March 2004

Covering the region with news, analysis and insights since 1991
Published by:
American Russian Center, University of Alaska Anchorage
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Table of Contents

From the Editor
U.S.-Russian Far East Activities - Arctic Structures in Sakhalin
New Book -
The Russian Far East by Josh Newell
New Book -
The Siberian Curse by Fiona Hill & Clifford Gaddy
Oil, Gas, and Energy
Transportation and Shipping

International Update
Politics and Legislation
Social Issues
Arts & Culture

Did You Know? Facts and Figures at a Glance
Business Information



From the Editor - Sarah Hurst

This month we were fortunate enough to receive two books dealing with the challenges of the Far East. The Siberian Curse looks at the specific problems of extremely cold weather and the legacy of Soviet central planning, while The Russian Far East suggests ways to find a balance between development and conservation. Both of these books are excellent reference sources that should be on the shelves of anyone with a serious interest in the region.

As for current news, the year has begun fairly quietly in the Far East and this is probably a good thing. In two weeks' time, of course, Russians go to the polls again to elect a president – or rather, re-elect a president. Vladimir Putin was in Khabarovsk recently to open the Chita-Khabarovsk highway, creating a road link between Moscow and Vladivostok. Does this mean there will be a stronger connection between Moscow and the Far East in Putin's second term? Watch this space.

U.S.-Russian Far East Activities

Anchorage company camps it up on Sakhalin

You have to be tough to do business in the Russian Far East. That's why Harry Pursell, a 77-year-old who ran up and down an Alaska mountain in an annual race until just a few years ago, has made his company a success in the Sakhalin construction industry. It helps, of course, that Arctic Structures has decades of experience building housing that can keep people warm as far north as the Prudhoe Bay oilfields.

Pursell began going to Russia on business exchange trips around the time that communism collapsed. In 1991 he won Arctic Structures its first contract there, for a U.S.-Russian joint venture called Petrosakh that had the rights to an oilfield on the east coast of Sakhalin. "They were operating on a shoestring and they talked to us about the possibility of a used camp," Arctic Structures' general manager, Rory Courreges, told RFEN. The company had acquired a number of camps after the construction of the Alaska pipeline in the 1970s, so it sent one over from Anchorage on a barge. It had 285 beds, power generation, a kitchen and recreational facilities. The camp is still operating today.

"In 1992 Russia was so hungry for investment, it was very accommodating to foreigners, they treated you like an honored guest," said Courreges. "Those were the honeymoon days. Customs was easy, building officials were easy, there was very little red tape or hassle." Courreges had learnt Russian in the U.S. military, at the Defense Language Institute. He got on well with the Russian laborers, who comprised 80 percent of the project's workforce. However, for those Americans who didn't speak Russian, language wasn't much of a problem. "Construction workers can get what they need across with very little help from an interpreter. You use drawings. We generally have about one interpreter per job."

In Arctic Structures' current projects 100 percent of the workers are Russian, with supervisors occasionally coming over from Alaska. "When we first got there, there wasn't much in the way of initiative," said Courreges. "If they hit a stumbling block they would all stop. That's changed tremendously." Safety standards have also improved since the arrival of Western oil companies, which enforce the rules strictly. Other differences between Russians and Americans are more entrenched: "Russians are much firmer negotiators. Americans tend to want to be popular and be liked, even if they're by our standards tough negotiators. Russians have more of a blunt attitude."

After the first contract, Harry Pursell began spending about half of his time in Russia trying to develop business there. The company bought a half interest in a hotel in Nogliki, Sakhalin, which is the jumping-off point for the oilfields. In 1998 Arctic Structures was asked to build a school in the Kurile Islands. By then bureaucracy was starting to make a comeback and the project took about nine months instead of the six it would have taken in Alaska, because of the time it took to get permits. The company brought its own camp over for the workers to live in and even its own chef.

"That was a very successful job," said Courreges. "We had good interaction between the expatriates and the local workers. We got a lot of training done. The workers were well-educated – the high school education there is better than here. They're resourceful because they've had to do without. We've had fantastic results." The average wage for Russian workers on the construction projects is about $4 hour, which is better than average on Sakhalin. Legally they are also entitled to 58 vacation days per year, plus public holidays.

Although Harry Pursell has an excellent relationship with the Sakhalin Oblast administration, the process of obtaining permits is still a challenge for Arctic Structures. In Alaska they would go to one authority to obtain a building permit. On Sakhalin "you have to gather an unbelievable number of signatures from different organizations," Courreges said. The company deals with this by hiring a Russian engineer who knows the system. Permits from the federal government, the oblast government and the city government are required.

Most recently, Arctic Structures built an 840-bed camp for the Chayvo oilfield, part of the Sakhalin-1 project operated by Exxon Neftegas Ltd. Courreges believes that the majority of the company's work might be in Russia for the next few years, as Sakhalin is in the middle of a boom. Being from Alaska puts Arctic Structures in an ideal position to take advantage of these opportunities. "If you've never worked in an Arctic climate, you're going to make mistakes," said Courreges. He sees life gradually improving for the people of Sakhalin, too, despite the problems with heating and power. "Someone with an automobile, a computer and a big TV in their house will say things aren't any better. When I started going over, there was almost nothing to buy in the grocery store, there were ration cards. Now it is expensive, but if you have the money, you can buy anything you want."

New Books

The Russian Far East: A Reference Guide for Conservation and Development by Josh Newell Review by Sarah Hurst

Finding hard facts about the Russian Far East can be as thankless as trying to row across the Bering Straits in a leaky kayak, but Josh Newell is a master and commander on these stormy seas. His RFE reference guide is packed with useful information, presented in a beautifully simple and readable format. It includes 53 detailed maps and dozens of photographs, some full-color.

The book starts with an overview of the RFE and then each chapter is devoted to a different krai or oblast, albeit in seemingly random order: Primorsky, Khabarovsk, JAO, Amur, Sakha, Magadan, Chukotka, Koryakia, Kamchatka and Sakhalin. However, it is easy to flick from one to another as the regional names are printed on a black background on the right-hand side of each page. Each chapter is divided into the same sections, an introduction to the geography and industries of the region, followed by "Ecology", "Biodiversity hotspots", "Economy", "Toward sustainable development", "Indigenous peoples", "Legal issues", and "Perspective".

A quick browse can take the curious reader from an article about ginseng in Primorsky Krai to a map of indigenous lands of Khabarovsk Krai and a photograph of a snow-covered house in Verkhoyansk, Sakha, considered the coldest inhabited place on earth. You can dip in and out of the book, or read the chapters straight through, or look up something specific, which is easy to do with the help of the index, notes and appendices.

This was a labor of love by the 35-year-old author, who has led an adventurous life, working for Friends of the Earth in Vladivostok and Japan, reporting on corruption in the Russian timber trade, campaigning to improve the environmental performance of Sakhalin oil and gas projects, and somehow managing to fit in a master's degree in geography at the University of Washington. Newell doesn't take all the credit, though, as the book is an expanded edition of the 1996 work he co-authored with Emma Wilson; and there are numerous other contributors to this current work.

The book identifies a raft of complex problems, but its tone is neither depressing nor polemical as it is also full of constructive recommendations. For example, the Jewish Autonomous Oblast has "rich natural resources… advantageous geographical location… stability… flora and fauna" and "the climate of the JAO is better than it is in many other parts of the country". Development should be promoted by "making interagency structural changes that promote sectors which create consumer products, minimizing wasteful use of energy and natural resources, using ecologically safe technologies, minimizing transportation expenses, creating industrial structures that can adapt to the new market economy." Where Stalin failed to attract many people to the JAO, this book might succeed.

This is not to imply that the Far East's failings are glossed over. In Amur Oblast, 45.6 percent of the population has a per-capita income below the poverty line. In Chukotka, open-pit mining "visibly damages the landscape, eliminates reindeer pastures, ruins wildlife migration routes, causes sedimentation of rivers by run-off, and poisons groundwater," while in Koryakia mining is "ecologically catastrophic". Poverty, pollution and corruption are recurrent themes throughout the book. The state of the zapovedniks (nature reserves) is examined in depth, with a great deal of information about the Far East's endangered species of flora and fauna.

The "Perspective" sections give insights into political scandals, development and demographic trends, such as the history of Jewish settlement in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast. One slight weakness of the book is that it is not entirely up-to-date. There is a reference to the trial of environmental whistleblower Grigory Pasko, but no mention of his release from prison in January 2003. Igor Farkhutdinov, who died in August 2003, is referred to as the current governor of Sakhalin. Figures are given for Magadan government wage arrears from 2000. Nevertheless, The Russian Far East is a magnificent achievement, and will be relished by experts and newcomers to the subject alike.

The following is an extract from the Overview section of the book:

Although the timber industry has traditionally accounted for between 5 and 10 percent of the RFE's total industrial production, its importance to the economic and social fabric of village life in some regions is far greater. In the timber-rich southern RFE, especially Khabarovsk and Primorsky Krais, log exports contribute a large portion of hard-currency revenue. For many other towns and villages, the closure of wood-processing enterprises, a trend that began after perestroika, has been devastating, causing a loss of jobs, tax revenue, and basic services such as a stable energy supply (the boilers used in timber mills often provide centralized heating for communities).

Official timber productions for the RFE indicate a dramatic decline in harvest, with 2000 production registering just a third of 1985 levels. This would suggest that accessible forests have had some respite from decades of overlogging, including wasteful and destructive practices such as clear-cutting, where all trees in a given plot are logged. (Clear-cutting has contributed to the steady replacement of mature conifer forests with second-growth deciduous forests at a rate of about 0.8 percent a year.)

In fact, these practices may have become even more prevalent than during the Soviet era. Higher energy and transport costs have combined with a market shift from states of the former Soviet Union to China, Japan, and South Korea to increase overlogging in forests accessible to these markets. Biologically diverse forests in the southern region (Primorsky and southern Khabarovsk Krai) have been particularly hard hit. The collapse of processing, caused by decreased domestic demand, has meant that woodchips, branches, and smaller logs used to make sawnwood, plywood, and pulp and paper, are left at logging sites – increasing the already enormously wasteful operations and providing fuel for potential future fires.

These Asian markets are radically changing the type of species logged and the type of wood product produced (logs rather than sawnwood, plywood, etc.) as timber companies from the RFE and Eastern Siberia compete to meet demand. The increase in high-grade logging, whereby only large-diameter, commercially valuable trees are felled, is one result. Chinese and Japanese demand for ash logs, prized for housing construction, has led to another: logging along protected river basins (Group I forests) that are crucial for regulating water levels. And the continued high demand for harvest-restricted Korean pine logs has led to an overharvest of that species, significantly reducing an important food source (pine nuts) for many animal species in the Ussuri Taiga.

Official production figures are considerably clouded because many logging companies, particularly smaller ones, operate illegally. Numerous small firms emerged as the industry was privatized, and the government has been unable to regulate them. According to a study by World Wildlife Fund Russia, 50 percent of total timber harvest in Primorsky Krai in 1999 was illegal. In addition, leskhozes, the regulatory bodies responsible for forest protection, abuse salvage logging policies and regulations to augment their budget shortfalls; unscrupulous leskhoz officials also sometimes seek to enrich themselves. This corruption has fostered widespread indifference among timber companies toward logging regulations, creating a "frontier mentality" in the RFE. It is now difficult if not impossible to enforce timber harvest regulations and collect stumpage and licensing fees. Honest timber companies struggle to compete with illegal loggers.

The greatest long-term threat to the region's forests, however, is rising wood consumption in Northeast Asia. Russia has emerged as the largest log supplier for China, Japan, and South Korea. Massive flooding in China in 1998 – attributed to the widespread deforestation of upper river watersheds – forced the central government to strictly limit timber harvests to protect the few remaining natural forests and to prevent further soil erosion. This policy led to a tripling of Russian log imports to China in just four years (1999-2002). By 2025, China may face a deficit of 200 million cu. m of wood per year, or 15 times the total reported yearly harvest in the RFE.

Regional governments have continually called for investment in wood processing, recognizing the advantages of providing such products to these booming markets; larger, more sustainable revenues, more jobs in local communities, and a slowing of timber harvest by increasing the use of secondary products (woodchips, branches). The latter advantage would in turn reduce pressure to continually open up "frontier forests" for exploitation. But such investment has not been forthcoming, primarily due to illegal logging, capital flight, and corruption.

The Russian government has taken measures to reform and better regulate the industry; President Putin himself branded the industry "uncivilized". But efforts so far have been largely unsuccessful because the same government agencies responsible for forest protection are among the violators.

The future health of the RFE forests depends upon effective Russian government regulation of the industry, substantial cuts in Chinese and Japanese timber imports, and the development of a competitive processing industry…

Rejuvenating processing.

A number of regional governments recognize the benefits of reviving processing, an industry that collapsed in the 1990s. The Khabarovsk government has issued directives requiring at least 20 percent of the krai's timber harvest be processed locally, although enforcement of this regulation has proved virtually impossible; for example, some foreign companies promise to process timber simply to access forest resources. The Malaysian logging firm Rimbunan Hijau, which logs the Sukpai River watershed in southern Khabarovsk, agreed to process 20 percent of its cut timber but hasn't done so and continues to export Sukpai logs to Japan and China. Some processing ventures, however, have established themselves in the RFE. Several Japanese-Russian joint ventures process timber. STS Technowood, a joint venture between the Russian firm Terneiles and Sumitomo Corporation, is the largest of the ventures and produces about 30,000 to 50,000 cu. m of lumber for export to Japan.

But recent developments in China are likely to hinder Russian efforts to modernize its processing industry. Chinese limits on domestic logging forced the timber industry in Manchuria, China's main timber-producing region, to search for new log sources. At least 300 sawmills operate in Manchuria and process about 4 million cu. m of timber annually. These mills already use Russian timber and may be exporting sawnwood made from Russian logs to Japan, Taiwan, and elsewhere. Since 1996, Chinese sawnwood exports to Japan have grown dramatically.

If China is indeed modernizing and expanding this industry to capitalize on growing demand for processed timber, firms in the RFE would have to compete with Chinese suppliers for the Japanese and South Korean markets. Chinese suppliers and Japanese investors, however, are more likely to invest in Chinese processing mills due to cheaper labor and greater economic and political stability. In Manchuria, many small sawmills have been established with Taiwanese investment, some as joint ventures and others as Taiwan-owned companies. Despite declining harvests in China, there are new timber-processing enterprises springing up in Heilongjiang Province. The Chinese timber companies Nacha Wood, Lancian Wood, Mudanjiang Forest Wood, San Gan Ling, and Xin Yang Wood together have the capacity to process more than 600,000 cu. m annually; this indicates an already sizeable processing industry is in place.

The Russian government is aware of this threat: stipulations regarding processing are prominent in recent Russian-Chinese timber harvest agreements. In March 2002, for example, the Hebei Forestry Bureau, a division of the Forest Industry Bureau in China's Heilongjiang Province, agreed with the Russian government to log 200,000 cu. m and produce 50,000 cu. m of sawnwood in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast. Plans to develop similar logging and processing ventures in Primorsky and Khabarovsk Krais and Amur Oblast exist, but may not reach fruition because they require large-scale investment and acceptance of political and economic risks.

Khabarovsk Governor Viktor Ishaev has issued an ambitious decree calling for raw log exports to cease by the end of 2003, with only processed wood products allowed for export thereafter. According to the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce, this would not only create new jobs but also increase profits three- to fifteenfold. Such a radical transformation, however, would require massive investment, which is unrealistic to expect as continued corruption discourages Russian and foreign timber companies from the long-term investments needed to develop processing. These companies would rather keep their products abroad than reinvest. The effort to ban raw log exports also faces stiff resistance from certain ministries in Moscow that are preparing the country for entry into the World Trade Organization, which is likely to consider such a measure protectionist. Finally, some within the timber industry, fearing the loss of the Asian log market, would resist the ban as they did when the Primorsky administration passed a decree in 1998 banning the export of ash logs. The regional prosecutor overturned the 1998 ban after complaints from certain individuals within the industry.

The Siberian Curse: How Communist Planners Left Russia Out in the Cold
by Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy (Brookings Institution Press)
Review by Sarah Hurst

The announcement that Siberia is too cold will not come as much of a surprise to Russians. If further statistical proof is needed, then this is the book to read. An array of graphs and tables demonstrate exactly how cold Siberia is compared to other parts of Russia and the world. For example, of the world's coldest cities with more than a million people, nine are in Russia: Novosibirsk, Omsk, Yekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk, Perm, Samara, Ufa, Kazan and Nizhny Novgorod. The tenth is Ottawa, Canada. Novosibirsk's mean January temperature is -19.0 C (-2.2 F), while Ottowa's is a balmy -11.7 C (10.9 F).

The Siberian Curse asks why these cities were built in such a forbidding environment and what should be done with them. Both answers are rather depressing. Russia's cities in Siberia and the Far East are too big, and many shouldn't be there at all, the authors contend. Soviet central planners used slave labor from the Gulag to build cities east of the Urals, and placed huge industrial plants there. In a market economy far fewer people would have moved to these places. According to something called "Zipf's law", a country's largest city is approximately twice as big as the second-largest city, three times as big as the third city, four times as big as the fourth, and so on. But after Moscow (10 million) and St. Petersburg (5 million), Russia has a large cluster of cities with over a million people. The cold cities.

The authors show how expensive and impractical it is to maintain these cities in the post-Soviet era. They give several examples from the Russian Far East, treating it as an extension of Siberia for the purpose of the book. Mirny in Sakha was built as a diamond-mining center in 1959. "Fixated solely on the physical presence of diamonds in the ground, the planners unfortunately failed to consider (or perhaps chose consciously to ignore) the constraints of Yakutia's climate and the remoteness of the planned city and port," Hill and Gaddy write. Mirny has a population of 37,000 but it is cut off from export markets by "a frozen river, an impassable road, and an absent rail link. The town's only connection to the outside world is air transportation – itself vulnerable to weather-related delays and ruptures."

Residents of these regions have to put up with failing heating and electricity systems and frequent natural disasters. In March 2001 rising ground waters in Magadan "gushed to the surface, enveloping the district's houses and transforming them into ice blocks," the authors write. In May of the same year, a massive natural dam made of ice formed on the Lena River near Lensk, Sakha. Backed up behind the dam, the river had risen 6.5 meters above its flood level. It inundated 98 percent of Lensk. "Nearly all of the town's 27,000 residents had to be evacuated as the floodwaters swept hundreds of homes away and damaged thousands of other buildings, roads and bridges." The waters only began to recede when a fleet of supersonic bombers dropped 80 tons of explosives on the dam.

