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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – July 18, 2008

180708.jpgTODAY: Medvedev puts emphasis on technology’s role in halting corruption; 50,000 pieces missing from Russian museums; former Senator convicted of fraud; Russia and Georgia begin military exercises. Dmitry Medvedev has emphasized the government’s need for modern communications technology, and said that, if the government carried out more of its work online, it would make corruption more difficult to conceal. A government audit ordered by Vladimir Putin has revealed that up to 50,000 pieces worth “several million dollars” are missing from Russia’s museums. Russia’s Zimbabwe veto “recalls the bad old days,” says The Economist. Moscow City Court has convicted former Kalmykia Senator Levon Chakhmakhchyan of fraud and sentenced him to nine years in prison, amid promises from his lawyers to appeal and criticism that the trial was not made public.

Russia and Georgia have simultaneously started large-scale military exercises; Russia says its demonstrations were “pre-planned” and not connected with increasing tensions in the region. Germany has set out a three-stage plan aimed at ending conflict in Georgia’s breakaway regions.“Tens of thousands” marched yesterday to mark the 90th anniversary of the death of the royal family. It is hoped that Russia will lift a ban preventing HIV-positive visitors from entering the country. Read an interview with the State Duma deputy who planted Russia’s flag on the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. With a public vote on the greatest Russian coming to a choice between Czar Nicholas II and Joseph Stalin, the Times newspaper provides some background on the two.PHOTO: Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev inspects communication equipment in the Petrozavodsk city court in north Russia July 17, 2008. REUTERS/RIA Novosti/Pool