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Europe

European Press Review: Time Will Decide Real Winners of Russian Polls

European papers on Monday focussed on the credibility of Russian elections over the weekend and Zimbabwe’s exclusion at a stormy Commonwealth meeting on Monday.

Italy’s Corriere della Sera wrote that the win of the pro-Kremlin United Russia Party in the Russian polls gives President Vladimir Putin the opportunity to push through constitutional changes that would allow him to stand as a candidate in the 2008 elections. The paper added that the predictability of the weekend elections raises the question as to whether the results shows Russia’s democratic development or the emergence of a regime. The unsatisfactory system of political parties, state control of the media as well as political manipulation of the law is evidence that confirms the latter to be the case, the daily wrote.

French paper Les Echos wrote that time will tell as to who the real winners of the Russian elections are. It predicted that in a month, observers will be able to see whether the winners are the Reformists who want to ensure economic progress or what it calls ‘the Decorated’, those the state will arbitrarily give power to.

The London-based Guardian looked at the turbulent Commonwealth Heads of State Meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, where Zimbabwe pulled out of the Commonwealth under pressure from members. The paper said Zimbabwe’s suspension as the main topic during the summit was misplaced as it has now divided the 54-member body. This comes after President Mugabe turned around and announced that Zimbabwe would leave the body of former British colonies. The daily said issues such as poverty, world trade and AIDS, which are important to the African member countries should’ have been given a higher priority during the Commonwealth summit. The British paper bluntly pointed out that leaders such as British Prime Minister Tony Blair can leave such problems behind when flying back home whereas African countries cannot do that.

London’s Financial Times picked up on comments made by Germany’s Undersecretary of Finance Caio Koch-Wesser that Germany is no longer a model for the modern free market economy. Under the heading ‘Fortress Germany’, the paper wrote that instead of welcoming foreign investment in the German financial sector, Koch-Wesser advocated building a protective barrier around it for economic development.