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28 Oct, 2008 09:32

Tuesday's Press Review

Tuesday's Press Review

This Tuesday Russian newspapers explore the U.S. dollar bubble, reveal Russia's reasons for participation in the about-to-be-born natural gas cartel, look into the economic foreign policy of Belarus and publish the anti-crisis suggestions of a prominent p

IZVESTIA writes that the U.S. dollar is on the rise in times of deep financial crisis in America because the U.S. has a right of dollar issue that is in no way subject to control from outside the country, nor indeed from the U.S. legal system. The paper says Washington is trying to solve the crisis at the expense of the whole world: the only currency that could become its rival, the euro, is tightly controlled by the rules prescribed by the EU. That, as well as the massive outflow of the American capital from foreign-based affiliates of U.S. companies, creates artificial demand for the U.S. dollar in the world markets. The U.S., writes the paper, is only too glad to print more dollars which are not supported by gold or any other real-economy commodity. If there is a bubble, writes the paper, and the dollar bubble is now a reality, one day it has to burst.

TRUD writes Russia is turning to natural gas at the expense of crude oil exports as the gas market is considered to be more stable. The paper quotes the Deputy Speaker of the State Duma, Valery Yazov, who announced yesterday that 'the era of gas has begun.' The paper writes that natural gas may soon replace oil as the main hard-currency earner of the Russian economy, and that is why Russia is naturally interested in the creation of an OPEC-like cartel of gas-exporting countries. Russia produces 22.13% of the world's gas output and has the capability to expand further, says the paper. The article notes that cooperation with Iran (3.79%) and Qatar (1.68%) leaves the remaining 72.2% of gas production unevenly distributed among other gas exporters, none of which has gas deposits that could compete with the gas deposits of Russia.

KOMMERSANT has an exclusive interview with the French Foreign Minister Bernard Kushner, recorded when he was preparing for today's visit to Russia. The French Foreign Minister says he is probably less diplomatic than honest in his evaluations of the conflict in the Caucasus and the prospects of Russia's cooperation with the EU. He says, however, that European aid to Georgia does not mean that the EU is taking the Georgian side in the conflict. He thinks that Georgia has suffered and is entitled to international aid. As for relations with Russia, he says, the dialogue has to continue, and the negotiations on the basic agreement between the EU and Russia will reopen in November. The paper asked Mr. Kushner if he is sure about the final use of the European aid money and whether it would somehow be channelled into the re-arming of the Georgian armed forces. He responds that the money is clearly earmarked for certain economic programmes, and there is no such programme involving the Georgian military.

The same paper writes that President Lukashenko of Belarus is 'opening a window to Europe' and 'seeks salvation from friendship with Moscow with the West.' The article says that after Moscow rejected his bid for a $US 2 billion loan and 'special' prices for gas Lukashenko tuned to the IMF for a loan for the same amount. Fyodor Lukyanov, the Chief Editor of the magazine Russia in Global Affairs writes in his column in Kommersant that the global economic crisis has prompted president Lukashenko to seek help from abroad. Russia, he writes, has made it clear that it is not going to pay for Lukashenko's empty pledges of allegiance anymore and wants real cooperation. If in the past Lukashenko had no alternative because the EU looked upon Belarus as on any other East European nation that would sooner or later want to join the Union, today the EU has changed that stance to one which views Belarus as a country not very different from other CIS states. It means, writes the author, that the attitude now is the same as towards Uzbekistan or Turkmenistan. Lukyanov says now the Belarusian president risks finding himself in debt to two creditors simultaneously: Russia and the West. But that, he concludes, guarantees Belarus from falling under the exclusive influence of one of the creditors.

VREMYA NOVOSTEI writes that the Belarusian parliament may soon debate the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. An independent Belarusian political scientist, Alexandr Klaskovsky, quoted in the article says that in the political system of Belarus the parliament is not an independent branch of power, so the actual decision wil be made by President Lukashenko himself.

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA publishes an opinion piece by Sergey Tolstov, the Director of the Institute of Political Analysis and International Studies in Kiev, who writes that Ukrainian politics is beyond all logic of a developing transitional society. Admittedly, it has so far been working without visible damage to state institutions. However, at the moment all constitutional and judicial mechanisms have stopped and the balance between justice and political necessity is decided solely by the erratic actions of the president, who first sets a date for the general election and than cancels it at will. The writer suggests that any attempt at organising a general election in times of crisis may prove fatal for the current political set-up in Ukraine.

PARLAMENTSKAYA GAZETA publishes an article by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the Deputy Speaker of the Russian Parliament and leader of the Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia. He writes that to overcome the financial crisis Russia needs to get rid of long-term monetarist policies and monetarism-minded operators in the national economy. Zhirinovsky writes that a set of monetarist measures may be used for a short time to give the economy the necessary impulse to grow, but in the long run monetarism can facilitate a total collapse of the economy. The politician says long-term monetarist policies are usually forced upon weaker nations by big ones in order to take over the national economy of the smaller country. As an example Zhirinovsky sites the 'political' loans given to some countries by the IMF in exchange for a considerable change in domestic policies and legislation which opens the way for international corporate giants to gain control ofr the country's market. The author says anti-crisis policies must concentrate not on the 'symptoms' but on the fundamental causes of the crisis, such as the huge gap that exists between the financial pyramids and investment needs of the real economy.

Evgeny Belenkiy, RT