Medvedev says Russia needs new economic model
The Lenin district court in the northern city of Murmansk ruled that 22 crew members will remain in pre-trial detention for two months during the investigation into alleged piracy over the September 18 protest at a state-owned oil platform. The other eight from Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise icebreaker face new hearings on Monday after judges ruled that they needed further information. The court concluded marathon hearings into the 30 crew members of Greenpeace’s ship early on Monday. The activists, 26 of them foreign nationals, will now be held in jail. Russian investigators have accused the Greenpeace activists of piracy after two of them tried to scale state energy giant Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya oil platform in the Barents Sea. Greenpeace Executive Director Kumi Naidoo said the environmental group would appeal the detentions. “We will not be intimidated, we will appeal these detentions, and together we will prevail,” he said in a statement. Several Russian news websites, including that of NTV national television channel blacked out all their photographs on Friday in protest at the two-month detention of photographer Denis Sinyakov, a former staff photographer at AFP and Reuters who was working for Greenpeace as a freelancer. “Denis Sinyakov’s being accused of piracy and his preliminary detention for two months will probably become a precedent in the history of Russian journalism,” Vedomosti business daily warned in an editorial. Greenpeace said that a British videographer, Kieron Bryan, was also among those detained for two months. The group said that the foreigners were given “inadequate translation” during the court proceedings. The court’s decision came despite President Vladimir Putin saying on Wednesday of the activists that “of course they are not pirates.” Investigators in court said that the activists had committed piracy by trying to seize property with threats of violence.
Credit: Reuters/Alexander Astafyev/Ria Novosti/Pool SOCHI, Russia | Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:19pm BST SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) – Russia must reduce state dominance of the economy and improve conditions for investors and entrepreneurs to avoid succumbing to even slower growth, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday. Medvedev, No.2 to President Vladimir Putin, used an annual investment forum in the Black Sea resort of Sochi to warn that a failure to restructure the economy away from an over-reliance on state investments and spending could lead to stagnation. “This model, even if it may seem reliable, risks leading to zero growth,” Medvedev said in a keynote address. “We must find other sources of growth for our economy, especially those that lie outside the state sector.” “The time for easy decisions has passed,” Medvedev said in the televised address. The government recently cut its growth forecast for this year to 1.8 percent, half the rate it was predicting at the beginning of the year. Medvedev has been talking of the need to reduce the role of the state in Russia’s energy-reliant economy ever since he first became Russia’s president in 2008, and offered no major new initiatives and few specific recipes. Medvedev served a four-year term as head of state, during which Putin was prime minister. Putin’s return to the presidency last year underlined his dominance of what has over the years come to be called Russia’s ruling ‘tandem’. On Friday, Medvedev enumerated a series of measures that have already been announced, such as a decision to cap tariffs on state-regulated services including household gas, electricity and railways next year. Alluding to corruption that has stifled entrepreneurs as the state’s influence has increased during Putin’s nearly 13 years in power, the prime minister said it was crucial for investors and business owners to feel they are safe, comfortable – and can make money. He called for tax breaks for some small and medium-sized businesses and, referring to a “lack of trust in the authorities”, said some regions needed to do much more to make investors welcome. (Additional reporting by Alexei Kalmykov and Alessandra Prentice; Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Susan Fenton) Tweet this
Russia remands Greenpeace activists, group to appeal
Killy said the commission considered the issue carefully and in the end was fully convinced that Russia will respect the Olympic charter, which prohibits discrimination of any kind. He said the IOC had received written assurances from Russian officials there would be no discrimination. “The Olympic Charter states that all segregation is completely prohibited, whether it be on the grounds of race, religion, color or other, on the Olympic territory,” he said in French. “That will be the case, we are convinced. Another thing I must add: the IOC doesn’t really have the right to discuss the laws in the country where the Olympic Games are organized. As long as the Olympic Charter is respected, we are satisfied, and that is the case.” Russian officials insist the law is designed to protect children and doesn’t infringe on the rights of gays. “Regarding this law, if people of traditional sexual orientation spread propaganda of non-traditional sex to children, then they will also be held accountable,” said Dmitry Kozak, a deputy prime minister in charge of overseeing preparations for the Sochi Olympics. “So there is simply no need to talk about discrimination.” The Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay rights organization in the U.S., condemned the IOC’s assessment of the Russian law. “If this law doesn’t violate the IOC’s charter, then the charter is completely meaningless,” HRC president Chad Griffin said in a statement. “The safety of millions of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) Russians and international travelers is at risk, and by all accounts the IOC has completed neglected its responsibility to Olympic athletes, sponsors and fans from around the world.” He noted that Killy spoke a day after gay rights activists were arrested outside the Moscow headquarters of the Sochi Olympics organizing committee for protesting the law. In Strasbourg, France, a leading European human rights watchdog that counts Russia among its 47 member states said the law “raises serious issues” under its 60-year-old human rights convention. The Council of Europe’s committee of ministers released a statement Thursday that “invited” Russian authorities to take measures to raise awareness about the fundamental rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Russia was urged to submit a plan toward that end as soon as possible. President Vladimir Putin signed the ban on propaganda into law in late June. In August, he signed an additional decree banning all demonstrations and rallies in Sochi for two and a half months around the time of the games, a measure seen as intended to thwart protests by gay rights activists.
Russia is now the undisputed master of the U.N. Security Council
The real story from this week’s UN General Assembly is that Russia, not America, is now the dominant power at the Security Council for the first time in the history of the UN. This dramatic shift in the power balance at the UN seems to have been completely overlooked by many of those covering the meeting, who are more interested in wittering on about the proposed Security Council resolution on disarming Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile (it won’t work)or Iran’s utterly transparent charm offensive (they are desperate to get the sanctions lifted) towards some of the world’s more gullible world leaders. But the key to this disturbing realignment in the global power structureis clearly visiblein the draft of the Security Council resolution on Syria, which entirely reflects Russia’s interests at the expense of those of the Western powers. America, Britain and France, the three Western members of the five permanent members of the Council, wanted the option to take punitive action against the Assad regime if, as most observers expect, Damascus does not fully comply with the U.N.’s requirements. (Nor has anyone considered how U.N. inspectors can be expected to examine and neutralise stockpiles of chemical weapons in the midst of a civil war.) But Russia is determined to prevent any form of military intervention in Syria, and to that end insisted that the resolution be watered down to the effect that, if Assad fails to comply, then the issue will be referred back to the U.N. where, as we know from history, it will be subsumed by the organisation’s bureaucratic complacency. In short, Russia has won the diplomatic battle, and the Western powers, after all their threats to bomb Assad into submission,have been made to look weak and impotent. Apply this paradigm to Iran and it is not hard to see why Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has decided to embark on a charm offensive with the West. Just like Syria, the Russians have no intention of allowing the Western powers and that includes Israel to take military action against Iran over its decade-long refusal to cooperate with the U.N. over its controversial nuclear programme, which most intelligence experts believe is designed to build atom bombs, rather than power stations. And with President Barack Obama desperate to avoid a confrontation with Iran, Syria or any of the regions other rogue states, the key to resolving the Iranian crisis lies in Moscow, not Washington or New York. And if that’s the case, then don’t expect Iran to give up enriching its uranium anytime soon.