Wednesday's Russian Press Review

This Wednesday Russian press analyses the U.S. election, looks into the true meaning of Ukrainian independence, publishes opinions on the world financial crisis and necessary countermeasures ranging from a suggestion about a nuclear strike at the U.S. to

VREMYA NOVOSTEI has a column by RIA Novosti political commentator, Svetlana Babaeva, who is in Washington to monitor the U.S. presidential election. She writes that this time the essence of the campaign is a conflict between ‘American Values’ versus ‘U.S. National Interest.’

The values, she writes, were formed by the Founding Fathers, they are centuries old and still universally revered. They are what America sees when it looks in the mirror. However, she continues, for those who put national interest above all, the values, and especially the notion of America’s own way in history, become an obstacle. They cannot imagine a place for an America going its own specific way, the way of American freedoms, in the modern globalised world with its multiple threats for U.S. national security.

Values versus national interest – and neither side is ready to yield. The columnist says that the struggle between them is not marked out clearly with one camp for the values and another for the interest. Every candidate, Republican or Democrat, has to balance between the two on a tightrope that leads to the White House.

KOMMERSANT has a column by Boris Makarenko of the Centre for Political Technology, who writes that in spite of, or thanks to, a seemingly permanent political crisis which continues for months, Ukraine has become a truly independent state, one of very few of the kind in the world.

The author says that if you call Ukraine a ‘marionette of the West’ that wouldn’t be right: how come the puppeteers in Washington cannot make peace between the two leaders of ‘their’ Orange coalition?

Why would both the Orange leaders be forced to knowingly ruin Ukraine’s NATO membership aspirations so close to the date when NATO could have adopted a plan of action for its membership? The only correct answer would be, says Makarenko, that the political turmoil in Ukraine is caused by a real conflict of different authentic political forces.

MOSKOVSKI KOMSOMOLETS has an opinion article by legendary veteran Russian foreign correspondent Malor Sturua, who writes that the bail-out program for the U.S. financial sector adopted by the U.S. Congress and known now as ‘Plan-700’ has a flaw that may, in the end, make it useless.

Syurua says there’s a conflict of interest buried deep in the plan: between the idea of government regulation of the whole bail-out process and the private character and form of the bodies designated for the task. The writer says that government money will be given to several chosen companies and funds from the private sector. It is there that the conflict between pursuit of profit and pursuit of public interest will inevitably start.

Sturua quotes an expert: “The Treasury will have to transfer nearly everything, and it will leave for itself only the right of the final decision.” The writer concludes that Plan-700, as well as the law adopted by the U.S. Congress for its implementation, is an attempt to solve a crisis born by the nature of capitalism by non-capitalist means. He says it’s hard to predict how it will work, but this fact stands: no-one has so far managed to bypass the laws of capitalism and human nature.

TRUD suggests that the crisis will help Russia in its fight against corruption. The paper says that it may create a situation where, on the one hand, the population will not have enough money to bribe officials, and on the other hand, the range of services that a corrupt bureaucrat can render to a citizen will be much narrower than today.

In the past few years, says the paper, the biggest bribes were paid in property-related spheres, especially where land or building ownership was an issue. But the property market is among the first to react to the crisis by slowing down and stagnating, says the paper. An expert quoted in the article says there’s no sense in counting entirely on the financial problems in the fight against corruption, but it is true that there would be some impact – at least because in a crisis the population is usually short of money.

IZVESTIA writes the crisis may cure some new money millionaires of the bad habit of showing-off their wealth without any apparent reason. Moscow has become the centre of the ‘show-off industry’ where a commercial saying ‘we sell expensive’ gets a better response than the one saying ‘we sell cheap.’

However, says the paper, quoting a report by Quans Research, true millionaires are not really into the habit of showing off. It is more widespread among the second echelon of the Russian nouveau riche: the upper middle class that includes more salary men than businessmen.

In that sector, says the paper, purchase of expensive cars, watches or furniture on credit is the norm. It is the members of this category that are going to suffer most, and suffer very soon, concludes the paper.

KONSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA asked several well-known people, how in their opinion Russians should fight the world financial crisis. Here are some of the answers.

Mikhail Leontiev, chief editor, Profil weekly magazine: “Any economist would say that the best defence is to nuke the US! To be serious, if on your neighbour’s land there’s a fire, you may expect that it will burn your house down as well. What is needed? The same as what we are doing now, but more of that and faster”.

Irina Hakamada, politician: “Don’t borrow money and love cash more than your plastic cards.”

Yevgeny Yasin, a former Minister for Economy, now Chief of Scientific Programs, the Higher School of Economics in Moscow: “It’s necessary that the money thrown into the economy by the Government reaches the level of grassroots industries and enterprises. So far, in most cases they don’t.”

Alexander Tarantsev, president of the ‘Russian Gold’ Group of companies: “There’s no crisis in Russia. There is definite growth in the economy, the banks of the ‘first hundred’ are in great shape. The worries in the stock market are all caused by speculative trading. The real sector of the economy is crisis-free and is developing successfully.”

Evgeny Belenkiy, RT.