RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – August 3, 2012

TODAY: Putin hints at clemency for Pussy Riot; trial interrupted by bomb threat; scant progress on Syria noted at Putin’s Olympic meeting with David Cameron.  Navalny’s colleagues plan political party; RPR-PARNAS registered.  Inflation worries grow; Vkontakte refuses to register same-sex relationships. 

On a visit to London, President Vladimir Putin has told British reporters that he believes feminist trio Pussy Riot should not be punished ‘too strictly’.  The trial against the Kremlin-critical punks was interrupted on its fourth day by a bomb hoax.  Musicians Pete Townshend, Jarvis Cocker and Neil Tennant have expressed their concerns about the girls’ treatment in a letter in the Times.  A number of foreign clerics, interviewed by RFE/RL, have voiced similar worries.  Putin’s talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron apparently highlighted divisions’ on Syria rather than heralding progress.  The Guardian concurs: ‘Nothing appears to have changed since Cameron and Putin last met in Mexico in June’.  Putin has expressed regret over Kofi Annan’s decision to resign as the UN special envoy to Syria.

Jailed Yukos founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky has asked Boris Titov, Putin’s commissioner for business rights, to review the second court ruling that concluded he must remain in jail until 2017.  Opposition leader and deputy Ilya Ponomaryov has voiced suspicions that last week’s traffic accident which killed whistleblower Igor Danilkin was in fact murder.  A number of anti-corruption associates of opposition figurehead Alexey Navalny have apparently filed a request to establish a new political party.  The Justice Ministry has officially registered the opposition Republican Party of Russia – People’s Freedom Party political party.

With inflation reaching its highest rate so far this year in July, the IMF has warned that Russia needs to adopt tougher policies to protect the economy from overheating.   According a new Levada poll, Russians are broadly in favour of the spate of laws recently passed seen to constitute a crackdown on freedoms of speech and assembly.  Russia’s largest social network, VKontatke, has garnered criticism from the gay community after it refused to allow users to state in their profile that they are in a same-sex relationship.

PHOTO: Vladimir Putin and David Cameron discuss the finer points of judo at London 2012. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)