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Current Digest of the Russian Press: Letter From the Editors #32

Letter From the Editors: August 5-11, 2013


PDF Downloads:
Issue #32 Letter From the Editors
Issue #32 Table of Contents

When BFFs Part Ways; Yanukovich Wrestles Ukrainian Tigers; Has Rogozin Used Up His 15 Minutes of Fame?


How do you punish a frenemy? By blowing off your party invitation, according to US President Barack Obama. The White House announced this week that it was cancelling the US president’s Moscow meeting with President Putin slated for early September. The official reason given was “a lack of recent progress” in the bilateral agenda, but unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last few months, it’s obvious that the reason is Edward Snowden. Of course, it was a pretty big snub on the part of the Russian authorities to grant the leaker asylum just weeks before Obama’s scheduled visit. Was Putin double-dog daring Obama to cancel his visit? Pretty much, according to the Moscow Times. But Russia’s repeated steps to alienate the US could relegate it to the periphery of international relations, as far as Washington is concerned. Meaning it’s President Putin who won’t be getting invited to the party.


Speaking of yet another bilateral relations sore spot, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev gave an interview to Georgia’s Rustavi 2 television on the five-year anniversary of the five-day war with Georgia in August 2008. Once again raising the point that Russia had no choice but to intervene, Medvedev outlined a list of rules for Russia’s CIS partners to abide by if they want strong and secure relations with Moscow. The response that followed from Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili on the very same television network sounded like a very ominous fortune cookie: Russia is in for an imminent and terrible end, much worse than that suffered by the USSR.


In a possible sign of such an apocalypse, Russian entrepreneurs penned an online letter of support for Moscow mayoral candidate Aleksei Navalny. A rare step for the Russian business community, which has learned the lessons of Yukos and usually doesn’t like to stick its neck out, writes Nezavisimaya gazeta. But is Navalny on the level, the authors wonder? Or is he going to make lots of promises he can’t keep to the business community, only to revert to the present regime’s populist policies to appease the majority?


Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich, who has the tiger by the tail in the form of jailed ex-prime minister Yulia Timoshenko, is also in a political quandary. According to Nezavisimaya gazeta, if he keeps her in prison, he’s all but guaranteed a win in the 2015 presidential election – but the long-anticipated association agreement with the EU is then on the line. If he lets the braided genie out of the bottle, her popularity and ambition may cost him the presidency. Not an easy position to find yourself in.


You wouldn’t want to be in Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin’s shoes this week, either. The firebrand politician who oversees the military-industrial sector berated Russian Federal Space Agency head Vladimir Popovkin this week for yet another Proton-M rocket launch disaster, and made a controversial suggestion – to combine the space and aviation industries. Is this an act of desperation, wonders Viktor Myasnikov, or is Rogozin self-promoting again? Apparently, the deputy PM’s constant quest for publicity is starting to irritate Putin, who said in a meeting that Rogozin is competing for air time with talk shows, and can’t carry on a conversation without TV cameras around. Is this the beginning of the end for the politician who was once thought of as Putin’s successor?



Xenia Grushetsky,

Managing Editor

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