MOSCOW, April 13 (RIA Novosti) Russia and West get new post-Soviet space headache / There are no “orange” sentiments in Russia / Kremlin encourages two-party system / Gazprom considers reviving Baltic LNG project
Russia and West get new post-Soviet space headache
The latest developments in Moldova are not a local occurrence. They are one of the latest events in a global political game in which we are all now involved in the aftermath of Soviet collapse.
After what has happened in Chisinau, it is impossible to view the future of the former Soviet republic without mooting the issue of whether Moldova should exist as an independent state or join a Greater Romania. There is no doubt that certain forces will be pushing Moldova energetically toward the second option, supporting those who are prepared to bring people on to the streets. Whether they will do the pushing overtly or covertly will depend on many factors, including Russia’s behavior.
The Rubicon was crossed as street violence reached its peak – the Romanian flags displayed on the facades of state institutions by protesters are the best confirmation of this fact. One can safely say that stability in Moldova is a thing of the past.
Unfortunately, a settlement in Transdnestr will also have to be spoken as a past event. Much of what was expected to be done between Moldova and Transdnestr through peace-making efforts is now simply impossible.
After all, it does not matter if the Romanian secret services or a Moldovan opposition that miscalculated its strength were behind the disturbances. The more important point is that Russia and the West have got another headache on their hands and another reminder that in the post-Soviet space respect for law and democracy can easily be thrown into the flames, fed by chairs only recently vacated by parliamentary deputies; and that more “color” revolutions may follow the same scenario – that of chaos and violence.
There are no “orange” sentiments in Russia
Moldova and Georgia are going through tough times, but it is good that nothing of the kind is happening within Russia’s borders, a Russian political researcher writes.
Vitaly Ivanov, director of the Institute of Politics and State Law, said he was happy that nobody was burning government buildings, blocking avenues or defecating in squares in Russia to uphold “democracy.”
When they saw the results of the “orange revolution” in Ukraine in 2005, the Russian authorities and law enforcement agencies decided to prevent such events in Russia. Distressed intellectuals said they were fighting a non-existent threat, and were especially furious over the prohibition of the opposition’s marches of dissent.
Today, four years later, we can say that elections are held in accordance with law in Russia because the authorities have rooted out “orange” sentiments. The Russian political system has proved its efficiency, the researcher writes.
Russia’s “dissenters” are not calling on the people to emulate the Georgian, let alone Moldovan, experience. Their current attitude is quite different from the loud admiration they expressed for the “orange” revolution in Kiev. Very few members of the Russian opposition have publicly praised the events in Moldova, while the rest preferred to dissociate themselves from them.
Some say Russian freedom lovers have come to their senses, shocked by the damage public riots have done in Moldova. However, the revolt in Kyrgyzstan in 2005 was accompanied by more violence, yet it did not have a sobering effect on the Russian opposition, Ivanov writes. So, there was something else in the Moldovan events that influenced the Russian opposition.
First, the West has not supported the Moldovan pseudo-revolution and the Georgian near-revolution. And second, public law and order have been strengthened in Russia over the past three or four years.
The global economic crisis has revived some hopes, but only to bury them still deeper, the analyst concludes.
Kremlin encourages two-party system
The A Just Russia party has been given the go-ahead to criticize the government’s bailout policies and to enter into a no-holds debate with the pro-Kremlin United Russia party. The Kremlin surely intends this policy to push the Communists’ oppositional rhetoric to the margins.
The Communist Party is obviously gaining popularity due to the growing social discontentment. The number of applicants wishing to join the party has doubled since the beginning of the year. According to the paper, this fact was probably the reason why the Kremlin decided to “authorize” A Just Russia to voice oppositional ideas.
The party that had initially supported the Cabinet’s bailout plan, deliberately voted down the revised federal budget presented to parliament by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. “A Just Russia has been given a go-ahead to criticize the government’s bailout program,” a Kremlin source said.
United Russia leaders are not keen on public debates. “Parliament is not a place for debate” – this surprising statement by Boris Gryzlov, lower house speaker and head of the United Russia parliamentary group, is well known.
However, the party in power has now been instructed to change its attitude toward polemics and learn to reason with opponents. In fact, they were even encouraged to backtrack a little under the new “opposition’s” attack.
“They should have encouraged A Just Russia to begin criticizing the government earlier. It is too late now,” said Yevgeny Minchenko, director of the International Institute of Political Analysis think tank.
It is also important to maintain a good balance so as not to repeat the 2004 scenario, he added. In 2004, another party, Rodina, was also allowed to criticize the government, which led to a harsh stand-off between different elites in the regions. As a result, United Russia lost a number of its voters, while the Communists gained some points.
Gazeta, RBC Daily
Gazprom considers reviving Baltic LNG project
Growing tensions with transit countries may encourage Russian energy giant Gazprom to revive old projects aimed at diversifying gas routes.
Late last week, Stanislav Tsygankov, the foreign economic contacts chief at Gazprom, said the company could revive a project to build a Baltic gas liquefaction plant.
The Baltic LNG project stipulated the construction of a $3.7 billion plant in the Leningrad Region by 2011-2012 to produce 5-7.2 million metric tons of LNG annually for North America. Possible partners in the project were Eni, BP, Petro-Canada, and Mitsubishi.
However, the project’s feasibility study was rejected as inexpedient, since it provided for expanding the gas transportation network in northwest Russia. This would increase the prime cost to nearly $100 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas, compared to the generally accepted $75.
Analysts said the main drawback of the Baltic LNG project was its transportation system. The Danish straits are only 15 meters deep, which prevents the use of tankers with a capacity of more than 120,000 metric tons, whereas small-capacity tankers cannot ship LNG across the Atlantic. The only solution was to reload LNG to larger vessels, which would have further increased its final cost.
Pyotr Klyuyev, due diligence director at the 2K Audit Business Consultancy, said Gazprom was searching for new markets to ease its dependence on European customers. It is now reminding them about the Baltic LNG project to prove its market diversification ability.
However, this does not mean the plant will be built, especially since LNG demand in the United States has plunged due to the increased production of shale gas, said Mikhail Korchemkin, director general of the East European Gas Analysis consultancy.