RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Jan. 9, 2008

090108.jpgTODAY: 16-yr old activist attacked; Sarkozy defends Putin’s election; are corruption charges driving Putin’s political ambition?; Poland expects imports to be resumed; Russia tries to claim back its overseas Orthodox churches. One Russian newspaper is reporting that a 16-year-old activist who participated in an Other Russia rally protesting the State Duma elections was beaten outside her home. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has defended his congratulation of Vladimir Putin following the recent Russian elections. “It is ridiculous to hold against Mr Putin an election when absolutely all its international observers will tell you that he is the most popular politician in Russia.

One columnist says that the reason Putin does not want to retire from politics is that “serious accusations of corruption and grand larceny have been raised against him,” and if he retired, “no legal guarantees of amnesty could be plausible.”Meat imports have been resumed, but Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk also expects Russia to lift the remaining ban on imports of Polish agricultural products during his visit to Moscow in February. A December survey by Czech polling group CCVM reveals that the number of Czech citizens who feel negatively about the placement of American missile defense facilities in the Czech Republic has risen to 70%.Russian fighter jets, helicopters and warships have held maneuvers in the central Mediterranean, in a boost of Russia’s naval presence in the region. Ownership disputes are arising over Russian Orthodox churches outside of Russia, with Russia reportedly trying to “claim back” a Cathedral in Nice that was initially built for Russians who vacationed or settled on the French Riviera.PHOTO: President Vladimir Putin looks on in Troitsky (the Trinity) Cathedral while touring Orthodox Troitse-Gledensky monastery just outside the ancient Russian town of Veliky Ustyug, in the Vologda region, about 300 miles (500 km) north of Moscow, Monday, Jan. 7, 2008. (AP Photo/ RIA Novosti, Dmitry Astakhov, Presidential Press Service)