Press review (22-28 June)

The press has given a lot of coverage to the first summit of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), which has taken place in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg.
BRIC summit

The business paper RBC Daily says, "The summit was to show the world that countries as different as these, with such different interests, can be united not just on paper." The alliance's leaders discussed increasing the representation of BRIC in the IMF and called for a reform of the UN, where, the paper notes, the admission of India and Brazil to the Security Council is long overdue.

The influential paper Vedomosti notes that the BRIC leaders agreed to start developing the parameters for a new global financial architecture and called for an end to agricultural protectionism, for "speeding up the Doha Round talks within the framework of the WTO on radically reducing the multibillion subsidies in the agricultural sector which are distorting the terms of trade and obstructing the development of agricultural production in the developing countries".


Hopes for the MiG-35

The state-owned news agency ITAR-TASS has reported that over the next two years the Indian air force will take more than 150 obsolete MiG-21 fighters out of service. An order for 126 multi-purpose fighters is being put out to international tender. The contract is valued at more than 10.4 billion dollars. As one of the six parties to the tender, Russia is offering its Indian partners the MiG-35 multi-functional fighter.

The government-owned newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta notes some intrigues surrounding the tender. The American magazine Aviation Week has published an article alleging that it's planned to manufacture the MiG-35 at the Sokol factory in Nizhny Novgorod, which will increase its cost significantly. Bearing in mind that the MiG-35 is scoring a lot of points in the tendering process being carried out by the Indian air force, this information is of course aimed at discrediting the aircraft. The impression could be given that Russia is quoting one price, but if it wins the contract the price will immediately go up.

In an interview with RG, MiG representatives at the Le Bourget 2009 display categorically denied the possibility of the published price for the MiG-35 changing. And manufacturing the fighter in Nizhny Novgorod, on the contrary, will reduce its cost.


Why foreign managers like it in Russia

The popular internet publication lenta.ru and other mass media note a study carried out by the British bank HSBC. It appears that the largest number of foreign experts earning more than 250,000 dollars per year live in Russia. Some 30 per cent of expats in the country earn an income as high as this. By comparison, in Hong Kong the number of managers on this money is 27 per cent, in Japan it's 26 per cent, and in Switzerland and India it's 25 per cent. The average rate for the world as a whole is 16 per cent.

The ones with the lowest incomes are expats in countries with an advanced economy. Thus in Australia and Belgium 63 and 61 per cent of expats respectively earn less than 100,000 dollars per year.

Expats are particularly attracted by Russia's low rate of income tax - 13 per cent. By comparison, in Hungary it's 36 per cent, in Germany it's 45 per cent, in Australia it's 47 per cent and in Sweden it's 56 per cent.


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The Russian press notes the progress in relations between Russia and NATO, draws attention to the fact that Kyrgyzstan has gone back on its earlier decision and kept its US military base, comments on the attempt on the life of the president of the North Caucasian republic of Ingushetia and the overturning of the verdict in the case of journalist Anna Politkovskaya's murder, and like the whole world it pays tribute to the memory of Michael Jackson.


Russia-NATO

The government-owned news agency RIA-Novosti reports that Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer have agreed to resume political and military cooperation between Russia and NATO. This was all frozen after last August's conflict between Russia and Georgia in South Ossetia.

"NATO is now well aware that it cannot do without Russia. What's more, the alliance now has a new secretary general and the USA has a new president. It's no coincidence that they've taken their first step towards each other after nearly a year of cold war," said the independent television company NTV, commenting on what had taken place.


USA to maintain its military presence in Kyrgyzstan

The well informed newspaper Kommersant says that the air base at Kyrgyzstan's Manas airport will now be known as a transit centre. The relevant agreement between Bishkek and Washington has been approved by the Kyrgyz parliament. In return for keeping the base the USA will increase its payments from $17.4 million to $170 million per year.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta recalls that earlier, on the pretext of concern for nature, Kyrgyz MPs had decided it was inappropriate for the Manas base to be in Kyrgyzstan and had given the Americans half a year - until 18 August - to leave the country. The decision to expel the Americans was announced by President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in Moscow on the very day that Russia decided to give Kyrgyzstan a loan of 2 billion dollars and a grant of 150 million dollars. A number of experts then said they assumed that Moscow had effectively allocated the money to Bishkek in return for closing the American base.


Price check: Putin's been into a shop

The government-owned Rossiyskaya Gazeta tells how Prime Minister Vladimir Putin arrived unexpectedly at an ordinary Moscow shop and saw with his own eyes the prices for foodstuffs. Or rather, the size of the mark-ups that trading networks impose.
"How much are you selling pork for?" the head of government enquired. They answered: 335 rubles per kilo, even though the wholesale price is 160-170 rubles per kilo.
"That's effectively twice as much," Putin retorted. This made a big impression on the premier. "We're setting a reduction in people's incomes, but in the meantime the prices for basic foodstuffs are not only not falling but for some types of food are actually rising. We cannot allow this. It's an absolute social injustice," said the disgruntled premier.


Acquittals in the Politkovskaya case

The independent newspaper Vremya Novostei reports that the military collegium of Russia's Supreme Court has overturned the verdict reached by the Moscow district military court in the scandalous case of the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya and has sent the case for retrial. On 20 February this year all four defendants were acquitted by a jury. The General Prosecutor's Office had appealed against the verdict, arguing that procedural infringements were allowed during the trial. The Supreme Court's decision was not a surprise to the defence or to the investigators. Lawyers are calling it "a normal occurrence in the Russian system", which regards not-guilty verdicts as "an absolute evil".


Attempt on the president of Ingushetia's life

The opposition-owned newspaper Zavtra comments on the attempt on the life of President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov of Ingushetia. It believes the federal authorities are losing control of the situation in Russia's North Caucasus. The incredible level of corruption among the local power elites creates a favourable socio-political backdrop for the actions of the armed opposition, which as a rule preaches a variety of versions of ethno-nationalism and "Islamic socialism". In these circumstances, according to the paper's information, the idea of restoring constitutional order in the North Caucasus by merging the existing federal units and appointing President Ramzan Kadyrov of Chechnya president of a newly formed "Caucasus Krai" is gaining increasing popularity in government circles.

Ruslan Aushev, former president of the republic of Ingushetia, said in an interview with the popular newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets that a harsh response to the attempt on the life of President Yevkurov in Ingushetia is not necessary. "If we start to eliminate people without trial and investigation, we'll have three times as many militants. There's currently a trickle of young people going into the mountains, but it will turn into a flood," said the former head of Ingushetia.

Moreover, Aushev sees no reason why President Ramzan Kadyrov of neighbouring Chechnya should interfere in Ingushetia's affairs.


Death of the king of pop

Michael Jackson's death has shocked the whole world: no one expected that Michael Jackson would die on the eve of his planned 50 concerts, said music observer Artur Gasparyan in an interview with the liberal radio station Ekho Moskvy.
Gasparyan added that the accusations made against Michael Jackson had not been proved, but no one, in the critic's opinion, could endure the pressure that had been brought to bear on the singer for many years.
The internet publication Gazeta.ru believes that Michael Jackson ended his life as the biggest-selling artist. His album Thriller got into the Guinness Book of Records as "the biggest-selling disc of all time and of all nations". It's unlikely this record will ever be beaten.
The state-owned news agency RIA-Novosti reports that after the news broke of the death of the well known American singer Michael Jackson, from the morning onwards his fans decorated the fence in front of the American Embassy building with flowers, photos of the musician, posters of Jackson and even soft toys, and lit candles.

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