Wednesday's Press Review

Hillary Clinton (AFP Photo / Jeff Zelevansky)
This Wednesday Russian newspapers have predicted that Russia will join the WTO a year from now, analyzed the state of the Russian national economy, and quoted both a Senator on Russia’s relations with the West and a General on the lack of Russia’s firepow

IZVESTIA writes that Russia’s WTO membership may materialize earlier than expected. The paper quotes Andrey Kushnirenko, the Deputy Director of the Negotiations department of the Russian Ministry of Economic Development, who says that the date of this country’s entrance in the WTO may be January 1, 2010. The paper says that lately, in spite of the fact that the negotiations on Russia’s membership went slowly but surely, the public was convinced that the joining the WTO is not an unattainable achievement.

The announcement by Kushnirenko came as a shock to many, continues the paper. Then it quotes the Deputy Director again, this time in order to calm down a predictable burst of emotion about the lifting of customs barriers that is supposed to follow immediately. Kushnirenko responds that the changes in the customs regulations will be gradual.

VREMYA NOVOSTEI says that the World Bank predicts a million troubles to Russia in 2009 but makes an unexpectedly optimistic conclusion: ‘the crisis may finally make Russian authorities conduct and complete the long-awaited structural reform of the economy.’ The paper quotes World Bank experts saying that inflation in Russia is going to be on the rise and reach 12 or even 13%. With unemployment rising too, writes the paper, the World Bank predicts a lower than usual rate of decrease in the number of Russians living below the poverty line. The World Bank experts also say that Russia should diversify its economy more and continue its integration into the World economy.

ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA has an opinion article by Aleksey Chichkin who writes that Russia’s dependence on the world oil and gas prices limits this country’s ability to modernize its industry, and first of all – the same oil and gas producing industry which earns nearly a half of Russia’s income. The writer says that export prices of crude oil and domestic prices of gasoline are now connected in a very convoluted way: the price for gasoline remains the same or just a bit lower. It happens, he says, because with high gasoline prices against the diminishing income from oil export, the government compensates the losses by collecting a bigger amount of tax.

To avoid that, writes the author, we need to modernize the oil industry in such a way that a good part of produced oil would go into our own processing industry to produce fuel and various important chemicals. With natural gas, writes the author, liquidizing to the level of Liquid Petroleum Gas largely increases its export value, while such gas can be transported by tankers, which maintaining is much less expensive than constantly repairing the pipes.

The same paper publishes an op-ed article penned by Senator Mikhail Margelov who says a new warming in the relations between Russia and the West is inevitable. The Chairman of the International Affairs Committee of the Federation Council says that if a few weeks ago the rhetoric poured by the West and Russia on each other led to the predictions of a new Cold War, today, and especially after the summit Russia-EU in Nice and the summit of G20 in Washington, after the long Western visit of the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, relations between Russia and the West are repairing quickly. The Senator writes that the reasons are first of all in the final understanding of Georgia’s role as aggressor in the Caucasus conflict that has finally reached many Western minds. It is also, he writes, in the necessity to counter the financial crisis, as well as the looming food crisis.

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA has an article by the paper’s military commentator Vladimir Ivanov who quotes several Russian top Generals saying that the planned deployment of Iskander missiles off Kaliningrad is a thin countermeasure against the future U.S. missile defense system in Eastern Europe. He quotes General, Dr. Petr Deinekin, the former Chief of the Russian Air Force who says that strategic bombers armed with cruise missiles of the X-55 type should be added to make the equation equal. Another expert, Academician Igor Seleznev, the creator of the X-55 series, also says that deploying just the Iskander complex is not enough. He adds, however, that the addition should not be the X-55 but the newer, high-precision X-555 missile with a longer range and bigger payload.

KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA analyses Hillary Clinton’s chances for the position of the Secretary of State in Barack Obama’s administration. The paper says that only the conflict of interests that may arise from her husband’s Fund which is providing aid to African countries may prevent her from becoming the head of foreign affairs in the new U.S. administration.

The paper has published a commentary by Mikhail Leontiev, the Chief Editor of Profil Magazine. He says there’s no difference between Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, and Madeleine Albright in the same position in the Clinton administration and portrays them as political twins. And Leontiev says that the U.S., whenever Russia stands in the way of its interest, will fight us.

Evgeny Belenkiy, RT.

Tuesday's Press Review