Russian press review, 12.12.06

Russian press covers the death of Augusto Pinochet, the investigation into the murder of former Russian security agent Aleksandr Litvinenko, analyses the recent fire in Moscow rehab-centre, and comments the situation in Iraq.

“Rossiyskaya Gazeta” daily features an article on Augusto Pinochet who died aged 91 in Santiago. The paper says the Chilean authorities made numerous attempts to jail him after he was arrested in London in 1998. Rumours that Pinochet had bank accounts worth billions-of-dollars still circulate among Chileans. Time will tell if he was a tyrant or saviour. However, one thing is clear now: if he passed away untried, formally, he is not guilty.

“Kommersant” business daily brings us some news on Lintvineko’s case, former Russian security officer murdered in London. The daily quotes a Scotland Yard officer who says the traces of polonium have been found in the Millennium Mayfair Hotel in London. Meanwhile, the German prosecutors have widened the scope of suspects. So, Dmitry Kovtun, Mr Litvinenko’s business-contact and also formerly seen as another polonium victim, is turning into a key suspect in the case.

The paper also analyses the recent fire in Moscow’s rehab-centre for drug-addicts – the worst in the last seven years in medical institutions. The blaze could have claimed fewer lives if the safety rules had been observed. Although the fire service demanded that the centre be closed, the court ruled otherwise. Who was right then – asks the paper.

“Nezavisimaya Gazeta” daily paper quotes the IAEA which might revise the radioactivity-hazard standards for polonium which is among the top ten most dangerous radioactive substances. Polonium-210 might be assigned to a group of more hazardous isotopes, which would automatically imply harsher control over its production and use.

“Vedomosti” daily takes a look at the situation in Iraq in the wake of Rumsfeld’s resignation. The paper believes the withdrawal of the coalition troops is inevitable. However, the key question is how to do it. To avoid mistakes, the coalition forces should analyze the Soviet experience. In addition, George Bush and Tony Blair should adopt a strategy that would inflict minimal effect on their popularity.