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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – July 1, 2008

010708.jpgTODAY: Khodorkovsky’s former inmate tells of prison officials’ corruption; Russia appears on new corruption ranking; EU to start new Russia talks this week; US Treasury Secretary meets with Putin and Medvedev. A former inmate of Mikhail Khodorkovsky has revealed that prison officials threatened to deny him conditional release unless he falsely accused the former Yukos head of breaking prison rules. The Interior Ministry’s top official in Stavropol is under investigation for “conducting illegal surveillance and abuse of office”. A new report by Transparency International ranks Russia 145th out of 160 of the world’s most corrupt countries, as reported by The Other Russia. Read the full report here. An open letter published in Russia’s New Times magazine asks President Dmitry Medvedev to grant Russian citizenship to journalist Natalya Morar: “This would really prove that [your promise to] fight legal nihilism and corruption are not just words.

Russia and the EU will begin further talks on a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement in Brussels on July 4. Abkhazia will seal itself off from Georgian territory after a series of explosions. “It’s definitely Georgia which is behind all this — they see our republic developing, strengthening ties with Russia.” Following his trip to Russia, US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said that lifting a Cold War-era restriction on trade with Russia when it joins the World Trade Organization would lead to “opposition in the Congress”.A “skinhead” gang has been charged with the racist murders of 20 people during a series of brutal attacks in Moscow. Russian buyers and artists are boosting prices in the art market.PHOTO: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visits the exhibition ‘Samurai, Treasures of the Japanese Daimyo,’ in the Moscow Kremlin, Monday, June 30, 2008. (AP Photo/Alexander Natruskin, Pool)