Russian press review, 22.03.07

The Russian press writes about Russia-NATO relations and analyses the prospects of the country’s economy. It also touches upon Egypt’s ban for some Russian planes to enter its air space and clemency system in Russia.

NATO’s Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in an interview with Novye Izvestia daily shares his views on relations between the Alliance and Russia. Despite certain disagreements, the Secretary General praises the results obtained through co-operation with Moscow. Speaking about the U.S. initiative to deploy anti-missile defence systems in Eastern Europe, he has assured that they are not directed towards Russia as the country is no threat to NATO.
Mr de Hoop Scheffer stressed his support for transparent discussions on the U.S. plans within the Alliance.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily analyses the forecast made by Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin on the future of Russia’s economy. The minister predicts tough times for the country because “easy money” received from high oil prices will soon come to an end, expenses will rise and the budget surplus will give way to a deficit. The minister says that it all makes the search for alternative budget sources a priority.

Kommersant business daily forecasts what will happen if Egypt’s aviation officials ban Russia’s Ilyushin 86 planes from entering its air space. The paper says problems with the aircraft caused a stir in 2003 but the consequences are only likely to be felt now – 4 years on. The daily says if the ban is introduced, the number of people traveling to Egypt could drop. It would also give priority to air companies who use foreign-made planes, and that will eventually drive up the cost of tickets. The hike will be painful for consumers because Egypt’s resorts have been always considered one of the most reasonably priced among Russian holiday makers.

Finally, Trud daily questions the “clemency” system in Russia. The paper says that within the last five years, less than 500 people have been pardoned in comparison with tens of thousands in the late 1990s. And in 2006 the president pardoned only 9 people. Before reaching the President, a clemency plea circulates through prison management, the prosecutor’s office, and the law enforcement – going through seven steps in all. The daily concludes that bureaucracy over the clemency system makes it inefficient.