‘An ineffective economy, semi-Soviet social sphere, weak democracy, negative demographic trends and an unstable Caucasus. These are very big problems even for a state like Russia’. Mikhael Gorbachev? Joe Biden? None of the above: President Medvedev has taken his turn to launch an attack upon the ailments of Russia. The President also highlighted corruption as a principal problem for the state’s development in the article entitled ‘Russia, Forward!‘ published on the Gazeta-Ru website. According to the Telegraph, the unusually frank attack ‘was one of Mr Medvedev’s boldest attempts yet to step out of Mr Putin’s shadow’, or perhaps an attempt to play down a rather unlibertarian hawkishness which has been manifest in recent verbal attacks on Ukraine and Georgia.
Prime Minister Putin has lauded Venezuela for its recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia– so far Nicaragua is the only country outside of Russia to haveacknowledged the rebel states as such. The meeting between Russia and Venezuela also saw a military cooperation deal, signifying a further tightening of ties ‘to make relations sustainable and predictable for decades to come’, in Medvedev’s words. Could off-roading take relations between Russia and Turkmenistan up a gear? asks the Moscow Times.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has defended Russia’s right to sell weapons to Iran, saying their military cooperation ‘is legitimate and quite transparent. It is not against international law’. Meanwhile the media is awash with reports on whether or not the Israeli PrimeMinister made a secret trip to Moscow to discuss this very matter. Lavrovhas argued that there is fodder for negotiations in Tehran’s letter to the European powers, a ‘Package of Proposals by the Islamic Republic of Iran for Comprehensive and Constructive Negotiations‘. The US is less optimistic, given that there is no mention of the contentious issue of the state’s nuclear program in the document. The Foreign Minister apparently suggested that new sanctions against Iran would not be approved by the UN security Council.
With ice floes retreating in the Arctic, Russia hopes may the sea become a ‘reliable shipping route‘, says the New York Times. Three advertising agencies have refused to place adverts for the Communist Party’s newspaper Pravda in the run up to the Moscow city elections, apparently on the orders of City Hall. The Council of Europe’s commissioner on human rights, Thomas Hammarberg, says it is imperative that Russia bring to justice the killers of Natalya Estemirova.
PHOTO: A placard is displayed in front of the Opel plant in Bochum, western Germany. General Motors’ decision to sell its European unit Opel to a Canadian firm backed by Russian finance raised questions Friday on the thorny issue of layoffs. (AFP/DDP/Lennart Preiss)