Russian press review, 14.12.06

Russian press writes about global condemnation of the Holocaust conference in Iran, analyses the situation with a Belarusian hunger striker Aleksandr Kozulin and warns of the French Embassy going to upset the plans of Russian tourists.

“Gazeta” newspaper focuses on the global condemnation of the two-day Holocaust conference and the Iranian President's forecast that Israel will be wiped out just as the Soviet Union was. The paper writes that for Russia, which joined the world’s criticism of the dispute, Iran’s rhetoric could be harmful, since the country stood for a milder resolution for Iran at the UN Security Council.

“Vedomosti” daily says US attention is bringing a Belarusian hunger striker Aleksandr Kozulin to the front of the opposition movement in Belarus. The UN Security Council even postponed discussions on sanctions against Iran, in favour of talks about Mr Kozulin. The paper notes Aleksandr Kozulin remained in the shadow of a more influential leader of Belarusian opposition, Aleksandr Milinkevich, and was suspected by the West of having links to Moscow. However, “Vedomosti” concludes, Mr Kozulin will be able to join the opposition leadership in Belarus now.

“Gazeta” also warns of an unpleasant surprise the French Embassy has prepared for Russians before the New Year festivities. It has suspended issuing visas to tourists planning to go to France by bus. The decision could spoil plans for at least 1,000 Russian holiday-makers and set back tour operators. The paper says it is not the first time the French have upset the plans of Russian tourists. As for now, the Tourism Union has asked Russia's Foreign Ministry to intervene.

“Nezavisimaya Gazeta” daily elaborates on the story, quoting another reason for visas suspension. Although the French Embassy claims the suspension was necessary because of the large number of applications, which its employees could not cope with, the Russian Tourism Union says French authorities actually fear that potential illegal immigrants could buy cheap bus tickets and stay in their country.

“Rossiysskaya Gazeta” newspaper highlights the development of one of Russia's top national priority projects, education. On a visit to the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev praised the new facility which will lay the foundation for a new system of higher education in Russia. The new centre unites region's four top universities and attracts the best professors. It is tipped to become one of the leading institutes not only in Russia but globally within fifteen years. At the same time, the immediate aim is to facilitate access to higher education for people from any corner of the country and raise the quality of teaching in Russia's regions.