Russia 090417 Basic Political Developments

Russia develops special tube to store nuclear wastes

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Russia develops special tube to store nuclear wastes


Tochmash, Russia’s defense enterprise from the city of Vladimir, conducted successful tests of a special ampoule that was designed to store spent nuclear fuel of Russian nuclear power plants. The ampoule guarantees that the storage of toxic fuel will be ecologically secure. Engineers of the enterprise were working on Ampoule PT for eight years. “It is made of stainless steel, is not heavy at all and is equipped with a unique spring lock that does not let the lid open even under the impact of heavy pressure,” a spokesperson for the enterprise said.

The ampoule looks like a cylinder with a lid. The cylinder will not let fuel particles penetrate into the environment for over 50 years.

The ampoule was originally made to be four meters high, but was later cut to 3.5 meters. The ampoule is meant to store spent nuclear fuel of three Russian nuclear power plants in Kursk, St. Petersburg and Smolensk regions, ITAR-TASS reports.

As Pravda.Ru previously reported Russian Russian scientists suggested burying spent nuclear fuel in Earth's core.

Russian Minister for Nuclear Power Alexander Rumyantsev acknowledged during his recent visit to Helsinki that Finland left Russia behind in the field of technologies to handle the spent nuclear fuel and radioactive wastes.

Scientists of the nuclear power and Greenpeace activists have been arguing for years regarding the spent fuel issue, whether it is supposed to be imported or not, processed or buried. It is a good thing to study foreign colleagues experience. However, there is a very interesting project in Russia about a way to get rid of the radioactive garbage.

This project seems to be a piece of a science fiction story at first sight, since it suggests taking nuclear wastes hundreds of kilometers deep in the Earth. According to the project, there is no need to drill an extremely deep well for it: a hundred tons of radioactive wastes can be placed in a tungsten ball several meters in diameter.

This construction will get heated up to the temperature of 1,200 degrees Celcius itself. The temperature to melt rocks is a lot lower, so the ball will simply drown in the ground like a stone in the water.

This project is called a "Hot Drop," it was born in the Institute of Theoretical Physics more than 30 years ago. The project was developed by Aleksey Byalko and Igor Khalatnikov. Ecologists were first to express their reaction about a new idea.

They claimed that there was no guarantee to prevent from an explosion of the ball with nuclear wastes inside. Even without an explosion, ecologists said, the radiation would be too high. They concluded that no country in the world would agree to let such a thing happen on their territory.

17 April 2009

Patriarch Kirill has washed feet of twelve priests on the Holy Thursday

This tradition originated from the Last Supper when Jesus Christ washed feet of His disciples as a sign of deep humility. To commemorate the Gospel event, many bishops wash feet to twelve priests or parishioners, though this practice is not obligatory and universal and every bishop can decide whether to do it or not. For example, when Patriarch Alexy was a primate, he did not perform the Washing of Feet on the Holy Thursday, while his predecessor Patriarch Pimen observed the tradition as well as Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad and Novgorod, who was Patriarch Kirill’s spiritual guide

16 April 2009, 16:37

About 90 percent of Russians to celebrate Easter this year – poll

Moscow, April 16, Interfax – Overwhelming majority of Russians (88 percent) is going to celebrate chief Christian feast, the Holy and Great Resurrection of Christ, sociologists from All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center told Interfax.

According to the all-Russia poll, among those who are not going to celebrate Easter most frequent are citizens of Moscow and St. Petersburg (20 percent).

Five percent state they observe all commandments, 3 percent participate in sacraments, live honestly and pray, 2 percent commemorate their departed relatives, and 1 percent of respondents don’t work on festival days and Sundays.

Almost half of Russians who consider themselves believers do not observe any religious instructions and rites (47 percent).

Experts found out, Orthodox are frequent churchgoers (17 percent), Muslims are inclined to do the fasting (20 percent) and adherents of other religions more often than other respondents say they celebrate religious feasts (28 percent).

April 17, 2009
A New Start or an Old Song?
By Dmitry Babich
Russia Profile

How Will Chechnya Live Without a Counterterrorist Regime?

After nearly a decade as a “zone of counter terrorist operations,” Chechnya this week returned to a normal legal regime. The republic’s leadership has been lobbying for just such a move for a long time, and the decision was not unexpected. But the decision went against the better judgement of some in the Russian security services, and the prospect of a return of international flights to Grozny airport evokes memories of out of control smuggling and foreign terrorists who arrived in the 1990s.

The decision to lift the status of a zone of counter-terrorist operation from Chechnya as of midnight April 16 was long expected and was obviously taken by Moscow under pressure from the Chechen authorities. Actually, Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya’s president, made a formal request for the lifting of the status on March 25, 2009, and predicted that the lifting would be formally adopted on March 31, at a meeting of the National Antiterrorist Committee (NAC) in Moscow. This did not happen, however, despite President Dmitry Medvedev’s open support for the idea on the eve of the NAC’s session. Some representatives of Russia’s security forces were reported to have concerns about the consequences of such a move. Now, after a two week delay, the decision to end an almost 10 year long “state of siege” in Chechnya has come to pass.

