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Europe

European Press Review: Lucky Putin

Editorial pages across Europe suggest Russia’s Putin may not have fared as well in elections if Tuesday’s terror attack in Moscow had come a day earlier.

Following the suicide bombing in Moscow, Russia’s Komsomolskaja Prawda admonished the country’s newly elected leaders to take strong action against terrorists, warning that a failure to do so would destabilize the current political situation.

Italy’s La Republica wrote that President Vladimir Putin "is a very lucky man, because if the bombing had occurred on Saturday, perhaps the ‘party of the president’ would not have won Sunday’s parliamentary elections so easily." The paper added that the Russians would have been reminded of a promise Putin made when he took up office four years ago: That he would "smash" the Chechen guerrillas. "His broken promises have resulted in thousands of people on both sides dying," the paper’s editors concluded.

De Volksrant in the Netherlands wrote that criticisms over Putin and his role in the election held no interest for the majority of Russians. In its commentary "First Food, then Morality," the Dutch paper opined that, after the chaos of the Yeltsin era, the Russians chose the party of power in order to give President Putin a clear way to introduce economic reforms and fight corruption.

Britain’s Times of London strongly warned Europe not to trust the Russian president, and it also advised the EU to mend its rift with the United States. The conservative paper wrote: "This rift is playing very much into Putin’s geopolitical goals for Russia, goals he began formulating when he was in the KGB." The editors added that the EU should not be complacent as long as Russia remains a secret police state.

France’s regional paper La République des Pyrénées looked at divisions within the EU over a draft constitution. French President Jacques Chirac met with German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder before the summit to discuss their proposal for a political framework for the EU and reaffirm their hardline stance on the matter, the paper wrote. The proposal calls for expanded powers for the heads of the European Commission and the European Council which would create a dual executive, with a commission president elected by the European Parliament and a Council president elected for a set term by the member states. This is opposed by a faction of the smaller EU states, which favor a rotating presidency. La République concluded that this week’s summit could fail and "that such a split would not be a tragedy for the EU."