RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Feb 20th, 2009

200209.jpgTODAY: Responses to Politkovskaya verdict; Khodorkovsky to be moved to Moscow ahead of trial; Russia to supply grain to Brazil? US-Russia relations, reflections on Kyrgyz base closure; Medvedev reassures the military.

The unanimous ‘not guilty’ verdict on the Anna Politkovskaya trial, reports the Moscow Times, ‘won praise from Politkovskaya’s family for not accepting what they called a poorly investigated case’, despite the fact that Politkovskaya’s son believes the suspects ‘were involved in the murder’.  Video from the close of the trial can be found here, and includes a statement from the defendents’ lawyer, Murat Musayev, who emphasised the importance of catching the ‘real criminals’.  The media freedom representative from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said that Russia’s failure to solve cases such as Politkovskaya’s amounts to ‘a human rights crisis.  The US announced that it regretted that the murder remains unsolved.  Former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky will be moved to Moscow this month, ahead of his trial on March 3.

US President Barack Obama may wish to reshape foreign policy, but ‘there can never be normal US-Russian relations as long as […] the US continues to embrace and support anti-Russian leaders in Georgia, Ukraine and other former Soviet republics,’ writes Yevgeny Bazhanov, Russia’s former Foreign Minister.  Sergei Lavrov, the current Foreign Minister ‘set a tough tone for nuclear arms control talks, saying he hoped for ‘realistic approaches’ from the US.  Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that the United States might consider increasing payments to Kyrgyzstan for access to its crucial air base there, after the Kyrgyz government voted yesterday to close it down.  Other routes via Latvia and Estonia are currently being explored.  Kyrgyzstan’s former ambassador to the United States says his country gained from having the base on its territory’.

The State Duma could be about to pass a bill that would punish ‘any unlawful or unsanctioned copying of text, music or pictures from the Internet [with] criminal prosecution of up to six years in prison’Boris Kagarlitsky calls the bill ‘one enormous typographical error’.  President Dmitry Medvedev has sought to reassure the military that its ‘credibility […] will be kept at the highest level’ despite the economic crisis, saying that he aimed to maintain funding for new weapons programs and equipment.  Speculation continues about the possibility of Medvedev overhauling the government with his new personnel appointments.

PHOTO: Karinna Moskalenko (R), the lawyer for murdered Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, and Politkovskaya’s daughter Vera (L) and son Ilya (C) stand outside a Moscow court. (AFP/Alexey Sazonov)