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Russia and Baltic States
- 203 Russia mobilizes army to fight fires august 2010
- 202 The 2nd Wave Is Coming in Russia
- 201 Russia 2008 Travel Summary & Local laws and customs
- 200 Russia New legislation for real estate & tax rules may 2007
- 199 Russian ex-president Yeltsin dies
- 198 Journalist Anna Politkovskaya has been posthumously awarded
- 197 We must ask ourselves: Do we live in a society where corruption is a moral perversity to the normal flow of things? 28/9 2006
- 196 Transparency International listed Russia as one of the nations where perceived corruption had increased from the previous years survey, sep 2006
- 195 The Kremlin is warning Western governments july 2006
- 194 EU,US, Baltic States These countries have become the enemies in the new "chilly war" May 06
- 193 In fact, Russia is not so unique in having a problem with corruption -- indeed, most countries of the world operate in similar conditions 17 mai 06
- 192 Heads roll in anti-corruption drive 15 May 2006
- 191 Strong rebuke for the Kremlin - mai 2005
- 190 The energy ministers of the European Union (EU) have called on Russia to speed up the ratification of the Energy Charter, but Russia is not in a hurry to comply. April 06
- 189 Its a great story, but its an ugly one, too. Russia feb 2006
- 188 "The fish rots from the head." Indeed! jan 2006
- 187 Some estimates indicate that corruption in universities is rising by 7-10 percent annually, jan 2006
- 186 Russia Organized crime still remains a major challenge dec 2005
- 185 Russia’s Forestry Industry is perceived as one of the most corrupt in the world Nov 2005
- 184 Russia has reverted to the Wild East. But these days the crooks are the government. May 2005
- 183 U.N. Officials Cited in Oil - For - Food Case ´´take care´´ of ´´U.N. Official No. 1.´´ april 2005
- 182 UNDERSTANDING PALESTINIAN POLITICS , nov 2004
- 181 UNDERSTANDING TERROR NETWORKS, november 2004
- 180 PUBLIC THEOLOGY AND DEMOCRACYS FUTURE
- 179 Jan 20, 2004, When a leader who is trusted goes into battle, he must not be left alone
- 178 There may be an element of poetic justice in Vladimir Gusinsky
- 177 RUSSIA Groups Urge Putin on Privatization
- 176 Putin wanted to discuss methods of battling corruption
- 175 Corruption Costs Russia USD 30 Billion a Year
- 174 More Russians Back in Davos Feb 2003
- 173 Police officers were secretly members of criminal groups
- 172 THE TURKISH FACTOR IN THE GEOPOLITICS OF THE POST-SOVIET SPACE
- 171 EU candidates face corruption issues Nov 2002
- 170 Assassination of Magadan Governor Valentin Tsvetkov,
- 169 The Resurgence of Lies and Disinformation
- 168 Oil and trade play part in U.N. debate on Iraq
- 167 Center-Right Wins Latvian Poll
- 166 Radio Liberty Stripped Of Status
- 165 Most visits to Lithuania are trouble-free
- 164 The Soviet secret police -- VChK, GPU, NKVD, KGB Top Secret Files Tell Story of Expulsion
- 163 The Men Who Tried to Topple Mikhail Gorbachev
- 162 No Fireworks for 10th Anniversary After 10 Year No 7
- 161 Fall of the Soviet Union Symbolized Death of an Idea 10 Year after No 6
- 160 Defenders Recount Their Moment of Glory 10 Year after no 5
- 159 Communist Party Comes Full Circle 10 Year after No 4
- 158 What Putin Did During The Coup
- 157 Economic Crash No One Saw Coming 10 year after no 2
- 156 The Coup 1991 - 2001 Ten Years after no 1
- 155 OPEC, Russia and Iraq
- 154 Iran has said it wants the sea split equally between the five while Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan
- 153 the worlds third-largest nuclear arsenal belonged to little Ukraine
- 152 The shortcomings of Russias bureaucracy are legion, its incompetence is legendary
- 151 ............called for Chubais to quit. sep 2002
- 150 $3Bln Baku-Ceyhan Pipeline Gets Under Way
- 149 LUKoil in Talks With Kidnappers
- 148 Berezovsky & "The Godfather" and "Citizen Kane."
