What the Russian papers say

© Alex StefflerWhat the Russian papers say
What the Russian papers say - Sputnik International
Twitter as new political tool/ Who backs new START ratification?/ New government resolution eases path to citizenship/ Russian officials to follow new behavior code, fight corruption/ UN recognizes Kosovo's independence

Nezavisimaya Gazeta

Twitter as new political tool

After Dmitry Medvedev signed up to Twitter many people followed his example. Twitter's main advantage is that it allows interesting pieces of information to be communicated to a vast number of people. The president mainly tweets his itinerary while representatives of various political parties principally use Twitter to level accusations at each other. Members of the United Russia and A Just Russia political parties have been the most active users so far.

The Russian president created his Twitter account during his official visit to the United States in June. At the Twitter Incorporated headquarters, in front of assembled TV cameras, he ceremonially tweeted his first message: "Hello everyone! I'm on Twitter, and this is my first tweet."

However, Dmitry Medvedev is not the most active tweeter. He has only posted 30 messages to his microblog over the past week. During his visit to Finland, the president asked whether it was raining in Moscow. He also announced that security measures at critical facilities had been tightened after the terrorist attack in Kabardino-Balkaria and congratulated actor Vasily Livanov on his birthday.

Over 183,000 Russians have Twitter accounts, including a significant number of VIPs. Frequent Twitter user and head of A Just Russia's youth section Dmitry Gudkov says that presidential aide for economic issues Arkady Dvorkovich and renowned TV presenter and member of Russia's Public Chamber Tina Kandelaki are among these high profile active users. Some governors are also on Twitter.

When Dmitry Medvedev joined Twitter, it boosted interest in the site among Russia's political parties. Young members of the United Russia and A Just Russia parties were the first to set up accounts. Representatives of the Communist and Liberal Democratic parties are not yet on Twitter and nor are their colleagues in other registered parties, including Yabloko, Patriots of Russia and the Right Cause. Meanwhile, Twitter is popular among unregistered opposition groups. Some sources say that the Kremlin is acutely aware of Twitter's growing popularity among young people.

Unlike other internet services Twitter is a mass information outlet. Users tweet links to interesting articles on certain issues, video or audio clips, which other users can then re-tweet.

Twitter could become a useful tool for political activists. Some feel that all recent mass demonstrations across the CIS began on the internet. For example, a politician might tweet about something he is planning to do, then this information is immediately available to his followers - users who have subscribed to this politician's twitter feed. This information will continue to spread through friends' pages, reaching thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people in seconds.


Nezavisimoye Voennoye Obozrenie

Who backs new START ratification?

The new START Treaty signed by presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama in April in Prague will, over the next ten years, maintain a strategic stability based on a rough parity of nuclear missile forces, as well as ensure mutual nuclear deterrence (or mutual assured destruction).

Although the treaty does not plan heavy cuts in nuclear weapons, it is a continuation of START I, which regulated Russian-U.S. nuclear relations from 1991. True, there is much that is new, including the rules on how nuclear weapons should be counted, and so the actual cuts will be insignificant.

Still, the treaty is coming under heavy fire. It is particularly resisted by extreme rightist forces in the United States, which are pushing for absolute U.S. military superiority. Republicans in the Senate are using all sorts of pretexts to prevent the Foreign Affairs Committee from approving the treaty before Congress rises for summer recess. If this tactic works, then it may not be ratified this year. Following the November elections, the Republican Party could reinforce its position in Congress. Then ratification will hang in the balance.

A mixed picture is also emerging in Russia. Although relevant committees in the lower house of parliament have voted their approval, public opinion remains divided.

A survey carried out by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) shows that only 19% of those polled believe that Russia "should continue nuclear disarmament," while 60% want to "preserve the existing potential." The same percentage is observed in the United Russia party, all opposition parties, and among the non-parliamentary opposition. Only 4% of those interviewed believe the new treaty "benefits Russia", while 22% consider that the treaty "favors the United States." As many as 33% agree that the treaty profits "both countries equally," and another 27% believe that it is "the entire world community" that benefits. Of course, the findings may be called into question and their accuracy doubted. But on the whole they signal that 72% of respondents believe the treaty benefits Russia, although a similar percentage is against cuts in the nuclear potential.


Rossiiskaya Gazeta

New government resolution eases path to citizenship

Foreign citizens legally residing in Russia and wishing to join the state program for the voluntary relocation of compatriots living abroad can contact a regional office of the Federal Migration Service (FMS).

The government resolution has approved a statute on issuing certificates to state program participants.

Applicants should contact a regional office of the migration service, submit the required documents and receive state program participant certificates within 60 days.

First Deputy FMS Director Mikhail Tyurkin said it was important that people relocating to Russia should not regret their decision and stay here forever.

