RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Dec. 11, 2007

111207.jpgToday: The world press gives its opinions on Dmitri Medvedev; excerpts from comments made by Medvedev at the World Economic Forum earlier this year; Russia will create an atomic power giant, Atomenergoprom, which is to be the nuclear equivalent of Gazprom; markets respond well to Putin’s endorsement of Medvedev; US refuses to comment; General Motors in talks to tie up with Gaz. Response to President Vladimir Putin’s naming of Dmitri Medvedev as his preferred presidential candidate has been mixed. The British press see him as “more liberal and less hawkish towards the west than Sergei Ivanov,” whilst observing that “you do not need an election to know the name of the next president.” Others hope that Medvedev’s liberalism would help Russia to move away from the “strident nationalism of the Putin era and exercise a more responsible role on the global stage.”

Some say that “Medvedev is not someone that will try to enact radical shake-ups or dominate everyone, and so many people will feel that he is not a dangerous option.” Many view him as “a weak figure,” with a reputation of being a “follower and a team player”. Others note it as a good thing that Medvedev is not associated with “the Kremlin siloviki, the security and law enforcement officials who are embroiled in a multibillion-dollar turf war.” The appointment demonstrates that Putin “is determined to step down and take on a still-visible — but less responsible — role”. An early polls suggests Medvedev will garner public approval. A detailed account of the announcement by Boris Gryzlov can be found here. Analysts say the move is “the clearest indication yet that Putin intends to hold onto power once his second term in office expires next year.” Maria Solovyenko, a Russian journalist who once “confused” Putin at a news conference announced that she also intends to stand for the presidency.Comments made by Medvedev at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2007 can be found here.Putin’s endorsement of Medvedev as a presidential candidate “sent markets soaring to new records.” Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s second-biggest lender by assets, is in talks to buy at least 75% of Russia’s SDM-Bank in a transaction that values the lender at as much as $160 million. Russia’s LUKoil, Gazprom, Severstal and RusAl have come top in a ranking of the 25 Russian companies holding the largest foreign assets, as compiled by Columbia University and Moscow’s Skolkovo Management School. The Kremlin is seeking to restore Russia as a leading player in the global atomic power industry, and Putin is consolidating “Russian civilian nuclear assets, including everything from uranium mining and enrichment to the design and construction of power stations”, into a single company – Atomenergoprom. It will be “the nuclear equivalent of Gazprom”. General Motors has held talks with Russia’s GAZ about a possible tie-up that would give the US automaker more production capacity in the booming Russian market. Direct foreign investment in Russia for 2007 will practically double to $45 billion, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin.The White House has not commented on Putin’s approval of Medvedev, saying that the US considers the nomination of Dmitry Medvedev as a presidential candidate to be an “internal issue” for Russia.(PHOTO: Dmitry Medvedev attends a meeting in Moscow on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2007 with leaders of the parties that proposed his candidacy for presidential elections a day earlier. From left: Mikhail Barshchevsky of the Civil Force party, Boris Gryzlov of the United Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, Sergei Mironov of the Just Russia party and Vladimir Plotnikov of the Agrarian party. (AP photo/Mikhail Metzel, pool))