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The Media Mirror - Today's Russian press review

Wednesday's Russian press focuses on the tongue lashing dished out by President Putin to the military top brass for the poor state of officers’ housing. The press also looks at the “telephone hot lines” set up ahead of the Duma election.

ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA reports from the meeting of the top generals of the Russian armed forces. The Commander-in-Chief made an appearance there and spoke on the current threats to Russia’s national security. As one of them, Vladimir Putin identified “muscle-flexing” by some NATO member states, mostly neighbours of Russia. However, says the paper, the President also emphasised the necessity of a more attentive approach to the living conditions of soldiers and officers and the standards of community services in the armed forces.

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA prefers a more straightforward description of what happened at the meeting. The paper says the President gave a public beating to the widely recognised main adversary of every serviceman and woman in the armed forces – the group of generals responsible for housing, medical and other community services.

IZVESTIA, too, describes the meeting in great detail. It also has the list of priorities set for the armed forces for the year 2008.  They are: maintaining the combat readiness of the strategic nuclear arsenal; continuation of the technical and weapons upgrade in the Army, Air Force and Navy according to the State Technical and Weapons Upgrade Programme of 2005 – 2015; raising the social status and prestige of the military profession, raising moral and discipline in the armed forces according to the new service manuals effective from January 1, 2008; the acceptance by the government of new housing standards for commissioned and non-commissioned officers, providing permanent housing to un-accommodated officer families by 2010 and the reform of military education.

The same paper reports that more than 6,000 calls from members of the electorate have so far been registered by the telephone “election hot lines”. Eighty per cent, says the paper, were from people requiring assistance in solving the problems of their local infrastructure (unfinished gas and electricity supply lines, un-repaired roads, etc.) that may effect voter turn-out. Twenty per cent of the calls were about breaches of campaigning rules, 8 per cent were complains about the work of the local electoral commissions.

The paper says that one of the last opinion polls before the election suggests that only three parties are going to win seats in the Russian parliament: United Russia, the Communists and Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s Liberal Democrats.