Russian press review, 19.01.07

The Russian press pays attention to the integration between Russia and Belarus, property and car markets in Russia, and discusses Roman Abramovich’s possible resignation from the post of Chukotka’s governor.

Moscovskie Novosti says that the integration between Russia and Belarus is an illusion. According to the paper the recent oil conflict is just the climax of their political problems. Analysts are apparently united in thinking the economic disputes are the tip of the iceberg. With Belarus seeking co-operation with Europe the future of the Union state is uncertain as President Lukashenko accepts he has a different view from Russia. The paper suggests Lukashenko only used the Union state to strengthen his position and preserve power. 

Rossiyskaya Gazeta reports on a meeting of 300 accountants in Moscow. They are not happy with the state of the industry and have formed a Union to look at tax laws they say are contradictory.  The paper says they'll try and work closer with tax inspectors. Eighty four percent of accountants reportedly think the performance of tax offices just isn't good enough. 

The property market may be booming in Moscow, but Izvestia tells the story of one Russian village where prices shot up 10 times within just a few weeks. The small village of Solomonovka in the Altai region is cashing in after the decision to build one of the country's four assigned gambling zones on its doorstep. Izvestia says there's set to be a similar situation in Kaliningrad, the Far East and in the South when the sites for the gaming areas there are announced. 

Vedomosti reports Roman Abramovich will probably have to stay on as governor of Russia's Chukotka region until the end of Vladimir Putin’s presidency. The richest of the Russian oligarchs tried to resign more than a month ago, but still hasn't had a response from the President. According to the paper, it's unlikely his resignation will be accepted any time soon – with the Russian leader still to decide on who'll take over. Abramovich's term doesn't officially end until December 2010. 

It's a question of semantics in Nezavisimaya Gazeta which says Russia's future depends on coming up with a new political vocabulary. President Putin wants 2007, to be the year of Russian Language and improve the country's image abroad. The daily says the average citizen isn't represented by modern political language and doesn't relate to words like “competitiveness” and “sovereignty”. The paper suggests moralism has been replaced by economic proficiency in modern language.

According to the Moscow Times, Russia's Economic Development Minister German Gref doesn't expect the new migration law to affect the availability of basic consumer goods in Russia. He said the new measures are aimed at regulating the normal functioning of markets and not at reducing the quantity of goods traded. Gref also says the new legislation could still be modified if it proves ineffective in practice.

Japanese car maker Toyota has confirmed plans to design a low-cost model for the Russian market, according to Kommersant. The price is not expected to top seven thousand dollars. Toyota will start manufacturing in Russia, alongside Renault, Volkswagen and Nissan. And it's that quartet, not China, that the paper warns is likely to prove the main threat facing Russian producers. The news comes as Toyota prepares to overtake General Motors as the world's largest auto company.