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BBC Monitoring quotes from Russian press on Wednesday 18 July 2007

BBC Monitoring Service – United Kingdom
Published: Jul 18, 2007

The following is a selection of quotes from articles published in the 18 July editions of Russian newspapers, as available to the BBC at 2300 gmt on 17 July 2007:

Russia-Britain

Rossiyskaya Gazeta (state-owned daily) – “The Russian Foreign Ministry thinks that the current punitive measures by [British Foreign Secretary David] Miliband against Russia are dictated by an attempt to justify its unwillingness to cooperate on the extradition of [tycoon Boris] Berezovskiy and [Chechen separatist envoy Akhmed] Zakayev. It appears that this is the reason why this political spectacle has been staged.

“But despite all these pragmatic manoeuvres, the head of the British Foreign Office is right on the whole: Russia is remaining one of the key partners of the United Kingdom. Today many Britons and Russians are waiting for the politicians on both sides to be able to demonstrate reasonable restraint in order to retain normal relations between the countries.”

[from article by Nadezhda Sorokina, headed “Relations between London and Moscow have cooled down”]

Gazeta (general daily) www.gzt.ru – “The Russian authorities were clearly not prepared to the British response to the refusal to extradite the so-called businessman Aleksandr Lugovoy. This is the impression one got from the initial careful reaction from the Russian political elite (true, from the informal one).”

[from article by Demis Polandov, headed “The second front”]

Novyye Izvestiya (daily) www.newizv.ru – “And also the Ministry of Natural Resources announced hat it will not review investment agreements with British companies in connection with the actions by the British authorities. Supporting investment climate, it turns out, is more important for the head of the ministry, Yuriy Trutnev.

“But never mind the Ministry of Natural Resources – even the [pro-Kremlin] Nashi youth movement, judging by the statement by its leader Vasiliy Yakemenko, is not planning any events near the walls of the British embassy. Even though a pretext was offered on a plate, as it were.

“The unexpected restraint by Yakemenko is unlikely to be a result of a rapidly increased political maturity. More likely, a clear order has been received from the above – not to escalate the situation.”

“Poll by Novyye Izvestiya

“Who will lose out from the quarrel between Moscow and London: they or us?”

“Irina Khakamada, a politician:

“This conflict is one of the old ones and in principle no-one will win from it.” “At the end of the day, all sides end up getting even. If there is no further global worsening of relations with Britain, after some time the conflict will be settled. This situation will in no way affect the Russian economy as cooperation in the sphere of business benefits our countries. Britain is an important European investment centre and on the territory of Russia there is oil and a branch of the BP company.

“Aleksey Mitrofanov. a politician:

“I see no gain for Britain in this situation. The entire conflict had been invented by the British to achieve domestic political aims. They have a new government and it needs to establish itself, to show what it is capable of.”

[from article by Boris Argunovskiy, headed “We need the British coast”]

Vedomosti (business daily) – “[Konstantin Simonov, director-general of the National Energy Security Foundation:] The main reason is the problems of British energy companies on the territory of Russia. Kovykta [deposits] served as the trigger. The BP company cannot economically respond to the complaints by Russia and simultaneously wants to remain on the Russian market. As a result, Britain decided to respond to the economic actions by the Russian leadership by taking a political step. By doing so London is trying to ensure better conditions for the work of BP and Shell in Russia.”

“[Georgiy Satarov, president of the Indem foundation:] I don’t think that this reaction by London was going too far. This is not about the death of a concrete person – Litvinenko. From their point of view, a certain side (Russia) conducted a special operation on their territory, during which citizens of Britain suffered. As British citizens were under threat, London, in keeping with the tradition, is trying to ensure their security. In their place I would act in a similar manner.”

“[Valeriy Ostrovskiy, historian and political scientist:] The reason for the harsh reaction is Brown’s desire to demonstrate his political weight in the world community at the beginning of his political career.”

[from article by unattributed article headed “What is the reason for such a sharp reaction by London?”]

Moskovskiy Komsomolets (popular Moscow daily) www.mk.ru – “However, the militant rhetoric of London is covering up the main issue. By opting for such rather symbolic measures, Prime Minister Gordon Brown is sending a clear signal to Moscow: Britain does not want to spoil relations with Russia in the spheres that are really important.”

“The reason for the difference between the worlds and the deeds of Brown’s government is obvious. Britain is a very large foreign investor in the Russian economy. This concerns billions of dollars. And no-one would want to expose these investments to a real risk. At the same time Gordon Brown cannot afford to turn a blind eye to Moscow’s refusal to extradite Lugovoy.”

“Moscow should follow the example of London and limit itself to beautiful gestures and not to real actions.”

[from article by Mikhail Rostovskiy, headed “Diplomat. Station. Russia. British lion growled but did not bite.”]

Nezavisimaya Gazeta (centrist daily) www.ng.ru – “Experts note that London was in a difficult situation. Thus, in an interview to Nezavisimaya Gazeta Professor Julian Cooper, the director of the Centre for Russian and East European Studies at the University of Birmingham, noted: ‘London’s reaction could have been harsher: the expulsion of four diplomats from the Russian embassy, some obstacles on visa issues that do not affect Russian citizens with the exception of officials – this is not the harshest response.'”

“The head of the Centre for British Studies of the Institute of Europe at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Aleksey Gromyko, is of a different opinion: ‘The essence of the statement by Miliband is not in its preamble, where positives things were said about Russia, but in four points that are throwing Russian-British relations back to the Cold War times’. Gromyko described Miliband’s preamble as ‘a clumsy attempt to hit two birds with one stone: ‘Not to spoil relations with the Russian Federation on strategic issues and simultaneously to put pressure on Moscow on a concrete issue’. The expert stressed: ‘Relations between Moscow and London in the coming months will be going through their worst period since 1980s’.”

[from article by Andrey Terekhov, headed “The difficulties of diplomatic translation”]

Sources: as listed

BBC Monitoring

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