|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Medvedev: Unemployment Far Beyond Expectations
April 15 (EIRNS)Russia has the "very alarming" number of 2.2 million registered unemployed, President Dmitri Medvedev told experts at the Institute of Modern Development in Moscow yesterday. "The situation is certainly very difficult," Medvedev said. "We have already achieved the rates of registered unemployment that we expected to reach perhaps by the end of 2009: already almost 2.2 million people are unemployed. If we look at the real unemployment rate, this is also growing very quickly. These figures, calculated using ILO methods, have grown impressively: over the past six months; the rate of real unemployment among the economically active population has increased by almost 3%, and [has reached] already almost 8.5%. [J]ust six months ago, this figure was 5.3%."
Things were much worse at the depths of the 1998 crisis, when unemployment was 13.3%, Medvedev said. "But these are not the kind of indicators we want [now]," he said.
Saakashvili Faces Protests; EU Probes South Ossetia War
April 9 (EIRNS)Opposition to George Soros's and Lord Mark Malloch-Brown's test-tube baby in Georgia, President Mikhail Saakashvili, brought out up to 80,000 demonstrators on today demanding Saaskashvili's resignation. The issues, reportedly, are the President's dictatorial practices, and Georgia's invasion of South Ossetia in August 2008, which led to a defeat of the Georgian military. Saakashvili says he intends to stay in office until his term ends in 2013.
EIR documented, in a series of articles in 2008, that Saakashvili was a creation of Soros's front groups, and the British Foreign Office's Malloch-Brown, and that the Georgia invasion was backed by the British empire and intended to trigger a confrontation with Russia, leading to war.
In the midst of growing opposition to Saakashvili, who failed to gain membership for Georgia in NATO, one of the "plums" he was after to cause tensions with Russia, a report was leaked to the German magazine, Der Spiegel, which wrote on March 23, that a European Union inquiry "is shining an unfavorable light" on Saakashvili, and that a "secret document may prove that the Georgian president had planned a war of aggression in South Ossetia."
Spiegel reports that it has "obtained information" that a television appearance by the Georgian commander of the peacekeeping forces in South Ossetia, Gen. Mamuka Kurashvili on Aug. 7, 2008, just at the beginning of the war, "plays a key role in the investigation. His remarks indicate that Georgian President Miheil Saakashvili was not repelling 'Russian aggression' as he continues to claim to this day, but was planning a war of aggression."
On Aug. 7, Kuashvili said on TV that Georgia had decided to "reestablish constitutional order in the entire region," and under investigation is whether he was reading from a pre-existing written order, known as Order #2, which had been intercepted by Russian intelligence during the fighting in South Ossetia. A leading Russian official, Anatoly Nogovitsyn, told the EU commission about Order #2.
The commission is trying to authenticate what the Russians have shown them, but, "The Georgian government still refuses to show the controversial decree to the commission. Officials in Tblisi argue that ... the document is a state secret."
Meanwhile, Saakashvili continues to lie that his invasion of Georgia was a reaction to Russian aggression, and is trying to spin an April 3 statement by President Barack Obama that, as Senator, he had opposed "the Russian invasion" of South Ossetia, into getting a new (long-term)lease on [political] life."
Russia Makes Rail Agreements With France, Armenia, Iran
April 21 (EIRNS)Le Figaro reported April 3 that Guillaume Pepy, CEO of the French national railroad company SNCF, signed a "protocol of agreement" on March 31 with Russian Railways President Vladimir Yakunin. The French and Russian transportation companies agreed to run good transportation via French trains that will go from Europe to China. Sea transport of goods between these locations can take up to six weeks, while rail can do the job in ten days. The 12,000-km rail corridor would go from China through Mongolia, Russia, Poland, and Germany, and would begin operations three years from now.
Later in April, RIA Novosti reported on a particular section of the Eurasian Land-Bridge coming into existence, around the Caspian Sea. Armenia has reached an agreement with Iran on a $400 million loan for the construction of a railway between the two countries. Armenian Transport Minister Gurgen Sargsyan signed an agreement April 14 in Tehran with his Iranian counterpart, Hamed Behbahani. A working group will carry out a feasibility study. "In addition, Armenia is in negotiations with the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and other concerned parties," Sargsyan told journalists.
The construction of the 500-kilometer (310-mile) railway, with 60 kilometers (37 miles) in Iranian territory, is expected to take at least five years and cost $1.5-$1.8 billion. The railway, with the Armenian section connecting the northern city of Sevan to the southern city of Meghri, on the border with Iran, will ensure the transportation of energy supplies and other goods, and increase trade between the countries. This will be one of the key branches of the Grand North-South Railway Transport Corridor from St. Petersburg to the Iranian shore of the Persian Gulf.
Landlocked Armenia has rail links with other countries, so far, only through the territory of Georgia, which is complicated by Tbilisi's often fractious relations with Moscow. Russia and Ukraine have expressed interest in financing the project.
Lavrov, on North Korea Visit, Calls for Calm
April 24 (EIRNS)At the end of his visit to North Korea today, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov appealed to the nations involved in the Six-Party Talks to keep calm and seek resumption of the talks. Lavrov said he asked the DPRK (North Korea) to return to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, when meeting with his DPRK counterpart Pak Ui-chun and the DPRK's parliamentary speaker Kim Yong-nam in Pyongyang, but the DPRK indicated it has no intention to return to the Six-Party Talks yet.
He said Russia proposed that the DPRK use Russian territory for a satellite launch, in line with Moscow's policy of cooperating with other nations' peaceful space programs. Lavrov continued on to South Korea, where he was met by South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan. In Seoul, he said that imposing sanctions on the DPRK is "not constructive."