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    The Associated Press / Tuesday February 8 9:38 AM ET
    Putin Calls for Scientific Revival

    Исполняющий обязанности президента Путин сказал на встрече в Московском институте электронных технологий, что советская система государственного контроля научных исследований оказалась неэффективной. В советскую эпоху научные учреждения плохо субсидировались государством. Необходимо, чтобы этот сектор восстанавливался через государственную помощь и рыночные реформы. Несмотря на то, что в России работает много талантливых ученых, недостаточное финансирование ведет науку к вымиранию.

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia must reorganize its scientific and technological sectors so that they can play a leading role in reviving the ailing economy, acting President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday. Science also could play a major role in helping to modernize the country and raise it to the level of Western nations, Putin told a conference at the Moscow Institute of Electronic Technology.
"Russia is facing a task of strategic importance: to achieve a rapid modernization of the national economy," he was quoted as saying by the ITAR-Tass news agency.
Putin, who faces elections March 26, said the Soviet system of the state controlling all scientific work was not feasible. He said the sector needed to be revived with a combination of state aid and market reforms.
The scientific establishment was heavily subsidized and controlled by the state during the Soviet era.
While Russia has many talented scientists, lack of funds has left the sector almost moribund.

© 2000 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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    THE MOSCOW TIMES / 02/08/2000
    Education Needs No Quick Fix (EDITORIAL)
    • Daisy Sindelar

    Российский план реформы образования, выдвинутый Министром просвещения Владимиром Филипповом, базируется на нескольких пунктах. Один из главных связан с заменой вступительных экзаменов в вузы на обычное тестирование. В 1995 российские школьники были вторыми по математике среди учащихся 39 стран. Они также были третьими по физике, предмету, в котором их "аналитически мыслящие" американские конкуренты были последними. Многие иностранцы знают, что российские учащиеся быстро усваивают не только математику и естественные науки, но и историю, географию, языки и литературу.
    Утечка мозгов на Запад лишь подтверждает, что и в неблагоприятных условиях российская система образования имеет преимущества. Даже те педагоги, которые недовольны советскими учебниками, восхищаются результатами поговорки "повторение - мать ученья" - основы российской системы образования .

Recent proposals by the Education Ministry to radically refigure the Russian high school experience may cause a wave of apprehension among critics of the U.S. education system. The Russian plan, put forth by Education Minister Vladimir Filippov and pending approval from the State Duma, hinges on several points of reform that are familiar to education-watchers. Foremost among them are the push to replace specific, content-based university entrance examinations with standardized testing, and switching the intellectual process from rote memorization to critical analysis. It seems the country that begat the phrase "repetition is the mother of learning" is now leaning toward a more fluid, generalized consideration of what a solid academic background entails.
Gestures toward reform can be applauded in a country where centralized textbook publishing and skeletal budgets have hampered learning in the country's high schools and universities. But staging a full-blown retreat from the tenets of Soviet pedagogy would be like throwing the baby out with the bath water. As recently as 1995, Russian high school students ranked second out of 39 nations in advanced mathematics. They also finished third in physics, a subject in which their "analytical" U.S. counterparts placed last. Many foreigners acquainted with Russian students marvel over their sophisticated grasp of not only math and science but history, geography, languages and literature.
The brain drain of intellectual talent to the West only affirms that, even under duress, the Russian education system continues to have its advantages. Even pedagogues who groan over the dominance of stodgy Soviet-era textbooks cannot fail to admire at least some of the results of Russia's "repetition" -based learning system. The humanities are growing less important in university curricula everywhere - an inevitable response to today's industry- and computer-driven global economy. Why turn students off math and science when these skills are needed more than ever?
Other aspects of the ministry proposal, such as switching the high school regimen from 10 years to 12, also require further elucidation. Even if Filippov succeeds in his plan to beef up school spending budgets over the next 15 years, it's not clear this will be sufficient to cover the massive shift in human and educational resources that such a change would require. Lastly, any switch to standardized testing should be approached with trepidation. Good standardized tests can be both reliable and valid, but with their troubling reputation for cultural and socio-economic bias, they are not a ready-made solution for any country.

Copyright © 2000 THE MOSCOW TIMES

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    Reuters / Tuesday February 1, 9:29 pm Eastern Time
    Russian-U.S. venture plans Internet-cable network
    • By Peter Henderson

    Новое российско - американское совместное предприятие потратит $350 миллионов, чтобы подсоединить третий по величине европейский город к быстродействующему оптоволоконному кабелю длиной 2000 км. Он уже проложен в Москве и, в основном, обслуживает правительственные учреждения. Совместное предприятие будет развивать в столице сеть InterNet и сеть кабельного телевидения.

