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    February 10


    The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) has established the type explosives used in Friday's terrorist attack in the Moscow underground. The mixture of two explosives was very similar to the one used to blow up two commuter trains in the Stavropol territory, in the North Caucasus. Shamil Basayev has already taken responsibility for those terrorist acts. It is possible that he was the mastermind of the underground explosion as well, the newspaper writes.

    According to Moscow Prosecutor Anatoly Zuyev, investigators have finally chosen the main version of the tragedy: a suicide bomber was to blame for the explosion. This conclusion was based on the preliminary results reached by bomb and explosive experts.

    Specialists have also discovered how the explosive device was triggered. On one body they found batteries and a tumbler switch with a short piece of electrical wiring. The FSB is certain that it is a part of the bomb, which means it was triggered by a suicide bomber. "However, we will need at least a month and a series of complicated forensic examinations to establish the terrorist's gender," the FSB pointed out.

    FSB officers have managed to establish that the bomb did not exceed 2.5 kg of TNT equivalent (earlier they spoke about 5 kg). Moreover experts managed to determine the contents of the explosives: it was a mixture of saltpetre and trotyl with hexogen to increase the detonation power. Terrorists have already used a similar mixture, for example, to blow up commuter trains in the Stavropol territory last year.

    The police have already arrested one of Basayev's confidants, Ibragim Israpilov on charges of involvement in the summer terrorist attacks. The headquarters investigating the Moscow explosion believe that it was also organized by Basayev, Kommersant reports.


    The defence industry is the most important branch of science for the incumbent Russian authorities. President Vladimir Putin clearly hinted to this at the Monday session of the President's Council for Science and High Technologies, Vremya Novostei writes. In fact, the Russian leader admitted that financial support from the state was necessary for all Russian scientists and called for an efficient model of "a science economy" to be drawn up. However, it was only the defence industry that received specific promises. The President told the session's participants - university rectors and academicians of the Russian Academy of Sciences - that in the next few days he would instruct the government to increase grants for scientists engaged in defence research, to 20,000-30,000 roubles per month. "The grants will be approximately $1,000," Mr. Putin said.

    Scientists not engaged in the defence industry, had to listen to the President's little encouraging lecture on "the dangerous illusion that science can exist by itself, separated from the economy, adequate legislation and only on budget money".

    "Since 2000, the federal budget's expenditures for science have grown by over 2.5 times, for education by over 3 times. Maybe this is not sufficient, but this is what the state could do and has done," Putin explained. In the future, he urged scientists to take care of themselves, to learn how to make a profit from their scientific ideas and to implement them into production. "Production and science in this country continue to exist in different dimensions. At the same time, Russian business is now ready to establish stronger partner relations with science and education," Vladimir Putin emphasised.


    Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili took a regular flight from Tbilisi to arrive in Moscow on a two-day visit, writes the Izvestia daily. Although it is not an official one, the visit will be very important. Indeed, in the 12 years of Georgia's independence, none of its presidents even paid a working visit to Moscow. President Saakashvili is, thereby, fulfilling his promise to meet President Putin before meeting President Bush.

    The visiting president will be received in the Kremlin tomorrow, where he will be able to "stretch out a friendly hand" to the Russian leader. President Saakashvili said in Tbilisi that he did not expect his Moscow visit to signal a breakthrough in bilateral relations, but it would hopefully consolidate positive trends.

    "The upcoming visit must clarify the new Georgian leadership's foreign policy ... Their vision of Georgia as part of the region and in the context of the country's foreign ties," said Vyacheslav Trubnikov, Russia's First Deputy Foreign Minister.


    The Audit Chamber is continuing to inquire into financial irregularities in the Russian Army. The audit of the planning, accounting and use of the Army's revenues revealed financial violations in handling extra-budgetary funds amounting to 167 million rubles (1 dollar is worth about 28 rubles), according to Aleksandr Piskunov, an auditor.

    In 2003, Audit Chamber experts discovered that 14 billion rubles or nearly 10% of the federal funds allocated to the Army had been misappropriated, said Audit Chamber chief Sergei Stepashin. The Defence Ministry's extra-budgetary revenue made up some 30 billion rubles. At least 1% of the receipts were misappropriated, according to the chamber.

    In 2003, more than one thousand servicemen, 20% of whom are officers, were convicted for federal property-related offences, reports Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov.


    Russia's Volga River and its tributaries are jammed with nearly one hundred sunken vessels. A look at the map of the Volga, Oka and other major rivers of the Volga basin, compiled by the Nizhny Novgorod-based branch of Russia's Union of Water Consumers, shows that the basin is a kind of cemetery of sunken boats. Old steamboats, modern ships, barges, floating cranes, pontoon bridges and so on and so forth lie on the bottom and on the banks.

    Many vessels were scrapped in the early 1990s, when a lot of, above all small, shipping companies went bankrupt. The companies did not bother to dispose of their old vessels or restore river wharves. In 1997, there were as many as 400 rusting vessels along the rivers. The Nizhny Novgorod region was the first to raise the alarm and to start a programme to dispose of those "Titanics." However, 100 boats are yet to be dealt with. The Natural Resources Ministry has not allocated funds for the purpose, although it does seem to be concerned about the problem.

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