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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Aug 8, 2008

080808.jpgTODAY: Crumbling infrastructure stalling development; US and Russia are stuck in the Cold War past; renegade Russia does not deserve G8 membership; South Ossetia “on the brink of war”; authorities raid National Bolshevik activist’s house; bomb at Sochi. A new poll of Russian government experts by the State Analytical Center cites crumbling infrastructure and inadequate state funding as the main drawbacks to “innovative economic development”. The growing chasm between the rich and the poor is one of Russia’s “most striking paradoxes”, says the Moscow Times. Contrary to expectation US President George Bush will not hold talks in Beijing with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin today. Putin may have intended by appearing before the cameras with Bush to “show the world that he’s still in charge, including in foreign policy,” says one analyst. The former Estonian president says that Bush was right to compare Hitler’s Germany with Stalin’s Soviet Union. Russia and the US are stuck in the past, according to a former UN Ambassador. “The United States still looks at Russia too much in Cold War terms — as if nothing had really changed”, and for its part, Russia sees any enlargement of NATO as “a continuation of the Cold War on new grounds”. Read The Economist on Russia’s desire to replace NATO with a new security organization. Russia is a “renegade” power which doesn’t deserve its place in the G8, says Bloomberg, pinning hopes on Dmitry Medvedev for reform of the increasingly “centralized” government.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has called for an immediate cease-fire with South Ossetian separatists, after the “fiercest fighting in years” on the Georgian border, with some viewing the region as being “on the brink of war”. Russia has called for an emergency UN Security Council meeting on South Ossetia, after yesterday’s meeting failed to reach an agreement. The vice speaker at Russia’s parliament has compared Mikheil Saakashvili to Hitler.President Dmitry Medvedev’s recent attack on Russia’s civil service is viewed by The Telegraph as a “seeming dig at Putin”. Following a protest against rising food prices, police raided the apartment of a National Bolshevik Party activist, confiscating a computer and several books. Could Russian authorities begin barring foreigners with debts from leaving the country? The Olympic Games begin tomorrow evening, and the government has apparently pledged to pay €100,000 for every Russian gold medal. Police are investigating an explosion that went off on a beach at Russia’s Sochi resort, killing two people.PHOTO: Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with China’s Premier Wen Jiabao at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing August 8, 2008. REUTERS/Jason Lee (CHINA)