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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – April 1, 2008

010408.jpgTODAY: Russia will not “veto” Nato meetings, says Bush, Putin remains firm on expansion. Kremlin may build tunnel link between Putin and Medvedev. Journalist murder said to be not political. The Kremlin is considering an “ambitious plan” to dig a tunnel linking Dmitry Medvedev’s Kremlin and Vladimir Putin’s White House. Russia’s lower house of parliament could approve Putin’s candidacy for the post of prime minister on May 8. “We all know that the newly elected president will put forward Vladimir Putin’s candidacy,” says Boris Gryzlov. Russia opposes Ukraine’s ambition to join Nato, but pro-Russian Ukrainians consider Nato to be an “enemy organisation”. US President Bush is currently in Ukraine, and has said that he “strongly supports” Ukrainian membership. Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, has been unyielding in his opposition of Nato expansion, and could strongly influence any decision. France opposes membership bids by Georgia and Ukraine, concerned that it will deepen tensions with Russia. German Chancellor Angela Merkel opposes Georgia’s Nato membership because it is in conflict with a neighbour, and Ukraine’s membership because most of its citizens are against memberships. One British newspaper says the alliance is facing “a damaging split”.

Read a special report on the crisis over blogging site LiveJournal and the case of Savva Terentyev.Russia’s compulsory military service has been shortened down to one year from the previous two.Two Tajik men have admitted to robbing and killing Channel One journalist Ilyas Shurpayev, with one claiming that the victim had earlier offered him money for sex.PHOTO: Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko listens as U.S. President George W. Bush conducts a toast during a luncheon at the Presidential Secretariat in Kiev, Ukraine April 1, 2008. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UKRAINE)