A scandal triggered by an article in the Russian daily Izvestiya has highlighted the very close links that have developed between equipment suppliers and officials in the Russian Ministry of Communications. The Ministry recently spoke out to deny what it called wrong information printed in Izvestiya. An article in the paper had claimed that the Ministry was directing regional communications enterprises to buy from Alcatel NV rather than Italtel SpA. It linked Alexander Alyoshin, a former deputy Minister of Communications, with a circular letter sent to several communications enterprises by Rossvyazinform, a state-run telecommunication enterprise. The Ministry denied any wrong-doing, saying local enterprises are now totally independent and it has no power to dictate to them. It said that Alyoshin now works for a foreign telecommunications firm in Moscow, and is no longer a public employee.
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