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A critic of Russian politics has advice for Norway’s politicians

World Economic Forum

Publish date: June 9, 2009

Written by: Anne Karin Sæther

Translated by: Charles Digges

Russia’s central opposition politician and distinguished economist Grigory Yavlinsky will be coming to Norway on Friday to speak about the economic crisis in Russia. Bellona’s Alexander Nikitin is encouraging Norwegian politicians to listen closely.

On June 12th, the same day that Yavlinsky will be taking part in a seminar directed by Bellona and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Norwegian politicians will be debating the new parliamentary report on foreign policy.

“Politicians should listen closely to what Yavlinsky has to say about Norway’s relationship with Russia,” said Nikitin, who heads up Bellona’s St. Petersburg offices.

“It is time for a more realistic approach to the big neighbour to the east. Norway’s authorities’ approach to Russia have in Bellona’s opinion been too credulous,” he said.

Unclear where Russia is headed
Yavlinsky, who has twice run for president in Russia, will be taking part in a seminar about Russia and the financial crisis arranged by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and Bellona.

He has been a figure in Russian politics since the 1980s, and created the Yabloko political party, which is the single political party in Russia that includes human rights and the environment in its platform. Yavlinsky is still a political leader in Yabloko and is one of the most forceful and important critic of today’s government in Moscow.

“The world has not been  any safer or more balanced since the end of the Cold War. Questions of what role Russia will play in the world are still open. Russia needs to change its political line. One cannot be in conflict with the entire world – then one only has friends like Hamas and Hugo Chavez left,” Yavlinsky writes on his website.

Problems for Norwegian businesses
Bjørn Engesland, the general secretary of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, sees both problems and possibilities in today’s Russia.

“The lack of rule of law in Russia is a problem for Norwegian business. Telenor in danger of losing their shares at a value of NOK 12 billion ($3.1 million) after a series of trials in Siberia,” said Engesland speaking of the Norwegian telecommunications giant.

“The financial crisis can give Norwegian authorities an opportunity to influence Russia. Norwegian authorities must grab the chance to be clear to their Russian counterparts and step up support to communities in Russia that are working to strengthen a state based on rights,” he said.  

More on the seminar:

Time and place: Friday, June 12th at the Litteraturhuset, Wergelandsveien 29, 0167 Oslo.

Presentations will also be given by Nikitin and Sveltlana Gannushkina, a well-known Russian human rights leader. The President of the Bellona Foundation, Frederic Haugue will be part of the panel debate.  

Programme:
10:00 – Welcome
10: 15 –  Grigory Yavlinsky: The financial crisis’s meaning for Russia’s development
10:45 –  Aleksander Nikitin: The financial crisis and the environment in Russia
11:15 – Svetlana Gannushkina: The financial crisis and justice in Russia
11:45 –  Coffee break
12:15 – Panel discussion with Bellona President Frederic Hauge, the Helsinki Committee’s Engesland and others
13:30 – Closing

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