Putin Confirmed as New Russian PM - May, 2008

Putin Confirmed as New Russian PM

Who is Mr Putin? (Russia Today Video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oO7oPQDeJhk&feature=user

Putin Q&A: international agenda (Russia Today Video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKg2-ny7k8I

May, 2008

Russia's parliament has overwhelmingly approved former President Vladimir Putin as the new prime minister. He handed over to Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday - his chosen successor, who was elected president in March. The State Duma (lower house) voted 392-56 in favour of Mr Putin. His United Russia bloc dominates the house. In a speech just before the vote, Mr Putin told parliament that he would strive for "single-digit inflation within a few years". He said Russia could overtake the UK in terms of GDP this year, becoming the world's sixth-largest economy. Reducing the tax burden and widening the shareholder class were further priorities, he said. Within hours of being sworn in on Wednesday, Mr Medvedev had nominated Mr Putin, his mentor, as prime minister. Analysts say the powers of the prime minister will expand under Mr Putin, and he may in effect govern Russia jointly with the president. Mr Medvedev told the deputies: "I don't think anyone doubts that our tandem, our co-operation will only strengthen."

Economic ambitions

Mr Putin, a 55-year-old former KGB agent, was barred by the constitution from running for a third consecutive presidential term in the March elections. The question of who wields the real power in the Kremlin will continue to fascinate, puzzle and perplex, the BBC's James Rodgers in Moscow says. Mr Putin will remain Russia's most popular politician for the foreseeable future, which will give him huge influence over the man he mentored as his successor, our correspondent says. In his speech to the Duma on Thursday, Mr Putin said that "to stimulate an increase in production and refining of oil, it is time to cut the tax burden in that sector". He said Russia must rank with the world's leading nations on key indicators such as levels of income and social welfare, quality of education, health and life expectancy. He also spoke of the need to create "a real mass class of investors", saying even people on modest incomes should be able to hold shares.

Reform battles

But the BBC's Russia analyst Steven Eke says Mr Putin's tasks will be difficult and politically fraught. On the eve of Victory Day - which marks the Soviet triumph in World War II - he promised decent housing for the dwindling numbers of war veterans. But previous attempts to reform social benefits have led to anti-government demonstrations, which prompted Mr Putin to postpone some unpopular economic decisions, our analyst writes. According to international lawyer Robert Amsterdam, who defended jailed Yukos boss Mikhail Khodorkovsky, President Medvedev may still have some tough battles to fight in the Kremlin. "There is a clan contest going on at the highest levels in Russia, there are different groups that control various aspects of Russian policy... there are hardline groups challenging Mr Medvedev even at this point," he told the BBC News website. Mr Medvedev will seek to improve Russia's image abroad, he predicted, as "there is a tremendous need that many in the elite see to move closer to the West". One motivating factor is a desire to accumulate Western assets, he added.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7389248.stm

Russian President Lashes Out At West

Vladimir Putin called his critics foreign-funded "jackals" and accused the West of meddling in Russian politics in a scathing speech Wednesday meant to drum up support for the main pro-Kremlin party. The thunderous attack came as Russia heads toward Dec. 2 parliamentary elections that have turned into a plebiscite on Putin and whether he should retain power after stepping down as president next year after two consecutive terms. Thousands of flag-waving supporters who packed a Moscow sports arena for the speech joined in chants urging Putin to remain Russia's "national leader."

It isn't clear what formal title he might hold, but he heads the ticket of the dominant United Russia party and has suggested he could become prime minister. Opinion surveys suggest the party will win two-thirds of the votes and a crushing 80 percent of the lower house of parliament's 450 seats. With approval ratings exceeding 70 percent, Putin cast the election as a black-and-white choice between the current economic boom and the poverty and political chaos of the 1990s — doomsday rhetoric clearly aimed at getting his supporters to the polls.

"Nothing is predetermined at all," a grim-faced Putin said. "Stability and peace on our land have not fallen from the skies; they haven't yet become absolutely, automatically secured." Addressing about 5,000 backers at the rally, which blended elements of a Soviet-era Communist Party congress with the raucous enthusiasm of an American political convention, Putin suggested his political opponents are working for Russia's Western adversaries. "Regrettably, there are those inside the country who feed off foreign embassies like jackals and count on support of foreign funds and governments, and not their own people," Putin said. He accused unidentified Russians of planning mass street protests, like those that helped usher in pro-Western governments in the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Ukraine in 2003 and 2004.

"Now, they're going to take to the streets. They have learned from Western experts and have received some training in neighboring (ex-Soviet) republics. And now they are going to stage provocations here," he said. Putin seemed to refer to anti-Kremlin demonstrations planned for this weekend in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Police have used force to break up several marches and demonstrations, beating and detaining dozens of protesters. Putin, whose nearly eight years in power coincided with rising energy prices, has repeatedly charged that the West wants Russia weak and compliant.

"Those who confront us don't want our plan to succeed," he said. "They have different plans for Russia. They need a weak and ill state, they need a disoriented and divided society in order to do their deeds behind its back." Without naming names, Putin railed against his liberal, pro-business and Communist opponents, raising the specter of the economic and political uncertainty that preceded and followed the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. "If these gentlemen come back to power, they will again cheat people and fill their pockets," he said. "They want to restore an oligarchic regime, based on corruption and lies."

After his speech, the normally reserved president plunged into the crowd, shaking hands and kissing a woman. The crowd, consisting mainly of young people, responded with chants of "Russia! Putin!" Some blew horns and jumped in excitement. With the election nearing, Putin has made a string of appearances at carefully staged events where speakers have emphasized his indispensability as a leader. The campaign has drawn heavily on imagery from the Soviet and czarist eras, periods that still evoke feelings of pride in Russians despite their history of bloodshed and oppression.

But there is also an effort to appeal to a new generation of Russians with few memories of the country's past struggles. The scenes in the grandstand at Wednesday's rally sometimes resembled those of a rowdy soccer game. Nostalgic Soviet-era bands mixed on stage with young performers, including a girl group in miniskirts who sang "I want someone like Putin." Elderly women wore blue United Russia T-shirts. A young man had "Russia" painted on his shaved head, and a woman sported "Putin" written by lipstick on her cheek. Many had faces painted with bands of white, blue and red — the colors of the national flag and the United Russia party.

The speech seemed intended to transfer some of Putin's popularity to United Russia, which controls parliament but stirs few passions among voters. An overwhelming victory for United Russia, which is all but assured given the Kremlin's tight control over the media and government, would limit the clout of his successor — and possibly lay the groundwork for Putin's return to the presidency in 2012 or sooner. Apart from United Russia, only the Communists seem certain to clear the minimum threshold for getting seats in parliament — 7 percent of the total vote. But the Kremlin is leaving little to chance. Two top liberal parties, Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces, have complained of what they call official intimidation and harassment.

Some Putin supporters have called for rewriting the constitution to allow him to stay on as president. He has promised to step down, but says he will continue to play a role in Russia and has not ruled out a presidential bid in the future. First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told foreign reporters Tuesday that Putin wouldn't seek a position not envisaged by the constitution, but said a new parliament could change the law. He said portraying the vote as a referendum on Putin's policy was a campaign tactic, not a maneuver to change the government structure. A parade of speakers preceded Putin to the stage Wednesday. Rifle designer Mikhail Kalashnikov and Olympic figure-skating champion Irina Rodnina both urged voters to back United Russia and showered Putin with praise.

"We athletes call him our senior coach," Rodnina told the rally. "With him, we will always win." Putin's former teacher, Vera Gurevich, said in a taped address that Putin was an "extremely decent" person who would step down as he pledged. "But he must stay in politics to complete the work he started to do," she said from her home in St. Petersburg.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071121/...u/russia_putin

Putin warns of outside forces that wish to split Russia and take over its natural resources

President Vladimir Putin said Sunday that there are people in the world who wish to split up Russia and take over its vast natural resources, and others who would like to "rule over all mankind," a veiled reference to the United States. Speaking in front of Moscow's iconic St. Basil's Cathedral on Red Square, Putin told a group of military cadets and youth group members that while "an overwhelming majority of people in the world" are friendly toward Russia, there are some who "keep saying to this day that our nation should be split."

"Some believe that we are too lucky to possess so much natural wealth, which they say must be divided," Putin said, speaking on National Unity Day. "These people have lost their mind," he added with a smile. Many Russians fear that their country's rapidly declining population and enormous natural wealth could one day leave it vulnerable to outside predators. But the theme of invasion was central to Sunday's holiday, which Putin created by decree in 2005 to commemorate the defense of Russia from a Polish-Lithuanian incursion in the beginning of the 17th century.

Putin on Sunday referred to the battle as a turning point in Russia's history that united the nation. Not missing a chance to take a shot at the United States, Putin said there are people who "would like to build a unipolar world and rule over all of mankind." He counted them as among the minority in the world who do not maintain a "friendly attitude" toward Russia. He said any attempt to establish a unipolar world was doomed to fail.

"Nothing of this kind has ever occurred in our planet's history, and I don't think it will ever happen," the president said.

Putin has been highly critical of the United States for the invasion of Iraq and opposes its plans to build a limited missile shield in central Europe. Concern about outside forces wanting the division of Russia arose last month during Putin's three-hour nationally televised call-in show. A Siberian worker asked Putin about comments he said were made years ago by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright suggesting that Siberia had too many natural resources for one country.

"I know that some politicians play with such ideas in their heads," Putin replied, adding that such talk was "political erotica."

Putin, whose two-term presidency ends next year, said Russia will continue playing an active role in foreign policy and there are many people who look to Russia as a defender of small nations' rights and interests. Intended to invoke patriotism, National United Day has been hijacked by extreme nationalist groups that call for ridding Russia of foreigners and returning the pre-communist monarchy.

Source: http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/...ssia-Putin.php

President Putin Talks of the Future as Premier

President Vladimir V. Putin, in the final weeks of an eight-year administration that secured his place as the country’s most popular politician, said Thursday that he intended to wield substantial and long-running power in the Kremlin after leaving office next month and becoming Russia’s prime minister. In a confident and forceful public performance in which he described many of Russia’s continuing policy choices, Mr. Putin spoke bitingly of his international critics and defied Washington by refusing to back down from threats to aim strategic missiles at the Czech Republic, Poland and Ukraine. He said the Kremlin had been forced to assume a reinvigorated nuclear defense by NATO’s courting of Ukraine and by the United States’ development of a missile defense system for deployment in Europe. “We will have to retarget our missiles on the objects that we think threaten our national security,” he said. “I have to speak about this directly and honestly, so that there would be no attempts to shift the responsibility for such developments on those who should not be blamed.”

Mr. Putin appeared in public for more than four hours in what the Kremlin billed as his final news conference as president. Under Russia’s Constitution, he cannot seek a third consecutive term, and a new president will be selected on March 2 by popular vote. But the event had none of the trappings of a farewell performance, and it did little to suggest Mr. Putin was yielding his position as Russia’s unrivaled leader. He reiterated his intention to become prime minister and to lead the government of his presumptive successor, whom he had selected himself, Dmitri A. Medvedev. He also implied that Mr. Medvedev would follow the course that he had set.

“The president is the guarantor of the Constitution,” Mr. Putin said. “He sets the main directions for internal and external policies. But the highest executive power in the country is the Russian government, led by the premier.” He later added that he planned to be the prime minister throughout Mr. Medvedev’s administration, and perhaps beyond. “I formulated tasks for the development of Russia from 2010 until 2020,” he said. “The fate is taking shape in a way that I have a possibility to participate directly in achievement of these goals.” The conference also underscored the degree to which Mr. Putin continued to eclipse Mr. Medvedev. Although Russia is in the middle of the official one-month presidential campaign, there is little sign of competing ideas or public involvement in choosing the next president. And Mr. Putin is not fading from view.

Last week, he addressed Russia’s lawmakers with his plans for the country through 2020. On Thursday he threatened to escalate a dispute with Europe and the United States over the future of Kosovo, which is expected to declare its independence next week, with support from the West. Russia has backed its traditional ally, Serbia, and opposed Kosovo’s independence. It has threatened to protest the move at the United Nations Security Council and perhaps to recognize breakaway regions it supports in Moldova and Georgia. “We are told all the time, ‘Kosovo is a special case,’ ” Mr. Putin said. “It is all lies. There is no special case, and everybody understands it perfectly well.”

The conference, a question-and-answer format, has been an annual event in which Mr. Putin has often displayed his comfort with power and a command of the fine details of governing. The audience was a mixture of Russian reporters, many openly praising the Russian president, and foreign journalists, several of them pressing him on policies that have alarmed Western governments and undermined his reputation abroad. Mr. Putin basked in the praise and seemed to revel in the criticism, which he rebutted with a mix of long, unapologetic answers and occasional insults. When asked about the decision of the principal international election monitors not to send missions to observe the presidential elections, Mr. Putin was dismissive.

The monitors, from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, have routinely found that elections in post-Soviet autocracies, including Russia, have been rigged. And they have said that Russia has unilaterally imposed conditions that make it impossible to assess the current campaign and election fully. Mr. Putin said that the organization needed to be overhauled, and suggested that the monitors intended to teach Russia how to become democratic. “Let them teach their wives to make shchi,” he said. Shchi is a popular Russian cabbage soup. Similarly, Mr. Putin swept aside a remark by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who said that as a former K.G.B. officer, Mr. Putin “has no soul.” “As a minimum, a state official must at least have a head,” he said.

Mr. Putin also flashed his annoyance when asked about reports in Western newspapers that he had used his office to accumulate a vast personal fortune. Such “rumors,” he said, “they picked from a nose and smeared onto their papers.” The conference alternated between these occasionally scalding moments and others in which Mr. Putin, answering questions from admiring Russian journalists, was at ease and treated with public fealty. One young woman noted that the conference was held on Valentine’s Day, and asked whether Mr. Putin had received a gift. He said he had been busy doing his morning exercises and preparing for the conference, and had not yet received any presents. The reporter then grinned and said she would like to give him a Valentine, and he invited her to pass it down to him through the crowd.

At another point, a French journalist asked Mr. Putin if he thought that the official results recorded in Chechnya during parliamentary elections in December were realistic. According to the Central Election Commission, the voter turnout in Chechnya was 99 percent, and 99 percent of the voters cast their ballots for United Russia, the party Mr. Putin leads. Chechnya sought to break from Russia in the early 1990s, and waged a long insurgency for which it has been intensely punished. Past elections there have been openly rigged, and the latest results were viewed in the West and among Mr. Putin’s domestic critics as unashamedly fake. Mr. Putin, looking confident, asked a state journalist from Chechnya to answer the question. “These are absolutely realistic figures,” the journalist said. “Personally, all my acquaintances, including myself, voted for United Russia.”

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/15/wo.../15russia.html

In other news:

Russia Expels Two U.S. Military Attaches From Country

Russia has expelled two U.S. military attaches from the country, State Department spokeswoman Jessica Simon said. "We object to this action but will comply with the Russian government's request,'' Simon said. She said she didn't know when the attaches were expelled, or whether they have returned to the U.S., and she referred any further questions to the Russian government. A Kremlin spokesman said he had no information on the expulsions and referred questions to the Russian Foreign Ministry. The ministry, which previously declined to comment to the state-run news service RIA Novosti, couldn't immediately be reached by Bloomberg News. In Washington, the press attache at the Russian Embassy to the U.S., Yevgeniy Khorishko, declined to comment. "We never give any comment on such kinds of issues,'' he said. Two Russian diplomats were earlier expelled from the U.S., one in November and another last month, according to the Associated Press. Russia yesterday began a political transition, with Dmitry Medvedev assuming the presidency and former President Vladimir Putin becoming prime minister. Russia tomorrow celebrates its victory over Nazi Germany in World War II with a military parade through Red Square in central Moscow.

Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?p...E&refer=europe

U.S. promises cannot be trusted - Gorbachev

Promises made by U.S. leaders cannot be trusted, former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph published on Wednesday. "The Americans promised that NATO wouldn't move beyond the boundaries of Germany after the Cold War, but now half of central and eastern Europe are members, so what happened to their promises? It shows they cannot be trusted," he said in Paris. He also said that Washington's claims that a missile defense system it is planning to build in central Europe was aimed exclusively at countering the threat from so-called rogue states could not be believed either. The Pentagon's missile shield deployment plans continue to be a major bone of contention in relations between the U.S. and Russia. Moscow considers the project a threat to its national security. Gorbachev said the missile shield plan jeopardized world peace and could lead to a new Cold War. He continued that that "erecting elements of missile defense is taking the arms race to the next level. It is a very dangerous step". "I sometimes have a feeling that the United States is going to wage war against the entire world," the former Soviet leader said. "The United States cannot tolerate anyone acting independently. Every U.S. president has to have a war," he concluded, also saying that the world had squandered the chance in the decade after the Cold War to "build a new world order."

Source: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080507/106798164.html

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Dear reader,

Arevordi will be taking a sabbatical to tend to personal matters. New blog commentaries will henceforth be posted on an irregular basis. The comments board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis.

The last 20 years or so has also helped me see Russia as the last front against scourges of Westernization, Globalism, American expansionism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. I have also come to see Russia as the last hope humanity has for the preservation of classical western civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. This realization compelled me to create this blog in 2010. Immediately, this blog became one of the very few voices in the vastness of cyberia that dared to preach about the dangers of Globalism and the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, and the only voice preaching the strategic importance of Armenia remaining within Russia's orbit. From about 2010 to 2015 I did monthly, at times weekly, commentaries about Russian-Armenian relations and Eurasian geopolitics in general. It was very difficult as I had no assistance in this endeavor. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

When Armenia finally joined the EEU and integrated its armed forces into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago, I finally felt a deep sense of satisfaction and relaxation, as if a very heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders. I finally felt that my personal mission was accomplished. I therefore felt I could take a step back, as I really needed the rest. Simply put: I have lived to see the institutionalization of Russian-Armenian alliance. Also, I feel more confident now that Armenians are collectively recognizing the strategic importance of Armenia's ties with Russia. Moreover, I feel satisfied knowing that, at least on a subatomic level, I had a hand in the outcome. As a result, I feel a strong sense of mission accomplished. I therefore no longer have the urge to continue as in the past. In other words, the motivational force that had propelled me in previous years has been gradually dissipating because I feel that this blog has lived to see the realization of its stated goal. Going forward, I do not want to write merely for the sake of writing. Also, I do not want to say something if I have nothing important to say. I feel like I have said everything I needed to say. Henceforth, I will post seasonal commentaries about topics I find important. I will however continue moderating the blog's comments section on a regular basis; ultimately because I'm interested in what my readers have to say and also because it's through readers here that I am at times made aware of interesting developments.

To limit clutter in the comments section, I kindly ask all participants of this blog to please keep comments coherent and strictly relevant to the featured topic of discussion. Moreover, please realize that when there are several anonymous visitors posting comments simultaneously, it becomes very confusing (not to mention extremely annoying) trying to figure out who is who and who said what.Therefore, if you are here to engage in conversation, make an observation, express an idea or simply attack me, I ask you to at least use a moniker to identify yourself. Moreover, please appreciate the fact that I have put an enormous amount of information into this blog. In my opinion, most of my blog commentaries and articles, some going back ten-plus years, are in varying degrees relevant to this day and will remain so for a long time to come. Articles in this blog can therefore be revisited by longtime readers and new comers alike. I therefore ask the reader to treat this blog as a depository of important information relating to Eurasian geopolitics, Russian-Armenian relations and humanity's historic fight against the evils of Globalism and Westernization.

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