Russian press review, 08.12.06

Russian press writes about the CIS, the struggle between Russia and its competitors for theit interests there, and what ordinary people think about the alliance. Also an emerging spy scandal in Azerbaijan is covered.

“Nezavisimaja Gazeta” describes the main tactics Russia and its competitors use in the struggle for their interests in the CIS. The European Commission has announced a decision to set aside 12 million dollars for several countries, including Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova and Azerbaijan. It's also promised advanced economic co-operation, involving the countries in European programs and a simplified visa regime. The daily says these ideas were first thought up by the CIS countries but are now being successfully implemented by Europe. Russia’s tactic of financing conflict zones like Transdniester, Abkhazia and South Ossetia is opposed by Europe, which deals with their judicial centres – Armenia, Georgia and Moldova. The paper suggests this could all lead to the gradual collapse of the CIS.

“Novije Izvestia” reports on a spy trial in Baku. A reserve Azeri officer is accused of spying for Russia’s intelligence services. He's charged with obtaining information on the Azeri army, its technical support, and even the structure of the army headquarters. The daily suggests Baku considers this case a way of reacting to Moscow’s rise in gas prices. But the paper reminds readers of the consequences of a similar spy row in Tbilisi, which affected Georgian migrants in Russia. The number of the Azerbaijanis living in Russia is much more.

“Kommersant” writes about concerns expressed by the leaders of Russia’s main religions about new rules on their financial reporting. The rules say religious organisations should report their annual income each year. But Leaders of the five main Christian confessions will send a petition to Russia's deputy prime minister demanding their churches be freed of these obligations. They say it's impossible to count annual donations and want the state to stop interfering in their religious lives. The daily also refers to other countries, where financial reporting by religious organisations is normal practice.

The same issued gives some interesting figures on what people in Russia and some CIS countries think about living in the USSR and CIS, and whether they want to live in any alliance at all. According to sociological research, young and wealthy people are the least nostalgic about the Soviet Union, while the older generation misses those times much more. Though, if compared to Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus, Russians are still more positive about the creation of an updated version of the USSR.