All Over the Globe

Putin orders Babitsky probe, lawyers plan to complain over detention

MOSCOW, Feb 28 (AFP)

Acting President Vladimir Putin called Monday for a probe into the continued detention of Andrei Babitsky, the Russian journalist at the centre of a murky prisoner-swap in Chechnya.

Putin ordered the interior ministry and prosecutors to review the case against Babitsky, who was arrested in the southern Russian town of Makhachkala on Friday, Interfax reported.

The journalist, who works for the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, was handed over to Chechen rebels almost three weeks ago by Moscow�s forces in exchange for three Russian servicemen.

Until he resurfaced, Babitsky�s whereabouts had been unknown.

Putin called for the authorities to look into allegations that Babitsky collaborated with Chechen rebel forces, Interfax said, and also ordered a review into the rationale behind his current detention.

Babitsky is currently being held in a pre-trial detention centre in Makhachkala charged with possession of a forged passport.

His lawyers said Monday that they would lodge a formal complaint against his detention given his physical and mental condition.

Lawyer Alexander Zozulya added that the defence team would also challenge the charge of document forgery against Babitsky, who insists that the passport was a plant.

Chinese Petroleum Company May be Dismissed from Aktyubemunaigas

Does Astana Corrects the Multi-Vectors Policy in Favor of Russia?

ALMATY, Feb 28


Kasymzhomart Tokaev offered the government to oust the China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) from the joint venture Aktobemunaigas. �If demands of our citizens are satisfied, of course, the CNPC will continue to work in Aktyubemunaigas,� the Prime Minister announced on February 25 in Almaty.

The official reason for the that are the dismissal of 1,200 workers and in fact, a complete standstill of the other two projects � the rehabilitation of Uzen and a new pipeline western Kazakhstan - China.

Workers were dismissed in the last year, while no works had been done in Uzen and to construct the pipeline. Why do the Kazakhstani authorities treat this issue now so seriously? It is quite possible that this means the reorientation of the Kazakhstan�s foreign policy.

Obviously, CNPC won the tender rather due to political motifs than economic ones. The agreement signed by Astana and Beijing in 1997 for the total amount of US$ 9.5 billion was called �the deal of the century� and considered as a serious success of President Nazarbaev within the multi-vectors policy. China purchased 60% of shares of Aktobemunaigas having paid US$ 325 million and 60% of Uzen. China is to invest US$ 4 billion within 20 years. Besides, the CNPC is responsible for planning and construction of 3000 km oil pipeline Western Kazakhstan-China.

Today the situation is different..

Today the situation is different. In fact, the multi-vectors policy has exhausted. It seems that Astana will have to choose the priority vector.

First of all, the point is that after Vladimir Putin came to power, Russia began to strengthen its positions in both Central Asia and in the Caucasus. This made Tokaev emphasize: �Russia is the main political and economic partner of Kazakhstan.�

Uzen is one of Kazakhstan�s main deposits and gives about 5 million tons per year. This is a tasty morsel (tasty for Lukoil, if you want). In January Izvestia, whose main owner is Lukoil, published an article, which described in details sins by CNPC in Kazakhstan: dismissed workers, does not fulfill investment responsibilities, etc. THE GLOBE estimated this fact as an important sign of the Russian business� attack to Kazakhstan, where Uzen is one of the targets. Now the new government of Kazakhstan toughens its position concerning the CNPC.

At the same time we should pay attention to another fact. due to extremely high oil prices, China faces serious problems. Raised prices will affect the economic growth and the Chinese economic security will become the subject to hazards, a spokesman of the Chinese oil industry said in the interview to a newspaper (read the below article).

Thereupon the CNPC is going to widen the number of joint ventures in countries producing oil.

At the same time Astana raises the question regarding the CNPC�s exclusion from Aktyubemunaigas. It would be difficult to choose more favorable moment to demand. Nevertheless, Tokaev announced: �I want to stress that we are in favor of resolving all disputes peacefully. (marked with italics by us). There is the election in Iran that upsets plans in Central Asia and in the Caspian region.

All Over the Globe is published by IPA House.
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