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Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

April 11, 2000

RUSSIA: ROBINSON TOUR, PACE VOTE PUT SPOTLIGHT BACK ON CHECHNYA, HUMAN RIGHTS

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson's recent visit to the North Caucasus, and last week's vote by the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE)--Europe's human rights watchdog group--to recommend suspension of member state Russia, barring swift progress toward ending the Chechen war, prompted Russia-watchers to turn their attention from Vladimir Putin's presidential win to human rights in Chechnya. Russian media by-and-large expressed dismay at the PACE decision, but were divided on who is to blame--their own leaders or the "hypocritical" European parliamentarians--for their country's "getting the boot." Elsewhere in Europe, opinion overwhelmingly favored the Strasbourg body's "clear" and "timely" decision. While the bulk of European editorials focused on the PACE, a handful of pundits took note of the Robinson trip, observing that while the human rights chief failed to "make Russia bend," her denunciation of "organized violence" in the region was "long overdue." Russian papers were largely dismissive of Ms. Robinson's "one-sided" and "emotional" take on the human rights situation there. Meanwhile, a range of opinionmakers from nearly all regions pondered what course Mr. Putin would steer on foreign policy and whether Moscow would "restore balance to an increasingly unipolar world." Highlights follow:

PACE DECISION ASSESSED: In contrast to Russian officials, who assailed the PACE for reverting to "Cold War" tactics, several leading reformist papers in Moscow reserved their harshest censure for their own politicians and worried about possible damage to Russia's relations with Europe. According to Izvestiya, "We may holler...scolding Europe for...interference in our internal affairs...but we would do better to blame ourselves.... We have offered Europe nothing in the way of how we are going to end the war." A significant number of others, however, mirrored the government's reaction, grousing about the Strasbourg assembly's "counterproductive, if not outrageous" decision and its unfair "pillorying" of Moscow. "Russia can deal with its war criminals on its own, without advice from Strasbourg," scoffed one, while another dismissed the move as "having no effect on Russia." Outside Russia, European media generally welcomed the PACE's action. "After months of protests...an international organization has finally taken measures against Russia," said a Rome daily. A few, nevertheless, stressed potential risks, namely that Russia's suspension might "benefit the forces of nationalism" and further "isolate" Russia from a democratic Europe.

'CHALLENGING U.S. HEGEMONY'?: Writers in Europe, Asia and the Mideast considered whether Mr. Putin's vow to restore Russia's global prestige would "challenge U.S. hegemony." While judging that Moscow's "emerging from its lethargy...is not negative, per se," an Italian writer held, "This possibility makes the [U.S.] leadership role...even more necessary." A few pundits predicted "security realignments" in Asia, as Moscow seeks to "counterbalance the U.S." Countering a Seoul writer's concern about renewed "confrontation" between Moscow and Washington, a New Delhi editorial intoned, "Today's is an age of cooperation and competition," not confrontation, while a Beijing paper foresaw "compromise amid frictions" in U.S.-Russo ties. EDITOR: Katherine L. Starr

EDITOR'S NOTE: This survey is based on 69 reports from 31 countries, March 29 - April 11. Editorial excerpts are grouped by region; editorials from each country are listed from the most recent date.

EUROPE

RUSSIA: "PACE Too Emotional"

Yevgeny Umerenkov pointed out in reformist, youth-oriented Komsomolskaya Pravda (4/11): "The PACE certainly went too far, overwhelmed by emotions. But this is not to say that we should not cooperate with this august organization. But then of course, it is a two-way street. Now we should wait for the CE's Council of Ministers to react. If it refuses to join the PACE in upbraiding Russia, the dialogue may well be renewed."

"Decision Benefits Rebels"

Yuri Bogomolov asserted in reformist Izvestiya (4/10): "All the minuses of the PACE's decision in the final analysis combine to make a big plus for the rebels. Europe's sternly reprimanding Russia is a great moral boost for them, stimulating the guerrilla warfare and extending the suffering of the peaceful population. The war is increasingly becoming a way for them to communicate with the outside world, waged mostly in front of TV and video cameras."

"When In Europe, Do As The Europeans Do"

Aleksei Portansky judged on page one of reformist Vremya MN (4/8): "The PACE's being tough on Russia certainly offends, and rightly so, any Russian with concern for his country's reputation. But whether we like it or not, the opinion which was expressed in Strasbourg is that of the European public, not of a group of parliamentarians. Nobody in the West is going to defend terrorists. But what is the sense of killing hundreds and thousands of innocent people to destroy terrorists? The Council of Europe is largely meant to protect human rights and pluralistic democracy. Adherence to these principles unites 41 European states in this organization.... Countries want to join, just as people like to live in a well-kept house where nobody litters the floor or stages drunken brawls. But to live in the house, you have at least to follow its rules."

"Hypocrites"

Official government Rossiyskaya Gazeta (4/8) front-paged a commentary by Vladimir Lapsky: "The decision by the majority of PACE deputies to start a procedure to suspend Russia is counterproductive, if not outrageous.... The PACE clearly dissembles as it censures Moscow for violating civil rights and demands an immediate end to the antiterrorist operation.... The current session in Strasbourg is openly anti-Russian. In fact, the PACE has denied us a right to territorial integrity and defense from international terrorism. Its decision affects our national dignity. The session has revealed no realistic or constructive approach or a genuine, not ostentatious, concern for human rights. We should draw a lesson from that and review our participation in the PACE's work."

"What Do We Gain By Being In The CE?"

Vladimir Katin pointed out in a report from Strasbourg for centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (4/8): "Russia, as the Council of Europe's biggest country, is a major contributor to its budget, paying $25 million annually.

"Now what do we get in return? Slaps in the face, as we undeservedly come under fire, now being subjected to open discrimination and virtual suspension from the organization we finance."

"PACE Defends Bandits"

Centrist army Krasnaya Zvezda (4/8) ran this piece by Vadim Markushin: "It is either that the European parliamentarians are unaware of what is really going on in Chechnya, hypnotized by demagogues, or that they, while being well informed, believe that hypocrisy and a double standard are a thoroughly civilized stand, an established norm of behavior in the West.... The PACE has become an advocate of those who forced the Chechen people to live in an atmosphere of total criminality. But it would be wrong for us to pretend that Russia is blameless. We may have to rethink much in order for the process of rehabilitation [in the region] to get under way. But how can enlightened Europe help rehabilitation? Or perhaps it cannot, only able to add fuel to the fire? Can Russia do without the Council of Europe? It probably can, just as the Council of Europe can do without Russia. But where would we all end up then? Back in the Cold War?"

"Russia Suffers Defeat"

Reformist Izvestiya (4/7) front-paged a comment by Elmar Guseinov in Strasbourg and Semyon Novoprudsky: "Diplomatese aside, we have missed, or nearly missed, Europe. While our elated new president was touring the country and our Duma envoys were censuring their thoughtless European colleagues, assuring the world that everything would be fine, Europe actually gave us the boot. Our isolation from the Old World and the West in general has never been more palpable in modern Russian history. When we started the war in Chechnya, we gave up foreign policy, hiding behind idioms like a counter-revolutionary operation, proving helpless in the face of Europe's political onslaught. We may holler our heads off, scolding Europe for double standards, interference in our internal affairs, and attempts to push us into self-isolation, but we would do better to blame ourselves. We have done nothing to let Europe know that we want good relations with it, no less than we want an end to the Chechnya campaign. We have offered Europe nothing in the way of how we are going to end the war. Russia may not be expelled from the Council of Europe. But we are no longer considered a European nation. It would be naive to deny that this is our fault."

"Russia Deserves Sanctions"

Aleksei Portansky said on page one of reformist Vremya MN (4/7): "Our politicians are not telling the truth when they claim that Russia is being driven into a corner and dictated to. In fact, on the strength of all evidence, the Council of Europe or the EU might have used sanctions against Russia long ago for violating human rights in the North Caucasus.... Of the two warring factions committing those crimes, Moscow bears a far greater responsibility insofar as it has committed to observe humanitarian norms per international legal documents on human rights."

"Disgrace"

Svetlana Sukhova in Strasbourg reported on page one of reformist Segodnya (4/7): "Standing trial in an international court is a disgrace. There is no other word for it. But this is only the beginning. The PACE's resolution is as tough as can be.... Russia, most likely, will retaliate, say, by barring international observers from Chechnya or possibly by refusing to ratify a protocol to the Convention on Human Rights to ban capital punishment.... Europe, for its part, would lose the opportunity to influence the situation in the North Caucasus. It is essential, though, that the whole thing does not end with an iron curtain."

"It's Not The End Of The World Yet"

Reformist youth-oriented Komsomolskaya Pravda (4/7) published this by Yelena Ovcharenko and Maksim Chikin: "Yesterday's debate in Strasbourg shows that Russia and the West are still far apart. As we are attempting to get closer together, Europe will not budge an inch on its principles. The PACE's decision does not spell a crisis or a break with the rest of the world. Agreements are rarely reached in the first round. It is not the end of the world, but a time-out."

"Decision To Have No Effect On Russia"

Kseniya Fokina opined on page one of centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (4/7): "The result of expelling Russia from the Council...will be the direct opposite of what the advocates of human rights in Europe are trying to achieve. Not even refusing to confirm the credentials of the Russian delegation would have affected Russia, with the operation in Chechnya virtually over and Moscow more aware of its errors than the European parliamentarians."

"Europe: Back To 19th Century"

Official government Rossiyskaya Gazeta (4/6) ran this piece by Aleksandr Sabov: "No doubt, expelled from the Council of Europe (CE), Russia would lose a lot..... The CE, too, would lose the opportunity to 'control Russia.' Chechnya would then be left with no one but the terrorists to ask for help from the international community.... By first expelling Yugoslavia and then shutting the door on Russia, Belarus and Austria, Europe risks going back to the 19th century. With the goal--punishment--declared, expulsion has been picked as the best option. Some 42 percent of the world's population has been subjected to U.S. sanctions. Europe is increasingly getting involved in this global-stick game, evidently hoping for its share of carrot."

"Why Waste Time?"

Maksim Yusin remarked in reformist Izvestiya (4/6): "On the eve of stern hearings on Chechnya, the question arises, wouldn't it be better if they expelled us from the CE? Why waste time arguing with people who have long since made up their minds? Why bear humiliation and public whipping? After all, it is not only Chechnya. Had it not been Chechnya, there would have been something else for which to pillory Moscow."

"Russia Knows Its Errors"

Dmitry Gornostayev stated in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (4/6): "Russia can deal with its war criminals on its own, without advice from Strasbourg. Russia is honest with itself when it says that a war is on in Chechnya and that peaceful citizens get killed there.... Russian journalists are not shy to use the word war with regard to what is going on in Chechnya.... We don't need eye-openers. Russia has done its job and knows its errors better than anyone else."

"Who's Afraid Of Mary Robinson?"

Centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta ran this piece by Kseniya Fokina (4/5): "The human rights problem, which was what Mary Robinson went to the Caucasus to tackle, was for some reason examined in a highly one-sided way by the UN commissioner. According to the testimonies of absolutely all the Russian representatives who accompanied Robinson in the Caucasus, she was only interested in violations by the Russian military. She apparently did not even try to conceal that she had come in order to 'expose' crimes in the ranks of the Russian Armed Forces....

"Tomorrow European parliamentarians will have to choose which to believe more--the report of the UN commissioner or the Russian account of the work done to fulfill the PACE recommendations. Robinson will most likely pin all the responsibility on the Russian leadership. That will be promoted by the report published beforehand in Paris by the International Federation of Human Rights Organizations and the Russian Memorial society on 'atrocities'...which the Western media are already citing liberally."

"What Is PACE After?"

Official government Rossiyskaya Gazeta front-paged (4/4) this memorandum from Russia's Federal Assembly (parliament) on the situation in Chechnya: "The one question that remains unanswered is what the [PACE] is after? Stopping terrorism or giving in to the bandits?... All members of the Federal Assembly are aware that Chechnya is going through tragic events. They are a result of a criminal regime seizing power in that republic and committing violations of human rights on a mass scale.... A certain part of the responsibility for the abnormal situation in Chechnya in 1996-1999 rests with federal authorities who failed to restore the rule of law in Chechnya. After the terrorists attacked Daghestan and blasted apartment buildings in Moscow and other Russian cities, the federal authorities had to use force. Naturally, the use of force entails violations and restrictions of human rights. Members of the State Duma share the concern of the [PACE] over a complicated situation in the North Caucasus."

"The Frenzied Lady Commissioner"

Reformist, business-oriented Kommersant ran this piece on Mary Robinson's tour of the North Caucasus (4/3): "Her extraordinary impressionability is well known, so that after visiting the devastated city of Grozny she is unlikely to deliver a verdict favorable to Russia.... Even before traveling to Russia, she stated that Russia should recognize the existence of human rights violations in Chechnya.... Mary Robinson's emotional judgments about the events in Chechnya have always provoked unconcealed irritation in Russia."

"Clinton, Putin Have Much In Common"

Maxim Yusin stressed in reformist Izvestiya (3/31): "The main surprise was that in the course of his [press conference,] Clinton never once mentioned Chechnya, an omission no Western leader could afford to make in the past few months.... Clinton...[was] thus sending a clear signal to Putin. America is prepared to begin with a clean slate, to show more forbearance than the principled Europeans and not to reproach the Russian leadership for their 'sins.' Especially since even if 'sins' were committed, they posed absolutely no threat to the interests of the United States. And hasn't that always been the main consideration for Washington leaders?"

"Clinton Has Sized Up Putin"

Dmitry Gornostayev told readers of centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (3/31): "It is possible that a certain upswing will happen in the dialogue between Russia and the United States this spring. The sides realize very well the need to overcome the slump in relations caused by a multitude of controversial problems.... It is noteworthy that Washington decided to combine two important statements on Russian-American relations. The very warm words by Clinton about Putin were immediately followed by an official announcement of a U.S. visit by Foreign Minister Ivanov in April."

"Clinton Counts On Putin"

Nikolai Zimin argued in reformist Segodnya (3/31): "In the opinion of Bill Clinton, relations between the United States and Russia are so important...that work to develop them should be conducted constantly.... Since the debate on what should be expected of the new Russian president...is now at its peak in U.S. political circles, [during his press conference,] Bill Clinton dwelt on this theme several times. In contrast to the rather pessimistic forecasts by many analysts, Clinton is optimistic about the future Russian policy.... The task to convince Moscow to consent to amending the 1972 ABM Treaty has become a top priority for the Clinton cabinet.... He also said that 'there have been encouraging signals' that the Russian Duma will finally ratify START II. Keeping these prospects in mind, the U.S. administration is also prepared to forget some issues which it kept constantly raising only a few days ago. In any case, for the first time in many months Bill Clinton did not mention Chechnya when speaking about relations with Russia."

"Clinton Discerns A Reformer In Putin"

Leonid Gankin judged in reformist, business-oriented Kommersant (3/31): "One can regard the question 'Who is Mr. Putin?' as partly answered. The leader of the only superpower in the world, Bill Clinton, said on Wednesday that he thought Putin was sincere when he stated his intent to pursue economic reforms and that he had already selected a 'first-class team' for this.... The U.S. president would have hardly shown such obvious signs of a favorable attitude to Moscow had not Washington detected similar signals from the Kremlin. Knowing well the laws of election campaigning the Americans had patiently waited for the presidential elections to pass in Russia and did not demand much of Putin (for instance, the ending of the war in Chechnya). But now the 'moment of truth' has set in. And Putin is starting from square one."

BRITAIN: "Important To Foster Long Term Relationship With Russia"

The liberal Guardian carried this op-ed piece by Peter Truscott (4/11): "While calling for an end to the bloodshed in Chechnya, a political solution and an urgent inquiry into human rights abuses, it is also important to foster a long term relationship with Russia. With the United States focused on presidential elections, Tony Blair is best placed amongst the heads of EU member governments to build a personal relationship with Putin. He can show the United States and other Europeans that Putin is a man we 'can do business with,' encouraging along the path of economic and political reform."

"Vote For Suspension"

The liberal Guardian opined (4/6): "The Council of Europe will decide today whether to suspend Russia because of its conduct in Chechnya. It must not hesitate (to take) a rare chance to strike a blow for common decency. By taking a stand it will give vicarious expression to the real disgust felt in Europe at how Vladimir Putin, trading blood for votes, equated election campaigning with military conquest. By its symbolic action, the council can show that the thousands of Chechen dead are not forgotten.... No mechanism exists for a thorough international probe of the Chechnya bloodbath without Russia's agreement. One is planned. The UN International Criminal Court, launched in Rome in 1998, could be the ideal instrument for handling such a situation. But the treaty setting up the court is opposed by a handful of countries. The United States is one; and, yes, Russia is another."

"Rights And Responsibilities"

The conservative Times' editorial pointed out (3/31): "Russians were yesterday asked to consider the first officially documented case of murder and rape--classified under the Geneva Conventions as a war crime--by one of their own troops against a Chechen civilian. The message Russia is sending out, through this sudden focus on human rights issues in Chechnya, is a virtuous one.... If the crackdown that Russia is now publicizing is the first step in a serious clean-up of its conduct in Chechnya, it must be applauded. Experience in this and the previous war, however, is that such displays of good intent seldom last longer than the flashes of foreign attention that prompt them. The West should look for longer-term commitments to a healthier rights record--among them narrowing the gap between rhetoric and reality in Moscow's official accounts of the war...before letting Moscow off the human rights hook."

FRANCE: "European Council Proposes To Suspend Russia"

Nicole Gauthier filed from Strasbourg in left-of-center Liberation (4/7): "It took six months and much debate, but the parliamentary assembly of the European Council did what it could.... It was about time. The deputies could no longer repeat at each of their sessions that Russia was violating...human rights in Chechnya and at the same time delay the implementation of sanctions."

"Europe Finally Dared"

Jean-Claude Kiefer held in regional Les Dernieres Nouvelles d'Alsace (4/7): "It is finally unbelievable!... The garden dwarves of Europe finally dared. [PACE], with no other powers than its conviction, openly told Vladimir Putin's huge Russia what she thought of the policy of horror...in Chechnya.... Yesterday, only because some moral principles still exist, often hidden by realpolitik, Russia was condemned."

"Putin Leads The Investigation"

Bruno Frappat front-paged this editorial for Catholic La Croix (4/6): "Give Russia the right to investigate the violations of human rights in Chechnya! That is the option chosen by the UN secretary general."

"Mary Robinson Denounces Human Rights Violations"

Isabelle Lasserre judged in right-of-center Le Figaro (4/5): "Mary Robinson left Moscow without being able to make Russia bend.... Badly received in Moscow, Mary Robinson got support from...Kofi Annan, who backed her request to create an independent investigative commission."

"Chechnya: Yeltsin And Putin Guilty"

Helene Despic-Popovic declared in left-of-center Liberation (4/4): "The report presented in Paris yesterday by the International Federation for Human Rights is overwhelming.... It shows that violations of human rights registered in Chechnya are 'war crimes and crimes against humanity.' IFHR blames several generals and Yeltsin and Putin. Can we imagine that justice will ever be served?"

"Robinson Denounces 'Organized Violence'"

Piotr Smolar filed from Moscow for right-of-center Le Figaro (4/3): "For the first time a senior Western official spoke up. Mary Robinson used the right words during her visit...'organized violence.'... Only a week after...the presidential election, Putin is confronted with a major...diplomatic situation."

GERMANY: "An Appropriate Exclusion"

National radio station Deutschlandfunk of Cologne told listeners (4/8): "In light of [developments in Chechnya] the exclusion of Russia from the Council of Europe would be appropriate."

"Overdue"

Right-of-center Frankfurter Allgemeine judged (4/8): "Six months after the second Russian attempt to control the small republic in the Caucasus...[PACE] finally acted..... However, Putin is not going to pursue peace in the northern Caucasus because of this decision. It is, therefore, important for the Council that an appeal is made to the European Court on Human Rights with respect to Chechnya."

"Europe's Advice To Russia"

Daniel Broessler noted in centrist Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (4/8): "An important signal, like the one just sent from Strasbourg, was necessary in order to wake Russian politicians from their dreams. In this context, Russia's vehement official reactions, including the threat of keeping Council parliamentarians from entering Chechnya, do have a positive side. They prove, at least, that Moscow is not indifferent to serious Western threats. What really gives rise to hope, however, is a look at Moscow's press. Here one can read about the 'mass of human rights abuses in the northern Caucasus'...and also the self-inflicted 'danger of isolating the country.' If [PACE's] decision has triggered a discussion in Russia about war, human rights and Europe, then this fact alone makes the decision worthwhile."

"Out Of The Circle Of Democratic Nations"

D. Adler commented on national radio station Deutschlandfunk of Cologne (4/6): "The fact that Russia now has official confirmation that it does not belong in the circle of democratic nations hurts, because the former superpower would have gladly continued its act as a modern, developed, and democratic country in front of the world.... Sooner or later, Moscow will have to sit down to talk with the terrorists, as others have done with Sinn Fein representatives or with Arafat. Moscow could make use of this international experience and would receive all necessary support if only it demonstrated a willingness to act. One can only hope that the Russian bear will not throw a fit now and let out its anger against those with whom it should cooperate--the democratic forces in Russia."

"Council Of Europe Acts"

Centrist Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (4/7) wrote in an editorial: "On Thursday, the parliamentary assembly in Strasbourg decided to act and demanded Russia's exclusion. It is likely that the old arguments will surface again: do not isolate, but include; achieve influence through dialogue. However, a dialogue depends on the other party listening. Moscow proved that it does not understand subtle hints."

"Sanctions Against Russia Will Do More Harm Than Good"

Gisbert Mrozek judged in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (4/7): "Instead of ending the war in Chechnya, Western sanctions against Russia would only lead to a radical reorientation in Russia's...policies...[and] new restrictions on East-West relations would weaken potential reform in Russia.... The war in Chechnya could become the 'norm' in an authoritarian Russia isolated from Europe and the United States, which seeks an anti-Western union with China."

"Realpolitik"

Right-of-center Die Rheinpfalz of Ludwigshafen (4/7) wrote in an editorial: "Russia's strategy in Chechnya...goes against the European Human Rights Convention.... It would, therefore, be only appropriate to exclude Russia.... Nevertheless, an exclusion is unlikely. After all, the ministers feel more obliged to follow the demands of realpolitik than the parliamentarians. And within the framework of such demands Russia is a major power, which one does not alienate, human rights abuses or not."

"The West As Dancing Bear"

Left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau opined (4/3): "The visit of...Mary Robinson in Chechnya was long overdue. But it is likely that it did not result in many new things. Like during all previous visits of Western observers, the Russians tried to let her see as little as possible.... Only an independent international fact-finding commission can bring clarity about the extent of the ongoing atrocities.... Only the constant presence of international observers and journalists...can prevent or at least reduce further massacres."

ITALY: "Finally, Something Is Moving"

Gabriel Bertinetto filed from Strasbourg in pro-DS (leading government party) L'Unita' (4/7): "Something is moving finally. For the first time, after months of protests, denunciations and condemnations, an international organization has finally taken measures against Russia for its inhumane repression of the independence movement in Chechnya."

"Putin Rising, Clinton Declining"

An editorial in provocative, classical liberal Il Foglio averred (3/31): "Since the failure of the WTO Summit in Seattle...the leadership role that belongs to the only world superpower has been considerably obscured.... Several nations--from Syria to India, Iran and Vietnam--have historically enjoyed a privileged position as a result of their relations with Russia, and they may think that such a situation is developing again. The fact that Russia may emerge from its lethargy and participate in the international debate proportional to its weight is not negative, per se. But this possibility makes the leadership role of the U.S. superpower--somewhat lacking at present--even more necessary."

BELGIUM: "Strasbourg's Message: One Should Not Go Too Far"

Pol Mathil commented on the Council Of Europe's decision in independent Le Soir (4/8): "This is the first blow for the prestige of Putin, who had based his popularity on his intransigence in Chechnya and on his 'tough diplomacy' toward the West. Yet, aside from vociferating and making empty threats, Mr. Putin can hardly do anything: he does not have the means and he needs the West more than the other way around. The vote of the Council should be seen as a warning to Moscow: one should not push one's luck too far....

"The cynicism and the arrogance of the Russians--who are interested in dollars but scorn human rights--have placed the Europeans at a point of no return: if the Council of Europe---the vestal of human rights--does not intervene today, then, like one of its members said, 'the Council will never be taken seriously by the international community.'"

"Europeans Are Burying Their Head In The Sand In The Caucasus"

Philippe Paquet averred in conservative Catholic La Libre Belgique (4/4): "In a report made public yesterday...the Council of Europe's Commission Against Torture rejoices at the fact that the situation has allegedly improved in Chernokozovo.... Yet...Mary Robinson...was not allowed to pay this famous detention camp a visit. Why, if things are normal there? This is the 'democracy' which Western leaders...have unanimously saluted following Putin's election.... The European crusaders...go fiercely and unrelentingly at a Chilean old man or at an Austrian leader. These are very worthy causes, but which make the 'understanding' of Putin...even more unacceptable."

BULGARIA: "The Chechen Stumbling Block"

Influential weekly Kapital argued (4/1): "The situation in Kosovo a year after the end of the war should serve as a warning for Moscow, which is hoping for a fast recovery of Chechnya. However, unlike the Serb province, there are no neutral peacekeepers in the Northern Caucuses and every Russian soldier, no matter how benevolent he is, is considered an enemy."

"President Putin"

Second-largest circulation 24 Hours commented (3/30): "These elections marked the completion of Russia's transition from uncontrollable post-communism to a manageable democracy.... In his foreign policy, Putin will most likely remain faithful to Yevgeny Primakov's line...which included the creation of anti-U.S. coalitions wherever possible and promoting the idea of a multipolar world---harsh rhetoric, but also a rejection of direct confrontation with the United States and the West."

CZECH REPUBLIC: "Will Russia Stay In The Council Of Europe?"

Tomas Pojar of People in Need Foundation wrote this op-ed piece in right-of-center Mlada fronta DNES (4/6): "The democratic world doesn't have many options to influence the barbarian activities of the Russian military in Chechnya. Voting on suspending Russia's membership in the Council of Europe will not help the victims of the war very much, but at the very least, the vote can call the events by their right name and save the Council's credibility. Countries that massacre their own population have no business being in that organization."

DENMARK: "Heartily Welcomed"

Center-right Politiken commented (4/7): "The Council of Europe's proposal...should be heartily welcomed. This is the most serious response to Russia's war so far, and a warning shot across Putin's bow.... On the down side, it is feared...that Russia's suspension...would benefit the forces of nationalism. Russia must not become isolated."

GREECE: "The Leader Who Came In From The Cold"

Senior diplomatic writer Stathis Efstathiadis held in influential, pro-government To Vima (3/30): "Vladimir Putin's victory...was expected.... What is unexpected is the U.S. media's--and by extension, most European papers'--insistent reminder...that the new Russian president served...in the KGB.... It is not difficult to recognize what is concealed behind the 'character assassination' of Putin and the crocodile tears shed for the Chechens. Washington is annoyed that Putin is not Yeltsin, and...does not look like he will follow the same sort of fatalistic policy. Putin does not get drunk...nor does he go into raptures about whatever American international initiative. On the contrary...he aims to upgrade Russia's importance."

NORWAY: "Russia Must Make A Choice In Europe"

Newspaper-of-record Aftenposten commented on the Council of Europe's decision (4/7): "For...Vladimir Putin, this is a very clear warning.... Good leadership can give the population more wealth than ever before. But, it requires openness toward the rest of the world, commerce and cooperation for mutual benefit. And that requires a reciprocal confidence, which is undermined by serious violations of human rights. Here the Council of Europe's message yesterday is very clear--and very timely."

