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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 19/07/2013

 

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Prison for Putin opponent Navalny

Thousands protested against the verdict in several Russian cities. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

A court in the Russian city of Kirov on Thursday sentenced opposition activist Alexei Navalny to five years in prison. Commentators describe the trial as politically motivated and say the verdict could hurt President Vladimir in the long term.

De Telegraaf - Netherlands

Russian rule of law terminally ill

The trial against Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny is for the most part politically motivated, the conservative daily De Telegraaf complains: "With the sentence against opposition leader Alexei Navalny Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to have eliminated yet another key opponent. The manner in which the opposition leader was sentenced to five years in a labour camp yesterday is highly questionable. It smacks of a political trial whose sole objective was to silence a critical voice in Russia. … People quite rightly began protesting immediately after the sentence was announced yesterday in European capitals and the US, which has been at loggerheads with Russia for weeks over Edward Snowden's extradition. Hopefully Navalny will manage to get the sentence changed in appeal proceedings. But even that won't alter the fact that rule of law in Russia is terminally ill." (19/07/2013)

Sme - Slovakia

Navalny case should make Snowden think twice

The trial against Putin critic Alexei Navalny should serve as a warning to Edward Snowden, who has asked Russia for temporary asylum, comments the liberal daily Sme: "Russia is a bad place to seek asylum. If Snowden has access to a PC in the transit area of the Moscow airport, he must realise this by now. ... There were no doubts whatsoever that the trial against opposition blogger Navalny was politically motivated. Navalny's crime consists in having set up a web page on which, among other things, he revealed theft involving state contracts. Initially a star of the Internet, he also became a figure of hope for opposition demonstrations. The court has found him guilty of embezzlement and sentenced him to five years in jail. The defence has announced that it will file an appeal. But based on the experiences of another Putin prisoner, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, we can expect his stay in prison to be extended. And even that is not the worst outcome." (19/07/2013)

Financial Times - United Kingdom

Putin risks his own future

In the long term Navalny's conviction may hurt President Putin and his supporters more than it helps them, the conservative daily Financial Times points out: "Yet the Putin circle may be harming its own future prospects more than any western response could. Its clampdown is chilling investment from both international and domestic sources, so exacerbating Russia's economic slowdown. Moscow's already deeply undervalued stock market fell after the Navalny sentencing. The business community's discomfort is becoming audible. Here lies great danger for the Kremlin. Failure to reignite growth could undermine the grand bargain of constantly rising living standards in return for limits on democratic freedoms. And that is the very foundation of Putinism." (18/07/2013)

Libération - France

Outlaw Putin as dictator

Putin must be outlawed by European politicians the left-liberal daily Libération demands: "The Pussy Riot members who dared to make fun of the tsar have been sent to labour camps. Khodorkovsky, the oligarch and fierce regime critic, is living out his days in Siberia, where he is repeatedly landed with unjust sentences. Other journalists, activists and human rights campaigners have been killed or seriously injured by the regime's henchmen. In Putin's Russia the judiciary, the police, the media and the Duma are all subject to the Kremlin's commands, just as they were back in good old Soviet days. Russia is no constitutional state. Yet François Hollande welcomes Vladimir Putin as if he were a respectable head of state. Putin attends the G8 summit side by side with Western democracies whose values and interests he does not share. Russia defends and arms Damascus and Tehran. It's time Europe and France started treating Putin like what he is: a dictator." (19/07/2013)

POLITICS

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Diário Económico - Portugal

Only basic consensus can save Portugal

Portuguese Prime Minister Passos Coelho has survived a motion of no-confidence brought by the left-wing opposition for the fifth time in a year. The parliament on Thursday rejected a motion put forward by the Green Party. If they want to survive the crisis the parties must stop their constant bickering and agree on some common goals, the liberal business daily Diário Económico warns: "The parties must reach a basic political consensus. One that guarantees state reforms and sets a limit on spending and a clear course for reducing public debt. Portugal can try to renegotiate the bailout programme with the troika but it must not unilaterally violate the terms of its agreement. If it gives in to the temptation to do so, as the left camp wants, the country will end up depending on a second bailout package coupled to even harsher cuts." (19/07/2013)

