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Russia: Energy Situation In Vladivostok 'Normal'

By Karen Ogden

Vladivostok, 28 November 1996 (RFE/RL) -- As energy officials warned of mass evacuations and severe power cuts in the Russian far east, life went on as normal in the port city of Vladivostok.

The situation reached a state of emergency late last week when the Vladivostok city administration announced that there was only enough fuel oil to keep lights on and radiators warm for two more days in the city of 800,000. Yet there were no runs on batteries or queues for gas camp stoves.

A clerk at the Central Department Store in downtown Vladivostok put it this way: "There is no energy crisis. They haven't turned the lights off yet." She said that sales of gas camp stoves, candles and other emergency items were slow over the weekend.

Locals have begun to shrug off predictions of disaster, regarding them as part of a cycle of desperation and last minute rescues that keep the region's energy sector staggering along.

Vladivostok Deputy Mayor Vladimir Zhitkovhe said the city and the Pacific Fleet stepped in to buy emergency supplies of fuel oil this weekend. Train loads of oil from northern Khabarovski Krai and Angarsk in the Irkutsk region, arrived Saturday just as Vladivostok heating plants started to shut down their boilers. Fuel oil also went to Bolshoi Kamen, a nearby city of 40,000, whose mayor was predicting mass evacuations if it didn't receive emergency fuel supplies.

But Vasili Poleschuk, the local energy company's general director, was not appreciative.

"I don't need heroes. Just give me money on time and I'll generate plenty of power," he said.

Poleschuk says the Vladivostok city administration owes his company, Dalenergo, the equivalent of more than $74 million. The Pacific Fleet is also a debtor.