Russian Press - Behind the Headlines, June 07

© Alex StefflerRussian Press - Behind the Headlines, June 07
Russian Press - Behind the Headlines, June 07 - Sputnik International
Upper House Approves Public Assembly Law / Russia to Introduce Controversial New Education Standards / Russia to Design a Patrol Plane for the Arctic

Moskovsky Komsomolets

Upper House Approves Public Assembly Law

The Federation Council has approved the amendments to the law on assembly, after the State Duma discussed it for 11 hours the day before. House member Lyudmila Narusova was sharply criticized for urging a more in-depth debate.

“We were in such a hurry only once before, when we discussed sending the troops to South Ossetia,” Narusova said. Speaker Valentina Matviyenko warned against unnecessary emotions and insults. “Any member had the opportunity to contribute. You did not use that right,” she said.

Voting on bills in the Federation Council usually takes minutes because the members read the bills beforehand. But this time it took Andrei Klishas 30 minutes to present the bill. The State Duma committee which analyzed the law believes that it is aimed at protecting “democracy, the freedom of assembly, and the rights and freedoms of law-abiding citizens,” Klishas said. The law “will protect both protesters and offenders because in the past violators faced either a minor fine or a long criminal sentence. The new law will make the system more liberal.”

He said that the offenders sentenced to administrative punishment by that law would receive up to 10 years in prison in the United State or one year in  the U.K., France and Germany.

All speakers supported the law. “People in the regions are against all these gay parades, Halloweens, hunger strikes and camps,” Oleg Panteleyev said.

Valery Shnyakin said he supported the law because “it protects public order.”

“Teachers, doctors and mothers wonder who we want to protect, offenders or children,” said Valentina Petrenko from Khakassia. She cited the example of a maimed policeman whose offender was only fined 1,000 rubles ($30.50) under the old law.

Valery Kadokhov from North Ossetia (Alaniya) said: “The majority of people want to be protected from an aggressive minority, and we must take their side. Those who disagree can complain to the Constitutional Court.”

Sergei Lisovsky added a sobering note: “Will the protesters’ responsibility be increased commensurately with the responsibility of the police, whose unprofessional actions and incompetence sometimes provoke clashes and riots?”

Defense Committee Chairman Viktor Ozerov quickly replied that the police officers’ responsibilities are sealed in the law on police. “They are becoming more professional,” he said. “Even if the standards of professionalism are insufficient, this is not a reason for endangering lives.”

Yegor Atanov asked if the law covers football hooligans and other non-political offenders. Presidential representative Alexander Kotenkov replied: “The law allows any gatherings that are not political.”

Before the voting, Matviyenko said she heard on the radio that Mikhail Fedotov, chairman of the presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, had allegedly asked her not to hold the hearing today. “I have not received any such requests,” she said, adding that Fedotov should have done it properly.

Fedotov claims he had sent his request in every way imaginable, including by fax.

Anyway, the outcome of the voting was to be expected: 133 votes in favor, one against, and one abstained.

Moskovskiye Novosti

Russia to Introduce Controversial New Education Standards

Education and Science Minister Dmitry Livanov has approved the new federal education standards for high schools. It looks like Livanov is not going to listen to his opponents: He claims that it’s impossible to heed all critical remarks.

On June 6, Minister of Education and Science Dmitry Livanov announced that his ministry had completed a public discussion of the controversial education standards for high schools. He said that constructive proposals had been taken into account and the standards should be introduced nationwide by 2020.

Under the new education standards, some subjects will be compulsory. The students will be able to choose all other subjects, depending on their area of specialization: the humanities, technology or natural sciences. Professionals and parents were shocked with the first version of the standards, which placed too much emphasis on physical fitness and patriotic education. In 2011, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin blamed the document’s drawbacks on its over-zealous authors and advocated an extensive public debate.

The compulsory subjects listed in the latest version, due to be approved by July 2012, include mathematics, Russian language and literature, foreign languages, history, health and safety, as well as physical fitness. There will be basic and advanced level subjects. Students will be able to choose up to three additional subjects. Total tuition time should not exceed 37 hours a week.

The majority of objectives to the first education standards came from philologists, who demanded that the Russian language be reinstated as a compulsory subject. The new version has evoked the wrath of mathematicians, physicists and biologists. The authors of the education standards suggest introducing a new subject called Natural Sciences for those students who don’t specialize in physics, chemistry or biology. Subject-special teachers believe this will cause a major decline in basic science education standards because humanities students would virtually ignore these fundamental areas of knowledge. Nikolai Nikandrov, President of the Russian Academy of Education, said such subjects must be made compulsory.

Analysts also note that the latest version of the standards lacks clear criteria regarding the relevant knowledge and aptitudes that must be displayed by high school graduates. Pseudo-scientific phrases from the federal state education standards mean nothing, said Grigory Kolyutsky, a research associate from the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for Information Transmission Problems. 

“Will the students actually learn anything as a result? No, they will not. Those previously unknown terms, such as ‘well-formulated perceptions of concepts’ and ‘the ability to characterize’ conceal an unpleasant fact: If these standards are approved, the Russian state will absolve itself of all responsibility for the results of secondary education,” Kolyutsky said.

Dmitry Livanov told the paper that there is still plenty of time to finalize the education standards. However, any protests seem pointless because the document has been submitted to the Ministry of Justice for approval.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta

Russia to Design a Patrol Plane for the Arctic

Russia’s Defense Ministry has issued design specifications for a patrol aircraft for the Arctic. The reason cited is the planned write-off of several dozen Il-38 and Il-38N planes of the same type while global warming is intensifying competition for the rich resources of the North Pole.

There’s a need for a new long-range high-endurance patrol plane for the Arctic, according to an unnamed source in the defense sector, Interfax reports. The Tu-214, the A-40/42 (the world’s largest amphibian plane) and the Be-200, another amphibian, could be competing entries. However, the source said “it is too soon to speak of the tender’s date.”

It is perhaps also too early to speak of the A-42 and Be-200 seaplanes as likely entries if only because the A-42 has a patrol endurance of 12 hours at reduced speed, which is not enough to cover the Arctic distances. The Be-200 is out of the question because its range is 30% less. Moreover, seaplanes are expensive to build because they use a lot of titanium. It would be a waste using them for patrol duties.

As for the passenger Tu-214, its range with passengers and baggage is 6,500 kilometers. Since passengers are an extra option on patrols, fuel reserves could be increased and range extended to 8,000-10,000 kilometers. The Il-38s and Il-38Ns currently in service are military derivatives of the Il-18 workhorse, and have a dry tank range of 9,500 kilometers.

It is feasible to extend the service life and upgrade several dozen Il-38s. That would be much cheaper than purchasing the same number of new planes with added spending on simulators, testing equipment and re-training. But the Defense Ministry seems to have some spare money after abandoning the plans to purchase new armor and other armaments. Now it is casting about for investment opportunities.

Considering the good relations between the ministry and the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), a passenger cargo plane could be found for conversion. But the likely candidate is the Sukhoi Superjet-100, not the Tu-214. To begin with, Sukhoi is now experiencing problems with sales following the May 9 disaster in Indonesia. Second, Sukhoi is calling the shots in the UAC, while Tupolev is practically bankrupt and is surviving by renting out its premises. Third, the Superjet is the authorities’ pet project and a good investment destination. Why not invest some more in it?

The news of a new Arctic patrol aircraft broke soon after U.S. companies Northrop Grumman and L-3 MAS offered the Canadian government a Polar Hawk version of the unmanned aerial vehicle RQ-4 Block 30 Global Hawk. It can stay up for 33 hours and climb to an altitude of 18,300 kilometers. The Russian Defense Ministry appears to have decided to rise to the challenge. But the response is unlikely to be adequate either in range or altitude. It would be easier to launch a couple of satellites into geostationary orbit to monitor the earth’s surface round the clock.


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