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The Media Mirror - Today's Russian press review

In Krasnoyarsk President Putin lifted the veil of secrecy over his political future. And in Georgia it seems that President Saakaashvli has already won the January election. These are the main topics in Russian newspapers on Wednesday.

IZVESTIA writes, during his visit to Krasnoyarsk President Putin hinted for the first time at what he is going to do after the 2008 election. Vladimir Putin said that if the majority voted for United Russia in the Duma election it would mean that the population trusts him. That would give Putin the moral ground to control, through the Duma, the whole process of realisation of his presidential programmes.                             

KOMMERSANT writes, Vladimir Putin basically said that he had to choose a lesser evil and so he decided to run for parliament on the United Russia ticket.

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA says, Vladimir Putin is trying to create a bloc of like-minded people in the Duma and the government – an ideal vertical power structure. The paper goes on to warn that concentration and centralisation of power sharply raises the cost of an error in the decision-making process. The paper adds, if Vladimir Putin becomes the speaker of the Duma, that may solve all these problems in one go: as a speaker he would have the necessary control over the implementation of his own plan for the nation, and simultaneously the Duma with Putin at the helm will turn into what it is destined to be – a strong legislative body.

ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA writes about the situation in Georgia: the opposition has already lost to Saakashvili, even with the exact date of the election still unclear. The paper says, most Western analysts now say, a fair election in Georgia today is not even a possibility. But the opposition seems to miss this message entirely, while it lets Saakashvili lead it into another trap.

KOMMERSANT writes, Saakashvili started his election campaign early, he started it in the most convenient circumstances of the state of emergency – all his media work without restrictions while the opposition media is being silenced. He also started his campaign with a habitually winning tune in Georgia – an attack on Russia.

Viacheslav Nikonov writes in IZVESTIA: “Most probably Saakashvili will stay, but not for long. His reputation in the West is badly damaged and his charisma among his own people has evaporated together with the clouds of the tear gas he used against the opposition in the streets of Tbilisi”.