So should Russia abandon these cities altogether? It isn't that simple. There are practical and psychological obstacles. To begin with, the centralized energy systems make it impossible to turn off the heating and electricity in individual apartments. Whole blocks would have to be supplied with power even if half the residents moved out. Next, it isn't so easy to find somewhere to move to. Moscow is a giant magnet for migrants, but it has retained the propiska (residence permit) for precisely this reason. Other warmer parts of the country, such as the North Caucasus, have failing economies. People tend to move from one cold city to another cold city, which isn't much of an improvement. Older people have their social networks and perhaps a small plot of land or a meager pension, none of which they are keen to give up in return for an uncertain future.

Besides, Russian national identity is tied to size. Yes, size does matter. Being the biggest country in the world is a source of immense pride. On the other hand, Russians consider themselves Europeans and traditionally say a tearful goodbye to the motherland when they arrive at the Urals, the gateway to Asia. People east of the Urals refer to European Russia as the materik (mainland). But they fear that if they lose their grip on Siberia and the Far East, the Chinese could pour in. For Russians it is not enough to own the land, they have to populate it, or so they think. Hill and Gaddy recommend that they look to Canada, where the majority of the population live near the U.S. border, while only 1 percent live in the northern territories.

The book concludes with recommendations for developing Siberia more efficiently, with fewer people and more advanced technology. Instead of relocating the elderly, Russia should encourage younger people to move to warmer climates and subsidize those who remain (who will eventually die off). Something must be done. The worst scenario would be to continue throwing billions of rubles at deteriorating cities in a desperate attempt to prop them up, the authors argue. But they devote much more space to analyzing the problems of Russia than to suggesting solutions. They hammer the same point home again and again from different angles, even referring to complex mathematical formulae in the appendices. The case studies of people struggling to survive in appalling conditions are more convincing than any of the graphs. If past experience is anything to go by, Russia's leaders will probably not take quite the same logical approach to the Siberian curse that Hill and Gaddy are hoping for.



Russians rescue North Koreans

The Russian ship Tikhon Semushkin rescued five North Korean fishermen from their sinking ship, Vostok-Media news agency reported in January. The incident occurred 100 miles from Primorye's Posyet Port.

Sakhalin fishermen win suit over unpaid wages

The factory ship Dalmos has been arrested at Sakhalin's Nakhodka Port by order of the city court, Itar-TASS reported in January. The ship is being held because its owner, the Sakhalin Fish Processing Company, owes its crew 4.8 million rubles ($168,000). The 46 fishermen have not been paid for about six months, so they turned to their local branch of the Russian Union of Sailors for help. The union sued the company and the court found in favor of the crew.

FSB official arrested for taking bribe

An employee of the Sakhalin State Marine Inspectorate in the FSB's Pacific Region Border Guard Department has been arrested in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk for allegedly taking a bribe, reported in February. The bribe of $5,000 was extorted from the deputy director of the IDK fish-processing company in Korsakov, who complained to the authorities.

Authorities catch poachers in Primorye and Kamchatka

The schooner Nevskoe-1 was stopped in Vladimir Bay and found to have 2.2 tons of illegally-caught crab on board, reported in February. The vessel was convoyed to Vladivostok. Three poaching vessels were convoyed to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in January, Vostok-Media news agency reported. The Robin-1, the Artol and the Avtod, flying flags of Belize and Panama, were stopped in the Sea of Okhotsk. The Artol was found to have seven tons of live crab on board and the other boats had fishing equipment on board. The boats had been stopped before by Kamchatka border guards but they had different names. The Robin-1 was formerly the Rodina, the Artol was the Absari 21 and the Avtod was the Saga.

Far East sees increase in poaching

Poaching of fish increased by 14.8 percent in 2003 compared with the previous year in the Far East federal district, reported in February. A total of 1,586 poaching incidents were registered by law-enforcement authorities and there was a 69.3 percent increase in cases sent to court, which involved 659 people. More than 80,000 tons of fish were caught illegally along with 135 tons of caviar and 400 tons of crab.


Submarines are a girl's best friend?

A submarine in Russia's Black Sea fleet is to be named Alrosa, Rosbalt news agency reported in January. Officials from the Sakha-based diamond company will attend the naming ceremony on March 19 in Sevastopol. The name Alrosa is an acronym for Almazy (diamonds) Rossii-Sakha.

Ministry revokes mining rights

Russia 's Natural Resources Ministry has canceled the mining rights of seven companies prospecting for precious metals in the Far East, including one of the country's two independent platinum producers, Bloomberg news agency reported in January. Artel Amur, Artel Vostok, Artel Cheatyn, Artel Dalzoloto, Dalnevostochnye Resursy, Marekan and Plast-DVR were stripped of the rights for a combined 26 fields because the license had been granted without tenders. Amur and rival Koryakgeoldobycha, which was not affected by the ministry's actions, are the country's only companies that mine platinum from riverbeds.

British company polishes Kamchatka gold estimates

British company Trans-Siberian Gold has raised its estimate of gold at the Asacha project in Kamchatka after new drilling and a reevaluation of data, Bloomberg news agency reported in January. The company now believes the project holds 677,000 ounces of gold, 6.6 percent more than previous estimates. The average grade of the ore has moved up to 21.9 grams per ton from 15.2 grams per ton.

Oil, Gas, and Energy

Russian government cancels Sakhalin-3 tender

The Russian government has canceled the results of a 1993 tender for the Sakhalin-3 gas and oil project that was won by a consortium led by the world's largest oil company, ExxonMobil, The Moscow Times reported in January. The 1993 tender won by Exxon, Texaco and Rosneft allowed the companies to explore the area but provided no legal guarantees for development, according to Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko. "As a major investor in Russia, we would be very disappointed if the decision were taken by the government to re-tender Sakhalin-3," said ExxonMobil Russia Vice President Glenn Waller. "It would be a violation of our rights and would send a negative signal to foreign investors."

Sakhalin-3 consists of three blocs on the shelf of Sakhalin Island. The Kirinsky bloc has an estimated 453 million tons of extractable oil and 700 billion cubic meters of gas. The Ayashsky bloc has an estimated 97 million tons of oil and 37 bcm of gas, while the East Odoptinsky bloc has 70 million tons of oil and 30 bcm of gas. The oil companies have done little exploration on Sakhalin-3, hoping instead that the government would give it PSA status. ExxonMobil said it has spent $60 million on Sakhalin-3, purchasing technical information about the fields, carrying out seismic studies and conducting years of negotiations with the government.

If Sakhalin-3 is put up for auction and ExxonMobil does not win, the money ExxonMobil spent will be reimbursed by the winner, Khristenko said. If ExxonMobil wins, the money will be deducted from the price of the license. The government wants up to $1 billion for a license to explore and develop the Kirinsky bloc, according to Energy Minister Igor Yusufov. "We are very concerned that a decision by the government of Russia not to issue a development license to ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco for the Sakhalin-3 field despite their having won the 1993 tender could set back our bilateral energy cooperation," said U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow.

Some Sakhalin residents miss out on energy boom

In January some Sakhalin apartment blocks still had no heating, reported. There was no central heating in 30 apartment blocks: six in Dolinsky District (269 apartments, 498 residents), three in Korsakovsky District (19 apartments, 47 residents), and 21 in Nevelsky District (780 apartments, 1,439 residents), as well as two kindergartens in Nevelsky District. Another 7,000 people around Sakhalin were receiving less than the officially stipulated level of heating.

Officials too energetic in punishing late payers?

The acting prosecutor of Primorye, Sergey Dzhavadov, has opened a criminal investigation into the heads of the Artem department of Dalenergosbyt, Aleksandr Senya and Petr Kucherenko, RIA Novosti reported in January. They are alleged to have illegally cut off the electricity of the residents of Shkotovsky District in Primorye. By law they should have allowed the residents two months to pay their bills.

Transportation and Shipping

President flies in to open road

President Vladimir Putin visited Khabarovsk in February to inaugurate the Chita-Khabarovsk road, Vladivostok News reported. The 1,345-mile road, which is only partly tarred, is the last stretch of a highway connecting Moscow and Vladivostok. The road had been planned since 1966, but for almost two decades, little more than 22 miles were built each year. The construction works, costing 64.8 billion rubles ($2.2 billion), were sped up in 2001 with the Russian government road department pumping around 30 percent of all its available funding into the project.

"This, in many ways, will define the development of these Russian territories far from the center, and also our success in cooperating with foreign partners, particularly with the dynamically growing countries of the Asia-Pacific region," Putin said.

Ships sink off Sakhalin and Primorye

The bulk carrier Pamela Gold sank in the Tatar Strait off Sakhalin, reported in January. Its crew of 22 Russian seamen were rescued by the ship Sinegorsk and taken to Sakhalin's Korsakov Port. The Pamela Gold was sailing under a Cambodian flag, on its way from Japan to Vanino Port in Khabarovsk Krai to pick up a cargo of timber, when it got caught in a storm and collided with ice, which made a hole in it. It was carrying no cargo, but it went down 23 miles from the town of Sovietskaya Gavan with 62 tons of fuel on board. The depth of the water there is 70 meters. As the fuel tanks were tightly closed, there is not expected to be any environmental damage. The Pamela Corporation in Vladivostok, which owns the ship, will try to raise it to the surface.

The South Korean vessel Asian Noble sank in a storm 50 miles from the coast of Primorye, Vostok-Media news agency reported in February. The Asian Noble had a cargo of coal on board and 20 crew members. The Russian tanker Partizansk came to the rescue and picked up 19 crew members, but one drowned.

Yevraz strengthens interest in Nakhodka Port

Yevrazholding has increased its stake in Primorye's Nakhodka Port to 91.5 percent by acquiring a stake of about 20 percent from independent investors, Prime-Tass news agency reported in January. The group refused to disclose the price of the acquired stake. Yevraz paid for the stake using a part of funds raised from a three-year, $175 million eurobond issue offered last December. The port, with an annual cargo transshipment capacity of 6 million tons, mostly exports ferrous metals.

Vladivostok airline's business is taking off

Vladivostok Avia began flying several new routes in Russia and the Asia-Pacific region in 2003 and strengthened its position as one of the Far East's leading airlines, Vostok-Media news agency reported in February. Among the new routes were Vladivostok-Magadan-Anadyr, Vladivostok-Abakan-Kemerovo, Vladivostok-Abakan-Novokuznetsk, Vladivastak-Abakan-Tomsk, Vladivostok-Abakan-Barnaul and Vladivostok-Dalian ( China). The airline carried 390,561 passengers last year, which was 26.9 percent more than in 2002. Of these, 71.2 percent flew within Russia and 28.8 percent flew internationally. The volume of cargo and mail carried in 2003 was 5,135 tons, a 17 percent increase on 2002.


International Update


Japan sends humanitarian aid to Kurile Islands

A shipment of humanitarian aid from Hokkaido in Japan has arrived in the Kurile Islands, GTRK Sakhalin reported in January. The cargo was expected last year but it was delayed for several months because of problems with its customs documents. The food and medicine will go mainly to poor families and pensioners. The aid package was donated by former residents of the Kurile Islands.

North Korea

Orthodox Christians visit Russia

A delegation of Orthodox Christians from North Korea visited Vladivostok on their way back from Moscow, Yezhednevniye Novosti Vladivostok reported in February. Construction of an Orthodox cathedral in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, is almost complete. Until recently religion was banned in the country.

People’s Republic of China

There's no place like home for Far East Chinese

Only 1.5 percent of the Chinese people living in the Far East intend to stay there permanently, Itar-TASS reported in January. There are between 100,000 and 200,000 Chinese people living and working legally in the Far East "It is difficult to give an exact figure for the number of Chinese people in the region, but it is certainly not the 1 million that is claimed in the Russian media," said Chen Gopin, the Chinese consul general in Khabarovsk. Most of them say they hope to earn money in Russia and then return home.

South Korea

South Koreans build housing for Sakhalin compatriots

A new residential complex is to be built in the South Korean city of Ansan to house 100 Koreans who were deported to Sakhalin by the Japanese before World War II, ASTV-Inform reported in January. The decision to build the homes was made by the South Korean and Japanese Red Cross. In the 1930s and '40s Tokyo sent tens of thousands of Koreans to the Japanese-owned southern part of Sakhalin to work in construction and mining. The construction of the residential complex in Ansan, 42 km from Seoul, will begin in March and is expected to take two years. The first such residential complex for 1,000 Sakhalin Koreans was built in Ansan in 1997 with Japanese financing. Old people moved back to Korea but they had to deal with more trauma, as they left children and grandchildren behind. Another 1,500 Sakhalin Koreans have moved to Incheon and Seoul.

United States

Fingerprinting is painless

U.S. officials demonstrated the new fingerprinting system at the consulate in Vladivostok in February, Yezhednevniye Novosti Vladivostok reported. Visa applicants aged between 14 and 80 will be fingerprinted from now on in a process that only takes a few seconds. Diplomats and people who require emergency medical treatment will be exempt from the fingerprinting.

Politics and Legislation

The National Scene

(note: to become federal law, bills usually are approved by the State Duma in three readings, then approved by the Federal Council, and then approved by the Russian president; some regulation, however, is enacted by presidential decree.)

Putin clears the decks ahead of election

President Vladimir Putin dismissed the Russian government headed by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov at the end of February. He appointed Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko to be acting prime minister, Interfax reported. "I have made a decision on the dismissal of the government under Article 117 of the Constitution of Russia," Putin said in a live television program. "This decision bears no relation to any assessment of the performance of the former composition of the government. It was dictated by my desire to once again delineate my position on the issue of what development course the country will take after March 14, 2004."

n March 1 President Putin nominated Russia's representative to the European Union , 53-year-old Mikhail Fradkov, to become the next prime minister. The Duma will vote on the nomination on March 5.

Presidential election campaign reaches final stages

President Putin faces six challengers in the March 14 election, The Moscow Times reported in February. They are Sergey Glazev (co-leader of the Motherland bloc), Irina Khakamada (former co-leader of the Union of Right Forces), Nikolay Kharitonov (Communist Party), Oleg Malyshkin (Liberal Democratic Party), Federation Council Speaker Sergey Mironov and Ivan Rybkin (backed by exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky), who disappeared mysteriously during the campaign and resurfaced in Kiev. Rybkin subsequently relocated his campaign headquarters to London. Glazev and Khakamada are both running as independents, having failed to gain their parties' support.

United Russia dominates new Duma

The party list seats in the State Duma were distributed as follows, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported in January. United Russia – 120 seats; Communist Party – 40 seats; Liberal Democratic Party – 36 seats; Motherland – 29 seats.

In the Russian Far East

Official list of Far East single-mandate constituency winners

The winners of the State Duma elections in the Far East's single-mandate constituencies were the following people, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported in January. The parties in square brackets are those they belonged to if they were deputies in the previous Duma.

Aginsky Buryat Autonomous Okrug: Iosif Kobzon, Independent [Russian Regions]

Amur: Boris Vinogradov, Independent, Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Network external relations director

Buryatia: Vasily Kuznetsov, United Russia [Unity-United Russia], former head of Buryatnefteprodukt

Chita: Yury Lossky, Independent, mayor of Krasnokamensk

Chita: Viktor Voitenko, People's Party [People's Deputy]

Chukotka: Irina Pancheko, Independent, deputy governor

Jewish Autonomous Oblast: Sergey Shtogrin, Communist [Agro-Industrial group]

Kamchatka: Viktor Zavarzin, Independent, regional military official

Khabarovsk: Boris Reznik, Independent [Russian Regions]

Khabarovsk: Vyacheslav Shport, People's Party [People's Deputy]

Koryak Autonomous Okrug: Rafael Gimalo, Independent [Fatherland-United Russia]

Magadan: Stanislav Yeliseykin, United Russia, regional legislator

Primorye: Viktor Cherepkov, Independent [Independent]

Primorye: Svetlana Goryacheva, Independent [Independent]

Primorye: Vasily Usoltsev, United Russia, Dalpolimetall head

Sakha: Vitaly Basygysov, Independent [People's Deputy]

Sakhalin: Ivan Zhdakaev, Communist [Agro-Industrial group]

Ust-Ordynsky Buryat Autonomous Okrug: Vladimir Kuzin, Independent [People's Deputy]


Local legislator joins administration

Chita Governor Ravil Geniatulin has appointed Anatoly Romanov as deputy governor with responsibility for energy and mining, reported in January. Romanov was a deputy in the oblast Duma. This deputy governor's post was previously occupied by Vyacheslav Petukhov and had been vacant for three months.


Governor faces scrutiny from Audit Chamber

Russia's Audit Chamber is to inspect Chukotka this spring, RosBusinessConsulting reported in January. The chamber is entitled to inspect subsidized regions and analyze their expenditures and revenues, according to its deputy chairman, Aleksandr Semikolennykh. "This is an ethical issue," Audit Chamber Chairman Sergey Stepashin said. "We have long had some moral questions to ask [Chukotka Governor Roman] Abramovich, and now we will see how he has worked as governor."

Presidential elections in Chukotka to cost more than Duma elections

Russia's Central Electoral Commission has allocated more than 23 million rubles ($808,000) for presidential election expenses in Chukotka, Vostok-Media news agency reported in February. This should cover a possible second round of voting. Any unused funds will be returned to the Central Electoral Commission. Chukotka received 14.5 million rubles ($510,000) for the Duma elections last December and spent just over 6 million rubles ($211,000). Money was saved because local elections were held on the same day, paid for by local budget funds.


Birobidzhan residents to vote for mayor

An election for the mayor of Birobidzhan will be held on the same day as the Russian presidential election, March 14, Priamurskiye Vedomosti reported in February. Incumbent Aleksandr Vinnikov faces a professor from the Birobidzhan Pedagogical Institute, Miron Fishbeyn, and an official from the Birobidzhan municipal administration, Aleksandr Kurdyukov.


Khabarovsk's governor the best in Russia?

The newspaper Literaturnaya Rossiya has chosen Khabarovsk Governor Viktor Ishaev as the best governor in Russia, Priamurskiye Vedomosti reported in February. Ishaev was praised by the paper for his efforts to promote the rich historical and cultural traditions of the region and for his support of the best magazine in the Russian provinces, Dalny Vostok.

Unpopular mayor resigns

The mayor of the town of Amursk and Amursk District of Khabarovsk Krai, Gennady Kuzminykh, has resigned, Vostok-Media news agency reported in February. Khabarovsk Governor Viktor Ishaev had ordered a recall vote to be held on March 14 after residents complained to him that the mayor was failing to repair roads and pay salaries, but the mayor resigned instead of facing the recall.

Administration bans nationalist demonstration

Members of the National Bolshevik Party, an ultra-nationalist party led by writer Eduard Limonov, have been refused permission to demonstrate in the center of Khabarovsk, Priamurskiye Vedomosti reported in February. Limonov spent two years in prison recently for illegally purchasing weapons and organizing a criminal group. The party had planned to distribute leaflets in Khabarovsk advocating disdain for non-Russians, violent overthrow of the government, redistribution of property, a ban on abortions, the free sale of weapons and lesser punishments for fighting, vandalism and petty theft. The Khabarovsk administration determined that much of the party's program violated the Russian constitution.

New law discourages directories

Out of 94,000 Khabarovsk customers of Dalsvyaz, only 156 people have given their written agreement to be included in telephone directories, Tikhookeanskaya Zvezda reported in February. A new Russian law that came into force on January 1 states that residential telephone numbers may not be published or included in the 09 information service without the customer's written agreement. Some people just are not getting around to signing the agreement and others welcome the opportunity to keep their number a secret. The numbers of businesses and other organizations can be included in directories unless a specific request to be unlisted is made. This was previously the system for residential numbers.


Prosecutor investigates governor in run-up to election

The Koryak Autonomous Okrug's Prosecutor's Office has opened a criminal case against Koryak Governor Vladimir Loginov on suspicion he misused budget funds, NTV reported in January. The okrug administration reportedly spent 700 million rubles ($24 million) on energy supplies, but only about 300 million rubles' worth of coal and fuel oil was shipped there. Investigators have conducted searches and confiscated documents of the okrug administration. Loginov says the case is politically motivated, as he will face okrug Prosecutor Boris Chuev in the March 14 gubernatorial election.

Shortly after the case was opened, Loginov's deputy, Vasily Myshlyaev, announced his resignation, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. He said his resignation was not connected with the criminal charges pending against his boss. Myshlyaev said he was resigning because of threats against him, his family, and his unborn child. In addition to telephone threats, unknown people entered his home and threatened him with a knife, warning him not to participate in the gubernatorial election. Myshlyaev said he didn't report the incidents to the police because they cannot protect him.

Chuev also filed criminal charges against another possible candidate in the election, Yury Khnaev, mayor of the okrug capital, Palana, on criminal charges of abuse of office and negligence. According to investigators, Khnaev caused material damage to city finances in the amount of 250,000 rubles ($9,000). Chuev's office, however, gave Khnaev permission to travel outside of the city of Palana to campaign.

The Koryak electoral commission initially refused to register Chuev as a candidate because he violated election law by using administrative resources to gather signatures in support of his candidacy. More than 100 of the 500 signatures submitted belonged to workers at the Prosecutor's Office or in okrug law-enforcement agencies. The commission registered Chuev after he paid an election deposit of 150,000 rubles ($5,000).


Military prosecutes officer in case of frozen conscripts

More than 90 conscripts fell ill with pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses and one of them, Vladimir Berezin from Moscow, died of double pneumonia after they were forced to stand outside for hours in freezing temperatures during refueling stops on a flight from the Moscow region to Magadan, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported in January. President Vladimir Putin ordered an investigation into the incident. The Prosecutor-General's Office is charging Colonel Oleg Kostryukov, commander of the Magadan Border Guard Detachment, with violating sanitary and epidemiological regulations and negligence leading to a death, Interfax reported in February.

Court rules election valid despite violations

Violations in one of the Magadan constituencies in the oblast Duma elections do not invalidate the result, a court ruled in February, according to Magadanskaya Pravda. The result in the sixth single-mandate constituency was initially ruled invalid because 111 people in one apartment block on Proletarskaya Street were not included on the electoral roll and therefore could not vote. A seal on a ballot box was also broken on polling day. Judge Svetlana Dubova ruled that these violations did not influence the outcome of the election and that declaring the result invalid was illegal. The winner of the election was Aleksandr Sechkin.


Budget funds must pour into Vladivostok water supply

The restoration of Vladivostok's water supply will cost an estimated 1.3 billion rubles ($45.7 million), Vostok-Media news agency reported in February. The Russian government has agreed to pay 600 million rubles towards this, with another 500 million rubles coming from the Primorye budget and 200 million rubles from the Vladivostok city budget. In order to achieve this a number of programs will have to be cut in the city and krai, including programs to support young families, to build and repair roads, and to maintain sports facilities.

Meanwhile the water crisis in Vladivostok continues. The water level in the Artemovsky reservoir was down to 28 million cubic meters in February, 24 percent of its capacity, Primorskoye Television & Radio reported. This was the lowest level for the time of year since the reservoir was built in 1978. It was still declining by 5 cm a day despite a heavy snowfall at the beginning of February. About half of the residents of Vladivostok currently receive cold water 24 hours a day. Another 20 percent receive cold water twice every 24 hours for four hours at a time, and the remainder receive it once every 24 hours for four hours.

Primorye deputies go on hunger strike

A group of deputies from the Primorye Duma went on hunger strike in January to protest the bankruptcy of various local companies, including Bor, which operates Russia's largest deposit of boron-containing ore, Vostok-Media news agency reported. All except one deputy, Adam Imadaev, ended the hunger strike after 10 days. "Along with six kilograms of weight, in this short time I have had to lose my last remaining illusions about the future of Russian democracy," said another deputy, Valery Korolyuk. The group promised to continue their campaign despite the end of the hunger strike. They believe that Bor's bankruptcy is illegal and that the company can pay its creditors. Imadaev ended his hunger strike after nearly three weeks, having been elected chairman of a temporary deputies' commission to investigate the bankruptcies.

City makes song and dance about election

The 24 polling stations in the city of Arsenev, Primorsky Krai, will offer free consultations with a doctor, performances by amateur musicians and a subsidized buffet for voters participating in the presidential election on March 14, Vostok-Media news agency reported in February. Doctors will check voters' blood pressure and advise them about hypertension.

Administration aims for higher living standards

The Primorye administration and the krai's federation of unions have announced that 2004 will be the "year of higher living standards", Vostok-Media news agency reported in January. At present 37 percent of Primorye residents have less income than the minimum needed to live on.

Primorye politician presides over Russia's upper house

A well-known Primorye politician has been appointed deputy speaker of Russia's Federation Council, Primorskoye Television & Radio reported in January. Svetlana Orlova was a State Duma deputy in the mid-1990s, representing Primorye. In 1999 she ran for governor of Primorye, losing to Yevgeny Nazdratenko.


Governor appoints new team

Newly-elected Sakhalin Governor Ivan Malakhov has appointed 48-year-old Boris Gorkunov as first deputy governor, Ostrova news agency reported in January. Gorkunov has been a deputy governor since September 2003 and also occupied that post in 1999-2000. In the interim years he was deputy director of the Sakhalin-2 project at the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk branch of Starstroy.

Malakhov also appointed 52-year-old Lyubov Shubina deputy governor for social issues. Until the appointment Shubina was first deputy speaker of the Sakhalin Oblast Duma. She will resign that position to join the oblast administration. "This decision wasn't easy for me," she said. "I had a lot of doubts, but finally I made up my mind and I understand that I am going to a lower-paid but more responsible post."

Other deputy governors appointed by Malakhov include Sergey Belozerskikh, who was acting governor briefly while Malakhov campaigned for the governor's post; V.P. Godunov, S.G. Degterev, G.A. Karpov, V.V. Nagorny and N.M. Novikova. Degterev and Novikova were deputy governors in the previous administration.

Education boss dies in office

The Sakhalin administration's education chief, 63-year-old Yevgeny Fridman, died suddenly at work in January, reported. He was climbing stairs on his way to a meeting when he collapsed and could not be revived by paramedics.

Protesters call for Japan to give up on Kurile Islands

Around 150 people protested outside the Japanese consulate in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk on February 7, which is known as "Northern Territories Day" in Japan, TIA Ostrova reported. Northern Territories Day, established in 1976, commemorates the first Russo-Japanese treaty of 1855, the Treaty of Shimoda. According to the treaty, the Kurile Islands are Japanese. The Soviet Union occupied the Kurile Islands at the end of World War II and they have been in Russian possession ever since.

The ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party organized the protest, but communists, Sakhalin oblast Duma deputies and others participated. No Japanese diplomats came out of the consulate, but Japanese reporters covered the event. As at the demonstration on the same day last year, the protesters demanded that Japan stop producing maps depicting the Kurile Islands of Japanese territory and return gold reserves worth $80 billion to Russia, which were supposedly stored in Japanese state banks at the beginning of the 20 th century.

Social Issues

Arts & Culture

Chekhov to revisit the Far East?

Productions from Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre and other well-known theatres in Moscow and St. Petersburg are to tour the Far East in 2004-05, Russian Minister of Culture Mikhail Shvydkoy said during a visit to the region, Vostok-Media news agency reported in January. A celebration of Far East culture is scheduled to be held in Moscow in September this year, he added.

In Khabarovsk, Shvydkov promised 20 million rubles ($700,000) for the museum, after being impressed by its huge aquarium, Molodoy Dalnevostochnik reported. The minister also learnt that the museum plans to purchase 500 horse tails and manes to create a coat for its mammoth.

Beasts steal from beauties

Two women aged 27 and 25 have been arrested for stealing personal items belonging to the participants in a Sakha beauty contest, YASIA news agency reported in February. The items were stolen from the dressing room on the night of the event. The winner of the Miss Yakutia title, Natalya Kolodeznikova, lost her cellphone, a bag containing her purse and make-up, and her prize, a fox-fur coat. Runner-up Svetlana Cherepanova lost her mink hat. Despite this trauma, Kolodeznikova went on to win a runner-up's prize in the Miss Russia contest.


Chita café explosion kills 18

An explosion at a café in Chita killed 18 people and injured 18 others, Interfax reported in February. Investigators believe that the explosion was caused by gas cylinders which were empty, in violation of operating rules.

Sakha cement manufacturer lacks solid market

The Sakha company Yakutsement is only working at 60 percent of its capacity, YASIA news agency reported in January. Yakutsement produced 223,000 tons of cement in 2003, half of which was purchased by diamond-mining company Alrosa at a large discount because it was wholesale. The rest was sold elsewhere in the republic. Yakutsement is struggling to increase its sales.


Chinese lessons boom in Vladivostok

More and more people are learning Chinese in Vladivostok, Itar-TASS reported in January. At the Far Eastern State University there are 500 students of Chinese language and culture, the highest number in 40 years. Another 900 students at the university are taking Chinese in addition to their major. Previously Japanese and Korean were more popular than Chinese. Now Chinese is being taught at all five of Vladivostok's universities and in 10 or 11 of the city's schools.

Vladivostok struggles to pay teachers

Teachers at Vladivostok schools have not been receiving their salaries, Vostok-Media news agency reported in January. They are owed around 45 million rubles ($1.6 million). The situation has led to social tensions and the city plans to take out a loan to pay the teachers.


Sakhalin campaigner wins prestigious international award

Sakhalin environmentalist Dmitry Lisitsyn received the J. Paul Getty Wildlife Conservation Prize at a ceremony in Vladivostok, Vostok-Media news agency reported in January. Lisitsyn, the chairman of Sakhalin Environmental Watch, was honored for his efforts to hold Russian and multinational oil companies accountable for the environment of Sakhalin, according to the World Wildlife Fund. He shared the $100,000 prize with four other winners from Indonesia, Chile, Papua New Guinea and China.

One of the organization's biggest achievements was persuading oil companies on Sakhalin not to dump thousands of tons of toxic waste from drilling into the Sea of Okhotsk, Lisitsyn said. "We have seen results from our work and that makes us happy," he added. "When we started working on the problem of the dumping of toxic waste by huge companies like Shell and Exxon, no one believed it was possible."

Established in 1974 by the late J. Paul Getty, the prize recognizes conservation excellence and innovation by individuals and groups. Previous winners have included famed British conservationist Sir Peter Scott, pioneering chimpanzee researcher Dr. Jane Goodall, and the Charles Darwin Foundation.

Ministry digs the dirt on Khabarovsk environment

The Russian Ministry of Natural Resources has found serious violations of environmental regulations in Khabarovsk Krai, Ekho-DV news agency reported in January. The ministry conducted inspections in November and December last year and found violations in forestry, water use and environmental protection. For example, companies were using water and disposing of sewage without a license. Companies that broke environmental protection rules included Vodokanal ( Khabarovsk), Gorvodokanal ( Komsomolsk-on-Amur), Vodokanal (Nikolaevsk-on-Amur), the Khabarovsk oil refinery and the Komsomolsk branch of Khabarovskenergo.

Tiger strays into Amur Oblast nature reserve

A tiger has been spotted in Amur Oblast for the first time in 40 years, Interfax reported in January. The tiger was seen near Mt. Bekeldul in the Zeya nature reserve, and again crossing a frozen pond. It may have come from Primorye, which is nearly 2,000 km away.

Meanwhile, in Primorye a poacher was fined 130,000 rubles ($4,500) for killing a tiger last December, Vladivostok News reported in February. Vasily Zelenin, 20, flayed the animal and hid its head and paws in a beehive in his yard. There are no more than 450 of these Amur tigers left in the wild.

Leopards leap down path to extinction

The carcasses of two Far East leopards killed by poachers were found in Primorye nature reserves in January, Ekho-DV news agency reported. Last year there were estimated to be only 28-32 of these leopards in existence. The poachers will be prosecuted if they are caught.

Chukotka hunters receive a whale of a quota

Marine mammal hunters in Chukotka may harvest 121 gray whales and five bowhead whales this year, the Chukotka Association of Traditional Hunters (CHAZTO) announced in January, reported. Settlements where there are farms with livestock will receive a lower whale quota for 2004 than in the past because the association wants to ensure that the whale meat goes to Native people and not to animals. Chukotka has a quota of 600 whales for five years from the International Whaling Commission. Last year 80 percent of the quota of 135 gray whales and five bowheads were harvested. CHAZTO also announced a quota of no more than 20 Pacific walruses for this year. This species is on the verge of extinction.


President gives Magadan health care a booster shot

President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree allocating 1.6 million rubles ($56,000) to the Magadan administration for the oblast's health care system, Vostok-Media news agency reported in February. The money will come from the president's reserve fund. Another 250,000 rubles ($8,700) will go towards equipment for the Magadan Oblast oncological clinic.


Khabarovsk newspaper has new editor

The new editor of Khabarovsk newspaper Tikhookeanskaya Zvezda is Ludmila Boldyreva, Vostok-Media news agency reported in January. Boldyreva was promoted from first deputy editor after editor Sergey Torbin died of a heart attack.


President honors Sakhalin seismologist

Sakhalin seismologist Aleksey Ivashchenko is to receive a prestigious state prize from President Putin, Ekho-DV news agency reported in February. The prize comes with a cash award of 300,000 rubles ($10,000). Ivashchenko is the head of the seismology laboratory at the Sakhalin Institute of Marine Geology and Geophysics. Together with colleagues from Sakhalin, Kamchatka, Vladivostok, Moscow, Khabarovsk and Sakha, he produced a map of the earth's seismology.

Did You Know? Facts and Figures at a Glance

Russian Federation

The ruble

According to the exchange rate set by the Central Bank of Russia, on the following dates $1 US was equal to X rubles: (




















The State Statistics Committee calculated the consumer price index inflation for recent months at:



























Economic Growth

Russia's economy grew 7 percent in 2003, the fifth consecutive year of growth, the Economic Development and Trade Ministry announced in January. Last year's growth was the second-fastest since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, only exceeded by 10 percent expansion in 2000. Growth is being driven by oil prices that are about $5 per barrel more than government forecasts and by soaring wages, which are driving demand for real estate and consumer products. Real wages rose 10 percent last year.

Investment and Capital Flight

Capital flight from Russia's private sector declined from $8.1 billion in 2002 to $2.9 billion in 2003, the Central Bank announced in January.

Production figures

Russia's industrial production rose 7 percent last year, the fastest rate in three years, the State Statistics Committee announced in January. Machine-building grew 9 percent in 2003, while fuel output rose 9.3 percent and ferrous metals grew 8.9 percent.

Russian companies produced 421 million tons of oil in 2003, which was 11 percent more than the previous year, the State Statistics Committee announced in January. The volume of primary oil refining reached 190 million tons last year, which was 2.7 percent more than in 2002. Natural gas production reached 620 billion cubic meters, 4.2 percent more than in 2002.

Russia increased coal production 7.9 percent to 274.7 million tons in 2003 to meet growing global and domestic demand for fuel, Anatoly Skryl of the Rosinformugol analytical company announced in January. Russian coal exports grew from 50 million tons to 57.8 million tons in 2003.

Russian Aluminum, which makes an eighth of the world's aluminum, increased output 4.3 percent in 2003 to 2.6 million tons after upgrading smelters, the company announced in January. Sales rose 12 percent to $4.5 billion. The company produces about 70 percent of Russia's aluminum and exports 90 percent of its output.

Russia increased automobile production 4.9 percent from 1.2 million in 2002 to 1.3 million in 2003, ASM Holding, which collates Russian automotive sector statistics, announced in February. Russia rolled out 1.0 million cars last year, up from 980,061 in 2002. Russia produced 194,714 trucks, including chassis, up from 174,250 in 2002. The country produced 76,530 buses, up from 67,308 in 2002.

Russia's production of vodka and other strong alcoholic beverages declined by 3.3 percent in 2003, the National Alcohol Association announced in January. A total of 464 companies produced 1.3 billion liters of strong alcohol. There were 327 wine producers that turned out 365 million liters of wine, up 9.7 percent, and 110 companies produced 459 million liters of low alcohol-content beverages, a rise of 37.5 percent. About 100 companies produced cognacs and turned out 35 million liters, a 32.9 percent increase. Russia produced 88 million liters of champagne and sparkling wine, up 8.3 percent.

Russia produced 2.3 million television sets in 2003, up 18 percent from 2.0 million the previous year, the Industry, Science and Technology Ministry announced in February. Russia also produced 2.2 million refrigerators and freezers, an increase of 14.5 percent.


Around 90 percent of Russians are confident that Vladimir Putin will be re-elected on March 14 and 69 percent plan to vote for him, according to a poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation in February. The second most popular candidate is Nikolay Kharitonov, on 5.4 percent, followed by Sergey Glazev on 3.5 percent. The other candidates' ratings are: Irina Khakamada – 2.2 percent, Oleg Malyshkin – 1.3 percent, Sergey Mironov – 0.4 percent, and Ivan Rybkin – 0.1 percent. Another 2.8 percent plan to vote against all candidates.

The majority of Russians, 52 percent, object to amending the constitution to extend the president's term in office to seven years, and 42 percent do not object, according to a poll of 1,500 people conducted by ROMIR Monitoring in February. Residents of the northwestern and Volga federal districts and cities with populations of over 1 million were more likely to support this type of constitutional amendment. Men were more inclined to object to a seven-year presidential term than women. However, 54 percent of Russians think Vladimir Putin should remain president after his second term of office ends in 2008, 34 percent do not, and 12 percent were undecided. The number of people who would like to see Putin's presidency continue beyond 2008 decreases as their level of income increases.


Russia received $6.5 billion in foreign direct investment in 2003, up 62 percent on the previous year, Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin announced in January. Despite a fast growth, FDI was less than 10 percent of the country's capital investment of $72 billion in 2003, which was a 12.5 percent increase on the previous year.

