RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Feb. 5, 2008

050208.jpgTODAY: Medvedev outlines his vision for Russia. Vasily Aleksanyan goes on trial, is “nearly blind”. Moscow lawyer applies for political asylum in the US. Putin is in Dagestan, Zubkov is in Armenia. Presidential candidate and Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov has urged Russia to concentrate on its internal problems rather than foreign policy at the moment, and criticized the upcoming elections. “Elections in Russia can’t be fair, because privatization itself was unfair, because everything has been stolen and because thieves can’t call fair elections.” Meanwhile, Dmitry Medvedev is outlining his vision for Russia which “bears little resemblance to the country his patron, Vladimir Putin, governed for eight years,” promising support of non-governmental organizations and a strong fight against corruption. A summary of the other candidates’ television adverts can be found here.

Vasily Aleksanyan, the former vice president of oil giant Yukos, is to go on trial today on charges of embezzlement. He is still understood to be suffering health complications and is “nearly blind”. Russia’s human rights ombudsman has called for an independent medical examination. Moscow lawyer Boris Kuznetsov, who has lived in New Jersey for the last several months, and who is suspected of revealing state secrets in Russia, has applied for political asylum in the United States, claiming that persecution by the FSB made it impossible to live in Russia.Putin made a surprise visit to a military unit in Dagestan this week, “where fighting in 1999 led to the Chechen war that first propelled him to popularity.” Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov is on a two-day official visit to Armenia to discuss economic cooperation.PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin travels on a helicopter in Russia’s North Caucasus region February 4, 2008. Putin made a rare visit to the turbulent North Caucasus region on Monday to show support for forces fighting predominantly Muslim rebels. Picture taken February 4, 2008. REUTERS/RIA Novosti/Kremlin (RUSSIA)