The West doubts that Russia is honest with the Soviet debt settlement
At the end of the previous year, chairman of Russia’s RAO UES Anatoly Chubais told foreign journalists, he alone was more effective than the whole government in settlement of the country’s foreign debt. It is a proven fact, Chubais’ manager talent is great. However, the Kremlin disliked such behavior of Chubais, it was mentioned once again that Prime Minister was the best expert on foreign debts. But in fact, the scheme on foreign debts settlement suggested by Anatoly Chubais proved really very effective.
Russia’s newspaper Vedomosti informs, Russian and Slovak high-ranking officials recently negotiated release of Russia’s debt to Slovakia in Bratislava. This was the debt of the Soviet Union to Czechoslovakia. Then, the Slavic sister nations separated and the Soviet debt was divided at that: $2,5 billion fell to the share of the Czechia and Slovakia got only $1,112 billion. Russia and Slovakia agreed that 137 million would be paid in goods supplies by the end of the year. Slovakia will also get rice, jute and other goods to the sum of $185 million for debt repayment (the products are supplied to Russia by Vietnam as repayment of the Vietnamese debt to the Soviet Union). The rest $790 million will be rescheduled for a period of about 20 years.
It became a sensation when the Slovak Finance Ministry authorized some Fid Group, a rather unknown company, for adjustment of an advanced repayment of the Soviet debt to the sum of $460 million. Authorized capital of this company doesn’t exceed $64,000. What is really unusual, no tenders were organized, the company was simply appointed. According to the European regulations, such companies can’t be authorized for business of this scale. However, the Slovak Ministry of Justice says, it was Moscow that picked the company out. Is influence of Moscow still so powerful there?
By the way, settlement of the Soviet debt to Slovakia is to be done according to the same scheme which was suggested by Anatoly Chubais. Last year, an unknown Czech company Falcon bought out Russia’s debt to the sum of $2,5 billion from the Czech government the same way. This was done at a 46% discount. EU countries criticized the scheme, but Anatoly Chubais persuaded the Czech government that the bargain was legal and profitable.
To tell the truth, the scheme proved really profitable for Chubais himself and for RAO UES of Russia: RAO bought up the debt from Falcon for $550 billion. After that, the energy monopoly set off the debt and its rather complicated liabilities to the budget and suppliers of fuel to RAO’s electric power stations. In any case, it is perfectly clear that neither RAO UES of Russia, nor the government lost in the operation. It is a real benefit for the government, as according to the scheme suggested by Chubais, the Soviet debt to Czechia was settled.
So, a question arises then: who is the best negotiator on debt settlement, Chubais or Kasyanov?
Kira Poznakhirko PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/08/29/46394.html