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

Friday's newspapers focus on three topics: the free ride of the Russian National football team; celebrating the 200th anniversary of Russia-U.S. diplomatic relations; and a letter from Washington containing a proposals for its missile defence system, the

The Russian' football team's free ride to the 2008 European championship after it beat Andorra and England lost to Croatia is the main front-page story in every newspaper in town. KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA says: Russia’s coach Guus Hiddink looked anything but surprised when the news came about England’s defeat. He looked like a true winner.

ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA writes about the letter that Russia received from the U.S. on Thursday. It’s on missile defence – that’s about all anyone knows. It contains the American offer on the integration of Russian, U.S. and NATO elements of missile defence into one joint system of early warning. The package contains a document that is being kept secret by both sides. Analysts speculate that it is a suggestion to Russia to end the moratorium on the conventional arms treaty, but in exchange for what – that is still a question, says the paper.

VREMYA NOVOSTEY writes that the U.S. is ready for minor concessions. The circumstances now are different from the time when the missile defence was conceived: the U.S. Congress is cutting the budget of the programme. The Bush administration needs as many foreign affairs success stories as it can grab in the last year of its term. The paper suggests Washington has promised Moscow it would persuade NATO allies to sign the amended version of the conventional arms treaty.

KOMMERSANT says that Russia is unlikely to agree to anything but a total discontinuation of the missile defence programme in Eastern Europe or a full-time partnership in that programme. It quotes Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov’s words of a few weeks ago: “So far everything that was offered to us was unsatisfactory”.

The future is the main focus of a joint declaration by ten former Ambassadors – Russian envoys to the U.S. and U.S. envoys to Russia – published recently by NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA. The ten senior diplomats gathered in Moscow to celebrate 200 years of Russia-U.S. diplomatic relations. They write: “there will always be difficulties and contradictions. It is important to maintain channels of direct communication between us even in the worst situations – such channels helped us to avoid confrontation in the past, and they’ll help us in the future”.