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Author`s name Michael Simpson

Saddam's Ghost in Moscow

Iraqi Ambassador to stay in Moscow as long as possible
A huge portrait of Saddam Hussein has been removed from the waiting room of the Iraqi ambassador in Moscow, but key figures of the diplomatic mission appointed under Saddam are still working in the Embassy in Moscow. Although Russia has approved the UN resolution on Iraq which legalized the authority of the occupying countries there, Moscow is not evicting Saddam's ambassador. And the ambassador in his turn has a soft spot for Moscow and still keeps a photo of the overthrown Iraqi president shaking hands with Russia's Yevgeny Primakov.

Iraqi Ambassador to Moscow Abbas Khalaf said in an interview to the newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta that he was getting no financing, but reserves of his own would be quite enough for him to stay in Russia for 3-4 months. The ambassador didn't specify the source of this money. Many of his colleagues working in capitals that are "cheaper" than Moscow have no finances now; they have even had to move from luxurious apartments to third-class hotels. Abbas Khalaf is going to stay in Russia until September, and then he will leave for Iraq. The ambassador is sure that he will face no danger or threat in Iraq, as he personally is not "involved in any crimes" and consequently is not on a wanted list. After a visit to his homeland, Abbas Khalaf wants to get back to Russia and deliver lectures on the actual situation in Iraq in one of the Russian academic institutes. He promises to be as frank as he would be at a police investigation. The Iraqi ambassador to Moscow will probably deliver the first lecture even before his departure to Iraq, at the end of June.

A Nezavisimaya Gazeta correspondent was told in the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Oriental Studies (the Institute is quite adequate for such activities) that it had no information concerning prospective lectures by Abbas Khalaf.

Before the war in Iraq was launched, and now that it is over, the Iraqi ambassador to Russia was and still is a critic of the US's aggressive policy. But he hopes that, when democratic elections are held in the country, the post-Saddam regime will be able to establish partner relations with the USA. Abbas Khalaf refused to comment on whether he is in touch with the new masters of Iraq or not.

A source in the RF Foreign Ministry confirms that there are no plans to immediately evict representatives of the Iraqi Embassy from the country, at least until a legitimate government of Iraq is formed. During the last military campaign in Iraq, Russian diplomats maintained close official contacts with the Iraqi ambassador. After the seizure of Baghdad, the contacts, it was reported, were stopped.

It looks as if an intrigue is developing about Saddam's Embassy in Russia. It is not ruled out that Russian authorities have reached an agreement with the USA on the diplomatic mission of the overthrown regime’s sojourn in Moscow. Or, on the contrary, Moscow may wants to tease the USA and so lets the Iraqi diplomatic mission stay here. In any case, when Russia supported UN Security Council Resolution #1483 on May 22, 2003, it recognized "particular authorities, responsibilities and liabilities of the USA and Great Britain as countries occupying Iraq." This means that further staying of representatives of the outlawed regime is pointless.

Alexey Andreyev
Nezavisimaya Gazeta