Top news Moscow: Dmitry Medvedev, Sergey Mironov, Mikhail Prokhorov
Russian and international media community followed the press conference held by Dmitry Medvedev last week expecting to receive some news about his plans for the elections. Sergey Mironov lost his seat as Chairman of the Council of Federation. Mikhail Prokhorov decided to go into politics and became the head of the Right Cause political party. Find out details in weekly expert review of events by FederalPress.Russian and international media community followed the press conference held by Dmitry Medvedev last week expecting to receive some news about his plans for the elections. Sergey Mironov lost his seat as Chairman of the Council of Federation. Mikhail Prokhorov decided to go into politics and became the head of the Right Cause political party. Find out details in weekly expert review of events by FederalPress.
President’s Press Conference
Large press conference for the journalists was held last week by Dmitry Medvedev bringing no surprising or long-waited for news. The President did not give any straightforward answer regarding his plans for the Presidential elections mentioning that such important political decisions require the right timing to be announced.
Dmitry Medvedev also reminded that nobody can stay at power for ever. Responding the questions by a Norwegian journalist about militia and general prosecution the President said, rotation will be needed earlier or later in all ministries. Half of the Russian regional governors have already been changed.
Reuters’ correspondent asked Dmitry Medvedev for his opinion in regard to the case of Hermitage Capital and murder of lawyer Sergey Magnitsky. “The case needs investigation... I gave such an order to the General Prosecution; I’ve met with the Investigation Committee administration and the Head of FSS”.
Another acute question responded was whether Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s release from jail holds any threat to the society. “Short question – short response. There is absolutely no danger”, the President replied.
Dmitry Orlov, Agency for Political and Economic Research General Director, thinks the press conference did not confirm political superiority of Vladimir Putin nor did it state independence of Dmitry Medvedev. Its function was quite utilitarian, i.e. transmitting President’s messages.
“This was the demonstration of responsibility before the political class, responsibility before the country, and foreign politicians. Responsibility for making decisions. Quite precise messages were voiced out during the press conference”, Dmitry Orlov explains.
“De facto he stated that there will be one candidate for the President’s seat, and he will be put forward at the ruling party’s congress; that political partnership of Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin has a long-term character and will not be ruined”.
Mironov changes sides
43 out of 50 deputies of St. Petersburg Regional Duma voted to recall senator’s commission of Sergey Mironov thus making him quit his position as speaker of the Council of Federation of Russia. Deputies from United Russia, Liberal Democratic Party, Communists Party and some of Sergey Mironov’s own party, Fair Russia, voted against him.
“Your decision today will stay in the history of Russian parliamentary system. Here today in this seemingly most democratic city of Russia you start witch hunt… Today you have once again proven that United Russia party, along with the Communists and Liberal Democrats (luckily, not all of them), who are dancing backup, is a deadlock for Russia’s political evolution”, Sergey Mironov said before leaving the assembly.
Leonid Polyakov, deputy dean of Political Sciences Faculty of the Higher School of Economics, sees a lot of hard work for Sergey Mironov if he decides to stay an influential political figure. “Sergey Mironov occupied the third highest position in the state power hierarchy for 9 years. And now he has to become an oppositionist. To become the second breath for the opposition in Russia is a very tough task”.
“Mironov now is a common citizen”, Leonid Polyakov added.
Sergey Mironov was awarded the title of honorary chairman of the Council of Federation. After his dismissal the chairman’s functions will be performed by the first deputy-chairman Alexander Torshin.
Mikhail Prokhorov comes to the Right Cause
Mikhail Prokhorov, holder of 17.85 million dollars of personal assets, the second richest person in Russia, the head of Onexim Group, confirmed his decision to enter the political arena and become the leader of the Right Cause (Pravoye Delo) political party. Official appointment in the position will be announced by the party after May 25, 2011.
Mikhail Prokhorov has already promised to reform the party and make it the second largest party in the State Duma. In his personal Live Journal he asked bloggers about their views and suggestions for the party reforms.
Pavel Salin, leading expert of the Center of Political Infrastructure, thinks that involvement of Mikhail Prokhorov in politics can be explained by two major reasons.
“First is creating favorable background for the United Russia as common people’s party, All-Russian People’s Front against the party of oligarchs. The second variant is giving support in adopting unpopular reforms during the next president’s term, that is, warding fire off the United Russia”, political expert explains.
“For his participation he will get some bonuses, guarantees for his capital… Some informal bonuses – one can guess endlessly. He is capable of consolidating business elite, but they understand that by doing so they will demonstrate loyalty to power”.
Deputy Chairman of the Russian government Sergey Ivanov reported to President Medvedev the results of checkout in the Ministry of Defense. On May 10 the President asked to find officials responsible for disrupting governmental orders for the defense industry. Several heads of the ministry departments and directors of ministry-owned defense orders managing companies have been identified and disciplined; some will be fired.
“No one has any exact information what items and quantities will be delivered to the army in 2011 by the defense industry. It is profitable for those army corruptionists who cover theft by state secret. The difference in numbers can be explained by the officials’ manipulations trying to hide corruption and wrecking state defense procurement orders”, says Igor Korotchenko, expert consultant of the Public Chamber of Russia and member of the Public Council at the Ministry of Defense.
Rosneft and BP could not balance the interests of various groups but will continue cooperation, Vice Prime Minister Igor Sechin commented on the relations between two large oil companies.
“BP is a good company and our partner. We will continue working with them, but will do it cautiously in projects which imply certain limitations”, he said.
There is a possibility that Rosneft will apply to court to protect interests of its shareholders since Arctic shelf development has been postponed for almost half a year.
Dmitry Medvedev pointed out that people who prepared legal papers for the deal did not pay enough attention to nuances.
AAR Consortium (Alfa, Access Industries and Renova, Russian shareholders of TNK-BP) filed a claim against the British company right after it signed agreement with Rosneft on January 26, 2011. They claimed that the deal was not reviewed by TNK-BP’s board of directors as it should have been according to legal papers.
May 17 was the deadline for Rosneft and BP to exchange shares, but the companies failed to reach agreement. Later Rosneft announced exiting the deal for making strategic alliance with BP and expressed readiness to review other partners for Arctic shelf development.
Konstantin Simonov, National Energy Security Fund General Director, sees some positive results for Russia after the deal was wrecked. He is sure it destroyed two popular assumptions, namely that the Russian state is the main enemy of foreign investors and that Putin rules everything in Russia. In this case, the deal was wrecked by independent and honest businessmen and the state company protected the interests of investors. For Putin the deal was favorable, but after it was ruined, Viktor Vekselberg did not receive any claims.
Konstantin Simonov also regrets the deal was not fulfilled because Russia needs non-residents’ participation in the oil market.