TODAY: Medvedev wants 24-hour farming TV; advertising firms being coerced for billboard space in run-up to elections. News of Patarkatsishvili death hits the British press; Yushchenko to pass law on military bases following Putin’s threats. President Vladimir Putin said that it would be “absolutely unacceptable” for him to stay in power after his second Presidential term ends. Presidential candidate Dmitry Medvedev has called for a 24-hour television channel on farming. Executives at two Russian advertising firms say they are being “coerced” by authorities into providing billboard space for United Russia.
Badri Patarkatsishvili is “the latest in a series of former Soviet Union exiles and their associates whose deaths in Britain raised suspicions over the activities of the Russian security service and its allies,” says one UK story. It has been revealed that he was friends with Boris Berezovsky. Patarkatsishvili’s death, says another, “threatens a new crisis in Anglo-Russian diplomatic relations”. The billionaire is being reported as having died “of natural causes” despite early reports that it was “suspicious”. “Britain has become the home of the new Russian diaspora.”The chief prosecutor of the Russian Volga region of Saratov, who was responsible for new regional laws initiated to fight corruption, has been “gunned down in a contract-style killing”.European trade chief Peter Mandelson is in Moscow, and is to tell Russian leaders that Brussels will do all it can to finalize the country’s accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The country still faces some opposition – Georgian officials, for example, object to Russian membership in part because Moscow has banned imports of Georgian wine.The Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has promised to pass a law outlawing Nato military bases on his country’s territory just a day after Vladimir Putin had threatened to point nuclear missiles at Ukraine if the country joined the alliance. Referring to Vladimir Putin’s comments, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the “reprehensible rhetoric that is coming out of Moscow is unacceptable”.Russia has launched its first new-generation nuclear submarine since the fall of the Soviet Union.PHOTO: A woman stands in front of a poster, showing Russian President Vladimir Putin and presidential candidate Dmitry Medvedev, near Kremlin in Moscow February 13, 2008. REUTERS/Thomas Peter