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11 Jun, 2009 08:55

ROAR: Russian Opinion and Analytics Review, June 11

ROAR: Russian Opinion and Analytics Review, June 11

This Thursday ROAR offers an academic’s view on Russia-US dialogue and an opinion on Russia’s image-building policy, reflected as it was in the proceedings of Eurovision 2009 in Moscow.

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA publishes an article by Eduard Lozanskiy, the president of the American University in Moscow, who writes that nuclear disarmament and missile defense, definitely included in the negotiations agenda at the upcoming Russia-US presidential summit, are not enough to make the idea of a “reset” in bilateral relations work.

The academic says that in Soviet times when the two sides were enemies in the Cold War, under a continuous threat of that war becoming “hot”, such negotiations were conducted on a routine basis and achieved good results. Today, he writes, relations between the two nations are very different from those times. While they are not the best possible, they still have great potential for developing and in the past few years they were closer to the bottom than the top, but nevertheless they offer a wide variety of new spheres of cooperation.

One of them is business cooperation: it exists, but the whole of Russia-US trade turnover amounts to a “meager” $36 billion while mutual investment in the past four years has only reached the figure of $12 billion. For two such great countries, that is definitely not enough, says the academic. He suggests that despite the impossibility of any direct influence on the investment choices made by businessmen, the two governments may still have some tools in their hands, with which they can promote and facilitate certain spheres of cooperation. For example, it can be done with wise taxation policies and/or tax incentives.

One more possible sphere of cooperation could be in tune with the Russian government’s plan of diversification of the Russian economy by developing its technological sector and scientific research. Russia alone, says the author, is unable to implement such a reform in full, financially and technologically, while in the US and Europe investments in the technological sector are huge. However, says the writer, the very “brain drain” of which everyone in Russia is so much concerned may help in the matter.

He says that many scientists and engineers who moved from Russia to the US are now occupying positions of authority in businesses, research facilities and universities. Wider interaction with the Russian diaspora in America could benefit both the Russian national economy and bilateral relations with the US, says the academic. He adds that Russia has finally seen the importance of the Russian diasporas in every part of the globe, and now there are programs on the federal and regional levels.

He concludes by saying that it would be good if these programs are not limited to the costly congresses and forums they organize, but concentrated on bringing together real people with concrete ideas, who can become partners and found prosperous Russian-American businesses in the spheres of technology and engineering.

In VREMYA NOVOSTEI another Russian-American academic, Professor Yury Magarshak, writes under the title: “A Great Nation Needs No Inferiority Complex” that the presentation of Russia during the Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow, seen by the majority of the world’s television audience, was counterproductive in its attempt to improve Russia’s image in the world. He writes that it also cannot be qualified as a product of a good sense of humor: the humorous side of the presentation (no bears walking the streets, not only vodka to drink: there are other things too, no KGB control, and caviar eaten by the spoon from a full plastic cup) was totally lost on the Western public.

The academic says that the organizers of the show were trying to implement the Russian government’s concept of improving Russia’s image, but, in his opinion, they failed to do that. He says that instead of the stupid wording that presumes addressing an audience of complete idiots, the anchors should have spoken proudly of the impact Russia has had on world music in the past two centuries, with four of the greatest composers of the XIX and XX Centuries being Russian, and one an American of Russian origin.

They should have said how Russia and Russians influenced popular “light” music in America, from which derive most of the pop music styles of today. They should have said that Russians were behind such projects that launched whole epochs and eras in music: Hollywood, Las Vegas and theater Broadway as we know it today, says the professor.

He concludes that the presentation, instead of pride for the country and nation was filled with manifestations of an inferiority complex – and that is the wrong way for a great power and a great nation. Great nations do not have inferiority complexes.

Evgeny Belenkiy, RT