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04
Opinion
RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES
BOOKMARKS www.pircenter.org The Center for Policy Studies (Russia)
SECTION SPONSORED BY ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA, RUSSIA
www.medvedev2008.ru/english.htm Dmitry Medvedev’s major speeches
www.russiaprofile.org Unwrapping the mystery inside the enigma
WWW.RBTH.RG.RU
Letters to the Editor
MEDVEDEV’S RUSSIA
Russia Fascinates
Tribute to Vasily
I am an American senior Aksyonov
working in real estate in Del- I have found the Russian
aware. I have always been supplement to be very in-
fascinated by Russia and all formative. In the last issue
RBTH Comment
things Russian. While I have (February 27, 2007) there
seen some “uncomfortable” was a great article about
Russian leaders that have Vasily Aksyonov. I wished
made me and most Ameri- to say that Dr. Aksyonov
CONTINUITY OR CHANGE?
cans uneasy, we continue to was a tremendous part of
feel warmth toward Russia the Russian Studies program
and Russians. I have recent- at George Mason Universi-
Despite questions raised at home and abroad, the
ly met several young immi- ty in Fairfax, Virginia. None March presidential elections marked a watershed
grants from former Soviet of his former students could
for Russian democracy. For the first time in its history,
states who are here working deny that his wonderful en-
Russia replaced a robust and popular chief of state
in our resort areas. We love thusiasm and passion in-
them all. We hope our coun- spired many of us to pursue
with a new president.
try continues to develop a our degrees in Russian Stud- In the election run-up, Mr. Medvedev stressed stabil-
trusting, friendly relationship ies. Though he is no longer
ity and continuity, calling for the modernization of the
with you. a professor at George Mason,
political system and the economy. He also urged civil
BILL CALLAHAN his impact was deep. Today,
BY EMAIL GMU has an excellent Rus-
society to be an ally in carrying out these formidable
sian Department and Rus- tasks.
The Great War sian culture is vibrant on
We have yet to see what this call for change will mean
I read with interest your ar- campus. I think that Dr.
in practical terms. RBTH asked a leading NGO activist
ticle “Turning Point of War Aksyonov deserves a great
was in Russia” in the supple- deal of the credit for our re-
and prominent political scholar to give their views on
ment to The Washington Post markable program. Medvedev’s Russia.
on February 27. In particu- JASON SMART, BA
DRAWING BY DMITRY DIVIN
lar, I was curious about the RUSSIAN STUDIES MAJOR,
account in this article con- GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY
cerning POW camp Stalag- a disgruntled populace and an extra
Luft I, which said that the Well Sung
A NEW SOCIAL CONTRACT
incentive for officials to become
Germans were about to kill We read your insert to The more corrupt.
the pilots when they were res- Washington Post and enjoy Medvedev knows the basis of a
cued by General Batov’s the many articles. Some time
IS MEDVEDEV’S BEST CHANCE
modern economy is human capi-
army. I went to the Web and ago I acquired a CD featur- tal, not raw materials. The quality
found out that the German ing the Alexandrov Russian of human capital, in turn, is de-
guards had disappeared be- Army Song and Dance En-
ANDREI KORTUNOV
leader is forced to change his a knowledge-based economy. In termined by the quality of social
fore the Soviet army arrived. semble. It is called Kalinka MOSCOW views, leanings and even princi- this case, the new President will policy. Whatever social sphere in
Nonetheless, I enjoyed very Favorite Songs Forever. This ples in order to stay in power; that be but a pale shadow of his pre- Russia you look at – education,
much reading about this bat- is truly an outstanding col- How we all long for a demo- is the law of the game, and it is decessor, blamed for failing to health care, social security, hous-
tle which certainly paved the lection of Russian songs and cratic President, who believes in not within Medvedev’s power to build on Putin’s success and make ing, utilities – government pro-
way for the end of World War is beautifully sung. I wonder liberal values and appreciates free abolish it. good use of the power that was grams are stymied because society
II. I would urge you to pub- if you could prepare an arti- thought. We start digging in Dmi- But is there an alternative to dropped in his lap. is still treated like an object, rath-
lish more such accounts of cle about this group or other try Medvedev’s biography, scru- relying on the institutions of civil Paradoxical though it may sound, er than the subject, of actions.
battles and other events which famous groups that sing this tinizing his track record, his society? In other words, does the the only chance for the new presi- Meanwhile, non-governmental
took place during the War. type of music. speeches and the people around current model of state supemacy dent is to rely on the institutions of organizations could even now as-
PETER CLARK FRITS VAN DER LEEDEN him to find justification for our in Russia have potential as a pin- civil society. It is not a matter of sume a wider spectrum of func-
BY EMAIL LEXINGTON, VIRGINIA. optimistic expectations. nacle of future development? principle, but of political survival. tions, from monitoring the state’s
But we should not deceive our- The simple aswer is no. The sys- Medvedev has experience in imple- initiatives, public scrutiny and
selves – neither education, nor his tem of bureaucratic capitalism menting the so-called “national preparation of alternative social
social circle, nor the professional created by Putin and his team has projects,” and he ought to know projects to participation in pub-
experience of the new leader – all but exhausted its potential. how bad the state is at using the lic auctions and doing social work
Blogspot
nothing in his background pro- Even if oil prices remain high, the resources it has available. In fact, on the ground.
-
vides any clues as to what kind Russian economy will slow down. the national projects are no longer
of president he will be. Think of Even if half of the ministers and projects at all: they are just chan- Andrei Kortunov is president of
Tourists’ Impressions of Moscow Vladimir Putin as a member of governors are replaced, the gov- nels for pumping more money into the New Eurasia Foundation, a
the “Sobchak team” in the tur- ernment will remain dismally in- the country’s antiquated social fab- Russian NGO founded by Russia’s
MORE THAN 4 MILLION FOREIGNERS VISITED MOSCOW IN 2007 WHICH, AL-
bulent 1990s and Putin 10 years effective. Even if tens of billions ric. Without a strategic partnership Dynasty Foundation, the U.S.-
THOUGH 7.5 PERCENT MORE THAN IN THE PREVIOUS YEAR, LEAVES THE RUS-
later (Anatoly Sobchak was a of dollars are funnelled into the with civil society, the government’s based Eurasia Foundation and the
SIAN CAPITAL STILL SHORT OF LONDON AND NEW YORK. SO WHAT IS IT THAT
prominent liberal politician dur- creation of state corporations, social investments will continue to Brussels-based European Madar-
ATTRACTS OUR FOREIGN GUESTS? WE ASKED AN INTERNET AUDIENCE.
ing the Yeltsin era.) A political Russia will still be a far away from be nothing more than handouts to iaga Foundation.
“Believe it or not, bears do “In Moscow I had my most
not wander on Red expensive tiramisu. It cost me
Square.” 290 rubles ($12). Isn’t that
amazing?”
NEW PAGE IN
only a prerequisite for a future Transdnestr that offer opportuni-
“grand design” of foreign policy not ties for cooperation with other in-
“It’s just like New York. A based on what is advantageous at terested countries?
car hunting for pedestrians “None of the waiters I have
is the norm for Moscow. Traf- met here has ever smiled. But
U.S.-RUSSIA RELATIONS
the moment, but on a clear set of The U.S. could send some recip-
priorities. Russia has to decide what rocal signals even before the No-
fic rules exist, but who cares if you can get past the stone- is more important: to maintain its vember election. It could lift the
about them?” faced people, you may even influence in the post-Soviet space Jackson-Vanik Amendment, give
enjoy talking to Muscovites.”
ANDREI MELVILLE
Should he choose to change the against all odds, to counteract in- Russia a leg up on joining the WTO,
“There are very few licensed MOSCOW course, he will have to challenge ternational terror jointly with the respond to the offer of constructive
taxi drivers here. It is enough Excerpts from forums in some prejudices among the politi- U.S., to integrate with Europe, to talks on missile defense in Poland
to stand by the road, and some- Izvestia newspaper and the The genial relations between cal elite and the public (58% of Rus- pursue the non-proliferation of nu- and the Czech Republic, and try to
one will always stop. You will following blogs: Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush sians consider the U.S. to be an un- clear weapons and bring other coun- deal with other issues with coop-
see crowds of people jumping www.geeson.blogspot.com; throughout most of their presiden- friendly state, according to a tries into the arms control process, erative, productive dialogue.
into strangers’ cars.” www.sarahism.com; tial terms have not amounted to February poll conducted by the to promote relations with the Mus- Both Russia and the U.S. could
www.minus36.blogspot.com; anything meaningful (with the ex- Public Opinion Fund). lim world, to work with China and start preparing for new arms con-
“You are obliged to carry www.moscowwalks.ru; ception of a brief period in the wake For the new Russian President, India to create an independent glob- trol talks. The START Treaty should
an ID with you all the time. www.travelpod.com; of 9/11). The positive side of the a change of foreign policy may offer al center of power, or something not be allowed to simply expire at
Otherwise you can be de- www.to-russia.blogspot.ru; agenda is minimal: a stalled ener- a chance to assert himself, which else? the end of 2009. Russia and the U.S.
tained” and others gy dialogue, a slump or rollback on means that unpredictable “windows New departures are possible in should launch new initiatives in that
arms control, the outdated Jack- of opportunity” will soon be open- the recently strained relations be- field. The time has come to try to
son-Vanik barrier, anti-American- ing. After all, didn’t Medvedev say tween Russia and its neighbors: include China, India and other
Who visited Russia in 2007?
ism in Moscow and Russophobia that freedom is better than non- Ukraine, Georgia and the Baltic countries in disarmament talks.
in Washington. freedom? And didn’t he say that countries. At the end of the day, all A change of administration in
At first glance, the coming months Russia and the U.S. have common this will make a difference in the both countries within a time span
are not a very favorable time to try values that make cooperation be- relations with the United States. of only a few months is unusual.
to put an end to tensions and mis- tween them inevitable? Initiating a new dialogue is a sign Why not use the situation to try and
trust. Until the November elections, Now that Russia is stronger, it of strength, not of weakness. craft new chances and create new
the United States will have other will have to be less ambiguous about True, Kosovo has dealt a blow to opportunities and turn what has not
preoccupations. Russia is not a who its allies are and in which di- international law, but we will still been a very pleasant page in Rus-
major factor in the presidential de- rection it is going to move. The cur- have to determine our stand on sian-American relations?
-
bates. rent position of unencumbered in- other “unrecognized states.” Can
Russia has a new president who dependence (translation: one-sid- Russia come up with new propos- Andrei Melville, political science
has no foreign policy track record. edness) in international affairs is als for Abkhazia, South Ossetia and scholar
SOURCE: NEWSPAPER IZVESTIA
PR, RUSSIAN-STYLE
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EDITORS OF ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA AND RUSSIA BEYOND THE
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VLADIMIR FROLOV
the overall effectiveness of the Rus- sian language. Apart from its cul- independence in foreign policy. As
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“Russia Pumps Tens of Millions of public diplomacy. They include ern and Third World as well. Is Russia getting a good return
Into Burnishing Image Abroad” new media ventures to target in- Russians have drawn their own on its massive investment in
– described Russia’s increasingly ternational audiences; founda- lessons from studying how Amer- image improvement projects? I
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The article sparked a heated that are setting up shop in West- abroad by championing human successful than others.
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