Tag Archives: medvedev

Sunday Surprises – European&Ukraine elections, prayers and similar work – visits

Pope, Palestine, Prayers – the pacifist P….

Panoramic watching the events was a Sunday hectic and full of surprises. Pope Francis stopped his motorcade between scheduled events in Bethlehem on Sunday to pray before the massive concrete separation barrier that divides the Palestinian city from Israel, which erected the controversial wall a decade ago.

The surprise stop was the latest signal that the Pope backed what the Vatican had indicated in 2012 with its support for a United Nations vote to make Palbildeestine a non-member state: That it regards it as a sovereign state. In a speech earlier on Sunday the Pope called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas a “man of peace” after paying him a courtesy visit, and referred to the Vatican’s good relations with the “state of Palestine”.

According Time Magazine, Francis was scheduled to arrive in Jerusalem later on Sunday, and — in part because of official concerns about religious extremists, security preparations were extraordinary even by Israeli standards, outstripping even precautions taken for President Obama’s visit last year, according to organizers.

Pope’s Agenda for Monday includes deep bows to the Israeli narrative, including a visit to Yad Vashem, the museum of the Holocaust, and to the Wailing Wall, the last remaining piece of the Temple in place at the time of Christ. In a gesture that unsettles Palestinians, Francis will also be the first pontiff to lay a wreath on the grave of Theodore Herzl, the founder of the Zionist movement that envisioned a future state on the land hundreds of thousands of Arabs called home.

European Election, the sad E: Extremism & Euroscepticism, ‘Earthquake’ win

Marine Le Pen‘s far right National Front scored a stunning first victory in European Parliament elections in France on Sunday as critics of the European Union registered a continent-wide protest vote against austerity and mass unemployment. Cf. Reuters, without waiting for the final result, a somber French Prime Minister Manuel Valls went on television to call the breakthrough by the anti-immigration, anti-euro party in one of the EU’s founding nations “an earthquake” for France and Europe.People watch a board displaying provisional results of the European Parliament election at the EU Parliament in Brussels

Denmark‘s anti-immigration far right People’s Party was set to top the poll with an estimated 23 percent and the extreme-right Jobbik, widely accused of racism and anti-Semitism, was running second in Hungary with 15 percent.

The UK Independence Party (UKIP), which campaigns for Britain to leave the EU, was set for a strong score after making big gains in local elections held at the same time on Thursday, raising pressure on Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron ahead of a general election next year.

The anti-euro Alternative for Germany (AfD) won parliamentary representation for the first time with an estimated 6.5 percent, the best result so far for a conservative party created only last year. In Greece, epicenter of the euro zone’s debt crisis, the radical left anti-austerity Syriza movement of Alexis Tsipras was set to win with 26.7 percent, pushing governing New Democracy into second place on 22.8 percent. That reflected popular anger at harsh spending cuts the government has adopted in recent years to meet the terms of its EU/IMF bailout program. It means that far right and hard left parties, their scores magnified by a low turnout of 43.1 percent, gained ground in many countries although in Germany, the EU’s biggest member state with the largest number of seats, the pro-European center ground held firm, according to exit polls.

Ukraine: again P, winner P… Petro Poroshenko wins  presidency

Because we speak about election… Exit polls suggested candy tycoon Petro Poroshenko won Ukraine’s presidential election in the first round Sunday, a ballot that took place amid weeks of fighting in eastern regions where pro-Russia separatists have seized government buildings and battled government troops.

Exit polls gave Poroshenko more than 55 percent of the vote, well ahead of petro_poroshenkoformer Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in second place with just over 12 percent. “I would like to congratulate Ukraine with the fact that despite the current aggression by the Kremlin and the desire to break this voting, the election happened and was democratic and fair” Tymoshenko said after the polls closed. If Poroshenko majority is confirmed by results on Monday, there will be no need for a runoff vote on June 15.

Cf. Reuters, Russian president Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that he will respect the voters’ will. He has announced the pullback of tens of thousands of Russian troops massed on the border. But the absence of more than 15 percent of the potential electorate from the election could give Moscow an excuse to raise doubts about the victor’s legitimacy and continue applying pressure on the new president in Kiev.

The White House – two similar surprise work – visits

Leaders of the two White House from Washington and Moscow (government headquarters) have spent Sunday making surprise visits. One – President Barack Obama in Afghanistan. Second – Prim-minister Dmitry Medvedev in Crimea.

