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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Feb. 19, 2008

190208.jpgTODAY: Medvedev accuses British Council of espionage; Kosovo leaves Russia isolated in Europe; former nuclear energy minister found guilty of fraud. Dmitry Medvedev says he backs the decision to close down the British Council’s outlets in St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg, and has “accused the British Council of espionage,” dashing “hopes for a swift resolution to the diplomatic crisis” between the two countries. “If someone allows you in their home, act decently,” he said. From now on, professional photography and filming in Moscow’s Red Square will require a permit from the Kremlin. Gennady Zyuganov’s campaign appears to be suffering

Both the United States and Britain have “given their formal blessing” to the independence of Kosovo. Russia has threatened to recognize the secession of South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgia, a former Soviet republic now allied with the West, as retaliation for the “dismemberment” of Serbian territory, saying that the acceptance by the West of an independent Kosovo gave Russia precisely that right. The US special envoy to Kosovo says that Russia’s position on Kosovo leaves it “severely isolated in Europe”. Poland has informed other EU members that it has lifted its veto on talks on a new Russia-EU partnership agreement that expired last December. Ukraine’s trade talks with the EU, started early this week, are “likely to further alienate Russia”.A Moscow court has found Russia’s former nuclear energy minister, Yevgeny Adamov, guilty of fraud and abuse of authority. Suspected crime boss Semyon Mogilevich, charged with tax evasion and wanted by the United States on fraud, racketeering and money laundering charges, has been refused bail in Moscow.Moscow’s claim to nearly half of the Arctic seabed is facing renewed protest from the US.One UK paper has picked up on yesterday’s Finans magazine rich list with a special report on Russia’s oligarchs.PHOTO: From left, Finnish car racer Mika Hakkinen, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian world vault-jump record-holder Yelena Isimbayeva attend the Laureus Sports Awards ceremony in the concert hall of the Mariinsky Opera and Ballet Theater, St. Petersburg, Russia, Monday, Feb. 18, 2008. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Presidential Press Service, Mikhail Klimentyev)