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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – April 18, 2008

180408.jpgTODAY: Presidential election results rigged? Russia’s Communist Party investigating validity of Putin’s United Russia plan. Putin in Sardinia with Berlusconi, writes off $4.5 billion Libya debt. Georgia responds angrily to Russia’s support of breakaway regions. Sochi head resigns. A computer programmer conducting a study on the Presidential election results says his findings show that up to a third of votes were likely to have been rigged, and that turnout was 56%, not the 69.7% declared by the Central Election Commission. Russia’s Communist Party has requested a copy of the amendments to the United Russia’s Charter that the Congress endorsed on April 14, suspecting that Vladimir Putin’s leadership of the party was only made possible by bypassing the law. The Economist wonders whether or not a Putin-Medvedev joint rule will work. Putin is in Sardinia with his “old friend and political ally” Silvio Berlusconi, having just written off Libya’s $4.5 billion Soviet-era debt, receiving in exchange a number of contracts with Libya which could secure billions of dollars for Russia’s state corporations. The French Foreign Minister has joined Germany in urging Russia to back reforms for the European Court of Human Rights. Georgia has demanded that Russia drop plans to forge closer ties with two rebel regions of Georgia.

The head of the state corporation responsible for preparing Sochi for the 2014 Olympics has resigned amid accusations of mismanagement and cost overruns. Russia’s former nuclear energy minister, Yevgeny O. Adamov, has reportedly been released from prison.Web sites ending in the Soviet “.su” domain name are on the rise. Although the Kremlin have not denied the rumors, the head of the newspaper that broke the story of Putin’s possible marriage to a young Russian gymnast, has said that he personally thinks the article was “Nonsense, based on a ‘very reliable’ source in the Agency of Old Wives Tales”.PHOTO: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin walks with Italy’s Prime Minister-elect Silvio Berlusconi at Berlusconi’s Sardinian private summer residence villa “La Certosa” in Porto Rotondo village April 17, 2008. REUTERS/Livio Anticoli-People of Freedom party/ Handout (ITALY)