RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – April 23, 2008

230408.jpgTODAY: Russian journalists hold convention on crisis; Russia says Georgia flight over Abkhazia violated UN agreements, Georgia blames NATO for current troubles; IOC inspects Sochi. The Russian Union of Journalists is holding a convention in Moscow to discuss a crisis manifesting itself “in a deterioration in quality, declining trust, a reduction of the role of journalists in society, and shrinking media freedom in our country.” Russia says a Georgian unmanned reconnaissance flight over the rebel region of Abkhazia, which it still denies shooting down, “violated United Nations cease-fire agreements”. Georgia’s deputy prime minister says that NATO leaders unwittingly gave Russia a “window of opportunity” to cause trouble in Georgia when they failed to grant the country a timetable for membership. A Russian newspaper is reporting that the country has threatened to sue China for copying its Sukhoi Su-27SK fighter and intending to export it at a reduced price. Read a special report on corruption in Russia. Communist members of the State Duma are trying to set up temporary accommodation for non-residents lacking ID papers, in order to prevent them from being detained.

Conflicting reports on the 2014 Sochi Olympics. A key International Olympic Committee official reportedly warned that they will be among the most challenging to prepare for, in part due to “an almost complete lack of Olympic-class facilities,” but another report says the IOC monitoring “revealed no grand difficulties.” Russia will send a 900-member delegation to the Beijing Olympic Games in August. Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov has signed an ordinance on the opening of a Russian information and cultural center in Azerbaijan, and centers of science and culture in Armenia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.Russia is marking the first anniversary of the death of former President Boris Yeltsin by unveiling a monument near his grave. Yesterday marked the anniversary of Vladimir Lenin’s birthday. A Russian lark has been sending UK birdwatchers into “ecstasy and panic”.PHOTO: From right, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov react during an exhibition match marking the 50th birthday of Soviet and NHL superstar, the Russian sports chief, Vyacheslav Fetisov, Moscow, Saturday, April 19, 2008. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Sergei Subbotin)