RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – April 28, 2008

280408.jpgTODAY: Deripaska in the spotlight; Iran tries to defuse nuclear row with Russia; talks with Japan, tensions with Abkhazia; Russian Easter; Gorbachev criticizes Russian democracy; football final threatens visa nightmare. Oleg Deripaska, has said he is convinced Vladimir Putin will remain fully in charge of Russia until 2020. Read an interview with Deripaska here. Iran is apparently trying to defuse a nuclear row with Russia by offering a “package of proposals”. It is being reported that Russian military reinforcements were being deployed in Georgia’s breakaway republic of Abkhazia over the weekend. Japanese Prime Minister Jasuo Fukuda has agreed with Putin to begin talks to resolve a territorial dispute over the Kuril islands.

Russia celebrated Easter on Sunday. Putin’s message to the Patriarch of Moscow to mark the occasion said, “It has become a good and pleasant tradition for me over the long years of our cooperation to share the joy of Easter days with you, bringing the feeling of good, love and hope.” Mikhail Gorbachev has lashed out at Russia’s political system, criticizing the presidential elections as a “rollback in terms of democracy”. “How many articles can be written before the Medvedev presidency begins about what might happen when the Medvedev presidency begins?”In football, the Champion League final, to be held in Moscow, could draw thousands of British visitors to Russia, causing a visa processing “nightmare” and a scramble for flights and hotels.The Times has published its annual Rich List of people living in the UK, which this year includes a number of Russians such as Alisher Usmanov, Roman Abramovich and Lev Leviev.PHOTO: President-elect Dmitry Medvedev listens to Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II during an Easter service in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, April 27, 2008. Eastern Orthodox churches, which observe the ancient Julian calendar, usually celebrate Easter later than Western churches. (AP Photo/Pool)