Elderly woman orders own murder

On that sunny summer day, Valentina Tarasovna, a retiree, decided to hang herself. She cleaned up a bit, went to see her relatives and told them to come around in the evening. “Why?” they asked. “Come over and you’ll find out for yourself!” she said.

When Tarasovna got back from the bathhouse, she put on something nice and clean. But on her way home, a black cat crossed her path.

“That’s a bad omen,” she thought. Tarasovna felt worse, but decided against postponing the evening’s event. She pulled out the white noose out from under her mattress and hung it from the ceiling.

Tarasovna was known as a pleasant, talkative woman in her small village of Krasnoborsk in the Arkhangelsaya region. But at the age of 80 or so, she began to feel burdened by the discomforts of aging, and sadness came over her. Her husband had died shortly before. She also lived apart from her daughter and son-in-law.

Tarasovna lived alone in a large, wooden home that had once been confiscated from a priest. There used to be many icons scattered about the home, some in gilded gold frames. But several years earlier, she had gathered them and tossed them into the Northern Dvina River.

“That’s a mortal sin,” her relatives said when they learned what she had done.

“But I want to die,” she said explaining her actions. “What good is living when your health keeps going downhill. I don’t want you to have to waste your time on me. When I get around to ending it all, the money is in my chest. Take it.”

Suicides occur often in Krasnoborsk. Statistics show the Arkhangelsk region is among Russia’s leaders in terms of the crime. Hangings are the most common form of suicide.

Tarasovna’s relatives and neighbors told KP the following stories about recent local suicides.

Shortly before Tarasovna’s death, another local retiree went missing. Her friends and family thought she had gone to the city. But soon after, a soldier found the old woman hanging from a branch in a thicket. One shoe had fallen off and a single black toe protruded from her torn stocking. At the same time, another old woman came home from the hospital after an orderly had told her she likely had cancer. She cried and wrote a note to her daughter: “Eat when you get home from work. There’s soup waiting for you. Then go into the shed.” Her daughter ate and then went into the shed to see her mother hanging there… Sadly, the autopsy showed the woman didn’t even have cancer. And Krasnoborsk has lost count of how many men have hung themselves. One man was transporting apples in his car in the autumn when the vehicle flipped over. So the driver hung himself so he wouldn’t have to pay for the damages.

And so, on that sunny summer day, Tarasovna came back from the bathhouse, hung the noose, stood up on her chair, fixed her hair and started pulling the rope around her neck. But at that moment, her neighbor walked in…

“Thanks to that black cat! Darn omens!” Tarasovna said. “I guess I’ll just have to go and drown myself in the river like Nurka did not long ago.”

But her relatives told her not to drown herself. They wouldn’t find her body in the swamp and couldn’t visit her in her grave.

“But they found Nurka!” she retorted.

For some time, Tarasovna’s relatives didn’t take their eyes off her. They gave her medication and she seemed to calm down.

But the situation ended up unfolding so strangely that KP decided to head out to the region to study the chain of events.

Soldier back from the war

Vasily Buldakov, a native of these gloomy lands, returned from Israel at 40 some-odd years old. He had served in the Israeli special forces and fought the Arabs. His body had been scarred by shrapnel and scalpels. And his soul was so hardened that he even cursed young salesgirls who served him rudely. “They wouldn’t even let you and your cow of a mother work as toilet cleaners in Israel,” he would say.

But Buldakov wound up in Israel by happen chance. His second wife was a Russian Jew with two children and they decided to move to Israel as her whole family had emigrated. But it wasn’t long before the couple began having problems. Buldakov grew tired of fighting for the Jewish people and went back home. His oldest son (from his first marriage) rented a room at a local dormitory. And so, the Israeli soldier moved in with him.

Buldakov was a hired farmhand like many others in the area. He loved to put away the booze and didn’t get on well with his employers or the other villagers. He had been to jail twice for hooliganism and many feared him.

Two lonely people

Tarasovna had trouble getting to the store, but never walked with a cane like her relatives suggested. She didn’t want to look old. And so one fateful day, Tarasovna slipped on wet clay outside her home. And it just so happened Buldakov was nearby. He helped her up and the two soon became friends. Buldakov began visiting her regularly to drink tea and chat. And when his son brought his girlfriend home, Buldakov spent the night at Tarasovna’s apartment.

Tarasovna’s relatives advised her to keep away from him. They said she didn’t “know what to expect from Buldakov,” and she also had a sizable pension and savings. But Tarasovna threw caution to the wind. When Buldakov didn’t visit her for a long time, she went to see him herself.

Tarasovna didn’t care about money. Once she had paid local Roma to remove a curse from her home after she had received her pension. But the Roma went through her things and stole half her money. Her daughter insisted she file a police report. Tarasovna did and shortly after the thieves returned what they had stolen. But it wasn’t long before another Roma visited Tarasovna, pretending to be a girl scout. And she stole everything Tarasovna had. This time, Tarasovna refused to report the incident to the police. She simply told her relatives the Roma needed the money to live. That’s the type of person she was.

When visitors came to see Tarasovna, they often saw Buldakov sitting behind her table drunk, crying and rattling on about his cruel fate and fighting on the Arab-Israeli front. He said life wasn’t worth a damn.

“Did you kill anyone?” she asked her guest.

“Of course!” he said.It’s unclear how Tarasovna convinced Buldakov to help her leave this empty world. But the criminal case shows Buldakov initially refused and begged Auntie Tarasovna (case files say he referred to her as “auntie”) to live longer.

Retiree looked for a killer

When Tarasovna was found dead, no one knew she had been killed. She was lying on the sofa with her arms folded on her chest in a clean shirt (after going to the bathhouse). Only afterwards did the doctor find a small wound nearby her heart.

Baldakov was arrested the same day. According to investigator Pavel Vlasov and lawyer Nikolay Lukyanov, Buldakov confessed immediately. He said he didn’t want to kill Tarasovna, but she had insisted that he help.

Although one might think Buldakov killed Tarasovna for another reason and simply lied about her pleas to lessen his sentence, her relatives — even her daughter — are sure the accused is telling the truth. Her relatives say even before meeting Buldakov she tried to hire someone kill her on numerous occasions. She was told there just “aren’t any killers in these parts.”

When the two finally agreed, Buldakov told Tarasovna he’d have to get drunk before committing the crime. She gave him money for booze and placed 5,980 rubles on the table.

Afterwards, Tarasovna went to the bathhouse and changed into clean clothes. She waited at home, but Buldakov was nowhere to be found. Tarasovna then went to see him at the dormitory. Later she went home and Buldakov followed shortly after. According to investigators, Buldakov used a military hold to help Tarasovna lose consciousness. He then used a kitchen knife to take her life. He carefully placed Tarasovna’s body on the table.

Buldakov didn’t search her apartment as his fingerprints were nowhere to be found. About 80,000 rubles were left in Tarasovna’s jacket pocket for the funeral. Buldakov only took the 5,980 rubles that she had left him on the table as payment, a pack of macaroni, the victim’s comb in memory and a knife. Tarasovna’s neighbors watched as he headed home across the street with the macaroni and knife. READ MORE

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Former Sachsenhausen concentration camp prisoner Adolf Burger: “I’ve counterfeited 133 million pounds sterling”

Burger recounts his days counterfeiting pounds, rubles and stamps at a Nazi factory for KP

More than half a century ago, bags of counterfeit dollars, pounds and Soviet rubles passed through Adolf Burger’s hands. Today he is 92 years old. Fascists forced the prisoners from all over Europe to make the counterfeit money. Burger is the only remaining living worker from the “devil’s factory.” He wrote a book about his experience that served as the basis for last year’s film, “Counterfeiters,” which won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film.

In Dr. Mengel’s grip

Burger: I was arrested in 1942 in Slovakia. I’m a printer. I helped Jews falsify documents to keep them out of concentration camps. And as a result I wound up in a camp together with my wife.

KP: It was Auschwitz…

Burger: They split us up at the station — women to one side and men to another. Only a year later I learned that my wife had been sent to the crematory on the very first day. Auschwitz was a genuine hell. I’ll never forget it. Dr. Mengel experimented on prisoners, and I wound up on his list. I was given a typhus vaccine. I was near death for 40 days. My friends hid me in the hay in our barracks. Five others who received the same vaccine were sent to the ovens.

KP: How did you become part of the counterfeit-money team?

Burger: They started looking for people at Auschwitz who had printing experience in 1944. A chancellery big shot who had previously only referred to me as “prisoner 6440” suddenly said: “Mr. Burger, the Reich trusts you with a mission for the Fatherland.”

“Only a select few knew about us…”

Burger: Me and three others were sent to Sachsenhausen. There were two barracks behind two layers of barbed-wire fence and internal security. When they took us to the showers, they locked everyone else in the barracks. No one was supposed to see us or know what we were doing.

KP: Who was in charge?

Burger: Bernard Kruger came in the first day. He was an important SS officer who ran the counterfeit-money operations and personally reported to Himmler. He explained what we needed to do and said death awaited anyone who tried to sabotage the operation. He was a very cruel individual guilty in the deaths of many.

KP: What was your relationship with the Nazis?

Burger: What kind of relationship could exist between the victims and the executor? We were, though, granted certain privileges. We were fed better, allowed to grow our hair out and even given cigarettes at times. But many SS officers wanted to get rid of us as quickly as possible. Some of us were taken outside and shot — simply out of anger for losing the war. And one day in 1945, everyone just left…

Soviet identity cards from bench leatherette

Burger: Your workshop also counterfeited pounds sterling?

KP: We made almost everything. Soviet rubles, but in a smaller quantity… Soviet documents… I remember once we had to falsify 200 identity cards of Soviet People’s Commissariat Security employees. It turned out the red leather we were brought was the wrong color. It was too bright. So Kruger came and took 10 men from our barracks. He said: “If the identity cards aren’t ready by the day after tomorrow, we’ll shoot these 10 men.” Of course, we had to save our friends. You know what we came up with? There were benches in our barracks upholstered in red leatherette — the same color we needed. So we stamped the initials for the Soviet People’s Commissariat Security on them and then made covers for the identity cards.

KP: Was it hard to counterfeit pounds sterling?