President-Obama-in-Afghanistan_5_1President Barack Obama made a surprise trip to Afghanistan on Sunday, his first visit to Afghanistan in two years and his fourth trip as president overall, and pledged a “responsible end” to the war there by the end of 2014. During the visit, Obama spoke to troops, visited a base hospital and met with military officials to discuss troop presence in Afghanistan as the country’s longest war comes to a close. Also Obama said on Sunday that his administration would likely announce soon how many troops the United States will keep in the country, as it winds down its presence after nearly 13 years of war.

Speaking at a briefing by military commanders at Bagram Air Base, Obama said one reason for his trip was to discuss the U.S. footprint for the rest of this year – when the bulk of troops are scheduled to be withdrawn – and afterward. “We’ll probably be announcing some decisions fairly shortly” said US president.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has arrived Sunday in Crimea for a Dmitry Medvedevtwo-day working trip. It will be Medvedev’s second trip to Crimea since Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula in March in a move that has not been recognized internationally.
Medvedev was expected to visit immigration offices in the city of Sevastopol, where Russian passports are being issued to local residents. Medvedev’s office said he will also visit the Artek children’s center on the Black Sea on May 26.

Medvedev will then chair a meeting to discuss a plan for organizing children’s vacations. Russian prime minister will hold a traditional meeting with his deputies on Monday, visit the Olympic sport center “Spartak” and meet with Crimea’s acting Governor Sergei Aksyonov.

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Overview of Russia’s Recent Foreign Policy, India Important for both US and Russia

Interview accorded The World Reporter journal.

As soon as Vladimir Putin assumed power in Kremlin last year, we have seen immense involvement of Russia in the international affairs. From Cyprus to Iran and Syria, the amount of aggressiveness Russia showed to maintain its interests was comparable to Soviet times. After a big gap of 20 years, when this huge nation was keeping a low profile since the collapse of Soviet Union, Russia’s recent active role in the world politics has given hopes that soon we are going to see a multipolar world ending US dominance. To discuss the mood in the Kremlin we interviewed Gabriela Ionita, Editor in chief of Power&Politics World who is also an expert in Russia’s international affairs.

TWR: After the collapse of Soviet Union, we saw Russia had gone under a cold state. There was almost negligible response from Russia on Iraq and Afghanistan war. But we could see some response from Russia on Libya, and now Russia has come out fully aggressively in Syria’s case. Do you think all these years, when Russia re-established itself on the global platform, it has prepared itself to take on western world again on global geopolitics issues? Are we going to see a bipolar or a multi polar world soon?

