RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Jan 13th, 2009

130109.jpgTODAY: Gazprom resumes gas supply to Europe but says Ukraine is blocking deliveries; Putin responds to Medvedev criticism; troubled times for NGOs in Russia; Freedom House report sparks debate on authoritarian states.

‘Everything is fine,’ said Gazprom, which resumed full exports to the European Union today, expecting gas to reach EU borders late tomorrow.  But new reports quote Gazprom as saying that Ukraine has blocked deliveries to Europe once again, with Ukraine insisting that Gazprom has switched the transit route.  ‘We don’t know what to do at the moment’. Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin offered ‘my sympathy to the citizens of the European countries that suffered as a result of the so-called gas blackmail on the part of Ukraine’.  The Moscow Times outlines some of the disputed points in yesterday’s Ukrainian declaration, which is said to have stalled the agreement.  One analyst says that, until a long-term strategy is put into place, Europe will see a gas crisis every year

Supposedly in a nod to criticism from President Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has announced that he is changing the rules under which ministries prepare documents and cooperate on joint projects.  Listen to a BBC Radio program in which a former world judo champion tries to discover how judo has influenced the character of Vladimir Putin.

NGOs based in Russia are finding it increasingly difficult to raise money, due to confusion over tax exemptions and worries that broad social unrest will cause the authorities to tighten regulations.  A new report from Freedom House on authoritarian regimes has just been released.  Russia’s ‘authoritarian capitalist’ conception of democracy survives, suggests the Washington Post, thanks to performance legitimacy‘As long as they deliver the economic goods, most of their citizens may be willing to accept the accompanying limits on their political freedom.’

PHOTO: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting with Czech Republic’s Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek (not pictured) in Novo Ogaryovo outside Moscow January 10, 2009. (Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters)