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Friday, 25 August, 2000, 13:59 GMT 14:59 UK
Papers end assault on Putin
Russian press on Putin
Condemned this week, but the tide is starting to turn
After unprecedented criticism of President Vladimir Putin for his perceived failure of leadership during the Kursk tragedy, the tide in the Russian press now appears to be turning in his favour.

"Don't make the president a scapegoat" cried Friday's headline in Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

"The president will continue his policy of strengthening power and order. The people will understand and support only real actions," the government-controlled daily said.


Don't make the president a scapegoat

Rossiyskaya Gazeta

Nezavisimaya Gazeta said Mr Putin "has made the first big mistake of his presidency" but added "some of the media have been trying to blow his mistake out of all proportion and give it an astronomical scale".

Benefit of the doubt

The paper, financed by media mogul Boris Berezovskiy, hands Mr Putin the benefit of the doubt.

"Probably, this particular incident just showed the president's political inexperience.


Putin did not shift the blame onto the military

Moskovskiy Komsomolets

"The Barents Sea disaster exposed the intolerable situation in our armed forces. In reality it is even worse that we thought," Nezavisimaya Gazeta said.

"The president was not to blame and is not to blame for all that. He inherited this woe from his predecessors - Gorbachev and Yeltsin. And it fell to him to sort it out.

"In the past few days Vladimir Putin has admitted that a heavy burden has fallen to him. Millions of people feel this, and they feel sorry for him. At the same time, they are expecting brave and non-standard decisions from him," the paper concludes.

Sympathy for the president

The mass-circulation Moskovskiy Komsomolets daily is also sympathetic towards the president.

"With all the blunders and miscalculations committed by the authorities, one cannot fail to notice that the authorities want to change. Otherwise one can't explain why Putin would need the stress of a six-hour meeting with the relatives.

"Incidentally, the fact that Putin did not shift the blame onto the military, shows just how much the authorities do want to change," the paper says.

The prominent daily Izvestiya also backed Putin on Friday, echoing a general sentiment that he cannot be held responsible for years of decline of the armed forces.


The head of state cannot bear responsibility for the elimination of the naval rescue service

Izvestiya

"Many are trying to use the situation as a pretext for making fuss and boosting their own ratings. According to (Kemerovo Governor) Aman Tuleyev, the president is doing everything he can do in this tragic situation," Izvestiya said.

"The head of state cannot bear responsibility for the elimination in the mid-90s of the naval rescue service staffed with divers capable of working deep down."

Putin fights back

Mr Putin this week sought to inject some fresh morale into the armed forces by ordering a 20% pay hike across the military and police, to take effect in December.

And in an interview broadcast on government-owned RTR TV on Wednesday night, he countered his media critics over his handling of the Kursk tragedy.


Probably, this particular incident just showed the president's political inexperience

Nezavisimaya Gazeta

In an attack on his rivals' powerful media outlets, he accused some media of "unscrupulously trying to exploit this misfortune... to make some kind of political capital".

Independent criticism

Some editorials on Friday however remained critical of the Russian president.

The independent daily Segodnya, under the headline "Ten days that did not shake the president" commented: "The moment of truth for the president - total helplessness, complete silence, the role of a spectator in the drama, inability to intervene in the course of events."

"Yes, it was a heavy blow for the president. These 10 days may cost him 10 years. And the hopeless finale - with a guilty conscience to meet the relatives of the dead and to talk to them for several hours."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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