- 147 Not All Listen to Putins Orders
- 146 In Russia, majority shareholders rights do not exist
- 145 United States has blacklisted three Russian defense contractors it says are "transferring lethal military equipment" to countries supporting terrorism
- 144 Under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963..........the Pacific port of Vladivostok
- 143 The Dignity of Difference: Avoiding the Clash of Civilizations
- 142 Russian companies paid a total of 33.5 billion dollars in bribes
- 141 Duma member Vladimir Golovlyov shot dead in contract killing aug 2002
- 140 Putin issues Ethics Code for civil servants aug 2002
- 139 Latvia Premier signs decree on party financial declarations
- 138 Whatever Happened To Those Vouchers? Mr Putin?
- 137 Russia with Iran, and in particular its sale of nuclear technology
- 136 First Deputy Smolensk Governor Vladimir Prokhorov was shot and killed
- 135 Smuggling, da. Extortion, da. Murder, da.
- 134 Kremlin Kills Plan To Retake Resources
- 133 U.S. to Russia: Clean corruption up
- 132 Latvia Government decides on third competition to find anti-corruption chief
- 131 We do not give out any information!
- 130 "The U.S. Media -- Problems of Free Speech."
- 129 Defenders of the oligarch system in Russia liken the development to that of the robber barons in the United States and elsewhere
- 128 There Is a New Billionaire in Town
- 127 FREE PRESS in RUSSIA 2002, sorry its not
- 126 Russia Tracking down IMF billions Crime and Corruption Watch 27 Jun 2002
- 125 Russians pay for state corruption 07.2002
- 124 BUSHS SEARCH FOR COMMON GROUND june 2002
- 123 A bribery arrest in Krasnoyarsk
- 122 Georg P Shultz THE WORK OF DIPLOMACY Before & after the 11 sep 2001
- 121 THE FUTILE SEARCH FOR "ROOT CAUSES" OF TERRORISM
- 120 CIA Will Continue Search for New Russian Technologies
- 119 Swiss to repay Russia over bail for corrupt ex-Kremlin adviser Borodin
- 118 Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus urged lawmakers to strengthen the fight against corruption
- 117 At present legal base for the transport and freight forwarding activities in the Russian Federation practically doesnt exist
- 116 Either the United States would cease to be a democracy or the Soviet Union would cease to be a Leninist dictatorship
- 115 Back to the USSR
- 114 From Russia With Love
- 113 "check that the paperwork was done correctly, but look right past the deeply corrupt heart of the matter
- 112 Stepashin Turns Up Heat on Ministers
- 111 After he refused to pay a police major a $20,000 bribe
- 110 With auditing today 10 years after the term arrived on the Russian market it turns out that everyone understands it differently
- 109 Putin said 7,000 killers had escaped punishment last year and that hundreds of thousands of other criminals
- 108 Majority of Russians believe Russia is among 10 most corrupt countries 02.02
- 107 He seems to have powerful patrons, and he is very smart The Corruption is still going on. Febr 02
- 106 Kremlin bailiffs pull the plugs on last independent television network jan 2002
- 105 GlavUpDK pays no taxes on the land it uses.
- 104 Indeed, last year Mr. Bush cited the 30 percent Russian.... January 25, 2002
- 103 Pugachyov is not some Putin protege plucked from obscurity TV 6 NTV jan 2002
- 102 Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be ushering in a new era
- 101 Two held in first criminal probe into Gazprom
- 100 During its eight years of operation, Estline never posted a profit 2002.01
- 99 Corruption remains major problem in Latvia "I dont see any light at the end of the tunnel", 2002
- 98 Putin warns audit chambers against politicisation . jan 02
- 97 Bosse Ringholm - Riksgälden och Flygförsäkringsmarknaden!
- 96 Work to curb economic crime, corruption not good enough - Russian minister 25 dec 2001
- 95 Putin Answers Russians´ Questions NYT 24 dec 2001
- 94 Russia there is only one easy and relatively inexpensive way to ship goods -- by rail
- 93 Chubais Doesnt Mind the Heat Over UES
- 92 And Gazprom will soon find out if it is next
- 91 The Yeltsin-era insiders career is over and a wider war on corruption is under way
- 90 Visa hassles for many tourists are to be reduced from feb 02
- 89 Ombudsman concerned with corruption at Russian border checkpoint
- 88 Probes Giving Ministers Jitters
- 87 Moscow Gets New Tool for Money Monitoring
- 86 RUSSIA: The government-criminal alliance
- 85 RUSSIA: Rankings Rain on Economic Parade
- 81 Foreign Policy Research Institute WATCH ON THE WEST
- 80 Are Bribes a Great Deal? Russia 2001?
- 79 The attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., 11 September 2001
- 78 U.S. Campaign Presents Benefits for Russia
- 77 Foreign Workers Face New Red Tape
- 76 The attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., 11 September 2001
- 75 Yakovlev Decree Sets Sights on Corruption
- 74 New Details in RusAl Murder Suit
- 73 Stealing the State, and Everything Else A Survey of Corruption in the Postcommunist World
- 72 St. Pete Should Brace for Capital Invasion
- 71 Why Does Russia Need Vertical Integration?
- 70 After a false start, Russia may at last be breaking free of the shackles of
- 69 "There is no place for a radio like Ekho Moskvy here anymore."
- 68 RUSSIA: Ethos of corruption in nuclear establishment
- 67 Baltic States Membership in NATO Unlikely
- 66 RUSSIA: Audit blasts $880 million Moscow charity scheme
- 65 RUSSIA: $10 billion per year foreign direct investment lost due to non-transparency says PwC
- 64 RUSSIA: Prosecutor vows to pursue extradition of media mogul
- 63 Corruption in Russian newspapers exposed
- 62 Putin tightens curbs on press with bank raid
- 61 Wife Says Russians Have Rediscovered Their Pride
- 60 Putin Moving to Control Russia on All Political Levels
- 59 Oligarch hits out at his Kremlin monster
- 58 Russian Journalists Targeted in Attacks Corruption Investigators Face Slashed
- 57 Putin Moving to Control Russia on All Political Levels
- 56 Oligarch hits out at his Kremlin monster
- 55 RUSSIA: MEDIA EXECUTIVE ORDERED ARRESTED, VOWS TO STAY OUT OF COUNTRY
- 54 WESTERN AID TO RUSSIA ``LACKING OVERALL STRATEGY``
- 53 USA: GAO AUDIT REPORT FINDS AID TO RUSSIA FAILED
- 52 GAO AUDITORS SAY AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT LAX IN HANDLING RUSSIAN FOOD AID
- 51 BANKS WORK WITH TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL TO ESTABLISH ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING PRINCIPLES
- 50 The High Price of Russias Military Improvement Plan
- 49 In Russia, Rich Get Poorer, Poor Get Poorer
- 48 Russia Makes me Nervous-Latvias Vike-Freiberga
- 47 RUSSIA: GIANT MEDIA FIRM CHARGED WITH FRAUD OVER ASSETS TRANSFERRED OFFSHORE
- 46 RUSSIA: ELECTRONIC ANTI-CORRUPTION PROPOSED USING THE INTERNET
- 45 Increasing the Risk of Investing in Russian Companies
- 44 Russian auditor confirms graft in Govt.
- 43 Swiss firms mafia links
- 42 Russia: Putin’s Coming Concession to the Oligarchs
- 41 Gridlock: All Trains Lead to Moscow
- 40 BEREZOVSKII SAYS KREMLIN THREATENS HIM OVER ORT SHARES
- 39 Russia continues to be an intensely dangerous place to work
- 38 The Long Arm of Organized Crime Reaches Deeply Into St. Petersburg's
- 37 RUSSIA
FEDERAL PROSECUTOR SEEKS TO OVERTURN PRIVATIZATION DEAL…
- 36 Russia Makes me Nervous
- 35 Putin Begins Crackdown on Russia's Oligarchs
- 35 Russia Formulates a Hybrid Economy
- 35 Regional Bosses Give Initial O.K. To Putin Move
- 34 Latvia Worried About Delay in NATO Baltic Expansion after Yugoslav War
- 34 Moscow Threatens "Hostile" Western Media
- 33 Russia’s Dwindling Population Ensures Rigid Foreign Policy
- 32 Paper Mocking Yakovlev Is Seized
- 31 Russians Plan To Jack Energy Prices
- 30 Moscow Budget
- 29 Baghdad, Belgrade and Moscow Collaborate Against Washington
- 28 Actualizing
the Alliance: Russia and China Move Toward a Pipeline
- 27 Russia Helping Iraq Upgrade Air Defenses
- 5 The Consequences of Russias Looming Food Shortage
- 4 Putin’s Friendly Face Will Not Last
- 3 Reforms in Post-Soviet Russia Failed. Nov 1999
- 2 THE CRISIS IN RUSSIA (Published in USA Sep 1998)
- 1 To bee a good Citizen of Sweden you must remember this?
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A lifetime of innovation
Friday, Dec. 21, 2001. Page 1
Railways Reform Off The Tracks
By Alla Startseva
Staff Writer, Moscow News
In a vast country with a undeveloped web of roads, waterways and airways, there is only one easy and relatively inexpensive way to ship goods -- by rail.
The problem, shippers complain, is that to get wares to the nooks and crannies of the country, there is only one agency to deal with -- the mammoth and notoriously bureaucratic Railways Ministry monopoly.
Often called a country within a country, the Railways Ministry runs a $10 billion a year operation that controls a sprawling 159,000 kilometers of track uniting 17 railroad branches in 85 of Russias 89 regions. It carries 80 percent of all the nations cargo -- both domestic and international -- and accounts for 90 percent of revenues on the domestic freight market.
Besides its core rail business, the ministry mines and refines raw materials like coal and metals. It owns hospitals, hotels and schools all over the country, as well as publishing houses, entertainment centers, stadiums and soccer and hockey teams.
And it is aggressively moving to become a national telephone operator.
The tsar of this country is Railways Minister Nikolai Aksyonenko. He estimates his assets at 1.4 trillion rubles ($470 billion) and employs 1.5 million.
But the Kremlin made it crystal clear this year that it is displeased with the way Aksyonenko has been ruling his kingdom. Corruption allegations began piling up around him, and tongues are wagging that he could lose his crown.
Aksyonenkos woes began earlier this year when the government started in earnest to put its house in order. The spotlight fell on the handful of untamed natural monopolies -- including the Railways Ministry -- that avoided privatization during the 1990s.
Aksyonenko, a career rail official appointed by then-President Boris Yeltsin in 1997, was asked last year to draw up a rail reform plan that would increase the transparency of its spending and operations while bolstering its profitability.
On May 19, the Cabinet approved his 10-year plan that envisioned the sacking of hundreds of thousands of workers and the eventual breakup of the railroads into separate, independent companies.
But then an Audit Chamber report about corruption in the ministry sparked an investigation. Aksyonenko was charged with abuse of office in October.
The ministry that Aksyonenko inherited was a dinosaur reeling from the collapse of the Soviet Union. Steep declines in industrial output had led to a drop in rail shipments at a time when the generous support of the state had dried up.
At the same time, the ministry could not make up its losses by increasing tariffs. That right rested with the Cabinet.
Tariffs were kept lower than inflation, causing producer prices to grow at twice the rate of tariffs from 1997.
Aksyonenko estimates that the ministry will lose 40 billion rubles ($1.4 billion) on passenger trains alone in 2001.
Meanwhile, a federal railways tariff commission was set up to deal with tariffs this year. To Aksyonenkos dismay, the commission decided to abolish a dual-tariff policy under which export rates were several times higher than domestic rates. On Aug. 1, domestic rates jumped 18 percent.
Aksyonenko says the increase resulted in losses of 8 billion rubles ($270 million) as companies opted for other means of transportation.
He is less than pleased with the commissions next plan to hike tariffs 39.9 percent across the board in the first quarter of 2002. The increase will cost the ministry more than 45 billion rubles ($1.5 billion) next year, Aksyonenko told Vedomosti on Thursday.
The commission says the increases were long needed and in line with the three-stage rail reform program approved in May.
The first stage, which was to take place in 2001-02, proposed the establishment of a 100 percent state-owned entity called the Russian Railways Co.
But that stage has stalled. The reason, Deputy Economic Development and Trade Minister Andrei Sharonov told a Cabinet meeting Thursday, is because the laws needed to provide a legislative base for the creation of the company have yet to be drawn up.
Still, the Cabinet decided to shelve the bills until January, even though they were supposed to have been approved by the end of this year.
The first stage also opens the door to the merger of the Railways Ministry and the Transport Ministry by 2003.
Under the second stage, the Russian Railways Co. is to be divided into several financially independent subsidiaries -- one responsible for cargo, infrastructure and trains; another for local passenger trains; a third for long-distance passenger trains; a fourth for repairs; and the fifth to oversee social institutions such the railways hospitals and schools.
Also in this stage, which is to go from 2003 to 2005, the ministry hopes to attract $1 billion in loans, which would presumably be long-term credits for specific projects to develop the industry.
The last stage calls for a competitive rail market by 2010.
Aksyonenko says the reform process should ultimately lower tariffs.
The ministry hopes the reforms will allow it to implement a plan to significantly boost the shipment of transit containers along the Trans-Siberian Railroad on the east-to-west route. Moscow and Seoul have signed a cooperation agreement to link South Koreas largest port to a key rail hub in the Czech Republic via the Trans-Siberian, a project that could earn the ministry some $500 million per year in cargo transit fees.
Another pet project of Aksyonenkos that he wants to complete during the reforms is the construction of a $3 billion to $4 billion bridge from the mainland to the Far East island of Sakhalin. The Cabinet will consider a feasibility study early next year. The Railways Ministry reckons that the project will increase cargo transport via Russia by 500 percent and pay for itself in 15 to 30 years.
However, Aksyonenko may not see any of these changes on his watch.
Speculation has swirled about corruption at his ministry since his appointment in 1997. But his status as a member of Yeltsins inner circle kept him from being called onto the carpet, said Yevgeny Volk, political analyst at the Heritage Foundation. "When Aksyonenko was a member of the Yeltsin team, he was untouchable," Volk said.
The Dumas anti-corruption commission said this fall that prosecutors should have investigated the Railways Ministry as far back as 1998, when corruption accounts were published by several major newspapers.
In 1999, the Audit Chamber uncovered what it called the massive misuse of funds in the ministry, including payments to nonexistent companies.
Still the Prosecutor Generals Office did not act.
Then President Vladimir Putin came into office and matters changed. An investigation started when the Audit Chamber released a report this year that found the Railways Ministry had misappropriated more than 11 billion rubles ($370 million) in 1999 and 2000.
On Oct. 22, the Prosecutor Generals Office charged Aksyonenko with abuse of office that resulted in the loss of 70 million rubles ($2.3 million) in government funds. The prosecutors office also said that it was looking into the nonpayment of $370 million in taxes.
If found guilty, Aksyonenko faces three to 10 years imprisonment.
Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov said a criminal investigation would be completed by the end of this year. But this week his office said the investigation had been suspended for two weeks.
After being charged, Aksyonenko promptly went on vacation. He only returned to work full time Tuesday.
But, in what observers said was a sign of how far his star has fallen, Aksyonenko was recalled from his vacation for one day to attend a Cabinet meeting about his 161 billion rubles ($5.4 billion) investment program for next year.
Cabinet members then lambasted his plans. The Economic Development and Trade Ministry said the railroad was asking for twice what it needed and had not adequately explained how it wanted to spend the money.
Aksyonenko was told to present a reworked program in January.
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