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MOSCOW, December 16 (Itar-Tass) — Russia’ Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev appointed First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov chairman of the Russian part of the Russia-Kazakhstan Intergovernmental Commission on Baikonur. Thus, the two countries resume a joint commission, which was established back in 1994 under the agreement on Baikonur and which was closed five years later.
The commission will study implementation of the Russia-Kazakhstan agreement of 1994 on basic principles and terms of using the Baikonur cosmodrome, of the agreement on the rent of the complex of the same year, and of other Russia-Kazakhstan agreement, as well as other joint documents.
Shuvalov is ordered to confirm members of the Russian part of the Commission, by including in it representatives of ministries and authorities and to discuss with the Kazakh side how the commission would be functioning, the government’s press service reported referring to the order signed by the prime minister.
According to the document, the Federal Space Agency will be responsible for organisational and technical aspects of the Russian part of the Commission’s work.
Earlier, Head of Kazakhstan’s space agency, Kazkosmos, Talgat Musabayev, said the country’s Deputy Prime Minister will be the commission’s co-chair.
The city of Baikonur and the Baikonur cosmodrome make the Baikonur complex, which Russia has been renting from Kazakhstan for the period to 2050. Beginning from 1999, Russia is paying annual rent fees of 115 million dollars. In January of 2004, the rent was prolonged to 2050.
The city of Baikonur is Kazakhstan’s territorial and administrative unit, which functions under conditions of the rent. For the period of rent of the Baikonur complex, the city is granted a status, which is equal to that of Russia’s city with special security regime for organisations, enterprises, as well as for civilians. Russia’s president appoints Baikonur’s mayor. Russia’s federal budget allocates annually over one billion roubles to the city’s budget.
Musabayev said that Kazakhstan had initiated a new agreement on use of the Baikonur complex, where the two countries would be escaping gradually the rent relations.
“It is impossible to stop the renting at a time, it would cause a trouble,” Musabayev said supporting the idea the process should be “partial and gradual.”
A week earlier, Musabaev told deputies of the national parliament /mazhilis/ that the government discussed “transferring the city of Baikonur under Kazakhstan’s jurisdiction.”
“It will cause many issues, including social ones,” forecasts deputy head of the Russian State Duma’s commission on the CIS and compatriots Tatyana Moskalkova. She said that economic integration could assist in solving the problem. “If the EurAsian Economic Union were in place, those issues would not be that vital,” she explained.
Head of the State Duma’s commission Leonid Slutsky says the status question may be under discussion to the very end of the rent term between Russia and Kazakhstan, which is to 2050. “The format of the future joint exploitation is not in place, the terms are not clear,” he said. “Clearly, it /revision of the status/ is most likely to happen after expiration of the agreement, which is after 2050,” he said.
Presently, Baikonur’s population is over 70,000, where about 60 percent are citizens of Kazakhstan. Besides, practically on a permanent basis there are about 4,000 Russians on business trips, as they are involved in space launches.