|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Kurchatov Institute To Head Russian Technological Innovation Effort
Jan. 17 (EIRNS)On Jan. 12, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of government officials on implementation of an already approved plan to upgrade the role of the Kurchatov Institute, also known as the Russian Nuclear Center, within the Russian economy. The Kurchatov Institute is famous, among other things, as the flagship institution for Russian research on nuclear fusion power. Putin said that supplementary direct federal funding to the Institute is intended to enable it to "serve as a model for organizing all national research centers," of which a network of five to seven new ones is planned. In addition to "the junction of nano-, bio-, and information technology," Putin named nuclear power as a priority area of concentration.
Jan. 15 remarks by Kurchatov Institute vice-president, Academician Nikolai Ponomaryov-Stepnoy, on the importance of cooperation with India on new technologies in nuclear power, are included in the article "The East Goes Nuclear, While the West Heads for the Caves," in this issue of EIR InDepth.
Putin Ironizes About 'Global Warming,' in Meeting on Winter Emergencies
Jan. 12 (EIRNS)Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin yesterday opened a meeting with Minister of Regional Development V.F. Basargin, commenting, "Besides solving problems connected with global warmingif that happenswe must, of course, proceed from reality, and react promptly to the global cooling we have encountered today. This is completely obvious."
The session was to review measures to deal with numerous cold-weather heating and electricity breakdowns, which have hit Russian regions throughout Siberia, as well as the city of St. Petersburg. The unusual cold is especially straining the many infrastructure systems which have not been well maintained or updated since the Soviet period.
Turkey, Russia Agree on Broad Cooperation on Energy
Jan. 13 (EIRNS)Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan concluded agreements with Russia today after meetings with both President Dmitri Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Turkey has agreed to allow Russia to build part of its South Stream gas pipeline through the Turkish part of the Black Sea to ports in Turkey, from where it will continue into Europe and the Middle East. Turkey hopes to become a major energy corridor for the region. Turkey has been courted by the European Union to become a part of its planned Nabucco pipeline, a project designed to create an alternative to Russia as a supplier of natural gas. While Turkey has not reneged on a possible role in Nabucco, it is clearly determined to strengthen its relationship with Russia.
The two sides reached preliminary agreement that Russia will build the first nuclear power plant in Turkey. Turkey plans to put out tenders for three nuclear power plants, the first, and maybe more, going to Russia. The document on nuclear cooperation was signed by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, in charge of energy and fuel affairs, and his Turkish counterpart, Taner Yildiz.
A Russian-Turkish consortium created by the two Russian firms Atomstroiexport and Inter RAO UES, and the Turkish firm Park Technic, will construct a nuclear power plant consisting of four units with a combined capacity of about 5 gigawatts, news agencies reported. Construction of the first unit is to begin in 2011. The site will probably be near the Mediterranean coast city of Mersin. The project is estimated to cost $18-20 billion.
Erdogan said preparations for the signing of a formal agreement were currently under way in Turkey, while Putin said talks on construction of the nuclear power plant would continue, and the two countries "naturally count on its positive completion." Putin said Russia had "significant advantages" for implementing the project. "We provide loans and equipment, and we give local construction companies ... a share of 20-25% or even 30% in the entire volume of contracts," he said, "We provide nuclear fuel and are ready to take back spent nuclear fuel for reprocessing."
The two sides are also discussing the possibility of eliminating visa requirements between the two countries. "The Russian-Turkish relationship is improving. It is really a strategic partnership," Medvedev told reporters.
Ukraine's Presidential Poll Heads into Runoff
Jan. 17 (EIRNS)Preliminary returns from today's Presidential elections in Ukraine point to a run-off between Party of Regions leader Victor Yanukovych (with over 31% of the vote) and Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko (over 27%). President Victor Yushchenko, with his pledge to shepherd Ukraine into the EU and NATO, was left in the dust with 6%. Supporters of Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine leader Natalia Vitrenko, denied ballot status for not paying the $300,000 registration fee, wrote "For Vitrenko" in large letters on their ballots. One of Yanukovych's campaign promises was to adopt "the policy of U.S. President [Franklin] Roosevelt after the Great Depression, for 'the general welfare.' "