 G.I.: We are already part of a world with multiple power centers. President Obama’s speech, at the recent meeting of the UN, certifies such a perception of political analysts. To reduce the geopolitical equation only highly questionable relationship between U.S. and Russia is meaningless. There are numerous emerging economies from which even Russia and U.S. could learn some useful lessons. Also, there are many cooperation organizations to which the two are not only States, but also leaders and the need to find consensus solutions to highlight leadership. And last but not least, we see that today almost all the countries of the world – from the European Union, the Middle Orient, the Chinese and American societies – are faced, in one form or another, with the need to find new strategies and preserve their identity in the radically changing world, and Russia – a huge melting pot of ethnic groups and cultures – cannot make an exception from it.
putin_lodkaIn the last two decades, Russia has changed its political and ideological concepts as far as was possible with the legacy of the former USSR, legacy assumed open by the new leaders in Moscow. As you were saying, there was almost a negligible response from Russia on Iraq and Afghanistan war. But we must remember that Russia had its own catastrophic experience in Afghanistan, whose consequences are still felt in the minds of the Russian society. So it’s good to notice that after the disintegration of the USSR Russia has really felt what a collapsed state means. Its first and foremost priority was the domestic situation. It is known that the economic growth, prosperity and geopolitical influence are derivatives from the total condition of a settled society. After overcoming the urgent impediments of internal order, it was logical for Russia to wonder itself: ”who is ?” and where should it be looking on foreign policy for supporting its own interests. The first step, of course, was trying to gain the regional influence and, subsequent, the global influence and its returning to the table of the world’s great leaders.
Regarding the reaction to the conflict in Libya, I do not think that Russia had a clear strategy. This was more an attempt of the ex-president – the current prime minister Medvedev – to improve his personal political rating, which proved to be a rather unsuccessful attempt. Instead, Russia’s intention to protect its interests in the Middle East were seen in the intervention in Syria. Russia wants to be a major decider and even a major opponent when its interest dictates. And if you take a peek at the commercial agreements between Russia and Syria or Iran, it is easy to see that here the interests dictate.
 Contrary to controversial statements regarding Russia’s imperial obsessions, restoring the USSR and other such foolishness that the russophobias propaganda sites are full of, there is nothing unusual in Russia’s intentions. Looking closely and judging right, we can see that all the great and small powers of the world are doing everything they can to promote their economic interests and preserve their own sphere of influence. What differs are only the methods and strategies used. Some prefer to invoke the principles of democracy and human rights, other – the rule of law and veiled threats, other – economic pressures and direct threats, others – just shut up and do – the last statistically having the best results.
TWR: – But what do you think about the relations between Russia and the U.S. at the moment?
G.I.:  On one hand, it would be childish of us to believe that between two states that claim to be a global power pole there could be a relationship like ”milk with honey”. On the other hand, in spite of the officials declarations, the restart of Russian and American relations continued all along (sometimes even for reasons of internal propaganda of the two states) to be hunted by the ghosts of the Cold War. Nowadays, at the level of perception of public opinion I will quote Olga Kamenciuk, communications director of the Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion. “Lately, between Russia and the U.S. there are many differences. Mainly, this is on the cases such as Snowden and about Syria. Regarding Snowden, for example, most Russians thought that Russia’s position will worsen relations with the U.S., but only 15% are saying he does not have to be granted political asylum”. The same is the public opinion in the case of Syria. Russians understand that this situation will worsen relations with America, but prefer an independent position of their country on this issue. In the U.S., the situation is somewhat similar. According to Gallup (agency for marketing and social studies) for the first time since 2000, the number of those who consider Russia an enemy exceeded the number of those who see Russia as an ally.Shoigu_Rasmussen
But it’s good to remember that not always the public perception also means the reality behind the closed doors. U.S. and Russia worked together and effectively collaborate on the levels where the interests of the two coincide. The fight against terrorism, drug trafficking, aviation security, cyber-crime are some aspects of this collaboration. Then, behold, recently a NATO ship arrived in port at St. Petersburg as part of continued NATO-Russia Council military cooperation, and provided an opportunity for naval counterparts to meet and exchange experiences. And even when we are tempted to believe that relations between the U.S. and Russia are at their lowest level in a few days will take place in Brussels the first over two years meeting of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) at the level of Defense Ministers with the participation of Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu. The NATO headquarters considers Shoigu’s involvement in the meeting the unique opportunity to give an impetus to military relations between Russia and NATO in the field of security. So here, the reality is much more complex and cannot be reduced to categorical labels.
TWR: In spring, Cyprus approached Russia under financial crisis to seek potential bailout plan which Russia refused. Why do you think that Russia let go such a big opportunity of earning a partner in Mediterranean Sea, who was ready to offer its gas fields and warm water port at a strategically important place just under the nose of EU? 

G.I.: In reality, things are not so simple. Many people said they were surprised and wondered at the time why the Prime Minister Medvedev stepped out in the case the Cyprus crisis. […]

(Full text can be read here)

interview made by Sanskar Shrivastava, editor in chief of TWR

Vladislav Surkov – Doctor Spin of Pussy Riot scandal ?

According to a statement posted on the website of the Moscow government, Deputy Prime Minister Vladislav Surkov was appointed as curator also on the relationship of authorities  with religious organizations. In fact, he was returned to a task which had taken in June by his cabinet colleague, minister Olga Golodets. I said, “also on the relationship …” because I think that Surkov himself, put in a situation to quickly mention which are his responsibilities, would be in trouble. 😀 Innovation, mass-media, statistics, government policies in the sphere of justice or culture, and responsibility for the smooth running of the whole administrative machinery of government are just some of the areas that the former (!?) gray eminence of the Kremlin supervises in Medvedev‘s government .

Russian media see the return of Surkov to the desk conductor of relations with religious organizations as rather an attempt by authorities to manage the scandal produced by the group Pussy Riot girls, scandal that seems to have exceeded the standard of public attention expected by authorities. In other words, the prime minister decided to entrust to Doctor Spin, a professional of Power’s propaganda (“master puppeteer“, as called billionaire Prokhorov) the mission to repair (somehow) extremely wrinkled image of the Kremlin, both  – internally and externally. Especially abroad, where many leaders of the international community declared themselves bad impressed or condemning directly (such as the U.S. State Department and U.S. Embassy in Moscow) disproportionately response of state institutions to the protest of young punk girls against Putin.

In fact, I ask: even were these girls (and their unconventional protest like saying obscene insults in a church – even being the most famous cathedral in Moscow) a real problem for Putin’ system and an unthinkable blasphemy for the Russian Church ? Most likely not. I think that overly zealous reactions (with the tacit agreement of the Kremlin) of some politically subservient institutions, full of corrupt officials, ready to anything to appeal to country’s leaders, led to a disproportionately reaction of the public on social networks or journalists from media and resulted was an infantile snowball that has grown into a veritable avalanche that may sweep all in its way, including Medvedev’s post as prime minister.

When the part of some illustrious unknown – I mean of course the girls from Pussy Riot – intervene stars like Madonna or Sting, the media battle seems as lost. Licentious and ironic statements like that of Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin only will make the things worse. Do not judge how justified or not, Mr. Rogozin noted (for readers less knowledgeable on the chronology of the scandal – after the concert in Moscow, when during the show Madonna donned a balaclava mask and had a «tattoo» with Pussy Riot band name written on her back in black ink – to demonstrate her support of three girls), Deputy Rogozin acidic commented on his Twitter account that “Every former w. with age seeks to lecture everyone on morals” with direct reference to the gesture of American artist). Rogozin did not accuse Madonna directly in his tweet , but the timing left no room for doubt – all Russian media understood the statement as an attack on Madonna and the shortened epithet was unanimously deciphered as whore. But notice that in terms of communication was a mistake, which transferred to girls from Pussy Riot the sympathy of thousands of fans of Madonna. And expanded a old discussion about the right of the Church to be a moral court. Of course, personally I am among those who acknowledge the lack of decency and exaggerated exhibitionist gesture of three young girls . But from there to make them as some proscribed of the society and condemned to years in prison (to pressure more or less visible representatives of the Church) seems unthinkable for XXI century and for Russia that wants to became a model of modern society, at least at regional level. I think that beyond the political options, Spin Doctor Surkov fully understand this and believe that we will not hear that “Devil has sent the girls from Pussy Riot to divide Russia”, even though – according to his own views – “God sent Putin to save Russia”.

At the same time Vedomosti daily, citing government sources, believes that the Surkov’s return of this post is a response to “the difficult situation of the Russian Orthodox Church leaders.” There were many accusations well known that have hovered in the recent months on Patriarch Kirill autority, the attitude of obedience and support declared of Vladimir Putin or  about his acttraction for a very expensive lifestyle and in real contradiction to what the doctrine teaches Russian people. To these are added a series of corruption scandals involving religious side. Also, the other level of the problems caused by religious mix of Russia, there were a lot of attacks by insurgents from the Islamic republics of religious leaders of Muslim communities, of which one of these attacks last month ended with the death of a Muslim leader. Moreover, in the Chechnya (where long time led with an iron hand the friend of Vice-PM Surkov, Ramzan Kadyrov), are signs to restore the power of Islamic insurgents.

PS: As expected, the Russian Church reacted immediately after the appointment of Vladislav Surkov as knows best. Thus, the Archpriest Vselovod Chaplin, head of the Synodal Department Church and Relations Society told Interfax that “Vladislav Yurievich is a top intellectual and creative person in the true sense of the word. It is interesting and pleasant to work with him”, adding that the short break from June to August makes his return to be very expected. No Muslims were inferior with the statements. Chechen Mufti Sultan Mirzayev told journalists from Interfax that he was glad to hear of this appointment because “Surkov is a remarkable politician and a wise man, well aware of our problems and which knows how to take the best decisions for strengthening interreligious and ethnic peace.” Watching the President Putin’s reaction on the image above (original video can be seen here), without intent to compete with the Vice PM Rogozin sharp tongue, I think that Surkov has good reason to buy a pair of durable gloves. Or shoes, as the case. Is it not right, Vladislav Yurievich?