El País - Spain

Spanish judge with PP card undermines trust

In Spain, the investigations in the Bárcenas affair have revealed that the new chief judge of the Constitutional Court, Francisco Pérez de los Cobos, was a long-term member of the ruling party Partido Popular (PP) during which time he already working as a judge in the country's highest court. Although it's not clear from a juristic point of view whether judges are allowed to carry political party cards the fact that he kept silent about his party membership is destroying the people's trust in the party, laments the left-liberal daily El País: "The revelation that the PP placed one of its members as a judge in the Constitutional Court in December 2010, and that he has been its chief judge since 19 June 2013 has only worsened the credibility crisis at the country's institutions. Several of them suffer under the influence of the parties but society should at least be able to rely on the impartiality and independence of the highest guardian of the constitution. … Let's leave it to the legal experts to discuss how the laws are to be interpreted. But the citizens need to trust in the independence and impartiality of those who interpret the law, and that trust has been shaken." (19/07/2013)

Neatkarīgā - Latvia

Transparent state should preempt hackers

The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday ruled in favour of a case brought by Latvian TV journalist Ilze Nagla, that the right of freedom of expression should also protect sources. The journalist's apartment was searched after she reported on the data leak by the hacker Neo in 2010, who revealed information about the incomes of politicians and officials. The national-conservative Neatkariga welcomes the verdict: "It was not right to search her apartment, it was no more than a demonstration of power to deter anyone interested in procuring information considered confidential by the state. ... Before Neo hacked the data base of the national tax office, the Latvian government should itself have complied with the constitution and issued a list of extremely well paid officials who simply ignored the stringent cuts in the public sector. This way the people would be able to see that it was only the 'simple' folk who were having their wages cut in the crisis." (18/07/2013)

WOZ - Die Wochenzeitung - Switzerland

Turkish democracy growing from the bottom up

The anti-terrorism units of the Turkish police on Tuesday searched the homes of several members of the government-critical Taksim Solidarity protest movement and arrested dozens of people. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is hitting back ever harder as the movement gains in strength, comments the left-wing weekly WOZ: "The AKP is threatening to slip off into the big pond where all the other has-been Turkish parties are boating, whose lack of credibility facilitated the rise of the AKP in the first place. At the same time the new citizens' organisation is starting to get organised. Several times a week open air Taksim Solidarity gatherings are taking place in about fifty different Istanbul neighbourhoods. ... By now the movement has published seven editions of its Internet magazine. Caricatures, stickers, picture stories and slogans are cropping up everywhere, all brightly coloured, funny or ironic - a form of political confrontation that has never existed before on the Bosphoros." (18/07/2013)

REFLECTIONS

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Ethnos - Greece

Giorgos Delastik tells Berlin to take hatred seriously

Berlin should take seriously the growing hostility felt towards Germany by the Greeks and other Europeans, warns columnist Giorgos Delastik in the left-liberal daily To Ethnos: "The Germans don't think that there will be political or economic repercussions for them when millions of people believe that Merkel has achieved with the euro what Hitler failed to accomplish with his tanks, namely the subjugation of all Europe. But perhaps sooner than later they will realise their mistake. Politicians of the German government discuss matters with subservient political leaders who are willing to fulfil Berlin's every request without asking questions. So they're unaware of the intensity of the anger and hatred generated by the policies they are imposing on the EU. The millions of Europeans who are developing increasingly violent anti-German sentiments are neither pro-American nor leftists nor layabouts who are just annoyed because the Germans won't go on paying them to sit around playing board games and drinking ouzo. The overwhelming majority never had any anti-German prejudices in the past." (18/07/2013)

ECONOMY

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Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

Stock market bubbles burst and reappear

Stock markets in Europe and the US announced that share prices were soaring on Thursday. Investors were reacting to the positive economic data from the US, a recommitment by Fed chief Ben Bernanke to the expansive monetary policy and the ECB relaxing its collateral rules for central-bank loans. The era of speculative bubbles is not yet over, warns US economist Robert J. Shiller in an article published in the liberal business paper Il Sole 24 Ore: "You might think that we have been living in a post-bubble world since the collapse in 2006 of the biggest-ever worldwide real-estate bubble and the end of a major worldwide stock-market bubble the following year. ... But speculative bubbles are not so easily ended. ... A new speculative bubble can appear anywhere if a new story about the economy appears, and if it has enough narrative strength to spark a new contagion of investor thinking. ... Speculative bubbles do not end like a short story, novel, or play. There is no final denouement that brings all the strands of a narrative into an impressive final conclusion." (19/07/2013)

