Military Eyes City's Economic Future

IN the old days, the admirals and generals in this highly militarized region called the shots.

The Kaliningrad region was closed to foreigners, and access was severely restricted even for Russians - all in the name of military security. The region houses the Russian Baltic Sea Fleet's headquarters.

But now - with Kaliningrad viewed as a potential "fat city" economically - the military sees its own interest linked closely with private-sector progress.

"The fleet is trying to help in development in any way we can," says Vice-Admiral Valery Grishanov, chief of staff for the Baltic Sea fleet. The Navy is providing meteorological and hydrological data to civilian authorities, as well as granting limited access to the naval port and airfield.

As the Russian armed forces institute reforms amid depressed economic conditions, the Baltic Sea fleet faces a shortage of housing and funds.

The Kaliningrad Free Economic Zone is making it easier for the Navy to overcome difficulties, Admiral Grishanov says. For example, the zone could regulate and facilitate the sale of military hardware, he says. Lithuania, which is forming its Navy, already has become a big customer, he says, and is paying for building 4,000 apartments in return.

Grishanov also describes as "mistaken" reports that Russian military units withdrawing from Germany and the Baltics are being redeployed in the Kaliningrad region. The fleet will reduce the number of sailors and ships in the region 50 percent by 1995, he says.

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