Russia 101014 Basic Political Developments

Chavez Visit to Land Social Housing Deal

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Chavez Visit to Land Social Housing Deal
14 October 2010

By Olga Razumovskaya

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is scheduled to arrive Thursday for a two-day official visit, during which the close Russian ally is expected to sign agreements on building social housing in Caracas and to establish a binational bank.

The visit will be Chavez's ninth to Russia since taking office in 1999. During his most recent trip, in September of last year, Chavez recognized the breakaway Georgian republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states.

Recognizing the Russian-backed regions drew an angry response from Georgia, but Moscow awarded Chavez — a longtime foe of the United States — with a $2 billion loan to purchase tanks and anti-aircraft rocket systems.

But military cooperation will not be the focus of the current visit, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Wednesday in an interview, the text of which was published on his ministry's web site.

"Ties with this country are also being formed in energy, hydrocarbons extraction and refining, but again — it's more than just that," Ryabkov told Golos Rossii radio. "We're also seeing areas like … agriculture, scientific research and even construction of social housing."

Chavez will meet President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and sign agreements to further cooperation in several areas including “the foundation of a Russian-Venezuelan bank and a project to build social housing in Caracas,” Itar-Tass reported, citing Venezuelan news agencies.

While the focus will be on federal meetings, City Hall may also get some time with Chavez and potentially shake hands on a construction project in Caracas, the Venezuelan capital.

“There is a readiness today to sign bilateral agreements in the presence of [acting Mayor Vladimir] Resin and a team of Moscow government officials,” a source in the Mayor's Office told The Moscow Times on Wednesday.

The city government has a model of the new Caracas ready and is expecting to see Chavez if his schedule permits, the source said.

In early May, a delegation of Moscow officials headed by then-Mayor Yury Luzhkov visited Caracas to discuss business opportunities.

Russia and Venezuela signed an agreement to create a master plan to develop Caracas through 2020, and Chavez allocated $500 million to finance the first stage of the project.

The redevelopment included construction of earthquake-resistant high-rise buildings and infrastructure to relocate residents from city slums to better housing. Putin visited Venezuela in April and proposed working on the project after seeing the size of Caracas' slums.

Two Moscow construction companies that had reportedly visited with Luzhkov's delegation in May said there were no talks or meetings with the Venezuelan side.

A spokeswoman for Monarch, one of Moscow's largest construction firms, said the company's management had no meetings scheduled with the Venezuelans on the sidelines of Chavez's visit. The company also did not have any concrete plans in Venezuela, she said.

Inteko, owned by billionaire Yelena Baturina, Luzhkov's wife, was also reportedly participating in the May tour. The company did not confirm its official participation in the delegation and declined to comment about any plans in Venezuela on Wednesday.

Chavez is also scheduled to make a working visit to Ukraine on Monday and Tuesday, Interfax reported.

Hugo Chavez to talk military, trade in Moscow

14 October, 2010, 09:49

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is to seek further cooperation with Russia during his two-day visit to Moscow.

Chavez will meet his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. He will also speak at the conference Two Centuries of Independence of Latin America, at the Foreign Literature Library in Moscow.

During his talks with Russian leaders, Chavez is expected to discuss cooperation up to 2014. This covers military, nuclear sectors, construction and also joint financial and industrial plans.

They will be signing the Action Plan which will outline upcoming joint work. The aim is to boost bilateral trade, including in the military-technical sphere.

Military deals between Russia and Venezuela now exceed US$4 billion.

Venezuela is constructing three military plants – to produce Kalashnikov rifles, to make cartridges, and an aircraft repair plant to service Russian helicopter equipment. Caracas plans to buy ten Ilyushin planes, two Il-78MK refueling aircraft and Russian Mi-28NE helicopters.

Venezuela might also become the first export customer for Sukhoi fighter jets, according to the Russian military export company, Rosoboronexport.

Future exports of military equipment to Venezuela may soon reach US$5 billion, said Vladimir Putin.

However, the countries’ cooperation is not restricted to the military sector alone.  As Hugo Chavez announced earlier, Caracas may build a nuclear power plant in Venezuela with Russia’s support.

The leaders also expect to finalize establishing a joint Russian-Venezuelan bank, work that has been in process since 2009. The bank’s headquarters would be in Moscow, with offices in Venezuela and China.

Another topic on the agenda is Russia’s assistance in building social housing, hospitals and schools for Venezuela’s poor, which was discussed during a previous visit to Caracas by Russian leaders.

It is the Venezuelan leader’s ninth visit to Russia, after which he’s due to head for Belarus, Ukraine, Iran, Syria and Portugal.

Chavez begins nuclear power, olive oil foreign tour
3:45am IST

* Venezuelan leader begins seven-nation tour

* To talk nuclear power, weapons and banks in Russia

* Trip to Middle East takes in Iran, Syria and Libya

By Frank Jack Daniel

CARACAS, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Venezuela's socialist President Hugo Chavez on Wednesday set off on a tour of friendly nations including Russia, Iran and Libya with a shopping list ranging from nuclear power and tanks to olive oil.