POLAND: "Russia In The Pillory"

Jan Skorzynski opined in centrist Rzeczpospolita (4/7): "The Council of Europe hoped that their inclusion into European democracies would be a positive stimulus to enable them to attain democratic maturity.... It failed in the case of Russia.... Moscow remains deaf to the West's appeals [to forge a political solution] and it does not agree to let independent observers investigate charges of widespread violation of human rights in Chechnya. Such imperial arrogance cannot be left without a response.... The strategy of turning a blind eye to Russia's peculiarities, which the West has been practicing for a long time, proved to be a failure."

PORTUGAL: "Good Ones And Bad Ones"

Deputy editor-in-chief António Ribeiro Ferreira opined in center-left Diário de Notícias (4/7) "The West's anti-Russia wrath, always in the name of human rights, was never applied so violently to Turkey.... But in that case, higher Western interests--read NATO--speak louder, and the genocide of [the Kurds] only merits warnings and threats never made concrete by the democratic and civilized Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The West's so-called double standard is ridiculous and perverted."

SPAIN: "Russia Condemned By Council Of Europe"

Barcelona's centrist La Vanguardia noted (4/7): "The Council of Europe...amply condemned Russia's actions in Chechnya by more than a two-thirds majority yesterday.... Thus has Europe broken a silence that was rendering it an accomplice to disturbing atrocities."

"Two Different Yardsticks"

Barcelona's centrist La Vanguardia opined (4/5): "If the West wants to maintain its justification for humanitarian interventions, then it must now support the UN as it calls upon Russia to permit an independent investigation of what happened in Chechnya."

EAST ASIA

CHINA: "Russia Mends Ties With West"

Tang Jinxiu wrote in the official Communist Party People's Daily (Renmin Ribao, 4/5): "Russia is trying to mend its relationship with the West because it is in desperate need of money and technology.... As long as the U.S.-led NATO continues eastward expansion and sticks to the 'new interventionism,' it will definitely further intrude into Russia's strategic space and threaten its interests, which will inevitably invite Russia's counterattack. Predictably, cooperation amid disputes and compromise amid frictions will dominate future relations between Russia and the West."

"The Triangular Relationship Between Russia, China And The U.S."

Pro-PRC Macau Daily had this editorial (4/5): "It is a trend that China and Russia are getting closer and will continue to develop their strategic partnership.... China and Russia do not intend to develop their cooperative relationship into a military alliance. And they are not aiming at any third country. The containment effect on the United States...has actually been triggered by U.S. hegemony.... Putin is adopting a pragmatic policy toward the United States. However, he will give a high priority to Russia-China relations."

JAPAN: "Clinton Promoting Close Relations With Putin"

Liberal Mainichi's Washington correspondent Fuse observed (3/31): "As long as the Chechen situation does not deteriorate again, there will be no major disputes between the United States and Russia. A successful summit and stabilization of U.S.-Russian relations will certainly contribute towards the election of Vice President Gore in November."

SOUTH KOREA: "Possible Return To A Confrontational Mood"

Asia/Pacific Foundation researcher Kim Chang-jun observed in independent Hankyoreh Shinmun (3/30): "Already, Russia has delivered one clear message: It wants U.S. and European dominance in Eurasia to end. A similarly active diplomacy by Moscow will more likely be seen in Asia, with Moscow attempting to influence the region's security structure. And this prospect would challenge U.S. hegemony here.... While this region will not see abrupt change in terms of security structure, a new confrontational mood between Moscow and Washington could build up here."

THAILAND: "Putin's Win Could Augur Well For Asia"

The lead editorial in the independent, English-language Nation commented (4/1): "With Putin, given...his ambition to see Russia as a counterbalance to the United States, the country is certain to get a big boost, and that must have ramifications for the region.... Asians prefer a multipolar world.... Soon, Putin will be travelling to China, Japan and India...to increase cooperation and strengthen strategic partnerships. That might sound like a mini-Cold War configuration of allies. But for the time being, a stable Russia is crucial for global peace and stability."

VIETNAM: "'Iron Curtain' Again Falls On Europe"

Minh Uyen wrote in Sai Gon Giai Phong, mouthpiece of Ho Chi Minh City's Communist Party (4/10): "PACE's decision has gone against the principles and purposes that it often promotes for itself. Apparently, the purpose of this tension with Russia is to put pressure on Putin.

"This move is seen as an excuse aimed at the Russian leader, who is still a mystery to the West. Furthermore, it also reflects the West's concerns about the return of the Russian bear."

SOUTH ASIA

INDIA: "Asian Security Realignments"

The centrist Times of India featured this editorial (3/29): "In the international arena, Moscow over the past few months has attempted to assert its autonomy and restore balance to an increasingly unipolar world.... Russia has tried to move closer to China.... In the wake of Clinton's passage to India and Putin's election, the Asian security framework is expected to undergo some major realignments. However, this is no longer the Cold War era of confrontationist power blocs. Today's is an age of cooperation and competition."

