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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – July 11, 2008

110708.jpgTODAY: More UK-Russia rows; population problems threaten economic security; Kasparov in the FT; new democratic political program; regulations for setting up NGOs “more complicated” than those for companies; Russia-Georgia conflict shows no signs of improving. Adding to an already teeming list of “tit-for-tat accusations”, Yuri Fedotov, Russia’s ambassador in Britain, has accused the media of running an organised anti-Moscow campaign, and demanded a government response, after Whitehall sources accused the Kremlin of being involved in the death of Alexander Litvinenko on the same day that prime minister Gordon Brown met with Dmitry Medvedev to try and improve relations. One newspaper says that Britain is trying to “defuse” the row by “playing down” the claims. Another argues that Russia’s tactics will harm its future prosperity. Meanwhile Russia has “ignited a new row”, accusing British diplomat Chris Bowers of espionage. “Britain and Russia have uniquely bad relations with each other.” Russia’s shrinking population “poses a serious threat to future economic growth and security”. A government incentive for mothers giving birth on Russia day supposedly saw “labor artificially induced on a mass scale.

Garry Kasparov writes in today’s Financial Times, criticizing Henry Kissinger’s recent suggestion that the US “give Russia some space”. Russia’s democratic opposition has released a new political program recommending a new course for the country. The Russian Peoples Democratic Union, an opposition party led by former-premier Mikhail Kasyanov, will hold its fourth party congress in Moscow today.“NGOs have complained that setting up a noncommercial organization in Russia has become more complicated and expensive than setting up a company.” Russia says that the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague is “biased” should be phased out as soon as possible.Georgian authorities have withdrawn their ambassador from Russia in response to Russia’s admission that it had sent fighter jets into Georgia’s airspace to prevent troops attacking a separatist region. Russia has rejected US demands that it defuse the conflict.PHOTO: President Dmitry Medvedev (right) shakes hands with Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown in Toyako on July 7. Brown said he told Medvedev at the G8 summit that the issue of ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko’s death in London “would not be closed”. (AFP/File/Natalia Kolesnikova)