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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Report Says CIS Faces Y2K Bug Disruption




Russia and other former Soviet states could face dark, cold homes, dead phones and the failure of other essential services if the Y2K computer bug hits, a U.S. State Department report says.


The report on 196 countries and territories, meant to help Americans abroad at the end of 1999 and the beginning of 2000, found Russia "somewhat prepared" for Y2K, Ukraine and Belarus unprepared and Latvia working hard but needing improvement.


"Although Russia continues remediation efforts and contingency planning, at the present time, Y2K disruptions are likely to occur in the key sectors of electrical power, heat, telecommunications, transportation and financial and emergency services," the report from the State Department's bureau of consular affairs said Friday.


In Ukraine, a former home to Soviet nuclear missiles, "there may be a risk of potential disruption in all key sectors, especially the energy and electric services," the report said.


Belarus could face disruptions in electricity and medical services because it relies on imported energy, and Y2K-related problems could hit the countries that supply power to Belarus, the report found.


However, Russian officials have shrugged off suggestions that the Y2K computer bug could plunge the vast country into a darker, colder winter than usual, saying their hard work to stop a computer meltdown should pay off.


They said computers which support nuclear power plants, the vast telecommunications network and energy supplies were being checked, sometimes changed and worked on to prevent the computer glitch hitting key sectors.


"In Russia, organizations of the highest level are working on this problem. ... Every region has its own internal plan to prepare for the problem," Adrian Makeshin, deputy head of the parliamentary committee for telecommunications, said Wednesday.


Makeshin said he believed regional leaders would comply with a government order to take measures by mid-October to prevent a computer crash.


Company officials were confident that Russians across 11 time zones would have light and heat when the clock ticks to midnight in the depth of winter.


Yury Bespalko, spokesman for the Nuclear Power Ministry, said he did not envisage any problems with the millennium computer bug, which may scramble systems that have not been programmed to recognize the date change to 2000. "We think that there will be no failures across Russia. We think our specific computer systems are pretty safe; they are good quality systems, most of which are from the West," he said.


Even the Central Bank was upbeat about the continued work of the banking system, which was shattered in a crippling financial crisis last year.


"An analysis of the information ... shows that in the banking system there has been certain progress in undertaking measures to prevent the year 2000 problem," the bank said on its web site. It said 80 percent of the credit organizations had taken "necessary measures."


Steps have also been taken to stop Moscow's military launching missiles against the United States.