This is the news I read from the Irrawaddy.

Burmese Military Officers Depart for Russia
By Kyaw Zwa Moe and Nandar Chann
September 14, 2004

About 400 young military officers from Burma left for Russia early Tuesday morning for military and computer training, said a relative of one of the officers who left today.

Two Russian aircraft carrying hundreds of lieutenants left the Mandalay International Airport at about 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. today, said the relative in Mandalay.

The officers, selected from across the country, left for the Mandalay airport on Monday afternoon from Maymyo, 42 miles (68 km) north of Mandalay, the relative said by telephone. Maymyo, renamed Pyin Oo Lwin by the junta, is home to military training centers such as the Defense Service Academy and Defense Service Technology Academy, or DSTA. It is also reportedly the site of a new Russian-built ordnance factory, near the DSTA, although the Russian Ambassador to Rangoon, Oleg Kabarov, flatly denied the allegation in recent months.

Another resident in Mandalay said that on Monday airport officials told him about the trip.

In 2002, Russia reportedly agreed to sell Burma a nuclear reactor for medical research, providing assistance for its construction and operation. Burma’s military government recruited hundreds of students and sent them to study nuclear engineering and science in Russia. But the program was reportedly abandoned because the junta could no longer afford the costs. The junta denies it plans to develop a nuclear reactor.

The relative in Mandalay said some of the military officers would study computer science in Russia and the others would receive military training.

The relative said that courses for computer students would take three and half years to complete, while military courses, the details of which are unclear, require three years. If the courses are completed successfully, the source added, the officers would be promoted to captain.

The government provided each officer 60,000 kyat (about US $63), one Western-style navy blue suit and a military jacket before the trip, the source said, adding that an unnamed high-ranking military officer briefed the Russian-bound lieutenants in Maymyo before their departure.

The source also said that before the trip, the officers received language training from an unknown number of Russian teachers who have been sent to Maymyo and paid a monthly salary of $1,000. More officers would be sent to Russia in the future, the source added. Other groups of Burmese military officers are still studying in Russia, the source said.

In late 2002, the junta purchased eight MiG-29B-12 air superiority combat aircraft and two dual-seat MiG-29UB trainers from Russia, at a reported cost of about $130 million.


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