Burger: It was difficult to make the paper for the money. It was made from tissue, and we just couldn’t make anything that looked like the original. And then one of my friends accidentally took an ordinary dirty rag…! It turned out the British made their paper from dirty tissue. But the Nazis were bringing clean tissue from Turkey. So when we finally learned how to make the paper, everything was fine. My friends and I made bills amounting to 133 million pounds sterling — 40 percent of Britain’s money supply!

KP: Why did the Nazis need so much counterfeit money?

Burger: The Nazis divided our pounds into three categories. The first were impeccable counterfeits. Germany made payments at banks in Switzerland and Scandinavia and made currency operations with this money… The second were bills with flaws that were only visible to specialists. They were used to pay German agents in Europe. They didn’t know they were getting paid with fake money. And the third had noticeable flaws and were dropped above English towns by plane, so people would pick them up, pay with them and ruin the British economy.

Poking at the king

Burger: We also counterfeited English postal stamps, besides money. Instead of the king’s portrait, we put Stalin and the Star of David.

KP: But why?

Burger: German agents in England glued them on the envelopes instead of genuine stamps. The workers almost didn’t notice, used the stamps and sent their post. The Nazis thought when people saw Stalin and the 6-pointed star, they’d start to hate the Communists and Jews. But people just started hating the Nazis even more.

KP: Was your counterfeit money really just like the original?

Burger: Even the Bank of England approved the counterfeits as “original.” At the time, pounds sterling were unique in that they were very big — 13 cm by 21 cm. They weren’t carried in wallets, but rather attached by a pin to the inside of your pocket so they wouldn’t fall out. We poked holes through the portrait of the British monarch. We knew the British didn’t do that and that’s the only reason why some of the money was retrieved after the war. If all our pounds had ended up in circulation in Britain, the economy would have collapsed.

KP: Are you serious?

Burger: Yes. England even requested that this go unmentioned at the Nirenberg trials. Two years later, Britain changed all the bills up to 5 pounds (which were the ones we counterfeited) and the danger the economy would collapse disappeared.

Secret at the bottom of the sea

KP: What happened to Kruger? And the counterfeit money?

Burger: Bernard Kruger, who was guilty in the deaths of many of my friends, wasn’t even tried. He lived in the Federal Republic of Germany and died 20 years ago. And the money… The Nazis drowned the printing presses, boxes of money and safes with information in Lake Toplitz in Austria. Expeditions have been held trying to find the remnants. People often die as a result. I don’t believe in mysticism, but I know counterfeit money won’t bring anyone happiness. READ MORE

Why is the middle class heading abroad?

Socialists learn the priorities of middle-class Russians

The basic image of Russia’s middle class is a salary of 50,000 rubles for each family member, a foreign car, good education, personal library and newly built summer home. Civil servants say 60 percent of all Russians will fit the description by 2020. Sociologists from the Levad Center decided to find out more about the lives and plans of the country’s most economically active sector. Are they ready to become the stronghold of the country? Do they trust the state? What do they want and what makes them tick?

Russia lies in wait…

“Do you think stability has reached Russia?” the sociologists asked. The answers were far from unanimous and divided into two camps. Forty-nine percent think everything is developing smoothly; 46 percent are satisfied and look to the future with confidence. However, most middle-class Russians (59 percent) think the “present situation may change.” They fear upheavels, instability and economic catastrophes. Thirteen percent told the Levad Center that the “country lies in wait.”

The pessimists’ answers were more emotional: “I think an apocolypse or global catastrophe awaits us,” “People are more afraid now. They used to take risks, knowing they could lose or win a lot. That doesn’t happen anymore.”

The optimists’ answers were more to the point: “Things are better. You used to need criminal protection, but that’s all past us now,” “The law is more considerate of small business,” and “Business has started to develop.”

“The sociologists primarily spoke with businessmen — small business owners or managers at large companies,” said Evgeniy Gontmakher, director of the Social Policy Center at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Economics Institute. “This means experts with their own businessnes — doctors, lawyers and journalists. They deal with corruption more than other professions as they have to solve problems with power structures. They also travel abroad and have the opportunity to compare the level and quality of life here and there. In one word, they have something to lose. That explains the decadent attitudes.”

Where to seek protection?

What doesn’t the middle class like? Why do they have the blues?

More than anyone else, the middle class holds hard feelings against the government. Seventy-six percent of respondents answered negatively to the question: “Do you feel safe from the whims of the authorities, police or other power structures?” This isn’t a good sign. Who will develop business in a country where there is no justice against an army of civil servants and specifically the strongmen? (On this note, it’s worth mentioning the concept “strongmen” doesn’t exist anywhere in the world but Russia.)

Sixty-five percent of respondents say civil servants don’t obide by the law. Sixty percent don’t think they can protect their rights if they need to. Another interesting detail is 50 percent said it’s best not to let a case reach court when asked: “What would you recommend to a relative businessman who is unlawfully accused of avoiding taxes?” The preponderant majority prefers an amicable resultion to the problem — bribes or acquaintances. Anything but legal proceedings. This is the legal nihilism President Medvedev promised to tackle.

Keep me out of it…

The middle class also doesn’t maintain an active position in society. Fifty-seven percent of respondents don’t want to take part in politics even on a city level. Eighty-three percent say they can’t influence political processes in the country whatsoever.

Here are some popular answers to questions about politics:

“As a citizen I simply don’t care. I just need to know who my president is… I need to earn a decent salary, raise children and have everything I need.”

“Politics have their own life, and the middle class has another.”

“There are a lot of topics worth discussing. We just don’t have the time to get around to the subject of politics.”

They can leave!

The saddest conclusion drawn from the Levad Center’s census was that people are morally ready to leave Russia. Approximately half the respondents think about leaving the country for a warmer, richer nation abroad. Sixty-three percent dream to send their children abroad to study or work.

“The burgeoning middle class needs to be valued and protected,” said Gontmakher. “They’re buying real estate abroad and that’s just the first step to emigration. I think economic rehabilitation will help the situation. All sectors need to flourish — not only oil and gas. Ownership rights need to be protected and personal safety must be guaranteed. Combatting corruption and decreasing inflation is also important. The prices are climbing and people have decided it’s pointless to have savings. If it becomes possible to provide quality, equal development, then our middle class will remain. Patriotism is good, but people want something more.”

What’s left?

After analyzing the census, Levand Center experts made the following conclusions.

Russia’s stability is fragile because it’s only rooted in oil prices and not the overall economy.

The respondents say Russia’s economic success increases its authority on the international arena. The country is turning into a powerhouse. But the mighty are always feared. As a result, Russia’s strength could lead to poor relations with the West.

The respondents fear the government and especially law enforcement agencies. Many believe the authorities are above the law.

Despite the fact that the middle class fears corruption, they’re often connected to various corruption schemes. They look down upon bribetakers, but aren’t shy when it comes to offering money to nurses or teachers under the table. READ MORE

Attention: Sex bombs!

Hypersexual women — Who are they?

Most people consider sexual promiscuity to be a characteristic typical of males. Many men change their women like gloves, or maintain numerous lovers at the same time. They are often referred to as players, or womanizers. But what’s the name for women who have a full sex life? Who are they? How do they make a living? What are their goals?

You probably know at least one woman who changes her sexual partners on a regular basis. She doesn’t want to get married and holds the joy of sex in higher esteem than the dream of having a family. Many such women are successful and live comfortably.

Should ladies forget their age-old dream of one prince for all eternity? There are so many fish in the sea… Is polygamy only a male trait?

Where it all starts…

Let’s begin with how these female sexual giants are born.

“Fear is often the root cause of such behavior,” said Tatyana Danilova, a psychologist and communicative skills trainer. “Normal women who want a monogamous lifestyle may find themselves traveling this heavy road. And their fears are to blame.”

The most typical fears:

1. Fear of age

The woman is over 30 and decides she needs to make up for lost time. She usually has a successful career and has achieved everything she’s dreamed of. So she decides to cut loose while she’s still pleased with her reflection in the mirror.

2. Fear of loneliness

The woman may be young, but wants to find a partner. Her main testing tool is her bed.

3. Fear of belonging to one man

The woman got burned in a previous relationship. She may have given herself to one man who she loved but received little in return. So she tries to make up for the lost time. She goes with many other men who usually take more than they give.

4. Fear of strong feelings

The woman has an active sexual life. She judges men by their ability in bed. She throws off feelings of attachment in the blink of an eye. She also fears serious relationships. By changing sexual partners, she thinks she’s protecting herself.

Men also become examples for their women. Difficult divorces or betrayals can force women to try their partners’ polygamous ways. Why can he sleep around and I can’t, they ask? So the women go about proving they can.

Picking the plumpies

Is it really possible, though, that female sexuality hinges on a series of psychological factors and fears?

KP journalist Anna Kukartseva tried to get to the bottom of the issue and came to a startling conclusion.

“Female sexuality often depends on her personal psychological preferences, but also on hormonal changes,” said gynecologist Aleksandr Zakharov. “Certain sexual flashes occur in the periods of sexual maturity (18-25) and sexual formation (33-38). In the latter period, the female organism is most satiated with estrogen — female hormones. Some women always have a surplus of estrogen. They can often be noticed by their outer appearance. They are traditionally plump, healthy and happy. Thin women often have increased male hormone, androgen.”

Test in bed

“The more artistic a person’s profession, the more sexually hungry he is. Not all sexual giants are geniuses. but many geniuses are sexual giants,” wrote Mikhail Veller in his collection of short stories, “On Love.” He says sex and art are the same.

“Yekaterina the Great,” Veller wrote, “sent her potential lovers for testing to a trial dame to see how good they were in bed. The empress led an active sexual life until her death. But this didn’t affect her ability to change the country far and wide.” He adds that strong energy manifests itself in different ways. The stronger the energy, he says, the directer its biological manifestation. So an impotent person can’t be a powerful.

She was with this one, and that one…

But according to German psychiatrist Burt Hellinger’s theory, sexual relations actually deplete a person’s energy. Men and women who have numerous romantic relationships give pieces of themselves away to whoever they sleep with. At some point, the individuals simply lose the ability to love.

Enough! Time to settle down!

Sooner or later, time also becomes a factor. It’s easy to be promiscuous when you’re young, beautiful and sexual. But then what? And having to maintain a beautiful outward appearance is only half the story. Some women just get tired of the lifestyle. Others feel immoral.