The status of a counter-terrorist operation, according to the Russian law “On Fighting Terrorism,” gives the state authorities, both local and federal, additional powers on any territory that is declared the zone of a counter-terrorist operation. Chechnya was declared such a zone on September 23, 1999, when the fighters of the Arab Islamist warlord Khattab and Chechen separatist “Prime Minister” Shamil Basayev attacked the neighboring Moslem region of Dagestan, which was officially another subject of the Russian Federation. At the time, the Russian troops not only pushed the intruders out of Dagestan, but also continued their pursuit of retreating warlords into Chechnya itself, taking the territory of the rebel republic, a de facto independent state between 1996 and 1999, under their control. Chechnya’s chief mufti Akhmat Kadyrov, a former separatist fighter, supported the federal troops and became the president of the new Chechnya inside the Russian Federation in 2003. After Akhmat Kadyrov’s assassination in 2005, he was succeeded by his son Ramzan Kadyrov, following a brief interregnum during which real power was already concentrated in Ramzan’s hands.

“This decision was long overdue,” commented Akhmar Zavgayev, the State Duma deputy representing the Chechen republic in the lower chamber of Russia’s parliament. “Actually, it will only change the modalities of importing foreign goods to Chechen territory, saving us from the necessity to go to the airports in the neighboring autonomous republic of Dagestan to pick up our imports.”

Ivan Sukhov, an expert on North Caucuses working for the Vremya Novostei daily, who made dozens of trips to Chechnya between the years 2000 and 2009, agrees that the Kadyrov family had taken control over Chechen territory from Russian troops long before the regime of the counter-terrorist operation was lifted.

“When Akhmat Kadyrov became the president in 2003 he established a block post near the base of the Russian troops in Khankala [an area surrounding Grozny’s airport],” Sukhov remembers. “Kadyrov was informed about these troops’ movements, so he was the real master of the land, not them. Kadyrov senior also had enormous influence on the Russian authorities, securing the release from prison of former fighters and lobbying for more federal funds for Chechnya. He was genuinely respected in Chechnya, because he achieved concrete results instead of continuing empty talks about independence as the preceding Chechen leaders did.”

Having succeeded his father, Ramzan Kadyrov continued the same policy of gradually taking more and more “home rule” from the hands of Moscow, guaranteeing security against possible terrorist raids from Chechen territory in return. Thus, the regime of counter-terrorist operation, which formally gives the federal troops and police the right to check people’s identities, to requisition any vehicles they need or to tow away and destroy suspicious ones, became truly redundant. Kadyrov’s police force, made up exclusively of Chechens, took upon itself the full responsibility for law and order in the republic. And this police force de facto has all the powers provided by the status of the counter-terrorist operation. However, these powers are given to it not by Russian laws, but by the unwritten laws of Chechen customs and traditions. Consisting mostly of former separatist fighters who switched to the Kadyrovs’ side lured by security guarantees and high salaries, provided personally by Akhmat and later Ramzan, these police became the dominant force in the republic, gradually sidelining the Russian forces and the separatist underground.

“In this situation, the lifting of the regime of the counter-terrorist operation is indeed mostly a formal or economic matter,” said Dmitry Oreshkin, the head of the Merkator research center, which specializes on Russia’s regional politics. “In fact, Ramzan Kadyrov is largely independent of Putin and Medvedev themselves. Formally, Medvdev, as the president of Russia, can dismiss Kadyrov, as he can dismiss any head of a subject of the Russian Federation. But such a move would involve huge security risks and political problems. Kadyrov knows it and in fact behaves like an independent ruler.”

According to Kadyrov, under the new status Grozny’s international airport will receive flights from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. This revived the sad memories of the early 1990s, when under Chechnya’s first separatist president, Djokhar Dudayev, Chechnya became an illegal free trade zone inside Russian Federation, importing all sorts of goods and then selling them to the rest of Russia without paying import tariffs. The Islamist clerics and future terrorist mercenaries also came to Chechnya by the same flights from Saudi Arabia and UAE.

The Russian Aviation Authority said it was ready to give the Chechen airport international status as soon as the counter-terrorist operation regime was lifted. In an interview to RIA Novosti a source in the State Customs Committee, which would then have to establish a post in Grozny airport, declined to say it could guarantee full order on its future checkpoint in Grozny’s airport. The Chechen leadership, although, remains unperturbed by these concerns.

“I don’t think one can compare Dudayev’s terrorist regime and the constitutional order under Ramzan Kadyrov,” said Akhmar Zavgayev. 

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