The Media Mirror – today's Russian press review

First in-depth comments have arrived on the change of government in Russia.

Politician and economist, Evgeny Yasin, writes in ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA: 'The choice of Viktor Zubkov for Prime Minister was even more unexpected than the choice of Mikhail Fradkov three and a half years ago.'

'If Zubkov is here for long,' – writes Yasin, – 'he will have to continue the reforms that have been hanging in the air for a while. The most urgent is the reform of social security and pensions. Others will have to follow shortly.'

Yasin also says that at this turning point the government has to decide whether to continue the strengthening of state control over the economy or to create a system of legislative controls. In other words, he asks, will the government go for manual controls well known to us since Soviet times? Or will it use its mandate to build up a system of 'automatic' legal controls which are becoming to a democracy?

Another analyst, Evgeny Gontmaher, writes in the same paper that the swiftness of the change shows that it was not in any way spontaneous. This is the realization of a long-conceived plan. The President aims to create a completely new power structure after 2008. This would require continuity. The new government under Viktor Zubkov will be able to guarantee that. The author writes it may happen that in the near future the centre of power will start shifting towards the cabinet. 

KOMMERSANT writes there has been only one Prime Minister of Russia with open presidential ambitions so far. In 1999 when asked by the media if he was going to run for President, Vladimir Putin said: 'Yes'. – And if in two months the President asks you to resign? – 'It would mean, we’ve failed,' said Prime Minister Putin. On Thursday candidate for Prime Minister Zubkov said the same words in response to the same question.

KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA quotes Vladimir Zhirinovsky saying: 'Don’t even bother guessing the name of the next President. Putin will announce it to us on New Years’ Eve, over the sound of our champagne glasses.'

ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA shows this picture of the empty cabinet room and sums up the achievements and shortcomings of the previous government. 

VREMYA NOVOSTEI does the same and adds that the last remarks of Mikhail Fradkov in the capacity of Prime Minister were met with applause.