Thursday’s Russian Press Review

The American financial crisis and its impact on the Russian markets occupies more front-page space today than any other news story. Apart from that there are reports on the establishment of diplomatic relations and the signing of treaties between Russia,

Here is the review of several articles in Thursday’s newspapers:

VREMYA NOVOSTEI. “Saturation with the Ruble” – that is what the paper calls the protective steps taken by the Russian government to stabilise the markets after the first blow delivered on them by the U.S. financial meltdown. Russia’s state financial institutions – the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank and the Federal Service for Financial Markets – have jointly decided to take radical steps to tackle the severe drop in stock value on the Russian markets. Trading was stopped for nearly two days, writes the paper. The paper says the government is ready to start feeding surplus money from state funds into the inter-bank financial market. After that the system should right itself, in accordance with the laws of economics.

The same paper says the signing of Treaties of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between Russia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia amounts to “a creation of a three-way Union. The paper notes that the deal lasts for ten years, which means that Russia is going to recognise their sovereignty for at least that long, and there’s no talk of incorporating them into the Russian Federation.

ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA calls the treaties ‘historic’ and welcomes the shift away “from the field of battle onto the field of international law.”

“No panic, ladies and gentlemen,” says the same paper to the lucky 1% of Russians who own stocks and shares. Stock owners are concerned about the long-term implications of the U.S. crisis. The general public is no less worried.  They’re concerned about salaries, loan repayments and everyday financial needs. The paper quotes Deputy Prime Minister Alexey Kudrin who says at the moment the problem is not even deep enough to start spending money from the Reserve Fund. He thinks, says the paper, that Russia will be able to weather the crisis without resorting to external borrowing.

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA argues that it is Kudrin’s own policy of shifting massive amounts of money from the economy into stabilization funds, and his emphasis on state enterprises, that could lead the national economy to a dead end if they continue.

The same paper says the military part of the treaties Russia has signed with South Ossetia and Abkhazia radically changes the power balance in the Caucasus and the Black Sea region. They are even more significant, says the paper, in relation to NATO’s plans to incorporate both Georgia and Ukraine.

KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA quotes the World Bank Director for Russia, Klaus Roland, as saying: “Russia has prepared itself well and can withstand a series of punches from the financial crisis. I hope, a few months from now, all problems will be solved.” The paper said Mr. Roland agrees that the trouble in the U.S. financial markets and decreasing oil prices are to blame for the recent mishaps in the Russian stock market. But he is sure that the Russian economy will overcome all this misfortune.

The paper also points out, in relation to the treaties signed by Russia with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, that there is a plan to introduce a new legislation in the both new countries that would correspond with the Russian legal system and will allow citizens of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to hold dual citizenship – meaning local and Russian simultaneously – at will.

IZVESTIA, writing about the financial crisis, says that America has proven more dangerous for the World than the Hadron Collider. The paper says the Russian government is doing its best to calm down the general public by giving assurances that the State will bear all the pressure from the crisis and will guarantee all the banking investments of the population.

The newspaper also has an article entitled: ‘Will Russia win the Big Battle at the UN?’. The piece deals with Russia’s chances at winning over a majority at the General Assembly on issues related to the “five-day war’ and the situation around South Ossetia and Abkhaziya. The article says, Russia has been working for years to promote reform in the way the UN works. It goes on to say that the organization has become ”a weak toothless watcher of ongoing violence and unfairness in relations between countries – an organisation whose resolutions are not fulfilled and whose opinion is routinely ignored.”

KOMMERSANT writes that the powers-that-be have accepted responsibility for the financial crisis. There is nothing to fear so far, continues the paper, quoting government finance officials. However, it has emerged that there was already an element of distrust in the inter-bank market in Moscow – which needs urgent attention.

The same paper reports from South America: after the Five-day war, Russia has been stepping up its foreign policy effort on the American continent. And now it can be said that it has found allies there. The recent visit to Venezuela and Cuba by Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin is described in the article as Russia’s “mobilisation” of the two Latin American countries for joint struggle against the U.S. The paper concludes: Russia’s strategic cooperation with Venezuela and Cuba is a form of the promised “asymmetric response” to the increasing U.S. presence in the “post-Soviet space.”

Evgeny Belenkiy, RT.