[FPSPACE] Russian newspaper: Pope Release Swapped for Proton
Launch Quota Elimination
Dwayne Allen Day
Tue, 12 Dec 2000 11:18:01 -0500 (EST)
On Tue, 12 Dec 2000 JamesOberg@aol.com wrote:
> JimO: This article suggests that the lifting of Proton launch sanctions was a
> secret swap from the White house for the release of Pope. Then the article
> quotes real experts who thought this was nonsense. Hmmm....
> EDMOND POPE POLITICAL FACTOR IN US LIFTING OF PROTON SATELLITE QUOTA
> SUGGESTED -- MOSCOW SEGODNYA IN RUSSIAN 11 DEC 00 P 2
> FOR THEIR PART, THE RUSSIAN SPACE AGENCY'S SPECIALISTS DO NOT RULE OUT
> THE INFLUENCE OF POLITICAL FACTORS ON THE DECISION TO LIFT THE QUOTAS FOR THE
> USE OF THE RUSSIAN LAUNCHERS, THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN PLENTY OF POLITICS --
> BIG-LEAGUE, BLATANTLY EXPEDIENT POLITICS -- IN THIS QUESTION. HOWEVER, THE
> MAIN ARGUMENTS, IN THEIR OPINION, WERE LEVEL-HEADED ECONOMIC CALCULATION AND
> THE LOBBYING EFFORTS OF THEIR AMERICAN PARTNERS.
The problem with a conspiracy theory that the Protons were traded for Pope
is that the Proton decision--and announcement--was made quite a few weeks
ago. Pope was not convicted until last week. So why would the US
"trade" the Protons for Pope before it knew that he would be
convicted? That makes no sense at all.
Besides, a new administration (Bush) could easily impose the quotas
again. So why would the Russians agree to such a deal?
I think there are easy explanations for both events. In the case of Pope,
it seems like the Russian judicial system was simply blatantly unfair and
railroaded this guy by refusing him a proper defense. President Putin's
own statements imply that he was rather embarrassed by the proceedings,
but unwilling to challenge the court. So he waited until they reached a
verdict and then pardoned Pope.
As for the Protons? Easy. Economics. The US wants access to cheap
rockets. The Russians produce the best. End of story.