Urgent energy crisis in Russia's Far East

Nov 23, 1996 01:00 AM

The energy crisis deepened in Russia's Far East recently, with mayor of one town declaring a state of emergency and telling residents to get ready for possible evacuation. The town of Nakhodka already is preparing to accept ``new settlers'' from Bolshoi Kamen, a town of 30,000. Fuel shortages in Bolshoi Kamen were blamed on a local shipyard repairing nuclear submarines. The cash-strapped Zvezda facility was entrusted with storing the town's winter fuel reserves but instead began using them for its own needs, and then failed to obtain a bank credit to purchase new fuel. Earlier reports said power stations in the Far East are running desperately low on fuel and might be shut down despite the onset of winter. Several power stations in Vladivostok, the largest city in the region, reportedly are either out of fuel oil or have only enough for the next few days. The Far East has been gripped by a prolonged energy crisis. Officials in the region blame the federal government for the crisis, saying it doesn't pay its energy bills. Some of the area's biggest consumers are defense and other state enterprises. Moscow says local officials are to blame. It accuses them of misusing federal funds and trying to cheat the federal government by charging hugely inflated prices for energy.

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