Tuesday's press review

90-th anniversary of the end of WWI
Tuesday’s newspapers in Russia predict the first steps of Barack Obama as the U.S. president, look into the intricacies of Georgian politics and celebrate the 90th anniversary of WWI. Here is the review:

VREMIA NOVOSTEI writes that president Obama is most likely to begin his term with undoing a few steps taken by the Bush administration. The paper says he is going to allow stem cell research and ban the exploitation of oil deposits on U.S. territory.

Obama is also keen on the closure of the U.S. prison facility at Guantanamo in Cuba where terrorism suspects are held and tried by tribunals created by Bush, which have ‘nothing to do with American justice and the American constitutionally guaranteed rights of an individual,’ says the paper, adding that most of the prisoners will be transferred into the jurisdiction of various U.S. courts with the exception of those whose cases are completely based on classified information. Those will be tried at special hearings of U.S. civilian courts.

In the long run, the paper says, Obama’s priorities are related to the well-being of the less-fortunate Americans. Such programmes as cheap medical insurance and debt relief in the sphere of education are often mentioned in the U.S. Media, says the paper. However, it continues, so far there haven’t been any creative ideas, conceived by the new administration and aimed at fighting the current financial crisis.

IZVESTIA writes that Obama’s team has nothing to say on the World financial crisis so far; that is why the G20 summit is being prepared by the team of George W. Bush and it will be the outgoing president, not the president-elect, who will represent the U.S. at the summit. The paper says it has caused a lot of concern among the participants of the G20 summit, as the problems to be discussed have a global impact and will maintain it in the next few years, so it is logical to discuss them with the new U.S. president not with the current one.

The paper suggests that Barack Obama’s team has not yet completed its shift from campaign mode to the mode of everyday governance, so its economic ‘eyes’ are still looking at social security issues in the U.S. while at the moment it is necessary to take macro-economic decisions that are going to define the shape and form of the whole World’s financial system, who knows for how long…

ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA has a column by political scientist Leonid Radzikhovsky who notes that in Russia an idea of an historical similarity of Barack Obama to Mikhail Gorbachev is becoming quite popular. The author doubts its legitimacy as the U.S is ‘falling in the hands of Obama in a much better shape than was the Soviet Union when it fell in Gorbachev’s hands.’ He says, not Gorbachev but food shortages, the arms race and ambitions of regional bureaucracy caused the USSR to collapse and fall apart. He says there are no indications that the U.S. may fall apart any time soon.

However, he continues, there is one particular threat, common to the U.S., Russia and Europe at the moment: the habit of living beyond means, on credit, that is so comfortable and appealing to human nature everywhere in the world except when it causes a global crisis of the economy. Which is exactly what we are facing now, continues the writer. He says crisis management is a paramount task at the moment, which dwarfs the usual ‘football field’ attitude to Russo-American relations. Today, he says, it is not ‘us’ playing against ‘them’ but us and them sharing the same boat in the middle of a storm. The writer says that the faster we all understand that, the better for the future of the World. He concludes that the curing of the mutual phobias is instrumental for a better understanding of our roles in the modern World.

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA publishes an op-ed piece by Dr. Artem Malgin of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations who writes that in the absence of pre-planned policies of the bigger outside players in the Caucasus crisis, in the circumstances of the World’s ‘weariness’ with the issues of Georgia while the financial crisis and the U.S. election dominate the news mainstream, several new trends are quietly starting to show in the Caucasus.

The writer says that inside Georgia the state of war has already been replaced by politics of peace, and if the war caused an unusual degree of consolidation among the national elite around president Saakashvili, now Georgian politicians are starting to recall their pre-war differences and, in the case of the opposition, add to them the newly-acquired grudges against Saakashvili’s aggressive policies and bad handling of the war.

Simultaneously, writes the author, the roles of Russia and Turkey are becoming more important for Georgia than those of the EU and the U.S. Russia and Turkey are Georgia’s neighbours and it is natural for them to dominate Georgia’s political horizon when other big players are busy with something else. The writer says Turkey’s initiative in the Caucasus, the Platform for Stability and Security, which it promotes simultaneously in Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, may become an important part of a new structure of inter-ethnic and international relations in the region.

That is, continues the author, if there is no direct interference from Turkey’s NATO partners, first of all the U.S. which has a proven tendency of blocking all Turkey’s independent initiatives.

KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA publishes an interview with author Mikhail Veller who says that if it wasn’t for WWI, which ended 90 years ago on this day, Russia would have lost its status as a great world power. The writer who penned several fiction and non-fiction books on the period says that for the Russian Empire, the best way out of the war would have been to wait out the year 1917 and become one of the victors. However, he says, in that case there would have been no civil war or USSR, and the USSR, in his opinion, was the highest point of power and prestige Russia as a nation has enjoyed in its whole history.

The October revolution in 1917 caused Russia to seek a fast exit out of the war, and it was found in a separate peace accord with Germany. However, says the author, Russia has lost vast territories and sovereignty over Poland, Ukraine, Finland and the Baltic states. In his opinion it was all gained back in the Soviet era, by tremendous efforts to which millions of human lives were sacrificed. But such is the course of History, says the writer: for their greatness, nation states usually pay in blood.

Evgeny Belenkiy, RT