Posts Tagged ‘dmitry medvedev


Medvedev angers Japanese government

Japanese officials have reacted angrily to a visit monday by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to a group of disputed, mineral-rich islands seized by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan told Japan’s parliament that Medvedev’s trip to Kunashir — the second largest of the four islands known in Russia as the Southern Kurils and in Japan as the Northern Territories — was “very regrettable,” as the “northern islands are part of our country’s territory,” the BBC reported. Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara summoned Russia’s ambassador to Tokyo and warned that any visit to the islands would “hurt the feelings of the Japanese people.”

The archipelago, which sits just north of Japan’s main island of Hokkaido, is seen by Japan as part of its historical territory, unjustly grabbed by the Soviets in 1945. Russia, however, regards the island chain as a symbol of its victory during World War II, and sees no reason why it should give up possession of a legitimately acquired prize. That island dispute has prevented the two countries from ever signing a formal peace treaty in the 65 years since the end of World War II.

Russian ambassador Mikhail Bely has shaken off criticism of the visit, telling reporters after the meeting in Tokyo that he “told him [Maehara] that it is Russia’s domestic issue. I requested Japan to deal with it cool-headedly and in a balanced manner,” Agence France-Presse reported. And Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov condemned Japan’s reaction as “unacceptable,” noted the BBC, stating that the Russian president could visit “Russian land” whenever he wanted.

During his visit to the island chain, the first ever by a Russian or Soviet leader, Medvedev promised to pump money into the impoverished territory, which is home to just 18,000 people but offers access to rich fisheries and promising oil and gas fields. “We want people to remain here,” he said, according to Russia Today. “Development here is important. We will definitely be investing money here.”

The three and a half hour visit to Kunashir provided an opportunity for Medvedev to toughen up his image at home, where he is traditionally seen as more liberal than his mentor and predecessor, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. It is thought that the more popular of the two leaders will stand as the candidate for the ruling United Russia party in the 2012 presidential elections. A recent poll by Russia’s Levada Center suggests that Medvedev is catching up with his macho mentor: His approval ratings have grown 3 percent since September to 76, while Putin’s remain at 77 percent.

The trip also reflects the growing importance of the Far East for Russia, which is keen to exploit the vast reserves of hydrocarbons under the ocean floor and expand trade links with Asia’s booming economies.

This dispute is expected to add yet another source of territorial tension to the upcoming summit of Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation nations, due to be held in Japan’s eastern port city of Yokohama later this month. Ties between China and Japan have been frosty since a Chinese fishing boat captain was detained last month for allegedly ramming Japanese coast guard vessels near the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

Although the captain has since been sent back to China without charge, ongoing frictions over the archipelago — known in China as the Diaoyu Islands — led to Beijing scrapping a planned meeting Oct. 29 between Kan and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Hanoi, Vietnam, during a regional summit.


Will Luzhkov’s sack really benefit to Medvedev

The sack of Yuri Luzhkov, Moscow mayor and close friend of Vladimir Putin, can be seen as a power show from Dmitry Medvedev. Ousting one of the founders of Putin’s United Russia party has even been compared to Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s arrest. Therefore, journalists want to believe that Medvedev’s move is the first step of a succession war with Putin… not that simple…

First of all, Vladimir Putin remained strangely neutral during the ousting process. If Medvedev had really launched a war, we all know Putin would not have reacted that way… It’s not facts but common sense!

Moscow’s portly mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, has been one of the most visible figures in Russian politics for 18 years. But his sacking by President Dmitry Medvedev caps a year in which a number of other long-lived local heavyweights have bitten the proverbial dust, consolidating the Kremlin’s authority as well as Mr Medvedev’s personal power.

Mr Luzhkov’s power was that of a feudal baron – allowed to rule as he saw fit as long as he delivered comfortable majorities for the ruling United Russia party in elections and maintained stability in the capital, say analysts.

But Mr Medvedev has been quietly replacing a number of politically independent strongmen in sensitive local posts. They include Mintimer Shaimiev, president of the autonomous region of Tatarstan, who stood down in March after 19 years in the job, and Murtaz Rakhimov, president of Bashkortostan, who left in July, having been in the post since 1993.

According to Masha Lipman, analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center, the think-tank, Mr Luzhkov’s ouster is part of a pattern in which the Kremlin replaces figures who have a strong local basis of support with appointees who owe their jobs to Moscow.

“It is quite legitimate to regard [Mr Luzhkov’s ouster] as an element of a single policy,” she said.

