What the papers say - 19 August, 2003


The sixth International Aerospace Show (MAKS-2003) opens today in Zhukovsly, the Moscow region. No major contracts for purchasing Russian military hardware are expected to be signed, as Russia does not produce more than 5 new planes a year. However, spectators will not notice the catastrophic state of the domestic aviation industry. The organisers have promised the best show in its history. The main event for participants will be the arrival of President Vladimir Putin and the future of some stands will largely depend on their ability to capture the head of state's interest. Over the last fifteen years, Russia's share in the international aviation industry has shrunk from 25% to just 1%. The country has been forced to "earn" its place on the global aviation market for several years.


This year's grain harvest in Russia will fall in comparison with last year from 86.6 to 70 million tonnes, while the wheat harvest will drop from 50.6 to 40 million tonnes. The level of gathered cereals, with the exception of maize, had reached 20 million tonnes by August 15, which is 65% less than in the same period last year. By the given time, 20% of sown fields had been harvested. A considerable delay in harvest gathering compared with the last year can be explained by the fact that sowing started ten days later than in 2002.


Russia paid back 339 billion rubles of its foreign debt in the January-June period this year, including 227.1 billion rubles of debt and 111.9 billion rubles to cover the accumulated interest. In 2003, the overall level of payments the Russian Federation has made on its foreign debt will reach 588.7 billion rubles, or 17.3 billion dollars.


To give birth to a baby or abort it - this is a choice that many Russian women will no longer have. The Russian government has signed a resolution cutting the number of social indicators to terminate a pregnancy in its later stages from 13 to 4 points. According to official statistics, 1, 944,000 abortions were performed in Russia last year. Two years ago, the figure was 2,014,000. The issue of introducing a partial ban, if not a complete one, on abortion has been under discussion at the state level for a long time. Conservative deputies in the State Duma have repeatedly sent bills to the appropriate committees on protecting the "rights of the unborn baby." However, their colleagues turned down these proposals and shelved them. However, the government has solved the issue now. Many experts believe that this decision could lead to an increase in deaths after back street abortions or mothers abandoning their newborn babies.


The Cypriot Embassy in Moscow has announced that the island will not be imposing visa for Russian citizens by the end of the year and possibly will hold off from the move for even longer. Moscow would like to maintain visa-free travel with Cyprus, which does not have a land border with the European Union, as a pilot project within the framework of a strategy to cancel visa requirements between Russia and the EU. Cyprus is the only EU candidate-nation to maintain visa-free travel with Russia.

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