UK PRESS: BLAIR VISIT TO MOSCOW – PERESTROIKA replaced by PORYADOK

“Perestroika” replaced by “Poryadok” is the theme of the British press reports accompanying British Prime Minister Tony Blair to Moscow for his fifth meeting with President Vladimir Putin this year. It is emphasized that both men get along well and have a lot in common, being young lawyers and modernists and both willing to see real progress in their time. Tony Blair has been quoted as saying that it is easy to work with the Russian President because Vladimir Putin “talks our language”. It is reported that the reason why most Russians respect President Putin is because he has shown the courage to attack sensitive issues, to improve the lives of the Russian people. He has given the man in the street a better economic future than the one he inherited and has scaled down the country’s former legacies to produce a new, invigorated core in a country that is ready and willing to live within its means. Opinion polls are shown, giving President Putin a 66% approval rate among the Russian people and 68% saying that they trust him. A comparison is made with a poll taken in 1999, in which only 8% of those polled said they approved of Boris Yeltsin. Prime Minister Blair is personally committed to increase British trade with Russia and eastern Europe in general. The two leaders will dine tonight and have a working lunch arranged for tomorrow. These talks will be of an informal nature, giving them the opportunity to exchange ideas on a variety of subjects. One of these will be the Russian plan to reduce long-range nuclear missiles. Tony Blair has already said that he is ready to mediate between Moscow and Washington over Russia’s worries arising from the USA’s plans to build a strategic defence initiative (SDI), a nuclear shield over the USA, giving this country the ability to negotiate from a position of strength, which is undesirable. Tony Blair has shown himself to be the most willing and committed western leader to establish close links with President Putin’s Russia and indeed, Britain is seen by Moscow as an important link between Europe and Washington. According to a British diplomatic source, “ This is an opportunity to develop the ongoing critical engagement with President Putin”. Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey Pravda.Ru correspondent London