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Russian Navy Bases Suffer Power Outage in Bitter Cold - 2002-01-24


A Russian power company has cut off electricity to some of the country's navy bases in the dead of winter.

It has been a cold winter in Russia's Far East with night-time temperatures regularly dropping to minus 15 degrees and colder. But that has not stopped the Dalenergo Company from cutting off the electricity and heat to some of Russia's Pacific Fleet bases.

They owe us more than $120 million rubles for heat and electricity, Dalenergo spokesman Mikhail Tsedrik says. And, he adds, since the military has given no guarantee or time frame for payment of the debt, the power had to be cut off. 120 million rubles equals $40 million.

A spokesman for the Pacific Fleet said that the navy had not yet been able to determine how many bases were affected, but that military readiness has not been compromised. The spokesman said, "besides, each unit has an autonomous source of energy."

The power company said that between five and 10 military bases have had their power cut off near the far eastern city of Vladivostok. The Pacific Fleet, like much of the Russian military, has fallen on hard times and has often struggled to stay afloat in the lean years that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.

President Vladimir Putin has vowed to revitalize the military and promised to pour millions into modernizing forces. But from all indications those long-term plans are not likely to satisfy the power company.

Yury Ignatov heads the Vladivostok office of Dalenergo.

Mr. Ignatov said that since there has been no response from the Russian military, his company is going ahead with plans of their own. He said his office has informed the Pacific Fleet that unless something is worked out, and soon, the electricity will be cut off to all the bases in the Far East starting Friday.

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