Russia, January 21, 1999
Rain, snow, or sleet, they fish 24/7 here!21 January 1999, The Moscow Times
Ice-Anglers Be Warned: Minivans Do Not Float
By Russell Working
In a northern suburb of Vladivostok, next to a forlorn little amusement park where carnival music blares over the empty skating rink even on the bitterest of days, the Sanatornaya Rescue Station overlooks the frozen Sea of Japan. Beside the station is a battered hydrofoil that periodically roars off across the sea to rescue fishermen who have gone through the ice.
You might think that there would be little such work at this time of the year for the crew of Vladimir Kiselyov, a craggy station chief with Brezhnevian eyebrows and an oversized fur hat. The weather has been below zero for months, and the ice is up to 50 centimeters thick. But Kiselyov is a bitter man. He is still pulling fishermen from the water because some louts insist on driving to their favorite fishing spots.
Since the start of the year, 12 cars have gone through, and one driver drowned. In fact, the sea floor is littered with the hulks of old Toyotas and Hondas and Nissans, both cars and minivans. Although the rescue station can earn a little extra money raising sunken cars for hapless fishermen, Kiselyov is enraged that he has to do so in the first place.
"We are amazed at the problem ourselves," Kiselyov puzzles. "Do these people have any brains at all? Every time [we rescue someone], I ask the drivers why they do that. This guy whose car we lifted yesterday gave me the most stupid answer possible. He said he saw fishermen on the ice, and he wanted to ask them how the fishing was going. So, he drove toward them. But they were sitting on thinner ice, so his car sank." " Luckily," Kiselyov adds with what I imagine to be the faintest twinge of regret, "he managed to jump out."
I have long been fascinated by the ice fishermen I watch from my apartment window. I feel a comradely sense of recognition (fellow fanatics!) when I get up at 5:30 am. to scratch out a few lines of fiction, and see that the ice fishermen are already out there, their headlights exploring the ice.
But the rescuers are unmoved by such romanticism. Every fall, they rescue dolts who venture out on the half-frozen sea. In the winter, they might pull out a truck after a rear wheel crunches through during a shortcut across the bay. And every spring, a pod or two of ice fishermen drift off on an ice floe. Station rescuer Konstantin Mikhailyuk says: "It is useless to try to convince them that it is dangerous. I wish I could take a stick and drive them off of the ice. They are like cockroaches that have found a piece of bread.
"If, say, an unpaid worker needs food for his family, I'm glad the sea can sustain him. But the Sanatornaya rescuers might bellow in frustration, Can't you leave the minivan on solid ground?
Where is the Russian Fishing Fleet?
By Boris Reznik - Khabarovsk correspondent of the newspaper "Izvestia"
After Boris Reznik's report "Mafia and the Sea" the Russian Prime Minister Sergei Kyryenko established an emergency commission with participation of over 100 officers of law-enforcement agencies. The investigators were shocked by the amount of corruption and robberies. They found that true catch of marine products in the Russian Far Eastern Economic Zone is about 4.00 mln tons per year, but the legal export of marine products from Russian Far East is only about 1.0 mln. Tons. About 3.0 mln tons are exported illegally.
The Commission offered to Russian government a number of proposals and recommendations on how to stop such robberies, but not any one was implemented until today and Mafia enjoys the freedom.
The "Valdivostkskaya Baza Tralovogo y Refyzheratornogo Flota" was a major Russian Far Eastern fishing industrial state enterprise equipped with modern fishing vessels. During privatization state provided the new Joint Stock Company with a perfect 70 new vessels. Recently Procurator Office tried to investigate how JSC uses this vessels and the investigators' report states the following: ".. we could not find out where the vessels are now ". The JSC was simply robbed out during 1997, when 4,5 billion Rbls of assets were just transferred to the private companies founded by its director Nikitenko and Chief Accountant Musyna.
For example, Nikitenko presented to JSC "Super" 12 new Spanish built trawlers. Another 50 trawlers were actually sold cheap to the company "Falkland Investing LTD" (Liberia). Nikitenko sold to his son at the cost of crap metal the huge marine products processing plant vessel "Spassk". All this was done openly at the sight of 50 Prymorsky Krai controlling and law-enforcement agencies. After the "transactions" Nikitenko and Musyna transferred all funds to the foreign banks. Boris Reznik is sure that Nikitenko and Musyna finally will be found "innocent" by the investigation.
The Far Eastern Transportation Procurator Valery Balyaba reports that at the beginning of 1998 the region had 1135 ship owner companies with 2628 fishing vessels. Today 530 vessels have disappeared to nowhere. In "MagadanRybProm" (Magadan) the Procurator found a real miracle.
Last summer director of this company Bazhenov has transferred two big fish processing vessels to "Vlaco LTD". But Vlasco"s authorized capital fund was formed by investment of only an old sofa and a computer printer. That was the price of two new sea vessels.
The leaders of biggest in Sakhalin fishing JSC company "Korsakovskaya Baza Okeanicheskogo Rybolovstva" (25% of federal state shares) rented all company's vessels to the private companies, who even have no fishing license. According to the lease agreement those private companies receive all revenue from joint activities, but the Lessor stands only losses and pays off the operation and maintenance costs.
Two entrepreneurs Goloborodov and Vorozhbin received and than have sent to Chinese shipyards for repair the trawler "Mys Yudin". At first they made USD 100,000 of down payment and than gave to Chinese side 625 tons of herrings. Later on the entrepreneurs added up two more new trawlers as the payment for repair works and at the end transferred to Chinese side the same just repaired vessel "Mys Yudin". The Russian Far Eastern fishing fleet may expire pretty soon at such tempo of the sheer and cynical robberies.