Voices from Russia

Friday, 23 January 2009

Barack Obama: The Hyperactive President


US President Barack Obama (1961- )

The newly-elected US President, Barack Obama, demonstrated hyperactivity as he rushed to perform his duties immediately after moving into the White House. Right from his very first hours in his capacity as President, Mr Obama exerted every effort to distance himself from the policies of his predecessor, George W. Bush. Mr Obama made it crystal-clear that his policies will mark a new era for America. The New York Times wrote in the wake of his inaugural speech and his first decisions that President Obama proclaimed new values and wants the Bush administration to be forgotten as quickly as possible.

The new president ordered all resolutions and projects of the previous administration suspended until they have been carefully examined by the new Cabinet. The relevant decree came just hours after the swearing-in ceremony. Next, he stated that since the US government had long acted under the cover of inordinate secrecy, he would try to make it more open. Civil servants were rushed to act faster in supplying information on the requests filed, and, after freezing the wages of top officials, the president launched an open campaign against lobbyists.

As for foreign policy, Mr Obama’s first step was to suspend for 120 days all US prosecution proceedings in Guantánamo in Cuba. By this, President Obama made it clear that he meant to act on his election promises. He phoned the leaders of Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Autonomy, and pledged serious aid in promoting an Arab-Israeli settlement. The new president also held the first meeting of the US State Department on foreign policy priorities. Attending the meeting were Vice-President Joseph Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who can get down to working on an official basis after her candidacy has been approved by the Senate. Some reports say that Mrs Clinton may visit Moscow soon, and that President Obama shall follow suit afterwards. Neither President Medvedev nor the Foreign Ministry confirmed the reports.

The current hyperactivity demonstrated by the new US president stems from the fact that, unlike his predecessors, he is pressed for time and can’t afford to lose it. The longer he postpones addressing urgent economic and political issues, the worse they will become. The most important thing is to proceed cautiously to avoid mistakes. As for Mr Obama’s attempts to make it clear that his rule marks a new era in the history of America and will send the years of George Bush’s rule into oblivion, the targets seem fairly difficult to meet. The new president has yet to prove his ambitions have ground to stand on. Moreover, the previous leader left such a miserable legacy that the nation is highly unlikely to forget it all in the near future.

23 January 2009

andrei-ptashnikovAndrei Ptashnikov

Voice of Russia World Service



Metropolitan Kirill says that the MP Rejects any Compromise on Dogmatic and Theological Questions with the Roman Catholic Church


Metropolitan Kirill Gundyaev of Smolensk and Kaliningrad (1946- ), the Patriarchal Locum Tenens

The Patriarchate of Moscow and all the Russias rejects any compromise on dogmatic and theological questions in its dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church, Metropolitan Kirill Gundyaev of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, the Patriarchal Locum Tenens, stated in an interview published in the magazine Argumenty i Fakty (Arguments and Facts) on Wednesday. “The Roman Catholic Church’s position on many issues relating to pastoral questions in secular society is closer to the Orthodox point of view [than that of the Protestants]. In any case, we must bear in mind the whole range of divergences in the dogma, theology, and practise of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. No compromises can be made in this area”, Vladyki Kirill said.

As for the relation of the MP with heterodox confessions, Metropolitan Kirill noted, “All parties are aware of the existing fundamental disagreements. The very fact of our dialogue does not mean that we seek to become a single entity. For instance, Russia maintains relations with the USA, but, it by no means seeks to become one of the American states”. He went on to say that the differences in dogma, theology, and pastoral practise as formulated by the Orthodox Church and the heterodox confessions “are now on the increase. We have completely severed relations” with some Protestant bodies such as the Lutheran Church of Sweden and the Episcopal Church in the USA “because of their official approval of homosexuality”, Vladyki Kirill said. He reminded us that the Orthodox Church is “the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church through which God opens the road toward eternal life. This is why the preservation of the Faith transmitted to us by Christ Himself, His Holy Apostles, and all the Holy Fathers of the Church is so important for us. We proclaim this Faith to all corners of the earth. However, this does not mean that we shouldn’t be open and generous to those who hold other views, as we all live in one civil society”.

21 January 2009



Editor’s Note:

Could it be? Yes, friends and neighbours… it’s Big Green Weenie Award time again! Hey, Interfax translator! You left out the last three sentences. FOR SHAME! I should send Cheetah the Monkey over to your house to jump all over your new furniture. Alas… I don’t think the message would sink in… a waste of a good chimp’s time, I’m afraid.


Expensive Friends in Central Asia

Filed under: Barack Obama,diplomacy,Dmitri Medvedev,military,politics,Russian,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00


A scene in Samarkand, the second-largest city of Uzbekistan

The relatively few agreements signed by President Dmitri Medvedev during his visit to Uzbekistan in no way reflect the breathtaking complexity of the forthcoming changes in global Central Asian policy. It is with good reason that Uzbek President Islam Karimov tried to tone down the signing of agreements by drawing his guest’s attention to the fact that “the world is changing very fast, the alignment of forces is changing, and the reference points are changing”. He added, “As a country that has always been present in the region and determined the alignment of forces here, Russia should not only track these changes but also direct them”. Importantly, new US President Barack Obama plans to wind down operations in Iraq and concentrate on Afghanistan, a country that borders Uzbekistan.

It is clear that Afghanistan poses a global problem, and Russia is closer to it geographically than the United States. It is also obvious that Russia and other regional countries stand to gain from the reinvigoration of US military operations in Afghanistan. This may drastically change Russian policy in the region, albeit only in theory for the time being. Moscow should not reduce its policy to dissuade the United States from the region, if only because it may have to pay too high a price for its presence. Some of Russia’s partners may use the traditional Russian-US rivalry to their advantage by using both sides for their own purposes. They would not push either of them out of the region completely in the hope of keeping this game of using one against the other.

Russia’s Central Asian policy since the beginning of this century never aimed at ousting the United States from the region, but, was based on partnership with it. One reason is that Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan will never tolerate any single country, be it Russia, America, or China to dominate the region. There are advantages in having everyone there. In particular, this strategy underlies the philosophy of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The United States weakened itself by trying to do in Central Asia what it did in Georgia and Ukraine, that is, overthrow existing regimes and replace them with weak and incompetent pro-American surrogates. After these failures, Washington might have said good-bye to its influence in the region. However, it has a chance to return to Central Asia, if it conducts a smart Afghan policy, and its presence will be appreciated there. Following the results of Mr Medvedev’s visit to Uzbekistan, the Uzbek and Russian presidents proposed convening an international conference under the SCO aegis. US participation will be welcomed. Needless to say, Russia and the Central Asian countries will remember the deeds of the old US administration rather than believe the words of the new one. The Obama team should not forget this.

23 January 2009

Dmitri Kosyrev



Blog at WordPress.com.