Here are the most important topics Russian media have been focusing since last week.
The farewell ceremony for politician Yevgeny Primakov in the Column Hall of the House of the Unions in Moscow on June 29, 2015. Photo: RIA Novosti
Armenian protests, the death of Russia's former Prime Minister, the legalization of the same-sex marriages in the United States, and a terrorist attack in Tunisia are the in the spotlight of Russian media.
Death of Yevgeny Primakov
Last week one of modern Russia’s most flamboyant political figures died – Yevgeny Primakov. During Primakov’s long political career he held various political positions, including that of prime minister, and also minister of foreign affairs. It was specifically under his guidance that Russia began to follow a more independent foreign policy after a long period of weakness in the 1990s.
The majority of publications have the opinion that Russia has lost a great statesman, a professional and true diplomat.
Pro-government Rossiyskaya Gazeta published the reminiscences of Nikolay Dolgopolov, a publicist who knew Primakov for many years, who noted Primakov’s contribution to a new, modern Russia. With particular regard to foreign affairs, Primakov not only stimulated foreign policy, but in the 1990s refused to let the foreign intelligence services be destroyed, which the Russian authorities wanted to disband under the influence of liberal ideology.
In memory of this outstanding diplomat, the independent Slon published a selection of Primakov’s best quotations. Primakov was always known for his wit and succinctness.
"Turning the plane around is admissible only when the other side takes decisions, which contradict our national interests. But nobody breaks the relations even in these circumstances. For example, Americans are conducting military operation in Iraq. This absolutely contradicts Russia’s interests. But it doesn’t mean that we have to make our policy anti-American,” the Slon quoted Primakov's words, expressed in 2005 in an interview to a Russian newspaper.
Meanwhile, Echo of Moscow radio station’s website, meanwhile, comments that Primakov shouldn’t be turned into a hero and remembers the blunders and inactivity of his government (1998-1999).
Last week protesters came out onto the streets of Yerevan. The official reason for the protests was the increase in electricity prices. Several Russian media organizations immediately interpreted this as an attempt to carry out a local ‘maidan’ with the intention of removing pro-Russian President Serzh Sargsyan, others see this as a matter of Armenia’s internal conflict.
Pro-government Rossiyskaya Gazeta points to the possible involvement of western NGOs in the protests and highlights the fact that the demonstrators refuse to meet with President Sagsyan, even though he is prepared to negotiate on the issue of power prices.
Recommended: "The Armenian protest is not another Maidan"
Independent Slon writes that the events in Yerevan have all the signs of another ‘color revolution’ and are different than protests in other cities in Armenia. The publication observed that the protests are clearly of a social-economic character and are not directly related to political preferences.
Business paper Kommersant discusses the use by a number of Russian media organizations of a ‘lucky image’ of protesters in Yerevan (which looks like protestors are marching with the Ukrainian flag, although it is in fact the Armenian flag, and the image has been specially cropped), in order to raise the tide about a ‘Bandera attack’ in Armenia and threatening the country with the ‘orange plague.’
In America same-sex marriages are legalized
On Friday, June 26th, the Supreme Court of the United States of America decided in favor of the LGBT community in the long lasting debate surrounding same-sex marriages. Russian media actively discussed the decision.
Eсho of Moscow radio station’s website believes that this is part of a country’s internal affairs, and the statements by American officials that the country will achieve acceptance for same-sex marriages around the world is completely unacceptable.
Business paper Kommersant discusses the details of the decision and also the response from the head of the Committee for Family Affairs of the Russian Federation State Duma, Yelena Mizulina, who is known for her extremely conservative views. The representative announced that on its territory the United States of America can do what it likes, but to interfere in the affairs of other countries is incorrect.
Recommended: "LGBT rights: Slavophiles vs. Westernizers"
Greek negotiations with creditors
Greece’s financial problems have long ago ceased to be a problem of only Greece’s government. The last negotiations between Greece and its creditors have ended unproductively: The parties were unable to find an acceptable solution, and still more stormy debt clouds loom over Greece.
Opposition media outlet Novaya Gazeta points out the double standards of the European position; demanding strict measures and refusing to back down, the creditors are nonetheless trying to preserve a dialogue with the Greek government. The newspaper believes this is an extremely complicated task and cites Athens’s desire to hold a referendum on the issue of government debt.
Business Vedomosti writes about the international and political consequences of Greece’s possible default and a breach in its relationship with its creditors. In particular, the publication observes that the crisis surrounding Greece is threatening European unity, and by extension, the position of the United States. Washington, believing that a united Europe is a bulwark in the fight with Russia, may lose more than anyone as a result of the internal conflict in the European Union.
Tabloid Moskovsky Komsomolets talks about the positions of all negotiating parties and observes that the decision of a referendum took the European group by surprise.
Terrorist attack in Tunisia
On June 26th, a terrorist attack took place in Tunisia in a holiday area, resulting in more than 30 deaths and wounding 40 (foreign citizens). Responsibility for the attack has been claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Greater Syria (ISIS).
Pro-government Rossiyskaya Gazeta points out that the Tunisian government is unable to ensure the safety of its citizens because of the ‘Arab Spring.’ The publication notes that this is already the second-largest terrorist attack in the past six months in a country which was once a popular tourist destination.
Opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta looks at parallels with other tragic events of the week; terrorist attacks in France, Kuwait and Somalia. In each case, the paper points out, the attacks involved careful planning and successful recruitment by ISIS.
Quotes of the week
Alexander Sidyakin, representative of the Russian State Duma, on Primakov’s death: “I think we should name the government-owned Vnukovo Airport after Yevgeny Primakov and not to forget how airplanes can turn back midway across the Atlantic” [In 1999, while serving in the position of prime minister, he made the decision to cancel a visit to the United States and ordered his plane to turn around over the Atlantic in protest of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. The incident became known as Primakov’s loop – Editor's note].
Vitaly Milonov on the FB campaign with rainbow avatars: “It is a flagrant violation of Russian legislation. Facebook has no age limitations – there are so many underage users. Therefore it would be completely normal to pull the plug on Facebook on Russian territory.”.
Official announcement of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tunisia: “We regard the incident as a heinous crime for which there can be no excuses. Its organizers and perpetrators must be brought to their deserved severe punishment. We express our sincere condolences to the family and relatives of the victims.”