|Publications By Category|
|Publications By Type|
Russia Reform Monitor - No. 1498
Putin's post-2008 plans;
New Russian premier a Soviet throwback
Edited by Jonas Bernstein
September 21, 2007
President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmity Peskov, has told Time that the current rockiness in Russia’s relations with the West lies in the latter’s inability to accept Russia’s new strength. “It’s always better to keep your competition down,” Peskov told the magazine. “The whole global affair is a competition. It has to be a fair competition. And Russia is ready to take part... Of course, not everybody is welcoming a new competitor.” Asked about Putin’s political future, Peskov said his boss will not remain Russia’s president by May 2008, but added: “I have no doubt that being such a popular man, and having such a rich experience in key affairs, there will be great demand in every sphere of this country’s life.”
According to Finland’s Foreign Ministry, Russia has acknowledged that one of its aircraft violated Finnish airspace, but said it was the result of an inadequate exchange of information between the flight crew and ground stations. The Associated Press reports that a Russian military transport plane flew about three miles into Finnish airspace for three minutes on September 14th, prompting Finland to demand an explanation. Finnish Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva said he was satisfied with Russia’s explanation and welcomed its proposal for “specialist discussions” to prevent such incidents in the future. Last year, Russia apologized for violating Finnish airspace following about a dozen such incidents over a period of two years and a protest from Finland.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has praised Anna Politkovskaya, the award-winning journalist and Kremlin critic murdered in Moscow last October, calling her a “heroine of the free press.” Kouchner, who was in Moscow earlier this week, told Politkovskaya’s newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, that she “always tried to fight for the ideals which we in France support” and was “an example for all the world’s journalists and correspondents.” Politkovskaya is a posthumous recipient of this year’s Democracy Award from the National Endowment for Democracy. Her award was accepted by fellow Novaya Gazeta journalist Elena Milashina at a ceremony in Washington, DC on September 18th.
During a meeting with foreign academics and journalists as part of the annual Valdai discussion club on September 14th, President Putin said he will retain influence in Russia after next year’s presidential elections, NEWSru.com reports. According to a transcript of the meeting just posted on Kremlin’s website, Putin said he was not yet sure exactly what he will do post-presidency. “Of course, I will be present here,” Putin said. “I have not yet decided how I’ll be spending my time. But whatever I’ll be doing, I understand that it will have some influence. These are objective things. I am not going speculate about this influence, to exaggerate its significance, but it will be there. It will also depend on what I will be directly involved in – either purely political work or something else.”
The Telegraph reports that Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov “invoked the Soviet era” while chairing his first cabinet meeting. In a televised performance, the former state farm director upbraided one official, Anton Drozdov, for failing to deliver government aid to earthquake victims on Sakhalin Island. “Cutting off the hapless official’s attempts to explain,” writes the Telegraph. “Mr. Zubkov turned to his deputy saying: ‘I ask you to relieve comrade Drozdov of his duties … and send him to Sakhalin. Let him stay there until the money is distributed.’” Zubkov also scolded Transport Minister Igor Levitin for failing to fulfill presidential instructions on the administration of Russian ports. “The president gave you that instruction two years ago,” Zubkov told him. “How can that be?”