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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – April 4, 2008

040408.jpgTODAY: NATO result a “diplomatic victory” for Vladimir Putin. Ukraine says bid to join not directed against Russia. Bush and Putin to discuss missile defense. Russia’s liberal forces to meet this weekend. Baby boom. Medvedev offers his opinion on internet policing. Georgia and Ukraine were not given NATO Membership Action Plans this week, but they were offered “a pretty firm commitment of eventual membership”. Although this offer was seen by Russia to be “a huge strategic mistake”, the Kremlin seemed by all accounts to be pleased with the outcome. UK papers called it a “major diplomatic victory” and “a huge diplomatic success” for Russia, but one wrote, “there is no reason we should accede to Russia’s demands”. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has reassured Russia that its bid to join NATO was not “destined [to be] against any other country”. NATO leaders have issued a statement urging Russia to lift its moratorium on the CFE Treaty. NATO and Russia will sign a land transit agreement allowing the alliance to use Russian land to deliver non-lethal supplies to its troops in Afghanistan. Russia has outlined a potential deal with the US on Washington’s planned missile defense system in Europe, and the leaders of the two countries will meet a number of times over the weekend to discuss the issue. “The two presidents appear hard-pressed to show that the[ir] previous meetings have meant something.”

200 human rights and opposition activists, including leaders of the Union of Right Forces, Yabloko and the United Civil Front, will attend a conference this weekend in St Petersburg to discuss the creation of a liberal alliance.Yelena Tregubova writes in the UK press on being granted asylum and her time as a “critical journalist”. Sergei Storchak, the deputy finance minister charged with embezzlement, will remain in custody until his hearing on April 8. Boris Berezovsky has responded to allegations that he is connected with the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, saying, “the person who ordered [Politkovskaya’s] murder is in the Kremlin.” Dmitry Medvedev has opened a new Internet Forum, and laid the groundwork for a measured approach to policing the internet.On the Russian baby boom. The Olympic Torch has arrived in St Petersburg. The diaries of Sergey Prokofiev will be published next week.PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Slovakia’s President Ivan Gasparovic, with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer looking on, on the third day of the NATO Summit conference in Bucharest, Friday April 4 2008. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe)