RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Feb. 6, 2008

060208.jpgTODAY: Two political opponents of the Kremlin associated with Kasparov are harassed, one receives asylum, another is held in a psychiatric ward. Aleksanyan will not be released from jail for treatment. US worried that Russia could use financial clout to achieve political goals. OSCE may refuse to monitor next elections. Roman Nikolaichik, an anti-Kremlin activist and parliamentary candidate for The Other Russia, is being held in an isolation ward at a psychiatric hospital in Busharevoin in what supporters say is “a return to a Soviet-era punishment.” Ukrainian officials have granted asylum to Aleksandr Kosvintsev, a Russian journalist who alleges that he was harassed in his home country after taking up a leadership role with a political opposition group affiliated with Garry Kasparov. A Russian court has suspended the trial of Vasily Aleksanyan, the ailing former executive of the dismantled oil giant Yukos, but refused to release him from jail for treatment. His lawyer said he could not get proper treatment in custody and the Moscow-based group For Human Rights denounced the ruling as a “demonstration of the government’s inexorable cruelty.

The Human Rights branch of the OSCE could refuse to monitor Russia’s upcoming presidential elections over a disagreement about when monitoring will start. The Central Election Commission is looking at revising election regulations for 2011.A top US spy chief says that the United States is worried that Russia, China and OPEC oil-producing countries could use their growing financial clout to advance political goals. A new study from Military Balance 2008 predicts that Russia may abandon a landmark arms control treaty that helped end the Cold War and eliminated medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe. Russia considers Brazil “one of its key partners in Latin America”, and the two countries are to take steps to confirm their “strategic partnership in various spheres”.President Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the Sports Council, emphasizing the need for “a new generation” of engineering facilities for the Olympics. Russian vodka drinking is on the decline, but beer drinking is becoming increasingly popular, according to the National Alcohol Association.PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin drives a car as he inspects a tunnel – part of a highway, which will surround Russian Black Sea port of Sochi by the beginning of the 2014 Winter Olympics, on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008. Premier Viktor Zubkov sits at left. (AP Photo/ RIA Novosti, Mikhail Klimentyev, Presidential Press Service)