JUST AS the Russian Railways Ministry starts to implement its restructuring process which includes pulling out of non-core activities such as running towns and hospitals for railwaymen, comes news that it is to be granted the rights to mineral development along the Baikal - Amur corridor. Immediately after the BAM regional administration had been wound up (p149), Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Lobov approved a draft government resolution making the Railway and Economics ministries responsible for co-ordinating the development of gold, copper, titanium and oil reserves in the region.

A new railway-owned subsidiary company Baminvest is to be formed to manage industrial production, and the ministries of Natural Resources, Fuel and Energy have been instructed to value the assets to be handed over. Lobov says the move will reinforce ’the geopolitical significance and importance of BAM for Russia.’ He expects the missing Severomuisk tunnel to be completed later this year, for opening to traffic during 1998.

  • Railway Minister Anatoly Zaitsev has confirmed that work is under way on a rail bypass around Chechnya, which is expected to open in the third quarter of 1997. The link between Kizlyar and Makhachkala in the republic of Dagestan will create a corridor from Astrakhan to Azerbaijan along the Caspian sea coast. o