TODAY: Former mayor of Stavropol linked to A Just Russia to be charge with theft; newspaper editor flees Russia; Medvedev trying to weaken Sechin?; Russian gang infect computer networks; mourners visit Solzhenitsyn’s coffin; Kremlin “offended” by US; South Ossetia conflict escalating; Olympic team denies systematic doping allegations. Dmitry Kuzmin, the former mayor of Stavropol, is to be charged with stealing $810,000 after being arrested in Austria, having fled Russia nine months ago. Kuzmin’s links with A Just Russia, the opposition party, have led some to suspect that the charges have a political component. Roza Malsagova, the editor-in-chief of an independent online newspaper in Ingushetia “which frequently airs opposition views” has fled Russia and will seek political asylum in Europe after a number of criminal cases were launched against her. Some see Dmitry Medvedev’s recent comments about state institutions “terrifying businesses” as the President’s attempt to “weaken powerful Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, Putin’s gray cardinal and the bete noire of Russia’s liberals.” A security expert is alleging that a criminal gang in Russia is using software tools to infect thousands of PCs in corporate and government networks.
Hundreds of Russians visited the open coffin of Alexander Solzhenitsyn yesterday, including Vladimir Putin. “In the week of his death, what stands out is not who Solzhenitsyn was, but what he wrote.” “By the time he returned to Russia, many of the liberal admirers who revered his books and his feats as an author were disappointed by Solzhenitsyn’s anti-Western stance and his essentially undemocratic vision.”The Kremlin appears to be deeply offended by the US “on a highly emotional level”, says the Moscow Times. US President George Bush and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will hold a “five to fifteen minute” face-to-face talk at the opening of the Olympic games this Friday in Beijing. The conflict in South Ossetia “could easily turn Russia against Europe and the US.” Russia meanwhile has reiterated that it “will not allow itself to remain indifferent” if violence in the region continues to escalate. Russian strategic bombers are to perform a series of exercises in the Indian Ocean later this year.Russia’s Olympic team has denied accusations of systematic doping among its athletes after the IOC medical chief condemned the country’s doping record.PHOTO: Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin walks towards the coffin of writer and former Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn to lay flowers on it at the Academy of Science in Moscow August 5, 2008. (RIA Novosti/Pool/Reuters)