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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Feb. 7, 2008

070208.jpgTODAY: Conflicting reports on Vasily Aleksanyan’s situation. Russia expresses doubts over Iran’s test launch. US Energy Department is funding Russia’s support of Iran. Possible problems with Russia’s WTO accession. It is being reported that Russia’s prison service has bowed to international pressure and agreed to transfer Vasily Aleksanyan to a specialist clinic after the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg issued three instructions to the Russian authorities. However, Yelena Lvova, one of Aleksanyan’s legal team, said she had not been informed of the decision to move her client to a clinic, and one UK newspaper is reporting that Aleksanyan has, in fact, been denied treatment, with another saying that he will not be transferred to a specialist clinic. Another Russian source says that Aleksanyan will receive treatment but will not be released from detention. The BBC has picked up on Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s interview with the Financial Times.

Russia has commented on Iran’s test launch of a rocket, raising “rare public doubts” and suspicions about the real nature of the country’s atomic program, “in what could signal a hardening of its stance toward Tehran.” It is being reported that the Russian nuclear institutes building parts of Iran’s nuclear reactor are in fact being funded by the US Energy Department.Representatives from OSCE’s election-monitoring arm have arrived in Moscow, although complaints and disagreements over monitoring conditions remain. New research from VsTIOM reveals that Russia’s boost in consumerism is coupled with the fact that loans are increasing and fewer Russians are saving money.Although Russia has already travelled a long way to enter the WTO, there are many more obstacles to be overcome before it becomes a full member, and “if Russia fails to resolve all these problems before Ukraine joins the WTO, its own entry may be delayed for a long time.” First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will hold a conference in Khabarovsk on social and economic development in the Far East and the Trans-Baikal region. Uzbek President Islam Karimov has met with President Putin in a visit that underlines “special relations” between the two countries. Putin has offered new talks to resolve the fate of four islands seized from Japan in the closing days of World War Two.“It is amazing how quickly everyone has lost interest in Putin.PHOTO: Former Yukos vice-president Vasily Alexanian sits in the defendant’s cage during his court hearing in Moscow February 5, 2008. (REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin)