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Black Sea Fleet will leave, will Crimea remain Russian?

The Russian intelligence services are taking steps to ensure that Russia`s presence in Crimea continues after the withdrawal of the Black Sea Fleet in 2017. Building and privatizing various facilities in Sevastopol is one of the ways to achieve this goal.

The Russian intelligence services are taking steps to ensure that Russia`s presence in Crimea continues after the withdrawal of the Black Sea Fleet in 2017, a propresidential website has written.

Building and privatizing various facilities in Sevastopol is one of the ways to achieve this goal. The author gave names of the Russian intelligence officers who allegedly are overseeing the construction of such facilities and indicates their location.

The following is an excerpt from the article by Oles Kamenskyy, datelined Sevastopol, entitled "The BSF will leave, but will Crimea remain Russian?" published on the Ukrainian news website Glavred on 5 September:

It has recently become increasingly obvious that the tasks being addressed by the BSF [Black Sea Fleet] of the RF [Russian Federation] in actual fact extend far further than the framework of purely military questions.

At present the BSF is preparing a reserve trench for Kremlin strategists, just in case it will have to leave here in 2017.

Frankly speaking, there are few people who would dispute the assertion that the Black Sea Fleet in Crimea and Sevastopol is an instrument of high politics. [Passage omitted: Pro-Russian public feelings stirred up in Crimea by the fleet`s presence.]

To all appearances, they understand in Moscow that the BSF of the RF will not be able to remain an ideological pivot of the local pro-Russian lobby for long, and hence they needed to propose something to replace it - to find a no less effective instrument of control over the situation in Crimea and Sevastopol after the last Russian sailor leaves the territory of Ukraine. And it looks as if such an instrument has already been found, and it is fairly simple - to buy Crimea.

To buy not in the way that they buy masses of people to take part in rallies and pickets for returning the peninsula to the composition of Russia, but in the literal sense of the word, metre by metre, and then nobody will have to prove anything.

By natural means Crimean land will gain Russian owners, who, without any fuss and brain-washing will be solidly behind it. [Passage omitted: Moscow mayor Luzhkov is the prime mover in this campaign.]

The BSF has been building up Sevastopol for a long time, and that is nothing new. But the custom that Ukrainian officials are trying not to notice is the fact that the fleet is methodically continuing to assimilate the land that it received for temporary use on the basis of the base agreements signed.

This is how it was with the construction on the territory of the BSF Admiral Oktyabrsky training detachment of the Black Sea branch of MSU [Moscow State University]; and on the same principle, at the motor park of the BSF marines regiment in the area of Kozacha Bay construction is proceeding full speed ahead on a housing estate for the Russian military.

There are other confirmations of this too. But sooner or later the question will arise of returning the land to Ukraine, and what then?

Then the Ukrainian state will no longer be in a position to dispose of its own land as it sees fit. Where the Ukrainian navy could have been based after the departure of the Russian fleet from Sevastopol it will not be able to be based; where domestic investors could have come they will not come now - the former military infrastructure by that time will already have been masterly retooled according to the dreams of the uncle from Moscow.

This fully applies also to another property leased by the Russian side in Ukraine. Thus, despite official statements from the Russian higher military leadership about the cessation in March 2006 of the practice of subletting by the BSF, at present about 10 berths in Sevastopol are still in the hands of commercial structures.

Buildings have already been built at some of them, and a retooled waterside front has been constructed for private interests. The subletting of three berths has been legalized by merchants in court up to 2017.

And the same fate awaits the berths as that of the military barracks. It is not likely that it will prove possible to chase out the businessmen who have thoroughly settled there and invested their money.

For example, it is doubtful that it will be possible to dislodge from their familiar berths in Yuzhnaya and Kozacha bays the open joint-stock company Akar - the commercial mission of the Republic of Tatarstan in Ukraine - the basic supplier of fuel for the BSF, before whose management every new BSF commander cringes just like a schoolboy, and which is well received in the corridors of the Sevastopol authorities.

For now the city is suffering damage from such entrepreneurialism of the BSF. At the present time enterprises of Sevastopol`s maritime transport complex - Sevmortorgport, Sevmorrybport and Yugtorsan - are forced to lease additional berths to unload cargo, embark passengers and floating moorings from those same commercial structures instead of earning money themselves. Involvement of Russian intelligence services

What is more, representatives of Russian special services are also engaged in buying up Crimea from Ukraine. For example, one leader of the BSF intelligence service, First Rank Captain Sergey Khudoley, is actively engaged in studying the land and real estate market in Sevastopol, and is also personally present at court sittings devoted to this matter.

Apart from that, at the beginning of summer this year on the territory of the Signal garage cooperative, which is located in Sevastopol in the region of the children`s medical complex on Gen Ostryakov Avenue, the Russian James Bonds have founded their closed type garage cooperative.

What is more, being citizens of another state and not having the legal possibility to create a cooperative, Russian intelligence officers Oleg Kochetov, Yuriy Chervyakov, Vladimir Grabovenko, Vladimir Krivoblutskiy and some others under the leadership of Second Rank Captain Aleksandr Kovalev have developed the following scheme for obtaining plots of land.

According to a contract with the chairman of a cooperative on the territory of Signal, they have been allocated a separate plot of land for the construction of 17 garages.

This plot was formulated as a cooperative within a cooperative, whose membership documents the Russian military prepared themselves at their own printing press. But the intelligence officers did not build the garages with their own hands, bringing in workers and machinery from the construction directorate of the Black Sea Fleet.

Incidentally, an officer of the central apparatus of Russian intelligence, one Vladimir Zemlyak, who visited Sevastopol either for service or personal reasons, also availed himself of a place for his car in the cooperative.

Probably someone will say that this is all trivialities and chance events. But one can find too many of them now in the latest history of the BSF.

It hardly looks a chance that the BSF is building and continuing to build here in Ukraine instead of building at home in Russia in preparation for 2017. It can also hardly be called a chance that officers of the Russian special services are engaged in building garages during working time and

that they are being helped in this by the fleet`s construction organizations.

After all, what might seem on the surface like greed for personal profit smacks more of carrying out tasks set by the fleet intelligence service.

And visible confirmation of this is provided by a speech that has become public knowledge from the former chief of the intelligence directorate of the BSF, currently the head of the Sevastopol branch of the Institute of CIS Countries, Yevgeniy Sobolev, at a closed party for his former colleagues on the occasion of Victory Day, where he said the following: We are witnessing transformations in Russia and many other countries that are friendly to us for now. The service that we bore was necessary.

"It is also necessary now and will be necessary for a long time. And whatever they say, we always achieve our goal. Therefore I want to wish the commanders and servicemen understanding of the fact that `17 is coming... [ellipsis as published] but if anyone is waiting for us to leave, they`ll be waiting in vain. Sevastopol was, is and will be a city of Russian glory.

Like it or not, these are all links, small and big ones, in a single chain, a chain that in the final analysis is due to lead to the fact that after the BSF leaves, Crimea de facto will remain Russian.

This article was monitored by the Action Ukraine Monitoring Service for the Action Ukraine Report (AUR), Morgan Williams, SigmaBleyzer, Editor.

ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY:  By Oles Kamenskyy

Glavred, Kiev, in Russian 0000 gmt 5 Sep 07

BBC Monitoring Service, United Kingdom, Fri, Sep 07, 2007

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