Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

Nos. 1-2
January 2003
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
By Andrei RYABOV, Scholar-in-Residence, Carnegie Moscow Centre

And so, 2003 has come. What should we expect from it? One thing is more or less definite: there will be no radical changes in the system of international relations or domestic policy of the leading countries. The part of humanity that has grown used to living in conditions of modern industrialised civilisation, with its advantages and comforts (and Russia is part of it, despite reservations) will be gladdened by such forecasts.

On the other hand, some countries may engage in social experiments. On January 1 President Luiz (Lula) Ignacio da Silva, known for his leftist views, officially assumed power in Brazil, which many political scientists have long regarded as a potential superpower (it has such prerequisites as a vast territory, natural riches and high technologies). He may attempt to apply his leftist views in practice in order to improve Brazilian society, where the gap between the rich and the poor is very deep.

But it is clear that if the new president of the leading Latin American country acts too resolutely, capital, which needs seconds to move from one continent to another at the beginning of the 21st century, will leave his blessed land. But if Lula finds the magic formula for redistributing part of the wealth in favour of the poor and at the same time ensure economic growth, it will certainly become a social discovery of the year.

This year the united Europe - or rather, the European Union that symbolises it - will grow stronger still. Denmark and Sweden will hold referendums on joining the Euro zone and few people doubt their outcome. After that only three countries of the Old World - Britain, Switzerland and Norway - will remain outside the zone of the new currency. For Britain, joining the Euro zone will be a matter of time, just as the accession to the EU of the last remaining non-EU countries of Western Europe.

Looking at the success of European integration, the governments of countries located on other continents will try to make use of this positive experience. The countries of East Asia including such economic giants as Japan and China are already discussing the possibility of creating a common economic zone. The leaders and their wise advisers in Gulf monarchies, as well as the presidents and premiers of Tropical Africa are pondering the possibility of introducing a common monetary unit. The Russian leadership should get down to analysing these issues. I don't mean the wishful idea of joining Europe, where nobody wants Russia, but the creation of a common currency for at least a part of the former Soviet countries.

The war on Iraq will be most probably launched in 2003.

And, contrary to recent forecasts, the USA will fight it not jointly with its trusted ally, Britain, but with the assistance of a broad coalition of states, including such leading countries of the Moslem East as Turkey and Saudi Arabia. In this case Saddam Hussein will hardly keep the reins of power. But this will not be a global catastrophe.

The threat of terrorist acts against citizens and vital facilities in industrialised countries, including Russia, will grow in 2003. But not because of Saddam. Simply, the terrorist machine has been activated and will work for many more years. There will hardly be any changes in the struggle against international terrorism. In this context, Russia should probably work more persistently for putting organisations, financial structures and individuals who took part in organising explosions of civilian facilities and taking hostages on international black lists - with all of the ensuing consequences for these organisations and persons.

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