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/ Friday November 17 12:03 PM ET
Russia's Putin Says Has Plans in Store for Siberia
Президент Путин, прибывший в заснеженную Сибирь, заверил, что политика в отношении сибирского региона будет пересмотрена.
NOVOSIBIRSK, Russia (Reuters) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin (news - web sites), arriving in snowy Siberia from the balmy climate of Brunei, assured local residents on Friday that the region was firmly on his political radar.
Putin, fresh from the annual Asia-Pacific Cooperation forum summit in Brunei, said Russia needed to take another look at its policy on Siberia.
"The centuries-old policy of the development of Siberia is now failing", he said, adding that Siberia's natural wealth should be used to improve the living standards of its people.
Siberia's vast forest supplied the bulk of Russia's wealth from natural resources. But living conditions there have collapsed during a decade of economic reform as Soviet-era subsidies to the region and its workers evaporated.
The president told a news briefing he was committed to the future development of Siberia and said he had agreed to form a working group to look at the region.
"People tend to go and live where its easier to live, so we must (work on) the development of Siberia in the next year", Putin said.
"The fate of Siberia was always definitive for Russia, and also for the formation of international ties", Putin said.
He also told the briefing there was a need to create conditions for scientific work "on new levels", and stated his support for creating technological centers in the region.
"We also need to create a labor market supporting small and medium-sized businesses", he added.
The president also told a meeting of Siberian governors and scientists in Novosibirsk that Russian electricity tariffs should be determined by the market rather than set by the government.
"Tariffs are set individually for different groups of consumers and it so happens that the tariffs of some consumers are subsidized by others", he said.
"This must not be allowed, we should set order here"
Currently, electricity tariffs are established by the Federal Energy Commission, which sets much lower tariffs for households than for companies under a system virtually untouched since the Soviet era.
A shift in the tariff burden to consumers from companies would allow national power grid Unified Energy System to carry out a much-need restructuring plan and boost industry competitiveness and development.
Putin did not say when Russia should change the tariff system, but said it was necessary to establish how the costs of coal, oil and gas were accounted for in tariffs.
2000 Yahoo! Inc., and Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
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46th Russian expedition to head for Antarctica in December
ST. PETERSBURG, November 7 (Itar-Tass) -- The 46th Russian polar expedition will head for Antarctica supposedly on December 2, a source in the state scientific-research institute of Arctics and Antarctica told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.
The 90 expedition members will go there on board the Academician Fyodorov diesel-powered vessel.
A group of researchers has gone to Antarctica from St. Petersburg by plane to work at the Vostok station. Another group of St. Petersburg scientists is heading for the Antarctica Bellingshausen station from Holland on board the Professor Multanovsky vessel, which makes charter voyages from Europe to Capetown.
© 1996-2000 ITAR-TASS. All rights reserved
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/ Thursday November 9 8:58 AM ET
Russian Court to Hear Key Witness in U.S. Spy Case
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- A Russian court has asked Anatoly Babkin, accused of selling secrets to alleged U.S. spy Edmond Pope, to appear at his trial, Pope's lawyer was quoted as saying on Thursday.
Russian news agencies quoted Pavel Astakhov as saying Babkin, who is alleged to have sold secret information on a new Russian torpedo to Pope, had been asked to appear in court on Friday.
The defense says Babkin, a Russian, who also faces spying charges, is key to Pope's trial. He suffered a heart attack soon after arrest and the court had earlier said Babkin was too ill to testify.
The Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia's domestic security agency, says Babkin's evidence supports its case against Pope.
But Astakhov stated on Wednesday that Babkin had said the statements he had made to the FSB which incriminated Pope had been made under pressure and that he had now changed his story.
Astakhov has said Babkin now denied meeting Pope one-on-one, had never released classified information to him and never received his requests for such information.
Pope, a former U.S. naval intelligence officer who faces up to 20 years in jail if convicted, denies the espionage charge. He says he was researching openly available material.
© 2000 Yahoo! Inc., and Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
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San Diego Daily Transcript
/ Tuesday November 14 09:13 PM EST
Diversa Engages Russians in 'Bioprospecting'
Фирма Diversa Corp будет привлекать российских ученых для исследований в области применения полезных микроорганизмов в промышленности и медицине
Diversa Corp. (Nasdaq:DVSA - news) signed a deal with the U.S. Department of Energy to help keep Russian scientists busy looking for useful microorganisms instead of making weapons of mass destruction.
The agreement is part of an ongoing $12 million effort with the Department of Energy's Initiative for Proliferation Prevention aimed at keeping Russian scientists working at non-weapons-related research projects. Since 1994, the program has been involved with projects using 600 scientists from more than 20 research institutions across the former Soviet Union.
In the deal announced Tuesday, San Diego-based Diversa will pay an undisclosed amount for a two-year program to help start a Russian Ecological Biotrade Center.
The DOE is contributing $1 million to the project, which will involve four Russian research institutes each with between three and 11 scientists.
The company's core area of work involves looking for exotic microorganisms in extreme locations. The idea is that an organism that can survive a geothermal pool in Yellowstone or a glacier in Alaska will have specific traits that can be applied to industrial or pharmaceutical uses. Diversa takes a small sample - the company claims it takes less material than what a hiker would collect on his or her boots - and brings it back to the labs where scientists look for useful traits.
Diversa will pay undisclosed royalties to Russia on any products developed at the sites, and support the sample collection efforts.
The company has signed similar deals for "bioprospecting" in Alaska, Costa Rica, Bermuda, Iceland, Indonesia, Yellowstone National Park, Mexico and The Meadowlands, New Jersey.
So far, the company has commercialized three products, two of which are enzymes used by the oil industry, and a third that is a genetic analysis material marketed by Carlsbad-based Invitrogen.
Although the deal was announced after the market closed Monday, shares of Diversa finished up about 10 percent at $23.88, giving the company a market capitalization of $829.9 million.
The work in Russia, which will be handled through the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, will involve between four to six locations including both pristine sites and those with heavy toxic waste and hazardous pollution.
© 2000 Yahoo! and San Diego Daily Transcript. All Rights Reserved
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Reuters / Wednesday November 8, 1:08 pm Eastern Time
Brazil Embraer to fine tune new jets in Russia
Бразильская компания Embraer, создающая реактивные самолеты, сообщила, что она достигла соглашения о сотрудничестве с Российским научно-исследовательским институтом по созданию больших реактивных самолетов. В заявлении сказано, что соглашение предусматривает использование технических средств Центрального Аэродинамического Института (ЦАГИ), для проведения аэродинамических и других испытаний реактивных лайнеров серии ERJ-170 и ERJ-190, разрабатываемых в настоящее время.
SAO PAULO, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Brazilian jetmaker
Embraer (NYSE:ERJ - news) said on Wednesday it struck a cooperation agreement with a Russian research institute to work on the development of bigger jet models capable of carrying more than 100 passengers.
The company said in a statement the agreement allowed it to use the research facilities of Russia's Central Aerohydrodynamics Institute (TsAGI) to conduct aerodynamic and other tests on ERJ-170 and ERJ-190 regional jetliner series, currently in development.
Embraer, which is the world's fourth-largest civil aircraft manufacturer, said it started work at TsAGI's wind-tunnels and laboratories in June this year and the agreement now enhances and formalizes the existing cooperation.
The company said the world's aerospace giants such as Airbus Industrie, the Boeing Co (NYSE:BA - news), Dassault Aviation and Lockheed Martin Corp (NYSE:LMT - news) all had cooperation agreements with TsAGI, which it called "one of the world's foremost aviation research centers".
An Embraer spokeswoman would not provide further details on its deal with the Russian institute and declined to comment on whether any payments were involved.
In the next few years, Embraer hopes to start producing a new family of bigger jets that would compete with aircraft made by such aerospace industry leaders as Boeing. It said the test flight for the ERJ-170, the first model in its bigger jet series, was scheduled for the second half of 2001.
Currently, Embraer's biggest jet seats up to around 50 passengers while those in development would carry between 70 and 108 passengers.
Aerospace industry experts say Embraer already has optional orders from Switzerland's Crossair for five of the bigger jets
© 2000 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved
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/ Wednesday November 1 6:04 PM ET
Russian Waterways Contaminated
- DAVID BRISCOE, Associated Press Writer
Опасный уровень радиоактивности был зарегистрирован в реках, находящихся вблизи Российского ядерного комплекса в Сибири. Концентрация радиоактивных отходов, выше чем могли бы дать 10,000 обычных ядерных реакторов, заявили американские и российские наблюдатели. Они потребовали немедленного прекращения сброса радиоактивных отходов Сибирского химического комплекса в реки Томь и Ромашка
WASHINGTON, (AP) -- Dangerous radioactivity has been found in waterways flowing from a Russian nuclear complex in Siberia at levels higher than would come from 10,000 commercial nuclear reactors, U.S. and Russian nuclear watchdog groups said Wednesday.
"We were shocked at the levels of contamination", said Tom Carpenter, director of the Government Accountability Project's office in Seattle, Wash., who helped conduct tests of water in the Tom and Romashka rivers.
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The groups reported evidence that pollution from the Siberian Chemical Complex constitutes the largest nuclear river contamination anywhere in the world. They demanded an immediate end to dumping of nuclear waste from the complex, site of secret nuclear weapons development during the Soviet years and where an explosion spread radioactivity in 1993.
Carpenter said in an interview that levels were too high to have originated at a nuclear power plant or normal reprocessing activities and suggested the possible presence at the site of an unacknowledged nuclear weapons-grade reactor or giant nuclear accelerator.
The exact source of the radioactivity was not determined during testing in August by environmentalists from the U.S. group and the Siberian Scientists for Global Responsibility, he said. The Government Accountability Project is a nongovernmental legal and environmental group that watches the nuclear industry and defends nuclear whistle-blowers. The Siberian group is a nongovernmental organization that monitors nuclear pollution.
Calling the radioactive problem "out of rational control", the groups also urged the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria, to send an emergency response team to cordon off areas of high contamination and determine the level of danger to humans from food contamination.
Carpenter said scientists took samples in areas of cattle-grazing and fishing. He showed a picture of fish that registered with levels of radioactivity more than 20 times normal and said it would be harmful if it was eaten.
The analyses showed strontium 90 in plant life along the Romashka River of 10,000 picocuries per liter, the report said. The permissible level for U.S. drinking water is 8 per liter. Dangerous levels of phosphorous 32 also were found, it said.
"The magnitude of the reported ... release of beta radioactivity to River Tom is staggering", the report said, many times greater than other known nuclear pollution problems in Russia or pollution of the Columbia River from the Hanford, Wash., nuclear reservation.
The conclusions were based on laboratory examination of samples conducted in Russia, Canada and the United States, Carpenter said.
Findings were presented at a news conference by Carpenter and Norm Buske, a physicist and oceanographer with the watchdog group who said the nuclear waste was being "straight-piped" into the environment.
"This has not been done anywhere in the world since the Cold War", Buske said.
Local residents call the Siberian complex "the largest and greatest nuclear facility in the world" During Soviet times it featured five nuclear reactors and produced weapons-grade plutonium. Two nuclear reactors continue to produce electrical power for surrounding communities, but they could not account for the extreme radiation levels, Buske said.
/ Friday November 17, 8:39 am Eastern Time
New Biotech Firm Diversa Turns To Russian Scientists By Matthew Herper
Instead of brewing biological weapons for rogue nations, a group of Russian scientists is helping a San Diego biotech firm use exotic organisms to make chemicals for industry and medicine.
Группа российских ученых, ранее занимающихся созданием биологического оружия, будет помогать биотехнологической фирме в Сан Диего в работах по использованию микроорганизмов для промышленности и медицины.
Diversa (Nasdaq: DVSA - news) arranged the collaboration through a Department of Energy (DOE) program called Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP), which tries to keep weapons researchers from the former Soviet Union out of trouble by employing them at American companies. "If we can match them with an industrial partner", explains William Toth, a manager for the IPP progam, "and especially if we find something that can be a commercial product, these scientists will have sustainable economic income".
The DOE's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory is spending $1 million to set up a Russian Ecological Biotrade Center to find interesting microbes that Diversa can turn into chemicals and sell. Diversa is providing matching resources, including training and technology. It will pay for sample collection, and Russia will get royalties on any chemicals developed from the effort.
