RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – April 1, 2009

010409.jpgTODAY: Medvedev article positive on US relations; human rights activist Lev Ponomarev hospitalized after being beaten in Moscow; Lukashenko opens bidding war?; Khodorkovsky second trial begins; limousines.

An article in the Washington Post by Dmitry Medvedev (reprinted here) says that Russia and the United States should rebuild their relations and work together on key global issues, and that neither side wanted ‘drift and indifference’.  He also referred to toxic assets – possibly Russia’s Iranian ties and NATO’s membership offers to Ukraine and Georgia – although it seems unlikely that Dmitry Rogozin will be happy to let this latter issue go.  Now, as one European specialist put it, ‘Where’s the beef?’  Medvedev will meet with US President Barack Obama today ahead of the G20 summit, for which the BBC is running live updates.  A row that arose between Russia and the US over allegations of Russian spying is reportedly nearing resolution.

Lev Ponomarev, a veteran Russian human rights campaigner and Kremlin critic who recently helped organize a protest against the killings of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasiya Barburova, is in serious condition after being severely beaten’ in Moscow yesterday, according to his organization For Human Rights.  The attack is widely being linked to Ponomarev’s decades-long activism.  Vadim Rogozhin, owner and general director of the Vzglyad Media holding group, has awakened from a coma nearly a month after being attacked by unknown assailants.  Police in Chelyabinsk have detained three local journalists for protesting non-payment of overdue earnings.  The founding conference of the National Bureau of Investigative Journalism took place in Moscow yesterday.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko may be attempting to open ‘an East-West bidding war’, playing on Russia’s anxiety over EU encroachment in former Soviet states, says Bloomberg.  The Moscow Times reports on the opening day of second trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, ‘Russia’s most famous prisoner, seizing on the defense team’s suggestion that Vladimir Putin be called to the witness stand.  Yulia Latynina writes on the criminal cases deemed a priority by Saak Karapetyan, head of the international cooperation department of the Prosecutor General’s Office, saying that, unlike the cases of Anna Politkovskaya and Stanislav Markelov, they all ‘require absolutely no effort to solve’.

Medvedev’s $60 million G20 limousine is apparently ‘superior’ to Obama’s.

PHOTO: Picture taken 15 December 2006 shows Russian human rights activist Lev Ponomarev during a protest in front of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia in Moscow, holding a portrait of former officer in Russia’s FSB secret service Mikhail Trepashkin, an opposition member jailed for divulging state secrets. (GETTY IMAGES)