French press review 17 August 2012
The crackdown by South African police on a miners' strike, in the deadliest protest since apartheid, shares the limelight with the two-year sentences meted out to the Russian punk band Pussy Riot.
"Bloodbath at Marikana mine, police shoot miners with live ammunition killing 34 and wounding 60," headlines Le Figaro. The paper points out that South African police have been given the right to use live bullets for self-defence because of the country’s appalling crime rate that leaves them putting their lives on the line every single day.
"Miners’ strike crushed in bloodbath" headlines Libération. The paper notes that the massacre evokes the horror of the past, for example the 1960 Sharpeville massacre of 69 blacks protesting against the pass laws by apartheid South African police shot and killed 69 blacks.
Libération expresses shock that the three young women in the Russian punk band Pussy Riot are being "sent to the Gulag simply because of a song". The paper holds that the punishment is indeed disproportionate to the band's "punk prayer" against Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. Libération echoes reactions pouring in from Western capitals and prays for a backlash as, it believes, a growing number of Russians are fed up with the hard-line policies coming from the Kremlin.
Le Figaro for once agrees with Libé that two years in prison with hard labour is an extremely severe sentence when you look at the charges of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” brought against the "anti-Putin singers”. Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny tells Le Figaro that Putin himself who wrote the verdict. The conservative newspaper concludes that the harsh verdict has resurrected Russia’s Soviet past.
Le Monde examines the French government’s measures to revive the moribund economy with a warning that record petrol prices could wreck efforts to spur growth and boost the purchasing power of consumers. The evening newspaper explains that tensions in Iran, the euro crisis and a sustained demand for North Sea crude oil are pushing up oil trading in euros.
A culture of austerity has come to stay in France, says Aujourd’hui en France/Le Parisien. The paper, however, has found out that while more and more citizens are scaling down energy consumption few are taking advantage of incentives at their disposal to carry out power-reduction renovation work. This, according to the paper, is due to falling purchasing power and the rather expensive construction material.
Le Figaro reports that Israel is preparing for war with Iran. Apparently confident of its sources, the right-wing newspaper says the Jewish state is perfecting plans to wage a 30-day conflict on several fronts simultaneously.