Volgograd Forum, November 1, 2001

U.S.-Russian Cooperation

Recently Russian mass media quoted the words of Secretary of State Colin Powell, who said that over the past six weeks the USA and Russia had become closer than over the last six years.

This is probably true. I now compare comments about current developments in some major (West) European and Russian periodicals on the Internet and would rather say that the latter are often more favorably disposed towards American policies than the former. Of course, this can partly be explained that European mass media are more independent from their governments than Russian ones, but sometimes the difference is striking.

Of course, in Russia, too, President Putin's America-friendly policy is met with criticism by some groups, mainly the conservative military and Communist Party supporters. They were especially vocal recently after President Putin announced that Russia would close its major eavesdropping center in Cuba.

Still in my apprehension the general public is supportive of President Putin's policy and sympathetic with the American cause.

One of the proponents of Russian-American rapprochement addressed the Volgograd Free Speech Forum October 24. Dr. Boris Filatov is really a remarkable man. In the eighties he was the head of a government research center, which studied the effects of poisonous chemical substances on human health. That research institute was based in Volgograd because here was a chemical factory, which produced chemical weapons (though the Soviet Union officially denied it). So, Dr. Filatov's work was top secret then.

After the new democratic Russian government pledged to annihilate all stocks of chemical weapons in the nineties and scientists who were engaged in research work in this field were allowed to have contacts with their Western counterparts, Dr. Filatov entered an active correspondence and, later, scientific exchanges with US medical experts on chemical warfare. He now often visits the United States and was once invited to speak at the US Department of State. It came to pass that on September 11 he was also in Washington, D. C. where he took part in a scientific conference. He told us that that conference started in the morning of the eleventh at the US Department of Transport and after the news about the terrorist attack spread it was abruptly adjourned and re-started in the afternoon in a suburban restaurant.

We invited Dr. Filatov to share with us not only his American experiences, though there were many questions about it too, but to give his opinion about safety of our chemical industry in view of a possible terrorist attack or subversive activities. There are 17 chemical factories in Volgograd, which produce or deal with dangerous substances and we wanted to get first-hand information about safety precautions there.

Dr. Filatov said that all chemical factories in Volgograd are well-guarded and there is little chance of terrorists penetrating there. But there are other facilities in the city, which also deal with dangerous substances that are very poorly guarded, if at all. For example, the municipal water facility, which uses chlorine for disinfecting drinking water, or ice cream factory, or even bakeries. He also said that ventilated shelters are not kept in good order and very few citizens have gas masks.

Dr. Filatov's research center possesses a unique technology, which makes it possible to identify within minutes what kind of chemical substance has been dispersed. It is very important in cases of chemical terrorism. Mr. Filatov said if the Japanese had that technology there would have been less victims after the terrorist attack in the Tokyo subway some years ago.

Right after he got back from the USA last September Dr. Filatov wrote to the Russian Government suggesting to offer his technology to the United States free. (Since his research was done with Russian Government money, he cannot dispose of it alone). He said he did not think about money because at the time of emergency all people must do what they can to help each other. I think it was noble of him because scientists in Russia do not make much money nowadays.

Some days ago I read in the Wall Street Journal an article by John McCain, a Republican senator from Arizona.

He wrote among other things, "We have a great many interests in the world that were, until September 11, of the first order of magnitude, and the central occupation of American statesmen. No longer. Now we have only one primary occupation, and that is to vanquish international terrorism."

I guess it may be true not only about statesmen, but American people in general. Do you think there would be less interest in various international projects, like our medical exchanges or the free-speech forum?

Alexander Yevreinov
Director, Volgograd Free Speech Forum


Home : About Us : Our Projects : Get Involved : News & Events : Library : Key People : Special Thanks : Links : Contact Us

2002 Greater Cleveland - Volgograd Oblast Alliance