Russian press review, 16.03.07

Russian press unveils a story of a Chechen girl killed by police, writes about Russian companies spending millions to lobby U.S. politicians, tells about a Union of Housewives and finds mysterious details about Russian passports.

Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily covers a story on how unscrupulous policemen in Chechnya killed innocent people in search of promotion. The paper unveils the case of a Chechen girl who was shot dead by four policemen on a deserted street on the outskirts of Grozny.The shooting was not the result of some tragic mistake, but had been planned in advance. After committing the murder, the policemen put an explosive belt on their unarmed victim to make it look as if they had just killed a suicide terrorist. Investigators unearthed the truth of the event only a year later. According to the article, two policemen, who have now been sentenced to 14 years in prison, were just part of a larger ring. And the murder of that girl was just one of many crimes they had committed.

Vremya analyses how Russian companies spend millions of dollars lobbying U.S. politicians. The paper cites a study which says Khodorkovsky’s Group Menatep Limited was the biggest Russian spender on Capitol Hill. It spent more than $USD 600,000 to influence policymaking in the company’s favour. Alfa-Bank followed closely, investing most of its $USD 580,000 to organise Russian-US business meetings and pressure negotiations on the World Trade Organisation. But the article closes showing that Russian companies’ lobbying in Washington is dwarfed by how much some other companies are willing to spend. Nissan and Mars each forked out more than $USD 2 MLN.

Trud daily newspaper tells the story of a Russian woman, who was so frustrated at slaving over a hot stove without earning a penny that she founded a trade union of housewives. Together with her like-minded friends she set up a website and some 2,500 new members joined the movement which seems to be growing fast. Moreover, men are welcome to join as well. According to the article, the union’s declared goal is to get housework paid for by the government. But before this can happen, the founder of a new trade union wants to increase public awareness.

The paper also finds out intriguing details about why the Russian passport is the work of the devil. Trud speaks to Mother Maria from an orthodox monastery where nuns and the congregation are refusing to carry post-Soviet passports. As Maria explains, they contain a whole range of supposedly satanic numbers and symbols. Another worshipper insists the passports behave strangely when burnt, making squeaking and hissing sounds and producing smoke in the shape of a dragon. But giving up the Russian passport comes at a cost, since certain benefits will not be granted. Steadfast believers in its devilish character, however, say they would even put up without their pensions, if need be.