RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Jan 30th, 2009

300109.jpgTODAY: Putin’s policies questioned; complicated ownership structures keep developments anonymous; former Mayor to be extradited to Moscow; Lavrov on EU security; missile debate exposes Poland’s security concerns.

Alexander Lebedev, who has just purchased London’s Evening Standard newspaper, said that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s strategy for economic recovery is based on cronyism and is fueling corruption‘We have two Putins.  There are lots of words, but the system doesn’t work,’ he said.  Former US President Bill Clinton, speaking at the World Economic Forum, jokingly referred to Putin’s opening speech, which warned against state economic intervention.  ‘This is the first I’ve heard of Prime Minister Putin coming out for free enterprise.  I hope it works for him.’  Three activists from the banned National Bolshevik party apparently stormed one of Putin’s offices to accuse him of ignoring the plight of ordinary people in the economic slowdown by bailing out ‘banks and oligarchs’.  The protesters ‘demanded a meeting with Putin,’ said one.  ‘I have no doubt that our demands will be put on Putin’s desk.’

The case of the Bolshoi Utrish nature reserve, which has been the subject of protests and pickets by environmental activists who want the area protected from developers, ‘highlights the increasingly frequent practice of using complicated ownership structures and contract arrangements to mask who is behind development projects’.  An Austrian court has ruled to extradite former Stavropol Mayor Dmitry Kuzmin, who fled Russia in 2007 amid corruption charges and requested political asylum in Austria.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov writes in today’s Guardian, proposing a new treaty on European security that would ‘open the way for a more effective dialogue than the one provided by the OSCE format’.

Russia’s reported decision to halt the deployment of missiles on the Baltic Sea has exposed Polish and Czech security concerns‘If the United States gives up now, it would mean the whole security situation in this part of Europe was subject to Moscow’s diktats,’ said the head of the Polish National Security Bureau.

On the Soviet automobile

PHOTO: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, pictured in Moscow, said Barack Obama’s inauguration as US president created an opportunity to forge a “new era of co-operation” in the world, in an article published today Friday. (AFP/File/Alexander Nemenov)