MOSCOW, May 26 (RIA Novosti)

Rossiiskaya Gazeta

Russia Strengthens Relations With China - Ex-Premier

Russia is seeking stronger ties with its Chinese neighbor, with an accent on the political means of ensuring China's territorial integrity. The ratification by the State Duma (lower house) and the Federation Council (upper house) of the agreement on the Russian-Chinese border was therefore a significant event, former premier Yevgeny Primakov said.

Primakov, an academic and the chairman of the Russian-Chinese Committee for Friendship, Peace and Development, says the new world could either develop toward a multi-polar world or toward a uni-polar world, with the United States setting the standard for the international community, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, a pro-governmental daily, reported.

China's rapid economic growth and Russia's certain economic consolidation, as well as the stronger statehood of these two nations provide crucial support for the multi-polar option.

Economic cooperation has also seen some definite achievements. It will be even more impressive if projects like the new hydropower and thermo-power stations are completed in Russia's Far East with subsequent export of electric power to China, and when the Russian-Chinese oil pipeline is commissioned.

Russia-China rapprochement is particularly essential in view of some negative issues on the international scene. The latter include the United States' declared course towards "exporting" democracy to countries where it deems it is lacking. Washington's statements about its plans to support some Islamic movements are no less alarming. The United States' contacts with its "Muslim brothers," seeking to change power by non-constitutional methods in Egypt, Syria and other countries testifies that such re-orientation could aggravate the situation in some countries close to the Russian and Chinese borders. Therefore, the two countries' consultations and their shared position in favor of stable regional and global situations are becoming more and more important.


Expert: Russia's Future Depends Of CIS' Fate

The CIS is the last line of defense for Russia and the forces that are trying to weaken Russia's influence in the alliance will ultimately deal with Russia directly, said Alexei Pushkov, member of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, the daily Trud reported.

According to Pushkov, many forces are interested in weakening Russia today, including anti-Russian circles in the U.S. and Western Europe, China, which might have a growing desire to expand its influence in the Far East and Islamic centers that want to spread their influence on the part of Russia. "If we do not stop the weakening of Russia's influence in the CIS countries, we will have to face all our enemies on our own," he said.

It is too early to bury the CIS, Pushkov said, since any alliance is better that an ultimate divorce. Many politicians in the former Soviet republics realize the importance of the CIS. The excessive fascination with the West might still backfire and established ties with Russia are fairly reliable.

"Our leadership would benefit from letting Ukraine experience negative aspects of the emphatic turn toward the West," Pushkov said. "Russia's policy must not give others the impression that the country will tolerate any kind of abuse."

As for Belarus, the only thing that might force it to unite with Russia is a large-scale campaign to create the conditions for a "color revolution" launched by the West and the domestic opposition. If that happens, the current Belarus regime would not have a choice. However, there is certain danger in such a development, Pushkov said.

"We might have a riot in Belarus at our hands while the political situation in our country will have deteriorated as well. Therefore, it makes sense to unite as soon as possible rather than at the moment of crisis."

Vremya Novostei

Blackout In Moscow Bodes Political Disaster For Chubais

The political consequences of Wednesday's blackout here might be as serious as the technological and communal ones. Russian President Vladimir Putin now has good reasons to sack Unified Energy Systems CEO Anatoly Chubais, the last head of a Russian natural monopoly not belonging to Putin's inner circle or private individual without unfailing loyalty to the Kremlin, Vremya Novostei, a daily, reported.

Much depends on how the Kremlin will react to the extremely vulnerable position of Chubais, one of Putin's potential political rivals. Despite the fact that Chubais did not make any anti-Putin statements after the defeat of the liberal Union of Right Forces party during the 2003 State Duma elections (he was one of the party leaders at the time).

Chubais remains a prominent "shadow" figure for possible united rightist-liberal opposition. The Kremlin team (and especially its "security-related" section) is therefore tempted to replace Chubais with a loyal head during the next UES annual shareholders' meeting in June. The state also owns a controlling stake in the company.

But swapping Chubais for a Putin sympathizer has as many minuses as it does pluses. Chubais' resignation will not solve problems facing the energy industry, and there will be no one to shift the responsibility on when new disasters crop up. Heading one of the largest Russian state monopolies, Chubais does not have time to lead an active political life. However, if the Kremlin hands him a pink slip, Chubais would have a lot of free time on his hands.

Wednesday's events might undermine stability without specific actions on the part of the opposition or terrorist activities. In Russia, utility systems are worn out to the point where the country lives in the conditions of a latent industrial catastrophe. Russians are only waiting until "the pipe bursts" next time.

As a result of the emergency shutdown at several Moscow-based electric power sub-stations, there was a complete or partial power outage in six out of 10 Moscow administrative districts, affecting home electricity, the metro, streetcars, trolley buses and commuter trains. Twenty-four cities in the Moscow region, and cities and villages in the Kaluga, Tula and Ryazan regions had trouble with their power supply. According to UES data, the disaster affected between 1.5 and 2 million people.


Bakiyev: New Military Base Could Be In Osh

A new military base may be opened in Osh, South Kyrgyzstan, under the Collective Security Organization (Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) or the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan), acting Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev told the daily Kommersant.

He added that the Russian base in Kant set up under the CSTO "will exist for as long as necessary," in accordance with Bishkek's previous obligations. The base has 10-15 combat planes, including Su-25 assault planes and Su-27 fighters, up to 500 servicemen and services Russian military transports and helicopters.

The U.S. Air Force base at Manas airport (set up to support U.S. troops in Afghanistan) will continue to fulfill its functions in compliance with previous agreements between Kyrgyzstan and the United States.

Bakiyev said that if he wins the July presidential election, Felix Kulov, the leader of the Dignity party and an active member of the March opposition protests, would become prime minister. He said his union with Kulov was both tactical and strategic, created "primarily to preclude a north and south split of Kyrgyzstan and rests on the integrity of Kyrgyzstan and the unity of all nations and ethnic groups in the republic." Bakiyev is confident of his victory in the first round, promising that the election will be honest and fair.

Bakiyev also stressed that religious extremists stood behind the events in neighboring Uzbekistan, where government troops recently suppressed an anti-government uprising. He admitted that there are seats of Islamic extremism in Kyrgyzstan, "but they are not as active and aggressive now" as in Uzbekistan.

"Regrettably, Islam and the Koran are sometimes interpreted differently, especially by ignorant people. The security services, the spiritual leaders and highly educated spiritually rich people should work with this section," Bakiyev said.


Government To Tighten Control Over Defense Factories

The Rosoboroneksport state arms export intermediary acquired a 25% stake in the Motovilikha Factories machine building company through its Oboronimpex subsidiary Wednesday, business daily Biznes reported.

Experts see this deal as part of Rosoboroneksport's strategy of tightening control over export defense enterprises. "By signing export contracts, Rosoborneksport must make sure that sectoral enterprises can fulfil them," Konstantin Makiyenko, deputy director of the Center for Analyzing Strategies and Technologies, said.

India is now negotiating the $570-million purchase of 36 Smerch (Tornado) multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS), produced at Motovilikha Factories. The new Indian Government has decided to revise some previous deals, meaning New Delhi is now taking a breather. But experts say that the Smerch contract should be fulfilled in two years.

Motovilikha Factories is Rosoboroneksport's third large asset. The Oboronitelnye Sistemy (Defensive Systems) company that turns out anti-aircraft weaponry is the first. Rosoboroneksport subsequently purchased the Mil Helicopters holding company and owns at least 25% of all shares in these three companies.

"We hope that the enterprise's foreign market potential will increase with the arrival of this respected structure," said Igor Vagan, Motovilikha Factories foreign contacts director. He said corporate factories continue to expand production, fulfilling additional state orders. And the Russian Defense Ministry has listed Motivilikha Factories among its best suppliers for more than 12 months.

The Motovilikha Factories public company in the Perm region west of the Urals mountains develops and manufactures Uragan (Hurricane) and Smerch MLRS-s, Nona self-propelled guns and tank cannons. It produces top-quality steel, ensuring high-precision mechanical processing. Moreover, it assembles and tests all ready-made weaponry. Consolidated sales volumes totaled 4.6 billion rubles ($1 equals 28.03 rubles) in 2004.

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