Russia's foreign trade surplus soared to $59.6 billion in 2003 from $46.3 billion a year ago, thanks largely to booming oil, gas and metal exports, the Economic Development and Trade Ministry announced in January. Exports totaled $134.4 billion in 2003, a rise of 25.3 percent on the previous year. Imports stood at $74.8 billion, an increase of 22.6 percent.

Russia exported $3 billion-worth of nuclear products last year, a $400 million increase on 2002, Nuclear Power Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev announced in February. The sales were driven primarily by fuel headed to nuclear plants in former Soviet bloc countries.

Russia's gold exports fell 27 percent last year when the Central Bank sold none of its gold, Valery Brayko, chairman of the Russian Union of Gold Producers, announced in February. Exports of gold dropped to 150 tons from 191 tons in 2002. Gold production increased to 176.9 tons from 170.9 tons. Silver exports jumped to 800 tons from 514 tons after the country's largest silver miner, MNPO Polymetall, raised production.

Living Standards

Russia now has 25 billionaires, up from 17 a year ago, according to Forbes magazine. For the first time Russia has more billionaires than Japan, making it the country with the third-largest group of billionaires, behind the United States, with 279, and Germany, with 52. Moscow, with 23 resident billionaires, is only eclipsed by New York, with 31. The combined value of Russian billionaires' assets grew from $35.5 billion to $79.4 billion. Imprisoned former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky remains Russia's richest man. His assets have grown from $8 billion to $15 billion. Second on the list is Chukotka Governor Roman Abramovich, whose fortune has grown from $5.7 billion to $10.6 billion.

Cellphone operators more than doubled their clientele in 2003 to 36.2 million – 24.9 percent of the population – as over 18 million Russians signed up for cellular services, AC&M telecom consulting firm announced in January.

The Conflict in Chechnya

An explosion in the Moscow metro in February killed 41 people and injured over 130, according to Deputy Interior Minister Aleksandr Chekalin. President Putin immediately blamed Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov, although it was unclear how the attack had been carried out or by whom.

A total of 561 terrorist acts were carried out in Russia in 2003, a 55.8 percent increase on the previous year, killing more than 200 people, the Interior Ministry announced in January. More than 400 of these attacks occurred in southern Russia, 386 of them in Chechnya. There were 1,367 kidnappings in Russia last year, which was 10 percent fewer than in 2002.

The Russian Defense Ministry lost 263 servicemen in Chechnya in 2003, the ministry announced in February. The figure in 2002 was 463. The Defense Ministry grouping in Chechnya has been reduced from 53,000 to 31,000, with 20,000 servicemen stationed there permanently. Defense Ministry forces are responsible for the mountain regions of Chechnya. A total of 971 Defense Ministry servicemen died in Russia for various reasons in 2003.


An estimated 2.8 million crimes were registered in Russia in 2003, the Interior Ministry announced in January. This was an increase of 9.1 percent on the previous year. Theft increased by 24.2 percent, robbery was up 18.4 percent and assaults were up 3.4 percent. Serious economic crimes were up 2.8 percent.

Around 77 percent of Russians would not want their son, brother, husband or other close relative to serve in the military, according to a poll of 1,600 people conducted by sociologist Yury Levada's analytical service in February. Only 20 percent say they have nothing against military service. This compares with 84 percent against military service in a similar 1998 poll and 13 percent not opposed to it. In the latest poll, 42 percent cited hazing and violence by fellow soldiers as their reason for opposing military service, and another 42 percent cited possible injury or death in combat.

Around 19,000 people died in fires last year in Russia, most of which were blamed on negligence, the Emergency Situations Ministry announced in January. Of those who died, 774 were children. More than 14,000 people were injured in fires. In total there were about 240,000 fires last year. The number of Russia's fire victims is nearly five times more than in the United States, which has twice the population. The contrast is even starker with Britain, where one in 100,000 people dies in a fire every year, compared to 12.5 per 100,000 in Russia.

The death toll from car accidents in Russia last year was around 35,500 people, a 7 percent increase on 2002, the traffic police announced in January. Another 244,000 people were injured in car accidents, a 13 percent increase on 2002. The total number of accidents rose by 10 percent.

Around 56 percent of Russians think that corruption and bribes are one of the biggest problems in the country, while only 6 percent believe that these problems are minor, and another 6 percent have never had any problems with corruption, according to a poll of 1,580 people conducted by ROMIR Monitoring in January. Around 30 percent say that corruption is a problem, but it does not rank among the most significant problems in the country. The highest rate of people who regard corruption as a key problem live in the Far Eastern federal district (84 percent) and the rate is the smallest in the northwestern district (39 percent).

Around 37 percent of Russians do not drink vodka at all and are therefore not concerned that it is going to become more expensive, according to a poll of 1,600 people conducted by ROMIR Monitoring in January. A change was made in alcohol excise collection on January 1. Another 32 percent of respondents said the news that vodka was becoming more expensive was unpleasant for them, but they have taken it quite well as their family members do not drink much vodka. A total of 15 percent said there is nothing wrong with higher vodka prices as cheap vodka will always be on sale as well. Another 8 percent were not upset by the news because they buy expensive vodka anyway, while 6 percent said the increase in prices would be a blow to their family budget and 2 percent were undecided.

Russian domestic carriers marked a third straight year of growth in 2003, flying 10.8 percent more passengers, Stanislav Ovcharenko, head of the State Civil Aviation Service licensing department, announced in January. The country's 215 airlines carried 29.5 million people last year. Flagship carrier Aeroflot carried 5.8 million passengers, up from 5.5 million in 2002. No.2 Sibir reported a 26 percent passenger increase, serving 3.4 million travelers. No.3 Pulkovo flew 2.4 million passengers, 16.1 percent up on the previous year.

Russian Far East

The Far East's gross regional product increased by 6.9 percent in 2003 compared to the previous year, the president's representative in the region, Konstantin Pulikovsky, announced in February. Sakha accounted for a 23.0 percent share of regional production followed by Khabarovsk Krai (21.4 percent), Primorye (19.8 percent), and Sakhalin Oblast (14.1 percent). The economies of all the Far East's krais and oblasts grew, with the exception of Amur Oblast. The fastest growth was seen in Sakhalin Oblast (128.1 percent), Chukotka (110.2 percent), Khabarovsk Krai (107.6 percent) and Primorye (107.0 percent).

In the safes of the Far East Sberbank ( Russia's state bank) there are more than 30 kg of gold, 23 billion rubles ($804 million) and $184 million, the bank announced in January.

Amur Oblast

Gold production in Amur Oblast increased by 7.4 percent to 13.1 tons in 2003, Nikolay Starkov, head of the regional administration's Natural Resources and Mining Sector Department, announced in February. This was due to an injection of local and foreign investment and the full introduction of an ore mill at the British-owned Pokrovsky gold mine. Gold sales increased by 900 million rubles ($31.6 million) to 4.5 billion rubles ($158.2 million), which was a quarter of revenues from all industries.

Republic of Buryatia

There were 24 ruble millionaires in Buryatia last year, up from 18 in 2002, according to their tax declarations. Eight of these earned more than 10 million rubles ($350,800). One person earned 127 million rubles ($4.4 million) and paid 17 million rubles ($600,000) in taxes.

Chukotka Autonomous Okrug

The people of Chukotka are more satisfied with their standard of living than anyone else in Russia, according to a survey conducted by Sotsio-Metriks in January. A total of 56 percent of respondents in Chukotka said their standard of living has improved in recent times, which was double the rate found in any other region covered by the survey. Only 11 percent of Chukotka respondents described their situation as bad or getting worse. Less than 4 percent reported experiencing difficulties connected with health care, education or the environment. An overwhelming 95 percent of Chukotka residents positively evaluated Governor Roman Abramovich's work.

Kamchatka Oblast

The Russian president's fund has allocated 1.5 million rubles ($53,000) to renovate an old people's home in the village of Paratunka and 2 million rubles ($70,000) for a home for the mentally ill in the village of Yagodny, the Kamchatka Oblast administration announced in March.

Khabarovsk Krai

There were more than 2,400 inspections of food products on sale in the city of Khabarovsk last year, the local administration announced in January. As a result, 1,300 violations were recorded and vendors were fined a total of 2.3 million rubles ($80,700). The most common violations were expired sell-by-dates, unlabelled goods and missing documents. The worst offenders were kiosks and wholesale markets.

Magadan Oblast

There were 64,840 traffic violations in Magadan last year, up from 63,864 in 2002, oblast law-enforcement authorities announced in January. Of these, 2,692 were related to drunk driving and 9,648 were violations by pedestrians. There were 397 traffic accidents last year, up from 368 in 2002, in which 47 people were killed and 565 were injured.

Primorsky Krai

More than 60,000 liters of illegally-produced alcohol worth over 5.9 million rubles ($207,000) were confiscated in Primorye in 2003, the krai's law-enforcement authorities announced in January. Primorye accounted for 70 percent of the criminal cases related to the illegal production and sale of alcohol in the Far East. A total of 400 illegal distilleries were shut down.

Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)

A total of 19.8 tons of gold were mined in Sakha in 2003, a 10.8 percent increase on the previous year, Sakha representative in the Federation Council Aleksandr Matveyev announced in February. Diamonds worth $1.8 billion were mined in Sakha last year, a 12 percent increase on 2002.

Note: unless otherwise stated, all dollar figures are at current exchange rates.

