Russian press review, 24.03.07

The Russian press comments on the demographic crisis in Russia and the recent local elections which were held across Russia in March. It also looks at the proposed union of Belarus and Russia.

Rossiskaya Gazeta analyses a recent survey in which Russian citizens were asked what they thought were the reasons behind Russia’s falling birth rate and what can be done to reverse the situation. Over half blamed low living standards and material circumstances such as not having your own flat. 7% cited poor social services and medical facilities. Those who took part in the poll also said that life style plays an important role in the demographic crisis. Particularly the poor health of many Russian young people and the desire to put career before family; all culminating in what some Russians call a European attitude to reproduction. Asked how to improve the situation the majority of respondents replied that living conditions must improve, while in second place was an increase in income. Many also said that the government must increase social support of families.

Rossiskaya Gazeta also writes about the recent local elections which were held across Russia on March, 13. The paper believes they will be a benchmark for the national elections to be held in December. It highlights the four parties that did best in the recent election and believes that similar results should be expected for December. In first place was United Russia, with between 228 and 245 mandates. Way behind with 65 was the Communists followed by A Just Russia and the Liberal Democratic Party. It also reports that new legislation in the running of elections has been introduced. Voting in Russia is now based on proportional representation. It is now illegal to use derogatory advertising in a political campaign.

A further article in Rossiskaya Gazeta examines the proposed union of Belarus and Russia. The paper concludes that both sides are taking measures that make the union less and less likely to happen. It cites 146 limitations on the export of Russian goods to Belarus imposed by the Belarusian government.  Russia wanted to simplify customs procedures for cars imported through Belarus, but after the recent gas dispute changed its mind.

Komsomolskaya Pravda reports that the Duma Deputy for Saratov, a city in the south of Russia, has suggested that all Russian MP’s should be forced to declare their sexuality. Her argues that, as they already have to make public their income and property, they should also lay bare their sexual preferences. The Deputy goes on to explain that the electorate would be disillusioned were they to find out that some one that professed to have traditional sexual tendencies, had in-fact been gay for years.