Russian press review, 24.12.06

This week, most Russian weeklies have paid much attention to the 100th anniversary of the birth of the former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, to the Litvinenko case,  as well as to the coming Catholic and Protestant Christmas.

Moscow News says that although Brezhnev was known to Russians as a dull personality, he played a significant role in the country’s history and was a symbol of a whole generation of a well-fed and therefore relatively content elite within the Communist Party. The weekly says that his domestic policy which became known as “zastoy” or “stagnation” in Russian, turned out to be a good basis for Perestroika. It was also the Brezhnev era that saw the birth of numerous dissident movements across the USSR – something that would have been impossible under former leaders. 

Next, Litvinenko's poisoning has fueled a “nuclear paranoia” in Europe, says Argumenty Nedeli. The paper questions whether recent accusations by the Western media that Russia has poor control over its nuclear materials are justified. According to the weekly, neither the UK, nor the United States, have any right to make such claims and it  points to a recent report by the International Atomic Energy Authority that praises Russia for unprecedented  security at its nuclear installations, while the same report found the UK and USA regularly misplaced kilos of plutonium. It also discusses the delay in the planned disarmament of chemical and biological weapons in Russia and blames the USA for a cut in funding.

And finally, what is a “politically correct” Christmas in today’s Europe and is this actually possible? That’s the subject of an article in Ogonyok. It seems that in Britain it is: the weekly looks at the UK where fears of hurting the feelings of non-Christian believers have reached unprecedented levels. In a country where three per cent of the population is Muslim, many schools and companies refused to decorate their offices before Christmas, and were afraid to sing traditional Christmas carols. Ogonyok reports that the Nativity scenes on cards have been replaced with politically correct “Season's Greetings.” And while religious minorities are pleased at the changes, those born and bred in Britain are furious. Tony Blair, who regularly goes to church, has even called on people to cherish Christian traditions