INOPRESSA

INOPRESSA

G E N A T S V A L I : kak gritsja, uchite olbanskij...

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G E N A T S V A L I : Putins Machtspiele Kommendes Jahr endet die Amtszeit des russischen Präsidenten. Abermals für dieses Amt kandidieren darf Putin nicht - nun hat er sich als Kandidat für den Posten des Ministerpräsidenten ins Spiel gebracht. Dies sei "ein ziemlich realistischer Vorschlag", sagte er am Montag bei einer Konferenz der Kreml-treuen Partei "Vereintes Russland". Putin kündigte zudem an, die Liste der Partei bei den Parlamentswahlen im Dezember anzuführen, dies würde ihm einen Sitz im russischen Unterhaus, der Duma, garantieren. Auf diese Weise könnte der Präsident nach Ende seiner Amtszeit im kommenden Jahr Regierungschef Russlands werden. Die russische Verfassung verbietet Putin eine erneute Kandidatur bei der Präsidentenwahl im Frühjahr kommenden Jahres. "Was die Frage der Führung der Regierung betrifft, wäre das ein ziemlich realistischer Vorschlag", sagte Putin jedoch zu entsprechenden Plänen. "Aber es ist noch zu früh, darüber nachzudenken". Zunächst müssten zwei Bedingungen erfüllt sein: Zum einen müsse seine Partei "Vereintes Russland" die Wahl im Dezember gewinnen. Zum anderen müsse eine "anständige, fähige und moderne Person, mit der ich im Team zusammenarbeite, in das Präsidentenamt gewählt werden", sagte Putin. Der Präsident sagte, er wolle auch künftig parteilos bleiben. Umfragen sagen der Präsidentenpartei für die Wahl einen haushohen Sieg voraus. Zudem wird davon ausgegangen, dass Putins Favorit für seine Nachfolge im Amt des Präsidenten auch in das Amt gewählt werden wird. Über die politische Zukunft Putins wird in Russland schon seit langem spekuliert. Analysten brachten dabei auch bereits die Möglichkeit ins Spiel, dass Putin einen schwachen und loyalen Nachfolger installieren könnte und das Land etwa vom Amt des Ministerpräsidenten weiterregieren könnte. Vor drei Wochen hatte Putin überraschend den bis dahin wenig bekannten Finanzexperten Viktor Subkow als neuen Regierungschef nominiert, der kurz darauf von der Duma im Amt bestätigt wurde. Zugleich brachte sich Subkow als Kandidat für die Präsidentschaftswahl ins Spiel. Subkow gilt als enger Vertrauter Putins. Als aussichtsreichste Kandidaten für dessen Nachfolge waren bislang die beiden Vize-Ministerpräsidenten Sergej Iwanow und Dmitri Medwedew gehandelt worden. Unterdessen hat auch der ehemalige Schachweltmeister und Kremlkritiker Garri Kasparow offiziell die Teilnahme seines Oppositionsbündnisses an der Dumawahl beantragt. Die Wahlleitung bestätigte am Montag den Eingang des Registrierungsantrags. Eine Zulassung gilt allerdings als ausgeschlossen, da das verschärfte Wahlrecht keine Bündnisse oder Einzelkandidaten zur Wahl zulässt. "Wir werden trotzdem eine vollwertige Kampagne aufziehen", kündigte Kasparow an. ZEIT online, Reuters

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G E N A T S V A L I : Inopressu nuzhno chitat' v originale. To chto na inopresse.ru publikujut - eto tak. po melochi... V tolkovyh izdanijah byvaet horoshaja analitika. Klishe nikogo ne interesujut. Interesuet informacija.

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G E N A T S V A L I : LEHRER IN RUSSLAND Mies bezahlt und ausgelacht Von Oleg Hochlow, Moskau Russische Lehrer machen schwere Zeiten durch. Sie verdienen zu wenig, verlieren alte Privilegien - und Schüler halten sie für Versager, die keinen anständigen Job gekriegt haben. Nur Lockangebote halten Junglehrer in der Schule. Aber nach drei Jahren nehmen sie Reißaus. Andrej Zinin, 25, wollte nicht in die Armee, und so machte er es wie viele junge Lehrer aus Moskau - er entschied sich für den Landschuldienst. Nachdem er die Pädagogische Staatliche Universität abgeschlossen hatte, unterrichtete er für zwei Jahre Russisch im Dorf Dergajewo, 30 Kilometer nördlich von Moskau. Den Arbeitsort erreichte er mit dem Auto. Aber sein Lohn deckte nicht einmal die Fahrtkosten. Und nicht nur die Bezahlung war schlecht, auch mit der Aufmerksamkeit seiner Schüler stand es nicht zum besten: "Der Unterricht interessierte sie nicht," sagt Zinin. "Meine Diktate bestanden aus vier Sätzen. Aber sie schafften es trotzdem, dabei 40 Fehler zu machen." Kein Wunder, denn man braucht keine Ausbildung in Dergajewo. Der einzige Arbeitgeber ist die örtliche Ziegelei. MOSKAUER SCHULE: "HIER ARBEITEN NUR PECHVÖGEL" * * * Fotostrecke starten: Klicken Sie auf ein Bild (5 Bilder) Dörfer wie Dergajewo haben es jetzt schon schwer, Lehrer zu finden. Ab dem 1. Januar 2008 wird es noch schwieriger werden. An diesem Tag wird das Privileg aufgehoben, das Andrej Zinin überhaupt dazu bewog, den Job in der Einöde anzutreten - die Befreiung vom Militärdienst. Aber es sind nicht nur die abgelegenen Dörfer, die unter Lehrermangel leiden. Auch in der Hauptstadt ist das Problem der Fachkräfte sehr aktuell. "Ich habe keine Ahnung, wie ich junge Leute für den Lehrerberuf begeistern soll - sie können nicht mehr als 360 Euro verdienen", sagt Elena Miljukowa, Direktorin der Moskauer "Schule Nummer 932". Das Durchschnittsalter ihrer Kollegen liegt bei 46 Jahren - und das gilt als niedrig. Vage Hoffnung auf eine mietfreie Wohnung Nach Angaben des russischen Unterrichtsministeriums sind heute mehr als 1300 Lehrerstellen nicht besetzt. Dabei gibt es in Russland etwa 100 pädagogische Hochschulen, die jährlich 60.000 junge Lehrer ausbilden. Mit Gehaltsanreizen versucht das Unterrichtsministerium jetzt, junge Lehrer zu gewinnen. Künftige Lehrer schließen am Ende ihrer Ausbildung Verträge über drei Jahre ab - während dieser ersten Zeit erhalten sie einen Bonus von 40 bis 50 Prozent. Und nach dem ersten Jahr erhalten sie eine einmalige Prämie in Höhe von etwa 570 Euro. Die meisten Absolventen ergreifen den Beruf nur, um diese Zuschläge zu bekommen. Nach den drei Jahren beginnt die Flucht der Junglehrer aus den Schulen. Chemie- und Biologielehrer suchen besser bezahlte Arbeit bei Pharmafirmen, auch andere finden Jobs in Unternehmen. Wer Lehrer bleibt, tut es oft nur, weil er auf staatliche Vergünstigungen wie eine mietfreie Wohnung hofft. Doch die sind sehr rar. "Nur die illusorische Möglichkeit, eine Wohnung im Gemeindebau zu bekommen, kann mich in diesem Job halten. Eigentlich brauche ich zum Leben ein Gehalt von mindestens 700 Euro", sagt Dmitrij Jefimenko, Student an der Staatlichen Pädagogischen Universität. Gehalt mit Zuschlägen reicht gerade für die Miete Doch so viel kann ein typischer russischer Lehrer kaum je verdienen. Das Tarifgehalt liegt zwischen 170 Euro für einen Junglehrer bis 280 Euro für einen erfahrenen Pädagogen. Das tatsächliche Gehalt ist oft etwas höher - dank der vielen Zulagen für verschiedenste Aufgaben. So bringt die Kontrolle der Schreibhefte zusätzlich bis zu 20 Prozent ihres Gehaltes, für die Betreuung des Klassenzimmers erhalten die Pädagogen noch einmal 10 Prozent obendrauf. Und Bio- oder Chemielehrer kriegen weitere 15 Prozent mehr - weil sie mit Schadstoffen arbeiten müssen. LEHRER INTERNATIONAL: ANDERE LÄNDER, ANDERE SORGEN * * * Fotostrecke starten: Klicken Sie auf ein Bild (8 Bilder) Elena Miljukowa ist Direktorin einer Schule, die wie überall in Russland keinen Namen, sondern nur eine Nummer trägt - "Gymnasium Nummer 932". Sie schildert das komplizierte Bezahlungs-System am Beispiel einer 23-jährigen Lehrerin namens Tatjana: "Ihr Gehalt beträgt 240 Euro. Aber weil sie 24 statt 18 Stunden pro Woche arbeitet, erhält sie 80 Euro Zuschlag pro Monat. Wenn sie Reisen, Exkursionen oder Kinobesuche vorbereitet, bekommt sie noch einmal 50 Euro. Dann bekommt Tatjana auch die Prämie für junge Fachkräfte. Und doch verdient sie insgesamt weniger als 500 Euro." Das entspricht etwa dem Mietpreis für eine Einzimmerwohnung in einem Vorort Moskaus. "Ich habe keine Ahnung, wie ich damit bei jungen Lehrern Interesse für die Arbeit erwecken kann", sagt Direktorin Miljukowa. An ihrer Schule liegt das Durchschnittsalter der Lehrer bei 46 Jahren - und das gilt in Russlands noch als junges Kollegium. Nur eine kleine Elite von Lehrern verdient deutlich mehr. Zum Beispiel Alexander Abalow. Er ist 37 und unterrichtet Geschichte im Moskauer "Lyzeum Nummer 1535", einer Schule, die auf orientalische Sprachen spezialisiert ist. Er verdient etwa 1500 Euro - aber nur die Hälfte davon mit seinem Job. Den Rest macht er mit Privatunterricht für Studienbewerber. Weil er Absolvent der historischen Fakultät der Moskauer Staatlichen Universität ist und Doktor der Wissenschaften, kann er dafür 50 Euro pro Stunde verlangen - üblich sind 10. "Die halten mich für einen Deppen" Und dann sind da noch die Lehrer, die in russischen Botschaftsschulen in Ausland arbeiten. Und jene, die in den über 200 Moskauer Privatschulen arbeiten. Auch sie verdienen oft deutlich mehr als 1000 Euro. Aber sie sind eine verschwindend kleine Minderheit. Es sind deswegen oft nicht die hellsten und begabtesten Köpfe, die als Lehrer arbeiten, sondern jene, die nichts Besseres gefunden haben. Das wissen auch die Schüler - ihnen gelten Lehrer als Pechvögel, die keinen anständigen Job abgekriegt haben. Entsprechend gering ist ihr Respekt. Andrej Zinin, der junge Lehrer, der nach der Uni in den Landschuldienst ging und jetzt im angesehenen Moskauer "Gymnasium Nummer 1507" arbeitet, sagt: "Die Schüler fragen sich, warum ein junger Mensch mit guter Ausbildung eine solche Arbeit macht. Manchmal habe ich das Gefühl, die halten mich für einen Deppen." Einmal sagte ein Schüler am Ende des Unterrichts zu ihm: "Herr Lehrer, wissen Sie eigentlich, dass Sie sich mit dieser Arbeit nur schlechte Autos leisten können?" Dass er während der unterrichtsfreien Zeit als Chefredakteur einer Unternehmenszeitschrift arbeitet und damit viel Geld verdient, erzählt Zinin seinen Schülern nicht. Er findet es ethisch nicht in Ordnung. Er sagt, er bleibe Lehrer, weil die Arbeit mit Kindern seine Berufung sei. Aber auch das erzählt er seinen Schülern nicht. Sie würden es nicht verstehen.

G E N A T S V A L I : Out to do business, or out for a scrap? Nov 15th 2007 From The Economist print edition Under Vladimir Putin, Russia is once again flexing muscles and scoring diplomatic pointsbut it is not always clear what purpose this serves ACROSS a broad, cold front of disagreementsover Kosovo, the expansion of NATO, the durability of arms-control agreements, America's plans for new missile defences in Europe, how to cope with the nuclear ambitions of Iran, and Russia's steely grip on energy supplies to parts of EuropeRussia and the West have not seemed so much at odds in a decade. President Vladimir Putin has likened America to Hitler's Third Reich and compared missile defences for Europe to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. Is it now enduring winter in relations with Russia? That rather depends on what exactly Mr Putin intends with his recent tough talk. Is it based on a realistic view of Russia's strengths and interests, and is the ultimate aim to solve problems, or to create them? Like any other country, Russia has interests to defend. Common threats from terrorism, proliferation and the like mean that its interests don't always differ much from those of America and Europe. But at times, Mr Putin seems bent on proving only that Russia is again able to say nyet. Take the Balkans. In mid-December, efforts to negotiate the peaceful separation of Kosovo from Serbia are likely to run out of road. Regional stability could be jeopardised, with Russia backing the rejectionist Serbs and America and the European Union with varying degrees of enthusiasm supporting the Kosovars. Although the place has been under UN administration for eight years, Russia has argued that a self-declared independent Kosovo will prompt other breakaway regions, such as Abkhazia in Georgia and Transdniestria in Moldova (where Russia still has some troops) to follow suit. Yet Russia's public support for the Serbs also masks differences with them: a recent 14-point proposal from the troika of the EU, Russia and America to break the deadlock included several Russian ideas, but it was rejected flatly by the Serbs. One key question now is whether Russia will help or hinder efforts to prevent flare-ups between extremist Serbs and Kosovars. Meanwhile Russia's Duma, the lower house of parliament, has voted unanimously to back a moratorium from December 12th on Russia's obligations under the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty. The move would leave Russia free to shift troops and arms to its western borders, unrestrained by the ceilings and transparency rules that have been a cornerstone of European security for 15 years. Mr Putin has long complained that the amended 1999 version of the CFE treaty, updating the 1992 original to take account of the Soviet break-up, has not been ratified by NATO countries, and that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have yet to sign on. NATO governments say that is because Russia has not kept related pledges to pull all soldiers out of Abkhazia and Transdniestria (where their jobs include guarding a huge ex-Soviet weapons dump). But taking Mr Putin at his worried word, last month America proposed a series of parallel steps: some NATO governments would start CFE ratification, the Balts would prepare to join the treaty and Russia would also move to fulfil its promises, with new arrangements for Transdniestria's weapons. Now Russia is raising new demands that could scupper the whole treaty. Some wonder if that was Mr Putin's real aim. On some issues, Russia gets more sympathyfor example, when it balks at the Bush administration's insistence that, since the two are no longer foes, intrusive verification rules governing their shrinking strategic arsenals can be relaxed after the existing ones expire in 2009. Richard Lugar, an influential Republican senator, favours a new legally-binding understanding to avoid sowing what he calls seeds of greater distrust with Russia. Worries about Russia in America and in Europe have led administration officials to seek new ways to work with Mr Putin where they can. America and Russia have called jointly for other states to accept the curbs imposed by their bilateral treaty on Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces. The 1987 treaty bans both from deploying missiles with ranges of 500-5,000km. North Korea and Iran, but also Israel, India, Pakistan and China field such missiles. However Mr Putin's declared fear of such weapons being set up near Russia's borders seems at odds with his dogged lack of understanding for a pet American project: missile defences for Europe. The plan to put a missile-defence radar in the Czech Republic and a small number of interceptors in Poland, to deal with an emerging threat from Iran, at first sent Mr Putin ballistic. But Russia's threats to target the two sites with its own nuclear missiles backfired. Mr Putin later offered two radar sites, one in Azerbaijan and another in Russia, instead of the Czech and Polish facilities. Last month America made Mr Putin an unprecedented counter-offer: to link Russia's radars with the American-led project and NATO's shorter-range defences so as to improve the coverage of both Europe and European Russia. To allay Russia's other concernthat Europe-based missile defences could someday undermine Russia's strategic deterrent (a claim some Russian officials privately call far-fetched)America's secretary of defence, Robert Gates, says the system, even when built, would become operable only if the presumed threat from Iran materialises. In fact, missile defences against Iran ought to be the centrepiece of strategic co-operation, argues a senior Bush administration official. Mr Putin has said he will think about it; his generals seem unimpressed. Instead, at a time when Russia's defence budget is a fraction of what it was in the cold war, they prefer to resurrect Russia's ageing bomber-fleet to fly ineffectual sorties against the Westjust as Mr Putin has lately resorted to verbal offence as a form of defence. The idea seems to be to show that Russia is back. But it is not back making friends, and on some issues at least, it still needs them.

G E N A T S V A L I : Russia's election Putin's phoney election Dec 1st 2007 | MOSCOW AND TVER From The Economist print edition Guess who is going to win AFP AFP Get article background MARIA, a teacher in Tver, near Moscow, felt ashamed when she told her 15-year-old pupils to join a rally in support of President Vladimir Putin before the parliamentary election on Sunday December 2nd. The order came from the local administration, staffed by members of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party. I would not have lost my life or even my job if I had not followed the order. But I felt I could not refuse it, perhaps because I am not a free person. Ten years ago I would have told you my real name, she sighs. Her pupils later learnt from television that they had joined in an outburst of patriotic feeling. Similar voluntary demonstrations have been staged all over Russia. When the president decided to head United Russia's party list, its poll rating jumped from 50% to 63%. Yet Mr Putin is not even a member of United Russia. Most of the country will vote for their president, even though he is not up for election. Indeed, the exercise is not really an election at all. It is about confirming that power in Russia lies with Mr Putin, who has presided over an oil-driven bonanza for his country. Only candidates approved by the Kremlin are allowed to take part. Besides United Russia, which could secure 70% of the vote, these include the toothless Communist Party (which may get 12%) and the Liberal Democratic Party, a clownish far-right party set up in the late 1980s with the help of the KGB. The results were fixed months ago, when the Kremlin changed the rules. To keep the opposition out of parliament, the Kremlin raised the threshold for seats to 7%, and banned small parties from forming coalitions to meet this requirement. The minimum turnout rule was abolished, as was the option to vote against all candidates. Regional parties and single-mandate seats that let in independent deputies were scrapped. Opposition leaders have been harassed or arrested and their financing blocked. Television has given blanket coverage to United Russia and dished dirt on all opposition. Why have a people used to Soviet elections, when they had only one candidate, found the Kremlin's machinations so palatable? One reason is that Russian economic growth, sparked by the privatisations of the 1990s and kept going by the oil-price boom, has brought rising living standards and a new sense of stability. This, as well as his control of television, has made Mr Putin genuinely popular. Most voters say the results will be rigged anyway. Worse, some 35% of Russians prefer the Soviet political system. Two-thirds of Russians consider the concentration of power in Mr Putin's hands to be a good thing. Most would like him to stay for a third term. Indeed, the only danger for the Kremlin is the possibility of an embarrassingly low voter turnout. To guard against that, Mr Putin recently gave a rousing speech at a stadium in Moscow, broadcast on every television channel. He said Russia was in danger from ill-wishing foreigners and thieving liberals. The message is clear. Russia's enemies are the liberals who in the 1990s squandered its wealth, cut defence spending and led people into poverty. They are now the candidates and sponsors of the opposition. The security services and police took Mr Putin's words as an instruction. When the opposition gathered in Moscow and St Petersburg as part of the Other Russia movement, which has not been allowed to register for this election, many people, including journalists, were beaten up and arrested. These scenes, broadcast around the world, were not shown on Russian television. Russians did not hear opposition speeches; they were not told that the police had unlawfully detained candidates. The paradox is that the Kremlin would surely have won even had the election been free and fair. Its heavy-handed tactics betray the nervousness linked to the transition of power in any authoritarian system. A power struggle is clearly taking place within the Kremlin, as shown by the arrests of senior officials in different camps. Mr Putin needs to retain power after his second term expires next March, but at the same time to preserve legitimacy. It is not an easy task. This is why the parliamentary election has been turned into a ceremony of approval for him. If Mr Putin cannot stay as president because the constitution bars him from a third consecutive term, he should take power with him wherever he goes. Some Kremlin insiders think Mr Putin could make himself head of the powerful Security Council, whose functions may then be pumped up. Others suggest he could become prime minister, with extra powers, before returning to the Kremlin to replace the president, who could conveniently fall ill. The only problem of Mr Putin's system is that stepping aside even for a short time could be lethal for him and his cronies. And that is why Russia, despite the predictability of this election, feels like a country heading towards crisis. http://www.economist.com/world/europe/PrinterFriendly.cfm?story_id=10235434

