Russian Border Troops Meet Armenian Journalists

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Major-General Yevgeny Potekhin–the commander of the military group "Armenia," described the financial situation of the Russian border troops as "rather acute."

Last Friday–Potekhin said the trouble was that all the roads across the Main Caucasian Mountain Ridge were closed and Georgia had banned Russian transport aircraft from entering its airspace. Food needed for the border posts is usually purchased on the spot. The General said there were some financial difficulties too.

Only 250 million drams out of the necessary one billion drams needed for the troops has been allocated by the Armenian government for the first six months of the year. Potekhin also said that following Turkey’s announcement in 1997 as the year of putting an end to terrorism–decisive action by the Turkish government against the Kurds should be anticipated. It has not been ruled out that the Kurds will be making more attempts to enter Armenia.

Journalists visited several border stations of the Armavir border troops. The commander of the troops–Colonel Sergey Galkin–said that no violations were reported this year along the 10-kilometer-long sector of the Armenia-Turkey border protected by his soldiers.

About 40 percent of the soldiers and sergeants of the border troops are mercenaries–serving on a contractual basis. They sign contracts for three to five years with large fees and long-term furloughs. Citizens of both Armenia and Russia are among the soldiers.

Galkin noted that the local authorities were of great help to border troops–particularly–the leaders of the Armavir region. Representatives of the local authorities–who accompanied journalists and border troops–said they were ready to render every kind of assistance to the troops guarding Armenia’s borders.

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