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German Press Review: Kremlin Censors Russian Media

Moscow’s media clamp surrounding the school siege in Beslan, Russia, dominated much of German newspapers on Tuesday.

The Berliner Kurier reported that chief editors who published pictures of the hostage drama in Russia’s North Ossetian city of Beslan, would loose their jobs and reporters who wrote about what they saw were being arrested because their stories contradicted what authorities were saying. The paper said Moscow’s arrogant slogan, "What the public does not know, does not hurt it" was as strong today as it was before President Vladimir Putin’s time. What Russia really needed now was a relentless public, opined the daily.

The Ostsee-Zeitung in Rotstock wrote that the Kremlin was doing all it could to keep the public in the dark. The only thing President Putin has pledged was an internal investigation into the Russian authorities' handling of the school siege by gunmen supporting Chechen independence from Russia. At least 335 people were killed. But the paper thought the root of the Chechen conflict lay within Russia and said that was where a solution would have to be found, otherwise more such attacks would follow.

The Mittelbayerische Zeitung in Regensburg wrote that Russia’s president had exposed the Beslan perpetrators: The media. The fact that Russian media even dared report on the failings of Russian security forces shocked Putin more than the fact that a town had lost its future. Editors and reporters were forced to quit or were arrested under pressure from the Kremlin, but the daily noted with irony that the world would wait in vain before politicians or military officers were asked to resign.

The Express in Cologne reported that Social Democrat Hans Eichel used to complain that his conservative predecessor had left him a record debt to deal with and

promised to make everything better. Eichel was long overdue to take responsibility for the fact that during his time in office Germany’s debt had reached astronomical highs and new debts were increasing, said the paper.

It opined that Eichel should focus more on cutting back on public spending rather than presenting a sugar-coated budget plan each year and predicted that the finance minister would later announce that the government did not collect enough taxes and would need new credit. Eichel would then blame everything on the economic situation or high oil prices or something.

The Financial Times Deutschland in Hamburg came to Finance Minister Eichel’s defense by saying the opposition Christian Democratic Union, previously in power, still carried part of the blame for the financial situation. The paper went so far as to say Eichel presented the better and more believable fiscal policy of the two parties.

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