Mar. 27 - Apr. 10, 2008/No.3



Sakhalin says "No" to war in Iraq

Hundreds of individuals and organizations on Sakhalin have protested against United States military intervention in Iraq on the threshold of the war, which started on March 20., which hosted the website of the 'American Corner', a site with information about the United States, removed the website and replaced it with anti-American information. "Attention! Hypocritical declarations of the USA about peace, freedom and democracy turned out to be lies. Trying to use anti-terrorist slogans as a cover, the US is conducting a policy of aggression, not taking into consideration the opinion of the world's community. That is why we consider it is inadmissible to host the web page of the American corner at our server," the website now cites in Russian. The web host also calls to stop the aggressor and recommends visiting the website 'I hate USA'. According to a spokesperson of the US Consulate General in Vladivostok, Sakhalin is the only place among 20 American Corners in Russia where such an incident occurred. The website of the American Corner has moved to the site of the regional library.


Freedom of movement for foreigners on Sakhalin restricted

Governor Igor Farkhutdinov dramatically restricted the freedom of movement for foreigners on Sakhalin by signing a border zone decree on March 5. The decree - aiming to secure Russia's national borders - stipulates that the entire Sakhalin region and its internal and territorial waters except for Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk are considered to be border zone. The borders of the city Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk should be marked by signs by the end of the year. Sakhalin residents are asked to participate in securing the border by serving in people's volunteer patrols (druzhiny).

The American Business Center on March 25 disclosed the details of the decree, which comes into force on March 28. All foreigners entering, travelling or staying in any part of Sakhalin except Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and its suburbs have to apply to the local office of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Frontier Guard for a document allowing movement into and within the border zone. Scuba diving and recreating on the seacoast will only be permitted in places defined by the Frontier Guard.


Eighteen crimes against foreigners

Eighteen foreigners became victims of crime in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk last year, the police press office reported. The crimes against foreigners include one murder, two robberies, two cases of abusive behaviour and car theft. Three victims were Japanese citizens and three British. Two of the victims were US citizens, two Korean and two Chinese citizens, the police press office said.

Sakhalin companies deprived of pollack quotas

Six Sakhalin companies were deprived of their fishing quotas for pollack because they caught too little, Vice-Governor Sergey Podolyan reported at a press conference on March 21.

Currently, 43 fishing companies have caught over 67 thousand tonnes of pollack, which is 20 thousand tonnes less than allowed. Podolyan fears Sakhalin will get less pollack quotas next year if the region does not use the current quota.

According to the press office of the Sakhalin administration, pollack fishing is very important for Sakhalin because the Sakhalin fishing industry owes more than half of its income to catching, processing and exporting pollack.

The regional administration had to turn to State Fisheries Committee to get permission to redistribute the fishing quotas. Podolyan said it was not easy for the administration to get the permission because committee head Yevgeny Nazdratenko was temporarily removed from his office. On March 19, the administration got the green light to redistribute the quotas, Podolyan reported.

Hunger strike northern Sakhalin

Twenty three workers of a boiler station in Mgachi village in northern Sakhalin have been on hunger strike since March 12, GTRK Sakhalin reported. They did not get their wages for the last six months and turned to the local authorities, the regional housing and utilities department and State Duma deputy Ivan Zhdakayev from Sakhalin to demand payment of their backwages, GTRK Sakhalin wrote.

On March 25, the workers, who did not get any response from the authorities, were still on hunger strike, but continued working to keep the village heated, GTRK Sakhalin reported. Doctors said seven of them needed to be hospitalised. The people refused and decided to continue the strike, which in their opinion is the only way to get what they demand, GTRK Sakhalin wrote.

Gref: Free economic zone to help development Sakhalin

"Russia cannot do without a system of free economic zones," the Sakhalin Duma in a press release on 17 March quoted Russian Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref as saying at a Federation Council meeting. "There is no country in the world that achieved considerable success without using this mechanism," Gref stressed.

Gref told Boris Tretyak, representative of the Sakhalin region in the Federation Council, that in his opinion, introducing a free economic zone in Russia could help the further development of the regions Sakhalin and Kaliningrad, the regional Duma reported. Gref stressed free economic zones stimulate new investments.


Anglers drift on ice floe

Twelve anglers from Firsovo village, 80 kilometres north of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, drifted to the Sea of Okhotsk on an ice floe, ASTV-Inform reported on March 18. Ten anglers managed to get to the coast by themselves. Two anglers drifted 300 metres off the coast and had to wait three hours on the ice floe for a rescue boat to pick them up, ASTV-Inform wrote. Fishermen continue to go out on the ice ignoring warnings by Sakhalin meteorologists not to do so.

Explored oil reserves in RFE 1 billion tonnes

Explored oil reserves in Eastern Siberia and the Far East amount to 1 billion tonnes, Energy Minister Igor Yusufov said at a press conference on March 14, Interfax reported.

He also said that according to scientists' forecasts, additional exploration may uncover the same volume of oil again.

According to the ministry 80 to 90 billion dollars of investments are needed over the next 20 years to develop the oil and gas reserves in the Russian Far East, Itar-Tass reported.

The minister noted that based on information on explored reserves in Eastern Siberia and in the Far East, a decision could be reached on a route for oil exports.

Yusufov said that in addition to the project to build a pipeline from Sakhalin to the east coast of Russia, options were being considered to build a pipeline from Angarsk to Nakhodka and to Daqing (China), Interfax wrote.

Students sent home due to flu epidemic

Students of several higher education institutions in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk were sent on holidays on March 17 soon after the city schools were closed because of the flu epidemic in the city. Both schools and universities were opened again on March 24.

Clock forward

Russia will switch to daylight savings time in the night of March 29 to March 30. During that night, the clock in over 110 countries will move one hour forward at 2.00hrs local time. Daylight savings was first introduced in Britain in 1908 and has been used in Russia since 1981.

Brand new hotel 'Rubin' already fully booked

Sakhalin residents and visitors who were dreaming of staying at the brand new Rubin hotel on Chekhov Street will be disappointed: Sakhalin oil and gas companies have already fully booked the hotel before the official opening in the beginning of April 2003.

According to hotel director Zhanna Polokainen, negotiations between Sfera - the company that constructed the hotel and owns it - and oil and gas companies have been conducted since June 2002 and the contracts were signed at the beginning of this year. The construction took about a year. The director said the costs of the construction were still being estimated.


RN-SMNG evacuates staff from Persian Gulf platform

Fearing possible military action, Rosneft-Sakhalinmorneftegas (RN-SMNG) has evacuated its employees from its 'Ehabi' oil platform located in the Persian Gulf, leaving only some duty officers for the platform's maintenance, the new head of the company Ramil Valitov reported at a press conference on March 20. According to Valitov, Ehabi is the company's only platform in the Persian Gulf, which is located in a zone of possible military actions.

Fisheries chief returns

Head of the State Fisheries Committee Yevgeny Nazdratenko, who was suspended by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov on February 14 because of his battles with Far Eastern governors over the distribution of fishing quotas, has returned to his post, reported.

Nazdratenko was able to return because President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government did not take any steps to dismiss him. By Russian law, an official who has committed misconduct can be suspended for only one month, unless further steps are taken.

Schooner identified

The head of the company 'Ostrov Zelyony' identified the schooner found on March 16 at the south coast of Yuri Island, Kuril Islands, press agencies reported. He said the RSH-2316 schooner was lost at sea during stormy weather on March 8. None of the 12 crewmembers on board was found.

The rescue vessel 'Diver Terekhov' is staying around the sunken schooner and will continue the search for the crewmembers, press agencies wrote.

Currency rule lifted

Since March 15, foreigners are allowed to export up to 3,000 dollars of foreign currency without showing a customs declaration. Russian residents and non-residents may also export up from 3,000 to 10,000 dollars by simply filling out a customs declaration upon exit. More than 10,000 dollars can be exported upon proof that it
was imported into Russia legally (a stamped customs declaration or proof of
a legal bank or wire transfer).

Migration card required starting April 14

The Ministry of Interior warned that all foreigners, regardless of whether they entered Russia before or after migration cards began to be distributed, will be required to have a migration card by April 14. While authorities have indicated that they may
allow this date to slide by several weeks, foreigners should nonetheless try
to obtain a migration card before this date.

Foreigners who are not departing Russia before April 14, have to arrange with
their visa sponsor to obtain a migration card from their local visa and registration office (OVIR or UVIR) and reregister. The registration stamp should be recorded on the migration card unless a multiple-entry visa was issued.

Airport takes action to prevent Asian infection SARS

The airport in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk has taken measures to prevent cases of the flu-like Asian infection 'Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome' (SARS) on Sakhalin, health officials said at a press conference on March 20. Stewards were instructed to question passengers if they had any flu-like symptoms before boarding flights to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and were asked to observe passengers during the flight. In case any passengers with suspicious symptoms are noticed, stewards will inform the ground services, who are ready to handle the situation, Marina Khmyra, head of the quarantine post, assured.