Compatriots wishing to take part in the state program have already submitted 29,000 applications to date. Program participants say 22,000 individuals have arrived in Russia.

Although it was feared that the global financial and economic crisis would seriously complicate the relocation of compatriots to Russian regions, this did not happen. Russia received 685, 8,346 and 9,219 people in 2007, 2008 and 2009, respectively.

As a rule, compatriots prefer to settle in western and central Russia, primarily in the Kaliningrad, Kaluga and Lipetsk regions. They also prefer the Krasnoyarsk Territory to other parts of Siberia.

The crisis has affected the implementation of the state program. Last year, those regions which had eagerly received compatriots since 2007 under the state program began to scale down investment projects and to axe jobs.

Some regional leaders, primarily those of prosperous Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, asked the government to delay their involvement in the program. However, program objectives were accomplished during the crisis by involving new regions.

The economic situation has now largely stabilized nationwide. FMS, the state program coordinator, prioritizes active cooperation with regional leaders. Tyurkin said the FMS wanted to allocate additional territories for compatriots and to ensure that regional authorities provide them with vital assistance.

RBC Daily

Russian officials to follow new behavior code, fight corruption

Russian officials will have to comply with a dress, behavior and verbal code, try not to talk to people condescendingly and not to mention foreign currency in public addresses. They will also have to notify prosecutors of attempts any bribery attempts.

These and many other norms of social and ethical behavior are sealed in the Standard Code of Ethics and Office Behavior drafted by Russia's Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development in accordance with the Council of Europe's Group of States against Corruption (GRECO). The draft has been published on the ministry's website and on the federal site of managerial personnel.

The code's authors write that a person seeking any civil service position will be obliged to read and comply with the code and will bear "moral and other responsibility in accordance with legislation" for violating its provisions.

The code's numerous provisions regulate office behavior, use of service information and even appearance. Officials must be polite and tolerant, avoid making discriminatory statements on the grounds of sex, age, nationality, citizenship, social standing, wealth and family status, and political and religious preferences. A condescending tone, rudeness, arrogance and incorrectness will be punishable.

Officials will have to dress in a traditional office manner to encourage "people's respect for state office."

They will also be obliged to fight corruption by informing the authorities about their income and notifying their bosses and prosecutors of all attempts to bribe them.

Unfortunately, the code does not say if state officials must notify prosecutors of their intention to commit corruption, but the general tone of the document hints at this possibility.


UN recognizes Kosovo's independence

"The Court considers that general international law does not contain any prohibition on declarations of independence," said Hisashi Owada, president of the International Court of Justice.

He read the court's non-binding opinion that Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008 does not violate international law.

Fifteen judges considered the case at the request of the UN General Assembly. Ten of them voted for the recognition of Kosovo's independence and four against it.

Serbian President Boris Tadic said on Wednesday that no matter what the court decides, Serbia would never recognize Kosovo's independence.

Although non-binding, the court's decision will have a major political impact. The countries that have not yet recognized Kosovo will find it morally easier now to do so, and Russia could use the ICJ's arguments in its interests regarding the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, said Alexei Makarkin, first vice president of the Center for Political Technologies.

That decision will also benefit Serbia, which will be able to continue its integration into the European Union without the burden of Kosovo, said Fyodor Lukyanov, editor-in-chief of the Moscow magazine Russia in Global Affairs.

All permanent members of the UN Security Council attended the hearing. China and Russia supported Serbia, while France, Britain and the United States sided with Kosovo. The latter three countries recognized its independence immediately after its announcement on February 17, 2008.

In the two years since then, 69 UN member countries have recognized Kosovo. When the number exceeds 100, Kosovo will have all the necessary characteristics of an independent state and will be able to apply for integration into NATO and the EU.

The European countries that have not recognized Kosovo's independence are Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain.

The ICJ's decision could be considered as international recognition of Kosovo's independence and will facilitate the signing of bilateral agreements with it, said Ilya Rachkov, a partner at the law firm Noerr Stiefenhofer Lutz. However, to be able to join the UN, Kosovo will need a recommendation from the UN Security Council, which it is unlikely to get as long as Russia and China are its permanent members.

Tadic had also warned that by recognizing Kosovo's independence, the International Court would provoke a landslide appearance of new states, which will destabilize the global situation.

The ICJ's decision is one more step toward the dilution of the main principle of the inviolability of borders in post-war Europe, Lukyanov said.

Kosovo was placed under UN supervision in 1999, following a 78-day NATO bombing campaign that ended a two-year war between Serbia and the ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo, which was then a Serbian province.

RIA Novosti is not responsible for the content of outside sources.

MOSCOW, July 23 (RIA Novosti)

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