RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Dec. 21, 2007

211207.jpgToday: Putin’s $40 billion fortune; Medvedev’s political character; Zubkov lays plans for successor; Russian government gives way on Royal Academy paintings. It is being reported that “an unprecedented battle is taking place inside the Kremlin in advance of Vladimir Putin’s departure from office” in relation to claims that Putin has a secret personal fortune of over $40 billion and a “non-transparent network of offshore trusts”. In October, Putin “revealed” his yearly income to be roughly $80,000 a year. This article offers an analysis of Putin’s career history.

First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has announced that Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Sobyanin will head his presidential campaign. Medvedev’s suitability as a political character is currently being debated. Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov has outlined a program for his successor. A commission representing employers, trade unions and the government has reached an agreement on a new minimum wage.A Moscow court is investigating the auctioning off of a piece of land near the Russian capital which sold for a price far below the market value, amid speculation that the biggest piece of real estate went to a company controlled by Roman Abramovich. The Russian government says that it will loan paintings from its museums for a major exhibition at London’s Royal Academy after all, following fast-tracked British legislation to protect the art from seizure.Foreigners are having difficulty dealing with Viktor Zubkov’s tough new rules on multiple-entry business visas. The Israeli Embassy in Moscow has said that it will soon begin returning former Russian property to the Russian Federation.(PHOTO: A street vendor offers traditional Russian wooden Matreshka doll depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin and his favored successor First Deputy Premier and presidential candidate Dmitry Medvedev, left, in Moscow, Friday, Dec. 21, 2007. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze))