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

Will Benazir Bhutto’s death lead to a civil war in Pakistan? Vladimir Putin sums up the government’s achievements in 2007. These are the topics the dominate Friday's Russian papers.

ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA comments on the main international story of the day – the killing of the Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. The paper writes that the killing could force the opposition to refuse to take part in the parliamentary election. Further on, the situation could get out of control, pushing President Musharraf to impose a state of emergency in the country. This could then lead to mass riots and loud calls for the President’s resignation – an ideal situation for the third forces, who supposedly ordered the assassination, to come to power.

Political analyst Georgy Mirsky says if nobody takes responsibility for Bhutto’s death, most of her supporters will blame Musharraf. That’s the best outcome for various radical groups in the country. The Islamists could kill two birds with one stone: on the one hand, they get rid of a strong political leader (Bhutto), on the other – they destabilise the situation in the country and increase their own chances of coming to power.

KOMMERSANT quotes President Musharraf, who accuses radical Islamists of organizing the murder. However – the paper writes  – Islamists were not the only force interested in preventing Bhutto from coming to power. According to another version, Pakistani Special Forces could also be behind the killing. Their task could be to deprive the opposition of its leader and thus to spoil its game on the eve of the election. Apart from that – writes KOMMERSANT – Musharraf now won’t feel that much pressure from the United States, who previously supported Bhutto and wanted her to replace Musharraf.

VREMYA NOVOSTEI writes about the government meeting headed, supposedly, by its future Premier Vladimir Putin. Still a President, Putin came to sum up the government’s work in the last year. According to the head of state, one of the Cabinet’s major achievements is an increase of the average income of the population by 10 per cent in real terms. GDP grew by 7.6 per cent, investment – by 20 per cent. Calling the last year successful, Putin, however, admitted the inflation rate hadn’t been reduced – and that will remain the main priority for next year. Along with that the government will have to focus on hi-tech innovation and continue to develop the transport and energy infrastructure.