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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – July 10, 2008

100708.jpgTODAY: Russia “upset” over US missile shield; is Medvedev changing his mind on Zimbabwe?; Rice in Georgia, rattling Russia; Moscow awaiting explanation from Britain on Litvinenko claims. Russia is “extremely upset” about the signing of an accord between Prague and the United States over the latter’s missile defense shield, and will “not be hysterical”, but intends to take “retaliatory steps”, said Dmitry Medvedev. The Czech deputy prime minister responded to Russia’s early threats of retaliation, saying “The policy of threats has no place in the Europe of today. Russia should calm down.” Medvedev appears not to be signaling the “softer Kremlin line” that many had hoped for ahead of the G8. His success at the summit “was decidedly mixed”, says one report. Despite an apparent agreement on Zimbabwe by G8 leaders, Dmitry Medvedev is showing signs of changing his mind, postponing a vote on sanctions until tomorrow. One Russian reporter writes, “the mystical aura around Putin has vanished, and Medvedev has not been able to fill his shoes.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is in Georgia, calling for Russia to resolve tensions in the rebel regions. Georgia accused Russia of violating its airspace in order to undermine Rice’s visit.Russia’s London ambassador says Moscow is awaiting an explanation from Britain on allegations that Russia’s secret service had a role in the London killing of ex-agent Alexander Litvinenko. Finland says it supports Russia’s plans to join the World Trade Organisation, despite an ongoing trade battle over wood tariffs. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will visit Russia this month to discuss purchasing tanks and other military equipment.A 3 km bridge joining the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok to Russky Island, promised by former President Vladimir Putinto mark the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in 2012, may not be finished in time.PHOTO: Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili speaks with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during their meeting in Tbilisi, Wednesday, July 9, 2008. Rice began Wednesday a 17-hour visit to Georgia. The former Soviet state is in a violent standoff with Russia over a breakaway region called Abkhazia. (AP Photo/Irakly Gedenidze, Presidential Press Service, Pool)