Russian press review 13.11.06

Russian press writes about the referendum in South Ossetia, the abolition of a 'minimum turnout' at the elections, the co-operation between alcohol manufacturers and the Russian Orthodox Church.

“Nezavisimaya Gazeta” writes that the referendum in South Ossetia is unlikely to gain legal recognition from the international community.

But the paper reports that South Ossetians believe the West may change its opinion once the final status of Kosovo is resolved.

Whatever the outcome, though, the vote reflects public sentiment and is a declaration of the people’s choice. The paper concludes that this must be recognized when making political decisions.

“Rossiyskaya Gazeta” says now it is not the time to decide on South Ossetia’s independence.

If the republic pursues its claim for independence, it will only provoke negative reaction from Georgia and that may result in a new wave of violence.  

The paper also suggests that the sovereignty of South Ossetia and Abkhazia could be achieved if Russia provides a package of incentives to Georgia.
But the paper believes, it’s highly unrealistic that these breakaway republics will ever fully be a part of Georgia.

“Novye Izvestia” cites experts who say the abolition of a 'minimum turnout' coupled with other amendments to the electoral law will kill universal suffrage in Russia.

The paper says the reason for a 'slump in interest' in the election process is an absence of choice.

As they try to maintain power, the Russian political elite is watering down democratic procedures.

The daily notes that the same ambition led to collapse of the Soviet Union.
The same paper says some Russian alcohol manufacturers have found new ways of mutually co-operating with the Russian Orthodox Church.

In Belgorod, a local bishop has been asked to bless a spring whose water is used to make vodka.
In Yaroslavl, a Kagor wine production line was blessed by the Church, meantime in Kostroma a chapel was built in the grounds of the local distillery.

It seems that this kind of relationship is not only prestigious, but very profitable.

The Russian Orthodox Church now controls the trademarks of products bearing religious associations.
But the paper says, if the use of such trademarks offends some people, it can be easily overcome by building a few more chapels.

“Kommersant” asks why there are so few women in Russian politics.

Just 8% of those at the top of Russian politics and business are women.

That puts Russia on a par with Middle Eastern countries, rather than America or Europe.

Unlike Europeans and Americans, Russian women are often seen as lacking in independence and motivation.

The paper concludes that until that changes, the political situation in Russia will be more or less the same.

The “Profil” magazine features an article on the police force, after Russia's recent Police Day celebrations.

The magazine asks just who goes into law enforcement, and looks at the requirements for the job.

The article points to 3 types of people – romantics, who want to make the world a safer place, cynics who know how to earn extra money on the job and “simpletons” – that’s how “Profil” calls people with little education or common sense, but with a lot of ambition.

According to the weekly, while the admittance rate into the police force is rather high, the bar is raised much higher for those who want to enter the elite, where only 30 per cent of applicants are accepted.

“Kommersant Vlast” weekly writes about the “Russian Federal Cultural Preservation Service” being given a wider scope of influence.

The Service now has the power to impose stricter controls on the renovation of old buildings, which are increasingly being demolished to accommodate new offices and residential blocks.

“Kommersant Vlast” indicates such buildings are usually located in the historical parts of Moscow, where inflated rents make for good business.

The Russian edition of “Newsweek” features an article on ice skating. It points out that while the sport is tremendously popular in Russia, the country's dominance on the competitive rink may be at its lowest at the next winter Olympics.

“Newsweek” writes that most Russian medalists quit the sport after the last Games in Turin. This meant a lack of young athletes to replace them.

The weekly quotes famous ice skater Maria Butyrskaya, who says that Russian athletes won't be getting top marks on the rink again until 2014.

“Newsweek” also features an article on the rising popularity of comic books in Russia.

According to the weekly, comic sales in the U.S. topped 60 million copies last year, while in Russia just 7 million comics were sold.

However, “Newsweek” mentions, comic book characters – such as Spiderman and Batman – as well as Japanese Manga heroes are starting to show up everywhere in Russia now – from t-shirts to school notebooks.

“Newsweek” adds that the Seventeenth century Russian Patriarch Nikon was a big fan of pictures with text explanations, and goes on to call him the First Russian comic book collector.