author: G E N A T S V A L I : the toothless Communist Party

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Spy: Jak se blížily volby, mezi vašimi známými se hovořilo více o politice. Otázka, zdali jít k volbám, a pokud ano, tak koho volit, vytěsňuje rozhovory o značkách automobilů nebo historky z rodinného života. Každý asi slyšel debatu typu "Já bych hlasoval za stranu X, ale když tam je ten Z, a toho nesnáším", eventuálně "Já budu hlasovat stranu Y, i když jsou tam zloději, hlavně když tam nebude strana Q". Rusko není výjimkou. Část obyvatelstva má jasno. Budou hlasovat za vládní stranu, tedy za Jednotné Rusko. Velká část z důvodu spokojenosti s politikou Putina, který podle jejich názoru je zárukou relativní stability země a jejího hospodářského růstu. Včerejší volby byly poznamenány tlakem ze strany úřadů, aby lidé hlasovali tak, jak šéfové potřebují. Ze všech regionů minulý týden přicházely zprávy o tom, jak především pracovníci rozpočtové sféry jsou nuceni si brát volební průkazy a hlasovat na pracovišti. Pokud budou výsledky v takové volební místnosti nepříznivé pro Jednotné Rusko, tak pracovníky i šéfy čekají problémy. Řada lidí dala hlas jiným stranám, protože jsou přívrženci vyhraněné ideologie. To se týká především voličů komunistů a do jisté míry i Svazu pravicových sil. Jsou i tací, kteří nevolili ani jednu z kandidujících stran: svůj volební lístek znehodnotili. Na internetu radili, aby takový protestní volič zaškrtl všechny kolonky. Přeškrtnout lístek nestačí. Pokud by čára zasáhla do jednoho z políček, lístek by byl platný. Varováním byl anekdotický případ z Ukrajiny. Během prezidentských voleb v roce 2004 jeden z voličů napsal vedle jména jednoho z kandidátů třípísmenné slovo, označující mužské přirození. Protože jedno z písmen bylo umístněno v čtverečku pro hlasování, předseda volební komise prosadil, že vládní kandidát získal v Jaltě o jeden hlas více. Autor je zpravodajem HN v Rusku http://zahranicni.ihned.cz/c6-10032600-22535820-003000_d-rusko-ondreje-soukupa

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Spy: Varováním byl anekdotický případ z Ukrajiny. Během prezidentských voleb v roce 2004 jeden z voličů napsal vedle jména jednoho z kandidátů třípísmenné slovo, označující mužské přirození. Protože jedno z písmen bylo umístněno v čtverečku pro hlasování, předseda volební komise prosadil, že vládní kandidát získal v Jaltě o jeden hlas více. , 2004 , . , , ...

author: Spy : Varováním byl anekdotický případ z Ukrajiny. Během prezidentských voleb v roce 2004 jeden z voličů napsal vedle jména jednoho z kandidátů třípísmenné slovo, označující mužské přirození. Protože jedno z písmen bylo umístněno v čtverečku pro hlasování, předseda volební komise prosadil, že vládní kandidát získal v Jaltě o jeden hlas více. - ?