Chavez is a fervent opponent of U.S. foreign power and sees many of the countries on his itinerary as sharing his goal of lessening Washington's dominance in world affairs.

The first stop on the 10-day trip will be Moscow, where an agreement to develop nuclear energy, the purchase of Russian tanks and a bi-national bank are all on the agenda.

"We are still working on the nuclear energy issue with Russia," Chavez said on the steps of the Miraflores presidential palace before departing. "We are already elaborating projects for the first thermo-nuclear plant in Venezuela."

He emphasized that Venezuela's interest in nuclear power was for peaceful purposes, aimed at reducing a dependence on oil for electricity production. In 2008 Russia's state-run atomic energy company Rosatom signed a deal to sell Venezuela the technology and know-how to build a reactor.

Chavez, who has become one of the world's best known and most controversial leaders, also will take in another U.S. foe, Iran, as well as Syria and Libya in the Middle East.

He will hope to shore his international backing in the face of growing criticism from conservative politicians and commentators in the United States and Europe who accuse him of supporting terrorist groups, including Basque separatists ETA.

Chavez denies supporting any terror groups.

Fresh from legislative elections that reduced his socialist party's majority and bolstered the opposition, Chavez will seek to burnish his image among supporters as a statesman striking alliances that benefit Venezuela's interests.

In Europe, Chavez will visit Ukraine and Belarus, both of which now receive shipments of Venezuelan oil, as well as Portugal.

Earlier this year, Venezuela signed an agreement with Damascus to import olive oil. The two countries also have a long-delayed plan to build a refinery in Syria.

"We are going back to Syria to adjust our agreements in trade, the economy and energy," Chavez said. "We are already bringing over olive oil and we are creating a joint venture."

Venezuela hopes to export products such as bananas and chocolate to its allies.

In the past three years Chavez has bought at least $5 billion in weapons including fighter jets, anti-aircraft missile systems and tanks from Russia. Moscow, which is seeking to export atomic energy expertise, defends its deals with Venezuela, which is a signatory of nonproliferation treaties.

Experts say it will likely take about a decade for any nuclear energy to be produced in the South American country.

Some politicians in the United States and Europe are concerned about Chavez's nascent atomic program, his weapons purchases and close ties to Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad , who he has helped duck economic sanctions for Tehran's own nuclear program.

Chavez scoffs at such worries, saying Iran is only seeking nuclear power for civil purposes. Chavez defends his right to trade with its ally, which sells tractors and cars to Venezuela and builds housing and dairies. (Additional reporting by Marianna Parraga; Editing by Bill Trott)

German president to visit Ulyanovsk

14.10.2010, 03.55

ULYANOVSK, October 14 (Itar-Tass) - German President Christian Wulff will visit Ulyanovsk on Thursday within the framework of his state visit to Russia.

The press service of the regional government told Itar-Tass that the two-day stay of the German president in Ulyanovsk includes a meeting with governor of the Ulyanovsk region Sergei Morozov and students of the Russian-German department of Ulyanovsk State University, visiting an exhibition of Russian-German joint projects and a meeting with representatives of the Ulyanovsk regional German cultural autonomy.

Christian Wulff is expected to be given the title of Honorary Professor of Ulyanovsk State University. The president will also visit the regional training-technical Bosch created on the base of one of the best vocational schools of the region. Advanced construction technology is taught here to students using modern methods. Wulff will visit the centre’ s joinery and welding shops and speak to the students.

The German Language Week underway these days in the Ulyanovsk region is timed to the German president’s visit. Book exhibitions devoted to the German National Unity Day opened in the regional schools. A competition of literary translations of German fairytales is also held. The regional roundtable “Dialogue of Cultures” will be held in Ulyanovsk on Thursday and a Youth Forum devoted to Germany’s unification will be opened at the regional library.

Christian Wulff will also meet the leadership of the haemodialysis centre of the joint-stock company Branch of Fresenius NephroCare Ulyanovsk that is engaged in the treatment of people with failed kidneys. It is the first specialised dialysis centre in Russia built under the project and with support of the world-known German firm Fresenius.

Germans live on the banks of the Volga River for nearly 250 years. The first re-settlers from Germany came to the Volga at the invitation of Catherine the Great in 1764 and occupied empty lands near Saratov. Here they founded cities and settlements. The population was speaking German, there were German schools, institutes and newspapers there. In 1913, there were 600,000 Germans living in the Volga region.

Germany can be rightfully called one of the largest investors in the economy of the Ulyanovsk region and one of the largest trade and cultural partners. The region’s trade turnover with Germany annually grows by 30 percent on the average. During the Year of Germany in the Ulyanovsk region in 2009, more than 50 various events were held in the sphere of education, culture and the economy. In September 2010, Ulyanovsk hosted a major forum entitled “Russia – Russian Germans – Germany” in which delegations of Russian Germans from more than 20 regions of the country took part.

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