Világgazdaság - Hungary

No tax money for Hungary's new airline

After the bankruptcy of the national airline Malév a new Hungarian airline by the name of Sólyom Airways is set to start operating in August. In the liberal business daily Világgazdaság journalist Márton Vég writes sceptically: "The 18 months which have passed since the Malév bankruptcy have taught me to react sceptically whenever I hear about the launch of a new Hungarian airline. And especially when people start dreaming of a fleet of 50 planes. Several attempts to launch a new Hungarian airline have failed already despite the fact that there is always plenty of talk about big investors jumping in. ... If Sólyom Airways is able to take off without state subsidies and establish itself independently on the market, then I wish it all the best. ... It's okay to dream, but please don't waste Hungarian taxpayers' money in the process." (18/07/2013)

Jurnalul National - Romania

Lagarde corrects Romania's view of IMF

Many Romanians see the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as a thorn in their side because of its austerity policy. However people often have an exaggerated notion of the power wielded by its representatives, the liberal daily Jurnalul writes, hoping that this will change after IMF chief Christine Lagarde's visit to Bucharest on Tuesday: "The hyped media appearances and overly discussed statements of the IMF mission leader are now a thing of the past. … In Washington the leaders of the IMF delegation to Bucharest are just mid-level civil servants. In Romania they enjoyed too much attention and grew arrogant and megalomaniacal after joking with [President] Băsescu and explaining to [ex prime minister] Boc what consumption taxes were. Christine Lagarde has shown how people should behave towards the institution: treat it with respect because of the competence of its experts but also see it as a normal partner for solving problems." (19/07/2013)

SOCIETY

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De Standaard - Belgium

Belgian royal family is theatre of the absurd

Prince Philip will succeed his father Albert II as King of Belgium on Sunday. But the role of the monarchy is becoming purely ceremonial, comments the left-liberal daily De Standaard: "The history of the Belgian princes is one of steadily dwindling power. Leopold III's catastrophic decision to go it alone in the Second World War and Baudouin's resistance to the abortion laws were but isolated attempts to buck the trend. ... The ceremonial monarchy must apply strict financial rules to the royal family to rule out all risk of future scandal. As a result this institution is becoming nothing but a golden cage. Absurdity threatens: a family has been assigned the task of producing heirs till the end of time but is allowed neither power nor opinion. ... Ultimately the situation will be as the British King George V predicted in the film The King's Speech: '... We have become actors.' (19/07/2013)

The Irish Times - Ireland

Irish nuns should pay for their mistakes

For decades Irish women were exploited in the Catholic Church's Magdalene laundries. In February the government apologised to the thousands whose lives had been affected and promised that damages would be paid. But the four orders run by Catholic nuns where the women were incarcerated announced on Tuesday that they were refusing to pay financial compensation. The liberal daily The Irish Times is outraged: "It seems reasonable that the congregations that ran the laundries, where young women were incarcerated, denied education and psychologically damaged, should offer some monetary compensation. Denial and the protection of financial assets have been the primary responses by the Catholic church, not just in Ireland but throughout the world, as it faced claims of sexual abuse. For the Irish community of nuns to follow their male counterparts down that path of denial, based on crude financial assessment, would be a serious mistake." (18/07/2013)

SPORT

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L'Est Républicain - France

Riblon restores Tour de France to former glory

Professional cyclist Christophe Riblon on Thursday won the final stage in the Tour de France in Alpe d'Huez. The Frenchman's victory has restored the magic of the tour, cheers the regional paper L'Est Républicain: "Until now the 100th edition was dominated by the breathtaking performances of German sprinters and a leader. The France of the roadsides, waiting for hours on end for gifts from the stream of cyclists, was in a desperate state. Until the moment when Christophe Riblon appeared at the end of the most beautiful of all stages. It is beside the point that this triumph will remain a marginal anecdote. The competition has been decided already, because Chris Froome already has the yellow jersey firmly in his grip. With two pushes of the pedal (ok, a few more) Christophe Riblon silenced the grumblers and restored the magic to the competition. Thank you, it needed it." (19/07/2013)

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