Archive for November, 2009

23
Nov
09

Mikhail Gorbachev wants to come back!!!

Former (and last) soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, 78, said he is thinking of a political come back! Gorbachev who’s been heading charitable organization since the early 1990’s but recently (re)-started to make political statements. Intriguing enough for a man who has everythhing to win in politics and so much to lose.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev criticized Kremlin policies Friday and toyed with the ambitious idea of attempting a political comeback.

Gorbachev said that corruption and overdependence on oil exports have aggravated the impact of the global economic crisis on Russia. He urged President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to restructure the economy, cut down government spending and ensure political freedoms.

But he also suggested everyday Russians must shake their reliance on government largesse that has been boosted by energy price hikes during the past decade.

“We have paternalistic expectations of government support,” he told a conference at his charitable foundation. “The price of oil has gone up a little bit, and we’re saying that life is back to normal.”

Gorbachev said his concerns about Russia are prompting him to consider a more active role in politics.

“What I have said motivates me to create a political force that could oppose, that could pose questions,” he said. “Evidently there is a need for it, and we should initiate it.”

He spoke hesitantly, however, and seemed to acknowledge he would have a hard time winning active backing, even from like-minded people.

“Even those sitting here, I am sure no more than 10 per cent will say there is a need to act,” Gorbachev said. “It’s a personal choice, so make up your mind.”

Gorbachev, 78, remains popular abroad for the role he played in ending the Cold War and liberating Eastern Europe from Moscow’s grip. He was cheered enthusiastically by Germans this month at celebrations commemorating the 20th anniversary of Berlin Wall’s fall.

But he is disliked by many Russians who blame him for the collapse of the Soviet Union and the years of social and economic turmoil that followed it.

Gorbachev has maintained a relatively low profile since stepping down as Soviet president in 1991 as the country disintegrated, and his political ventures have little success. In 2001, he helped found the Social Democratic Party of Russia, but resigned three years later in a dispute among its leaders about working more closely with the dominant Kremlin-backed party, United Russia.

The Social Democratic Party later was one of several ordered closed by the Supreme Court under new registration rules critics said were intended to help the Kremlin consolidate power. In 2007, Gorbachev was elected head of the Union of Social Democrats, which was formed with the goal of challenging the Kremlin, but its emergence went widely unnoticed.

13
Nov
09

Russian missiles to Iran: Israel pressures finally paid

Iranian government is getting upset after Russia’s reluctancy to deliver them due S300 missiles. I talked about this issue few weeks ago and I remember some friends of mine called me a “conspirationnist”. It seems that Teheran’s reaction confirms the whole story: Russia secretly delivered S300 missiles to Iran, Israel hijacked a cargo freighing the missiles, Netanyahu went to Moscow in order to explain Medvedev he would not accept this type of deal.

Well, apparently, Netanyahu has been convincing and Medvedev decided to halt the delivery. Iran is getting more and more isolated.

Find bellow an article on this story from Rianovosti:

MOSCOW, November 13 (RIA Novosti) – A top Iranian military official on Friday urged Russia to honor its bilateral military contract and deliver the promised S-300 surface-to-air missiles, the Mehr news agency reported.

Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi said Russia was six months behind schedule with deliveries of advanced air-defense systems.

“Why haven’t they delivered the S-300 missiles? Six months have now passed since they were supposed to deliver them,” he said.

Russia signed a contract with Iran on the supply of S-300 air defense systems to the Islamic Republic in December 2005. However, there have been no official reports on the start of the contract’s implementation since then.

The possible deliveries of S-300 missiles to Iran have aroused serious concern in the West and in Israel.

“Russia has to fulfill the contract and not be influenced by Zionist pressure,” Firouzabadi said.

A Russian government official on Thursday said Moscow would not freeze the contract as a concession to the United States.

The official denied media speculations that Russia could freeze the Iranian contract in exchange for Washington’s decision not to place interceptor missiles in Poland and a missile tracking radar in the Czech Republic.

The latest version of the S-300 series is the S-300PMU2 Favorit, which has a range of up to 195 kilometers (about 120 miles) and can intercept aircraft and ballistic missiles at altitudes from 10 meters to 27 kilometers.

It is considered one of the world’s most effective all-altitude regional air defense systems, comparable in performance to the U.S. MIM-104 Patriot system.

Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi urged Russia on Wednesday to fulfill its contract on the supply of S-300 air defense systems to Iran.

01
Nov
09

Putin sets Russian opinion for a new gas conflict with Ukraine

Prime Minister, and yet Russia’s real boss for many, has been quite agressive these dayss toward Ukraine and its pro-West president Viktor Yushchenko.

Putin said journalists last week that he was anticipating new tensions with Kiev on the gas issue because President Yushchenko was unwilling to pay gas payments and was blocking due payments.

Vladimir Putin who is trying very hard these days to appear as a humble Prime Minister, said journalists he contacted Ukrainian PM Yulia Tymoshenko to discuss the issue and that Ms Tymoshenko informed him that Yushchenko was blocking the payments.

It’s twice clever from Putin to have acted that way. It first makes a (little) more credible the fiction that he is not president anymore and that he respects Russian etiquette. That’s for PR and to please US diplomats… But the most clever of all is to push the button which hurts Ukraine. Not only gas (it’s been known for a while), but less and less silent dissensions between Yushchenko and Tymoshenko.

Political situation in Ukraine is indeed quite tense and it is not a secret anymore that the president and his PM, who once were the closest allies (they were the two natural leaders of the Orange revolution) would love to get rid of each other.

Yushchenko would love to have a new, a more flexible and less ambitious PM… Tymoshenko would love to see her boss getting retired and become the next president.

Putin perfectly knows these facts and apparently and tactically chose his side. He was kind enough to let the world know that despite his talks with Tymoshenko, Yushchenko was blocking the whole process.

As a result of this irresponsible move, Ukraine might not get any gas this winter. Putin’s bet is that Ukrainian won’t be very happy with this situation… He’ll then let Tymoshenko do her job!

The situation is not as critical and probably will never be. But this is definitely the game Putin is playing these days. Will Tymoshenko accept to play the same game, If she gets too power will she be mor flexible?

I’m actually not sure about that and that’s were Putin’s strategy appears a bit hazardous. Throughout her career and lifetime Tymoshenko has always appeared as the most agressive Ukrainian politicans toward Russia. If I were Putin I’d rather try too do business with Yushhchenko who is more of a pragmatic leader.

But maybe Putin knows facts that I don’t. Maybe we’ll witness in the coming months of years to come, secret deals…