Russia iffy as Y2k moment approaches : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


Published: Wednesday, December 15, 1999

Russia `iffy' as Y2K moment approaches

Expats get advice to seek change of scene



The worst-case scenario envisions Chernobyl-style nuclear meltdowns, unauthorized missile launches and power failures over 11 time zones, all in the middle of the notorious Russian winter.

Experts are confident they have taken every precaution; beyond that, no one knows exactly what to predict when Russia greets the dawn of the new millennium.

The uncertainties have prompted the State Department to authorize the voluntary departures of nonessential U.S. Embassy personnel in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova. U.S. officials also suggest that other American expatriates consider leaving before the first of the year to avoid any possible unpleasantness.

``There might not be heat; there might not be hot water,'' said one diplomat. ``Do you really want to stay in conditions like that?''

At the other end of the spectrum is the view that the Y2K problem is overblown and its impact on Russia will be minimal.

``There's been a lot of negative information,'' said Yuri Mikheyev, who has helped oversee Russia's Y2K preparations. ``I wouldn't say we're 100 percent ready, but I think by the end of the year . . . we'll more or less be ready.''

Mikheyev, the director of the National Research Institute for Problems of Computerization and Information, is part of a team of more than 1,000 technicians who have spent months scouring the country's computer network for Y2K bugs.

Russia was chided for a late start, caused in part by its preoccupation with a year-long financial crisis, a repeated reshuffling of its government, and the war in Chechnya.

The ballistic missile system includes checks and counterchecks to prevent an unauthorized launch, and a joint U.S.-Russian command center will be set up at the U.S. Air Defense Command in Colorado as an added precaution.

Officials have replaced or modified thousands of computers that monitor safety in Russia's 29 nuclear power reactors. The goal is to keep the reactors from overheating and triggering a meltdown similar to one that caused the world's worst civilian nuclear disaster, at Ukraine's Chernobyl power plant in 1986.

Nuclear plants provide 15 percent of the nation's power. Despite the precautions, experts are braced for power failures, particularly in rural areas.

Computer glitches could also shut down telecommunications, ATMs and other conveniences, forcing urban Russians and American expatriates alike to temporarily live like pioneers.

Western embassies are recommending that expats stock up on portable, battery-operated radios, flashlights and candles, food, water storage containers and water purification tablets, a three-month supply of all medicine and a one-to-two-week supply of toilet paper.

While the Y2K fears have made some expatriates anxious, no one seems to be panicking.

``A lot of expats are leaving but they do that in any case this time of year,'' said Ron Lewin, managing director of TerraLink Technologies Corp. ``I would guess there are not a lot of expats specifically changing their plans because of Y2K. Quite a number are saying they don't think it's serious and they don't plan to do anything special for it.''

The American embassies in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova were authorized for the voluntary departures after U.S. government experts determined those countries were among the most seriously affected by the Y2K threat, in part because of late preparations.

State Department official John Beyrle, testifying before a Senate committee in September, said some Russian bureaucrats were reluctant to work with U.S. officials to correct possible Y2K problems because they feared doing so would be a security breach.

``One key ministry refused to meet with U.S. Embassy officials to discuss their Y2K preparations because they did not want to `spread rumors,' '' Beyrle testified.

-- Homer Beanfang (, December 15, 1999


Assuming the radar's working, how will Cheyenne be able to tell the difference between an authorized and "unauthorized?" launch????

Oops New York gone, sorry that one was an accident. We'll certainly try better next time.

-- Squid (, December 15, 1999.

As much as the problems I anticipate because of bad code, embedded chips, Just In Time inventory, and all the other possible things that will cause us grief, the thing I have the least control of is a Nuclear Missle hitting close enough to vaporize me. I'm not sure I want to "wake up sweating" thinking about this one, not a darn thing I can do.

I recognize the info provided on this forum is intended to keep us informed about things "As The World Turns" concerning the nuclear threat from various Nuclear Capable nations on our little section of the Solar System, but people, are any of us capable at this late stage of the game, going to change someone's mind enough to get out of a potential nuclear danger zone? I think not, we can't even get the vast majority of the population to even start preparing for the "Three Day Storm" until just after Christmas. (Now that should be an interesting week) But I digress.

Other than a terrorist action (I acknowledge, a scary possiblity), no meaningful, knowlegedable leader in any Nuclear Capable country could not discount the retaliation for such a dispicable act. They, and all the rational people in the "Chain of Command" would have to concur on such a drastic step.

As everyone who frequents this board can attest, our government has had many "Black" programs going on constantly thru the last fifty years. Many of which we have learned about later, and are always somewhat amazed at what they have accomplished. After all, why have many, many countries attempted to spy on us? Our technological advances are the reason the "cold war" supposedly ended. They recognized they didn't have the money to stay with us after the Persian Gulf War, their latest and greatest, wasn't.

Don't worry about Nuclear War from recognized nations, would require some kind of delusionary insanity. (We wouldn't be happy, Me thinks!) My reasoning: Satelite observation, communication evesdroping, and Submarine Nuclear Missile Launching Platforms located (positions virtually unknown) all around our globe. Terrorists could care less, but other than that threat, not something I can convince myself to lose sleep about. I think we have enough on our plate coming up without being overly concerned about that.

Needless to say, I want to be right about this (being incorrect means millions die), and wrong about what I think will really happen. Darn, this whole situation is something I never anticipated having to deal with (nor wanted to) during my lifetime. May we all get thru it as unscathed as possible.

-- Michael (, December 15, 1999.

Missed the word full "Ours plates full", oops, darn fingers.

-- Michael (, December 15, 1999.

I threw my question a dozen threads up, tell me what you think?

-- Michael (, December 15, 1999.

The wall came down BEFORE the gulf war, Michael.

-- (...@.......), December 16, 1999.

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