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1 Oct, 2008 07:26

Wednesday's Russian Press Review

Wednesday's Russian Press Review

On this first day of October Russian newspapers discuss the world financial crisis and its further impact on Russia, and sum up the results of the recent session of the UN General Assembly. Here is the review of several

IZVESTIA publishes an exclusive interview with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Sergei Lavrov. Mr. Lavrov speaks of the main results of the Session of the UN General Assembly for Russia. He says that the main conclusion to be made from a week of active multi-lateral and bi-lateral discussions is that ‘No one wants to allow the huge problems that we all are facing today, and that require constructive and positive interaction, to become hostage to any kind of crisis.’

The Russian Foreign Minister also says that today common interest not ‘common values of which our Western partners so liked to talk in the past few years’ must be pursued together. First among these is the necessity to protect the world economy from collapse and falling apart as a result of the financial crisis that it is experiencing at the moment. It is very important, says Mr. Lavrov, that today all countries return to socially-oriented economic policies. This model, which was born in Europe long ago, he says, was a reaction to the socially-oriented economic policy of the Soviet Union. It was successful in the U.S. too, but now that system is failing and it is important to find out, why. That can be done only by multi-lateral efforts, says the Russian Foreign Minister, without anybody assuming leadership.

Mr. Lavrov says the U.S. cannot be excluded from this process, but it has to be a participant with the same rights as all others, in spite of being the strongest. Asked about matters of international security in Europe, Mr. Lavrov points out that the OSCE, the organisation created to handle matters of European security, has experienced a deviation in purpose and has practically stopped being interested in military aspects of security.

With such a paralysis having developed in the OSCE, NATO has become the engine in all matters of security in the region. The alliance started demonstrating hyperactivity in setting up military bases and in the unilateral endorsement of the U.S. plans of placing the third echelon of missile defence in Europe. A very interesting trend is shown here: decisions were made in Washington, without any consultations with other NATO member states, and then these decisions were formalised as the decisions of the alliance as a whole. The alliance tried to suppress any attempts to object or to call for collective decisions, so these arguments could never emerge outside the NATO internal discussions.’

However, continues Mr. Lavrov, in the modern world it is impossible to hide anything. He says the Russian side knew about the heated character of those NATO internal discussions and simultaneously NATO was trying its best to prevent the EU from forming any security-related or peacekeeping bodies of its own. Nevertheless, in several cases Europe did act independently, paying no heed to NATO’s insistent ‘advice’. He also says that today the EU’s independent actions in the sphere of security are more frequent, and even the U.S. is talking another language, the language of an equal partner, as life itself makes it learn that language.

VREMYA NOVOSTEI writes about the financial crisis under the headline ‘A Championship of Depressions’. The paper compares the ‘Black Monday’ in New York markets to the ‘Black Thursday’ that triggered the Great Depression. The paper quotes various opinions on the matter including the idea, voiced during the Congress hearing on the government’s bail-out plan for the financial sector, that by the actual nationalisation of assets ‘America is sliding onto the slippery road of Socialism’. Some academics, writes the paper, even called George Bush and his chosen group of economic specialists ‘Bolsheviks who have turned the U.S. into a Soviet-like Socialist state.’

TRUD looks into the long-term impact of the crisis on the Russian economy, with the emphasis on housing. The paper says that it is the first time in a decade that housing property prices are not rising but falling in September-October. The paper predicts a possible 30% drop in real estate prices, especially in housing.

The same paper says that if the Plan for Social and Economic Development to 2020 adopted by the government succeeds, nobody will remember the current crisis by the end of the plan’s term in 2020. However some experts, continues the paper, are quite reluctant to agree with an optimistic estimate. They say the current plan, in the works for two whole years, does not take into account the new risks arising from the crisis that is unfolding right now before our eyes. The paper concludes the topic with a quote from Igor Yurgens, the vice-president of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs: ‘to adopt a strategic document in the midst of a crisis is politically naïve.’

Evgeny Belenkiy, RT.