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

010808.jpgTODAY: Medvedev calls for authorities to end business nightmares, signs anti-corruption plan; Yukos manager found guilty of organizing several murders; Moscow’s military revival; less than 10% of Russians see Medvedev as true leader; Kyoto minister blames Putin’s government reshuffle for reform delays; Khrushchev, solar eclipse, athletes suspended from Olympics. President Dmitry Medvedev has declared that authorities should “stop causing nightmares” for businesses, signed an anti-corruption plan to tackle the “vicious circle” of Russia’s bribery problem, and expressed frustration at his government’s inability to move faster on corruption reforms. Some analysts see Medvedev’s comments as directly opposed to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s attack on Mechel last week, with one analyst saying “Medvedev does not want to remain a puppet president any longer”. A spokesman for Putin, however, denied any rift between the two. “Both Putin and Medvedev give their paramount attention to officials’ despotism, corruption, the investment climate in the country and the problems that businesses face, and there are no disagreements between them.Interfax reports a Kremlin source saying that the government will not have a separate agency to fight corruption. A Moscow city court has found former Yukos manager Leonid Nevzlin guilty of ordering several murders including that of a local mayor. Nevzlin denies the charges and says they are part of a plot to discredit Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

A new opinion poll by the Yury Levada Center says less than 10% of Russians see Dmitry Medvedev as the country’s real leader. Moscow’s military revivalmay in time pose some unwelcome challenges for Europeans determined to believe the days of east-west confrontation are over.”Russia’s Kyoto official is blaming a reshuffle of government ministries by Vladimir Putin for the country’s failure to have approved any projects to cut greenhouse gases under the Kyoto Protocol. Moscow’s environmental committee says that new metallurgical plants being built nearby will heavily pollute the city’s environment.Read the BBC on Russia’s 100 million acres of unused farmland. A number of leading Russian female athletes have been prevented from competing in the Beijing Olympics “in a considerable coup for the anti-doping police”. Thousands of people are in Siberia today to watch a total solar eclipse. The family of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev are trying to defend his reputation from allegations of treachery.PHOTO: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev meets with small business owners in the town of Gagarin, Smolensk Region. (Photo: Alexander Miridonov/Kommersant)