|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Medvedev, Putin Get Down To Work in New Roles
May 15 (EIRNS)Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have begun working in their new positions, with a new configuration of the Russian government that was unveiled beginning May 12. The Russian personnel and institutional changes, as well as the nationally televised activity of the two leaders today, draw attention to the high level of military-strategic tension in the world, as well as the tension within Russian policy-making, as the global systemic economic crisis intersects the country's own economy.
All Russian national TV channels showed Medvedev on tour May 15 in the Ivanovo and Kostroma Regions west of Moscow. He visited two major military facilities and two monasteries. Near Teykovo, Ivanovo Region, Medvedev reviewed a regiment of Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missiles"unmatched by any technology in the world," as the host officers put itat their base, deep in a pine forest. Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov, commander of the Strategic Missile Corps, briefed Medvedev. Addressed throughout the televised clips as "Comrade Supreme Commander-in-Chief," a grave-faced Medvedev said, over lunch with the personnel: "Our objective is to make sure that in the immediate period ahead, and in the years ahead, that the Strategic Missile Corps receives all of the financing it requires, in order to meet today's level of threat, and the situation that actually exists on the planet today."
The Russian President went on to visit the Kostroma Military Academy, where he viewed nanotechnology and ABC defense labs, and laser-guided weapons training.
In Moscow, Putin was presiding over the first working session of the new Cabinet of Ministers, which he had publicly presented to Medvedev on May 12 (remarking that the two of them had deliberated on the personnel and organizational changes over a two-month period). He announced that the government will be managed by a 15-person Presidium, meeting weekly, that consists of himself, the two first deputy prime ministers, the five deputy prime ministers, and the ministers of health and social development, regional development, agriculture, economic development, foreign affairs, internal affairs, and defense.
Televised coverage of the Cabinet meeting featured Putin criticizing Minister of Economic Development Elvira Nabiullina for setting too "modest" targets for the increase of manufacturing products as a share of industrial output, as well as of exports.
In the top government posts are longtime close associates of Putin, several of whom have moved with Putin from the Kremlin Presidential Administration to the government. Another close Putin associate, Sergei Naryshkin, has become Medvedev's Chief of Staff at the Kremlin. Several of these officials, and others whose ministerial assignments were changed, represent groups within the security and intelligence communitythe so-called "siloviki"that were visibly warring between themselves during 2007. Putin has evidently kept various factions on his team, while arranging the government agencies so as to give him a more streamlined machine.
Russia Will Defend Ruble from German, U.S. Banks
May 16 (EIRNS)The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) is taking measures to protect the ruble from foreign speculators betting on a 4% increase in the currency's value, the RCB financial new agency reported today. The bank intervened with several hundred million dollars' worth of rubles on May 14, and will continue to do this daily throughout the month. The measures are also intended to curb inflation. At the beginning of May, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, and Dresdner Kleinwort all recommended that traders buy "cheap" rubles immediately, before Russian regulators took anti-inflation measures. The investment banks were speculating that President Dmitri Medvedev might allow a stronger ruble, and the banks were predicting a 4% rise in the ruble over the next six months, Bloomberg reported.
The CBR had allowed the ruble, which trades against a basket of dollars and euros, to rise last August, when inflation was one-third less than it is now. In the past, the Russian central bank was intervening when the exchange rate varied more than 30 kopecks on either end, and it will continue this policy, Kommersant reported. The Western banks were also betting on the statement in April by Alexei Ulyukayev, deputy chairman of the central bank and an ex-whiz kid from the neo-liberals' hey-day of the 1990s, that Russia "is not ruling out" letting the ruble rise. However, an increased exchange value for the ruble would cut into external profits for Russia's energy exporters.
Russian Websites Publicize Zepp-LaRouche Food Call
May 16 (EIRNS)Posted May 15 on the Russian-language website of the LaRouche movement, Helga Zepp-LaRouche's May 3 Schiller Institute call for action on the world food crisis rapidly began to spread on Internet sites in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Several of the Russian-language postings highlighted her demand that "the World Trade Organization must be dissolved, immediately." Ukraine has just recently joined the WTO, and Russia seeks to do so.
The Russian translation went out with a "what you can do" paragraph at the end, asking for individual statements of support, as well as that the call be circulated as widely as possible. The posting also provided links to articles in EIR on the murderous impact of the WTO and globalization on world food production, and two Russian-language Xinhua wires on the June 3-5 UN Food and Agriculture Organization summit and FAO head Jacques Diouf's statements on the severity of the food crisis.
The most prominent websites to post Zepp LaRouche's appeal in Russian are those of:
The Russian Anti-Globalist Resistance, Russian Federation (www.anti-glob.ru), where it appeared May 13 with a front-page notice saying, "Hunger is caused by the new world order. Helga Zepp-LaRouche believes the means exist to stop it."
Strategium East European Online Political Experts Community, Ukraine (www.strateger.net). Strategium's founder and coordinator, Sergei Pozny, is a signer of the Ad Hoc Committee for a New Bretton Woods appeal to convene a conference for a new monetary system.
RPMonitor, a Moscow-based news and analysis site directed by economist Andrei Kobyakov (www.rpmonitor.ru), featured the article on its front page, with the headline "The specter of death by famine: Only the immediate dissolution of the WTO can save millions of lives in Asia, Africa, and Latin America," and the byline, "Helga Zepp-LaRouche (Germany), President of the Schiller Institute." Professor Kobyakov likewise is a signer of the call for a New Bretton Woods conference.
In response to the message urging circulation of Zepp-LaRouche's call for action, the full text also appeared today on regional sites, including the "Sarov Top Secret" portal (www.sarov.cc), a news site based in the town where Russia's Federal Nuclear Center weapons lab is located. Its webmaster wrote to report the posting. A Belarusian website called "Imperiya" (www.imperiya.by) also showcased the article. Individuals posted it on the popular Russian political forums Global Venture (www.aventurist.rog) and the Big Forum (www.bolshoyforum.ru), the latter a project of readers of Zavtra newspaper. "RossiyaRing of Patriotic Resources," a widely used portal, led its Economics section with a link to the call for action at its location on the Anti-Globalist Resistance site.
Individuals from Poltava in Ukraine, and from Murmansk, Kaluga, and Makhachkala (Dagestan) in Russia, sent e-mails with messages of support for the call. A civil service employee from Murmansk said, "We need to get more attention to the problem of hunger and food production at all levels! Accept the ideastop the hunger in third world and developing countries!"