Natalya Tolstaya, Psychologist and Author:

“Promiscuous women go to see psychologists and say they have forgotten how to love. Their first major crisis occurs when they decide to stay with one man. But at the same time they wonder if they should tell him the truth about their past. But if you take a closer look at the situation, you have to ask why she started leading this wayward lifestyle to begin with? The answer is she was bored. She always wanted a festival around her. But family life isn’t always a holiday. With time, these women become matrons or perfect embodiments of morality. Some thank their husbands the rest of their lives for clearing their reputation. Others lead self-denigrating lifestyles and become religious. However, these women are said to become wonderful parents and wives. They have a great deal of experience and value what they have.” READ MORE

Roman Abramovich is no longer Chukotka’s governor

Roman Abramovich’s dream of slipping off the gubernatorial shackles has finally come true.

The Kremlin reported today President Dmitriy Medvedev has granted Abramovich’s request to resign from his post as governor of Chukotka. Medvedev reached the decision after receiving a written request from Abramovich. Deputy Governor of Chukotka Roman Kopin was appointed acting head of the region. Abramovich’s Press Secretary John Mann confirmed the information to KP.

Abramovich’s resignation was hardly a sensation in political circles. It was commonly known that Abramovich appealed to former President Vladimir Putin on numerous occasions with a similar request. In late 2006, news about the his intention first shook the Chukotka population, which considers Abramovich almost a “white shaman.”

The billionaire oligarch Abramovich has resided in Moscow and London in recent years. He was estimated by Forbes magazine as the 15th richest person in the world with a net worth $23.5 billion. He is best known as the owner of the private investment firm Millhouse Capital and Chelsea Football Club in London.

Abramovich’s romance with Chukotka began in 1999. The oligarch was elected as the region’s state deputy. A year late, he became the governor and registered his Sibneft subsidiaries in the region. Today, they account for 80 percent of Chukotka’s budget.

“I think they’ll declare a regional mourning,” economist and political scientist Yulia Latynina said about his resignation. “But Abramovich is probably sighing in relief. He spent an enormous amount of money on Chukotka. He built everything in the region from the airport to hotels and hospitals. He was kind of praying for the forgiveness of his sins in the region. It’s just like the Russian trader who stole something and then lit a candle in church. Chukotka was Abramovich’s personal candle. And minimizing Sibneft’s taxes was just incidental.”

“Abramovich isn’t going anywhere,” said Mikhail Leontev, editor of Profile magazine. “His main work is being Abramovich. Lately he hasn’t been personally involved in managing the region anyway. The infrastructure there was built long ago. His people are in place and I think it’s unlikely anything will change. If the taxes from Abramovich’s companies keep passing through the Chukotka budget then everything will be fine in the region just as before.”

KP’s Dossier

Roman Abramovich — An oligarch’s fate

Biography
Roman Arkadevich Abramovich was born Oct. 24, 1966 in Saratov. His mother Irina Vasilevna was a musician and his father worked as a supplier at a construction trust in Syktyvkar.

Abramovich became an orphan at a young age. Both his parents died within two years — first his mother and then his father.

After his parents’ death, his grandmother (on his father side) Tatyana Semenovna took him in.

In 1970, Abramovich and his grandmother moved to Ukhta to live with his father’s brother, Leyb Nakhimovich.

In 1973, Abramovich went to first grade at Ukhta School No. 2.

In 1974, Abramovich and his grandmother moved in with his second uncle Abram Nakhimovich in Moscow. Abramovich studied at School No. 232, which stressed the performing arts. After graduating from school and botching his university studies, he moved to his relatives in Komi.

In 1984, Abramovich went to the army (artillery regiment in Kirach in the Vladimirsk region).

In December 1987, Abramovich married Olga Yurevna Lysova.

In October 1991, Abramovich married a second time to stewardess Irina Vyacheslavovna Maladina.

From 1991-1993, Abramovich was the director of the Moscow firm AVK. The firm handled commercial and intermediary activities, including reselling oil products.

In 1992, Abramovich became the central figure in a criminal case for stealing government property.

What happened: As part of their intermediary activities, AVEKS-Komi sent a train with 55 cisterns of diesel (worth 3.8 million rubles) from the Ukhtinsk Oil Production Factory. Abramovich met the train in Moscow and resent the shipment to the Kaliningrad military base using a fake agreement, but the oil products arrived in Riga.

In June 1992, Abramovich was arrested in Case No. 79067 for the large-scale theft of state property. He actively cooperated with the investigation. The Ukhtinsk Oil Production Factory was compensated for the loss by the diesel’s buyer — the Latvian-U.S. Chikora International. The case was closed.

In 1993, Abramovich founded Mekong. He began selling oil from Noyabrsk. He met Boris Berezovsky.

Together with Berezovsky, the future oligarch founded the offshore company Gibralter-registered Runicom Ltd. and 5 Western European subsidiaries. Abramovich headed the Moscow affiliate of the Swiss firm, Runicom S.A.

In August 1995, Sibneft was created by Boris Yeltsin’s presidential decree. It was rumored that Abramovich was the chief of the organization with Berezovsky promoting the business at higher circles.

In May 1998, Abramovich and Berezovsky had their first conflict. Experts say the reason for the disagreement was Berezovsky’s interest to merge with Yukos. Berezovsky thought he would gain political benefits from the move, while Abramovich insisted on putting business first. He tried to purchase Sibneft from Berezovsky.

The second serious conflict was over Abramovich’s attempt to replace Berezovsky’s figure in the Presidential Administration.

In December 1999, Abramovich won the State Duma elections in the Chukotka Single Member Constituency District No. 223 with 59.78 percent of the votes. He worked in Moscow at the Committee for North and Far East Issues.

In 2000, Abramovich graduated from the Moscow State Judicial Academy. At the year’s end, he won the Chukotka gubernatorial elections with 90 percent of the votes. In January 2001, he gave up his deputy’s mandate to head the region.

Abramovich sent clothes, food and medicine to Chukotka using his own finances ($18 million, he says). Thanks to Abramovich, 3,000 residents had the chance to vacation on the Black Sea.

Abramovich’s idyllic efforts to support the region were interrupted when the General Prosecutor’s Office called him in for an interrogation. A criminal case was launched regarding the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation’s act to privatize Sibneft.

At long last, their conclusion was read — the company had been sold for pennies. The auditors were also surprised why Abramovich had received such enormous tax privileges — twice more than the federal norm. But it turned out everything was legal. The majority of the employees were handicapped.

In late 2000, Abramovich bought the Berezovsky’s controlling share in ORT. In the summer of 2001, he sold the stake to the state-owned Sberbank. He then purchased shares in Aeroflot — part of the Russian-Belarusian company Slavneft. He became one of the world’s richest men estimated at $1.4 billion.

In the summer of 2003, Abramovich bought a bankrupt English football club, Chelsea. He covered the team’s debt his first week on the job, and quickly purchased a number of international stars.

In 2004, UK media became interested in Abramovich. BBC shot a documentary about the Russian oligarch. The publisher Harper Collins Willow released the book, “Abramovich: The Billionaire from Nowhere.”

In 2005 and 2006, Chelsea became England’s football champion for the first time in 50 years.

All these years, Abramovich was buying and selling… He was subject to constant checks and accusations, and forced to make numerous payments and compensation.

In the summer of 2005, Berezovsky announced that he was taking Abramovich to court. He said Abramovich had forced him to sell his shares in Russia at a lower price, threatening the state would seize them if he refused. In 2000-2003, Berezovsky sold 50 percent of Sibneft to Abramovich for $1.3 billion and 49 percent of ORT for $150-170 million. In 2003-2004, he sold 25 percent of Russian Aluminum to Abramovich for approximately $500 million.

In October 2007, Berezovsky tried to hand Abramovich a notice of appointment when he stumbled upon him at a London boutique. Berezovsky extended a folder towards Abramovich, but the latter held his hands behind his back. The documents fell onto the floor. According to British law, a notice of appointment must be handed over in front of witnesses.

Berezovsky says he has the following issues with Abramovich: ORT, Sibneft and Russian Aluminum. He says Abramovich stole his legal business through blackmail and other illegal proceedings. He estimates the financial loss at 5 billion pounds.

In 2005, contrary to rumor, Abramovich didn’t plan to continue his gubernatorial duties a second term. Bu the oligarch was again appointed by parliament to head Chukotka.

In December 2006, Abramovich asked the president to relieve him of his gubernatorial duties. The head of state refused.

What does Abramovich own?

In early 2006, Abramovich was the 11th richest man in the world, and Russia’s richest man worth $18.2 billion. He holds an honorable 2nd place among Britain’s richest men at 10.8 billion pounds.

Property:

Boeing 737 and Boeing 767

Two helicopters

Yachts (one of the largest, most expensive in the world) “Le Gran Bleu”, “Pelarus” (equipped with a missile system and mini-submarine) and “Project 790.”

Abramovich gave “Le Gran Bleu” away as a gift. But in March 2008, reports surfaced that the oligarch is building what will be the world’s second largest yacht at a German dock.

Abramovich purchased numerous land and homes in London and throughout the world.

In March 2006, Abramovich’s partners registered their investment firm Millhouse Capital in Russia. The firm planned to manage investments in Russian industries. In July 2006, Millhouse purchase 60 percent of the Courier publishing house that specializes the alcohol industry.

On June 13, 2007, it was reported that Millhouse Capital purchased a gold mine in Chukotka and later in the Magadansk region. READ MORE

Indiana Jones may lead to another Cold War?

KP continues to examine Russia’s cutting down on nuclear arms

In the last issue of our weekly, KP compared the nuclear resources of Russia and the U.S. This isn’t the first year the U.S. has called upon the Cold War’s ghost. Such a stance seems to benefit their foreign policy. When the U.S. government claims a lingering threat overseas, their people pay less attention to fly-by-night bombings in Belgrade or Iraq. This year, even the lovable archeologist Indiana Jones was called to the propaganda front. In the series’ fourth film, Indiana Jones fights Russian soldiers and ends up in the epicenter of a nuclear explosion. A census was held after the film was released in the U.S. and 78 percent of respondents said they aren’t against increasing the military budget. Seems like an odd coincidence…

Many analysts assert that U.S. ambitions could lead to a new nuclear standoff. The line of demarcation between the silently warring sides would no longer rest along the Berlin Wall, but rather lay claim to the U.S. anti-missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.

What are Russia’s trump cards? KP spoke with Colonel Mikhail Polezhaev to find out.

Our Topol missiles can’t be seen from space

KP: Colonel Polezhaev, the U.S. says they know the locations where our shaft missiles will discharge. Are they bluffing?

Polezhaev: No. They do know the locations of discharge for our silos. But wactually share this information. We also know the locations of discharge of their Minutemen missiles. These aren’t secrets.

KP: And are they watching our missiles from space?

Polezhaev: They can see our missiles from space in good weather. But they need the exact coordinates of a location nearby to target any object from space. Where can you get this information in the steppes or the taiga? So the U.S. may know where our missiles are located, but they’ll definitely have problems if they try to hit our silos on the nose.

KP: Can the U.S. locate our mobile Topol missiles? They’re on the surface, so they shouldn’t be hard to disable in a sudden attack?

Polezhaev: The Topol missile is 22 meters long, 3.5 meters wide and four meters tall. U.S. spy satellites travel over the regions where our Topols are based 2-3 times per day. The observation time is 15 minutes. In recent years, the Topol missile increased its masking ability — not only against optical and radiolocational reconnaissance, but against thermal reconnaissance, as well. So they would need to hunt for the Topol along the patrolling route.

Foreign missiles are more precise

KP: How precise are today’s nuclear missiles compared to the Cold War?

Polezhaev: The U.S. and Soviet first-generation missiles weren’t precise — 1-3 kilometers. As a result, the nuclear weapons were intended for large-scale strikes across entire cities. Today’s U.S. missiles are more precise than ours, that is, judging from available documentation. They have an accuracy of 100-200 meters. We can now use nuclear missiles to destroy highly protected targets like silos. So presently, nuclear weapons are the main arms used to combat nuclear weapons. In the U.S., they’ve even designed a warhead block that is able to penetrate the surface. These missiles don’t explode when hitting the surface, but rather at a depth. Similar designs were developed in Russia for the Voevod missiles. But their development ended after 1991.

KP: Why?

Polazhaev: Because the primary developer was the Southern Construction Bureau in Dnepropetrovsk. After the fall of the Soviet Union, these activities were curtailed. Cooperation between manufacturers and enterprises simply fell apart. Of the four missiles in production at the end of 1991, only one was manufactured by a Russian company — the Topol. And ever since, the missile is growing more and more expensive. The price (without warhead) in 2000 was around $3 million. In 2005, the price soared to $5 million. Today, the Topol costs twice as much. Missile manufacturing is also short-circulation, meaning the price has to cover all the manufacturer’s expenses.

Gorbachev did the U.S. a big favor

KP: Why did we destroy our Soviet missiles for nearly 15 years on U.S. money? Did we need to throw them away because of their age?

Polezhaev: To an extent — yes. But the answer isn’t that straightforward. There was clearly a surplus of missiles in the Soviet Union. But huge resources are needed to maintain arms of different ages and models and to keep them ready for war. Enormous finances are also required for ensuring cooperation among manufacturers.

KP: But we could have negotiated pretty well and for a fairly long time with such a strong nuclear hand?!

Polezhaev: But unfortunately that didn’t happen. The last Soviet General Secretary surrendered everything that was created by an entire generation to the U.S. And we’re still paying the price today.

KP: But the U.S. seemed to have similar problems with their aging Minutemen-2?

Polezhaev: Yes, they saw cooperation dissolve while their expenses for maintaing the arms grew. Gorbachev did them a big favor when he signed the treaty “On the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms” (START-1). They saved a lot of money destroying missiles that they would have had to get rid of anyway.

What can I do for you, Uncle Sam?

KP: What was Moscow’s biggest strategic miscalculation in the arms reduction treaty?

Polezhaev: You can’t call it anything else but a desire to oblige the U.S. The first move was the treaty on mid- and close-range missiles. We destroyed far more missiles than the U.S. But what seems like a near betrayal is when we agreed to destroy the Oka strategical and tactical complex although it only fired missiles under 500 kilometers. And when they woke up from their stupidity, they started producing better, but analogous arms. These are colossal additional expenses! This is the money of the people, including retirees.

When START-2 was signed, Yeltsin agreed to destroy our missile trains in exchange for a lone promise from the U.S. to take their strategical bombers off duty. But these are unequal compromises. Railway missile complexes take part in first strikes. The aviation doesn’t.

The U.S. destroyed junk instead of warheads

KP: How did Russia end up in this situation?

Polezhaev: At the time, the country’s leadership didn’t have a new nuclear doctrine. There was such an euphoria, talks about the coming of a “new era in mutual relations with NATO” and even a “brotherhood with the U.S.” As a result, Russia decreased its strategic attack arms simultaneously according to two treaties (START-1 and START-2). We had to explode 150 nuclear silos and destroy all our PS-20 and PS-22. There were huge losses and expenses. It’s not surprising that the U.S. was ready to finance the destruction of our heavy missiles. Their gains from these two treaties were more than double ours.

KP: And the U.S. didn’t even ratify START-2. Why?

Polezhaev: There are no secrets for the U.S. in terms of our missiles. The Voevod was developed and manufactured in Dnepropetrovsk. The Sotka was made in Reutov, although the control system was made in Kharkov. The Topol was developed in Moscow, and the targeting system in Kiev. The U.S. knew when the missiles’ capabilities would end and that we’d have to spend our money liquidating them anyway without their financial assistance.

KP: You give the impression that the U.S. played us for fools.

Polezhaev: They didn’t even try to fulfil their obligations honestly. For example, we exchange our telemetry data with the U.S. during trial missile runs. They have Trident missiles on their submarines. But we registered the quantity of warheads as exceeding the number quoted in the treaty. READ MORE

Tunguska meteoroid turns 100 years old. Part 2

Scientists still don’t know what happened June 30, 1908 in the Siberian taiga near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River

A KP journalist visited the epicenter of the explosion of the Tunguska meteoroid near Vanavara village. Today, the territory is home to the Tunguska State Preserve. Employees and guides say they don’t believe a meteoroid actually fell. Numerous expeditions to the area over the past 100 years haven’t revealed a single fragment of the cosmic body.

Maybe it wasn’t a meteoroid?

An age-old argument continued our first night at “The Harbor.” The base had been established by the Tunguska researcher Leonid Kulik 100 years ago. I was told that the debate had been going on for years.

“One can say that finding a fragment in the taiga is the same as a needle in a haystack,” said Sergey Tarasov, a senior employee at the preserve. “But this isn’t our first year here. We’re sure there are no fragments of the meteoroid in the taiga. And in terms of all these expeditions… Well, people just want to travel into the wilderness and all the trips are paid for by the treasury. Not too long ago, Italian researchers said the meteoroid is at the bottom of Cheko Lake. They say half a million euro is needed to the drill the lake. But I can tell you without doing any drilling that there’s nothing there. Look the shore is covered with trees. Some are over 100 years old. If the meteoroid had fallen by the lake, the blast wave would have torn them right down.”

So it seemed everyone was basically split into two camps. One side believed the legendary explosion was natural phenomena unrelated to the cosmos like an explosion of a methane cloud. The other side said the taiga catastrophe was in fact the result of experiments conducted by the electrical wizard Nikola Tesla.

Electrical wizard

Interestingly, Moscow’s scientists joined the debate last week. They were unlikely participants in the heated debated of Vanavara’s hunters and fisherman.

“We did in fact accept the conjectures that Nikola Tesla may have been party to the incident on June 30, 1908,” said Andrey Alkhovatov, deputy chairman of the “100 Years of the Tunguska Phenomenon. New Approaches” Conference’s Organizational Committee and candidate of Mathematical Sciences. It’s well known that the electrical wizard Tesla, who lived in the U.S. at the time, made a number of experiments transmitting electric energy wirelessly across long distances. There are descriptions of his experiments where the thunderous discharges from his laboratory stretched over 5 meters and the accompanying thunder was heard for 25 kilometers. And so the legend was born that the taiga explosion was the result of one of his unfortunate experiments.”

It seems Tesla wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times in 1908 stating: “Even now, my wireless energetic facilities can turn any region on Earth into an area unfit for life.” Maybe Tesla demonstrated his machine to a potential buyer in late June? Many witnesses claimed to have seen pulsating, strangely silver clouds in Canada and North America that night. Their accounts are similar to those who saw Tesla’s experiments at his Colorado Springs laboratory.

“Although I have enormous doubt about this version,” said Olkhovatov, “Nikola Tesla was indeed a mysterious figure. So we accepted this version at the conference.”

The scientists also discussed the possibility that underground phenomena caused the catastrophe.

“There is a certain phenomenon known as an ‘earthquake fire,'” said Olkhovatov. “It is a strange glowing that gives way in seismically active regions. It can also take on various forms, including flying balls of fire. Taiga inhabitants saw them June 30, 1908. And the 100-year-old catastrophe occurred during a period of increased seismic activity. So the Tunguska meteoroid may have actually ‘flown’ from underground and not from the sky.”

Comet or asteroid?

Behind the scenes, participants at another conference last week, “100 Years of the Tunguska Phenomenon: Past, Present and Future,” talked about Tesla’s involvement in the 1908 event.

“There are over 100 versions about what happened,” said Sergey Yazev, senior scientist at the Sun and Earth Physics Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences and candidate of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. “But we don’t way them all the same. For instance, I wouldn’t take seriously the version that physicist Nikola Tesla made the explosion. The bright ball of fire that was seen June 30, 1908 by thousands of witnesses didn’t fly from the U.S. to Siberia through the North Pole, as would have been the case if the magnificent inventor had been involved, but rather the other way around — from the north of Baykal to the northwest. There are essentially only two main versions in the scientific community. A cosmic body fell for sure. And it was either a comet’s icy nucleus or a stone asteroid.”Most specialists believe a comet’s nucleus crashed into the taiga. This explains why no fragments were found. If the Tunguska body was made of ice, it’s easy to explain what happened to the half million tons that fell from the sky. They simply turned into steam after the explosion. READ MORE