Sources include:

Interfax -
Moscow Times -
RFE/RL (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty publications)-
RosBusinessConsulting -
Russian Regional Report
Sakhalin Independent - -
Vladivostok News -
Vostok-Media -


The City of Magadan's Social Organization of Invalids “ASPIRATION”

38 str. Gagarina, Magadan, 685030 Tel. +7 (413-22) 5-29-52 Fax +7(41322) 7-58-45

We are disabled people from the city of Magadan, Russia. We live in the extreme conditions of the Far North and in a community which is extremely hard to live in economically. All categories of disabled persons have very little retirement income from the government. Our pensions seldom exceed $50 a month, although the declared minimum sum for survival is twice that amount.

We have united ourselves into a public non-profit organization to overcome our problems together. Now we are launching a charity action called "Disabled people are citizens of the world". We are calling for the donations we need to establish a center for social and physical rehabilitation. This center would include a clinic on the grounds of the local mineral spring well-known for its healing qualities; a gym with specialized equipment; a bus equipped with a lift for getting wheelchairs on and off, for the disabled, who for years have had no opportunity to leave the city or to visit hospitals and libraries; and such services as legal consulting to protect disabled rights. We are also looking for volunteers, and hope to find friends via the internet.

Now a few words about myself. I’ve been president of our non-profit for the last eight years. I am 42, and lost my sight at nine after a blast from an industrial explosive. I graduated from a college for blind masseurs and improved my skills for four years at the regional hospital. For all these years, my friends and I have been striving to improve our life. However, it’s hardly likely to happen without an adequate public attitude and state support.

Your kind help would be greatly appreciated by our disabled people. If there are any similar organizations for the disabled in the United States or other countries that would like to cooperate us, we would be very glad to hear from you.

Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Yours sincerely,

Vitaly Ozmitelenko

Wanted: English teachers for Russian villages

REAP International needs people who can teach English in Russian village primary and secondary schools. The location is the Siberian republic of Buryatia, which borders Lake Baikal. Teachers are needed for the 2004-2005 school year. REAP will organize a group, or volunteers can also travel separately. The placements allow teachers to contact each other. We need between 10 and 15 teachers. Knowledge of Russian is strongly recommended (two or more years of study).  

Qualifications: We can accept people with English language specialization or with other collegiate specializations. Those without formal English language education should have strong language/communication skills themselves in an allied field, such as journalism, general education, elementary education or extensive training in other languages. Bachelor's or above. Life experiences are also important to us, as there are many possibilities to work with the Buryat people in such areas as youth leadership, small business development, environmental management, agriculture, law and services to at-risk populations. See REAP's sections on volunteering, internships, living conditions and climate at our website, We provide orientation materials as well.  

Conditions: Participants are responsible for their own transport to Ulan-Ude, the capital of Buryatia, and cost of the visa. REAP will organize travel. Local schools will provide housing free of charge to the teacher's preferences, either with a family or living separately; and also fuel, electricity, transport and the official invitation are provided. Teachers are paid 2-3,000 rubles per month, depending on the school and your level of education. (Daily meal expenses average about 75 rubles per day.)   The villages include local county (raion) centers of 3-5,000 people and smaller villages of 2,000 down to 1,000 or less.  

Deadlines: Interested people should contact Bill Mueller, REAP Director, as soon as possible. For the 2004-2005 school year, we want to close out the group by May 15 for travel in August. REAP International, 1109 31st Street, NE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52402, (319) 366-4230; fax (319) 366-2209; E-mail:

Business Information


Conferences, Meetings, and Forums

"Rotary in Russia: The Next 10 Years - April 3-4, 2004, St. Petersburg." Rotary in Russia, a conference focusing on the development and role of the organization in the country, has been held for the past seven years in locations from Washington D.C. to Sacramento. In 2004, the conference will be held in St. Petersburg, the first conference to be hosted in Russia. Featured speakers at the April 3 and 4 event include Rotary International president Jonathan Majiyagbe from Nigeria and 2004-2005 president Glenn Estess from the United States.

The workshops attract an international mix of participants and provide a venue for Rotarians and others interested in the development of Russia to work together to discuss this issue. In addition to Rotarians, past participants have included representatives from the U.S. Departments of State and Commerce, and leaders of NGOs active in Russia including Counterpart International, FRAEC and the Center for Citizen Initiatives.

The 2004 workshop includes thought-provoking topics such as: Is Rotary in Russia an Extension of American Foreign Policy?; Humanitarian versus Economic Development Programs; and Charitable Status in Russia: Is it Practical? It will also include sessions to discuss the future structure of Rotary in Russia and other related topics.

The detailed conference agenda and speaker arrangements are now being finalized. For more information and registration information, log onto and click the conference link, or contact workshop organizers Steve Yoshida 907-235-7559, or Will Files 907-235-2443,

Business Associations

Russian Far East Regional Customs Brokers Association in Vladivostok works on issues related to customs brokerage business development and customs infrastructure development. Contact: Vitaly Basenko, Executive Director; tel.: (7-4232) 515-112, 414-779; e-mail: ; web:

The Far-East Confederation of Business Women in Vladivostok promotes businesses owned and managed by women and improvement of the general business climate through influence on and dialogues with local government. Contact: Irina Tumanova, Director; tel.: (7-4232) 439-955, 436-259; e-mail: (BISNIS)

Rotary Clubs

Vladivostok Central Rotary Club. Meetings: Tuesdays, 6-7 pm at the Conference Hall of the Far Eastern State Academy of Economy and Management. Nikiforova St. 53-A-, apartment 24. President: Vladimir Svitich, email Home tel.4232-299-015, cell phone 4232-733-817, office tel. 4232-463-159. English-speaking contact Evgenia Klokova,

Vladivostok Eco Rotary Club (VLADECO) is involved in numerous humanitarian, ecological, and exchange programs. Meetings: Thursdays, 6:00pm, location to be arranged. Please contact an organizer for details. One-day notification is required to attend the meeting. Contact: Alexander (Sasha) Gurko, club president,; or contact Evgenia Terekhova, past president; tel./fax: (7-4232) 320-600; e-mail:

Vladivostok Rotary Club. Meetings: Wednesdays, 5-6pm, House of Journalists. Contact: Svetlana Pasternak, past president; tel.: (7-4232) 22-96-98, 22-15-26 (message); e-mail: Postal address: Russia, 690091, Vladivostok, Sukhanova str. 1-12. Translator: Natalia Prisekina; tel.: (7-4232) 26-04-65; e-mail:

Yakutsk Rotary Club. A one-day notification is required to attend meetings. Meetings: Wednesdays, 6:00pm, Regional Museum. Contact: Nadezhda Ertyukova, club president; tel.: (7-4112) 425-260 (work), (7-4112) 253-533 (home); or contact Vyacheslav Ipatiev, past president, TourService Center; tel.: (7-4112) 251-144; fax: (7-4112) 250-897; e-mail:

Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Rotary Club. Meetings: Thursdays, 6:15 pm, Pacific Cafe in SakhinCentr, Kommunisticheskiy prospekt 32. Contact: 1. Alexander Vasilevsky, current president 2003-2004; tel. (7-4242)735-418, e-mail:; 2. Svetlana Vasina, past president 1999-2000; tel.: (7-4242) 557-468; e-mail:; 3.Tanzilya Ivanova, past president 2000-2001; tel.: (7-4242) 7999-51; e-mail:


Circumpolar Expeditions (CP) can arrange charter service from Alaska to Russia. CP has been specializing in logistical support to Russia since 1991. CP will handle all air, hotel, visa support etc. to Russia, in addition to services for Russians to travel to the U.S. Contact tel: 907-272-9299, toll-free: 888-567-7165, fax: 907-278-6092, e-mail, web page

International Travel Consultants (ITC) can arrange charter service from Anchorage, Alaska, to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Sakhalin. In addition to this charter service, ITC can handle any scheduled carrier's reservations and ticketing, including SAT (Sakhalin Air). Contact in the U.S.: tel.: (907) 561-7722; fax: (907) 561-3600; e-mail:; contact Sakhalin-Alaska Consulting Group in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk: tel.: (7-4242) 728-335.

Mavial [Magadan Airlines] provides service from Anchorage, Alaska, to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Kamchatka Oblast, and to Magadan and return. Mavial has coordinated these Anchorage--Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky--Magadan flights to facilitate connections with Khabarovsk and Vladivostok on other regional carriers Dalavia and Vladavia and can also write tickets for Dalavia and Vladavia. Mavial is also providing charter service between Anchorage and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, and Anchorage and Anadyr. Contact in Anchorage: (907)248-2994, e-mail:

Bering Air continues to fly charters between Nome, Alaska, and Provideniya, Chukotka. It plans to begin direct service to Anadyr, Chukotka, in the future, when the Anadyr airport opens as an international airport. Contact in Nome: (907) 443-5620, or

Korean Air provides direct Anchorage-Seoul service. The airline also flies Seoul to Vladivostok three times a week. Connections to other Russian Far East destinations on Russian air carriers are available, but Korean Air does not do the ticketing for them, nor do most travel agencies in the U.S. (see notes on Mavial, ITC and Aeroflot). Contact in Anchorage: (907) 243-3329 or 1-800-438-5000.

Northwest Airlines provides connections between Anchorage-Seattle-Seoul or Tokyo daily, in conjunction with Alaska Airlines. Connections to Russian Far East destinations on Russian air carriers are available, but Northwest does not do the ticketing for them, nor do most travel agencies in the U.S. (see notes on Mavial, ITC and Aeroflot). International reservations tel.: 1-800-447-4747.

Aeroflothas ruled out providing direct service between the U.S. West Coast and the Russian Far East. The company does continue service from the U.S. West Coast to Moscow and then from Moscow to the Russian Far East. Aeroflot also says it can write tickets for some Russian air carriers. Contact in Seattle: (206)464-1005.