Russian press review, 13.12.06

Russian press pays careful attention to “the slip of the tongue” of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who acknowledged Israel’s nuclear capability, touches upon the development of gas conflict between Russia and Georgia.

“Rossiyskaya gazeta” looks at the remark made by Israeli Prime minister in Germany, which was interpreted by some as an admission the country possesses nuclear weapons. The paper says it's not the first time Israel has hinted at its nuclear potential – the reactor in the north of the country, officially meant for peaceful purposes, has prompted suspicion that nuclear weapons are being produced. Recently the incoming US Defence Secretary Robert Gates alluded to Israel as a nuclear country. The issue concludes that Israel and the US are gradually preparing the global community to acknowledge Israel as the first nuclear-armed country in the Middle East.

“Nezavisimaya Gazeta” says the nuclear question is one of the most immediate in Middle East politics and diplomacy. The paper quotes an expert who says Olmert's remark is just a warning to neighboring Iran, which explicitly threatened to wipe Israel off the map.
In another article, “Nezavisimaya Gazeta” says that after days of negotiation, the US has agreed to help solve Georgia's gas problem. The threat of supply cuts arose in Georgia after the country refused to pay more money for Russian gas. The country then promised its citizens regular supplies from Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iran. The paper says Georgia's main sponsor – the United States – is uncomfortable at the prospect of Georgia co-operating with Iran.  However, during a ten-day visit to the States, the prime minister managed to secure the US's consent.

With New Year celebrations just around the corner, “Novye Izvestia” looks at the holidays that Russian officials have authorized. Like last year, all state employees will have ten days off, but the paper notes, fewer people are happy about it. Psychologists share their concerns, saying that after ten days off, people are slow to return to normal. Also, State Duma deputies say that during this long holiday, the crime rate jumps and excessive drinking increases. But the paper argues that for thousands, it's still one of the few chances to spend time with their families.