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Early this month, as Russia was in the process of assuming chairmanship in the UN Security Council, Moscow's envoy said Syria was not on the UN SC December agenda. Still, the theme of Syria has become the subject of permanent heated debates during  unofficial consultations and surfaced in the discussions of the situations in the Middle East. Considering that US President B. Obama and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon are selling the Arab Spring as a model for new regime changes, at the moment Syria simply has to be at the focus of international politics.

Civil society is maturing, not in the process of being born. Especially since it is not being born suddenly in Bolotnaya square or Revolutionary square...

Recently, I was surprised to have read and heard of people, intelligent, and familiar with history, that the street can be the midwife of civil society. It comes from conscientious and long-entrenched misconceptions in Russian society. For the intelligent - and now not only for them – the environment of civil society has become a commonplace idea, whose main mission is to conduct an impartial dialogue with the government.

For some - the more Fronde there is, the greater the citizenship. In the minds of the politicized the space between society and government, is the main, if not the only field of activity for civil society. Is this true?

This is not a parable, it is a true story. A rich man built a temple. He did not go to the temple to pray or to repent, or for communion. Maybe he had little belief, or maybe he was a complete unbeliever, but at least he respected the faith of others: his loved ones, relatives, friends, and neighbors. They say, let the people take comfort if they believe. If he had no love for God, he was worthy of respect for his compassion for the people, and they found a grateful response in their hearts, and then, as they say - "God will kiss even the intention." However, this is a very special case, you can even say unique, and there is no direct counterpart to it even in the Gospel parables. After completing the construction of the temple, our rich man said, "Now I have paid my dues to God". Of course, in pagan times and in those of the Old Testament, the idea of gifts and sacrifices to God in "propitiation" was always present, but had the character of a permanent act, so to speak, eliminating the possibility to pay God once, once and for all. In medieval indulgences and payment for the sins of the sinners from the fund of certain "supererogatory merits of the saints" was perhaps the most common attitude of our rich man. However, in the first case the Catholic Church stood between the sinner and God, and the same payments were carried out with the heavens directly – online, so to speak.

In the past few months Kazakhstan, once the quietest country in Central Asia, has turned into a hotbed of extremism. On December 16th when Kazakhstan marked its Independence Day, violent clashes took place in the western town of Zhanaozen in Mangistau district.

Back in summer of 2008, amid difficulties with the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty on reforming the EU many officials in the EU government began to speak at their informal meetings about the future of Europe “at different speeds” and “concentric circles” of Europe. These concepts implied that formally integral Europe will disintegrate into groups of states with different level and rate of social-economic development...

The resolutions of the December 8-9 EU summit which had evoked heightened expectations eventually left a mixed impression. The official agenda of the forum appeared all-embracing, with the leaders of the 27 countries of the united Europe touching upon every issue  from the Balkan politics and Iran's nuclear problem to the Schengen regime, but no specific and binding decisions concerning any of them followed.

 Mr. Oganesyan,

Excellencies, honourable guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Let me first of all express my gratitude to you for the honor you have granted me to address this distinguished forum of the "international life" magazine.  I present my warmest congratulations on your 57th anniversary, as well as our appreciation for the quality and depth of your research and analysis so informative and relevant in a rapidly changing and sometimes uncertain international context.

President of Côte d'Ivoire Laurent Gbagbo who had been displaced  as a result of the French intervention appeared before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Hague on December 5. With several other country leaders already facing ICC charges, the fresh case could fit into a steady trend apart from a significant circumstance – unprecedentedly, Gbagbo was taken into custody based on a secret indictment.

A Nato air strike on a Pakistani border coordination center on 26th November, which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, has caused extensive coverage in the media and critical feedback from all over the globe. IN a phone talk with his Pakistani counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed that violating other countries` sovereignty, including as part of counter-terrorism operations, is inadmissible.

US Department of State spokeswoman Victoria Nuland announced on November 22 that the US stops supplying to Russia the data on conventional arms in Europe. Furthermore, Russian inspectors would not be admitted to US military bases in Europe. What could be the reasoning behind the radical US step which, it must be noted, fits with a wider trend in Washington's decision-making?