Emergency rule for Russia's far east during major exercises
VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (AFP) Aug 19, 2003
Emergency regulations were introduced in Russia's Pacific far east as "unprecedented" military exercises were launched in the region, officials said Tuesday, seeking to reassure local inhabitants.

Governors of the Primorye, Khabarovsk and Sakhalin regions were to act as temporary administrative chiefs for the 10 days of the exercises, aimed at preparing for possible emergencies such as a large inflow of refugees, acts of terrorism or radiation poisoning, officials said.

"Such exercises involving the introduction of an emergency law over such a large area are unprecedented in Russia," said Oleg Melnikov, head of the emergency commission for the vast Primorye region.

"These measures should not cause the populace any alarm. There is no threat to the people's security -- the exercises will not impact their lives in any way," he said.

Control over the financial flows and temporary censorship of local media are also outlined in the plan, he added.

Besides the Pacific Fleet, the exercises would involve troops of the far eastern military bases, border guards, police, rescue agencies and security services, officials said.

South Korean and Japanese ships and planes were also to take part in the exercises, which are to be be monitored by experts from the United States, Canada, China and North Korea.

A total of 75 warships, over 20 aircraft and 30,000 soldiers and experts were to take part in the operation, which "has no precedent in the history of Russian navy by scale, diversity of its participants and the space covered," officials said.