G E N A T S V A L I : The secret policeman's election Dec 6th 2007 | MOSCOW From The Economist print edition Vladimir Putin did not rig the ballot to win control of parliament, but to assert his power over the Kremlin's warring factions AP AP NOTHING was left to chance in Russia's parliamentary election. As polling stations closed on December 2nd, large lorries with military and riot police surrounded Moscow's main squares. There was no need for them: the city was quiet and nobody was protesting. Nor was there any need for the tourist buses ferrying voters from far-flung regions to cast multiple ballots in one polling station after another. We have been going around polling stations since lunch time, grumbled one man, and they have not paid us yet. President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party would have won anyway. The victory it secured, 64% of the vote, was in line with the predictions of independent opinion polls. Yet the entire machinery of the authoritarian stateincluding courts, prosecutors, media and security agencieswas pressed into service to maximise the turnout. It was particularly high in Chechnya and Ingushetiathe most troubled North Caucasus republicswhere 99% of residents voted for United Russia. It is an interesting result, said Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, but we have no reason to doubt it. Many Western leaders thought otherwise. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said that measured by our standards, it was neither a free, fair nor democratic election. By putting himself on the United Russia party list, Mr Putin turned the election into a referendum on his own popularityodd, given that his rating is already close to 80%. So why so much nervousness and what was Mr Putin trying to prove? Plainly, he wants to retain a firm grip on power after the expiry of his second term in office (by the constitution his last stint) in three months' time. Yet the simplest way to achieve this would have been to change the constitution a year ago to allow him to stay on. Respect for the law has never been Mr Putin's strongest point. Indeed, it is widely believed that some, including Igor Sechin, the deputy chief of staff in the Kremlin and the informal leader of the siloviki, the clan of former KGB men, urged him to make such a change. With little prodding, parliament would have amended the constitution and two-thirds of the country would have supported it. The West, after some grumbling, would have come to terms with it. Deciphering Mr Putin's real motives is a murky business, as much a matter of psychoanalysis as of political interpretation. It is possible that until recently Mr Putin genuinely wanted to leave the Kremlin and become an international figure bathing in luxury and respect. Staying on might have turned him into a hostage to those seeking to protect their financial interests. As one Yeltsin-era oligarch put it: You stay for the third termyou may never leave. If so, why the change of heart? The answer almost certainly lies in the ever more viciousand openrivalry among the Kremlin's political clans. Perhaps Mr Putin upset so many rich and powerful people that the prospect of losing control over the transition of power may simply have been too dangerous for his inner circle, and for himself. For all his talk about foreign threats and domestic enemies, what Mr Putin really fears is his entourage and a war among the clans. Winston Churchill once described the Kremlin's political tussles as being like a fight among bulldogs under a carpet: outsiders hear plenty of growling but have few clues about the victor's identity until it emerges. Consider the latest strange noises from beneath the carpet. Two months before the election, a fight broke out among Mr Putin's men, resulting in the arrest of a general from a drugs-fighting agency accused of tapping the phones of the Federal Security Service (FSB). The arrest prompted an article from the general's boss, Viktor Cherkesov, one of Mr Putin's close allies, warning of the fatal danger of a feud within the security agencies, a war in which there can be no winners. A few weeks later, the deputy finance minister, Sergei Storchak, was arrested on embezzlement charges. Kremlinologists are confident that the arrest was aimed at Alexei Kudrin, the liberal finance minister, recently elevated by Mr Putin. Mr Kudrin's plea to see his deputy and let him out on bail was ignored. Then, just two days before the election, a page-long interview was published in a mainstream business newspaper, Kommersant. In it, a fund manager, Oleg Shvartsman, claimed that his $3.2 billion fund was closely connected to the Kremlin's administration and security services. He talked of a velvet reprivatisation which involved voluntary-coercive methods. He told Kommersant he reported indirectly to Mr Sechin, who also chairs the Rosneft oil company. Mr Shvartsman later said his words had been distorted, but the newspaper stands by its story. Some say the candid interview was aimed at Mr Sechin; others suggest it was his own warning salvo. Either way, it was serious enough for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to pull out of creating a Russian venture-capital fund with Mr Shvartsman. Anatoly Chubais, the powerful head of the electricity monopoly, said that intentionally or not, Mr Shvartsman told the truth. Caught in his own system, Mr Putin seems to have decided he could not rely on any of the factions. All he could do, says Lilia Shevtsova, senior associate at the Carnegie Moscow Centre, was to appeal directly to the nation. This is why he turned the parliamentary election into a display of his own power. It is not the Russian people, or the outside world, who needed convincing of his strength, but his own elites. Whether they heed Mr Putin will become clear in the next few weeks, when he names his chosen successor. http://www.economist.com/world/europe/PrinterFriendly.cfm?story_id=10268185

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G E N A T S V A L I : Russia and its history A Byzantine sermon Feb 14th 2008 | MOSCOW From The Economist print edition The drawing of inaccurate historical parallels with Constantinople WHEN Nikolai Patrushev, head of Russia's federal security service (FSB), spoke to his staff to mark the 90th anniversary of the Soviet secret service last year, he made an odd historic diversion. Those who study history know that security existed before. Sophia Paleologue married Ivan III, and being a niece of the last Byzantine emperor, paid close attention to questions of security. Few understood what he was talking about. The mystery was cleared up a few weeks later, when Russia's state television channel aired an hour-long film, The Destruction of the Empire: a Byzantine Lesson. It proved so popular that the channel repeated it and added a 45-minute discussion concluding that Russia could exist only as an Orthodox empire. The author and narrator of the film is Father Tikhon Shevkunov, reputedly the confessor of Vladimir Putin. In recent weeks the film has become one of the most talked-about in Moscow. Russian rulers often appeal to history to justify their actions. Mr Putin revealed his interest in history from the start of his presidency, when he restored Stalin's anthem as a national hymn. Last year he promoted a school textbook justifying Stalin's brutal rule as a necessary evil. When other ex-Soviet republics commemorate Soviet brutalities, Russia treats this as a distortion of history. This week the foreign ministry held a meeting behind closed doors on the subject of Counteracting the falsification of history aimed against Russia: a task of national importance. In the minds and language of the ex-spooks who dominate Russia, history is a powerful tool. The television film seems to be in that genre. In it, Father Tikhon is transported in full attire from a snow-swept church to Istanbul and Venice, where he exposes the West as a genetic hater of both Byzantium and its spiritual heir: Russia. The Byzantine empire's rich and cultured capital, Constantinople, was the envy of dark and aggressive barbarians from the West, who looted it during the fourth crusade in 1204. Modern Western capitalism, argues Father Tikhon, is built on Byzantine loot and Jewish usury. In this version, Byzantium's first mistake was to trust the West (represented in the film by a cloaked figure in a sinister, long-nosed Venetian mask) and surrender the commanding heights of the economytrading and customs collectionto Western entrepreneurs and greedy oligarchs. Using a term from today's Russia, Father Tikhon talks of some stabilisation fund when describing the achievements of one Byzantine emperor, Basil II, godfather to Russia's Prince Vladimir, who crushed separatists and sent oligarchs to prison. But even great emperors could have weak successors. (The film was made before Mr Putin chose Dmitry Medvedev as his successor, to be endorsed by voters in the election on March 2nd.) The film's usage of modern words and imagery is so conspicuous that the moral cannot escape a Russian viewer. Instead of sticking to its traditions, Byzantium tried to reform and modernise, as the West demanded, and it paid the price. Worst of all, the West infiltrated Byzantium with harmful, individualistic ideas, which destroyed the core values of the empireso the people lost faith in their rulers. Sergei Ivanov, Russia's leading scholar on Byzantium, says all this lumps together a 1,000-year history of Byzantium and crudely extrapolates the result to today's Russia. In fact, the film has little to do with the true history of Byzantium. But neither history nor the values of the Orthodox faith are its real object. In the absence of any new ideology, it manipulates a story of Byzantium to justify Russia's anti-Westernism and xenophobia in a 1,000-year history. The film also carries an implicit message to Mr Putin: do not listen to the West, stay in power, close off the country. It is of little concern to Father Tikhon, or to Russian state television, that the Russian empire gained most when it opened up to the West, not when it fenced itself off. Byzantium was always the source of Orthodox faith for Russia, but few Russian tsars looked to Byzantium as a political model. It was for good reason that they called Moscow a third Rome, not a second Constantinople. It fell to Stalin to revive Byzantine studies, along with the idea of imperialism, says Father Tikhon, approvingly. He knew whom to learn from. But the danger of manipulating history in this way is that its tragedies may recur.

G E N A T S V A L I : From Russia with love? Apr 4th 2008 | BUCHAREST From Economist.com Vladimir Putin's pragmatic approach AFP Get article background VLADIMIR PUTIN knows he is a master of political theatre. There is a religious tremor before any of my speeches, he said at the end of the NATO summit on Friday April 5th. And so there was. Attending his first gathering of the alliance in six years (and his last before stepping down from the presidency), would Mr Putin again fulminate against the West after its decision a day earlier to embrace missile defence? Or would he gloat over his success in intimidating NATO into denying (for now) Ukraine and Georgia the next step towards membership? He adopted a pragmatic approach. There were well-known disagreements but no ping-pong match of mutual blame, he said, adding, apparently pleased, that our concerns have been heard. Russia would seek to co-operate constructively with the alliance where possible, though he was scornful of the Western mantra that membership of it encourages stability and democracy. NATO is not a democratisator, suggested an official translation. The man who once mused about Russia's joining the alliance declared that it does not aspire to be a member. Now he sees the spread of NATO along Russias borders as a direct threat to its security. He questioned the allies' ambition to play a global role (not just militarily, but also in cyber-security and protecting energy supplies). Against whom does NATO exist?, he asked. The unspoken answer, for many European countries, is Russia. Fear of the Kremlin explains why Georgia and the Ukrainian government (if not necessarily most Ukrainians) want to move closer to NATO. Former communist states are the keenest advocates of NATO expansion from its old transatlantic position towards the Black Sea and even, one day, to the Caspian Sea. It was the countries of old Europe, led by Germany, that balked at granting the two states the next stage of accession, known as the Membership Action Plan causing a particularly bitter debate. In the end the compromise was to look again at the matter in a meeting in December, along with a promise that Ukraine and Georgia will become membersone day. This was a tactical success for Mr Putin, even if Ukraine and Georgia chose to interpret it as a victory for their long-term ambitions. But NATO's agreement to sign up to much of America's plans for missile defence in Europe was a blow for the Russian leader. The allies agreed that a proliferation of missiles poses an increasing threat, and welcomed the planned deployment of defence systems in Poland and the Czech Republic as a substantial contribution to their securitythey will even study ways to extend it to cover countries, such as Turkey, that are not protected, and to link it to NATO's own planned defences against short-range missiles. Russia has until now regarded the missile shield as an attempt to neutralise, whether immediately or in the future, its nuclear arsenal. Mr Putin seemed to tone down his criticism, saying that a dialogue with America to increase transparency and trust over the system would continue at a summit with George Bush in Russia at the weekend. America has offered to delay switching on its system until a real threat, probably from Iran, emerges. Who would decide this remains unclear. America has also suggested having Russian liaison officers at the installations. Russia, for its part, says that the interceptors should not be deployed in Poland until the threat is real, and wants the tracking radar in the Czech Republic to be cemented into the ground so that it cannot be moved. It has also suggested integrating some of its own early-warning radars. Moreover, Mr Putin wants some sort of hand in the management and operation of the system. At his press conference in Bucharest Mr Putin was asked how he felt about giving up the presidency next month (to become prime minister). There is nothing to be sorry about. This a long awaited freedom, he said. The past eight years saw resurrection for Russia. With a strong independent state, and a strong foreign posture. Kommentarii k stat'e: frank gerlach wrote: April 04, 2008 14:57 "Talking is always the best option, and I doubt that NATO will ever stop talking with Russia, but let's not pretend that the Russian bear doesn't have fangs and that he's not hungry after a long hibernation." Let us not forget it was a Western (Middle- ?) European dictator (Hitler) who encouraged the annexation of the Baltic states and half of Poland by Russia. It was also Hitler's war, who brought the Bear to the river Elbe. Stalin would never have deared to do that, had Germany not started the war. Russians were always fascinated by Western culture and achievements, and they still are. Cathrine the Great, one of the most successful russian leaders, was born in Germany ! Every nation has strong historical memories and the russian's is one of fascination of the West; but also of most brutal invasion and meddling by the West. RecommendReport Abuse Fizboz wrote: April 04, 2008 14:26 Frank, There's no feeling of threat from Russian culture, there's a feeling of threat at the actions and words of Russian leaders. I'm also not arguing that Russia doesn't feel threatened - I'm sure that they legitimately do. However, the real threat to Russia doesn't come from NATO, it comes from it's own belligerence, it's lack of democracy and it's paper thin economy. Putin certainly isn't Hitler, but that doesn't make him a fit leader. Putin is a typical 'us vs them' dictator who has encouraged xenophobe nationalism in order to keep himself and his cadre in power. The Russian people are an afterthought to the prestige and power of the Russian nation (read here Security elite...) Talking is always the best option, and I doubt that NATO will ever stop talking with Russia, but let's not pretend that the Russian bear doesn't have fangs and that he's not hungry after a long hibernation. NATO membership is a good way to show countries like Georgia and Ukraine that they have allies and aren't alone in the cave. RecommendReport Abuse frank gerlach wrote: April 04, 2008 14:24 I think "Salami tactic" is the right thing to do: Every couple of years, cut of a slice of the East and integrate it into NATO. We should be realists and realize the Bear does not like us to eat "his" Salami. But if we do it slowly, he will just grumble. NATO has already "eaten" Poland, Czech Republic, the Baltic nations, Bulgaria and many other key members of the Warsaw pact. If we eat the Salami too fast, the bear may just scratch us with his claws, and that will not be funny ! Of course, that sounds cynic, but I think its realistic. Eating too fast is bad for your health ! RecommendReport Abuse frank gerlach wrote: April 04, 2008 14:15 "Russia continues to define itself against the West rather than for anything positive" I guess there is a genuine feeling of threat from the West in Russian culture. They have been invaded not just by the Germans, but also by the French and by the British. The devastation of Napoleon and Hitler, the meddling of the British Empire should not be discounted lightly. It appears that the professionals (Merkel and Sarkozy) have kept the cretin (Bush) at bay. Why should we offend the Russian Bear ? For the sake of making an enemy ? One can do that with Serbia, but not with the most powerful nation in Europe. NATO did not actually change the long-term vision of Ukraine and Georgia joining it, but on the other hand demonstrated to the Russians that it is willing to listen to some degree. Mr Putin seems to be a man that can be appeased. He definitely does not belong into the Hitler-Stalin-Mao-KimIJong bin. Talking with the Russian leadership is always better than reading them a declaration of what is wrong with Russia. Recommend (2)Report Abuse JPChance wrote: April 04, 2008 14:14 Who benefits from another "Cold War"? Is it the same private central banks, private energy cartels and private holocaust profiteers who created the world wars of the last century and seem to believe they can win the so-called "Clash of Civilizations" and ironic "War on Terrorism"? Aside from the obvious psychopathic character of such people and institutions, does their financial debt scheme that promotes war, poverty, instability, pollution and other "profitable" ventures suggest that monetary reform based on economic realities and positive value is long overdue? http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GlobalRelations/message/283 RecommendReport Abuse Fizboz wrote: April 04, 2008 14:10 ChrisQt, The Ukrainian situation is a bit more complex than that... Ukraine is very much split into pro-West/pro-Russia camps. Most of the pro-Western camp is in the country's capital Kiev, where there's a legitimate distaste for Russian interference in Ukrainian politics. This isn't to say that the population of Ukraine is wildly pro-NATO, but they're not anti-NATO either. The protests against NATO were in the southeast of the country which is much more pro-Russian than the West. You're certainly right that the West and NATO missed a golden opportunity, but that doesn't in any way invalidate the threat that Russia is today. They are acting less and less like a potential partner and more and more like an adversary. They've clearly moved away from democratic politics and are more than ever before ruled by a handful of powerful security elites. Watch Russian TV today and you're seeing back into the Soviet Union, but with better production values. To the mix of nationalism, authoritarianism, lack of free press, the world's largest nuclear armory, the potential that the 'booming' economy is just prepping itself for an epic crash (there's no infrastructure built in crumbling Moscow that isn't in a 5 star 'elitny' residential complex) and you have a very real threat indeed. The Economist is biased in it's Russia coverage, but given what's going on there, what right thinking person wouldn't be? RecommendReport Abuse ChrisQt wrote: April 04, 2008 13:38 It seems odd that a popularly elected government (in Ukraine) would want to act against the popular will of the people who elected it (by joining NATO). How does this possibly represent real democracy (which the Economist supposedly supports) as opposed to realpolitik? If Ukraine's government (certainly not the majority of its people) do end up getting their way, what's to stop a future popularly elected Ukrainian government from taking Ukraine out of NATO and causing potential embarrassment to the alliance (which could do without such things)? Has it ever also occurred to the Economist that one of the greatest potential failures of the NATO alliance was not to jump on the former musing by Putin about Russia's accession to the alliance? By not responding positively and constructively to such musings, however theoretical, they may have sent the unintended message to Putin and any of his military commanders that might have been okay with Russia in NATO that the alliance wasn't really interested in incorporating Russia and was thus therefore opposed to it. Once Russia was in or was seen to be working its way towards NATO (with the Russian government trying to win popular support for the decision by changing the opinion of NATO among the Russian population - which is what Ukraine's government should do before even accepting membership), then there is no doubt that NATO could never be seriously considered as being opposed to Russia and it would go a long way to building constructive relations with the rest of Europe especially with those short-sighted countries that only seem to able to view Russia as a threat and not a potential partner. Engaging with Russia seems to me to be a better way to encourage the growth of democracy in that country than in trying to start confrontation. I always read articles like this from the Economist with a tiny disclaimer in my mind that the Economist is at times (especially recently) either consciously or unconsciously biased slightly against Russia. Instead of view Russia and its people as one of the victims of the Soviet era dictatorships, it seems to view them as the perpetrators even though Russians were among those harassed by the secret police and sent to labour camps or suffering internal exile. There are times when the Economist can be really objective, but other times its journalists seem to take sides (which should never be done in real journalism) and accept everything hook, line and sinker (witness their support for the Iraq invasion which they based on US claims that I and many people I had talked to at the time saw as either flimsy, suspicious or unlikely - or their claims that the current Kenyan president stole the election without their citing any definitive proof other than opposition demonstrations and claims...claims and demonstrations from the same opposition that declared before the election results were announced that if the results did not go in their favour then they would demonstrate...really in such a situation both sides are to be blamed for promoting pseudo-democracy instead of real democracy). Recommend (7)Report Abuse Fizboz wrote: April 04, 2008 13:11 The cold war returns... As little coverage as Russia gets compared to 'headline' countries like China, Iraq and Pakistan these days, there is something genuinely worrying going on. Modern Russia is returning to many of the nastier practices of Soviet Russia, only replacing Leninist ideology with xenophobic nationalism and the disaster of communist economics with a corrupt, incestuous outwardly aggressive capitalism. Russia continues to define itself against the West rather than for anything positive, it's regional politics are bullying and it's internal mood is nationalistic and aggressive. Unfortunately improving living conditions (in itself, of course a good thing) and state controlled media have made the average Russian less interested in politics than ever. More and more Russia feels and looks like the 'enemy' of old and it's easy to understand why NATO needs to stay involved. Recommend (1)Report Abuse Link: http://www.economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10987588

G E N A T S V A L I : A strange Kremlin wedding May 8th 2008 | MOSCOW From The Economist print edition AFP A youthful Dmitry Medvedev is inaugurated Russian president, but a stern Vladimir Putin looms large behind him Get article background THEY arrived separately but walked out together. Like a bridegroom in church, Vladimir Putin arrived for the ceremony first. In front of 2,400 guests, he entered through the Kremlin's oldest and grandest banqueting hall. Only after he had taken his place at the podium, with the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church in sight, did the television cameras show the bridal motorcade arriving. The new president, Dmitry Medvedev, walked in through an ordinary entrance and stood next to Mr Putin. If there was any doubt about seniority in this tandem, Mr Putin then spoke first, about passing the symbol of state power to Dmitry Medvedev. In his own speech, the 42-year-old Mr Medvedev promised to protect the freedoms and rights of Russian citizens. A few minutes later, the two men emerged from the KremlinMr Putin in a long black coat, his protégé in a short black raincoat. Comrade president, the head of the presidential guard seemed to address both, as they stood shoulder to shoulder. The inauguration took place at midday on May 7th. It marked the end of operation successor, devised in the depths of the Kremlin. But for all the pomp and theatre, it did not answer one simple question: who is now in charge of Russia? What is clear is that the transition of power has not taken placeor at least, not yet. Mr Putin respected the letter of the constitution by stepping down from the job. But the red-bound document, carried by a goose-stepping soldier as part of the ceremony, has proved surprisingly accommodating for him. This may be the first time in Russian history that an incumbent president has left office in line with the constitution and at the peak of his popularity; but it is also the first time that he has stayed on as leader. As Dmitry Peskov, Mr Putin's spokesman, puts it, Medvedev will be the head of state. But of course Putin is not going anywhere. As prime minister, he will be implementing the tasks he set out as president over the past eight years. Exactly 24 hours later Mr Putin was confirmed as prime minister. To gain extra legitimacy he turned last December's parliamentary election into a referendum on his own popularity; and has since become the leader (though not a member) of United Russia, the party that dominates parliament. In preparation for his move from the Kremlin, Mr Putin gave himself extra powers, including oversight of regional governors; and transferred more mundane tasks to some ministries, giving himself time to concentrate on strategic tasks. According to Mr Peskov, as prime minister Mr Putin will use powers that were underused by his predecessors. What is less clear is what precisely Mr Medvedev's role will bebesides presenting a friendlier face to the Westand whether he will be allowed even to make significant appointments of his own. In the run-up to the inauguration, Medvedev was subjected to a series of humiliations, conscious or not, by the Kremlin, by Putin, and by part of the elite, comments Lilia Shevtsova, of the Carnegie Moscow Centre. Two days beforehand, state-controlled television showed Mr Putin chairing his final cabinet meeting. His speech was like a headmaster's pep talk on the last day of term. At the end, in a matter of fact way, he wished Mr Medvedev well. Thank you, whispered Mr Medvedev, who occupied only third place in the news bulletin, as chairman of a meeting of trustees of an art museum. Even Russian businessmen put their money on Mr Putin remaining in charge. Oleg Deripaska, Russia's richest man, told journalists that his [Medvedev's] role is important. But you need to understand: it is a big challenge to take responsibility. As I understand it, Putin accepted this responsibility to develop his 2020 goals. An opinion poll confirms that, although many Russians (47%) believe that Mr Medvedev should have real power, only 22% think that he will. It is entirely possible that Mr Medvedev will remain a faithful minion and be smothered by the embrace of Mr Putin's appointees. But the Kremlin is a powerful fortress. So there is also a chance that Mr Medvedev will try to establish himself as an independent politician. If he is to do it, however, he will need to act fast. The liberal, westward-looking part of the Russian elite wants to see Mr Medvedev as a beacon of the post-Putin thaw. They will try to exploit any cracks between Mr Putin and Mr Medvedev to steer the country in a more liberal direction. The new president's speeches are certainly encouraging. He talks of the supremacy of law. In his inaugural speech, he said that Russia's success was impossible without economic and civil liberties. Unlike most of the ruling elite, he did not serve in the KGB, which may make him less prone to paranoia and conspiracy theories. On the other hand, he owes everything he has, including the presidency, to Mr Putin. Even if Mr Medvedev and Mr Putin stay loyal to each other, they may find it hard to contain the fierce rivalry among their apparatchiks. For the past eight years all power has been concentrated in the Kremlin. Any transfer to the government, even under Mr Putin, may seem like exile, not promotion. There is sure to be confusion on servile state television, which has long relied on the Kremlin's directions. The Russian political system is based on the personification of absolute power and does not tolerate a division of formal and real power, notes Ms Shevtsova. Indeed, the biggest danger is not that Mr Putin stays in charge, but that nobody will be in charge. As Yulia Latynina, a commentator, puts it, for all his macho image many of Mr Putin's commands drown in a jelly-like mass of conflicting interests. Having destroyed any semblance of democratic institutions and with no rule of law, Mr Putin's rich barons have to rely on shaky agreements. They are understandably nervous about transfers of power, even symbolic ones. Hence, says Andrei Illarionov, a former economic adviser to Mr Putin now turned critic, the hastiness with which Mr Putin assumed his new post. Hence also the tanks on the streets and fighters in the air, ostensibly as a rehearsal for Moscow's military parade on May 9th. But unlike a military parade, which symbolises order and predictability, Russian politics has neither clarity nor structure. There is always this fear in the Kremlin: what if we left something out? says Mr Illarionov. Yet, for all the uncertainty of the political class, there is little nervousness or even suspense among the public. Having been deprived of any say in politics for most of Mr Putin's rule, Russians resort to the traditional formula of why worry, it will all be decided for us anyway. Tellingly, the public was kept away from the Kremlin ceremony. Mr Medvedev's motorcade drove through empty streets. But if people care little about infighting in the Kremlin, they care a lot about rising prices and corruption. Unlike Mr Putin, who took over the Kremlin at a good moment in the economic cycle, Mr Medvedev assumes the presidency with inflation in double digits, oil production falling, and utility bills going up. This could be one factor that the Kremlin scriptwriters have not taken into account. Link: http://www.economist.com/world/europe/PrinterFriendly.cfm?story_id=11332639

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G E N A T S V A L I : Yukos shareholders win first round in legal battle International tribunal rules in favour of Yukos shareholders Yukos shareholders could seize Gazprom's gas, Aeroflot's planes and $100bn of other Russian government assets overseas after an international tribunal ruled in their favour today. Privately owned Russian oil company Yukos was subsumed into Kremlin-controlled rival Rosneft in 2006 after it failed to pay $28bn of trumped-up back taxes. Its shareholders are now seeking compensation of up to $100bn from the Russian government and yesterday took a major step in winning the case, which could still take at least two years to conclude. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled the Energy Charter Treaty around which the shareholders have built their case is binding on Russia. This means that if the arbitration courts rule in the shareholders' favour and the Kremlin refuses to pay them compensation, the claimants can seek court orders in countries including the UK and Germany, forcing authorities to seize Russian government assets on their behalf. This is because these countries have signed the New York Convention on the Enforcement of International Arbitration. The ruling could also have implications for Rosneft, which controversially listed on the London Stock Exchange three years ago. Tim Osborne, the head of investment vehicle GML and biggest shareholder in Yukos, insisted that the ruling was not a "pyrrhic victory". He said that any eventual ruling from the arbitration courts in Yukos shareholders' favour would be enforceable by international law. Governments around the world would not be able to "retry" the case, he said. "We are very happy. We have got everything we asked for. If the Russian government did not obey any ruling [to pay compensation] we can seize their assets worldwide. It could be Rosneft's oil, Gazprom's gas or Aeroflot's planes. It would take some time but we would get there in the end." GML's stake in Yukos was worth over $25bn before the company was destroyed in a politically motivated campaign orchestrated by the Kremlin and the Russian tax authorities. The stake became worthless after the Russian authorities froze the assets of all Yukos's major shareholders. The campaign against the company was partly motivated by the political ambitions of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was Yukos's chief executive and also one its biggest shareholders, which angered the Kremlin. Khodorkovsky was jailed for eight years for tax evasion and fraud.

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