Western leaders challenge Russia’s chairmanship in G8

It seems that Russia starts having severe problems with the agenda of the G8 summit which is going to take place in St.Petersburg soon. US officials said that they were going to discuss the problems of democracy in Russia. Their European colleagues set out their concerns regarding the growing energy dependence on Russia. Most likely, there will be no scandals during the summit, although Russia will obviously be showered with criticism a month before the summit.

Russia has to face three major problems connected with the summit of the Group of Eight. The first and the most important one of them is about Russia’s membership in the elite political club. The heads of states participating in the organization will certainly take part in the forthcoming summit in St.Petersburg under Russia’s chairmanship. If they refuse, it may push Russia away from the West and thus aggravate political and economic relations. Such remarks particularly sounded from Deputy Foreign Secretary of Great Britain Douglas Alexander and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. On the other hand, Western media outlets and politicians still ponder over the issue of Russia's right to be a member of the G8 club. US Senator John McCain, known for his anti-Russian stance, set forward an initiative to exclude Russia from the G8. The senator also offered Western countries to boycott the G8 summit in St.Petersburg in July. Many US officials believe, though, that Russia's membership in the club is vital.

Another unpleasant surprise came from Andrei Illarionov, the former economic advisor of the Russian President. Mr. Illarionov said in an article published by The Washington Post that Russia does not belong to the G8 club. The former advisor believes that Russia corresponds with only one criterion of the G8 membership – the size of its economy. As for political rights, the official said, Russia ranks 168th among 192 countries. Transparency International placed Russia on the 126th position out of 159 on the amount of corruption. Andrei Illarionov gave some more examples to cast shadow on his own fatherland and concluded that the arrival of world leaders to the summit in St.Petersburg will become “a gesture to support all anti-democratic reforms and dictators of the present and the future.”

Russia became a member of the club because of political reasons. It was an attempt to have Russia listed as a developed democratic country. Russia continued to preserve its membership in the G8 afterwards owing to its participation in the anti-terrorist coalition. This factor has been losing substantiation for quite a while already. As a result, Russia tries to become a full-fledged member of the Group of Eight and use all opportunities it will have as the chairing country of the organization. However, it seems that other members of the organization do not intend to view Russia like that. This is the problem why it is so hard for Russia to present its own agenda of the meeting in St.Petersburg.

This is the reason for another problem to appear. Western leaders, the USA first and foremost, will have to touch upon the question of democracy in Russia . It is an open secret that the US administration has been taking great efforts to make Putin change the political course in Russia. US Under Secretary of State Nicolas Burns, who took part in the talks about the Iranian nuclear program in Moscow in April, said that the USA intended to adjust the agenda of the upcoming summit. Washington would like to discuss not only the problem of energy security but the questions connected with Belarus, Georgia and Moldavia, Burns said. The Russian administration will obviously be asked questions about Moscow’s support of Lukashenko’s regime in Belarus, as well as about economic wars with Moldavia and Georgia.


Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov