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

The main topics in Tuesday's Russian newspapers are the Serbian election: a warm-up before the real battle, and Georgia through the eyes of a businessman.

ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETAwrites with a four per cent difference between Tomislav Nikolich and Boris Tadich, the outcome of the second round of the election is still uncertain. The paper quotes a Serbian expert who says the emotional steam has been let out. In the second round we are going to see a lot of common sense and caution in the voting.

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA says the election is exceptional for Serbia as it is taking place when Kosovo independence may be proclaimed at any minute. The attitude on the Kosovo issue automatically becomes an important part of every candidate’s ideology. Another such element is the vision of the future relationship with the EU.

VREMYA NOVOSTEI says the votes given in the first round to the candidates, who failed at the polls, will shift to the winners in the second round, becoming the decisive factor in the presidential race. The paper says Boris Tadich’s count may be raised by 10 per cent with this “second-hand” vote and Tomislav Nikolich’s – by 15 or even 20 per cent.

MOSKOVSKI KOMSOMOLETS quotes local sources saying an administration headed by Boris Tadich is well capable of silently giving away Kosovo in exchange for EU membership. Tomislav Nikolich, says the paper, is more consistent in protecting Serbia’s territorial sovereignty. The paper also quotes a military expert, professor Victor Esin, on the question of the rumored plan to set up Russian military bases in Serbia. He says: “Russia doesn’t need them. Our defence doctrine doesn’t even allow our troops to be stationed abroad. The Navy needs bases – but then again, Serbia is landlocked”.

Now to Georgia. NOVAYA GAZETA quotes Kaha Bendukidze, a Minister in the Georgian Cabinet and business tycoon, who says the Georgian opposition has no economic programme and a meager following among businessmen. He says many support the opposition only because of mistakes made by the current administration. For instance, when it ordered the demolition of all additional balcony space, a favourite way of increasing the space of one’s home in Tbilisi. It was done for the sake of beauty and uniformity. The government should have legalized that additional space, not banned it. When a violation is massive and safe at the same time, it should be made law.