Today: Russia’s relations wtih UK and Ukraine in trouble; Greenpeace Russia to focus on Kyoto Protocol and possibly sue the IOC; Moscow’s building boom; movie-going culture on the up. The British Council says that its legal position in Russia is “rock solid” despite facing pressure and accusations that its continued activities are “illegal”. The council’s offices are due to reopen on January 14, after holiday closure, but Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said in a statement that Russia expects the operations to be permanently closed and “any other actions would be provocative and build up bilateral tensions.” Ukraine’s government is asking the United Nations to recognize the 1932 famine as an act of genocide, “worsening already frosty relations with Russia”.
US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill to visit Russia this week in relation to Korean nuclear issues. Russian forces are expected to participate in large-scale, multinational naval exercises, sponsored by the US Navy, in waters off Hawaii this year. Greenpeace Russia is to make climate change and the Kyoto Protocol a focus for 2008, and is planning to sue the International Olympic Committee if plans to build Olympic facilities at a Russian nature reserve go ahead.The latest addition to Moscow, emerging from the current building boom, is Crystal Island, a $4bn “city within a city” designed by a British architect and due to appear on the banks of the Moscow river, that has been likened to “a dahlia stuck in a string bag” by critics. Thanks to climate change, “not even a winter below zero and snowfalls that survive January thaws can be guaranteed in European Russia.” Movie-going culture in Russia has boomed in the last years, with Paramount now looking to move into Russia after the country went from being “our 25th biggest territory to the top ten”.PHOTO: A banner on climate change, installed by Greenpeace, hangs on a bridge near the Kremlin in Moscow December 7, 2007. REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin (RUSSIA)