|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Russia Plans Northern Ural Industrial Development
June 28 (EIRNS)The Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences held a session June 26 on implementation of the program Industrial Ural-Polar Ural, a design for the industrial development of the northern Ural Mountains region, which extends above the Arctic Circle. Like the conference on a Bering Strait tunnel crossing, held April 24, the meeting brought together top government officials with leading academicians. The Academy's joint commission with the Ministry of Economics, the Council for the Study of Productive Forces (SOPS), is active on both projects.
Pyotr Latyshev, Presidential representative in the Ural Federal District, addressed the meeting, as did Academy of Sciences President Yuri Osipov, the nuclear physicist Yevgeni Velikhov, and Alexander Granberg, the head of SOPS.
The Ural Federal District extends from the southern end of the Ural Mountains, northward to Russia's Arctic Ocean coastline. It includes two cities of over a million peopleYekaterinburg and Chelyabinskas well as much of the West Siberian oilfields, centered around Tyumen. Those industrial and population concentrations are in the southern part of the district. According to NewsProm.Ru, The Ural Federal District produces 92% of Russia's natural gas, 67% of the oil, has 45% of the steel industry, 42% of non-ferrous metals production, and 34% of Russian machine-building. The fact that only 10-12% of the northern reaches of the district have been subjected to thorough geological study, Latyshev said, indicates that substantial new resources can be found and developed.
Latyshev's presentation was paraphrased by Uralpolit.ru and other regional media. He said that the Industrial Ural-Polar Ural plan was first outlined 18 months ago, and has now taken shape as a project "to create a unique industry and infrastructure complex, based on developing the natural resources of the polar and near-polar Ural region, together with key elements of new basic transport and energy infrastructure." The Academy of Sciences, Latyshev reported, has done a huge amount of work, especially to relaunch geological studies of the area, and plan the infrastructure side of the project.
"The core of the transport infrastructure under this project will be a rail line along the east slope of the Urals from Polunochnoye to Obskaya," Nakanune.ru quoted Latyshev as saying. "Together with the Obskaya-Bovanenkovo and Obskaya-Salekhard-Nadym lines, which are under construction, this will create a fundamentally new transport scheme for the North of the Russian Federation. Forming a transportation ring, it will provide the shortest route linking the Ural industries with the resource deposits of the polar and near-polar Ural, as well as with prospective new oil and gas fields on the Yamal Peninsula, as well as providing an outlet to the Northern Sea Route." These rail lines have already been incorporated into the federal programs for rail modernization. In the plan, drawn up chiefly by the SOPS under Academician Granberg, 2.55 gigawatts of new power generation capacity will be built, along with setting up 60 new mining and ore-processing companies.
Bering Strait Concept Popularized in Russia
June 28 (EIRNS)A quasi-satirical futurological scenario for the political fate of Russia over the next decades, published June 26 by the APN agency of Stanislav Belkovsky's National Strategy Institute, incorporates the Bering Strait crossingwith innovative technologies like "string transport"as one of the things that is bound to happen. In author Vadim Shtepa's vision, global warming allows Russia to leap to prosperity, as one of the "developed northern countries."
"This occurred," writes Shtepa, "not as the kind of ideological declaration that was so fashionable in the previous period, but as something quite obvious, once the transcontinental string rail line was built across the expanses of Russia and over the Bering Strait. This is where the Stabilization Fund was invested, which the previous regime had kept in American banks. The Russian regions that got involved in that project became, in the most natural and objective way, part of the civilization of the Global North. And along that railroad there arose a great number of new, modern, small cities, with all the global links they need. And the inhabitants of the expensive megalopolises began to flock there. Thus began the new discovery of Rus."
APN includes a link to www.unitsky.ru, Academician Anatoli Yunitsky's site on his "string transport" innovation, which EIR wrote about last year.
Russian Scientific Team Maps Arctic Floor
June 28 (EIRNS)The nuclear-powered icebreaker Rossiya made a six-week Arctic Ocean expedition this Spring, to map the sea floor and substantiate an upwards revision of the size of Russia's Arctic continental shelf by 1.2 million square kilometers. On the basis of this shelf expansion, Russia will cite provisions of the Law of the Sea Treaty to recalculate its 200-mile "economic zone" and lay claim to offshore deposits of hydrocarbons and minerals, including along the Lomonosov Ridge and the Mendeleyev Ridge, which stretch across the Arctic in the direction of Greenland. As an article in Izvestia of June 27 reports, Denmark, Norway, Canada, and the U.S.A. may have competing claims. Not having ratified the Law of the Sea, however, the U.S.A. would not take part in United Nations arbitration of the dispute; according to a June 10 article in the Chicago Tribune, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) recently urged ratification for expressly this reason.
Izvestia notes that there is evidence not only of large oil and gas deposits under the Arctic, but also tin, manganese, gold, nickel, lead, and platinum. Dr. Valeri Kaminsky, director of Okeangeologiya (the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute for Maritime Geology and Natural Resources), is heading up the new study. He told Izvestia that it will take a year to evaluate the findings of the 70-man Rossiya team. Okeangeologiya is a joint institution of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Natural Resources Ministry.
Russian Duma Members Hit Stormy Hearings in U.S. House
WASHINGTON, DC, June 22 (EIRNS)The June 21 joint forum of the U.S. House of Representatives and State Duma of the Russian Federation International Relations Committees, the first one ever to be partly open to the public, featured sharp polemics, along with a pair of promising proposals for cooperation. The tone for the pointed discussions was set earlier in the week, when House International Relations chairman Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) compared Russian President Vladimir Putin to Popeye the Sailor. Speaking to Reuters, Lantos said that Putin and Russia were flexing their muscles after feasting on oil money, just like Popeye with spinach.
At the Capitol Hill event, Lantos was joined by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and committee members Elliot Engel (D-N.J.), Joe Wilson (D-S.C.), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), with other Members of Congress also present, including Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio). In the Russian delegation were International Affairs Committee chairman Konstantin Kosachov (United Russia), first deputy chairman Leonid Slutsky (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia), and deputy chairmen Alexander Kozlovsky (United Russia) and Natalya Narochnitskaya (For a Just Russia-Rodina).
Lantos effusively praised the late President Boris Yeltsin as truly exemplary of democratization, saying that after Yeltsin's departure from officei.e., since Putin took power"we have had a number of very severe problems in our relations with Russia." Lantos went on to cite Kremlin control of Russian TV and the assassination of Anna Politkovskaya and other journalists, as typifying these problems, while he located common U.S.-Russian interests "in halting Iran's headlong rush towards acquiring nuclear weapons." Lantos said that the U.S. Administration may have "mishandled" the proposed placement of anti-missile defenses in the Czech Republic and Poland, but that not a single Member of Congress believes they are aimed against Russia.
Kosachov rebutted Lantos point by point, saying that Russia would not accept "criticism based on unilateral, one-sided sources." Kosachov also cited Putin's 70-80% popularity, which he linked to the increase of real incomes in Russia during the last few years.
Rohrabacher focussed on potential joint ventures in high-technology areas, which would not proliferate nuclear weapons: high temperature gas-cooled reactors for nuclear power, and airborne laser anti-missile defense systems, which he suggested Russia and the U.S.A. could work on together. He cited President Reagan's original SDI proposal. Slutsky thanked Rohrabacher for this "extremely constructive statement," which he remarked had raised the discussion to the level of real cooperation.
Engel delivered a position on independence for Kosovo, similar to the recent articles of former State Department official Richard Holbrooke: Either Russia accept the Ahtisaari plan for de jure independence of Kosovo from Serbia, or Russia will be left alone with its opinion. A ferocious debate ensued, as Kozlovsky attacked this position, and Lantos interrupted him when the Russian parliamentarian drew the comparison with South Ossetia and Abkhazia within Georgia; Lantos aggressively maintained that only in Kosovo had there been ethnic cleansing. This brought a pointed rejoinder from Narochnitskaya, who is a historian, both on the history of the Balkans and on the protocol question of interrupting a visiting a parliamentarian's speech.
On her website, Narochnitskaya notes that she presented Pelosi with a five-part report, issued by her Historical Perspective Foundation, titled "Human Rights in the U.S.A." She says that the two delegations signed a Russian-drafted pledge not to promote legislation detrimental to the security interests of the other, but that the spirit of that agreement was already violated during these talks, including a visit by the two delegations with Undersecretary of State Daniel Fried, who presented a similar position on Kosovo as Engel had done.
The visiting Russian delegation and many other attendees received from LaRouche Political Action Committee organizers the LPAC pamphlet "LaRouche's Visit to Moscow: A Strategy for War Avoidance," along with recent speeches by LaRouche and EIR articles, translated into Russian.