MOSCOW -- Feb. 2(Reuters) - A new U.S.-Russian joint venture will risk $350 million to shed Russia's backward technology and propel it into the 21st century by building an Internet and cable television network in Moscow, officials said on Tuesday.
The New York-based Andersen Group (NasdaqNM: ANDR - news) and COMCOR, a Moscow high-tech firm partially owned by the city government, are investing $33 million each in a joint venture, which will take a $100 million loan and reinvest profits to build a cable system.
Their joint venture, COMCOR TV, has a licence to connect half of Europe's third-largest city to a 2,000-km high-speed fibre optic network backbone which already snakes through the city and chiefly serves government offices. Its officials expect a third of Moscow's 10 million residents to sign up within five years.
The announcement led to more than a quadrupling in Andersen's shares, They reached a high of 40 during the day, a rise of 33-31/32 from 6-1/32 the day before, before settling to end with a gain of 21-31/32 at 28 in Nasdaq trading. Later, in after-hours trade, they slipped back to $26 on the Instinet system.
The first subscribers will sign up for better-quality television, the company says, but Internet services will provide half of revenues within five years as a minority of subscribers begins to rely on a high-speed Internet hookup.
Yuri Pripachkin, COMCOR TV's interim chief, said Russia would move from bad television reception and scratchy modem connections, to the highest technology and make the Net a basic source of information.
" The problem with the Russian Internet now is that most of the resources are in the West. One of our goals is to make Russian resources accessible by Internet and to reorganise their representation on the market," he told Reuters.
An army of engineers will link up to 1,000 apartments per day, promising COMCOR TV a profit in 22 months, he said.
Basic packages of local channels will cost the equivalent of $2 per month, so that 70 percent of the 1.5 million households it is licenced to serve will sign up. The firm expects to beat competitors on price and by offering Internet access.

Internet the key

The Internet is critical to the firm, though 5 to 8 percent of subscribers are expected to sign up in five years.
Russia will top Europe's computer sales growth rate this year and its Internet will expand at more than twice Europe's 50 percent rate, COMCOR TV estimated.
It will invest and co-operate with Russian portals and information providers, an underdeveloped market, and its basic level of Internet service will eventually focus on a closed network of Russian-language services.
Frank Baker, chairman of Andersen Group, said the potential was huge. He attributed recent company losses to Russian investments and said his group was cashing out of a Russian titanium maker at a loss to focus on COMCOR TV.

The market still considers Russia risky

COMCOR TV, of which Andersen has 50 percent minus one share, was braced to pay a hefty LIBOR plus four percent interest rate -- or about 10 percent annually -- for the $100 million loan, he said.
ICE Securities, a brokerage which works heavily in Russia, said Internet entrepreneurs had great ideas but lacked cash.
" After Russia fell in foreign investors' order of priorities in August 1998, hardly anybody noticed the grassroots revolution in cybersapce, with Internet usage thriving at staggering rates," ICE wrote in a recent survey.
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    Business Wire / Monday February 7, 6:24 pm Eastern Time
    SibMarket Announces Investment Opinion on www.WorldBestBuy.com
    • Company Press Release
    SOURCE: Trust-Fund and Broker-Dealer "SibMarket"

    Менее двух недель назад, SibMarket сообщила об открытии новой опто-волоконной кабельной линии связи компании РосТелеКом, осуществляющей развитие Internet в России. Есть также новости о другой опто-волоконной линии, которая будет проложена вдоль Транссибирской магистрали новым провайдером - TransTelecom. Пропускная способность кабеля TransTelecom будет объявлена в ближайшем будущем. Ожидается, что она будет не меньше, чем у кабеля RosTeleCom (2.5 гигабит/сек). Это говорит о том, что уровень развития сети Интернет в России вполне соответствует мировому уровню. Можно рассчитывать, что вскоре Россия присоединится к странам, где смогут осуществляться все формы бизнеса и телекоммуникаций.

NOVOSIBIRSK, Russia (BUSINESS WIRE, Feb.7 2000) - SIBMARKET Opinion Bid for Publishing Giant EMAP Announced by International Brands, Inc. (OTC BB - INBR)
On Feb.3, International Brands, Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board - INBR), the parent company of www.WorldBestBuy.com, announced its friendly take-over bid for EMAP-USA, the largest publisher of approximately 140 special interest magazines in the US, including such popular editions as Motor Trend, Teen, Sport, Skin Diver, Dirt Riding, Guns & Ammo and Hot Rod.
EMAP USA is also active in television production and branded product licensing.
" A merger of EMAP-USA with www.WorldBestBuy.com offers an unparalleled opportunity for us to more quickly reach our goal of becoming the Internet's pre-eminent provider of consumer goods and services," noted Steven Zubkis, CEO of www.WorldBestBuy.com.
Successful or not, this move by WorldBestBuy.com indicates that the company is aggressively looking for expansion. In our opinion, given the scale of the company's growth plans internationally, the next strategic step would be to obtain interest in some of the major media companies and Internet backbone providers in the countries of the former USSR. Steven Zubkis, CEO of www.WorldBestBuy.com, has informed us that negotiations on this topic have already began with major players among the Russian mass media. Less than two weeks ago, SibMarket commented on the announced opening of a major new fiber-optic cable by Russian national provider RosTeleCom, tying Russia to the world wide web. Already, there is news of another fiber-optic cable to be laid along the TransSiberian Railway, by TransTelecom, a relatively recent Russian startup provider. The capacity of the TransTelecom cable will be announced in the near future, but it is expected to be no smaller than 2.5 gigabits/second, the capacity of the RosTeleCom cable along the same route. A second fiber-optic cable connecting the countries of Europe with the Far East assures that RosTeleCom will not be able to charge prohibitive rates on trans-Siberian traffic. This is an important step toward bringing the price of Internet service within an affordable range for the masses. New developments like this show, that Russia is up-to-date in the world of Internet development and sooner than expected will become the next great territory for e-commerce and all forms of business and telecommunications.

Copyright© 2000 Business Wire.

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    Science / 25 Feb 2000, Vol.287, No.5457, P.1395
    Copernicus Heist In Russia

    За последние два года из Российской Академии наук в Санкт-Петербурге было украдено несколько редких книг 16 и 17 веков. Среди них - первое издание основного труда Коперника, опубликованного в Германии в 1543 году. В этой работе польский астроном представил свою революционную теорию о том, что все планеты вращаются вокруг солнца.

A number of rare 16th and 17th century books, including a first edition of a Copernicus masterwork, have been stolen in the past 2 years from the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) in St. Petersburg, it was revealed last month. Librarians uncovered the theft during a check of the collection made recently when another Copernicus book went up for auction in the United States.
The stolen book is one of just 107 known copies of De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the revolutions of the heavenly spheres), published in Germany in 1543. In it the Polish astronomer presents his revolutionary theory that Earth orbits the sun.
St. Petersburg police said that 23 books were heisted between November 1998 and this January. Irina Belyaeva, deputy director of the library, told Science that the Copernicus volume, whose value the library estimated at $200,000, was uninsured - as are all the 300,000 rare books in the 200-million-volume RAS library.
Russian police have recruited Interpol to help track down the books, which, according to library director Valery Leonov, were stored in vaults that only library employees had access to. According to a BBC report, copies of De Revolutionibus were stolen from libraries in Poland and Ukraine 2 years ago. Experts suspect that the books were stolen to order for a collector.

Copyright © 2000 by The American Association for the Advancement of Science

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    Electronic Telegraph / Sunday 6 February 2000 ISSUE 1717
    Russia paid to stop weapons proliferation
    • By Rajeev Syal

    Правительство Великобритании собирается израсходовать до 1 млн. фунтов, чтобы предотвратить вербовку ученых из бывшего Советского Союза на работы по созданию оружия массового уничтожения. Решение правительства поддержано военными специалистами. Впервые правительство ассигнует деньги для переквалификации специалистов, создающих оружие.

THE Government is to spend up to 1 million pounds on preventing former Soviet scientists from being recruited by hostile regimes to build weapons of mass destruction.
The scheme, designed to stop experts in biological and chemical weapons working for rogue governments such as Iran, Libya or North Korea, is backed by Britain's weapons' specialists. It will be the first time the Government has allocated money towards re-training experts in weapons of mass destruction.
Paul Taylor, director of the Porton Down research station where the MoD assesses the threat of such weapons, confirmed that the government was to implement the scheme. He said: "Since the end of the Cold War era - and since the change of the political system within the Soviet Union - once highly-paid scientists have found themselves almost without income. Chemical and biological weapons can be made with such simple materials that all you need to make these weapons is the right people with the right knowledge."
Mr Taylor added that he had seen documents that showed that the Government would pay scientists to stay in Russia to work on civilian programmes. Funds were expected to be channelled through the European Union to employ scientists in the Technical Assistance to Commonwealth Independent States programme, an established European Commission scheme.
Most of the scientists would be gainfully employed in Russia, where the Soviet Union once retained the capacity to develop thousands of tons of anthrax, small pox and nerve agents. They would trained to use their skills to dismantle the infrastructure of weapon factories and turn the buildings to medical uses.
Mr Taylor said: "Some of them have developed vaccines for diseases common in the developing world." Porton Down will advise the Government and the EU on the suitability of each project. There are an estimated 3,000 chemical and 7,500 biological weapon-makers in the former Soviet Union. Most are based in Russia.
American intelligence reports state that both the Iraqi and Iranian chemical and biological weapons programmes were established in the Eighties with the help of scientists from the former Soviet Union. Defence specialists believe that it will cost more than 12 million pounds a year to keep them gainfully employed in their countries of origin.
The American government contributed just 15 million pounds preventing the flight of weapons experts from the former Soviet Union between 1994 and 1999. Last year, the EU contributed just 1.3 million pounds for chemical and biological research grants in Russia and 500,000 pounds in other former Soviet countries.
One of the biggest problems faced by the scheme will be to find genuine experts in biological and chemical weaponry. Previous attempts by the US to pay scientists have resulted in numerous bogus applications for grants. Biological agents, such as anthrax or the plague are living micro-organisms that can be used to produce millions of infectious doses of spores within a week. Chemical agents, such as mustard gas and phosgene, are compounds that kill by infecting through inhalation or absorption through the skin.
A government report into chemical and biological weapons released last year noted that "the potential threat from biological and chemical agents is now greater than that from nuclear weapons". Iraq became the first nation to use a nerve agent on the battle field during the Iran-Iraq war more than a decade ago when it deployed tabun-filled aerial bombs.

© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2000

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    The Moscow Times / Tuesday, February 15, 2000
    AMC Opens a 'Russian Hospital'

    Американский медицинский центр открыл в Москве первую очередь первичной и срочной медицинской помощи. Организован консультативный совет, в который вошли ведущие российские и американские специалисты. Совет возглавляет академик Александр Чучалин - директор московского Научно-исследовательского института пульмонологии. Его заместителем стал Michael De Bakey, который наблюдал за здоровьем Бориса Ельцина после операции.

The American Medical Center has opened the first stage of a $5 million primary and emergency care center aimed at winning Russians over to American-style family medicine.
"This is a Russian hospital for Russians," Dennis Sokol, chairman of American Medical Centers Management Co. Ltd., the Stamford, Connecticut-based company that runs an international chain of medical facilities, told reporters on a press tour of the center last month. Sokol said the new clinic, which began receiving patients Monday, will capture a portion of the Russian market for medical care that now goes West to seek care and treatment.
Russians now account for about 40 percent of the Moscow clinic's caseload, but AMC management is hoping to increase that figure to as much as 70 percent, AMC Russia executive director Alex Sokol said Monday.
The center's main selling point is a family-oriented, "patient-first" approach to treatment, but with an eye to drawing in Russian medics' technical expertise and spreading the family-practice principle in the Russian health care system, AMC management has assembled an advisory council of top Russian and American specialists headed by academician Alexander Chuchalin, director of the Research Institute of Pulmonology in Moscow. His deputy will be cardiologist Michael De Bakey of Baylor College of Medicine, who presided over former President Boris Yeltsin's 1996 quintuple bypass surgery.
The 2,000-square-meter clinic that opened Monday, part of a $36 million investment program in Eastern Europe, now houses the AMC's family practice and will offer small-scale facilities for minor inpatient surgery and observation within a few months, Alex Sokol said.
The clinic is part of a 4,000-square-meter, three-building complex located off Prospekt Mira, behind the Sklifosovsky Hospital on the edge of Aptekarsky Ogorod, where medicinal herbs were grown on orders from Peter the Great, which will eventually serve as an annex to a full-scale teaching hospital.
The complex, whose design is a modern riff on Russian architecture of the late 18th century, when Sklifosovsky's main building was constructed, will eventually house specialized women's and mental health centers, advanced diagnostics capacities, an inpatient care facility with between 17 and 22 beds, a laboratory that will serve surrounding medical centers and a fitness center. The full facility is expected to open in April.
AMC management is negotiating for a site on Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg to expand its services there, and will spend as much as $10 million to $15 million more on Russian projects, Sokol said, adding that AMC Russia was also seeking management contracts with Russian hospitals.

© Copyright The Moscow Times 1997-1999

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    The Associated Press / Sunday February 13 12:02 PM ET
    Astronomer Aims To Restore Telescope
    • By STEVEN C. JOHNSON Associated Press Writer

    50-летний профессор из Латвии намеревается привести в рабочее состояние мощный телескоп, который в 1994 году был оставлен уходящими из Латвии советскими войсками. Юрис Загарс, являясь ведущим астрономом Латвии в советские времена, был в курсе всех военных проектов. Он побывал в Антарктике, Мозамбике и других странах, измеряя контуры Земли в соответствии с советской программой запуска ракет. "Необходимо знать размеры Земли и кое-что о ее гравитационном поле, если вы хотите, чтобы ракета стартовала в Казахстане, а приземлилась в Нью-Йорке", - говорит ученый.

IRBENE, Latvia (AP) - Astronomer Juris Zagars is a man with a mission: to get one of the former Soviet Union's most powerful telescopes, fallen into disrepair and forgotten by almost everyone else, back searching the heavens.
The 50-year-old professor has gone at the task obsessively and almost single-handedly since he and his wife found the 600-ton instrument in a desolate forest in 1994, when Soviet troops finally left this small nation on the Baltic Sea after five decades of occupation.
"It's one of the 10 or 12 best telescopes in the world," Zagars said as he clambered up narrow stepladders and through tight, submarine-like tunnels to the telescope's apex, some 165 feet above the surrounding pines.
Once an off-limits military outpost manned by 2,000 soldiers, scientists and their families, the area now is occupied by a couple dozen squatters and a few nature lovers.
Zagars envisions this quiet retreat 125 miles west of Latvia's capital, Riga, as a mecca for astronomers.
The radio telescope, dubbed Little Star, was a top-secret resource; the Soviets used it to monitor satellite communications
Latvians only learned it existed in 1993, two years after the country regained independence from Moscow.
Zagars was one of the first to get a close look at it after the last Soviet troops departed. He and his wife Gundega found it by following cryptic military maps and abandoned guard houses nestled among the pines.
As one of the elite scientists in the former Soviet Baltic republic, Zagars was familiar with military projects, having traveled to Antarctica, Mozambique and elsewhere for the Soviet missile program to measure the contours of the earth.
"You had to know the shape of the earth and something about its gravitational field if you wanted to launch a rocket from Kazakhstan and land it on New York," he said with a hint of a smile.
Little Star is one of the most powerful land-based radio telescopes ever made, capable of viewing far-off galaxies and participating in the search for intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, much as does the world's largest one-dish radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico.
Latvia's government didn't know what to do with Little Star, so Zagars sort of adopted it. He agreed to act as a weekend watchman in exchange for a small stipend and rights to use some labs at the site for his own research.
Before departing, the Russians poured acid into the telescope's main motor and disconnected key electrical wires. Four technicians who worked only on weekends and holidays took three years to repair it.
Today the telescope works, though not at full capacity. With additional renovation he estimated would cost about $2 million, Zagars says astronomers from top-notch institutes and programs would line up to use it.
Dainis Dravins, an astromer at the Swedish Royal Academy, agrees. Few countries could afford to build such a powerful instrument today, he said. "But it was considered a high-priority item by the Soviets with no regard to cost," he added.
Radio telescopes are most effective working in tandem, he said, and Little Star could participate in the study of stars as well as help gauge sea level changes, monitor continental drift and other projects.
But Latvia's leaders don't share Zagars' enthusiasm for Little Star - or for science in general. In 1999, the country spent just 0.02 percent of its national income on science, according to the ministry of finance.
Zagars himself earns just $350 a month from four jobs: caretaker of Little Star, two teaching positions at Latvia University and curator of a Riga museum.
Lawmakers say their cash-strapped nation of 2.5 million, struggling to improve everything from hospitals to roads, can't justify spending scarce public funds on a telescope.
" There really are too many other priorities right now, and none are science-related," said Dzintars Abikis, chairman of the parliament's education and science committee.
Zagars grumbles that government indifference to Little Star is a combination of disgust for all reminders of the hated Soviet past and of hostility to any enterprise that doesn't offer the promise of an immediate profit.
When he went to Brussels to enlist NATO aid to help convert the telescope from a military spying device into an instrument of science only, he said he was received warmly but turned down cold.
"I spoke about converting the telescope to a research facility, but they responded by asking if it was still spying on them," Zagars said. "When I said no, they said, "Then in our view, the conversion has already been made."

© 2000 The Associated Press
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Продолжение дайджеста за ФЕВРАЛЬ 2000 года (часть 2)

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