PETER YERMILIN: Is State Corporation "MIG" a Sponsor of Fascists? - 21 November, 2000

Some days ago, a Russian delegation of high-ranking officials from the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) headed by Nikolai Nikitin, General Director of the Russian State Aircraft Corporation "MIG", came back from Austria. As PRAVDA.Ru managed to find out, they negotiated a purchase by the Alpine republic of thirty modern MIG-29 aircraft armed with the state-of-the-art radar equipment and the latest missiles of the air-to-air and air-to-ground classes. As they say, there is nothing wrong about it. If it comes off, it will enable "MIG" to patch up its financial holes and Russia - to expand her arms market. So, fly your flag high and forward... But you do not feel like putting an exclamation mark here. Yes, Russia is on the eve striking a deal, but a deal of coming to terms with her conscience. As one simple song has it, "the point, you see, is that" the buyer is not the ephemeral harmless government of a "banana republic" — Russia's present-day main arms customers. It is an industrialised country, the successor of the Habsburgs Austro-Hungarian Empire, the people of which voted for ultra-right nationalists in the last elections. Throughout Europe they clutched their heads, shouted at the top of their voices, recalled their ambassadors, introduced sanctions, but, nevertheless, the people, by having made its choice, brought to the surface smouldering ambitions of the wrecked great empire. As PRAVDA.Ru could learn, forestalling the conclusion of the contract, in mid of October Russia was visited by an impressive Austrian delegation headed... by Jorg Heider, leader of the ruling pro-fascist party. It is because of Jorg Heider and his party that peaceful Austria found itself in international isolation. It appears that not so peaceful lot is prepared for the country by its new government, if they speak about buying hundreds of millions of dollars worth of fighters capable to oppose the Air Force of any European army. PRAVDA.Ru has already written, that the modern MIG-29, in the opinion of western experts, is currently the best light front-line fighter in the world. In united Germany, which inherited two squadrons of ten-year-old MIGs from the GDR, these units are considered to be the best in the Bundeswehr. The Yugoslav Air Force, in which during the conflict there were only twelve MIG-29 equipped with a fifteen-year-old set of arms, could effectively hold out against NATO armadas and brought down F-117 invisible aircraft. And so far, half of the Yugoslav MIGs are still operable. In general, it is an excellent aircraft which is also nuclear capable. Now reckon it up — 30 such aircraft equipped with the most sophisticated arms — is it not too many for a neutral country located in the centre of Europe? In the framework of his short visit to Russia, Heider, unrecognised by anybody, spent a whole day in the "MIG" facilities. He was shown around by nobody else but general director and general designer Nikitin in person. Moreover, the boss of all MIG-related folk took his new friend even to a top secret aircraft factory in Lukhovitsy, where these most deadly fighters on the globe are finally assembled and tested in flight. Even the president is to be issued a special pass to get access to the facility. It is not known whether followed Ribbentrop in saying "I am feeling here as if I were among my old party mates", but the situation is surprisingly reminiscent of the thirties when the USSR secretly, contrary to international sanctions, helped the Third Reich to revive its military machine. We still remember what was the outcome. It is true, the world situation has somewhat changed; and it is hardly possible to deliver MIG-29 unnoticed to Austria (blocked, by the way, by international sanctions), and then to secretly deploy them and make training flights. Whether the deal comes off not is still a question. During the entire post-soviet history, Russia could not sell a single fighter to Europe, even when allied Yugoslavia humbly begged for it. Then the deal in question is, in fact, an adventure, the cost of which can prove to be very dear, first of all, to Russia and her international status. It is a deal that questions Russia's desire to integrate into the European home. We are simply making huge strides to join in the company of outcast countries: first, nuclear technologies to Iran, then military hardware to Saddam, now — military and technical collaboration with the Austrian fascists. The last literary passage is not a slip of the tongue of PRAVDA.Ru. The deal is negotiated by Heider personally not only because today he actually controls the Austrian government from a shadow. According to a normal practice of making such deals, Mr. Heider, as a key participant in the deal, can legally expect a commission which in a natural way will flow into the party's coffer.