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Saturday, 26 January, 2002, 15:29 GMT
Power cuts hit Russian space centre
Mission control centre in Moscow, AP
The Russian Space Forces fear more power cuts
Russian defence systems faced a crisis on Saturday when power supplies were cut to a centre monitoring military satellites and some operations of the International Space Station (ISS).

The black-out of computers at the centre on the far eastern Kamchatka Peninsula happened when the local power company, Kamchatenergo, pulled the plug because of unpaid bills.

It is the latest incident in which power companies have lost patience with the Russian military for failing to pay its bills.

On Friday, the state power monopoly, United Energy Services, of which Kamchatenergo is one of several regional subsidiaries, launched a programme of power cuts to long-term debtors, arguing that non-payment of bills prevented it from maintaining supplies.

Several other military bases, including some strategic defence units, were affected.

Threat becomes reality

Operators at the centre had to switch to emergency generators to avoid damage.

"The command took urgent measures to use reserve power units and diesel generators to maintain the centre in a working condition," the Space Forces - the space branch of Russia's armed forces - said in a statement.

International Space Station, AP
The affected centre controls some parts of the International Space Station
It accused the energy company of having breached legislation protecting certain facilities of national importance from power black-outs.

"The actions taken by Kamchatenergo are a direct violation of the Russian presidential decree of 1995 and government decrees of 1998," the press statement said.

"Shutting off the facility impacted its operation and could have led to the loss of spacecraft costing hundreds of millions of roubles."

The Space Forces expressed alarm at the prospect of further power cuts resulting from delays in federal budget resources reaching local authorities on time.

The BBC's Andrew Webb
"Power companies have mounted a series of black-outs"
See also:

23 Nov 00 | Media reports
Russian energy crisis bites
14 Jan 00 | Europe
Russia lowers nuclear threshold
09 Jun 00 | Europe
Rift over Star Wars
11 Sep 00 | Europe
Russia unplugged nuclear sites
08 Sep 00 | Europe
Russia to slash armed forces
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