RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Feb. 8, 2008

080208.jpgTODAY: Russia run by the KGB? OSCE to boycott presidential elections. Aleksanyan to receive treatment in a civilian clinic. Polish Prime Minister in Russia for “rough” talks. According to one sociologist, “an astounding 78% of the country’s leadership has links to the KGB or FSB.” As expected, observers from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) have announced that they will boycott next’s month’s presidential election – “the least competitive in Russian history” – because of “severe restrictions and concerns over the fairness of [the] poll.” “We have a responsibility to all 56 participating states to fulfil our mandate, and the Russian Federation has created limitations that are not conducive to undertaking election observation in accordance with it,” said a spokesman. Andrei Bogdanov’s Democratic party is “widely seen as a Kremlin-controlled project to draw votes away from actual opposition candidates and give voters a tame liberal option.

It is being reported that terminally ill Vasily Aleksanyan “will be transferred from a detention center infirmary to a specialized civilian clinic for medical treatment”. Aleksanyan’s lawyer, Yelena Lvova, said her client had not been given any information as to where and when he would be transferred. Another story regarding the Federal Prison Service and the withholding of medical treatment can be found here. The Moscow Times has picked up on Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s interview with the Financial Times. It is being reported that Israeli officials “mistakenly sent confidential files about fugitive former Yukos co-owner Leonid Nevzlin to Russia’s anti-money laundering watchdog.”Vladimir Putin will outline his view of Russia’s long-term development at today’s State Council meeting. Today’s annual Munich Conference on Security Policy will be attended by First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov after Putin delivered “a blistering speech to last year’s conference”.Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk will meet Russian leaders in Moscow today “with the hope of tackling a number of difficult issues” including the US missile defense base, and analysts are predicting that Tusk will have a “rough time”. A Polish reporter covering Tusk’s visit was “briefly detained by Russian officials”.Mitt Romney, pulling out of the campaign to be the Republican US presidential candidate, named Putin as a “key danger” to America. A word of the year has been chosen for Russia – ‘glamour’ – reflecting the increase of prosperity and luxury spending in the country. Today is Russia’s Day of Science.PHOTO: Russian policemen on horseback ride past a presidential election poster in Moscow. (AFP/Dima Korotayev)