Many political analysts believe the post of mayor may now be split into two jobs – mayor and chairman of government – which would weaken the position and ensure that the Kremlin will never again have a figure with Mr Luzhkov’s stature to contend with.

Konstantin Remchukov, chief editor of Nezavisimaya Gazeta, the respected Moscow daily, said that there were important nuances to Mr Luzhkov’s sacking that show Mr Medvedev gaining authority in his job.

Both Mr Shaimiev and Mr Rakhimov formally stood down voluntarily. Mr Rakhimov was even given a high state award for his services, thought to be a sign that Mr Medvedev was unable to force him out of power without a compromise.

The ouster of Mr Luzhkov marks the first time Mr Medvedev has used his constitutional power to fire a powerful local leader and demonstrates his “political evolution”, according to Mr Remchukov. “To be taken seriously in our hierarchical society, you need to demolish someone powerful,” he said.

He drew a parallel with the arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, oil tycoon, in 2003, which confirmed Mr Medvedev’s mentor, former president, now prime minister, Vladimir Putin, as the all-powerful leader of Russia. Mr Medvedev’s move is seen as exceedingly risky by some observers. Mr Luzhkov was no outsider, he was one of the founders of the United Russia party, currently headed by Mr Putin. His rough handling by Mr Medvedev could create tensions within the party and pitch Moscow politics into turmoil with only a year to go before 2011 parliamentary elections.

But Ms Lipman contends that Mr Medvedev had little choice but to fire Mr Luzhkov, given the mayor’s defiance and his personal criticism of the president that ignited the conflict earlier this month. “Had Medvedev failed it would have made him look exceedingly weak,” she said.

The Luzhkov crisis, which began on September 10 with the first broadside against the mayor in a Kremlin-directed TV campaign also showed Mr Medvedev making decisions seemingly independently of Mr Putin. Mr Medvedev has always been seen as the junior partner in the ruling “tandem” and it is thought that all decisions on major issues are agreed between the two.

Natalia Timakova, Mr Medvedev’s spokeswoman, confirmed to reporters that Mr Medvedev had informed Mr Putin of the decision in advance.“Of course, Luzhkov was fired by a joint decision of the tandem . . . Dmitry Anatolyevich [Mr Medvedev] . . . would never decide appointments, even appointments which are within the president’s area of competence, on his own,” said Alexei Venediktov, editor in chief of the opposition-friendly radio station Ekho Moskvy.

Mr Putin stayed overtly neutral throughout the campaign against Mr Luzhkov, making no public attempt to interfere on either side, although officials close to Mr Putin briefed reporters that Mr Luzhkov should resign, just as officials close to Medvedev did.

“Putin was watching from the sidelines to see how Medvedev performed,” said Mr Remchukov.

But the next stage of the game will show whether Mr Medvedev has the power to independently name Mr Luzhkov’s successor, or whether the successor will be a Putin appointee. “Medvedev has shown that he has the power to fire but he has not yet shown if he has the power to appoint someone without agreeing it with Putin,” said Mr Remchukov.

Olga Kryshtanovskaya, a Moscow State University sociologist, said the succession question in Moscow is a prelude to the much more important presidential succession to be decided in 2012, which is whether Mr Putin returns to the presidency or Mr Medvedev has a second term.


Medvedev turns 45: such a discreet birthday!

Happy birthday Mr. President!” Who will forget a glamorous Marylin Monroe singing during John Kennedy’s birthday celebration? Not every head of State has been as lucky as JFK, but a presidential birthday is always an important story… Well, not for Dmitry Medvedev who claims he wants to keep it private.

We all know that privacy is still politics (especially in Russia) and Medvedev’s shaded birthday is a strong political sign. As the Pravda mentioned in its online edition, “Medvedev still is not a political animal”.

And once again, the Great pupeteer Vladimir Putin is enjoying the show…

Beneath, sonme extracts of the Pravda article:

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev celebrated his 45th birthday on September 14. Medvedev spent his birthday with his family in Sochi. The president was not planning any large-scale events for his special day, Vesti reports with reference to the press service of the Kremlin administration. In the meantime, Russian officials and politicians found themselves in an awkward situation: many of them do not know what to give to the high-ranking birthday man in light of Medvedev’s recent anti-corruption activities.

In one of his interviews, Medvedev said that he considered birthday a family holiday and added that he was hoping to give more attention to his family members on his special day.
“My work does not allow me to spend much time with my family, and this day (birthday) would be a good reason to get together,” he earlier said.
The president also said that he likes to receive presents, although he values attention more.
“The attention from the people dear to me is most important. If you realize that your closest person tries to make your birthday special – this is what makes you the happiest man,” Medvedev said.
Dmitry Medvedev was born on Septebmer 14, 1965 in Leningrad. He graduated from the Leningrad State University and started working at a professor there afterwards. At age 34 Medvedev became deputy chairman of the administration of the government of the Russian Federation. Some time later, he became deputy chairman of the presidential administration. In October of 2003, at age 38, Medvedev chaired the administration of the Russian president.

Two years later, Medvedev became first deputy chairman of the government. In March of 2008, at age 42, he took the office of the Russian president and became Russia’s youngest leader during the recent 100 years. Medvedev is included on the top five list of the youngest leaders in the world. The presidents of all post-Soviet states are at least eight years older than their Russian counterpart. As for G-20 and G-8 leaders, there is only David Cameron, the British PM, who is one year younger than Medvedev.
Speaking about his character, Medvedev once acknowledged that he had not become a “political animal” during his career in politics.

Russia Today: Medvedev: Democracy crucial for Russia’s development
“I don’t have a feeling that I have turned into a person for whom publicity has become a drug. There is this category of politicians, who are referred to as “political animals.” I do not feel that I have become one. Even if my last name is Medvedev [a derivative from the word ‘medved’ which translates from Russian as ‘bear’ – ed.], I have not become an animal at this point. It’s not one of my physical needs – to constantly be in the spotlight,” Medvedev said in an interview.
“At the same time I have definitely changed, for I would not be able to do what I’m doing otherwise. I can be cruel, but criticize myself for it afterwards. I have become more loyal and tranquil to some things, but it happened because of the things that I have to do,” he said.
Medvedev also said that he did not even think that he would become the president when he came to work in the White House. He recollected the words, which then-president Vladimir Putin said to him: “You can’t even imagine how it would change your angle of sight.”
He repeated Putin’s words when he was speaking about being tough in politics.
“When they now urge Russia to show more flexibility, I guess I would take this piece of advice some ten years ago. Now I can not. It’s not because I became a big boss. My angle of sight has changed. If we had not taken tough positions on some issues, we would have still be treated as a third-rate country,” he said.
Speaking about his predecessor and their current teamwork, Medvedev said:
“I would not like people to eventually perceive me and Valdimir Putin as elderly leaders of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, who would appear on the Mausoleum tribune wearing identical coats and hats, making it impossible to distinguish who of them was Leonid Ilych and who was Mikhail Andreyevich.”
Russian politicians and officials found themselves in a confusing situation. On the one hand, the president declared war on corruption and took efforts against expensive gifts and bribes on duty. That is why it would be provocative for officials to give something pricy to the president. On the other hand, it is impossible to ignore such an important anniversary. Many Russian officials decided to simply send telegrams to Medvedev.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the head of the Liberal and Democratic Party of Russia, believes that it is not nice to give any gifts to president.
“We will send him a telegram on his birthday. A gift is a vestige of corruption! I am in the opposition in the long run, so what kind of gift can there be?” Zhirinovsky said.


Wildfires: Putin back in full control, Medvedev 2nd best

What is the main lesson to consider regarding this summer wildfires in Russia. Is the government weakened and criticized as Western media claim? Let’s be serious!!! No, paradoxally this summer’s big winner is Vladimir Putin who got the perfect occasion to show Russia and the world who really is the boss in today’s Russia.

Who’s made the frontline of Russian media? Who’s been seen among victims and firefighters? Who’s actually been joining an airborne firefighting team? Vladimir Putin! Who was in his office ? Meeting officials? And waiting for Putin’s phone calls (this image was actually really on Russian TV)? Dmitry Medvedev!

The situation is clear enough. When the situation gets tough, daddy’s back… And that should be enough to stop speculations over a so-called rivalry between the two men.

Please find below an extract from the Guardian on Putin’s airborne firefighting mission. Funny how Western media accept their own leaders PR set ups and mock Putin…

Russia prime minister, Vladimir Putin climbed into a firefighting plane yesterday and dumped water on two of the hundreds of wildfires sweeping through western Russia and cloaking Moscow in a suffocating smog. In a carefully managed photo opportunity, he joined an airborne firefighting team dumping water on one of the two hundred fires. After taking off in a Be-200 firefighting plane, he then moved into the co-pilot’s seat. Usefully placed television cameras captured the moment he pushed a button to unleash gallons of water on forest fires about 120 miles south-east of Moscow. After hitting the button, Putin glanced toward the pilot and asked, “Was that OK?” The response: “A direct hit!”

The fires that have savaged Russia in the past two weeks have caused billions of dollars in damage and left thousands homeless. Putin has called on soldiers to help overstretched firefighting brigades and has played a visible role, walking through villages effected by the fires and promising new homes.

Damage from the fires was expected to hit $15bn (£9.5bn), although the government has yet to release any damage estimates. The hottest summer since record-keeping began has cost Russia more than a third of its wheat crop and prompted the government to ban wheat exports.

The acrid smog that has engulfed Moscow for a week eased slightly yesterday, but pollution remains a serious problem in the city. Putin summoned Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who said the situation in the capital was difficult but that city health authorities were doing what was needed to help people cope with the heat and smog.

Ambulances calls have risen by nearly a quarter, Luzhkov said.

Sergei Gordeichenko, the head of the Forestry Agency for the Moscow region, was fired on Tuesday, following criticism from the president that he had not cut short his summer holiday to tend to the crisis. Medvedev has also been criticised for being slow to interrupt his holiday on the Black Sea and failing to interact with villagers who had lost their homes.


French Sarkozy has a crush on Russia

French president Nicolas Sarkozy is extatic those days over French-Russian relation. The well-known pro-American leader seems to be looking for a close alliance with Russia in order to counterbalance US influence. A few weeks ago, France sold battleships to Russia despite US anger…

President Nicolas Sarkozy Saturday hailed Europe’s cooperation with Russia as French and Russian firms signed a string of deals ranging from skyscrapers in Paris to undersea gas pipelines.

Sarkozy made a characteristically lightning visit to Saint Petersburg for talks with President Dmitry Medvedev and to attend the close of the city’s annual economic forum.

“I have the conviction that Europe and Russia must work together in a strategic way, very closely, in a relationship of confidence,” Sarkozy said in a keynote speech.

“The Cold War is over. The Wall is finished. Russia is a great power, we are neighbours, we are destined to be friends, we must come closer to each other,” he added.

With Medvedev and Sarkozy looking on, French utility EDF signed a memorandum to take about 10 percent in the Russian-backed South Stream pipeline to pump Russian gas to Europe across the Black Sea.

They will join existing shareholders Russia’s Gazprom and Italy’s Eni. Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller said it was not planned that EDF’s stake would come from the Russian company.

Meanwhile, fellow utility GDF-Suez signed a similar memorandum to take a stake of about 10 percent in Nord Stream, a similar project to ship Russian gas to Europe through the Baltic.

Russian investment fund Hermitage signed a preliminary deal to build two skyscrapers 320 metres high in the modern La Defense quarter on the outskirts of Paris, in a deal worth two billion euros (2.5 billion dollars).

The project, called Hermitage Plaza and signed by Hermitage and the French municipal authorities, will be designed by the British architect Norman Foster and will house flats, offices and shops.

Other deals included an accord signed by Russian space agency Roskosmos and France’s Arianespace for the supply of Russian Soyuz rockets for France’s launch site in French Guiana.

Playing up warm personal ties, Sarkozy said he had confidence in Medvedev’s words and particularly appreciated his country’s decision to back a new round of sanctions against Iran at the UN Security Council.

“Nothing would have been possible if he had not made and taken on this choice,” said Sarkozy.

Sarkozy also told Medvedev, whose country has always insisted on a diplomatic outcome to the nuclear standoff, that France was prepared “without delay” to have talks with Iran on its nuclear drive at the UN nuclear agency, the French presidency said.

Sarkozy said that the new UN sanctions against Iran “were not to punish Iran but to convince its leaders to resume the path of negotiations,” a presidential official said.

The talks would be based on a deal aimed at ending the standoff brokered by Brazil and Turkey as well as the response given by UN Security Council powers France, Russia and the United States in the form of sanctions, the official said.

Sarkozy said he had largely discarded his prepared remarks at the forum in favour of giving a more spontaneous address.

“For my trip to Saint Petersburg, for Dmitry, I thought it better to say what I think than what my administration thinks,” he laughed.

Sarkozy, known for his speedy style of governance, quipped that there were not many differences between the two versions, “except what they (aides) want to do in 20 years I want in two months.”

However despite the array of deals and warm words, no accord was signed on the long-mooted purchase by Russia of French Mistral-class assault ships.

Negotiations appear to have stumbled over Moscow’s demands for a transfer of technology so that the sold vessels arrive already fully equipped.

The deal would be the first sale of advanced military hardware to Russia by a NATO country and Russia has still not ruled out sealing an accord with alternative partners