That's a serious investment for Diversa, which spent $12 million on research and development in 1999. By contrast, it had only $10 million in annual revenue and posted a $9 million loss. But globetrotting chemical discovery is old hat for Diversa. It perfected a technique that takes a snapshot of the genes of a single-celled organism. Diversa's scientists can develop chemicals for industrial, agricultural and pharmaceutical use from this snapshot.
"Less than one-tenth of 1% of organisms can be cultivated and can exist in pure culture", says Diversa Senior Director for Molecular Diversity Eric Mathur. "With our techniques, you can capture the other 99% on Earth".
Diversa searches far and wide for genes that it can use, mining biodiversity in Yellowstone National Park, Alaska, Bermuda, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Iceland, Mexico and the Meadowlands, N.J. But the deal opens up new vistas to explore, Mathur says.
Whether in Siberia or the Meadowlands, Diversa's efforts follow a similar path. It finds interesting genes and uses a process of trial and error not only to derive new chemicals, but to improve on old ones. Imitating Darwin's theory of natural selection, Diversa alters chemicals, tosses the ineffective ones, and then alters them again. In the end, only the most useful chemicals survive and enter Diversa's product pipeline.
The company hopes that searching far and wide gives it an edge against competitors like San Diego's Applied Molecular Evolution (Nasdaq: AMEV - news) or Redwood, Calif.'s Maxygen (Nasdaq: MAXY - news), which uses similar evolution techniques. So far, however, no clear leader has emerged in the field, and the two companies show similar losses: In 1999, Diversa lost $9 million and Maxygen lost $10 million.
Maybe converting some Russian biological weapons experts into capitalists is just what the doctor ordered.
Go to www.forbes.com to see all of our latest stories.
© 2000 Forbes.com . All rights reserved.
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Smart Legs For Amputees Expected Within Two Years
"Smart" legs - entire smart lower limbs - to replace those amputated from tens of thousands of Americans yearly as a result of auto accidents, diabetes or other causes are expected to be on the market in two years.
Около 120 российских ученых, которые прежде занимались разработкой ядерного оружия, будут участвовать в проекте по созданию управляемых протезов нижних конечностей
Sensors and chips will be developed by the Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories. Materials work and testing will be performed by, strangely, the Russian nuclear weapons laboratory Chelyabinsk 70. Technical requirements for the limb will be set by the Seattle Orthopedic Group (SOGI).
"This is about making a leg that is more like a missing limb than a collection of components ever can be", says Diane Hurtado of the Smart Integrated Lower Limb (SILL) project team. "This limb will have a digital control system to make it smart" Says Ivan Sabel, president of Hangar, of which SOGI is a division, "This is taking us - an industry that has gone in 30 years from plastic to carbon fibers - to the next generation".
The advance should enable otherwise competent amputees to maintain active lives rather than be confined to wheelchairs or rest homes.
The leg is intended to simulate a human gait whether on uphill, downhill or even irregular terrain. To do so, a microprocessor-controlled module implanted in the leg will respond to sensor input from multiple sources.
The microprocessor will control hydraulic joints and piezoelectric motors that power the ankle, knee and socket. The leg socket will also adjust to the changing diameter of an amputated stump over the course of a day, thus reducing sores, improving comfort and increasing time of use.
"What amputees are clamoring for is a way to walk without falling down, independent of terrain", says Sandia researcher Dave Kozlowski, who has designed robotic architectures for surgical operating rooms. "The majority of lower-limb prosthetic devices are based upon passive technologies that require far more energy for amputees to cover the same distance as non-amputees".
In passive technologies, as the thigh moves forward, inertia opens the knee joint, the artificial shin swings forward, and, when the entire structure locks, the wearer can pass his or her weight over it. The feet are usually not "smart" in adjusting to terrain.
"We intend to develop a much more efficient device, with sensors placed at strategic points along foot and leg, that will enable a more normal and efficient walking gait", says Kozlowski.
A proper limb motion will return energy to the wearer instead of draining it, he says.
One challenge to be addressed is developing a power source light enough for an amputee to feel comfortable carrying it, he says.
Sandia researcher Mark Vaughn, who also will participate in the project, says another goal is to make a self-adjusting prosthetic socket that will prevent pressure sores caused by the device rubbing against the residual limb. The device will change shape to match the residual limb's swelling over the course of a day.
