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The Media Mirror: what's in today's Russian newspapers?

Tuesday’s Russian newspapers pay most attention to two issues. The first is the fifth state Duma, which has held its first session. And the second is the political standoff in Georgia ahead of the January 5 presidential election.

VREMYA NOVOSTEI quotes Prime-Minister Viktor Zubkov, who was the only one to represent the executive power at the first meeting of the newly elected State Duma. According to the premier, the previous parliament supported all the government’s key initiatives. “I have no doubts, it will remain the same”, Zubkov said. The newspaper also has no doubts about it: 315 seats out of a total of 450 now belong to the ruling party United Russia. At the same time, unlike in the previous parliament, where all the committees were headed by ruling party deputies, now six of them are controlled by their rivals.

However, according to NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA, the key Duma committees have been distributed among inexperienced people, without any evident professional achievements in lawmaking. The newspaper claims it reflects the current stage of the country’s political development and its essence is to deprive the middle management level of any personal character. Only a few people in the higher caste should be noticeable, the rest “should be just an ideally seamlessly operating unpersonified function”.

The same paper writes about another coup attempt in Georgia, allegedly plotted by a prominent oligarch and one of the leading presidential candidates – Badri Patarkatsishvili. According to Georgia’s Deputy Prosecutor General, Patarkatsishvili tried to recruit a high-ranking official in Georgia’s Internal Ministry, Irakly Kodua, in order to organize a coup the day after next month’s election. On Monday, most of the local TV channels aired a videotape, showing secret negotiations between Kodua and the head of Patarkatsishvili’s election campaign headquarters, deputy Valery Gelbahiani. During these talks, Gelbakhiani claims mass riots should start on January 6, regardless of the election results. He reportedly says such a change of power is actively thought through in the West – in France, Germany and the UK. However, Patarkatsishvili himself denies any plans of a coup and calls such information “a provocation of the Georgian authorities”.

Quoted by VREMYA NOVOSTEI, the former Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze also says Patarkatsishvili is not capable of organizing a coup. Shevardnadze calls it a provocation against the businessman, who is “one of the most tangible contenders to win the election”.