RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – April 30, 2012

TODAY: Pussy Riot supporter detained and beaten; in praise of Evgenia Chirikova; opposition gears up for May 6 rally; thousands of electoral violations uncovered. Air force head ousted; Russia-China ties flourishing, says Putin; mass destruction of Russia’s chemical weapons

An opposition activist has been detained and physically assaulted after an attempt to enter Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral to pray to deliver Russia from Vladimir Putin, Pussy Riot style.  A group of the feminist band’s supporters who gathered near the cathedral were dispersed with doses of holy water from members of fundamentalist Russian Orthodox organization.  Two members of the punk band have appealed to President Medvedev to examine the legitimacy of their case.  Geoffrey Lean, one the judges of the Goldman Prize, which recently decorated Khimki forest defender Evgenia Chirikova, explains why her actions merit admiration in the Telegraph.  Opposition leaders will not hold a protest rally today as initially planned instead focusing their attention on a May 6 march, on the eve of President-elect Vladimir Putin’s inauguration.  RFE/RL reports on a nascent trend of ‘grassroots assertiveness‘ in Moscow.

The Prosecutor General’s Office has apparently exposed about 3,000 violations committed during the recent parliamentary and presidential polls.  Outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev has, as anticipated, accepted an offer to become the new leader of United Russia.  Brian Whitmore and guests discuss Putin’s historical heroes on this podcast.  According to a new Levada poll, Russians are skeptical as to how much Vladimir Putin will take into account the interests of the middle classes in his new term as President.  Is a new military pro-Kremlin party on the cards?  President Medvedev has urged that conflict of interest be taken more seriously as an offense. A legislative speaker in the Far East region has been placed under house arrest on charges of embezzling $1.3 million from an oil firm.

The head of the Air Force, Alexander Zelin, has been dismissed.  After talks with Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Li Keqiang (widely tipped to become Beijing’s next premier) Putin has announced that bilateral relations have reached ‘an unprecedented level’ with ‘not a single irritating element.’    The Washington Post reports on how a Cold-War era nuclear communication hotline may be opened up again to discuss cyber security.  About 62% of Russia’s chemical weapons stockpile has been destroyed over the past fifteen years, says Ria-Novosti.

The Independent interviews Marina Litvinenko, the widow of the former KGB agent killed by plutonium poisoning in London, about her search for justice.

PHOTO: Members of an Orthodox militant group stand in line in front of the Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral to prevent access of opposition activists to the Cathedral in Moscow, April 29, 2012. Opposition activists planned to pray to Holy Mother to deliver Russia from Vladimir Putin. They planned to repeat the “punk prayer” by five members of the feminist band Pussy Riot briefly who seized the pulpit of Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral in February and chanted “Mother Mary, drive Putin away. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)