"The funding gives us a couple of man-centuries of Russian experimenters to throw at the problem, and it's right down their alley", says Vaughn. "They're mechanical guys. We should get quite a bit of accommodation".
Approximately 120 Russian scientists formerly employed designing nuclear weapons are expected to participate in the project, funded by DOE's Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention.
Says Sandia manager for international initiatives Bob Huelskamp, "Sandia generally thinks it's impressive if, say, five of its scientists leave to start an entrepreneurial enterprise. This prosthetics project means that, at a minimum, dozens, and if the project takes off, triple figures of Russians formerly in the weapons-of-mass-destruction business are moving out of that into a humanitarianly useful, and hopefully commercially successful, business venture".
The Russians bring impressive skills and equipment to the research effort, he says.
Says Olen Thompson, "SILL got its start through the integrated efforts of the principal investigators, CRADA specialists, licensing specialists, patent attorneys and the DOE's Technology Partnership Office in Albuquerque.
"They had many barriers to overcome but they stayed with it because they believed in the project's importance"
DOE is funding the current effort with $1.5 million over two years. SOGI is expected to put up a matching amount in money, goods, and services.
Hurtado takes over project management of Sandia's prosthetics program from recently retired Sandian Mort Lieberman, who originated it.
Two years ago, an agreement he helped create between Sandia, Chelyabinsk 70, a Boston University professor and an Ohio prosthetics company produced an artificial foot that has received impressive reviews. Last year, work was started on an artificial knee.
Lieberman, who spoke at the Sept. 26 cooperative research and development (CRADA) signing, discussed the change in direction at the Russian nuclear lab and, to some extent, at Sandia (a national security laboratory) initiated by his work.
Quoting anthropologist Margaret Mead, he said, "Never doubt that a small group of concerned citizens can change the world"
Sandia is a multiprogram DOE laboratory, operated by a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major research and development responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies.
Nature © 1995-2000 UniSci. All rights reserved.
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/ November 16, 2000
Russia facing AIDS 'catastrophe'
Российские и международные эксперты предупредили правительство России, что распространение СПИДА и инфекционного гепатита может достигнуть катастрофических размеров, если не принять срочные меры.
Мировой банк ведет переговоры о предоставлении России кредита в 150 миллионов долларов для борьбы с этими опасными болезнями.
MOSCOW, Russia -- The World Bank is negotiating a $150 million loan with Russia to help fight what a U.N. official has called the world's highest AIDS growth rate.
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Russian and international experts have warned the government that the spread of the disease could reach catastrophic proportions in Russia unless officials take quick action to reduce runaway growth rates.
"This is really the time for action, particularly because AIDS is a serious problem among young people and so it's really a problem for Russia's future", World Bank country director for Russia, Michael Carter, said.
"We hope that the government will be ready to negotiate this loan early in the new year so we can provide support through that loan to the government's (AIDS) program".
The joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) put the number of HIV and AIDS sufferers in Russia at 130,000 at the end of last year. But there is broad agreement that cases are significantly under-reported.
Arkadiusz Majszyk, UNAIDS representative in Russia, said Russia had the world's highest growth rate for AIDS. And UNAIDS called on donors to allocate at least $20 million over the next three years to stem the epidemic.
Fourth biggest killer worldwide
"Russia in a sense is fortunate in that AIDS is still at an early stage", Carter said.
Vadim Pokrovsky, director of the AIDS prevention centre, has said that at the current rate of growth Russia could have up to a million infected cases in two to three years.
Carter said the World Bank loan was only part of a greater effort needed on many fronts to help tackle the problem of AIDS and HIV.
"The idea is that we will support a number of programs - firstly educational programs, several preventative programs amongst drug users, commercial sex workers and the prison population, which are particularly vulnerable groups", he said, adding that curative work would also be included.
"We also hope that this will be the first in a number of programmes in the region ... for example we are working on a similar project in Ukraine", Carter said.
AIDS is the fourth biggest killer worldwide. About 18.8 million people have died since 1983, including 2.8 million last year, UNAIDS says. Nearly twice as many -- 34.3 million -- are living with HIV.