MOSCOW, October 14 (RIA Novosti)
EVENTS IN NALCHIK WERE PROVOKED BY CLAN FIGHTING
The events in Kabardino-Balkaria, where a large group of militants attempted to occupy Nalchik, the capital of that North Caucasus republic of Russia, were predictable, said Alexei Makarkin, deputy general director of the Center of Political Technologies. Clan fighting for seats in power structures flared up after Valery Kokov, who had ruled the republic since 1991, was replaced with Arsen Kanokov. Islamic radicals used these tensions to their advantage.
Islamic radicalism flourished on the rich breeding ground of extreme poverty in a republic which is divided into clans and has provoked an explosion. When economic, social and ethnic problems accumulate, Wahhabism comes to the forefront. As a result, clans blame the Wahhabis for explosions and murders that happen during their armed skirmishes.
Unless poverty is defeated in the republic, Islamic radicals will recruit more and more fighters, which will have dire consequences, the political scientist said.
Maxim Shevchenko, head of the Center for the Strategic Studies of Modern Religion and Policy, said unrest was provoked by the local power players who are dissatisfied with the redistribution of authority in the republic. The abuses of power permitted by local law enforcement and security-related structures help the Islamic radicals recruit new members who are ready to stage the most barbarous terrorist attacks, he said.
"I am 120% sure that it was not a revolt by extremists but an attempt by a group of local elites dissatisfied with the recent appointments in Kabarda (Kabardino-Balkaria( to destabilize the situation in a bid to regain some of their lost powers or get new ones," Shevchenko said.
It has long been rumored that Kabardino-Balkaria is being prepared for the role so far being played by Chechnya; this danger is becoming reality now. One of the reasons for the events is sky-high corruption in the bodies, which adds conviction to the propaganda of radicals and extremists who want to split Russia and create an Islamic caliphate.
A radical ideology which the Islamic world had rejected until only recently is becoming reality; it is being made real by those who launched the global anti-terrorist war, Shevchenko said.
EVENTS IN NALCHIK AND THEIR EFFECT ON VERTICAL POWER SYSTEMS
Yesterday morning militants attacked the building of security-related structures in Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria in Russia's North Caucasus. After the hostage-taking crisis in Beslan, North Ossetia, in September 2004, the president reformed the country's political structures, in particular by canceling direct gubernatorial elections. What will be done to reinforce the vertical system of power now, after the attack in Nalchik?
Nikolai Bezborodov, a State Duma deputy (United Russia): To make state management more effective, mayors should be appointed. The plenipotentiary envoys of the president prevented the disintegration of the state and should be granted more powers now. We should also think more seriously about the future president, who should have experience in state management, be predictable, and carry on the current policy. There is only one man who can do this. In addition, prosecutors should have more powers and something should be done with lawyers, who are only hindering the passing of sentences.
Garri Kasparov, head of Committee 2008: they will step up efforts now to prolong Putin's stay in power.
Viktor Ilyukhin, deputy chairman of the State Duma committee on security (KPRF - Communist Party): More than enough has been done under this pretext after Beslan. We could carry on this policy, appointing governors general and canceling the elections of the heads of local self-governments, but this would be sheer madness. Instead, we should strengthen security-related structures and revive the network of agents. We should also cleanse the Caucasus of weapons and deal with religious associations.
Alexander Sharavin, director of the Institute of Political and Military Analysis: I don't know what measures can be taken to strengthen the vertical system of power that can change the situation in the North Caucasus. Corruption is so high that it cannot be eradicated by any vertical system. As for governors general, they could be used in the North Caucasus until peace is restored there.
Sergei Ivanenko, first deputy chairman of Yabloko: I hope that authorities have seen that mounting pressure will not solve the problems in the Caucasus.
Georgy Shpak, the governor of the Ryazan region: We should reintroduce capital punishment for terrorists and complete the creation of the vertical system of power, from governors and down.
MINISTRY TO RESTRICT FOREIGN ACCESS TO SHELF
Foreign companies will be allowed to produce oil and gas from the Russian shelf only if they have invested in Russia more than their competitors. But even these companies will not be able to operate independently - such firms will have to join together with a Russian company who will have controlling interest in the joint venture.
Minister for Natural Resources Yury Trutnev has unveiled these conditions for non-residents wishing to work the shelf. He said if standard auction rules were applied to shelf development, Russian companies would have no chance at all, because Western companies have investment portfolios tens of times bigger.
Foreigners must not be given control over shelf deposits, agrees an official from the presidential administration, because that will distort things.
The Russian minister's proposals have left foreign investors puzzled. Alexander Levshov, of Norway's Statoil, said his company was interested in shelf projects in Russia, but their decision would depend on how attractive and competitive they are compared with world shelf projects. Statoil, he said, produces oil in the Gulf of Mexico, and offshore in Brazil, Angola and Azerbaijan. In the latter case the state has less than a 50% stake in the public national oil company.
Shell-Russia's concern chairman John Barry says they work the Salym deposit in Western Siberia with Russian company Evikhon on a parity basis, and neither one has a controlling interest.
The ministry is adopting an increasingly tough stance on foreign investors, says Valery Nesterov, an analyst with Troika Dialog brokerage. But he is certain that foreigners would gladly develop the Russian shelf, which is among the largest in the world.
Vladimir Milov, president of the Energy Policy Institute, calls the official requirements "strange and senseless." "The companies that have invested in Russia can be counted on the fingers of one hand [ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Shell, Total and BP]. Why automatically cut off the rest?" the expert is perplexed.
BAILING OUT RUSSIAN AIRCRAFT INDUSTRY
Volgaero, a Russian-French joint venture, which has officially opened today in Rybinsk, (upper reaches of the Volga River), will mass produce SaM-146 engines for the Russian Regional Jet (RRJ) family. The engine was developed by Russia's Saturn science and production association, in conjunction with Snecma of France. It is called on to bail out the Russian aircraft industry.
The joint venture Powerjet that was established in July 2004 implements the SaM-146 program. It designs, assembles and markets these engines, offering warranty and post-warranty support.
"We have already invested _37 million into this project. Our company has contributed a building, utilities and equipment to the new joint venture. The French side has also supplied equipment," Saturn deputy general director Igor Yudin said.
France's government has issued a repayable loan (_140 million) to Snecma. The Russian side is also entitled to state subsidies and private investment.
It is planed to assemble the first engine in April 2006 and test it in May. "Eight engines must be assembled for certification purposes. We need another 12 of these jet engines in order to certify the RRJ. All in all, 20 are required during the initial stage," Yudin added.
"The global market can absorb an estimated 1,000 RRJs. The Sukhoi Civil Aircraft company hopes to sell about 800 planes, including 200 in Russia," Konstantin Makiyenko, deputy general director at the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, stressed.
"We must assemble 1,650 engines by 2022," Yudin noted. "It will not cost much," he added. Experts claim that the SaM-146 will perform much better than its rival, the Ukrainian Motor-Sich D-436. The same can be said about maintenance and repair standards.
According to Makiyenko, these jet engines can also be installed on Antonov An-148 planes and China's ARJ-21 regional airliners.
RUSSIA HAS NO REMOTE SENSING SATELLITES
Those advocating expanded space exploration claim that remote sensing satellites make it possible to scan the terrestrial surface. These spacecraft can map the planetary surface, pinpoint forest fires, locate fish schools in the world's oceans and assess their biological productivity. However, Russia does not seem to have an adequately large satellite cluster.
The United States now operates at least 20 multi-purpose satellites, not to mention spy satellites. India and the European Union have three and two satellites, respectively. France boasts 12 satellites, whereas Israel, Canada, Algeria, China, Brazil, Morocco and Egypt have one satellite each. Unfortunately, Russia now lacks even one remote sensing or weather satellite.
Russia orbited the Monitor-E satellite on August 26, 2005. But this spacecraft went dead on the sixth circuit. On October 8, the EU's CryoSat for watching polar areas lifted off atop a Rokot launch vehicle. The rocket itself crashed into the sea, destroying the satellite. This disaster and the Monitor-E fiasco have hurt Russian pride and, needless to say, reputation badly.
Russian specialists therefore have to receive NOAA and Terra/Aqua satellite data from the United States.
Russia is to conduct an agricultural survey next year, assessing its farmlands and crops. The previous survey was completed in tsarist times. Right now, Moscow has no idea about redundant farmlands. Satellite photos can provide classified regional crop forecasts that can be used by stock market players. U.S. satellites will help Moscow with this survey because there are no Russian remote sensing satellites today.
Russian space agency managers are complaining about lack of money. But India does not spend much more on space exploration. The country has managed to launch three remote sensing satellites, while Russia has none.