Russian press review, 01.02.07

The Russian press writes about the negative consequences of the mass blackout in Sochi, expands on Russia's relations with the Baltic states and Ukraine and offers expert opinion on U.S. plans to set up an anti-missile system in Poland.

Trud and Nezavisimaya Gazeta dailies cover the mass blackout in the Russian resort city of Sochi . Trud quotes a weary local resident who says power cuts are common in the region. What makes this one even more dramatic is the fact the city is preparing for a visit from the International Olympic Evaluation committee as Sochi is bidding to host the 2014 Winter Olympics. Trud asks whether it's possible to guarantee there will be no problems without a backup energy system.

For its part, Nezavisimaya Gazeta quotes a political expert who says the power outage is not the worst problem in the Krasnodar region. According to him, a lack of coastal protection and a poor sewerage system could lead to a real disaster not only for local residents but for millions of tourists as well.

Besides, Nezavisimaya Gazeta looks at American plans to set up a missile defence system in Poland. One Russian political analyst attempts to explain Moscow's highly negative reaction to the plans. He says 10 interceptors wouldn't really affect Russia which has more than 100 missiles in its European part and many more elsewhere. However, according to him Moscow is angry because it sees no logic in a U.S. missile defence system in Europe – with Iran, for example, not even having any missiles able to reach the United States. That's why, the expert says, Moscow feels the system could pose a threat, however small, to its security.

Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily focuses on Russia's relations with the Baltic States, saying it should forget old grudges and look to the future. The article follows a controversial letter sent to Latvia's parliament calling for Soviet memorials to be dismantled. The paper says Russia's reaction has been out of proportion considering the letter was sent by a movement with no political power. The paper calls on Russia not to confuse the actions of a few individuals with the opinions of governments in the Baltic States.

Ahead of the Ukrainian President's visit to Russia at the end of February, Kommersant business daily looks at relations between the two countries. The paper says Viktor Yushenko has made several moves which suggest his policy towards Russia could be softening. For example, the dismissal of one of the main opponents to moving closer to Russia. However, according to the daily, President Yushenko's desire to improve relations with Moscow could mean he's simply trying to keep Ukraine's Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich from being the only point of contact with Russia.