ASTANA, Feb 10 (THE GLOBE)
Kazakhstan does not plan to sell the oilfield Alibekmola, the Prime Minister Kasymzhomart Tokaev announced on Thursday, February 10, at the meeting with the Executive Director of the Indian company ONGC Atula Chandra.
�Alibekmola is the country�s strategic reserve,� Tokaev emphasized.
Chandra said that ONGC was interested in exploiting this oilfield.
He said that the company was also interested in exploiting of two oil blocks in the Caspian shelf � 11A and 11B, which were �close to the Oman blocks.�
If the Kazakhstani government took a positive decisions, the company was ready to start prospecting of these oil blocks, Chandra assured.
Besides, ONGC is still interested in participation in the Tengiz deposit. Negotiations on this issue, however, �did not make any advance, except discussion�, Chandra added.
Speaking of possible participation of the Indian company in exploitation of the above-mentioned blocks, Kasymzhomart Tokaev said that the government �could consider� the issue.
Chechen rebels have ambushed a military train in a Russian-controlled region of Chechnya, the Russian Defence Ministry says.
The train, which was being used to repair railway tracks north of the capital Grozny, was crippled on Tuesday near the town of Argun.
Rebels detonated three remote-controlled mines under its locomotive and opened fire from four directions, the Itar-Tass news agency reported.
A second train, which came to the rescue of the first one, was also damaged when the rebels launched rocket-propelled grenades at its engine.
The attackers retreated after Russian special forces arrived, according to the Interfax news agency.
None of the railway guards are reported to have been injured in the attack.
Correspondents say the ambush demonstrates that bands of well-armed Chechen rebels are still active, even in areas which Russian forces claim to control.
Federal troops took control of Argun, located 15km (9 miles) east of Grozny, in December, but rebels managed to retake parts of the town for a few days in early January before again abandoning it
There are also reports that Russia is carrying out heavy air strikes on rebel strongholds in the mountains of southern Chechnya.
The Russians say they are trying to wipe out the bases of a remaining 7,500 Chechen fighters.
Interfax said Russian helicopters and planes had flown about 200 sorties over the past 24 hours, more than double the average.
Russian reports estimate that as many as 60,000 federal troops are now poised for a final assault.
Prague, Feb 9
A videotape delivered to RFE/RL bureau in Moscow late last night shows the radio�s correspondent Andrei Babitsky sitting in front of a stark white wall, a piece of cloth in his hand, saying slowly but distinctly that he wants go home right now.
The tape was purportedly made after Russian authorities said the 36-year-old journalist, who covered the Chechen war for Radio Liberty�s Russian service, was handed over to the Chechens in exchange for two Russian POW�s. Babitsky was allegedly turned over to the Chechens on February 3.
On the tape, Babitsky says that it was filmed on Sunday, February 6, 2000. The 59-second tape recording , purchased by RFE/RL, was also repeatedly shown today on Russia�s NTV.
Following is the transcript of what Babitsky says:
�It is February 6, 2000. I am relatively all right. The only problem is time, because the circumstances are such that I unfortunately cannot immediately return home. Here, everything is OK, as normal as it can be in the middle of a war. People, who are around me, are trying to help me. The only problem is that I really want to go home, I want all this to finally end. But don�t worry, I hope I will be back home soon.�
According to Mario Corti, acting director of RFE/RL�s Russian service, the tape was first offered to Reuter and later to BBC in Moscow. A person at BBC suggested that the tape would be more useful to RFE/RL. Corti, who is in Moscow at present, paid $300 to an unidentified man for the recording.
Corti says the man who sold the tape told a BBC correspondent who accompanied him to RFE/RL that Babitsky is in the hands of the Chechens; that he was handed over to �very important people,� that he is not coming back to his family because �we were told to keep our positions until the 28th and then leave through the Georgian border, and that he (Babitsky) may reemerge in Poland.�
All Over the Globe is published by IPA House.
© 1998 IPA House. All Rights Reserved.