Russian press review, 26.03.07

Russian press focuses on the 50th anniversary of the European Union, analyses Russo-Chinese relations as the Year of China in Russia starts on Monday and also looks at several terrible accidents which have happened in Russia recently.

Vremya Novostey looks at the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the European Union in Berlin this weekend. The daily focuses on the relations and contradictions between the old and the new members of the bloc. It says the main reason of their disagreements is a completely different vision of the EU's role in the world rather than differences in their economies. The daily also looks at the relations between the EU and Russia. It says that most of the new members would like to see Russia stay out of European matters, whereas the older members of the bloc like France or Germany consider Russia their main strategic partner.

Novye Izvestiya talks to Sergey Yasterzhembsky, the aid of the Russian President Vladimir Putin, about Russia-EU relations. Mr. Yasterzhembsky thinks the recent gas controversy with some of the European countries did not affect relations, as they have always been turbulent. He says the EU is an important partner for Russia, but not an easy one to deal with. He adds, simplifying the procedure for obtaining a visa for Russian citizens would be a significant, practical step for establishing closer ties between the EU and Russia.

A three-day visit of Chinese leader Hu Jintao to Moscow, officially opening a Year of China in Russia, is the focus of Kommersant newspaper. The daily suggests both Moscow and Beijing are looking to make their relations closer than ever. The paper looks at the promotion campaign of the visit in the Russia media, saying its main aim was to present China as one of Russia's main partners and allies. Kommersant says military cooperation, as well as joint projects in the fields of oil and gas, will be among the key topics on the agenda.

And finally, Kommersant Vlast looks at the death toll in several accidents which have happened in Russia in recent weeks. It concentrates on a fire in a retirement home in the Kuban region that left over 60 people dead, and also an explosion in a mine in Southern Russia that killed 110 people. The daily says providing safety for those working in Russian mines is impossible these days. It suggests the only way to solve the problem is to close them down. It also gives statistics, which show the death toll in Russia's mines is the third highest in the world after China and Ukraine.