The Miami Herald
January 31, 2002

Senior lawmaker warns Russian intelligence gathering may suffer from closure of Cuban spy base

 MOSCOW -- (AP) -- A senior lawmaker in the lower house of Russia's parliament on Thursday criticized the closure of the Russian spy base in Cuba.

 Retired Gen. Andrei Nikolayev, who heads the Duma's defense committee, said he didn't understand the logic of President Vladimir Putin's decision to dismantle the

 ``It helped us collect up to 40 percent of all our information on the United States and the region,'' he said, according to Interfax news agency. ``We lost out in the military sense.''

 Amid improving relations with the United States, Moscow announced in October that it would close the base in an effort to cut costs in the country's bloated military. Russian officials said dismantling the station -- built in 1964, shortly after the 1962 Cuban missile crisis -- would save Moscow at least dlrs 200 million a year in rent and an undisclosed amount in salaries.

 Alexei Arbatov, deputy chairman of the defense committee, told Interfax news agency that he didn't expect Russia's intelligence gathering to suffer from the base's

 ``Information is always necessary, of course, both in times of the Cold War and partnership,'' he said, adding: ``We will compensate ... with satellites.''

                                    © 2002