Four years ago, we published a story on the tragic earthquake on Sakhalin island. So it was with some amazement that we read in early June that deputies from the island had made a special appeal to President Yeltsin and Prime Minister Stepashin, asking for help with the desparate housing problem still faced by 800 families there. The deputies don’t want any money; they just want Russian Customs to release the building materials sent to the island as part of a Russian-Canadian contract to build earthquake-proof cottages (Customs wants $5.3 million in VAT taxes).
Meanwhile, a month later, Kommersant Daily reported that First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Aksonenko endorsed a Stalin-era plan to build a $10 billion tunnel between mainland Russia and the Sakhalin island. Stalin originally envisioned the plan as a way to allow a covert Soviet invasion of Japan, and construction was actually begun with slave labor after WWII. Aksonenko said the tunnel would help link Japan with European trade routes.
On a equally absurd note, the Russian Duma recently voted 297-77 to give itself a raise from 6000 to 10,000 rubles ($415) per month. The bill still needs Federation Council and Presidential approval, but it would also give Duma deputies 48 days of paid vacation.
Don't have an account? signup
Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.
PO Box 567
Montpelier VT 05601-0567