Russia is about to enter a new political era with last weekend’s presidential election. Or is it? President Putin is stepping down after serving two terms in office, as dictated by the Russian constitution and Dmitry Medvedev is taking over. Mr Medvedev has been plucked from relative obscurity to continue the path taken by his mentor, Vladimir Putin. However Mr Putin isn’t planning on retiring anytime soon – it’s expected that he’ll stay on as Prime Minister, raising fundamental questions about who will really be in charge of Russia. Emma Simpson has more from Moscow.
Russia, like all nations, is famous for certain things: great literature, epic battles, ballet and drinking. The late former President Boris Yeltsin did much to make sure we remember the drinking part. And as if Mr Yeltsin’s incapacitations weren’t warning enough, there’s new evidence that the dark side of the booze habit is crippling Russia's population. Alcohol abuse, particularly among men, is having a disastrous effect on the nation’s health. A recent study revealed that just under 50 percent of men in a typical provincial town in Russia die as a result of smoking and heavy alcohol consumption. RNW’s sober Moscow correspondent Geert Groot Koerkamp reports for Network Europe.
Stockholm's International Peace Research says too much focus on the possible possession of nuclear weapons by Iran and North Korea has diverted attention from the development of a new generation of sophisticated nuclear weapons by three countries in Europe - Russia, France and the UK.
The G8 Summit this week, geared up to discuss global warming – but in contrast, it was "geopolitical cooling" alongside the widespread protests that made headlines. Russian president Vladimir Putin’s fiery broadside at US plans to deploy an anti missile defence system in Eastern Europe caused a stir. But is Putin following a international or domestic Russian agenda? Helen Seeney put that question to Duetsche Welle’s Moscow correspondent Bill Gasperini.
It's still some way off achieving that aim but it's certainly going the right way - the country's now boasting the kind of economic growth and stability that impresses Brussels. But it's not likely to be smooth sailing... Georgia's giant neighbour Russia is resisting the drive of its former regions to join NATO and the EU. Veteran journalist and Georgian First Lady Sandra Roelofs spoke to Network Europe's Richard Walker about the EU family and Georgia's aspirations to join it.
It's a fact of life... and death. Service in the military always carries the risk of dying in battle. But recruits in the Russian army face an additional risk. They stand a chance of dying at the hands of older conscripts. Abusive treatment of army recruits in Russia is widespread - with hazing blamed for hundreds of suicides and... thousands of desertions each year. From Moscow, Charles Maynes offers this look at draft dodging Russian style.
The European Commission has unveiled an ambitious energy package, in a bid to combat climate change and reduce Europe's dependency on foreign energy sources. The move came just days after Russia turned off the taps on a key pipeline, running through Belarus to the Czech republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. Moscow finally resumed oil supplies to Europe on Wednesday, but this new standoff with Russia's President Vladimir Poutin, highlights once more the urgent need for Europe to diversify its energy resources. reports from Brussels.
January 1st also sees Germany take over the rotating presidency of the European Union from Finland. The six-months at the helm of the EU does not give a lot of time to tackle big issues but there are high expectations of Germany. Many members are looking to Berlin to make progress on the European constitution which was rejected by French and Dutch voters last year. There are also several other sensitive issues on the agenda including energy security, relations with Russia, climate change and the Middle East. German Chancellor Angela Merkel will need to maneuver carefully through a potential diplomatic minefield.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said relations between his country and Britain were unaffected by the British police investigation into the murder of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko. His comments came as British police officers in Moscow conducted interviews with key witnesses to the bizarre poisoning case that has been going on for weeks.
he was a Russian investigative journalist but Anna Politkovskaja, was mourned internationally. Her colleagues say her murder was retaliation for her reports on Chechnya and indeed her legacy will forever be linked to the fight for press freedom. Radio Netherlands opened their vault to take us back to an interview they recorded in 1995 after the journalist fell seriously ill with symptoms of food poisoning after covering the Beslan hostage tragedy. She alleged that the Russian government poisoned her in an attempt to silence her reports on the war in Chechnya
Anna Politkovskaja was mourned internationally, and indeed her funeral was attended by the head of the European Commission's delegation to Moscow along with representatives from the EU's current Finnish presidency and ensuing German presidency. And on Tuesday outside the Russian embassy in Stockholm, Swedish journalists demonstrated and lit candles in Politkovskaja's memory. The 48-year-old was one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's most vocal critics. But in his first public comments on the shooting, Putin vowed to hunt down the perpetrators and said he believed the killers wanted to stir up anti-Russian feeling. And without a doubt, the murder cast a shadow over Putin's two-day visit to Dresden, Germany. The annual bilateral deliberations are aimed at fostering Russian-German ties. Talks between German chancellor Angela Merkel and Putin were, this time, also dominated by energy security and of course North Korea's nuclear crisis.
The German-Russian deal struck last autumn to build a pipeline under the Baltic Sea continues to raise concerns in the Baltic States, Poland and Ukraine. The leaders of these countries said they felt uneasy about what they thought was a deal made behind their back on an issue as vital as energy. Radio Polonia reports from Estonia.
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