RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Dec 10th, 2008

101208.jpgTODAY: Responses to Belykh’s government posting; Duma deputy could be stripped of immunity; Lavrov warns against ‘meddling’, praises ties with EU; Argentine President in Moscow; Yulia Latynina on ‘Putinomics’.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insists that Russia has no monopoly on relations with neighboring former Soviet republics, but warned Western countries against ‘meddling‘ and protecting those interests at Russia’s expense.  He also praised Russia’s ‘strategic partnership‘ with the EU, offering a ‘visa-free regime‘ to improve economic ties, and said that WTO membership remains a priority for Russia despite the financial crisis.  President Cristina Fernandez and a troop of Argentine business leaders are in Russia for a two-day state visit aimed at boosting trade, energy and mining agreements.

Read a few soundbites from former Union of Right Forces head Nikita Belykh, explaining why he thinks a government post nomination is in accordance with his principles.  ‘I have not said that people should not cooperate with the powers that be.‘  Read some opposition responses to the news.  A year on, it still seems unlikely that anyone will be held to account for the murder of opposition activist Yury Chervochkin.  State Duma Deputy Valery Draganov may be stripped of his immunity following a request from the Supreme Court ahead of a possible investigation into Draganov’s alleged negligence and abuse of office in the late 1990s.  A former deputy governor of a Far Eastern Russian region has been sentenced to nine years in jail for bribe-taking.

Yulia Latynina foresees Vladimir Putin becoming Russia’s ‘dictator’ when the country’s oil money dries up. ‘Putinomics is a distorted combination of socialism and capitalism — production is socialist and consumption is capitalist. In other words, the state bears all the costs of production, and the profits are siphoned off into the personal bank accounts of a small clique with close ties to the Kremlin.‘  Is Russia on a ‘post-modern journey back to the USSR‘?  The US State Department has expressed concern over a police search of the Memorial human rights organization in St Petersburg.

Speculation has begun regarding who will replace Patriarch Alexy II as the head of the church.

PHOTO: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev shakes hands with Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez, right, in Moscow’s Kremlin wall on Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2008. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Mikhail Klimentyev, Presidential Press Service)