NLMK waive the requirements to reduce tariffs on raw materials supplied to it. However, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of NLMK Vladimir Lisin did not to make concessions.
Source: “Kommersant» № 86 (1971) on 17.05.2000
In 2005 Kvetnoy was elected to the Board of Directors of OAO “Airport Vnukovo”. His candidature was proposed by a private shareholder of the company Vnukovo Vnukovo-Invest” to be an independent director. At the time Kvetnoy entered the board of directors, it largely consisted of government officials from Moscow.
Source: “Kommersant» № 125 (3209) on 09.07.2005
In 2006, Lebedinsky GOK (LGOK) purchased shares of “Oskol Electrometallurgical Combine” (OEMC) – so the consolidation of assets began on the basis of mining and metallurgical holding that Alisher Usmanov created. At the time Alisher Usmanov owned a controlling stake of the company Gazmetall controlling LGOK and OEMC, other securities belonged to Kvetnoy and Andrey Scoch.
Source: “Kommersant» № 51 (3382) on 24.03.2006
In the same year it became known that Alisher Usmanov, and Andrey Skoch had bought Kvetnoy’s shares in the LGOK and OEMC to merge the company with assets of Metalloinvest owned by Usmanov and Vladimir Anisimov into the largest iron-holding country.
The idea of its creation came from Usmanov after he had bought Mikhailovsky GOK. But Kvetnoy did not want to become his partner in the creation of the holding. He decided to sell his stake in the GOK and OEMC to the companies by Usmanov and Skoch .
Partnership of Kvetnoy with Usmanov and Skoch started in the 90’s when they began buying up shares of LGOK and OEMC. For a while all three had been partners in Gazprom.
In 2000 they, created Gazmetall along with Gazprominvestholding, GOK and OEMC gave their shares to it. Kvetnoy headed Gazmetall.
In 2005, Kvetnoy were at odds with Usmanov because of the Magnitogorsk Steel Plant. In May 2005, Michael and Lebedinsky GOKs stopped deliveries of ore to the MSP.
Source: Vedomosti from 20.04.2006
This was due to the fact that there was no agreement on the price of supplies. Kvetnoy insisted on the resumption of supplies by LGOK, disagreeing with Usmanov.
Source: Kommersant (Voronezh) № 71 (3402) on 21.04.2006
After Kvetnoy had had his shares bought a subsidiary of OEMC – JSC “OEMC-Invest” he owned gained control over the bank “National Standard”, it served accounts of the companies of the metallurgical holding Gazmetall. Kvetnoy received the bank in exchange for his shares Gazmetall.
Source: “Kommersant» № 171 (3502) on 14.09.2006
Bank “National Standard” was captive and served enterprises of metallurgical industry. Kvetnoy announced plans to turn it into a universal bank, with a broad range of clients.
Source: http://www.vz.ru ot13 September 2006, 15:04
In 2007, due to growth in demand for cement Kvetnoy became interested in the cement business and acquired a controlling stake in OAO Novoroscement “- the second largest industrial enterprise in Russia. Earlier, Oleg Deripaska was interested in this plant, but did not agree on the price. The plant is close to Sochi, which almost guaranteed orders in the Olympics in 2014. However, Kvetnoy will have to compete with Inteko by Elena Baturina, whose cement assets are located nearby.
Source: Journal “Sekret Firmy” № 7 (190) from 26.02.2007
In 2007 the bank of Kvetnoy, National Standard began buying up regional banks. The first purchase was the Volgograd “Russian Southern Bank”.
Source: rbkdaily.ru from 15.08.2007
Soon Kvetnoy announced his intention to buy the company “Gornozavodsktsement”, in which the Basic Element of Oleg Deripaska had been interested also.
Source: Kommersant (Perm) № 150 (3726) on 22.08.2007
In 2009 Kvetnoy after two years became a member of the Board of Directors in Vnukovo again.
Source: AviaPort.Ru from 07.09.2009, 17:42
Previousely, upon having left the council, he retained an indirect connection with the airport: some accounts of OAO Vnukovo Airport and all accounts of “Vnukovo-Invest” had been served by owned by served the Bank “National Standard” of Lev Kvetnoy.
His return had to be at a difficult time for the shareholders. His arrival was associated with a desire to protect shareholders from the Moscow authorities’’ attempts to strengthen influence in the airport.
Kvetnoy replaced the former board member, deputy director general of the airport – Gennady Goncharov.
The Moscow government believed that Kvetnoy and Usmanov are the beneficiaries of offshore structures behind the private shareholders of Vnukovo. But they had been appealed for help only after Vasily Kichedzhi, a new member of the board of directors from the Government, wrote to Mayor Yuri Luzhkov on the need to make a check, assuming that they had been deriving assets from the airport.
Source: “Kommersant» № 165 (4220) on 08.09.2009
According to some reports, Dmitry Baranovsky, one of the leaders of the Solntsevskaya OPG, nicknamed Dima Bely (“White”) had worked for Kvetnoy and Skoch .
There is information that Kvetnoy has intimate relations with the daughter of ex-chairman of the MAPO-Bank, Ananyev.
Source: Kompromat.ru from 30.06.2000
Position: Deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation
Born on January 30, 1966 in settlement Nikolsky, Moscow Region; In 1988 graduated Moscow state pedagogical university (MSPU), faculty of Psychology, PH.D; Graduated from Russian Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Russian Federation.
In 1984 he served in army in reconnaissance and landing troop; was wrestling in David Rudman’s Moscow club “Sambo-70”, gat certificate of mastery, then was training. Subsequently he worked in commercial structures, was the assistant to the general director of OOO Open «Kuznetsov and partners», the assistant to the general director of investment company “Interfin”.
Since 1996 Andrey Skoch is the citizen of Israel.
In 1997 Skoch was the chairman of the Moscow regional lottery fund «Youth Planet», in December, 1997 he unsuccessfully stood in deputies of the Moscow regional Duma from the district including territory of Zheleznodorozhny, Balashihinsky and Lyuberetsky areas. Besides, Skoch proposed the nominee on elections for the State Duma in Mari El Republic. He participated in elections as the president of international fund “Generation”.
In 1999 Andrey Skoch became the deputy director of investments and development of AO «Lebedinsky MPC».
In 1999-2003 – deputy of the 3rd State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, the member of Committee on the industry, construction and high technologies. In 2000 became the chairman of Advisory council on metallurgy and mountain-ore industry of this committee.
In 2003-2007 – Deputy of the 4th State Duma of FA of the Russian Federation.
In December, 2007 was elected as the deputy of the 5th State Duma of FA of the Russian Federation. A member of fraction “United Russia”, the president of the international fund “Generation”, honored trainer on sambo-wrestling and judo.
According to “Finance” magazine, his fortune for 2009 was 1.50 billion dollars, and the 33rd place in a rating of Russian billionaires.
Andrey Skoch is married, has seven children, four of them – twins of 1994 year of birth.
Sources: duma.gov.ru, lobbying.ru, viperson.ru, c-society.ru, magazine «Company Secret»
In the early nineties Andrey Skoch was one of the leaders of «Solntsevskaya» organized criminal community and had a nickname Scotch Tape. Among criminal communications of Skoch there were named such as the head of Solntsevskaya Sergey Mikhailov (AKA Mihas), Averin brothers, Alexander and Victor – active members of Solntsevskaya criminal community. Together with others Solntsevskaya’s authorities – Kvetnoy brothers, Lev and Vladimir, and Dmitry Baranovsky (nickname White) – Skoch headed the criminal group which was engaged in illicit weapon business. Arms supplies were carried out to Russia from Poland, the Baltic States and Belarus. Legalization of the received incomes occurred by an investment of money resources in processing and a mining industry, through various commercial structures. Skoch’s group with more than 20 former sportsmen and persons with previous convictions supervised commercial banks “Montazhspecstroy”, “Dialogbank”, and also a capital casino “Karusel”. Andrey Skoch was registered as on one of owners of Moscow casino «Arbat court yard».
Source: «New newspaper» № 3 from 1/17/2000
In the late nineties press wrote about Andrey Skoch’s participation in showdowns concerning Serpukhov oil base – the enterprise became a dispute subject between «Solntsevskaya» and “Podolskaya” criminal structures. Podolskaya group – the second biggest and influent group after «Solntsevskaya» in Moscow region – went on rupture, despite earlier strong communications between two criminal communities. The conflict occurred because of long dispute on control over Serpukhov oil base. In February, 1998 members of “Podolskaya” group attached a tank farm from grenade discharges, then company “Oka-oil” located there and headed by chairman of the board Andrey Skoch, had to leave the territory of the base and to locate in another place.
Source: «New newspaper» № 3 from 1/17/2000
In 2000 in the biographic data of Andrey Skoch published in mass-media, there was an information that he served in research division of KGB which ostensibly was engaged in experimental researches of mass suggestion. There is no any more concrete data on this stage of his activity in open sources.
Source: «Moskovsky Komsomolets» from 3/15/2000
In State Duma Andrey Skoch is named as the active lobbyist of metallurgical branch. His desire to be the chairman of Advisory council on metallurgy and the mining industry (the lobbyist organization) became a main objective of Skoch’s coming to politics. Skoch was said to be informally delegated to the Duma by a metallurgical complex of Belgorod – Lebedinsky and Stoilensky MPC, Oskolsky electrometallurgical industrial complex. Then the former minister of an antimonopoly policy Gennady Khodyrev and the representative of the Ural region Zelimhan Mutsoev became his assistants to the Head of council. Council included: Deputy Peter Shelishch, the ex-minister of metallurgy of the USSR, the president of the International union of metallurgists Serafim Kolpakov, the owner of “Severstal” Alexey Mordashov, the head of “Mechel” – Alexey Ivanushkin, “Nornickel” – Alexander Khloponin, SUAL – Victor Vekselberg, Novolipetsk metallurgical industrial complex – Vladimir Lisin, a member of Academy of mountain sciences Evgeny Panfilov, the deputy director of institute in the system of State Science Center Chermet Leonid Makarov.
Source: www. svh-home.zeonweb.ru
In 2000 Andrey Skoch came into the view of police in connection with criminal case on charge of the head of “Montazhspecbank” Arcady Angelevich, in the past – the basic treasurer of «Solntsevskaya» criminal group who was accused of plunder over 7 million dollars belonging to commercial bank “Unity”. Andrey Skoch who was registered as the councilor in “Montazhspecbank”, together with Lev Kvetnoy, assistant to Angelevich, was targeted in the investigation as the witnesses. Actually, according to journalists, both of them were “authorities”. During the investigation Angelevich colluded department of economic counterespionage of FSB, and the employee of FSB Vladimir Vanesyan who forced Skoch and Kvetnoy to leave from “Montazhspecbank” was directed to the bank. Lev Kvetnoy was written to declare during investigation that Vanesyan threatened him to put a grenade in trousers. Solntsevsky then left the interest to bank.
Source: “Version” from 4/11/2000
Mass-media wrote about a certain conflict in relations of Andrey Skoch and his colleague in «Solntsevskaya» Lev Kvetnoy. In 2006 Skoch, having united with businessman Alisher Usmanov, redeemed shares of Lev Kvetnoy in Lebedinsky MPC and Oskolsky electrometallurgical industrial complex. After this transaction Usmanov and Skoch began to unite the enterprises with actives of “Metalloinvest” in mining-ore holding. For some time all three businessmen were “Gazprom” partners. In 2000 they together with “Gazprominvestholding” created “Gazmetall” where they transferred the share holdings of MPC and ОEMC. Kvetnoy headed “Gazmetall”. In 2005 Kvetnoy had disagreements with Usmanov because of the conflict concerning Magnitogorsk metallurgical industrial complex. Sckoch took Usmanov’s part in this conflict.
Source: “Vedomosti” from 4/20/2006
In the State Duma Andrey Skoch lobbied interests of the large alcoholic companies. It was one of initiators of the bill «About modification of the Federal law « About state regulation of manufacture and a turn of ethyl spirit, alcoholic and alcohol-containing products» (regarding introduction of an obligatory denaturizing of nondrinking spirits), brought in the State Duma in October, 2006. The bill obliged manufacturers of methyl and isopropyl spirit which are the basis for substitute production, to denature the production, adding, for example, gasoline. It should bring additional 5 billion roubles to manufacturers of strong alcohol. Apart from Skoch, the deputies Valery Draganov, Alexander Kogan, Yury Medvedev, and Alexey Rozuvan were authors of the bill.
Source: “Kommersant” № 191 (3522) from 10/12/2006
In 2006 minorities of OAO «Oskolsky electrometallurgical industrial complex», supervised by Andrey Skoch, businessmen Alisher Usmanov and Vasily Anisimov, submitted the claim to arbitration court of Belgorod about recognition of founders of industrial complex, instead of simple shareholders. Minorities tried to challenge industrial complex privatization. The claim was that in 1993 during the act of acquiring shares and formation of joint-stock company of open type, and then creation on its base of open joint-stock company workers of industrial complex received the status of the shareholder, having lost the status of the founder, though the circle of powers of founders is wider, than shareholders. The court decided that process of privatization ОEMC which took place in 1993, was according to norms of the legislation of that time. Subsequently the group of minorities made the complaint to Voronezh arbitration court, but there the first judgment was upheld.
Source: “Commersant” № 151 (3482) from 8/17/2006
In 2010 in a rating of Russian billionaires magazine Forbes named six deputies of the State Duma including also Andrey Skoch. According to Forbes, Skoch is the richest Russian deputy with the fortune of 1.4 billion dollars. At the same time, according to his declaration, Skoch is one of the poorest deputies: in 2009 he submitted data to tax department that he earned 1.7 million roubles, that in his property he has only one apartment with the area of 65,31 sq. m and no any car.
Source: “Newspaper” from 14.05.10
Born in 1946 in Moscow. In 1967 he graduated from the Moscow Institute of Forestry Engineering, in 1973 — the mechanic-mathematical department of MSU, later defended PhD and doctoral thesis; became a member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. In 1989 he became CEO of the Soviet-Swiss joint venture LogoVAZ engaging in supplies of software to AvtoVAZ and sales of domestic cars and servicing cars. In 1994, he resigned as general director of LogoVAZ, becoming a chairman of its board of directors.
In 1991 he co-founded the Moscow Independent Broadcasting Corporation (MIBC). In 1993 – the general director and member of the Board of Directors of JSC “Automobile All-Russia Alliance” (AVVA), which was planning to build a new automobile plant on the money of private investors. The project failed later .
In winter 1993-1994, Berezovsky entered the inner circle of President Boris Yeltsin by getting acquainted with Valentin Yumashev, who introduced him to Yeltsin’s daughter Tatyana Dyachenko.
In December 1994, Berezovsky became the first deputy chairman of the board of directors ORTV. In the second half of 1995, Berezovsky and businessman Roman Abramovich created Sibneft. In 1995, Berezovsky became one of the shareholders of MIBC channel “TV-6 Moscow”.
In October 1996 he was appointed deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, in November 1997 was removed from his post. In the same month Berezovsky became an adviser to the head of presidential administration of Russia Yumashev, and in April 1998 he was appointed executive secretary of the CIS. In May 1998, he was dismissed from his post as adviser to the head of the presidential administration, and in March 1999 — was removed from his post as chairman of the CIS Executive Secretariat.
In March 1997, he became a member of the Federal Commission on the problems of Chechnya, in May – participated in the signing of a peace treaty between Russia and the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.
In spring 1999, he obtained 75% of shares in MIBC “TV-6 Moscow”; in July 1999 he acquired the publishing house “Kommersant”.
In December 1999, he was elected to the Duma, but in July 2000 – resigned his office as deputy, and began to criticize the actions of President Putin. In late 2000 he went to London in fear of further prosecution on the «case of Aeroflot».
In December 2000, Berezovsky created Civil Liberties Foundation in the U.S. – a charitable human rights organization. In November 2001, he was admitted to the motion of the «Liberal Russia» and elected to its political council.
In September 2003, he was granted political asylum in Britain. Later in the UK Berezovsky had been issued new documents in the name of Platon Elenin.
In summer 2005, Berezovsky changed the direction in PH “Kommersant”, and then sold the shares of PH Patarkatsishvili. In August 2006, Patarkatsishvili sold his PH to Alisher Usmanov, general director of Gazprominvestholding, a wholly-owned by OAO Gazprom.
Berezovsky was married several times and has six children, and many grandchildren. In April 2006 the British newspaper Sunday Times put him on the 68th seat in the 1000 list of richest people in the country with the fortune of 800 million pounds sterling.
http://www.lenta.ru on 11/01/2010
For the first time the press wrote negatively about Berezovsky in connection with his appearance in August 1994 in the board of directors of AvtoVAZ. As reported by the media, Berezovsky and CEO Vladimir Kadannikov in order to establish full control over Avtovaz used the scheme of cross-shareholding. As reported, the essence of the scheme was that the majority of shares in the company was bought by VAZ-controlled firms, including LogoVAZ and AVVA. It turned out that the top managers of the plant became heads of the structures that had kept its shares.
It was also reported that another “invention” by Kadannikov and Berezovsky was schemes of sham cars re-export. Their essence was that the exported vehicles cost less than those that went to the domestic market. But the cars crossed the border only on paper. In fact, they were sold in Russia on domestic prices.
“Profile» № 43 (115) on 23.11.1998
Press wrote about the scandals associated with secret service owned by Boris Berezovsky – a private security company “Atoll”. It was reported that this structure provided not only security services, but also engaged in spying, espionage and collecting dirt for enemies and friends of Berezovsky. According to the media, the people of Yeltsin’s inner circle, known as the “Family” appeared in its field of view .
They wrote that in the summer of 1998 “Atoll” of Berezovsky got in the field of view of law enforcement agencies. Employees of DOCU in the Eastern District of Moscow withdrew specialized equipment and materials collected on the leading politicians of the country from the base of the security company . But soon the “Atoll” got its property back.
According to press reports, in January 1999 the General Prosecutor’s Office of Russia opened a criminal case, and repeatedly searched «Atoll».
Source “Moskovsky Komsomolets” on 20.01.99, on 21.06.2006, from 21.06.2006
According to the head of «Atoll», the case against his company was terminated. But, according to the media, Berezovsky chose to get rid of it. First, funding for security services was reduced and then stopped altogether.
“Moskovsky Komsomolets” on 21/06/2006
Berezovsky’s name ended up in the media in connection with reports about his collaboration with Chechen field commanders about the abduction and release of the hostages in 1996. It was reported that the militants earned money through such a cooperation, while Berezovsky gained political capital. First, as the press was writing, with the help of Berezovsky there were 22 OMON riot policemen released from the Chechen captivity, captured on December 14, 1996 in Dagestan. Shortly thereafter, 11 Chechens were released from the Russian prisons, and then pardoned retroactively. Berezovsky helped to return from the Chechen captivity the NTV correspondent Helen Masyuk, and Plenipotentiary Representative of President of RF, Valentin Vlasov. The entrenched image of a peacemaker was spoiled with the release of a Ministry of Interior of Russia, General Gennady Shpigun. The Chechens were to release him on June 12, 1999. But after the Berezovsky’s intervention in the negotiations Shpigun was killed.
“Moskovsky Komsomolets” of 22.06.2006
In late 1996, Berezovsky appeared in the scandalous story related to the assignment of his Israeli citizenship. Media reported that on October 29, 1996 that Berezovsky was appointed Deputy Security Council Secretary, Ivan Rybkin on presidential decree. But then the information appeared he had had citizenship of Israel at the time. Moreover, he received Israeli citizenship in November 1993. Those two circumstances – the new appointment and Israeli citizenship – conflicted with Russia’s law on civil service.
“Izvestia” on 22/11/1996
According to press reports, on November 13, 1996 Berezovsky confirmed he did have Israeli citizenship. He said that even before the new appointment, he applied the Israeli Foreign Ministry for annulling it. Press wrote that, according to some reports, there was a falsification of documents. Berezovsky reportedly sent a statement of revocation of citizenship for a couple of months before the appointment. But the documents were lost by the Israeli authorities.
“Moskovsky Komsomolets” on 21/06/2006
According to media reports, on November 20, 1996 the Israeli embassy in Russia officially stated that Berezovsky was no longer a citizen of Israel.
“Izvestia” on 22/11/1996
The press described the protracted conflict between Boris Berezovsky and Russia’s law enforcement and supervisory authorities.
On November 13, 1998 Berezovsky published an open letter to the FSB director Vladimir Putin, saying the preparation of attempt on his life. Berezovsky argued that in late 1997 the former management of the Office for development and suppress the activities of criminal organizations FSB allegedly instructed its subordinates to kill him.
“Kommersant» № 212 (1615) on 13.11.1998, “Moskovsky Komsomolets” on 23/01/2006
On November 17, 1998 Berezovsky organized the ORT press conference in which representatives of the FSB took part, including Lt. Col. Alexander Litvinenko, who later defected from Russia in the UK. FSB officials reportedly confirmed that they had received an instruction from the superiors to eliminate Berezovsky. The same was to occur with the brother of famous Chechen businessman Umar Dzhabrailov – Hussein. Litvinenko also said that they had prepared an attempt on a senior tax official also. As written in the press, the FSB officers asked the public to protect them from the criminal leadership. Media wrote that experts linked that action to the campaign discrediting the government of Yevgeny Primakov.
Source “Profile» № 43 (115) on 23.11.1998 and # 12 (134) on 05.04.1999
In 2001, as the press stated, Berezovsky asked the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Great Britain and announced that Russia’s security services had been preparing an attempt on his life. After that Berezovsky obtained political refugee status in the UK.
gzt.ru № 51 dated 21.03.2008
According to media reports, on January 24, 2002 the confrontation between Berezovsky and Russian intelligence services continued. Berezovsky was accused by FSB director Nikolai Patrushev of the financing the illegal armed formations in Chechnya. As reported, in response to those charges Berezovsky declared about the involvement of special services of Russia to the bombings of apartment blocks in Moscow and Volgodonsk in 1999.
lenta.ru citing IUE “Panorama” on 23/01/2006
On March 5, 2002 the media reported that Berezovsky was involved in the preparation of a campaign of Chechen bandit formations to Dagestan in the summer of 1999; and also took part in the kidnapping and murder of General Shpigun in Chechnya. Prosecutor’s Office released the statement of an unnamed witness. Reportedly he claimed that Berezovsky had had relation to Chechen separatists, and also maintained close relations in business as well with the Chechen criminal group in Moscow and its leaders – Khozh-Akhmed Nukhayev and Movladi Atlangeriev. The media wrote that, according to some sources, Nukhaev and Atlangeriev owned a large stake in the St. Petersburg branch of JSC «LogoVAZ».
lenta.ru citing Demfront.narod.ru from 01.09.2005
The press wrote about Boris Berezovsky in connection with the notorious “case of Aeroflot», its investigation began in April 1999. According to press reports, in late 1995 Berezovsky played a key role in the change of leadership in “Aeroflot”; as a result, Marshal Yevgeny Shaposhnikov headed the company. The first deputy general director on commerce in «Aeroflot» became the former director of LogoVAZ, Samat Zhaboev. However, Berezovsky made no secret of that he wanted to take part in the company privatization.
“Kommersant» № 212 (930) on 16.11.1995, “Kommersant-Vlast» # 48 (159) on 26.12.1995
In 1999, according to press reports, Berezovsky was accused of illegal business activities associated with Aeroflot. It was reported that on April 6, 1999 Prosecutor General of Russia ordered the imprisonment of Berezovsky and the Deputy Director General of Aeroflot, Nikolay Glushkov. On April 14, 1999 the decision was reversed. According to investigators, Glushkov along with another deputy general director of Aeroflot, Alexander Krasneker, and chief accountant Lidia Kryzhevskaya misled the head of “Aeroflot” Shaposhnikov by persuading him to concentrate 80 % of the free foreign exchange earnings of the company on account of the Swiss company “Andava». According to press reports, one of the founders and major shareholders of “Andava” was Glushkov, and the other major shareholder – Boris Berezovsky.
As the press was writing, in the Prosecutor’s Office opinion 252 million dollars passed through “Andava” in 1996-97. According to investigators, nearly 40 million had been illegally transferred in the Swiss bank Credit Suisse to personal accounts of Glushkov, Krasneker, and Kryzhevskaya.
Source gzt.ru from 15.03.2004, “Kommersant” dated 09/07/2002
According to investigators, Berezovsky participated in the embezzlement of funds through his Swiss company Forus Holding. As the press reported, the main part of “case of Aeroflot” had lasted five years and ended with a verdict by the Savyolovsky court of Moscow. Glushkov, Krasneker, Kryzhevskaya, and another helper were found guilty, but on the whole the version of the Prosecutor General’s Office of serious crimes committed by them had been rejected. In March 2004, as reported, all of the four received minimum terms and were released in the courtroom immediately after sentencing. The case against Mr Berezovsky was separated in a special case.
gzt.ru from 15.03.2004
According to press reports, in November 1999, Berezovsky was acquitted of charges, and he became involved in the case as a witness.
RIA Novosti on 07/12/1999
The media wrote that on October 2, 2001 Prosecutor General of Russia ordered the compulsory process of Berezovsky’s interrogation on the case of “Aeroflot” as a witness . On October 22, 2001 Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov said that Berezovsky would be arrested if one appears in Russia
lenta.ru citing IUE Panorama of the 23.01.2006
On July 12, 2007 the Savelovsky court of Moscow began an absent trial of Berezovsky. He was charged of fraud – embezzlement of Aeroflot at 214 million rubles (Part 3 of Article 159 of the Criminal Code of Russia), as well as the legalization of stolen money in excess of 16 million rubles (Part 3 of Article 174 of the Penal Code).
Berezovsky refused to participate in the process, even through his lawyers, calling it a “farce”.
RIA Novosti on 12/07/2007
As reported, on November 29, 2007 the Savyolovsky court of Moscow sentenced Berezovsky in absentia to six years imprisonment. He was found guilty of fraud, but not of the legalization of stolen funds of Aeroflot.
RIA News of 29.11.2007
Boris Berezovsky appeared in the scandal connected with the murder of Ukrainian journalist Georgy Gongadze.
As the press was writing, a former employee of the State Security Service of Ukraine, Major Mykola Melnichenko secretly recorded his conversations when working in the administration of the President Leonid Kuchma. In late 2000 some of the records were made public; that provoked a “cassette scandal” in Ukraine: it was an opportunity to accuse Leonid Kuchma and his closest associates of the murder of journalist Georgy Gongadze, as well as – of the pressure on the deputies and judges, and of sales of radars «Mail» to Iraq.
lenta.ru with other links on Correspondent.net on 05/03/2005
Media reported that in 2002 Nikolai Melnichenko sold part of his archive to Boris Berezovsky.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta № 261 (3659) from 01.12.2005
And in March 2005, Melnichenko turned to Berezovsky for ensuring his safety as he was the last witness in the case of Gongadze murder after the strange suicide of former Interior Minister of Ukraine, Yuri Kravchenko.
Law and Business № 49 (725) on 03.12.2005, Today (Ukraine) # 1993 from 05.03.2005
As reported, in April 2006 already Melnichenko accused Berezovsky of films manipulations. According to him, the patron attempted to publish only some parts of the film, hiding the rest.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta № 261 (3659) from 01.12.2005
A little later the relationship between Melnichenko and Berezovsky had completely spoiled. The first said that Berezovsky conspired with the senior Ukrainian government in order to rig the criminal investigation of the Gongadze murder. Representatives of the latter accused Melnichenko of the fact he had forbidden to make public records and possibly fabricated part of the transcripts.
lenta.ru with reference to the phrase (Fraza.com.ua) from 05.12.2005 and from 06.12.2005
The press wrote about the scandal caused by Berezovsky’s visit to Georgia under a different name. According to media reports, on September 12, 2003 Berezovsky was granted a political asylum in Britain. The London Court dismissed the case for his extradition to Russia. In the same year, British authorities issued a travel document to Berezovsky under the name of Platon Elenin. In December 2003, Berezovsky met with his business partner Badri Patarkatsishvili in Georgia, and then he presented documents in the name Elenin on the border.
Source BBC News, Russian service from 23.01.2004, Kommersant »# 166 (2769) on 13.09.2003,” Nezavisimaya Gazeta» № 40 (3720) of 01.03.2006
Newspapers wrote about the Brazilian prosecutors’ interest to Boris Berezovsky.
It was reported that according to unconfirmed reports, Berezovsky managed the company Media Sports Investment (MSI) through his trustee – Iranian Kia Joorabchian, and was the general sponsor of the soccer club “Corinthians” (Corinthians) – champion of Brazilian championship in 2005.
Source Kommersant № 80 (3411) on 05.05.2006 and # 81 (3412) on 10/05/2006
According to press reports, in 2005 the Brazilian authorities for combating financial irregularities became interested in the possible involvement of MSI in money laundering. Brazilian law enforcement authorities could not understand what the source of funds was, enabling the company to buy and sell the leading Latin American players (the press called Media Sports Investment the sponsor of the Brazilian soccer club Corinthians).
According to media reports, May 5, 2006, Berezovsky was arrested by theBrazilian police in the airport Kumbika in city of Sгo Paulo, and gave testimonies for several hours. The reason for the detention was a criminal case on money laundering through the football clubs in Brazil.
According to press reports, in September 2006 the Prosecutor’s Office in Sгo Paulo prepared a report, according to which some of the money allegedly laundered through the Corinthians, “in fact belonged to Berezovsky, Patarkatsishvili, and Dzhurabchan (by the time the latter had already left his post as head of MSI).
“Vision” from 06.05.2006, “Labor» № 171 from 16.09.2006
Brazilian general prosecutor demanded to arrest the leaders of the investment group Media Sports Investment; it suspected them of money laundering and forming a criminal group. In July 2007, it was reported that the Brazilian court issued a warrant for the arrest of Mr Berezovsky, as well as other co-owners of MSI, including – Kia Joorabchian, and financial director of the investment group “Noyana bedru”. Since all the three at the time had been outside of Brazil, the request for their arrest was handed over to Interpol, and the MSI’s accounts were frozen in all the country’s banks.
ITAR-TASS on 13/07/2007
But in September 2008, as the media reported, the criminal case was closed, and the warrant for the arrest of Berezovsky was withdrawn. The press accosiated Such an odd final with the violations committed during the investigation.
lenta.ru with reference to the Associated Press on 17/09/2008
The press described a conflict between Boris Berezovsky and another oligarch – Roman Abramovich. According to the press, in the second half of 1995 Berezovsky and Abramovich did not conflict, but instead organized a joint business in the petroleum sector. Abramovich was engaged in organizational matters, while Berezovsky – in lobbying
project in the administration of President Yeltsin.
“Business news” (Omsk) from 27.04.2005
According to press reports, in August 1995 “Siberian Oil Company (Sibneft) was established by a decree of Boris Yeltsin.
“Moskovsky Komsomolets” on 02/06/1999
It was reported that several companies established by Abramovich and Berezovsky were engaged in the acquisition of Sibneft’s shares – they became winners of investment tenders either independently, or through subsidiaries.
Conflict.Rosbalt.Ru on 14/12/2003
Thus, as the press was wrote, the controlling stake in the company cost Abramovich and Berezovsky 25 times cheaper than its market value.
“interlocutor” on 05/03/2003
According to press reports, the open stage of the conflict began in July 2005 when Mr Berezovsky announced that he and Patarkatsishvili had received about 1 billion dollars from Roman Abramovich for their shares in Sibneft Russian Aluminum, and ORT. Berezovsky claimed that this sum was far below the real value of securities sold, and announced that he was going to file a lawsuit to Abramovich in the UK.
«Vedomosti» № 121 (1402) from 05.07.2005
It was reported that the suit was brought to the Supreme Court of Justice in London on June 1, 2007.
“Kommersant» № 52 (3869) on 29/03/2008
On October 6, 2007 press described an incident in one of the trendy shops in central London. Berezovsky found Abramovich there and tried to give him a summons to court. It was reported that Berezovsky gave several papers to Abramovich, but the latter put his hands behind his back, and the papers fell to the floor.
Later, Berezovsky told reporters that that was the agenda. And according to British law agenda is considered to be handed, even if it was thrown at the feet of the recipient in front of witnesses.
lenta.ru with reference to The Daily Mail dated 06.10.2007; IA cursor on 10/07/2007
According to the press, the judicial war between Berezovsky and Abramovich has not yet ended. At the moment, reportedly Berezovsky accuses Mr Abramovich that he forced him to sell half of Sibneft at a reduced price – Boris Berezovsky received 1.3 billion dollars for his package, while in 2005 Gazprom paid to Roman Abramovich for that package 10 times more.
wek.com.ua on 11/09/2009
Television channels broadcasted a person who introduced himself as “Peter”, and reported that in 2003, Berezovsky allegedly offered him money for false testimony in court. Supposedly Berezovsky needed it in order to obtain political asylum in the UK and to avoid extradition to Russia. “Peter” was asked to pose as an agent of the FSB, who was sent to London to kill Berezovsky. By the words of “Peter”, he declined the offer. But they slipped psychotropic substances in coffee, made an audio record with false confessions, and presented it in court. “Peter” also said that Litvinenko knew the scheme of obtaining political refugee status by Berezovsky; allegedly on that reason he had been killed.
lenta.ru with other links on the “News of the Week” from 08.04.2007
Berezovsky, as written in the press, said that the real name of the mysterious “Peter” was Vladimir Teplyuk; he had already been mentioned in the press in January 2006 in the article of the deputy, Alexander Khinshtein. According to that article, in 2003 Berezovsky allegedly intended to use Teplyuk as a fallback for political asylum in Britain. As reported, Teplyuk the initiator of the meetings. He was so insistent that Litvinenko had even begun to suspect him a FSB officer.
Source Kommersant »№ 53 (3629) on 02.04.2007, № 81 (3412) on 06.05.2006, Gazeta.ru from 02.04.2007
According to press reports, in March 2010 the High Court in London ruled on the suit of Boris Berezovsky to VGTRK (on the television channel “Russia” in VGTRK which had shown the program “News of the Week” with “Peter”). The Court acknowledged that the program contained false accusations against the businessman who allegedly had been granted political asylum in Britain by deception. Reportedly, Boris Berezovsky was awarded compensation in the amount of 150 thousand pounds ($ 223 thousand). Defendants stated that they intended to appeal the decision.
finansmag.ru on 10/03/2010
April 13, 2007, as the press reported, Boris Berezovsky launched a new international scandal. The British newspaper The Guardian published an interview with Berezovsky, in which he declared his involvement in a coup in Russia. Disgraced oligarh accused Putin of creating an unconstitutional regime, power centralization, closure of democratic reforms, and the actual destruction of the political opposition.
lenta.ru with reference to The Guardian, 13.04.2007
As the press reported, Russia’s chief prosecutor Yuri Chaika due to the statement by Mr Berezovsky ordered to bring a new criminal case against him.
Gazeta.Ru on 13/04/2007
Soon the Prosecutor General of Russia indeed brought criminal case against the entrepreneur under Article 278 of the Criminal Code (violent seizure of power “), providing imprisonment for a term of 12 to 20 years.
lenta.ru with reference to The Times of 16.06.2003
However, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Berezovsky of abusing the political refugee status and, based on this, said that Britain should have extradited him.
As reported, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Great Britain also condemned the statement of Mr Berezovsky. By the evening of the same day, Berezovsky softened his stance; he said in an interview with The Guardian that he had not meant the forced overthrow of Russia’s power.
gzt.ru on 13/04/2007
On July 18, 2007, the British press once again burst with scandal associated with Boris Berezovsky. The businessman told reporters that they intended to kill him. From the words of Mr Berezovsky, he had been warned by the British police and advised to temporarily leave the country. Berezovsky said that he had been receiving threats for too long, which had been the result of “the Russian intelligence services activities”. On the same day comment appeared in the British press from official sources in Scotland Yard, which confirmed they arrested a man in London, who had determined to kill Berezovsky.
lenta.ru with reference to The Times of 18.07.2007
Only in 2008 information appeared in the press that the British suspected the Chechen criminal “authority” Atlangeriev of preparingthe assassination of Berezovsky and deported him to Russia.
“Kommersant» № 62 (3879) of 14.04.2008
On July 30, 2007 the press reported on the regular claims to Boris Berezovsky from the Prosecutor General of Russia. The olygarh was suspected of embezzling 13.7 million dollars of SBS-Agro. As reported, the position of the investigation lied in the fact that Berezovsky organized a criminal group, together with which he fraudulently obtained a loan of SBS-Agro in 1997. According to investigators, Berezovsky spent the money on the purchase of real estate on the Mediterranean coast of France. A corresponding criminal case was opened June 29, 2007, and, as reported by Berezovsky’s lawyers, was the eleventh criminal case having brought against their client in Russia. As press wrote, the prosecutors sent a petition for the arrest in absentia of Berezovsky to the Basmanny court.
RIA Novosti on 30/07/2007
On August 7, 2007 the Basmannyy Moscow court sanctioned the arrest of Berezovsky in absentia. Judge substantiated decision on the fact that the entrepreneur had had extensive contacts in law enforcement and commercial structures, and might have affected the investigation.
Interfax news of 07.08.2007
In autumn 2009 the press reported that the Investigation Committee of the Prosecutor (ICP) charged the political emigrant Boris Berezovsky under article 159 (fraud) and section 174 (money laundering) of the Criminal Code. According to investigators, Berezovsky obviously was not going to return the money to “SBS-Agro”, and brought the money abroad through accounts of the company Forus controlled by him, and then got real estate on the Mediterranean Sea.
http://www.finansmag.ru on 22/09/2009
One more criminal case on Boris Berezovsky was associated with the embezzlement of “AvtoVAZ”. According to press reports, in November 2008 the case against Boris Berezovsky and the former director general LogoVAZ “Yuli Dubov was transferred in the Krasnogorsk City Court of the Moscow region. They were accused of theft of AvtoVAZ funds in 1995, and of the legalization of funds derived from the criminal activity. According to investigators, Berezovsky and Dubov had not paid the company for the more than 5.5 thousand Zhiguli cars of different models, set by the plant LogoVAZ, and thus had kidnapped 143.7 billion non-denominated rubles. The press noted that prior to the criminal case delivered in the court, the arbitration courts had recognized that transaction legal.
“Kommersant» № 215 (4032) 26/11/2008
Media reported that in June 2009 the Krasnogorsk city court found Berezovsky and Dubov guilty of embezzling the funds of the company AvtoVAZ. Boris Berezovsky was accused of embezzling 58 million rubles from the company AvtoVAZ, and was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment. Yuli Dubov was sentenced to 9 years of imprisonment. As the press reported, Prosecutor General of Russia announced their intention to send a new request to Britain for Berezovsky’s extradition.
BBC News on 26/06/2009
According to press reports, in March 2008 the Investigative Committee at Russia’s prosecutors filed a new case against Boris Berezovsky. It was “on the fact of knowingly false denunciation, connected to the artificial creation of prosecution evidence”. Under such an article the petition of the entrepreneur in the UK Ministery of Internal
Affairs had been brought in 2001; he wrote on 96 pages that in Russia he had been persecuted for political reasons, his business had been taken, etc. He pointed out that Russia’s security services were going to kill him. Russia’s investigators believe that Berezovsky did that for the subsequent receipt of refugee status.
“Kommersant» № 46 (3863) on 21.03.2008, gzt.ru № 51 21.03.2008
In January 2010, as written in the press, the Basmanny Court in Moscow seized the businessman’s New York apartment. The decision was taken in a framework of the criminal case against Berezovsky on providing false information in order to obtain political asylum in Britain. Boris Berezovsky reacted to news of the arrest by stating that he has no apartments in New York.
trud.ru from 22.01. 2010
According to media reports, by the end of January 2010 there have been 12 criminal cases investigated against Berezovsky in Russia. The latter charge was on the organization of a criminal community; he was charged in absentia in September 2009. That charge was a part of the criminal case initiated in 2007 – of theft in the credit bank “SBS-Agro”. In total, reportedly Berezovsky has been charged in absentia over a dozen cases. Those were the accusation of actions aimed at seizing power (it was a series of interview with Mr Berezovsky in early 2006), the illegal acquisition of house and land in Zhukovka in the Moscow area, as well as fraud, money laundering, etc. Berezovsky said to journalists that all the cases against him were just a “political farce”, and forbade his lawyers to participate in any trials in Russia. According to media reports, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Russia has repeatedly appealed to the British authorities requesting for Berezovsky’s extradition, but the positive response has not been received yet.
gzt.ru on 22/01/2010
Oct 14, 2006
Russia’s government, keen to show it is not only targeting foreigners for environmental breaches, said yesterday it might strip up to 19 licences from domestic giant Lukoil.
Russia’s outspoken environmental watchdog Oleg Mitvol led the criticism of the nation’s top oil firm while on a trip to the Arctic north of the Komi republic in western Russia, where Lukoil is active.
After listening to villagers’ complaints about pollution, he prodded a frozen pond with a stick to reveal oily-looking water underneath. “In the rest of the world, companies work according to environmental regulations. But here in Russia for the past 15 years people have been doing whatever they wanted,” he said.
Markets were sceptical that Russian environmental authorities, who have waged a fierce campaign against Royal Dutch Shell’s giant Sakhalin-2 project, would actually remove licences from a Russian oil giant.
Lukoil’s shares were up almost 3 per cent at 2,085 roubles 61.71) by lunchtime yesterday, despite Mr Mitvol’s threats.
Oil and gas pipelines social and environment impact assessment from daydev
Mr Mitvol, who works under the Natural Resources Ministry, has also been vociferous in his attacks on foreign companies working on Sakhalin. “Everywhere I’ve been in Russia, I’ve never seen anything as bad as Sakhalin,” Mr Mitvol said.
But he added that foreign firms were more cooperative than Russian firms, which needed to put their house in order too.
In 1994, the republic of Komi, where Usinsk lies 60 kilometers (40 miles) south of the Arctic Circle, became the scene of Russia’s largest oil spill when an estimated 100,000 tons splashed from an aging pipeline.
It killed plants and animals, and polluted up to 40 kilometers (25 miles) of two local rivers, killing thousands of fish. In villages most affected, respiratory diseases rose by some 28 percent in the year following the leak.
Seen from a helicopter, the oil production area is dotted with pitch-black ponds. Fresh leaks are easy to find once you step into the tundra north of Usinsk. To spot a leak, find a dying tree. Fir trees with drooping gray, dry branches look as though scorched by a wildfire. They are growing insoil polluted by oil.
Usinsk spokeswoman Tatyana Khimichuk said the city administration had no powers to influence oil company operations.
“Everything that happens at the oil fields is Lukoil’s responsibility,” she said, referring to Russia’s second largest oil company, which owns a network of pipelines in the region.
Komi’s environmental protection officials also blamed oil companies. The local prosecutor’s office said in a report this year that the main problem is “that companies that extract hydrocarbons focus on making profits rather than how to use the resources rationally.”
Valery Bratenkov works as a foreman at oil fields outside Usinsk.
After hours, he is with a local environmental group. Bratenkov used to point out to his Lukoil bosses that oil spills routinely happen under their noses and asked them to repair the pipelines. “They were offended and said that costs too much money,” he said.
Activists like Bratenkov find it hard if not impossible to hold authorities to account in the area since some 90 percent of the local population comprises oil workers and their families who have moved from other regions of Russia, and depend on the industry for their livelihood.
Representatives of Lukoil denied claims that they try to conceal spills and leaks, and said that no more than 2.7 tons leaked last year from its production areas in Komi.
Ivan Blokov, campaign director at Greenpeace Russia, who studies oil spills, said the situation in Komi is replicated across Russia’s oil-producing regions, which stretch from the Black Sea in the southwest to the Chinese border in Russia’s Far East.
“It is happening everywhere,” Blokov said. “It’s typical of any oil field in Russia. The system is old and it is not being replaced in time by any oil company in the country.”
What also worries scientists and environmentalists is that oil spills are not confined to abandoned or aging fields. Alarmingly, accidents happen at brand new pipelines, said Barenboim.
Other oil sites in the Komi area, close to the town of Usinsk, include Total’s Kharyaga PSA, although it was not in Mr Mitvol’s sights yesterday.
The Natural Resources Ministry in Moscow said eight Lukoil deposits in Khanty-Mansiisk in western Siberia and 11 in Komi could lose licences due to alleged breaches of licensing terms.
“The inspections are a part of a state campaign to strengthen control over the oil and gas sector,” said Valery Nesterov, an energy analyst at Troika Dialog brokerage. But he downplayed the risk that Lukoil might be deprived of valuable licences. “The list of the companies which have been threatened with having their licence revoked is very long but no licences have actually been withdrawn so far,” he said.
Russia’s Population Meltdown
Declining birth rates and soaring rates of disease now threaten Russia’s very survival as a nation.
Last July, in his first annual presidential address to the Russian people, President Vladimir Putin listed the 16 Amost acute problems facing our country. Number one on the list, topping even the country’s dire economic condition and the diminishing effectiveness of its political institutions, was the declining size of Russia’s population. Putin put the matter plainly. The Russian population is shrinking by 750,000 every year, and (thanks to a large excess of deaths over births) looks likely to continue dropping for years to come. If the trend is not altered, he warned, the very survival of the nation will be endangered.
Unfortunately, even Putin’s grim reckoning of the numbers may understate the dimensions of the calamity confronting his country. Its birthrate has reached extraordinarily low levels, while the death rate is high and rising. The incidence of HIV/AIDS, syphilis, tuberculosis, hepatitis C, and other infectious diseases is soaring, even as the Russian health care system staggers. Perhaps 40 percent of the nation’s hospitals and clinics do not have hot water or sewage. Seventy-five percent or more of pregnant women suffer a serious pathology during their pregnancy, such as sepsis, toxemia, or anemia. Only about 25 percent of Russian children are born healthy. (The rate of infant mortality, however, has declined, at least according to official statistics.) The leading Russian pediatrician Aleksandr Baranov estimates that only five to 10 percent of all Russian children are healthy.
As if these challenges were not enough, Russia bears the burden of decades of environmentally destructive practices that have a direct, harmful impact on public health. Their legacy includes not just conventional pollution of the air and water but serious contamination around many nuclear and chemical sites throughout the country. In Dzerzhinsk and Chapayevsk, two of the 160 military chemical cities that produce chemicals for the military-industrial complex, the rate of spontaneous abortions or miscarriages is above 15 percent of conceptions a strong indication of chromosomal aberrations produced by the environment. Yet a weakened Russia lacks the means to contain ongoing pollution or to begin the monumental task of environmental cleanup. The decline in the size of the Russian population, and in Russians’ general health, vastly increases the difficulty of creating the economic health upon which such a cleanup and so much else depends.
It is not only compassion that should arouse the concern of the West. While some may cheer the weakening of this less-than-friendly power, still armed with large numbers of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, Russia’s sickening decline raises the twin prospects of political disintegration and subsequent consolidation under an authoritarian leader hostile to Western interests. The nation’s problems, in any event, can no longer be thought of as somehow only its own. Last year, an unclassified U.S. National Intelligence Estimate warned that the global rise of new and re-emergent infectious diseases will not only contribute to social and political instability in other countries but endanger U.S. citizens at home and abroad. Deaths from infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS) in the United States have nearly doubled, to some 170,000 annually, since 1980. And Russia’s deteriorating weapons stockpiles pose a threat of unknown dimensions, particularly to the nearby Scandinavian countries.
The broad outlines of Russia’s looming catastrophe can be sketched in stark terms. Russians are dying at a significantly faster rate than they are being born. Gloomy as it was, President Putin’s speech was based on the relatively rosy projections of the Russian State Statistical Agency, or Goskomstat. This scenario assumes an increase in the total fertility rate beginning in 2006, a decline in the mortality rate, and an increase in net in-migration. But only the latter projection is remotely plausible. By 2050, I believe, Russia’s population will shrink by one-third. In other words, it will drop from roughly 145 million today to about 100 million, a blow that even a stable, prosperous country would have difficulty sustaining.
My projections, based on a model developed for West Germany by the Population Reference Bureau, are less apocalyptic than those of some other Russian officials, Duma members, and demographers. A new study produced under the auspices of the Institute of Social and Political Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences, for example, predicts that population will decline to between 70 and 90 million by 2045. If one takes the annual 750,000 decrease noted by Putin and multiplies it by 50 years, the result is a drop in population of 37.5 million persons, to a net total of 108 million not far from my estimate of 100 million. The U.S. population, meanwhile, is projected by the U.S. Bureau of the Census to grow by 2050 from today’s 275 million to 396 million, a level almost four times the projected Russian population.
In broad demographic terms, one can say that Russia’s population is being squeezed by two pincers. On one side is the fertility rate, which has been falling since the early 1980s. Russian women now bear little more than half the number of children needed to sustain the population at current levels. In absolute terms, the number of annual births has dropped by half since reaching a high of 2.5 million in 1983. Due to Russia’s rising mortality rates, fertility would need to reach 2.15 births per woman just to reach the so-called simple population replacement level. As of 1999, however, the total fertility rate stood at 1.17 births per woman. That is to say, Russian women bear an average of 1.17 children over their entire fertile life, from ages 15 to 49. Fertility would need to rise by some two-thirds to reach the replacement level.
The Goskomstat projection points to an increase in fertility to 1.7 births per woman by 2006. But this prediction seems to be based on a simple extrapolation of existing trends that does not take into account the deterioration of Russians’ health. The harsh reality is that the number of women in the prime childbearing ages of 20 to 29 is falling, while the rates of sexually transmitted diseases among men and women (which affect fertility) and gynecological illnesses are both rising. The ranks of eligible parents, especially fathers, are being thinned by tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, alcoholism, drug abuse, and other causes. Fifteen to 20 percent of all Russian families experience infertility, with males accounting for 40 to 60 percent of the cases. Even as mortality and disease take more and more young people out of the pool of potential parents, attitudes toward childbearing have changed for the worse. An estimated two-thirds of all pregnancies now end in abortions. It is hard to see how the hoped-for fertility gains will occur. A steeper decline in Russia’s population seems unavoidable.
Mortality rates are also assumed to rise in the official calculation, but much less markedly than I anticipate. Some perspective on the Russian situation is provided by a comparison with the United States, which projects an average life expectancy at birth and survival rates for specific age groups that are far from the best in the world especially among 15- to 19-year-old males, who kill themselves with drugs, alcohol, and motorcycles. But in the United States, a boy who lives to age 16 has an 88 to 90 percent chance of living to age 60. His Russian counterpart has only a 58-60 percent chance. And those chances are shrinking.
Tuberculosis is only one of the maladies whose surging incidence is not reflected in current Goskomstat projections. The disease flourishes among people weakened by HIV/AIDS, alcoholism, and poverty. Findings by the research institute of the Russian Federal Security Service project enormous numbers of deaths from tuberculosis. Whereas only 7.7 of every 100 new Russian tuberculosis victims died in 1985, the death rate is now 25.5 per 100. According to official reports, the number of tuberculosis deaths soared by 30 percent in the 1998-99 period. The 1999 death toll of 29,000 was about 15 times the toll in the United States, or nearly 30 times greater when measured as deaths per 100,000 population in both countries.
The Russian authorities also underestimate the future impact of HIV/AIDS, spread chiefly by sexual contact and intravenous drug use. Vadim Pokrovskiy of the Federal Center for AIDS Prevention, Russia’s leading HIV/AIDS epidemiologist, estimates there will be five to 10 million deaths in the years after 2015 (deaths that, I believe, aren’t reflected in the projections). Most of the victims will be 15 to 29 years old, and most will be males further diminishing the pool of potential fathers.
Moscow reported 2.5 new cases of HIV nationally per 100,000 population in 1998, but the actual rate may be five, 20, or even 50 to 100 times greater, according to Russian epidemiologists and health officials. (The U.S. HIV incidence rate was 16.7 new cases per 100,000 population in 1998.) The Baltic port city of Kaliningrad and its surrounding oblast hold the unhappy distinction of recording the highest official rate of HIV increase, at 76.9 new cases per 100,000. Moscow, however, is currently overtaking it.
Some Russian demographers take comfort from the fact that their country is not entirely alone, since deaths exceed births in a number of European countries. But in countries such as Germany and Italy, the net ratio is close to 1.1 deaths to every birth. In Russia, deaths exceeded births by 929,600 in 1999, a ratio of 1.8:1 . If health trends and environmental conditions are not dramatically changed for the better, Russia could see two or more deaths for every birth in the not-too-distant future.
None of this is to say that there are not some signs of improvement. Childhood vaccination rates for tuberculosis, diphtheria, whooping cough, and other diseases have risen since 1995. Vaccination for rubella (German measles), which causes birth defects when contracted by pregnant women in the first trimester, was added to Russia’s prescribed immunization calendar in 1999. (However, no vaccines are produced in the country and none are yet imported; almost 600,000 cases were reported in 1999.) But the larger trends support the vision of looming demographic catastrophe. And a number of other developments also offer dark portents for the country’s future rates of fertility and mortality, and for the general health of its people, especially its children.
Sexually transmitted diseases have seen incredible rates of increase during the past decade. These diseases cripple and kill, damage reproductive health, and are associated with the spread of HIV/AIDS. The causes can be traced to the explosion of pornography and promiscuity; to the growth of prostitution, notably among 10- to 14-year-old girls; and, especially, to drug abuse involving shared needles and syringes. In 1997, the Ministry of Internal Affairs estimated that the market for illegal drugs was around $7 billion, 600 times greater than in 1991.
The Russian Ministry of Health reported 450,000 new cases of syphilis in 1997, and Goskomstat published a figure of close to 405,000. These are the last reasonably accurate statistics we are likely to have, thanks to a 1998 law that imposes prison terms on syphilitics who contract the disease through drug abuse.
Just as one would predict, the number of registered new cases of syphilis declined in 1998 and 1999. However, the explosion in new cases of HIV, and a concomitant increase in the estimated number of drug addicts, belie the latest figures on syphilis. The epidemiological synergy between HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (including gonorrhea, which is vastly under-reported) suggests not only that syphilis is more widespread than reported but that further increases in the incidence of HIV/AIDS can be expected.
The 1998 law that classified drug addicts as criminals ensured that few addicts a group at high risk for HIV will seek treatment. A specialist cited in Komsomol’skaya Pravda in 1998 made this grim prediction: We will see increased risk of complications and overdoses, the death rate among drug addicts will rise, incidence of HIV/AIDS will rise; and…the illegal market of drug-related services will begin to develop quite intensively.
Smoking is a habit among an estimated 70 percent of Russian males and one-third of females, and multinational tobacco companies aim to increase their sales in the country. The World Health Organization estimates that some 14 percent of all deaths in 1990 in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe were traceable to smoking-related illnesses; it expects that number to rise to 22 percent by 2020.
Alcohol consumption reflects an epidemic of alcoholism. Russian vodka produced for the domestic market (usually in half-liter bottles) comes with a tear-off top rather than a replaceable cork or screw top because it’s assumed that the bottle, once opened, will not be returned to the refrigerator. An estimated 20 million Russians roughly one-seventh of the population are alcoholics. Russia’s annual death toll from alcohol poisoning alone may have risen to 35,000 in 2000, as compared with 300 in the United States in the late 1990s.
Hepatitis B has sharply increased in incidence, but the sole producer of vaccines for the disease told me in Moscow that only 1.3 million doses are produced annually to meet a total demand of 13 to 14 million doses. Perhaps even more alarming in the long run are increases in the incidence of hepatitis C, an illness that chiefly attacks the liver and requires a very costly treatment protocol. The disease is often fatal.
Micronutrients are in short supply, especially iodine. No iodized salt has been produced in Russia since 1991, and little or none has been imported. In young children, iodine deficiency causes mental retardation.
Avitaminosis is common. A longitudinal study by the Institute of Nutrition of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences finds shortages of folic acid as well as vitamins A, B complex, D, and E among 30 percent of the population.
Heart disease exacts a toll, in age-standardized death rates, more than twice that in the United States and Western Europe. The death rate from such disease per 100,000 population is currently 736.1 in Russia, 267.7 in Belgium, 317.2 in the United Kingdom, and 307.2 in the United States.
Cancer is becoming more common. New cases increased from 191.8 per 100,000 population in 1990 to 200.7 in 1998. The incidence is likely to rise as a consequence of long-term exposure to low doses of radiation from decades of nuclear testing, as well as to benzo(a)pyrene, dioxin, and other industrial carcinogens. As in so many other cases, official statistics understate the problem. There is significant under-reporting of breast cancer, for example, especially among women of Muslim origin, who are reluctant to seek treatment from male doctors.
To all the foregoing challenges to the Russian future we must add a daunting collection of environmental ills. Russia will have to cope with a legacy of industrial development undertaken virtually without heed of the consequences for human health and the environment, just as it will have to contend with the consequences of decades of testing and stockpiling of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.
The crises that temporarily focus worldwide attention on these problems, such as the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident, only begin to hint at their severity. The news media beamed shocking reports of the 1994 Usinsk oil spill around the world, but it was only one of 700 major accidents and spills (defined as those involving 25,000 barrels of oil or more) that occur every year in Russia, spreading phenols, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, and a variety of other toxic chemicals. As Victor Ivanovich Danilov-Danilyan, the former head of the State Committee on Environment, notes, these losses are equivalent to about 25 Exxon Valdez spills per month!
Radioactivity remains a continuing concern. After the 1963 Test Ban Treaty barred open-air atomic weapons testing, the nuclear powers continued to conduct underground tests. But there was an important difference in the Soviet Union. There, many of the nation’s more than 100 nuclear explosions occurred in densely populated regions such as the Volga, as well as in the Urals and Yakutiya (Sakha) regions. After first denying that any of those explosions had been vented into the atmosphere, then Minister of Atomic Industry Viktor Mikhaylov later admitted that venting had occurred in 30 percent of the underground blasts.
What goes on today within the 10 formerly secret nuclear cities devoted to the development and production of nuclear weapons in Russia remains largely a mystery. Around the city of Chelyabinsk, a thousand miles east of Moscow in the Urals, some 450,000 Russians face unknown risks from a series of spills and accidents that occurred from the late 1940s to the 1960s. And area rivers may have been tainted by seepage from nuclear waste directly injected deep underground at the Krasnoyarsk, Dmitrovgrad, and Tomsk sites. Near the Tomsk-7 facility, the site of a serious nuclear accident in 1993, Russian and American environmentalists recently found evidence of phosphorous-32, a radionuclide with a half-life of only about two months. The discovery strongly suggests that radioactive wastewater used in cooling Tomsk-7’s two remaining plutonium-producing plants was illegally dumped.
Chemical pollution is widespread. Even in Moscow, which is home to much heavy industry, there is evidence that pollution has caused genetic deformities in the young [see photo, facing page]. In a study of the impact of chemical, petrochemical, and machine-building industries on human health, the Russian Ministry of Health found that newborns suffered congenital anomalies at a much higher rate (108 to 152 per 10,000 births) in industrial cities than in rural localities (39 to 54 per 10,000).
Alarming cases of mercury pollution, which causes illness and birth defects, have been reported (though aggregate official data have never been published). Three years ago, 16 tons of mercury was released upriver from the major northern city of Arkhangel’sk. In Krasnoural’sk, a city in the Urals that produces car batteries, Russian and American researchers have found that 76.5 percent of the children are mentally retarded. Lead is the cause. Cadmium and arsenic are prevalent in the air and land throughout much of Russia. In the Arctic north, wind-blown heavy metal salts and other pollutants from the city of Norilsk’s nonferrous metal plants have left the land barren and treeless for 75 kilometers to the southeast. Lakes and rivers everywhere are badly polluted by heavy metals dumped by industry and allowed to run off farmland. Estimates by the Yeltsin-era Ministry of Ecology and other observers suggest that only 25 to 50 percent of Russia’s fresh water is potable.
The world has not been blind to Russia’s plight. By late 1998, the United States and other donors had sent more than $66 billion in aid, according to a U.S. government estimate. The list of donors includes even South Korea, and recently officials of the European Union and the World Health Organization have recognized the need to act aggressively. But the aid has been inadequate and piecemeal, and its delivery has been hampered by corruption and inept administration. The frightening reality is that it may already be too late to help. Andrey Iliaronov, an economic adviser to President Putin, has pointed to 2003 as the year of reckoning, when the demographic crisis, the crumbling infrastructure, and the burden of massive foreign debt may combine to deal a crippling blow to Russia’s remaining productive capacity and thus, to its ability to help itself.
Where will the money come from for all the myriad improvements needed in reproductive and child health, for tuberculosis prevention and treatment, for HIV/AIDS cocktails of protease inhibitors? Who will supply the $400 billion needed to clean up the water supply over the next 20 years, or the $6 billion to clean up chemical weapons storage sites, or the hundreds of billions to clean up nuclear waste? The list of needs is depressingly long, and the Russian government has not always taken the right steps to address them. Last year, for example, President Putin abolished Russia’s main environmental agency, the State Committee on Environment, and transferred its responsibilities to the Ministry of Natural Resources, which is in the business of developing the country’s oil and mineral reserves. And yet, despite how daunting the task may seem, and how long the odds of success, we cannot simply ignore the ruin in Russia. The United States and other nations of the world have a profound interest in helping to avert an economic and demographic Chernobyl that would give a fearful new meaning to the word meltdown.
In an RT global exclusive premiere, President Putin gives his first post-inauguration interview, speaking in depth with RT’s Kevin Owen ahead of the APEC summit in Vladivostok.
Touching upon a range of issues, he discusses topics from the Pussy Riot trial to the Julian Assange case, from the upcoming US elections to the situation in Syria.
RT: What I want to talk about first of all is the ongoing at the moment APEC summit. You’ll be going there very shortly – in Vladivostok because it’s the first time that Russia has held it, a prestigious event. But it always begs the question – what’s actually achieved at these events, events like that, like the G8, G20?
Now, though APEC is primarily an economic vessel, there’s a lot of politics involved as well. And of course a lot of the key players including you, including America, a lot of key players disagree on some very key issues. I’m thinking about Syria, I’m thinking about missile defense, I’m thinking about Iran. Is there a danger that the politics may stifle, get in the way of the big economic deals that the very same key players are hoping to sign at this summit or at least talk about signing?
President Putin: That is true. But in fact – and you’ve just said it yourself – APEC was originally conceived as a forum for discussing economic issues. And as this year’s host country, we also intend to focus on economic and socio-economic challenges.
APEC was originally established with the overall objective of liberalizing the global economy. And we intend to make this a key issue on the agenda in Vladivostok.
When I invited our counterparts, five years ago, to meet for this forum particularly in the Russian Federation, my rationale was to acknowledge the importance of this area for Russia, given that two-thirds of Russia’s territory are located in Asia, and yet the bulk of our foreign trade – more than 50 percent – is with Europe, whereas Asia only accounts for 24 percent. Meanwhile, Asia is developing rapidly and intensively. You and I know it, and everybody knows it. Therefore, we are planning to focus primarily on economic challenges, transport, global food security and the task of liberalizing the global economy. It’s a well-known fact that the past year has seen a dramatic increase in the number of people affected by starvation, which has grown by 200 million. This means that 1 billion people worldwide are currently suffering from food shortages or famine. I believe this is the kind of issue that will be the focus of attention, along with a number of other challenges that are highly sensitive and significant for millions of people.
As far as Syria and other hot spots are concerned – issues that are currently in the limelight – we will certainly address them in our deliberations at the forum, in bilateral discussions or otherwise. They won’t be overlooked.
Now Russia is full WTO member, APEC summit affects millions of people
RT: Do you think there should be more practical outcomes though? Is it too much of a talking show – events like APEC?
Putin: You know, I attended the G20 meeting in Mexico just recently. As a rule, such meetings are pre-arranged and pre-discussed by our aides and ministers and high-ranking experts, and still there are certain issues that eventually come into focus for the heads of states attending. And in fact, that’s how it was in Mexico. I was very interested to follow discussions and look at conflicting opinions, and I participated in some of those discussions. I think the coming forum will see just as many debates. But it’s only through this kind of meticulous, hard work – year after year and quarter after quarter, if not day-by-day, if you excuse my officialeese – that we can eventually arrive at acceptable solutions to sensitive issues such as, say, liberalizing trade. Because this is an issue that affects millions of people. You know the issues debated within the framework of the World Trade Organization, and the coming APEC summit are so immensely important for us, partly because Russia is now a full member of the WTO. We have also established a Customs Union and a Common Economic Space in the post-Soviet territory jointly with Belarus and Kazakhstan. And dialogue is very important for us, so that we can explain to our partners and help them realize how this kind of association in the post-Soviet area could be beneficial and helpful. Especially since the vehicles I’ve mentioned have been established based on WTO principles.
Concerned by Syrian hostilities, but also by consequences of certain decisions
RT: Ok, thanks for explaining that. We’re going to come back to APEC a little bit later if we may, but you touched on another big subject in headlines, the horrendous events that have been unfolding in Syria over the last 18 months now. Russia’ position has been steadfast all the way along the line. Here you’ve said there should be no foreign intervention and it should be the Syrian people who do the deciding and it should be done through diplomacy. However, that’s a great idea, but day in day out innocent lives are being lost on both sides. Is it time for something more than talking? Should Russia be reassessing its position maybe now?
Putin: How come Russia is the only one who’s expected to revise its stance? Don’t you think our counterparts in negotiations ought to revise theirs as well? Because if we look back at the events in the past few years, we’ll see that quite a few of our counterparts’ initiatives have not played out the way they were intended to.
Take the examples of the numerous countries ridden by escalating internal conflict. The US and its allies went into Afghanistan, and now they’re all thinking about how to get out of there. If there’s anything on the table, it’s the issue of assisting them in withdrawing their troops and hardware from Afghanistan through our transit routes.
Now, are you sure that the situation there will be stable for decades to come? So far, no one is confident about it.
And look at what’s going on in Arab countries. There have been notable developments in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, etc. Would you say that order and prosperity have been totally ensured for these nations? And what’s going on in Iraq?
In Libya, there are armed clashes still raging among the country’s various tribes. I won’t even mention the way the country had its regime changed: this is a separate topic. What concerns us, and I want to emphasize this once again, is the current hostilities in Syria. But at the same time, we are just as concerned about the possible consequences of certain decisions, should they be taken.
In our opinion, the most important task today is, ending the violence. We must urge all the warring parties, including the government and the so-called rebels, the armed opposition, to sit down at the negotiating table and decide on a future that would guarantee security for all stakeholders in Syria. Only then should they get down to any practical measures regarding the country’s future governance system. We realize that this country needs a change, but this doesn’t mean that change should come with bloodshed.
We should stop trying to impose unacceptable, dead-end solutions to Syrian crisis
RT: OK, well, given the facts regarding Syria that you see on the table now, what is the next step? What do you realistically think is going to happen next?
Putin: We told our partners we would like to sit down together at the negotiating table in Geneva. And when we did, together we charted a roadmap for further action that would help bring peace to Syria and channel developments down a more constructive path. We received almost unanimous support and shared the talks’ results with the Syrian government. But then the rebels actually refused to recognize those decisions; and many of the negotiating parties have also quietly backed down.
I believe that the first thing to do is to stop shipping arms into the warzone, which is still going on. We should stop trying to impose unacceptable solutions on either side, because it is a dead-end. That’s what we should do. It is that simple.
Luckily, we generally enjoy friendly relations with the Arab world, but we would like to stay away from Islamic sectarian conflict, or interfere in a showdown involving the Sunnis, the Shia, theAlawis and so on. We treat everyone with equal respect. We also get on well with Saudi Arabia and other countries; I have cultivated a warm personal relationship with the custodian of two Islamic shrines. The only underlying motive behind our stance is the desire to create a favorable environment for the situation to develop positively in years to come.
RT: What are your thoughts about the United Nations and the way the United Nations has reacted particularly in Syria. There’s been criticism that it’s failed to deliver a unified front if you like and has become more of a figurehead organization. Do you share that view?
Putin: Quite the contrary, I would say. My take on the issue is the absolute opposite of what you have just said. If the United Nations and the Security Council had indeed turned into a mere rubberstamping tool for any one of the member states, it would have ceased to exist, just like the League of Nations did. But the reality is that the Security Council and the UN are meant to be a tool for compromise. Seeking to achieve it is a long and complex process, but only hard work can yield us fruit.
Using Al-Qaeda to fight in Syria perilous, one may as well give guns to Gitmo inmates
RT: Understood. Mr. President, another question I’d like to ask you – a number of Western and Arab nations have been covertly … with supporting the FSA, the Free Syrian Army – indeed, some of them are doing it openly now. Of course the catch here is that the FSA is suspected of hiring known Al-Qaeda fighters amongst their ranks. So the twist in this tale is that a lot of those countries are actually sponsoring terrorism, if you like, in Syria, countries that have suffered from terrible terrorism themselves. Is that a fair assessment?
Putin: You know, when someone aspires to attain an end they see as optimal, any means will do. As a rule, they will try and do that by hook or by crook – and hardly ever think of the consequences. That was the case during the war in Afghanistan, when the Soviet Union invaded in 1979. At that time, our present partners supported a rebel movement there and basically gave rise to Al Qaeda, which later backfired on the United States itself.
Today some want to use militants from Al Qaeda or some other organizations with equally radical views to accomplish their goals in Syria. This policy is dangerous and very short-sighted. In that case, one should unlock Guantanamo, arm all of its inmates and bring them to Syria to do the fighting – it’s practically the same kind of people. But what we should bear in mind is that one day these people will get back at their former captors. On the other hand, these same people should bear in mind that they will eventually end up in a new prison, very much like the one off the Cuban shore.
I would like to emphasize that this policy is very short-sighted and is fraught with dire consequences.
Too early to say if Arab Spring is a blessing or a curse
RT: I’d like to broaden that a little bit now, a little bit wider from Syria. You touched upon Syria. Syria is in the middle of a civil war, we’re seeing conflicts in Bahrain and in Saudi Arabia. Ok, things are a bit calmer in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, you mentioned it just now. But standing back from it overall, all the troubles that we’ve seen in the Middle East, all the turmoil there – has it been at all for the good or for the bad, where does it put that region now?
Putin: You know, we can discuss this into the small hours and still run out of time. For me, it’s a clear that these events have a historic logic. The leaders of these countries have obviously overlooked the need for change and missed ongoing trends at home and abroad, so they failed to produce the reforms which would have saved the day. All these events simply logically stem from this background. Whether this is a blessing or a curse with many negative implications, is now too early to say. In any case, the lack of a civilized approach, the high level of violence has so far stood in the way of any sustainable political structures which would help solve economic and social problems in societies hit by those events. This is what causes a lot of concern for the future. Because the people in these countries, who have had enough of their previous regimes, clearly expect the new governments to begin with tackling their social and economic problems in a competent way. But with no political stability, these problems cannot be solved.
Russia, US reliable partners and allies for each other
RT: Let’s turn now to the United States, the upcoming election there, which we are all looking forward to very much. Of course now the re-set button with Russia was firmly pushed by Barack Obama over the last 4 years, but its saw its ups and downs, and there’s still that missile defense shield that’s a headache for Russia in the East of Europe. If Obama does win a second term, what’s going to define the next chapter of Russia and America’s relations and is it chapter you can do business with?
Putin: I believe that over the last four years Presidents Obama and Medvedev have made a lot of progress in strengthening Russia-US relations. We have signed the new START treaty. Backed by the US, Russia has become a full-fledged member of the World Trade Organization. There have been more reasons to be optimistic about our bilateral relations: our strengthened cooperation in combating terrorism and organized crime, in the non-proliferation of weapons of mass-destruction and others. In other words, we have accumulated quite a lot of positive experience.
But the issue you mentioned – the US missile defense system – is surely one of the key issues on today’s agenda because it involves Russia’s vital interests. Scholars and experts understand that a unilateral solution will not enhance global stability. In essence, the intention is to upset the strategic balance, which is a very dangerous thing to do, as any involved party will always strive to maintain its defensive capabilities, and the entire thing could simply trigger off an arms race. Is it possible to find a solution to the problem, if president Obama is re-elected for a second term? In principle, yes, it is. But this isn’t just about president Obama. For all I know, his desire to work out a solution is quite sincere.
I met him recently on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico where we had a chance to talk. And though we talked mostly about Syria, I had the chance to feel the mood of my counterpart. My feeling is that he is a sincere man and that he sincerely wants to implement positive change. But can he do it, will they let him do it? I mean that there is also the military lobby, and the Department of State, which is quite conservative. By the way it is fairly similar to Russia’s Foreign Ministry. They are run by a number of professional clans who have been working there for decades. The thing is that in order to solve the missile defense issue, we both need to accept as an axiom that ‘yes, we are reliable partners and allies for each other’. Let’s imagine for a second we have the solution – that means that from now on we jointly assess missile threats and control this defense system together. This is a highly sensitive area of national defense. I am not sure that our partners are ready for this kind of cooperation.
RT: Is there anything that Russia can do to try and meet in the middle, to give a better ground?
Putin: We did what we could. We said, let’s do it together. Our partners are so far refusing to go along. What else can we do? We can maintain dialogue. That’s exactly what we will be doing, but naturally, as our American partners proceed with developing their own missile defense we shall have to think of how we can defend ourselves and preserve the strategic balance. By the way, America’s European allies (who also happen to be Russia’s partners) have nothing to do with it. I believe that as a European national, you should understand it. This is a purely American missile defense system, and a strategic one at that, with its European elements pushed to the periphery. You see, Europe, just like Russia, is not allowed to take part in either assessing missile threats or controlling the system. Our original proposal was to develop it as a three-party solution, but our partners have not agreed to it.
Romney effectively aiming US missile shield at Russia already
RT: Ok. So, we think you can work with Barack Obama if he gets in. What about if Mitt Romney gets in? Look, I’ve got some quotes here from just a month or two ago. This is the man that if he makes it to the White House said, “Russia is without question our number one geopolitical foe. They fight every cause for the world’s worst” and he went on to say “Russia is not a friendly character on the world stage.” Could you work with him, sir?
Putin: Yes, we can. We’ll work with whichever president is elected by the American people. But our effort will only be as efficient as our partners will want it to be.
As for Mr. Romney’s position, we understand that this is to a certain extent motivated by election campaign rhetoric, but I also think that he was obviously wrong, because such behavior on the international arena is the same as using nationalism and segregation as tools of US domestic policy. Its effect on the international arena is the same, when a politician, a person who aspires to lead a nation, especially a great country like the U.S., declares someone to be an enemy a priori. And by the way, this brings something else to mind.
When we talk about the missile defense system, our American partners keep telling us, “This is not directed against you.” But what happens if Mr. Romney, who believes us to be America’s number one foe, is elected as president of the United States? In that case, the missile defence system will definitely be directed against Russia as it is technologically configured exactly for this purpose.
And you also have to think about its strategic character, it’s built not for a year or even a decade, and the chances that a man with Romney’s views could come to power are quite high. So what are we supposed to do to ensure our security?
Magnitsky death used by some to make an enemy of Russia
RT: I’d like to talk about the latest developments in the Magnitsky case for a moment now, both the US and Britain, Britain most recently are working on this list of Russian officials, Russian citizens that they say are responsible for his death. He was a high ranking finance lawyer who died in a Russian jail, I’ll just explain for our viewers. Why is there still such a perception abroad that this wasn’t dealt with here in Russia, that the people responsible hadn’t been dealt with properly. Why does this keep rumbling on?
Putin: You see… there are people who need an enemy, they are looking for an opponent to fight against. Do you know how many people die while in prison in those countries which have condemned Russia? The numbers are huge! Look at the U.S. that came up with the so-called Magnitsky list. As you know, there is no death penalty in Russia while the U.S. still keeps it on the books. Anyone, including women can be executed. At the same time, all civilized societies know that judicial errors can occur in capital punishment cases, even when people plead guilty. It turns out later on that the convict did not commit the crime.
But that’s one thing. More importantly, I think only God has the right to take life away. But I don’t want to go too much into it right now – there’s a lot of philosophy in it. But with that in mind, we could have come up with our own black list, and more than one, of people who use the death penalty in other countries. But we choose not to do it.
As for Mr. Magnitsky, it is certainly a great tragedy that he died in prison. And there certainly must be a thorough investigation. If someone is guilty, they must be punished. But what I want to emphasize is that there is absolutely no political context to this case. It is a tragedy, but it only has to do with crime and legal procedure, not politics. No more than that.
Still, someone’s looking to spoil relations with Russia. They have banned some Russian officials that are allegedly involved in the death of Mr. Magnitsky from entering their country. Of course, I do regret his death and offer my condolences to his family.
But what should Russia do in such cases? Take appropriate steps and similarly list officials of the country that introduces such measures against Russia. Like that…
RT:And to make it perfectly clear, this case won’t be re-examined by Russia?
Putin: Which case? What needs to be re-tried? We must only find out whether someone’s guilty of his death or not. And if someone’s guilty and responsible for the death in some way, that person should be held accountable. That’s it. Again, there is no politics behind it. It’s the job of the law enforcement professionals to look into it.
And of course, the Russian authorities are going to do that. The Prosecutor’s Office is working on it now.
I try to stay as far away from PussyRiot case as possible
RT: Ok and now I’d like to talk about the trial and jailing of Pussy Riot, that punk group band. There’s been much criticism that the sentence handed down was too strong, too much and that the whole case was too big a deal off and that it actually back fired and has brought more people to their cause with the publicity. With hind sight , always a beautiful thing, but with hindsight do you think the case could have been handled differently?
Putin: You’ve been working in Russia for a while now and maybe know some Russian. Could you please translate the name of the band into Russian?
RT: Pussy Riot the punk band,I don’t know what you would call them in Russian Sir, but may be you could tell me!
Putin: Can you translate the first word into Russian? Or maybe it would sound too obscene? Yes, I think you wouldn’t do it because it sounds too obscene, even in English.
RT: I actually thought it was referring to a cat, but I’m getting your point here. Do you think the case was handled wrongly in any way, could some lesson have been learned?
Putin: I know you understand it perfectly well, you don’t need to pretend you don’t get it. It’s just because these people made everyone say their band’s name too many times. It’s obscene – but forget it.
Here’s what I would like to say. I have always felt that punishment should be proportionate to the offence. I am not in a position now and would not like, anyway, to comment on the decision of a Russian court, but I would rather talk about the moral side of the story.
First, in case you never heard of it, a couple of years ago one of the band’s members put up three effigies in one of Moscow’s big supermarkets, with a sign saying that Jews, gays and migrant workers should be driven out of Moscow. I think the authorities should have looked into their activities back then. After that, they staged an orgy in a public place. Of course, people are allowed to do whatever they want to do, as long as it’s legal, but this kind of conduct in a public place should not go unnoticed by the authorities. Then they uploaded the video of that orgy on the internet. You know some fans of group sex say it’s better than one-on-one because, like in any team, you don’t need to hit the ball all the time.
Again, it’s okay if you do what you like privately, but I wouldn’t be that certain about uploading your acts on the internet. It could be the subject of legal assessment, too.
Then they turned up at Yelokhovo Cathedral, here in Moscow, causing unholy mayhem, and went to another cathedral and caused mayhem there, too.
You know, Russians still have painful memories of the early years of Soviet rule, when thousands of Orthodox, Muslim, as well as clergy of other religions were persecuted. Soviet authorities brutally repressed the clergy. Many churches were destroyed. The attacks had a devastating effect on all our traditional religions. And so in general I think the state has to protect the feelings of believers.
I will not comment on whether the verdict is well-grounded and the sentence proportionate to the offence. These girls must have lawyers who defend their interests in court. They have the right to file an appeal and demand a new hearing. But it’s up to them, it’s just a legal issue.
RT: Is it realistic at all they will get some sort of early release?
Putin: I don’t know whether their lawyers have filed an appeal or not. I don’t follow the case that closely. If they appeal, a higher court is empowered to take any decision. To be honest, I try to stay as far away from the case as possible. I know the details but I do not want to get into it.
RT: There’s concern here and abroad that Russia has been suffering a clamp down on the opposition since you returned as President. There’s tighter defamation law, upping the fines for defamation, internet censorship laws brought into protect children. All these introduced under your watch. What’s the balance do you think between a healthy opposition and maintaining law and order? what’s your view?
Putin: So is it true then that other countries don’t have laws that ban child pornography, including online?
RT: Indeed they do.
Putin: So they do? Well, we didn’t, until recently. And if we began to protect our society and our children from these offences…
I just do what I think is right for Russia and Russians
RT: May be it was the timing of the introduction? It may have seemed a bit heavy handed as you came back to power again.
Putin: You know, I try not to think about it. I just do what I think is right for this country and for its people. And that’s how I will work in the future. Of course, I am aware of how my steps resonate globally, but this cannot dictate my policies. Any steps we take are in the interests of the Russian people, and our children need this kind of protection. No-one is going to use this as a tool to restrict the Internet or online freedoms, but we have the right to protect our children.
If we talk of what some call a clamp-down … We should clarify what we’re talking about. If we understand it as a simple requirement that everyone, including the opposition, complies with Russian law, then this requirement will be consistently enforced.
You might also remember the mass riots that shocked the UK some year ago. A lot of people were injured and lot of property damaged. Is it better to let things deteriorate to that state and then spend a year tracking down people and locking them up? I think it’s best not to let things go this far? That’s my first point.
Now to my second point. Let me now get down to the hard facts. You must know that a year ago I backed reform that will see Russian governors elected, and not appointed, as previously, through secret ballot. But I also took the next step. After taking office, I introduced a new bill on elections to the Upper Chamber of the Russian Parliament. These specific steps will pave the way for a more democratic Russia, and it’s true both for its people and its state. There have been other proposals initiated too, including changes in the law-making process.
The State Duma is now considering using public initiatives on major national issues submitted via the Internet as a source of new legislation. If a draft bill is supported by 100,000 web votes, it will then be discussed in the State Duma. Right now we are looking into how to put this idea into practice. There are other major proposals as well. We seek to make our society more advanced and more democratic and we intend to be consistent in following this path.
RT: We started off our talk by talking about the forthcoming APEC summit which you are off to very shortly. When you are there you’ll be meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao. You won’t be meeting Barak Obama because he’s not there, Hilary Clinton will be. Is that a sign of how he regards APEC? We know he’s busy but is it a sign of how he regards it? And is it a sign that China is increasingly becoming a bigger geopolitical and commercial partner for you?
Putin: China is indeed becoming a global economic and political hub. This is part of a global trend, with new centers emerging on the political and economic landscape. This is an obvious fact for everyone; the question is the pace of change. China has taken up this new leading role not only in Russia’s eyes, but also in the eyes of the whole world. What makes us rather special, however, is that Russia and China are neighbors, and our special relations took thousands of years to evolve to where we are now. We have been through times of sunshine which were very beneficial for both countries. We have also been through periods of gloom and conflict. Presently, Russia-China relations are at an unprecedented high, and we share mutual trust both in politically and economically. Over the coming years we are bound to achieve a 100 bln dollar turnover rate. To put this in perspective, currently Europe makes up 51% of Russia’s foreign trade, which amounts to over 200 bln dollars. That will be a serious push forward.
Our American partners told us long ago that Barack Obama will not attend the summit. The reason is the election race in the U.S., we think it’s okay. The U.S. will still be represented at a high level. So, yes, we’ve known that for several months now, and we fully understand the reasons. Anyway, this will be a great summit, with top officials coming from twenty countries – heads of states and governments. Of course, it’s a pity that the U.S. president cannot come this time, but nothing doing. I think if he really had the opportunity, he would not miss it, because it’s a good event for the U.S. to talk not only with us but also with other Asia-Pacific partners.
Anyway, I met Barack Obama earlier, as I said, in Mexico, and had a chance to discuss our bilateral ties and exchange opinions on the major global issues. So we do continue our dialogue.
Fight against corruption complicated, but we carry on
RT:Domestically again I’d like to talk about corruption. It’s a word that comes up time and time again here in Russia. You have talked about it before but most notably the previous president was really putting it at the top of his list of thing to sort out. However when Dmitry Medvedev left office as president he reported modest success at tackling it. How serious a problem do you think corruption is here in Russia in 2012 and what are you going to do about it?
Putin: Corruption is a problem for any country. And by the way you will find it in any country, be it in Europe or in the United States. They have legalized many things. Let’s take the private corporate lobby – what is it, is it corruption or not? It’s legalized and so formally is okay, within the law. But that depends on how you look at it. Therefore I will repeat that this problem is an issue for many countries.
More important is the level and scope of corruption. In our case, they are quite high. But this is typical of transition economies. The reason is that while new economic models are evolving many things are not yet adjusted or aligned, and the state is not always in control. There are also value issues, especially when we move from a socialist mindset and planned economy values to eternal values. This is a complicated process, especially if the new market facilitates rapid wealth acquisition for some particular circles or groups of people. This is something that is perceived painfully and with reprehension. The average person then starts thinking: if it is okay for those people to earn billions in a couple of years, why is it not okay for me to do this or that even if it isn’t exactly in sync with the law and moral values?
All this undermines the very foundation of the campaign against corruption. This is a very difficult process. But undoubtedly this is an essential part of our agenda, and we shall continue our efforts in this area.
RT: There are a big list of causes you have cited where do you begin to go about tackling it, and when is there going to be some sort of sea change, when will it get better if you like?
Putin: What we need to start with is to make our entire society detest the very notion of corruption. Corruption is a two-way process, with two sides to it, the bribe-giver and the bribe-taker, and it often happens that bribe-givers are even more active than the bribe-takers. Therefore it is a matter of supporting moral values; it is also a matter of making our law enforcement agencies more efficient and developing a legal framework that minimizes opportunities for corruption. This is a multi-dimensional task, very sensitive and difficult. And we shall work on every aspect of it.
RT: One of the practical ways you are going about it is the new draft law that prevents government officials from opening bank accounts and holding property abroad. I don’t know what you think about that law, but isn’t it possible for someone to use someone else’s account. How are you going to enforce it?
Putin: Of course you could. This bill has not been passed yet, it’s being reviewed by the State Duma. This naturally implies certain limitations for officials, because current legislation allows any Russian citizen to have a foreign bank account or property. Yet, limitations may be introduced for some officials, especially at a high-level. I don’t see anything extraordinary about this, especially in view of today’s realities. But the State Duma will have to present the rationale for their proposal and develop it into a detailed draft law. Overall, I believe this law has value and would assist the fight against corruption to a certain extent. Of course it will, because those people who are willing to commit themselves to serving their country and their people should be willing to agree to such terms – that if they want to have a bank account, it’ll have to be a Russian bank account, or a Russian branch of a bank. Why not? Many overseas banks have branches in Russia. One can keep their accounts here. Why go to Austria or the United States to open an account? If you connect your fate to this country be so kind as to make public your interests here, including financial interests, do not hide your money anywhere.
Assange case a definite example of double standards
RT: While we’ve got you with us sir.. I’d like to get your thoughts on the ongoing Julian Assange case in Britain, his legal battle with Britain and with a number of other countries as well but equally his attempts to get asylum in Equador which he’s now got and he’s holed-up in the Ecuadorean embassy. What’s your opinion on Britain’s stance, at one point they were talking about revoking the embassies diplomatic immunity so they could actually go in and get him. That sounds a bit odd when you think that Russia has a number of suspects it would like to talk to there, it’s a kind of topsy turvy situation, but they are given safe harbor in Britain.
Putin: This certainly is an unsettling factor in our relations with the UK. I used to tell my previous counterparts and friends in the British government – not those holding office at the moment – that Britain happens to be harboring certain individuals who have blood on their hands, having waged a real war on Russian territory and slaughtered people. I told them, “Just imagine what it would be like if Russia were to harbour militants from, say, the Irish Republican Army – not those negotiating and pursuing a compromise with the government these days (those are perfectly sane and sensible people), but those with a radical agenda.” You know what I was told in response? “But that’s exactly what the Soviet Union used to do, aiding people like that.”
First of all, I’m a former Soviet secret service operative myself. I don’t know whether the USSR used to aid this sort of people or not, simply because I never had anything to do with it. But even if we assume that it did, that was back in the Cold War era. There has been a cardinal change in the settings, the Soviet Union is history, and what we have today is a new Russia. How can we allow ourselves to be dominated by our old phobias and outdated perceptions of international relations and the kind of relations between our nations? Let them go at last.
We are constantly lectured on how independent Britain’s judiciary is. It makes its own decisions, and no one can influence that. What about Julian Assange? They have ruled to have him extradited. What is it if not an evident example of a double standard? I won’t make a definitive statement, but as far as I know, Ecuador has requested guarantees from the Swedish government that Sweden wouldn’t hand over Assange to the United States. No guarantees have so far been provided. At the very least, this suggests that we are looking at a politically motivated trial.
RT: Ok we’ll be following the developments there…We talked about some of the problems Russia faces, one of the long term problems Russia has been facing is the drugs trade, the import of drugs from Afghanistan. It’s increased many fold since NATO went in a decade ago, now the troops are due out in 2014 what then. Does Russia have any hope you can curb this huge drugs problem?
Putin: So far, it is not being solved. We are constantly engaged in dialogue with our partners, including those nations who have troops deployed in Afghanistan. And yet the situation has not improved – instead, it has deteriorated. The amount of drugs produced in Afghanistan has increased by 60 percent in the past year. By the way, I’m not sure about the exact figures, but some 90 percent of heroin peddled in the UK comes from Afghanistan. This is a common challenge and a common threat for us. For Russia, this is a very serious threat to our national security that cannot be overstated. More than 20 percent of the overall drug traffic coming from Afghanistan is marketed inside Russia. That makes up 70 tons of heroin and roughly 56 tons of crude opium as of last year, which is an immense amount, and it definitely qualifies as a threat to our national security.
RT: Could you explain to our viewers what the correlation was, why did this problem increase when NATO troops were there? Was there any connection? Why was that happening?
Putin: There is an apparent link. I won’t bring up any criminal schemes right now, but none of the nations who are currently committing their troops to Afghanistan want to make matters worse for themselves by combatting drugs in Afghanistan, because drugs are Afghanistan’s way of making a living. Nine percent of that country’s GDP comes from drug trafficking. If you want to replace this 9 percent, you’ll have to pay – but no one wants to. And you cannot get anywhere with mere statements about how you are planning to make up for those drug revenues with some other kinds of income. Talk is not enough – what you need is substantive economic policies and financial assistance. Nobody seems willing to provide that, to begin with. And no one wants to complicate matters for themselves by taking on drug trafficking, because if you take away drug revenues from those people, you effectively compel them to starvation, and that means making even more enemies in Afghanistan: if you go after drugs, people will go after you. That’s all there is to it. Drugs are closely related to terrorism and organized crime, but that is something everybody is aware of already. Everyone knows that drug revenues are partly used to finance terrorism. But even this awareness and the realization that Europe is being flooded with Afghan-made drugs are not enough to encourage our partners to seriously tackle this issue. And this is very sad.
Russia better prepared for second wave of global economic crisis
RT: A final thought from you Mr President. While you’ll be talking money and finances at the forthcoming APEC summit that you are going to. Looking at the world economy from where you are generally. Do you think we are heading for a second global slump and if we do is Russia as well prepared to bat it off as it did last time. It did pretty well last time but is it as well prepared this time?
Putin: I believe we are even better prepared because we’ve already experienced the first wave of the crisis, and we have an understanding of what’s to be done about it and how we should do it. And we have the instruments for crisis management. Moreover, I tasked Russia’s previous Cabinet as early as last year with upgrading the already tried and tested instruments, drafting new laws and adjusting our regulations. We requested parliament to assign 200 bln rubles to a government reserve fund – and parliament agreed. Therefore, we are generally equipped for managing a crisis. On top of that, as you know, we have enjoyed fairly strong economic growth, a rate of 4.2 percent, which is highest among the world’s largest economies next to China and India. The euro zone’s average growth rate has been 3.9 percent, while ours was 4.2. By the way, both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are predicting negative growth at minus 0.3 percent for the euro zone next year. This year, we are still counting on positive growth ranging between 4 and 5 percent. That’s precisely why, even if Russia should face economic difficulties, it will have plenty of instruments at hand to deal with the challenge.
We have reinforced our gold and currency reserves, almost bringing them back up to pre-crisis levels. We presently rate third worldwide next to China and Japan with upwards of $500 bln in gold and currency reserves. Parallel to that, the government is rebuilding its own reserves. We have two government reserve funds: the $80-billion National Wealth Fund, and the Reserve Fund with roughly $60 bln, to finance a budget deficit, should we suffer one. But so far, we don’t have a deficit: next year’s budget registers a surplus, slight as it may be. Our unemployment rates are the lowest possible. While unemployment averages 11.2 percent in the euro zone and reaches 25—26 percent in economies such as Spain, topping 70 percent among youth, we maintain an unemployment rate of 5.1 percent, which is even below pre-crisis indices. But this doesn’t make us careless and complacent. We are fully aware that the tricky aspect of the global economy is unpredictability, and you can almost never be sure as to where the greatest challenges and threats will emerge from next. That is why we closely follow everything that’s going on in neighboring economies and our partner economies.
We wish them success, and we are honestly willing to assist them as good partners. Because any kind of economic mishap in the euro zone, for instance, is bound to have painful ramifications for us. The euro zone is our major sales market. Should it shrink, our own production will immediately decrease. Therefore, our interest is in seeing the euro zone survive and our main partner-economies get back on track. We need Europe’s leading economies such as Germany, France and Britain to be in good shape. This is something that we’ll always keep an eye on. And this will be a primary topic for discussion at the Vladivostok APEC Summit.
RT: Well we wish you all the very best. President Vladimir Putin, thank you for talking to RT.
Putin: Thank you very much.
- APEC summit a success – Putin (english.ruvr.ru)
- China Sounds Alarm on Global Economy at APEC Summit ! (socioecohistory.wordpress.com)
- China sounds alarm on global economy at APEC summit – Reuters UK (uk.reuters.com)
- Why Russian eagle turns to the East (indrus.in)
- Putin: ‘Build Bridges, Not Walls’ (thesantosrepublic.com)
- President Putin has arrived in Vladivostok (english.ruvr.ru)
PRLog (Press Release) – Apr 23, 2012 –
Why is the 2006 poisoning death of Alexander Litvinenko still unsolved today? Media business analyst William Dunkerley looks into that question in a timely analysis just published. Dunkerley is the author of the book, The Phony Litvinenko Murder. He has followed the Litvinenko case closely since 2007. That’s when he was asked by the organizers of the World Congress of the International Federation of Journalists to study and analyze the media coverage surrounding Litvinenko’s poisoning and death. Dunkerley’s book reflects his findings, and further offers his analysis of subsequent developments in the case.
Litvinenko was a British citizen and fugitive from Russia, his original homeland. News of his death became a top world headline in late 2006. Dunkerley says the popular storyline was, “Former KGB Spy Litvinenko was murdered by Russian president Vladimir Putin who poisoned him with radioactive polonium.” But Dunkerley presents evidence that there are virtually no facts to back up that media theme.
Dunkerley also takes a critical look at the role of the London Coroner’s office in the Litvinenko case. Now five and half years after Litvinenko’s death, Dunkerley asks, “Why didn’t the Coroner wrap up the case years ago?” In his new report, Dunkerley describes a litany of contributing problems. He concludes that the case has been irreparably damaged by the Coroner’s handling of it and by what he calls the prevailing non-fact-based media coverage.
The new report can be seen here: http://www.omnicompress.com/plmblog/archives/2012/04/entry_9.htm
William Dunkerley is a media business analyst and consultant based in New Britain, CT. Dunkerley works extensively in Russia and other post-communist countries, and has advised governments on matters of press freedom and media sector development. He has written and spoken widely about media issues related to Russia.
Standing by an open hatch on a Russian military plane high up in the sky is tricky.
All the more so when your job is to “seed” clouds, shovelling chemicals outside to cause rain.
These seeded clouds never make it to Moscow, where millions are enjoying a nice sunny holiday. Or where guests might be dancing at a wedding under the clear blue sky.
Some might think that controlling the weather sounds a bit like science fiction.
But military pilot Alexander Akimenkov doesn’t think so.
I don’t think there will be good results – dry substances are not able to have any noticeable reaction with ice particles
Dr Nina Zaitseva
Russian Academy of Science
He has seeded clouds over Moscow on important state holidays for many years. He says the Russians use two different methods to try to drive the rain away.
“Either there’s a special machine that spits out silver iodide, dry ice or cement into the clouds, or a hatch opens and a guy with a shovel seeds the clouds manually,” he explains.
“As soon as the chemicals touch the cloud, a hole appears. It becomes bigger and bigger, and it either rains right there and then or, if the clouds aren’t very dense, they disperse without any precipitation.”
The Russian government has used rain prevention methods since Soviet times, seeding clouds for major celebrations three times a year – Victory Day, City Day and, more recently, Russia Day.
There are also private companies that for some $6,000 per hour say they can guarantee sunshine on your wedding day – or for any other private party.
HOW CLOUD SEEDING WORKS
Cloud seeding graphic
1. Silver iodide is fired into cloud using flares on planes or from the ground
2. Water droplets then attach to these particles
3. They fall as snow if surface temperatures are below or near freezing, or as raindrops at warmer temperatures
4. Heat released as the droplets freeze boosts updrafts, which pull more moist air into the cloud
Despite the use of the cloud-seeding technique, many scientists remain sceptical of its effectiveness
Many ecologists agree that these techniques, also used in many other countries for irrigation purposes, do not pose much of a threat to the environment or people’s health, as the period of active influence on the clouds is very short.
But when Moscow’s mayor Yuri Luzhkov suggested the technique could shift the winter snow outside the capital – and therefore save more than $10m in snow-clearing costs – many felt the city authorities were going a bit too far.
Alexey Yablokov (photo Y. Kotlyarenko-Shukhman)
Alexey Yablokov says winter snow is vital in Moscow (Photo: Y. Kotlyarenko-Shukhman)
Even if the idea might appeal to Moscow drivers, tired of constant traffic jams – especially bad in snowy conditions – it has stirred concerns among local ecologists.
“Millions of tonnes of snow diverted from Moscow will create chaos in the areas where it is forced to fall and might even lead to the collapse of bridges and roofs,” said Alexei Yablokov, one of Russia’s leading environmentalists, who was ecological adviser to former President Boris Yeltsin.
Besides, a lack of snow in Moscow would cause many problems in the capital itself, he said.
“Why do we need snow in Moscow? Snow on the ground helps the roots of trees to survive during severe frosts. If there’s no snow, lots of vegetation – trees, bushes – will die.
“Snow also cleans the atmosphere very effectively. If there’s nothing to clean the Moscow atmosphere, many people will die – there will be tens or even hundreds of additional deaths,” explains Mr Yablokov.
But Valery Stasenko from Roshydromet – the Federal Service of Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring – calls these concerns groundless.
“It is stupid to say that there won’t be any snow in Moscow. If there is some five centimetres of it, it’s absolutely fine, but there is a limit when all the transport just stops,” he said, adding that the aim of winter cloud-seeding would not be to get rid of snow, but to control its level, not letting it go over this maximum limit.
The planes will be out only occasionally, said Mr Stasenko, to prevent major snowfall that happens on average three or four times a month. Thus it will cost a lot less than using snowploughs that are out most days of the winter.
Moscow in winter (AFP)
Moscow’s mayor raised the possibility of seeding in the winter
“Besides, the idea didn’t come to the Moscow mayor from nowhere, it is based on facts. In the early 1980s, back in the Soviet period, there was a special service to limit snowfall over Moscow. It stopped working during perestroika [Gorbachev’s reforms], when money became scarce,” Mr Stasenko said.
“Some eight to 10 planes had to find clouds with the most precipitation and spray them with crystallising chemicals.
“Not all water vapour in the atmosphere turns to precipitation, and for the snow to fall, water vapour should concentrate on ice crystals first. So we were making snow fall before it reached Moscow and this work reduced the amount of snow in the capital by 20, 30 and sometimes 40%.”
And even though this winter is over and the snow in Moscow will soon disappear naturally, scientists at the Central Aerological Observatory of Roshydromet have been working for months trying to come up with new, improved techniques of winter cloud-seeding.
They refused to explain the essence of their work. And this secrecy raises important environmental concerns, says a climate specialist from the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Department of Earth Sciences, Nina Zaitseva. She believes that even with raincloud seeding, much depends on luck and coincidence.
She is sceptical about the current research and the state’s past or present ability to effectively seed winter clouds.
“I don’t think there will be good results – dry substances are not able to have any noticeable reaction with ice particles. But if they decide to seed winter clouds with a liquid, they should first and foremost think about the ecological consequences,” said Dr Zaitseva.
Regardless of the Moscow authorities’ final decision on snow cloud seeding, Russia remains one of the few nations where weather control is more than using anti-hail cannons and battling droughts.
So if you want to visit Moscow and don’t fancy rain, go there on one of the three precipitation-free holidays.
And if you want to ensure your wedding day is dry – it might just be possible to make it happen. BBC