Prague, Jan. 29 (RFE/RL) - Western press commentary today
focuses on politics in Russia and last week's admission of Russia
into the Council of Europe.
An editorial in the New York Times today criticizes Boris
Yeltsin for recent cabinet changes which, the paper says, "distance
him from (painful reform measures) to placate voters." The paper says
that Washington owes "Yeltsin a blunt condemnation of his drift away
from economic reform." The New York Times concludes: "The Clinton
administration must make clear that (relaxing) the tough monetary and
fiscal policies that have brought inflation down... would throw the
(Russian) economy into a free fall that was only recently stopped by
four years of painful reform."
The Wall Street Journal today calls Boris Yeltsin "bipolar."
It says that to appease voters Yeltsin "has been getting rid of
reformers faster than you can say do svidanya" but at the same time
he tells western journalists that "all discussions about abandoning
economic reform are a bluff." The Wall Street Journal warns that the
danger of this bipolar approach is that Yelstin is "legitimizing
(his) opposition's objections to reform by firing those who fought
for it" and could thereby lose the presidential election.
A news analysis in the Financial Times of London today observes
that the recent appointment of the former chief of the Avtovaz car
company, Vladimir Kadannikov, as first deputy prime minister in
charge of economic affairs "confirmed Mr Yeltsin's growing
conviction that the slump in (Russia's) industrial production was a
greater evil than high inflation." But correspondent John Thornhill
warns: "By appointing (Kadannikov), Boris Yeltsin has gambled that
the man who makes the notoroiusly unreliable Lada cars is the right
person to steer Russia's fragile economy."
Turning to Russia's admittance into the Council of Europe, the
London Times today calls Russian membership in the
human-rights body "a gain for Russia (and) a gain for Europe." The
paper's editorial says: "Last week's vote has been hotly
contested...yet the balance of wisdom lies with those who swallowed
their doubts and voted yes." It continues: "As a (council) member,
Russia must ratify within a year a number of conventions on human
rights, on safeguards for ethnic minorities, and on torture." the
London Times concludes that the conventions will "give greater
solidity to... Russia's constitution" bringing a greater social
stability to Russia "which will affect every country in Europe."
A commentary in Britain's Observer today sharply criticizes
the Council of Europe's decision to admit Russia. Adrian Hamilton
writes that "the rationalization... is that Europe will achieve far
more by bringing (Russia) closer to the West than by isloating (it)."
But he objects: "The council is about specific (human rights) aims and
Russia does not comply with them." Hamilton concludes that "far from
moving toward human rights, everything in Russia - treatment of
prisoners, arrests without trial, suppression of dissent, and
persection of minorities - moves in the opposite direction."