There are large crowds gathering in the polling stations in Yerevan and Gyumri today to vote in Russian presidential elections. Check out these photos on Azatutyun.am. Amazing, isn’t it?
For the first time in the history of the World Economic Forum in Davos a Russian politician – Prime Minister Vladimir Putin delivered the keynote speech. The speech was followed by Panel Discussions.
This question asked by Michael Dell, CEO of PC manufacturing giant Dell, during the Panel Discussions grabbed my attention. Dell asked “how can we, as an IT sector help you broaden the [Russian] economy as you move out of the crisis”, Putin responded – “The trick is we don’t need any help”. “We are not invalids,” he said. “We don’t have limited mental capacity, we are not pensioners.”
Frankly, I quite liked Putin’s response to Michael Dell… I mean – Dell is a struggling IT company, who would benefit greatly from widening its presence in the Russian market. So I guess it was basically a silly question of him to ask – to formulate the question that way.
MOSCOW (Reuters) — Activists from the youth wing of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s ruling party has held demonstrations against immigrant workers, demanding they return home and blaming them for Russia’s recent economic woes.
Russia is trying to prevent a deepening economic crisis from stalling an 10-year boom. But rising unemployment is starting to focus some discontent on more than 10 million immigrants who have flocked to Russia to find work.
Wearing white and red baseball caps, about 30 activists from Young Guard, a youth section of the Unified Russia party, gathered in the rain outside the Moscow office of the migration service. The group held similar protests across the country.
“Every second [migrant] should go home,” the group, mainly under 20 years old, shouted about migrants.
Activists held banners which said, “We will defend Russian citizens” and “Our country, our work.”
Putin, who is chairman of Unified Russia, told a televised question-and-answer session last week that quotas for foreign workers should be cut by half.
But Putin, who was president from 2000-08, also said most Russians would refuse to do the work immigrants traditionally do. He also warned against racism and called for tougher penalties for racist crimes.
Most of Russia’s migrants come from ex-Soviet states in Central Asia and the Caucasus and work in low-paid jobs in the construction and service industries. Many work illegally.
Russia has been becoming increadibly racist over the past years. With worsening economic outlook I would expect the number of racist murders and abuses of non-slavic looking people in Russia to grow. Unfortunately, this action by Putin’s own party activists is yet another signal to racists, fascists and skinheads of all types in Russia, that, despite all the ‘warnings to punish racists murders’, Putin is not really against anti-migrant demonstrations and actions. Knowing Putin’s totalitarian character, nobody will really beleive, that the protest actions by Putin’s own party were staged without Russian leaders approval. And this circumstance is what concerns me most of all. There are an estimated 2 million Armenians in Russia. Many of them are Russian citizens – but looking different from Russians has already proved fatal in Russia as has been the case with a number of racist murders in that country.
Russian leadership is grabbing global media attention. CNN was full of Russian premier Putin the past two days. On Tuesday, he presented an instructional judo DVD that bears his name and shows him throwing an opponent to the mat.
"Let’s Learn Judo with Vladimir Putin" is the product of collaboration between Putin — a black belt — and other judo enthusiasts, including former World and Olympic judo champion Yasuhiro Yamashita. It apparently was privately made and intended mainly for Russians studying judo.
Today, as if to continue the Russian theme on the international media, Dmitry Medvedev spoke about his upcoming address to the World Policy Conference in Evian in his first video address to the Presidential site’s visitors. That’s the first ever Presidential podcast.
In an interview earlier this year, Medvedev said he typically began every day by turning on his PC. “I look at the sites of our major Russian and foreign media,” he told the Financial Times, adding that he browsed sites that were “positive” about the authorities as well as ones in “tough opposition to them”.
Today one leading pro-Kremlin analyst described Medvedev’s inaugural two-minute video blog as “very good”.
“Putin is a post-Soviet leader. Medvedev is a post-post Soviet leader,” Sergei Markov, a member of the pro-government United Russia party told the Guardian. “He is very advanced at using hi-tec technologies. Among G8 leaders he is the most advanced.”