Russian press review, 11.03.07

The Russian press makes prognosis concerning the outcome of Sunday’s local parliamentary elections in the country, writes about the rising popularity of Islam in  Scandinavia, Moscow’s budget hotel market.

The Russian-language version of Newsweek predicts that the Fair Russia party will emerge as the country’s second largest political force in the March 11 local parliamentary elections. Fair Russia has the support of President Vladimir Putin but is opposed to the United Russia party, its main election rival.

Newsweek also writes that the new business elite are the root of Fair Russia’s popularity in the regions. Analysing prospects for the December general election in Russia, the weekly goes on to say that four major political parties – United Russia, Fair Russia, the Communist Party and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) – are likely to divide the seats in a future State Duma.

Ogonyok weekly looks at the rising popularity of Islam in Scandinavia. Countries where not a single Dane, Swede or Norwegian professed the Islamic faith before the Second World War have more than 10,000 converted European Muslims. The weekly writes that for many young Scandinavians Islam has replaced the leftist revolutionary ideology of the 1960s.

Dengi weekly writes about the hostel business in Russia. Today, Russia has about 50 hostels all in all and 80 % of their customers are low-income foreigners. Sergey Sapogov, the director of one of the seven Moscow hostels, believes the business of providing cheap accommodation could be profitable in the Russian capital. “The city authorities are getting rid of cheap hotels, the new hotels that are being built will be too expensive for young travelers. So, we’ve decided to occupy this segment of the tourist business,” Dengi quotes Mr Sapogov as saying.

The Argumenty i Fakty newspaper features an interview with Yury Neyolov, the governor of the Yamal peninsula in the north of Russia that is rich in gas and oil. The weekly says its governor believes it has a great future. Mr Neyolov said Yamal’s gas resources are estimated at 95 trillion cubic meters. This ensures the region’s key role in the country’s energy strategy. He adds that Yamal’s traditional industries like fishing and reindeer breeding are developing in harmony with the oil and gas sector.  At the same time, Governor Neyolov says the underdeveloped transport infrastructure and poor housing are the region’s most serious problems.

Finally, the Trud newspaper, in its weekly edition, publishes interesting facts about love and jealousy, wondering if the two can really go hand in hand in a relationship. According to a public opinion poll, almost 50% of the respondents say that if someone is truly in love with their partner then it is impossible to ever be jealous or insecure that the other may have feelings for someone else.  But 57% of the respondents admitted they had been jealous at least once in their lives compared to 37% who claimed that they felt totally secure and therefore couldn’t imagine it.