NEPAL: "High Expectations"

The government-owned Rising Nepal (4/7) featured this view: "Putin might be popular regarding the military campaign in Chechnya. But if the war is prolonged and more Russian soldiers get killed, his popularity will erode. Again, the issue of unemployment, corruption and law and order will have to be addressed.... People expect him to come out with programs designed to improve the quality of life of an average Russian."

SRI LANKA: "Putin Sweeps Polls In Russia"

Stanley Kalpage wrote this op-ed piece in the opposition, English-language weekly Sunday Island (4/2): "To keep the Communists at bay, Putin will have to combat corruption, resolve the conflict in Chechnya and reform the economy."

MIDDLE EAST

EGYPT: "Paved With Chechen Blood"

Kamal Abdel Raouf averred in pro-government weekly Akhbar Al Yom (4/1): "[Putin's] road to victory was paved with the blood of thousands of innocent Chechens. While congratulations pour on him from all over the world, no one mentions Chechen victims buried by Russian missiles and tanks.... The new Russian Caesar succeeded in convincing the world that the Chechens are terrorists.... The greatest farce in history has ended by isolating Chechnya.... However, the Chechen war...will continue until the Russians evacuate.... However, can this Putin save Russia from the mafia and gangsters, and act wisely on the nuclear [front] with the West?"

ISRAEL: "Interpreting Chechnya"

Boris Slutsky wrote in conservative, Russian-language Vesty (3/31): "The Russian people's massive support for Putin is a sign of nostalgia for an autocrat.... Although democratic institutions have been established in Russia, they do not seem to be well accepted by the general public. The love of freedom is still associated with a protection from external threat and foreign invaders. The brilliant public interpretation of the situation in Chechnya, as an example of a defense against invaders...has defined relations between the people and state.... Putin is the ideal figure who appeared at the right time at the right place. Putin is not associated with the 'games' of the last decade...and therefore fits the model of a national savior."

KUWAIT: "An Uncivilized Regime"

Independent Al-Watan (4/5) featured this piece by Abdel Razak Al-Shayji: "We are faced with an uncivilized regime [Russia]. A regime, which does not believe in human values and lacks mercy, and a regime which is willing to obliterate villages and cities and demolish a civilization just because Chechens have asked for self-determination."

SYRIA: "Putin And The Third Republic"

Riad Zein observed in government-owned Syria Times (3/30): "Though the challenges facing Russia are not easy, the new drive is seen as positively decisive..... Can Moscow regain its prestige as one of the world's main decisionmakers? A strong Russia is needed, not only to bring balance to the international arena, but also to stand firm against the hegemony of a unilateral world master."

AFRICA

BURKINA FASO: "An Immense Task"

The independent, French-language weekly L'independant noted (4/4): "Putin must put in place a working government, and buckle down to deep political, economic and social reforms.... His task is immense."

NIGERIA: "Putin In Russia"

The Lagos-based, independent Daily Champion (4/7) ran this editorial: "Mr. Putin must put in all efforts to address the economic problems.... We dare say that at the end of his tenure, he would be judged by how much improvement he has been able to effect on the quality of life of Russians, rather than how many Chechen women, children and aged he mauls most brutally in pursuit of terrorists."

WESTERN HEMISPHERE

ARGENTINA: "Putin's Tasks"

An editorial in leading Clarin read (3/30): "The presidential elections held last Sunday are highly meaningful and represent a step forward in Russian democracy. It was the first presidential change and it was made with a high level of participation and a result granting clear support to Putin, but it also assigned a relevant position to post-Communist opposition.... With the support he received, Putin must now strengthen the domestic power of the Russian country, he must guarantee rights and freedom and generate trust in his international policy."

CANADA: "The Rights Of The Chechens"

Frédéric Wagnière opined in centrist, French-language La Presse (4/4): "Mr. Putin who, in order to win the election, openly played a leading role in the Chechen repression, must now accept that the abuses against human rights which were part of that repression be made public. But Mrs. Robinson can also blame herself.... She behaved much more like a political figure than as a high-ranking international official.... The task of a top-level UN representative is not to share one's sentiments but to get national governments to abide by international laws and UN decisions.... [Putin] must allow international organizations to conduct inquiries and to accuse the Russian military of crimes."

MEXICO: "U.S. And EU Concerns About Chechnya"

Nationalist Milenio (4/4) carried a column by Mireya Olivas: "One of the most pressing concerns for the United States and the EU is how Putin will solve the conflict in Chechnya.... The U.S. and European strategists believe that the manner in which Putin addresses the situation in Chechnya will serve to measure his commitment to Western values such as human rights, democracy and peace."

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