What Russian papers say

23.11.09

What Russian papers say

Источник: RIA Novosti

Kommersant

South Kurils briefly regain «under occupation» status

The Japanese government made an unprecedented move last week, circulating and then quickly recalling a statement claiming South Kurils to be «under illegal Russian occupation».
.Analysts doubt that Tokyo is prepared for a major adjustment of its «Northern Territories» policy, while the whole commotion with the Cabinet’s response to a parliamentary inquiry was the result of an internal conflict over the Kurils talks with Russia.

Dmitry Streltsov, head of the Oriental Studies Department at Moscow’s Institute of International Relations, insists that the events in Russian-Japanese relations that have taken place since Yukio Hatoyama became prime minister in September 2009 should be analyzed together with their domestic and foreign political context.
«The problem of territorial delineation with Russia is primarily a domestic policy issue in Japan. The country’s leadership has been telling the nation for decades that in 1945 Japan fell victim to the Soviet aggression and no compromise was possible on the issue. Any attempt at flexibility is interpreted as betrayal of national interests. This generates a permanent resource for chilling relations with Russia," he said.

Another important factor is Russia’s current inability to become a fully fledged strategic partner for Japan, due to the low level of Russia’s integration with the East Asian economy and low attractiveness as an investment destination. This is the main difference between Japan’s relations with Russia and those with other countries in the region such as China and South Korea. There are territorial issues there as well, but they are never dragged into the political spotlight.

Hatoyama’s cabinet, whose rise to power was largely due to populist slogans, is therefore much more dependent on voter sentiment than the previous governments. It has to demonstrate some activity on the issue, even without any prospect of a forceful decision or a compromise on Russia’s part.
The latest events have in fact confirmed this duality, the analyst said. Politicians alternate between sending the required signals to their voters and backtracking, in understanding that unbalanced moves could have irreversible consequences for their country.

Vedomosti

Pro-Kremlin party gets new ideology

The pro-Kremlin United Russia party decided to change its ideology at its congress held in St. Petersburg over the weekend.

State Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov said at the previous congress, in November 2008, that the «Bears» profess «Russian conservatism." But this November, Andrei Isayev, first deputy secretary of the presidium of the party’s General Council, said the essence of their program could be put forth in two words, «conservatism and modernization.»
«Conservative modernization» aims first of all at reforming the country within the framework of a conservative ideology.

Which type of conservatism will the ruling party choose? And will it fit with the goals of modernization and progress?

Over the past 150 years, several generations of Russian thinkers, including dissident writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who died in 2008, worked to create classical Russian conservatism based on rejection of the Western values and belief in Russia’s unique development, personified power, supremacy of the state over the individual, and harmfulness of large-scale reforms.

Russian conservatives tried to protect Russia from the «alien» principles of representative democracy and supremacy of law.

In the worst case, United Russia’s conservatism will be comparable to the Soviet Communist Party’s conservatism under Leonid Brezhnev, who ruled the country from 1964 to 1982. When the economic situation was good, party officials tried to maintain the comfortable order, telling the people that welfare and tranquility were a result of the party’s wise policy.

Today, some party members claim that ordinary human values such as dignity, compassion, mutual assistance and a strong family are elements of conservatism.

Russia is unlikely to repeat the positive experience of the late 1880s and early 1890s, when the country was booming under Emperor Alexander III, an iconic figure for today’s conservatives. In the late 19th century, Russia’s growth was ensured by cheap labor and minimum interference of the state in the economy and in relations between business and workers.

The current Russian leaders and United Russia demand «social responsibility» from business. Innovations are not taking good root in the current Russian society, which lacks firm control over officials and security and law-enforcement agencies.

The term «conservative modernization» is meaningless. It is an attempt to balance the old traditionalist declarations with the pro-reform statements made by one of the ruling tandem’s members.

Kommersant

Car owners federation to become left-wing political movement

Russia’s Car Owners Federation, an organization that claims to be the leader of mass protests of motorists, will become a public and social movement, its 5th congress decided yesterday in Novosibirsk. Car owners say they are workers' allies.

Sergei Kanayev, head of the federation’s Moscow branch, explained that the restructuring was «the only possible option for further development." «The political component of the federation’s activity manifested itself long ago," he said. «To renounce it would be a step backwards. If we stop upholding and lobbying our interests, including at the political level, why then engage in all this at all?»
The Russian Communist Party (KPRF) was the first political organization to say it is ready to cooperate with the federation in its new form. The Novosibirsk KPRF branch has concluded an agreement with the federation on cooperation. State Duma deputy Anatoly Lokot, first secretary of the Novosibirsk regional party committee, said that «the country’s motorists have many questions for the ruling party: Higher import duties on used cars, riot police sent against protesters in Vladivostok in 2008, and plans to increase the transport tax in 2009 show that the federation cannot avoid getting involved in politics.»

Judging from remarks made at the congress, the aims and objectives of the new movement will not be confined to championing motorists' rights. According to Vladimir Kirillov, head of the federation’s Novosibirsk branch, the organization is going to address economic problems of small and medium-sized business. «Car owners are all about the middle class," he said.

Alexei Makarkin, vice-president of the Center for Political Technologies, is not expecting any marked results from the «politicization» of the federation. «The overwhelming majority of active motorists are members of the middle class who are not prepared to enter big politics," he said. On the other hand, the fact that car owners have teamed up with the Communists shows that political parties can take up the slogans of people «not prepared to enter politics," and these slogans are clearly not borrowed from United Russia’s arsenal.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta

Poland tries to hinder Nord Stream again

Nord Stream, a planned natural gas offshore pipeline, due to be built by Nord Stream AG to link Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea, received final approval in early November.

However, countries discontent with the project continue to oppose it. Poland, for example, demands that the pipeline be laid two meters beneath the seabed.

Analysts say such demands are far-fetched.

On Saturday, Poland’s Deputy Treasury Minister Mikolaj Budzanowski said a terminal, due to be opened at the country’s Swinoujscie port in 2014, would handle tankers delivering liquefied natural gas from Qatar.

Such tankers with a 12.5-meter draught would pass just a meter above the Nord Stream pipeline. Budzanowski said this was fraught with possible damage to the pipeline.

Moreover, a NATO naval base is located in Swinoujscie, and the gas pipeline could restrict ships' access to it, Budzanowski said.

Moscow’s reaction was restrained. The project operator has not yet received any official information on Poland’s new claims, Nord Stream AG spokesperson Natalia Vorontsova told the paper.

«More detailed official comments will probably be available as soon as such information is received. We can now say that the gas pipeline does not pass through Polish waters," Vorontsova said.
She said the pipeline will be covered with earth only where it approaches the shoreline and in some other places where the seabed is uneven.

«The Nord Stream gas pipeline route steers clear of international navigation routes," Vorontsova explained.

The analysts interviewed have no doubts that Poland and other countries excluded from the Nord Stream project will continue to hinder the pipeline’s construction. «It is going to take a long time for the Poles to calm down," said Mikhail Krutikhin, a partner at RusEnergy Consulting.

He said Poland’s latest claims were a bit strange, and that Warsaw’s efforts were probably in vain.


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