RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Feb. 21, 2008

210208.jpgTODAY: Russia sets up new democracy think tank abroad; Adamov sentenced. Putin and Medvedev unveil $1bn aviation project; Medvedev is “ignoring” the presidential race; Russia expresses concern over US missile. Hot on the heels of news that Kenneth Roth, the head of international rights group Human Rights Watch, was denied a Russian visa, comes a report that Russia has set up a new think tank with offices in New York and Paris to “monitor the situation on human rights and democracy in the West.” Meanwhile, a Russian journalist who wrote an article comparing President Vladimir Putin with Adolf Hitler could now face criminal charges, on grounds that this article contained calls “to change the present constitutional order”. After finding him guilty of abuse of office and defrauding Russia, Zamoskvoretsky District Court sentenced former Nuclear Power Minister Yevgeny Adamov to 5.5 years in prison. Adamov’s lawyer said the case against his client had been fabricated.

Aviation has always been the pride of our country. The innovative development of our economy is impossible without aviation.” So said Putin as he and Dmitry Medvedev visited Russia’s main flight test center, unveiling a plan to help revive the aircraft industry with a project worth more than $1 billion. Medvedev has been accused of “ignoring” the presidential race. One political analyst says that Medvedev is “concealing his inexperience”. Another says “the absence of a real campaign makes Russia look like a democracy in name only”.Billboards around the city show Mayor Yury Luzhkov urging Moscow residents to vote on March 2 – for Medvedev. As governors are appointed and dismissed by the president, one newspaper says that many of them are viewing the vote “as an opportunity to show Medvedev their loyalty.”Russia has expressed concern after a missile from a US Navy warship hit a defunct US spy satellite 133 nautical miles above the Earth, saying that such an operation “could be used as cover to test a new space weapon.”PHOTO: Construction workers stand on the roof of a building, as an election poster depicting President Vladimir Putin, left, and First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, right, is seen in the foreground, in St. Petersburg, Russia, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)