TODAY: Medvedev publishes income declaration. Putin and Medvedev could “take turns” to run Russia. Kasyanov’s chief campaigner is detained. Pensions and public sector wages could be raised. Russia weighs in on Israel-Palestine conflict. Dmitry Medvedev’s official income declaration published on the election commission website reveals that the presidential candidate does not own his own car, and was paid about $71,000 in pay per year over the past four years. “The Russian media has treated such declarations of income with much scorn.” Medvedev is now officially registered as a presidential candidate, but his touring of Russian regions already this year is perceived by some Russian journalists as the work of “President Vladimir Putin’s de facto successor [rather than of] a presidential candidate”. According to one senior Kremlin official, “Putin and his favored successor Dmitry Medvedev could take turns to run Russia for another quarter of a century”.
Ex-Russian prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov, who is also attempting to run for president, is running into difficulties over allegations that signatures on his support petitions were forged. Kasyanov’s chief campaigner has been detained. Kasyanov has accused the Kremlin of trying to sabotage his election bid. One UK journalist says that “the Russians have not been happy with the activities of the British Council for several years”. A new National Information Center aimed at improving Russia’s image abroad is set to open in central Moscow next month and “could be overseen by a friend and judo partner of President Vladimir Putin.” Russia may use $14.10 billion in extra 2008 revenues and savings to raise pensions and public sector wages. Later this year, the Kremlin is to revive “the Soviet-era practice of parading its big weaponry”.Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has told the Hamas movement to stop Palestinian groups firing rockets into Israel and called for an end to confrontation to allow progress toward peace, and has urged Israel to lift its Gaza Strip blockade. Poland’s foreign minister signaled during his Russia visit that Warsaw could soon unblock Russia-EU partnership talks. “The greatest disappointment of the post-communist era has been the failure of the West — particularly Europe — to build a successful relationship with Russia.” Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin today to discuss bilateral trade and a settlement to the Transdnestr issue. Putin’s recent visit to Bulgaria was likely his last trip abroad as president — one journalist reviews his “globe-trotting” presidency.The Royal Academy exhibition of Russian work that caused so many disputes between the UK and Russian governments will finally open this week.PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin laughs with Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister and presidential candidate Dmitry Medvedev in Sofia, January 18, 2008. Putin and his favoured successor Medvedev could take turns to run Russia for another quarter of a century, a senior Kremlin ally said in an interview published on Monday. (Stoyan Nenov/Reuters)