24 november 2014
Putin interview with TASS: The media cite statements made in an interview with the TASS news agency by President Putin. The interview, which was published on Sunday, is considered by some commentators very personal. Putin said inter alia that he does not intend to remain President for the rest of his life. At the same time, he did not rule out running for a new term in 2018. Putin denied that Russia was building a new iron curtain, saying that "we are aware of the dangers of an iron curtain for us." He also remarked that as soon as Russia "gets stronger" and tries to defend its interests, the West changes its attitude towards Russia. Referring to developments in Ukraine, Putin said that Western partners tell Russia about the importance of observing Ukraine's territorial integrity and say that "all those fighting for the rights and interests in the east of Ukraine are pro-Russian separatists." He recalled that "those who fought against Russian troops in the Caucasus, including under al-Qaeda guidance, were 'fighters for democracy'." "We were told about the disproportionate use of force," he added and asked "and how about Ukraine?" "Aviation, tanks, heavy artillery, multiple rocket systems, moreover, cluster bombs and ballistic missiles are used [in southeastern Ukraine]. But no one said a word about the disproportionate use of force." In Putin's view, people in eastern Ukraine "perceive themselves as part of the greater Russian world." Vedomosti writes that Putin again slammed those who "serve foreign interests in Russia and use money received from foreign countries in domestic political struggle." Kommersant writes that Putin expressed confidence that the Russian society is consolidated and pointed to the principle of collegial decision-making: he mentioned that "in addition to the government, we have the Central Bank the Presidential Administration, Parliament." Putin called a "gross violation of human rights" the Western sanctions against Russia. (Izvestia, Kommersant, MT, NG, RG, TASS, Vedomosti; Putin's interview with TASS in English is available on the website: http://en.itar-tass.com/russia/761152; in Russian: http://itar-tass.com/opinions/top-officials/1589319)
26 november 2014
Nikolay Zhulin discusses a possibility of federalization for Ukraine, after the statements of Federica Mogherini and Herman Van Rompuy. Zhulin considers that Kiev would not agree to broad federalization as this could lead to discontent amongst the radical nationalists that are fighting for a 'united' Ukraine. According to the blogger, if Kiev had agreed to the earlier proposal of the self-proclaimed republics about federalization and autonomy, many casualties could have been avoided.
Boris Vishnevsky comments on recent polls carried out by the Levada-Centre on the Ukrainian crisis. The blogger argues that the opinions of the public are hypocritical, especially when considering the past events in Chechnya and the negative stance on the regionalization of Siberia.
Yury Bogdanov argues that while the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada needs reforms, the Ukrainian leaders are unable and unwilling to present clear goals and roadmaps for the future. Nonetheless, civil society, activists, NGOs and volunteers have the potential to make Ukraine a better place.
27 november 2014
Twenty years since start first Chechen war: RBK daily reflects on the 20th anniversary since the beginning of the First Chechen War on 26 November 1994 and notes that the First Chechen War had a significant impact on Russia's foreign and internal policy, the country's economy and relations between the federal government and the regions. (RBK daily)