The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


Obama Abroad

Russian Press Takes Cool Tone Toward Obama

Russian President Medvedev and President Obama have a walk at the Kremlin, with the Tsar Cannon built in 1586 in the background, in Moscow.(Dmitry Astakhov/ Presidential Press Service)

By Liz Heron
On the second day of Barack Obama's first official visit to Russia, much of the Russian press reacted skeptically to the much anticipated "reboot" of U.S.-Russian relations, and one outlet called for stronger action on Russia's relationship with Georgia. Papers also cautioned Obama not to expect the red carpet treatment in Moscow, and gave him some friendly advice on how to fit in with the locals.

The daily newspaper Vremya Novostei adopted a "we'll believe it when we see it" attitude about the Obama-Medvedev pledge to reduce their nuclear arsenals: "This compromise seems to reflect the political will of first and foremost Barack Obama -- but the feasibility of this compromise has to be tested in practice."

The popular daily paper Moskovsky Komsomolets gave Obama a "lukewarm welcome," according to Reuters.

"Can the leopard change his spots?" Moskovsky Komsomolets asked. "America's main strategic course remains unchanged, irrespective of whoever occupies the president's chair."

But the daily newspaper Isvestia had a more hopeful account of yesterday's meetings between Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, where the two leaders worked out a long-awaited "reboot" of the U.S.-Russia relationship. The newspaper noted that Medvedev described his conversations with Obama, which included an agreement to reduce American and Russian nuclear arsenals, as "open and sincere."

Isvestia also reported that Moscuvites did not give Obama the star treatment he's received on other foreign trips. "If -- all of a sudden -- Obama had hoped for a red carpet and a crazy crowd of fans chanting something like Hollywood-style, 'We love you!', nothing of the kind was awaiting him in Moscow," the paper wrote.

The English language Moscow Times had some tongue-in-cheek advice for how Obama might better fit in with the Russians, in a piece called "An Insider's Guide to Moscow for Mr. Obama."

Barack Obama, stop the car, open the door and get out so that it is just you (and the world's media and the snipers on rooftops) and Moscow alone together.

But while standing there, take a deep breath. Can you smell it? It's the whiff of a smoker's nation. You are among friends, smoking friends, so enjoy yourself. You can smoke in restaurants, bars, and even while halting cars for bribes while working as a traffic policeman.

Your two hosts may not smoke, but they are an anomaly. If you take a look at their team, you will spot the yellowing fingers and the nervous twitch as a meeting goes on too long. Ask for a smoke break, and you will have the team on your side -- and be able to find out who is sleeping with whom from the gossip in the smoking area.

Though Obama did address Russia's hostile relationship with Georgia in his speech yesterday, calling on Russia to respect the sovereignty of other countries, Gocha Dzasokhov, president of the Georgian Peoples Assembly, implored Obama and Medvedev in an opinion piece in Rianovosti, a state-owned, Russian news agency, to "not discard Georgia as surplus baggage when discussing their relations for the years ahead."

If I had a chance to ask the U.S. President a question, I would first remind Mr. Obama of the words of John F. Kennedy, to whom he is often compared, about "a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved."

Is it fair that Georgia's policy is determined without taking into account the opinion and interests of the people who live there.

Posted at 2:37 PM ET on Jul 7, 2009  | Category:  Obama Abroad
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

Free press in Russia? Write the wrong thing could be, well, the end of you...

Posted by: edmundsingleton1 | July 10, 2009 5:01 AM


Russian BELUGA (written БЕЛУГА in cyrillic, you can look up its pictures on google) is actually a kind of sturgeon and has NOTHING to do with BELUGA WHALE that you mention.

Posted by: ivgolovnya | July 7, 2009 7:10 PM


I nominate you to start the protest. Obama lives at 1600 Penn Ave. I will meet you there with signs and a bullhorn.

Posted by: ged0386 | July 7, 2009 5:05 PM


Why isnt the media talking about Obama eating smoked BELUGA WHALE with pancakes with Putin on his trip?

If you have forgotten those are the cute white looking whales you see at all the zoo's in American.

Where is PETA on this one?

Russian agencies, quoting the government's press service, said Putin treated Obama to black caviar with sour cream, smoked beluga with pancakes and tea made in the traditional Russian samovar, a big coal-fired kettle.

Posted by: xinunus | July 7, 2009 4:50 PM

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