Russian press review - between rage and dispair
Three days before the election and the Russian media is torn between doom, gloom, resignation and barely veiled threats….
Do the current Prime minister’s business interests lie offshore?… Why are Russians being asked to “die for Mother Russia” in patriotic political slogans?… Will there be “Orange revolution-style” opposition tent villages in the capital after the elections? And finally, are the presidential candidates’ promises going to bankrupt the country?
Why are we being asked “to die for Russia?” asks the political editor of the anti-government Novaya Gazeta.
The editorial points out that Putin and United Russia’s campaign is based on patriotic slogans borrowed from the 1812 war against France. The “Let’s protect the country” slogan at the pro-Putin Luzhniki rally was directly inspired by famous Russian Lermontov’s poem, “Let’s die protecting Moscow”.
“What do they want us to die for?” asks the editorial section in the newspaper. "Do we have to sacrifice ourselves so that Putin can rule for the next six or twelve years? Or should we die defending his cronies' business interests?"
The editorial suggests that the “Defend Russia” rhetoric is aimed at Putin’s core electorate: over 55 year olds, pensioners, medium and small cities residents and villagers. “This is the Russia which will follow Putin into a crusade against his perceived enemies”, says the author, “the enemies which only exist in their imagination”.
Well, is it possible that the enemies the Russian prime minister was referring to are the same people who are trying to unmask the massive corruption in the heart of Russia's political elite?
On the home page of its online edition, the independent weekly’ New Times Russia publishes an investigation featuring exclusive documents and audio files describing the corruption and kickback schemes among the country’s business and political elite.
“While Putin compares his opponents to traitors… our investigation proves that the current Prime minister’s business interests lie in offshore jurisdictions of Panama, Lichtenstein, London and Zurich”, blasts the weekly.
The report is largely based on revelations made by one of Putin’s former indirect business associates.
In March 2010, Sergei Kolesnkikov defected to the United States and published an open letter to the President Dimitry Medveded, exposing the corruption scheme implicating Vladimir Putin. Among other documents, it revealed a huge “dacha” complex in Crimea, later named “Putin’s Palace”
While many of Kolesnikov’s allegations are collaborated by documents or audio files, admits the publication, they could not independently verify all the allegations. But, argues the New Times, “we share the position that these accusations in the final days before Putin’s 4th de-facto presidential term cannot be simply ignored”
The online version of the popular left-leaning daily Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper publishes an exclusive interview with Moscow's mayor, Sergei Sobyanin.
”Are you not afraid of a Ukrainian revolution-style tent city in the centre of Moscow”, asks the newspaper in the wake of the increasing opposition movement in the capital. The mayor promptly downplayed such a possibility. “I can assure you we will not let anybody create a permanent tent village in the city”, answered the mayor.
However, the timing of the interview is well calculated. Despite claiming that Moscow’s government is “not against any kind or rallies or protests”, it sends a clear warning to the opposition.
“While the city police are trying to keep the peace before the elections, the opposition are preparing to set up a tent city in the middle of Moscow and get people out onto the streets in a permanent protest action”, says the online daily Utro.ru.
The day before the mayor’s interview, a new opposition group called Rosagit tried for the first time to hand out tents to pedestrians.
And finally, “The golden mountain of candidates’ promises will leave the Russians without clothes”, laments the online independent Utro.ru on its front page.
The article features the results of a cost analysis of electoral promises made by the presidential candidates.
The “spending champion” is Sergei Mironov of the United Russia party. His promises would cost the country 3.1 trillion euros!
Communist Zuganov arrives second with 2.8 triillion euros and populist Zhirinovsky at just over 2 triillion euros.
Compared with those promises, Vladimir Putin (253 billion euros) and independent Prokhorov (187 billion euros) impress us with their frugality”, notes the daily.
It is obvious, argues UTRO.RU, that the spread between the wildly expensive programmes of the first three candidates and the last two candidates can be explained by their respective chances of actually winning the election. “It is easy to throw money around when everybody know they will not have to stand by their pledge”, concludes the daily.