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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russians Advised to Abandon Algeria

The terrorist campaign against foreigners by Moslem fundamentalists in Algeria is likely to abort Russia's $135 million-worth involvement in four major joint projects, government experts said Wednesday.


The Russian Foreign Ministry has recommended all Russian citizens to cancel their visits to the North African country and to suspend their contracts after one Russian, two Belarussians and one Ukrainian were murdered Monday.


A statement from the ministry also said that Russia would continue its efforts to evacuate Russians working on contracts in Algeria.


Almost 2,000 have already left the country since Moslem militants issued the ultimatum last September for all "infidels" to leave Algeria as part of the holy land of Islam, according to an Algeria expert at the Foreign Ministry. He said a total of nine Russians, as well as the two Belarussians and the Ukrainian had been killed since the warning.


The expert, who requested anonymity, said the Russian community was the second largest in Algeria after the French, numbering almost 3,000 technicians and engineers with their families until the beginning of last autumn.


If the remaining 1,000 Russians follow the advice of the Foreign Ministry and move out of Algeria they will leave behind four uncompleted construction sites for which Russia had allocated $135 million of credits.


Boris Makeyev, an expert at the Foreign Trade Ministry, said only about half of the credits that were to be used between 1992 and 1995 have been used up for the inter-governmental projects.


Russia, one of Algeria's major economic partners, recently canceled the construction of a heat electric power plant in the city of Zhizhel which had been scheduled for completion in two or three months, said Mikhail Timurin, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry. The three other projects include a technical service center at the metal works in El-Hojar and two hydroelectric plants in Beni-Sid and Telezdit, according to Makeyev.


In effect, Russia is being forced to withdraw from a 32-year-long partnership which began immediately after Algeria acquired independence from France in 1962.


Timurin said Algeria is currently the only country in the world where Russians face the risk of being killed specifically as part of a foreign community.


The Islamic Salvation Front, or FIS, the fundamentalist political movement in Algeria, has targeted non-Algerians since it declared war on the country's government in 1992.


Their campaign started after the Algerian government had canceled the national elections which were likely to be won by the FIS demanding the restoration of traditional Islamic laws.


Last week seven Italian sailors had their throats slit. The Algerian security forces have arrested two suspects in connection with the crime.


The murders Monday brought the death toll among foreigners to 51. About half of Algeria's foreign community, or about 40,000 people, have left since the violence began.