The Media Mirror - 19.06.07

Russian newspapers on Tuesday gave prominence to the degree of competition in the Russian politics, discussion over democracy and hot water supply maintenance season in Russia.

Six months before the parliamentary elections ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA quotes a recent survey stating that 34% of Russians are indifferent to the coming State Duma elections.

Experts believe the main reason is the lack of competition in Russian politics, the paper writes. It quotes one of them, Aleksey Makarkin, who says that nowadays a comparatively minor defeat of the United Russia party in one of the regions becomes national news.

He adds that low voter turn-out is not a big problem for a working democracy. In France only 60% of citizens eligible to vote went to the recent polls, but these 60% were politically active, and what was important – they represented the competing ideas.

Another expert, Valery Khomyakov, extends the idea, warning against an overly active society like our own in the late 1980s.

“An absolutely politicised society resembles a nuthouse,” he supposes. “That phase in our democratic history has long since passed,” he added, “but as a result the President became the only institution that has undisputed authority. Thus the lack of enthusiasm about the parliamentary elections.”

Right in the middle of another wave of our never-ending discussion over democracy, two Americans, both representing the very image of the diversity of American society, came to Moscow to deliver a series of lectures. Both gurus appear this Tuesday on the same page of IZVESTIA. Francis Fukuyama is, as always, consistent when talking of the leading role of the U.S.

“The American democratic model is ideal for the world,” he said.

Colin Powell compares democracy to a life raft in ocean waves. You may catch a wind that will push you in the right direction, or you may hit an iceberg, he says, adding that “democracies need strong leaders but they must trust the people.”

A cold war – nothing to do with the global conflict namesake – is unfolding in the Moscow courts of law. VREMYA NOVOSTEI wrote about it on Monday. Now the story is all over the media. VEDOMOSTI is running an article on the issue.

Russian cities inherited from the old ‘command’ economy the regular summer break in the hot water supply when the huge district boilers are closed for maintenance. In the past this break would last exactly two weeks for each district and hot water would be turned off and on in each district in turn. Fast-track capitalism brought a degree of variety into the system making the break last three to four weeks in some districts. Now citizens file lawsuits against water supply companies.