BP meets with authorities to discuss prospective work

Chairman of the Sakhalin Duma Vladimir Yefremov on March 18 met with BP Sakhalin Project Director Chris Einchcomb to discuss BP's prospective work on Sakhalin, the press centre of the regional Duma reported.

Einchcomb met with BP's business partners and with regional authorities. BP is planning to develop the Sakhalin-5 project with Rosneft-Sakhalinmorneftegas (RN-SMNG) and Einchcomb mentioned that 3D geological surveys conducted in 2002 gave optimistic prognoses about the hydrocarbons reserves in the field, the Duma press office wrote.

In 2003, BP and RN-SMNG will found a joint venture for geological and drilling works on Sakhalin-5. The regional Duma reported that the extraction of hydrocarbons in Russia requires signing a Production Sharing Agreement (PSA), although both companies think that a PSA is not necessary to conduct the exploration phase of this work.

Duma chairman Vladimir Yefremov recommended Einchcomb register the office of the future joint venture on Sakhalin, so Sakhalin residents could benefit from it through the creation of new working positions and taxes to the regional budget, the press office wrote. The BP Project Director in his turn assured Yefremov that the company's work on Sakhalin would be transparent for local citizens and authorities, the press office reported.

EBRD to give $15m credits to cities

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is going to give an estimated 15 million dollars of long-term credits to municipal organisations in Sakhalin for the implementation of projects aimed at environmental protection and city and village development, the press office of the city administration reported after a visit of an EBRD delegation on March 24.

The credit programme is in line with the programme adopted by the bank at the end of last year, the delegation head reported at a meeting with city mayor Fyodor Sidorenko. The EBRD will consider different projects on construction of water and heat supplying stations, water purification and wastes utilisation facilities and will finance the most viable. Although EBRD intends to support the development of the Sakhalin region, "altruism is not peculiar to any commercial bank and EBRD is not an exception", the city press office quoted the delegation head.

Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk hopes its energy saving programme will be funded by the EBRD, the city's press office concluded.

Charter flights main activity of Sakhalin airline company SAT

Charter flights have become the main activity of airline company Sakhalinskiye Avia Trassy (SAT), head of the SAT charter flights department Sergey Burdinsky reported in a telephone interview on March 24. In the near future, SAT intends to further develop its activities in this field, Burdinsky said.

Since the beginning of 2003, the frequency of charter flights - mainly for oil companies - has increased considerably from about 35 flights a month on average in 2002 to about 50 flights a month now, Burdinsky said.


Sakhalin-1 pipeline construction to start in autumn 2003

Lukoil-Neftegasstroy (LNGS) on March 14 signed an agreement with the regional administration on cooperation, the company said at a presentation of its Sakhalin representative office.

Head of the representative office Vladislav Maltsev reported in a telephone interview that the construction of pipelines for the Sakhalin-1 project would start in autumn 2003. Maltsev said that 400 employees and 80 technical units would be transferred from the Tyumen region to Sakhalin for the work. He added LNGS would purchase equipment and material on Sakhalin, if available.

The company together with contract manager Nippon Steel will conduct work on logistics, construction and commissioning of pipelines from the Odoptu and Chayvo oil fields to the De Kastri terminal in the first phase of the Sakhalin-1 project, Maltsev said. Nippon Steel will be involved in laying the pipeline at the bottom of the Tartar Strait and LNGS will construct about 250 kilometres of pipeline on land, Maltsev mentioned.

In October 2002, LNGS was selected as the major contractor for engineering, permitting, inland transportation, local procurement, construction, installation and commissioning work for pipelines for the Sakhalin-1 project. Work worth over 300 million dollars, about 70 percent of the contract package, was awarded to LNGS and other Russian subcontractors.

LNGS was founded in the Tyumen region in 1994 and is involved in the construction of pipelines and infrastructure objects for the oil industry, GRTK Sakhalin wrote. The company will construct a residential building for its employees because accommodation on Sakhalin is very expensive, GTRK Sakhalin quoted the company director.

People: In each issue we portray a Sakhalin resident

Who is Group 4 Falck-Wackenhut Regional Director John Rossouw

Restaurant review: Club Relax

If it's billiard you're after, a nice view on the mountains or port wine, Club Relax is the place to go. However if you want something else than the usual Russian food for dinner this club is not going to be your favourite. Located on Kommunistichesky 21, Relax offers six Russian billiard tables, one American pool table and seven dining tables seating four people facing the street and the mountains.


c Sakhalin Independent

Last Update: 27 March 2003

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