RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Jan. 29, 2008

290108.jpgTODAY: Gorbachev criticizes Putin and electoral system. Russia to limit foreign election monitors. Mogilevich to be charged this week. Russia unveils new military uniform. Following the rejection of Mikhail Kasyanov as a presidential candidate, Mikhail Gorbachev, the former and final leader of the Soviet Union, has criticized the state of Russia’s electoral system and called for extensive reforms to a system that has secured power for President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin’s inner circle. “Something is wrong with our elections, and our electoral system needs a major adjustment,” he said. Russia is to limit foreign monitors at its presidential election in March to half the number that observed the last presidential poll in 2004. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or OSCE, will be restricted to just 70 observers, less than a quarter of its quota in 2004. Democratic candidate Andrei Bogdanov says he hopes to win as much as 25% of the vote.

Dmitry Medvedev has decided not to take part in campaign debates on radio and TV ahead of the March 2 poll, choosing to focus instead on “meeting voters face-to-face.” One newspaper is running a story on Medvedev’s meeting last year with Deep Purple rocker Joe Lynn Turner.Suspected crime boss Semyon Mogilevich is to be charged with large-scale tax evasion tomorrow. Investigative journalist Oleg Lurye, “famous for losing high-profile libel cases and incurring heavy fines from courts,” has been arrested on charges of extortion and fraud. The Foreign Intelligence Service has blasted allegations by former double agent Sergei Tretyakov that Russian spies helped the government siphon $500 million from the UN’s oil-for-food program, calling them “PR for treason”.PHOTO: A model displays a new style for the winter uniform of woman in Russia’s army, during a presentation of new Russian military uniform in the Defense Ministry, Moscow, Monday, Jan. 28, 2008. The new dress of Russia’s Army, Navy and Air Force was created by Moscow fashion designers, including Yudashkin, and is based on the national military uniform’s traditions. (AP Photo)