RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Dec. 7, 2007

Dec 7, 2007

Russian President Vladimir Putin stands in his office in the presidential residence at Novo-Ogaryovo outside Moscow December 6, 2007. Putin’s United Russia party will name its candidate for next year’s presidential election at a congress on December 17, party leader Boris Gryzlov said on Friday. (Photo: REUTERS/RIA-Novosti/Kremlin)

Today: The Communist Party refuse to recognize the election result; the BBC express concern over staff attacks in Moscow; the Russia-NATO Council meets in Brussels; and a leading banker at VTB is found dead at his home.

The Communist Party are refusing to recognize the results of the recent elections, and will hold protest actions later this month, including a march. Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces will support the party in court. The party has dropped its threat to boycott the next parliament. United Russia is expected to name its presidential candidate at a convention later this month. Party leader Boris Gryzlov said he is sure that the United Russia nominee for president will win in the first round. A Just Russia party will not nominate its own presidential candidate. For the time being, President Vladimir Putin is not going to take a seat in the State Duma, although he is allowed one by law. The BBC World Service is “extremely concerned” about attacks made on three of its staff in Moscow, due to the possibility that the men had been targeted because of their connections with the corporation. “Although we have no evidence to suggest that the attacks were motivated by the victims’ employment by the BBC, we are exploring that possibility.” The attacks “could have been linked to the BBC’s coverage of demonstrations in Moscow by The Other Russia.”The Federal Customs Service is to correct a number of legislative loopholes that cause losses of $24.4 million every two months from oil exports alone. Rosneft is aiming to start production at its giant Vankor oil field in eastern Siberia next year despite minor delays in building. Mercury, a Russian business group with interests in liquor, oil, real estate and weapons making, has made its first investment in retail, taking a 51% stake in the Dixy supermarket chain. Novatek will not take part in Libya’s first tender for geological exploration and production of natural gas, sparking speculation that Lukoil may take part instead. Mondi Group, the paper and packaging company, is to spend $767 million expanding its Syktyvkar pulp and paper mill in Russia. An explosion in Ukraine has taken one of the main pipelines exporting Russian natural gas to the European Union out of service.Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov is in Hungary for inter-governmental consultations designed to boost economic ties. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has left for Brussels to take part in the Russia-NATO Council. US missile defense plans in Europe, NATO’s eastward expansion and Russia’s suspension of a key arms treaty will dominate the agenda. Speaking in Washington this week, Condoleezza Rice said that it would be “regrettable” if Russia ultimately decided not to return to the CFE Treaty. She also indicated that US plans to station the missile defense shield in the countries bordering the former USSR in Central Europe could be reconsidered to meet Russia’s requirements, but Chief of Russian General Staff, Yury Baluevsky, says the countries have failed to make any progress on missile defence talks. “They did not hear us, nor did they want to listen to what we had to say.” Transparency International has released a Global Corruption Barometer Survey based on polls in 60 countries worldwide. Russia was given a middle rating, with its educational and healthcare institutions being regarded as the most corrupt. Reports that Putin will sign an agreement to head a new state uniting Russia and ex-Soviet neighbor Belarus are “speculative fantasies.”Investigators are probing the death of a top manager at Russia’s second largest bank VTB, who was found with his arms and legs bound in a swimming pool. Russian television said police were probing a possible suicide. Oleg Zhukovsky had headed state-run lending operations in Russia’s $19 billion a year logging industry.