RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Oct 28, 2013

TODAY: Thousands march for ‘political prisoners’; solidarity events held for Khodorkovsky; Vkontakte charges cleared; Medvedev wants Russians to trust courts; women’s rights lagging; Georgia elects Russia-friendly president; mobile companies to warn of emergencies; Roizman profiled; World Cup hosting to go ahead.

Thousands marched in central Moscow yesterday in support of the Bolotnaya Square suspects and other (so-called) political prisoners, but numbers dwindled in comparison with marches earlier this year.  Officials estimates crowds of 5,000; organisers had hoped for 20,000.  RFE/RL has some video footage.  Solidarity events were held in the U.K., U.S., and Estonia to mark the tenth anniversary of the incarceration of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, with supporters gathering to read his prison writings.  Vkontakte has been cleared of piracy charges by a St. Petersburg court.  Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev wants Russians to trust legal investigations and court decisions.  Bloomberg reports that Russia is lagging behind on women’s rights and the law: ‘it doesn’t have the basic parameters that women need to be protected from domestic abuse.’  The election in Georgia of Giorgi Margvelashvili as president may help towards decreasing tensions with Russia.

Diamond miner Alrosa will price its IPO at 35 roubles per share, aiming to raise a total of $1.3 billion.  The telecoms ministry is planning to make mobile phone operators responsible for informing customers of emergency situations – a measure devised in the wake of last year’s deadly floods, when power cuts blocked television and radio warnings.  The BBC has a profile of Yevgeny Roizman, the newly elected mayor of Yekaterinburg.  There are 100 days left before the Sochi Winter Olympics, but Russia may have lost its chance to promote the host city to tourists.  The Duma has passed new, harsher terrorism laws in a bid to stave off potential security threats in Sochi during the Games.

A string of racist sporting incidents will not dissuade Russia from staging the 2018 World Cup finals.

PHOTO: People walk during an opposition rally in Moscow, October 27, 2013. Protesters demanded the release of political prisoners. The banner reads “To release prisoners”. (REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov)