Russia to spend million dollars on anti-terrorist struggle in 2004

If there is a need, the sum will be either doubled or tripled

The Russian administration is determined to struggle against terrorism. The federal budget will spend one million dollars on it during the current year. The same amount of money will be spent on the anti-terrorist struggle in 2005. “If there is a need, the sum will be either doubled or tripled,” Russian Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin stated at the international conference on struggle against the funding of terrorist activities. “Every dollar and every ruble invested in the anti-terrorist struggle will return with people's saved lives,” the minister said.

The European Union assigned 2.5 million EUR for the implementation of a special project (Moli-ru) to struggle against the money laundering in Russia. European officials believe that the sum will be enough for 30 months – from 1 February, 2003 to 31 July, 2005. The international group to struggle against financial crimes (FATF) developed 40 recommendations to fight with the funding of terrorist activities. They have been recently added with eight more. The Federal Financial Monitoring Service was defined as EU's key partner on the Moli-ru project.

”Russia possesses a list of organizations that probably fund terrorist activities,” the chairman of the financial monitoring service Viktor Zubkov said. “Cooperation with financial intelligence services of other countries will allow to look for terrorists' sources of financial income more efficiently. The establishment of a special Eurasian anti-money-laundering group within the framework of FATF will be helpful in the work against potential extremists. For the time being we cooperate with 68 countries of the world. Despite the fact that our financial intelligence is young, we have already managed to block several terrorist financial channels,” Zubkov said.

Russian Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin stated that Russian special forces had managed to block several bank accounts and stop financial transactions on them. “Finding terrorists' financial sources is more important than detecting those people, who execute terrorist attacks. One should capture those, who organize and order those attacks,” Kudrin said in a statement.

Participants of the above-mentioned conference – spokespeople for Interpol, Europol, UN, the World Bank, FATF, the Council of Europe, financial intelligence officers from more than 40 countries of the world – discussed the issue behind closed doors. They thanked journalists for the visit and kindly asked them to leave the conference hall. Nevertheless, foreign experts gave a lot of interviews afterwards. However, they were quite careful in their comments about the actions of the Russian government and about the events happening in Russia.

Mark Franco, newly appointed European Commission Moscow office head, said that it was very difficult to trace the financial channels of terrorists, because they received money on special channels. Director for Legal Cooperation of the European Council Roberto Lamponi said that the Council of Europe already has the MONEYVAL organization of 27 countries within its framework, which reminds the Moli-ru structure. The official added that he did not consider the latter a bureaucratic organization, a duplicate of the first one. Lamponi said that Moli-ru would deal with law-making and preventive activities. Financial criminals, Lamponi added, do not know any limits, that they are closely interconnected with each other. The official said that the Council of Europe was not involved in Moli-ru's structure, although he added that they were interested in its work. “There are a lot of rumors now, which say that Russia is one of the main financial sources for terrorists,” Roberto Lamponi said.

Experts say that the annual export of money for terrorist purposes is estimated at $500 million. However, the turnover of criminal finances is a lot larger. “If it turns out that political forces are implicated in these problems, it will become a political problem. This would be a different story, however,” Lamponi said.

Officials of the Council of Europe believe that the Federal Financial Monitoring Service will play the key role in the struggle against the legalization of criminal income in Russia. It was said that officers of the service will go to other countries to become acquainted with the experience of their foreign colleagues.

Elena Tikhomirova

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Author`s name Olga Savka