Voices from Russia

Friday, 27 June 2008

Unstable Dollar Adds to World Economic Woes

Filed under: business,economy,politics,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

The unstable dollar continues to significantly add to both US and world economic woes. Thursday saw an enormous drop in rates at the New York Stock Exchange with the Dow Jones index losing more than 358 points, a collapse that was similar to one seen in 2006. The latest developments also greatly contributed to jitters at the Tokyo Stock Exchange, where the Nikkei index fell as much as 2.5 percent, losing over 307 points.

Many analysts link the current decline of world stock values with soaring oil prices, all the more so that crude oil hit a fresh historical high at 140.39 dollars (3,292.18 roubles. 88.91 euros. 70.39 UK pounds) a barrel on Thursday. Dmitri Smyslov, the chief analyst at the Institute of World Economy and Foreign Relations in Moscow elaborated on the problem. “What we see now is the direct repercussions of last year’s mortgage securities decline in the USA that led to a global financial crisis. For the moment, financial turmoil has substantially affected Stock Exchanges all over the world, and oil price hikes have weakened the economic environment in many countries. Most political commentators warn that the current crisis shall hardly show signs of abating before the middle of next year”.

As far as skyrocketing oil prices are concerned, there are both objective and subjective factors. For one thing, the move is directly linked with the dollar decline, with energy suppliers trying hard to repair losses in the wake of significant dollar jitters. For another, developing new deposits located offshore on continental shelves and other hard-to-reach areas lead to additional investments, something that propels oil prices to new fantastic highs. In addition, big companies now show a readiness to invest in raw materials, especially oil, non-ferrous metals, and grain in a bid to avoid losses and considerably boost assets. The current uneasy geopolitical situation in the Middle East also adds to the ever-increasing demand for raw materials. Pundits noted that Washington’s permanent sabre-rattling against Iran has repeatedly done enormous damage to world oil markets.

27 June 2008

Yevgeny Kryshkin

Voice of Russia World Service



Russian Church Tells Rebel Bishop: Repent or Leave

Bishop Diomid of Chukotka and Anadyr (1961- ), deposed today by the MP Archpastoral Council unless he recants and repents of his heretical opinions

The Moscow Patriarchate ruled on Friday that a bishop who has accused the church’s leaders of forming an unholy alliance with the Kremlin shall be defrocked unless he repents. At a gathering of senior clerics, the church said Bishop Diomid, who has also spoken out against the church’s ecumenical ties with other Christian faiths, had to be disciplined because he was trying to split the church. Many Russian Orthodox believers are sensitive about any sign the church is compromising its independence from the Kremlin, especially since under Soviet rule senior MP clerics were co-opted by the Communist authorities.

Patriarch Aleksei, the head of the MP, does not publicly criticise the Kremlin, and has in the past invited Vladimir Putin, the former president who is now prime minister, to join him in the altar area during religious services. “Bishop Diomid is expelled from holy orders”, the church said in a statement. “With his appeals and statements, he is cultivating the spirit of schism in the church and destroying its unity”, the statement said. Diomid is bishop of Chukotka, a sparsely-populated region of Russia across the Bering Strait from Alaska. Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of London’s Chelsea soccer club, is governor of the region. Fr Vsevolod Chaplin, a spokesman for the MP, said the church’s decision would only come into force if Diomid refuses to repent. If there is no repentance, he will be stripped of the right to identify himself as a priest or conduct religious services, Fr Vsevolod said.

In an appeal he issued last year, Bishop Diomid attacked as heretical the practise of holding joint prayer with representatives of other Christian faiths, and building closer relations with other religions. He also wrote that the leaders of the MP were guilty of “spiritual compromise, subordinating church power to secular … power, at the expense of God-given freedom”. Diomid attacked what he described as the church’s “silent consent, instead of denouncing the anti-human policies of the current authorities that are leading to the break-up of the country”. He has found support among a small group of Russian Orthodox clerics and worshippers, as well as among nationalist and ultra-conservative political groups. Speaking to senior clerics earlier this week, Patriarch Aleksei said there was space for diverging views inside the church, but, it should not endanger church unity.

27 June 2008

Christian Lowe


Quoted in Yahoo! UK & Ireland News


New Tasks for Russia’s Kapustin Yar Rocket Launch Site

Kosmos-3 launch vehicle at the Kapustin Yar cosmodrome

For many years, the Kapustin Yar (or Znamensk) rocket launch and development site in the Astrakhan region has tested ballistic missiles. Today, apart from implementing new military projects, it also focuses on the carrying out of international civilian endeavours. Foreign satellites are sent into orbit from this Russian site under the aegis of the InterSpace programme.

Recently, a Russian Kosmos-3M carrier rocket successfully launched six American Orbcomm satellites from the Kapustin Yar site. Orbcomm is the world’s first commercial global wireless data and messaging system. It uses low-Earth orbit satellites to provide cost-effective tracking, monitoring, and messaging capabilities to and from anywhere in the world. The launch was a part of the international project involving Russia, the USA, and Germany.

Colonel Alexander Vovk, a Strategic Missile Forces spokesman, commented, “After the launch was carefully analysed, experts confirmed the high technical and scientific potential of Russia in terms of production and exploitation of rockets. It was the first launch in 2008, but, for the Kosmos-3M launch vehicle, it was the 333rd launch since the Interspace programme began in 1969”.

According to Frank Engelhard, the head of a German scientific research group, the Kapustin Yar site is ideal for the implementation of the project. Established in May 1946, the Kapustin Yar rocket launch and development site is a scientific and research centre with a modern technical base. Its history is closely linked with the production of the first Russian ballistic missiles. From 1947 to 1957, all Soviet ballistic missiles were tested there.

With its further growth and development, the site became a cosmodrome and has served as such since 1966 (with a hiatus during 1988-98). The new town of Znamensk was established to house the scientists working on the facilities, their families, and support personnel. Indian Ariabhata and Bhaskara satellites and the French Sneg-3 satellite were launched from Kapustin Yar. Now, twenty more Orbcomm satellites are expected to be launched from there. So, in the 21st century, Kapustin Yar remains an important strategic and scientific asset.

26 June 2008

Voice of Russia World Service


It Takes More than Muscle-Flexing to Settle the Problem of Afghanistan

Filed under: diplomacy,NATO,politics,Russian,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00

Zamir Kabulov, the Russian Ambassador to Afghanistan, told newsmen after the latest session of the Russian-NATO Council that it takes more than muscle-flexing to settle the problem of Afghanistan. Facts prove what Ambassador Kabulov said in Brussels. Mr Kabulov felt free to cite them. He said the Taliban movement influenced developments over more than half of Afghan territory and it controlled developments on one-fifth of it. The volume of deals between Afghan drug producers and foreign buyers of Afghan drugs has grown four-, if not five-, fold in the six years of NATO’s peacekeeping operation in Afghanistan. In spite of successful efforts in different fields, Ambassador Kabulov feels the situation in Afghanistan keeps changing for the worse.

An unbiased observer would say that NATO sees the new complexity of the situation in Afghanistan. But, the Alliance is trying to improve the situation with incessant troop build-ups and far-from-effective efforts to create an Afghan police force and armed forces. Kabul still awaits millions of dollars in promised allocations for economic reconstruction. Substantial sums of money have simply been stolen.

Russia suggests that the international community step up action for the settlement of the Afghan problem. Military action is, of course, extremely important at this point of time. The Afghan armed forces should be reinforced. But, it is absolutely clear that much more attention should be paid to the social and economic reconstruction of Afghanistan. The people of Afghanistan should learn to pin their hopes on determined efforts to work for the future rather than listen to promises of the Taliban movement. They will never learn to do this unless their ethnic, religious, cultural, and other qualities are taken into account. More should be done for the reconstruction of the economic infrastructure of their country. New factories, plants, schools, hospitals, and power stations have to be built. Moreover, it is not enough to talk. The people of Afghanistan should learn to draw a line between their friends and their enemies.

Afghanistan-bound NATO planes have been allowed to fly over Russia. Now, civilian shipments of NATO may travel across Russia. Russian experts are doing much under a number of civilian projects in Afghanistan. Russia and other members of the Collective Security Pact have invited NATO to join forces for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. This invitation has been turned down. Sad as it sounds, the Alliance is pinning its hopes on muscle-flexing.

26 June 2008

Viktor Yenikeyev

Voice of Russia World Service


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