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

Friday’s papers focus on two main topics: President Saakashvili under the PACE microscope. And who's the best candidate for Russia in the Serbian election.

VREMYA NOVOSTEI writes President Saakashvili of Georgia dismissed the irregularities during the Presidential election.  He attributed them, as well as his own rough handling of the opposition, as the usual shortcomings of a young democracy. The paper quotes a response from the former speaker of the Georgian Parliament, Akaky Asatiani: an invitation to speak to PACE was the last chance given to Saakashvili by the Western community. If he doesn’t behave, he won’t last five years as President. The Georgian people won’t tolerate injustice.

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA says Saakashvili tried his best to charm the PACE audience with his linguistic skills and unusually soft and flexible approach to the issues under discussion. However, the paper writes the essence of his speech may look as follows: he is not ready to accept Kosovo’s independence or guarantee that force will not be used against Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia.

KOMMERSANT says Mikhail Saakashvili delivered the most peaceful speech of his career at PACE. The representative of the Georgian opposition Levan Berdzenishvili commented to the same audience: we all know he’s a good speaker. But you must understand that Georgians will never forgive him for 7 November, 2007

The same paper has a comment from Boris Makarenko, from the Centre for Political Technologies: The bad news here is that not just the recent election but Georgian politics as a whole are too far off the democratic mark. To bring Georgia firmly into the European fold will take lots of carrots and no fewer sticks. That is exactly what Europe is going to be doing there – working with the government and opposition simultaneously, using carrots and sticks.

IZVESTIA compares the two remaining candidates in the Serbian Presidential election.  It asks who would be a better ally for Russia? Tomislav Nikolic, says the daily, firmly stands for an alliance with Russia, up to deploying the Russian military in Serbia. But his populism makes him less predictable. Boris Tadich is more pragmatic, which is good for business. But that may also cause him to turn away from Russia at a moment he may see fit. A hard choice, says the paper. And unfortunately, not ours to make. At least, both candidates support the Gazprom deal. But who’s more reliable, asks the paper, to continue supporting it through and through?