RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Dec 4th, 2008

041208.jpgTODAY: OSCE ministers to hear Medvedev’s security measures; de Hoop Scheffer says Russia considers itself ‘victimized’; President is in India offering support to combat terrorism; Putin’s economy-focused question and answer sessions begins today.

Russian comments following the NATO veto look like ‘gloating‘, says this article, quoting the head of the Duma’s International Affairs Committee who said that NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine ‘is an utterly American project, which has had a lot of money and effort poured into it‘.  NATO secretary-general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer says ‘It’s not so easy to know how to approach someone, in daily life or in foreign policy, who feels themselves victimized‘. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will present a series of new security proposals by President Dmitry Medvedev at a two-day meeting of leading foreign ministers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Medvedev has again expressed optimism regarding the administration of US president-elect Barack Obama, telling Indian media that he expects the new government to take ‘constructive and reasonable positions and to demonstrate a desire for compromise on the most complicated issues‘.  Medvedev was speaking ahead of this week’s trip to India, where it is thought that he will discuss the earlier suggestion that Russia may lease out nuclear-powered submarines to India as part of a wider drive to help the country combat terrorism.  A Russian warship will sail through the Panama Canal, often considered ‘an American zone of influence‘, for a voyage seen as ‘a symbolic projection of power‘.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s annual question-and-answer session with the Russian people begins today.  Reuters has running highlights, with focus currently resting on reassuring the public about the state of the economy.  Putin still blames the US for the crisis which, he insists, will cause Russia to suffer only ‘minimal losses‘.

Russia’s Communist party is just as stringent in ensuring unity as any other, says Boris Kagarlitsky, after recent ‘ideological deviations‘ were purged from the party.  Afghanistan’s reverse decision to sign the cluster bomb treaty is drawing more attention to Russia’s refusal to do so.

PHOTO: Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin answers questions during his annual question-and-answer session with the Russian people in Moscow December 4, 2008. REUTERS/RIA Novosti/Alexei Druzhinin/Pool (RUSSIA)