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Europe

European Press Review: What's Behind Putin's Move?

On Wednesday, many European papers carried commentaries on the sacking of Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov by President Putin.


Moscow's Izvestia attributed the Kasyanov government's dismissal to Putin's desire to inject some life into the upcoming elections. The way in which Putin has sacked the government reminds one of the way his predecessor Boris Yeltsin used to swap positions, the paper observed.

President Putin can seemingly do what he pleases, said Rome's La Repubblica. In the absence of any real opponents in the March 14 presidential elections, the daily observed, Putin has obviously decided to rev up the tempo himself. By unofficially declaring himself the winner, the paper said, Putin has taken away a part of the political process normally reserved for after elections, that of appointing a new prime minister and government.

A view shared by the Financial Times in London – "The dismissal of Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov seems to indicate that Mr Putin feels he already won next month's presidential election," observed the paper. "It's also another sign of the Kremlin playing fast and loose with the niceties of electoral democracy in a way that the European Union has been so ineffectual in opposing." The paper welcomed the decision by EU states to take a tougher approach to Russia.

Concern over President Putin is growing, commented London's The Times. Russians had predicted the fall of Mikhail Kasyanov long ago, but it still came as a surprise when the unlucky head of government was finally dismissed, the paper said. It was an open secret in Moscow that President Putin had little time for Kasyanov and the other remnants of the Yeltsin era, the paper added.

Moscow's Nezavisimaya Gazeta had a different perspective on the dismissal and saw the move as a direct attack against the Yeltsin era elite. "The political manoeuvre was unexpected but the signal was clear, there is no chance after the presidential elections that the Yeltsin elite would be able to hold onto their positions."

Kasyanov's sacking signals the end of an era, observed the Neue Zürcher Zeitung in Switzerland. "The end of a era of wild privatisations and moving towards the West," it wrote. But the question remains: "What now?" In the interest of the financial future of Russia, the paper warned, a high profile reform minded prime minister should be appointed.