Russian press review, 21.03.07

The Russian press discusses the three accidents in Russia that claimed hundreds of lives. It also speculates over the reasons for Ukraine’s president postponing his visit to Russia. U.S. anti-missile defence system is also in the spotlight.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta analyses the causes of the tragic accidents that shook Russia in the resent days. Alarmed over the technical state of many facilities, the paper notes that the plane, mine and hospital were either new or just repaired. The daily concludes that the so-called “human factor” is to blame such as failure to identify problems on time, ineffective training programmes and low salaries in high-risk positions.

Kommersant focuses on the Ukrainian president’s cancelled visit to Moscow. It was announced that Viktor Yushchenko’s trip has been postponed because of the day of mourning in Russia on Wednesday. But the paper writes that the strained long-term relations between the countries have played a crucial role. According to Kommersant, Mr Yushchenko’s recent support of the deployment of U.S. anti-missile defence systems in Europe as well as his emphasis on the role of NATO in Ukraine’s foreign policy were the last straw.

Novye Isvestiya explores the European Union’s disunity over U.S. plans to deploy anti-ballistic missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. The paper writes that Germany is among the countries who strongly oppose the plans but it has been restrained in its criticism out of fear that the issue would spoil the country’s chairmanship in the European Council and G8. The newspaper asserts that the Europeans worry more about the cost of the plan and how it may adversely affect relations with Moscow rather than any eventual threat from Iran.

Vedomosti publishes a report by the Institute of Philosophy which finds that Russians are now going through the happiest time of their lives. More than half of the respondents have called themselves “optimists” for the first time in decades. Experts say the sentiment is common among young people who grew up in the post-soviet era and enjoy relative financial prosperity now. But specialists warn that this positive attitude could prove dangerous as these elevated expectations could turn out to be frustrated.