MOSCOW, March 6 (RIA Novosti)
Government Confiscates Serdyukov’s Dacha While Ministry Protests
The State Property Management Agency, which is seeking the return of a plot of land in southern Russia embezzled by corrupt Defense Ministry officials, has unexpectedly faced resistance from the ministry.
A local commercial court has opened a hearing into the Agency’s claim for the return of a plot of picturesque land where a luxury resort has been developed, best known to local residents as “Serdyukov’s Dacha.” The property was formerly owned by the Defense Ministry. The government provided nearly 300 million rubles ($9.8 million) to develop it. The fraudulent sale of the property for a mere 92 million rubles ($3 million) created several million rubles worth of losses.
The lawsuit was filed against CityEngineering, the company registered as the owner of the land.
“The scheme the fraudsters used is identical to the one Valery Puzikov, the former defense minister’s son-in-law, applied to obtain land for his dacha in a Black Sea nature reserve,” a law enforcement source said.
Intensive development began about a year before the sale. Local environmentalists raised the alarm because construction was not approved by the environmental watchdog, but the luxury hotel with a conference hall, a swimming pool and a helipad was built anyway.
In 2012, the commercial court seized the disputed property after the territorial state property agency filed a lawsuit seeking the return of the land and buildings.
However, the government agency unexpectedly encountered resistance from the Defense Ministry, which sided with CityEngineering, asking for the hearing to be postponed because all the records of the transaction had been seized by investigators.
According to the state register, CityEngineering is owned by Samir Abramov and has one employee, General Director Igor Goncharov.
The investigation also involves airport management company Chkalov Avia, which allegedly provided flights to transport Defense Ministry VIPs as well as construction workers to Puzikov’s dacha. The service was paid for by the government. The company is now being sued for 8.4 million rubles ($273,600) by 223rd Flight Unit, a Defense Ministry airline, which is seeking the outstanding payment for the flights performed. The airline’s representatives refused to explain what flights they mean.
Chkalov Avia, which provided clients as the airline’s agent, refused to comment on the lawsuit and insisted they had fulfilled their contractual obligations, adding that the company is being pressured by business rivals. According to a senior executive, the company has sent a letter to President Vladimir Putin complaining about the attempts to oust them from the market.
According to the SPARK Interfax database, Chkalov Avia is 51 percent controlled by a subsidiary of Oboronservice, which is now in the center of the Defense Minstry fraud scandal. The remaining stock is owned by Anna Tretyakova, reportedly related to Puzikov. Although denying that relationship, she admitted that her mother is the director of Puzikov’s dacha, officially a resort hotel.
Romanov Dynasty Marks 400 Years as Remains of Heirs Are Left Unburied
This year, Russia celebrates 400 years of the Romanov dynasty, which goes back to 1613 when nobleman Mikhail Romanov was elected to rule the country. The grand celebration plans are perfectly in keeping with Russia's recent political trend of recognizing its historical roots.
Meanwhile, the remains of the last royal heir, prince Alexei, and his sister Maria have still not been buried. While their remains are stored in boxes at the National Archives, the royal family continues to be at the center of a scandal.
The theme of children is exceptionally popular these days. Heated debates continue over adoptions, child abuse, and the frequent kidnappings and killings of children in Russia. And there is one more notorious “child” problem there for all to see but going completely ignored: a murdered child that has not been able to rest in peace for almost 100 years now.
In 1998, the remains of Nicholas II, his wife, Alexandra, and their three daughters, discovered near Yekaterinburg, were buried in a crypt in the Peter and Paul Cathedral. It was not until nine years later that the remains of the heir and another princess, Maria, were found, not far from the rest of the family. The fragments of bones, weighing only a few grams, were given over for investigation purposes until the summer of 2011, when they were handed over to the National Archives – almost discreetly, in the presence of just an investigator, the archive director and a few others.
It was stressed that the archives would store the remains only temporarily before they were to be buried next to the family in the crypt. That was 18 months ago.
“Last summer we held a special exhibition dedicated to the last years of the Romanov family and their murder,” say the staff of the Exhibition Hall at the National Archives. “We were hoping to remind the officials of the two royal children that are still waiting to be buried, but it didn't happen. “The people who are supposed to bring an end to this tragic story are reluctant to disturb the past. It is up to top officials to take the initiative and arrange a burial ceremony but they are keeping silent. The president and the government prefer to avoid the issue. There do not seem to be any obstacles standing in the way of arranging a proper funeral though. Russian Orthodox Church officials refuse to accept the fact that the bones belong to the royal family and this may in fact be the real reason behind the reluctance to put the matter to rest.
Russia to Build World's Most Powerful Laser
The planned super laser, with an estimated cost of 1.16 billion euros (46.4 billion rubles), will help create high-density substances and extremely high temperatures like those found on the Sun and other stars. In the future, it may become possible to obtain energy using the principle of laser fusion and to conduct simulated thermonuclear tests. The new laser will compete with the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), currently under construction in France.
The new laser unit will be as high as a ten-story building and as big as two football fields, Sergei Garanin, General Designer for Laser Systems at the Russian Research Institute for Experimental Physics of the Russian Federal Nuclear Center, told the paper.
Unlike similar US and French units, which generate a laser pulse of about two megajoules, the Russian system will generate a laser pulse of around 3 megajoules. This will make it possible to achieve additional objectives.
In 1963, Nobel Prize winner Nikolai Basov and Member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences Oleg Krokhin suggested simultaneously firing 192 laser beams at a beryllium target, which would heat up to 100 million degrees Celsius. This would create thermonuclear fusion, with hydrogen isotope nuclei forming helium nuclei. The obtained energy would be ten times greater than the energy generated by laser units.
A unique laser optical system with almost 13,000 powerful floodlights/flashes would pump energy inside about 3,500 special mirrors, which would generate the laser beams.
The new laser unit, due to start operating in 2020 in Sarov, Russia, faces some tough competition from the Tokamak (Toroidal Chamber with Axial Magnetic Field) reactor, which is scheduled to be launched in 2030-2040.
The Sarov laser unit will herald a new stage in the competition between laser fusion and Tokamak-type thermonuclear fusion.
Laser fusion creates temperatures and pressures typical of nuclear explosions, and is a key element of the program to maintain nuclear arsenals. It will make it possible to study the performance characteristics of nuclear weapons without testing them in violation of international agreements.
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