RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Dec 1st, 2008

011208.jpgTODAY: Russia to develop ballistic missiles; Medvedev ends Latin American tour in Cuba; protesters gather for Beketov; Svetlana Bakhmina gives birth; Politkovskaya investigators say they are closing in on the killer; EU must work on relationships with former Soviets.

President Dmitry Medvedev’s final day in Cuba saw him touring ‘arm-in-arm‘ with Raúl Castro and paying tribute to Fidel Castro, with a number of cooperative deals expected to ensue.  Medvedev immediately blogged the experiences of his Latin America trip from his plane back to Russia.  US plans to deploy an anti-missile system in Europe have spurred the Russian military to intensify its efforts to develop new ballistic missiles.

The Moscow Times reports that over 1,000 people gathered in Khimki and Moscow over the weekend to protest the beating of journalist and activist Mikhail Beketov, with most of the accusations being pointed at the Khimki mayor’s administration.  The New York Times reports fewer protesters.  Former Yukos lawyer Svetlana Bakhmina, gave birth to a daughter in a prison hospital on Friday.  Russia’s prosecutor-general has defended the investigation into the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, saying his team is close to catching both her murderer and the person who paid him.  The authorities are reportedly working with Interpol to detain one of the suspects.

Russia’s as-yet unsupported claims that Ukraine supplied Georgia with arms during the war in August are ‘undermining the government’s authority at a time of heightened political instability‘.  A European Commission report says that the EU must significantly improve relations with former Soviet territories, including Ukraine, in order to ease the power that Moscow has over them.  But isn’t NATO’s intention to deny Ukraine and Georgia the chance to take initial steps towards membership this week ‘an attempt to avoid a diplomatic row with Moscow‘?

A Leningrad priest has been reprimanded for displaying an icon depicting Stalin in a church.

PHOTO: Russian and Cuban presidents, Dmitry Medvedev with Raul Castro, arm in arm as they tour Havana’s sights. Photograph: Ajejandro Ernesto/AP