NEWS: For the month of March 2001, Vol.1, No.3
S e l e c t   N e w s   I t e m s   A b o u t   R u s s i a
Peru/Russia Arms Scandal
ZURICH, Switzerland- (Reuters)
  Authorities say the frozen assets belonging to Peru's former spy chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, came from arms deals with Russia.
 Much of the $48 million, in the frozen account, very likely originated from payments of commissions connected to arms deals between Russia and Peru.
   The Zurich district attorney's office said investigators tracked down an additional $22 million flowing fron Russia to the account.   Montesinos is Peru's top fugitive and said to be the power behind former President Fujimori and the military and judiciary.

500,000 Railway Workers to be Sacked.
MOSCOW (MT):
    Railways Minister Nikolai Aksyonenko said he plans to cut half a million jobs across the country.
   Starting in 2002 he plans to lay off 100,000 per year. This news seemed to cause no panic in the Railway Workers Trade Union. Officials said they were certain that most workers would be rehired by the new companies to emerge from the restructure. This sense of apathy is all pervasive, and the
    The minister has been touring the Siberian regions saying that layoffs would "essentially be just rotations within the same branch."
   Russia's needs are served by 17 regional railways and these to, will be restructured and reduced to 8. Selling off the hardware would leave a smaller industry that would retain a regulatory role only. The remaining companies are expected to rehire the laid-off workers, said the minister.
Russia's Freedom of the Press
MOSCOW (MT)    In the year 2000, sixteen journalists died while on assignment. This is the same number as died on assignment during 1999. The figures came out in a report released on Jan. 13 by the Glasnost Defense Foundation, a group supporting freedom of expression.
    The most prominent were Artyom Borovik, the head of the Top Secret media holding company, who died in a car crash that the report described as mysterious, and Igor Domnikov, who worked for Moscow's Novaya Gazeta and was beaten to death with a hammer by an unknown attacker. The report also said that a total of 73 journalist were attacked on separate occassions during 2000.

1,784 Cases of Money-laundering during 2000
MOSCOW (AP)
The Interior Ministry's Vladmir Makarov, said money-laundering cases more than doubled last year. Markarov, who is head of the ministry's department for fighting economic crime, also added, that the shadow untaxed economy is as high as 45% of GDP. Especially donminant in the shadow economy is the raw materials industry. "The metals industry and production of other raw materials are the most criminalized." said Viktor Kozlov, deputy chief of the ministry's anti-money laundering center.

Media-MOST says it will sue government. MOSCOW - The Associated Press
After being pursued for months by federal prosecutors, Russia's Media-Most company said on Friday it would sue the Russian government for defaulting on treasury bonds during a 1998 financial crisis, the Interfax news agency reported.
   The report quoted company spokesman Dmitry Ostalsky as saying Media-Most, owner of Russia's largest private television station, holds state bonds with a face value of about $300 million. Russia's Finance Ministry defaulted on these bonds in August, 1998. Russian prosecutors accuse Media-Most and its director Vladimir Gusinsky of misrepresenting assets when it accepted $300 million in loan guarantees from Russia's natural gas monopoly Gazprom in 1996.
  Ostalsky said Media-Most plans to sue in foreign courts for the money, but declined to say where, Interfax reported. He could not be reached for comment Friday evening. In the report, Ostalsky said the company decided to sue after the Finance Ministry refused to accept some of the bonds in exchange for payment on a $ 30 million loan Media-Most owed the ministry. If the company does file suit, the case will join at least four pending in courts in Russia and Europe where the company's fate is being decided..
   The Russian government has said the case against Media-Most and Gusinsky is about ending financial chaos in the country. Journalists at the company's newspapers, radio and television stations say President Vladimir Putin is cracking down on the free press in Russia, and punishing Media-Most for backing the wrong horse in 2000 presidential elections.

Oilman Gunned Down
MOSCOW:(AP)
   Alexander Volkovsky, president of the RussoBalt Petroleum company, was shot to death in St. Petersburgh, the city's prosecutor's office said.
  He was shot several times in the chest, in the entranceway to his apartment building, said Gennady Ryabov, spokesman for the prosecutor's office. Police found discarded shells, although no other information was given.

Alfa Bank Fears Putin-onomics
MOSCOW:(MT)
   The founders of Russia's largest private bank have sided with the critics of Prime Minister Kasyanov. Andrei Illarionov, chief presidential advisor, commented that the economy is heading for a rough landing. His gloomy outlook is based upon the governments "inability to pursue coherent economic policies and its refusal to honor the Paris Club debt." The debt is a contentious issue, with some saying the refusal is based upon the conveluted legalities behind debt restructuring, I.E. no profits for corrupt officials, unlike the London Club debt.
   The Central bank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko called on the Prime Minister to pay the debt. Andrei Illarionov said,"Not honoring debts is no different from hooliganism, like stealing handsets from telephone booths, breaking windows or, excuse me, relieving oneself in a stairwell."
   All typical Russian behavior. The day before, Illarionov told the European Business Club that,"the party is over and the hangover has already begun."

Moscow McDonalds Fined.
The Federal Labor Inspectorate announced in January, that is would fine McDonalds for violating the nation's labor laws. The inspectorate was to issue a fine of 2000 to 10 000 rubles($70-$352) after finding, during an inspection of the company, that its policies on working time, time off and job protection did not conform with the Labor Code.

Antichrist seen in barcode
SERGIYEV POSAD, Moscow Region The lights in the hall of the Moscow Theological Academy went off and a frail 90-year-old starets, one of the Russian Orthodox Church's most authoritative spiritual leaders, appeared on a giant video screen. Speaking from his monastery cell in northwestern Russia, he tried to help bishops, monks and theology professors decide how to handle an unlikely problem plaguing the church: a mass refusal by church members to accept the government-issued tax identification numbers, or INN, because they see them as the sign of the Antichrist
FULL STORY...

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