On Friday, a plane of the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations took off from the aerodrome of Ramenskoye, Moscow Region to fly to Baghdad. As the first plane did on Thursday, it is to bring back to Moscow Russian specialists who were engaged in the re-building of heat and power plants in Iraq.
The Russian company Interenergoservis, which dispatched specialists for work in Iraq, decided to evacuate them after a new armed attack on Wednesday on an auto vehicle delivering workers from the facility, which killed two and wounded eight Russians.
This was not the first attack on the specialists of Interenergoservis. Prior to that, in April, eight specialists working in Iraq under contract with the company were captured by unidentified terrorists and released only in several hours. In May two more Russians were taken hostage. Moreover, the fire opened on the car where the specialists were killed their colleague.
The Russian Foreign Ministry urged Russian specialists on many occasions to leave Iraq because it became extremely dangerous to work there. However, most specialists from Interenergoservis ignored these recommendations. Moreover, they are ignoring them even now.
According to the latest information, the company's management has taken a decision to allow some of its specialists to stay in Iraq after all. As Interenergoservis director for international projects Yevgeny Loginov told RIA Novosti, all those who wished to stay, took this decision of their own free will, upon approval from the company's management. According to him, they will have to de-activate the facilities in connection with the termination of works at them and the completion of work at some of them. Specialists will finish work at the facilities where work completion required just five or six days and transfer them to the Iraqi side, Loginov said.
At about noon on Friday the Russian Foreign Ministry reported that 80 specialists from Interenergoservis had taken a decision to stay in Iraq. Spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Alexander Yakovenko expressed regret over such decisions and said that the stay of these people in Baghdad continued to be very dangerous.
Many specialists who are refusing to leave say that first of all they do not want to abandon the facilities whose restoration requires from several days to several months, according to various estimates. Apart from that, as observers say, some specialists also proceed from financial considerations because their wages in Iraq frequently exceed by many times their wages in Russia. Many specialists have arrived in Iraq from Russian provinces where wages are lower than in large central cities, such as Moscow or St. Petersburg.
No doubt, Iraqis are reacting very nervously to the departure of Russian specialists. For example, Iraqi energy minister Ayham Samarrai says that these events may bring about the most negative consequences for the Iraqi economy. He also stresses that in his opinion the attacks on Russian specialists pursued one goal: to ruin the national energy system of Iraq.
Indeed, many observers today want to know about who benefits from such attacks. Russian specialists are fulfilling works that are needed, first of all, for Iraqis themselves. The heat and power plants, which the Russian specialists are restoring, are extremely needed by the country.
Of course, there is also a version that all Europeans look alike for various radical Islamic groupings that have stepped up their activities in recent months in Iraq. That is, they cannot distinguish by appearance between US and British troops, which have invaded Iraq, and Russian specialists working at industrial facilities. This explanation is quite possible. Until now the attackers used to release all Interenergoservis specialists after growing aware that they had captured people other than representatives of the states that were included in the US-British coalition.
However, it is still doubtful that in this case such erroneous attacks could occur so frequently. That is why, there can be a different aim of such attacks, for example to edge Russia out of Iraq. Moreover, earlier the representatives of the coalition made statements that Moscow, as well as Paris and Berlin, which did not support the armed operation in Iraq, must not hope for any share in the division of the Iraqi pie. First of all, they meant the participation of Russian companies in the production of Russian oil, the development of oil deposits and so forth. However, most likely, the arrival of Russian specialists for work in Iraq to restore electric power plants could displease many. Indeed, it suddenly turns out that the USA has destroyed Iraq by bombs while Russians are earning money from its restoration.
The Iraqi side has judged differently. Russian specialists have worked in Iraq for many years. They helped build major facilities, including oil and energy projects. That is why, these specialists are extremely valuable for Iraqis because they know every detail at such facilities.
Possibly, this situation does not suit Russians' competitors in Iraq, although it is premature to assert something of this kind. Iraq today is an extremely complex country and many things are unpredictable there.
Nevertheless, Russians are leaving Iraq. Overall, according to data of RIA Novosti, there were 553 Russians before the evacuation. Now about 50-60 specialists are staying in Baghdad, as well as several dozens of journalists and diplomats, according to the latest data of Interenergoservis.