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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Feb. 26, 2008

260208.jpgTODAY: Will the Putin/Medvedev working relationship survive? EU to agree on principles for sovereign wealth funds. Russia’s military and healthcare under attack.The unfortunate reality is that duty rather than interest will take Russians to the polling stations this Sunday.” Analysts say that a breakdown in the working relationship between Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev in the roles of president and prime minister “could destroy the stability the arrangement is supposed to safeguard.” Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves warned that, on the eve of its presidential election, Russia might be sliding into dictatorship, and said that the current mentality reminds him “of the Weimar republic”. Andrei Bogdanov, meanwhile, has been campaigning “with his grandmother”.

The European Union is to agree on “a set of principles for transparency, predictability and accountability” for Sovereign Wealth Funds, which, it is expected, will affect funds for oil exporters in the Middle East, Norway and Russia. 15% of Russia’s reserve fund and national prosperity fund – more than $20 billion – could be invested in securities outlined by US and EU authorities.Vladimir Putin has drawn attention to “the state of the military” by bringing military issues “to the fore”, says one report that focuses on poor conditions and attacks on conscripts. A report on Russia’s healthcare system says that its hospitals are “understaffed, poorly equipped and rife with corruption.”Alexander Ivanov has revealed why he spent $17.7 million on a Fabergé egg. “Our mission is to bring Russian art back to Russia,” he said.PHOTO: A performer wearing polar bear costume campaigns for Russian First Deputy Premier and presidential hopeful Dmitry Medvedev in the Pacific port of Vladivostok, about 6,400 km (4,000 miles) east of Moscow, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2008. The poster in the background depicts Medevedev and reads: ‘Dmitry Medvedev. Russia, go forward!’ (AP Photo)