RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – July 22, 2008

220708.jpgTODAY: Chavez in Moscow; Poland and US move forward on missile defense; Nashi looking for a new purpose; Kremlin to curb “dangerous” teen fashion; UN Ambassador moves to defend Sudanese president; postwar artists, heroin addicts, presidential portraits, Jehovah’s Witnesses. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is in Moscow for a visit that is expected to focus on arms trade and strengthening government ties. Chavez believes that cooperation with Russia “will guarantee the sovereignty of Venezuela, because we are now threatened by the United States.” The Moscow Times says Chavez is “unlikely to gain Kremlin support for his trademark attacks on the US”. Russia has put its fifth German satellite into orbit. Poland and the United States are “drawing closer” in their efforts to forge a deal on a US missile shield. President Dmitry Medvedev has reiterated his stance on the shield, saying that it would harm regional security. Russia’s pact with China over a border dispute resolves an issue that has been troubling the two countries “for more than three centuries”. This year’s summer camp for political youth group Nashi included “included a wedding of 20 couples who were then told to go and procreate to solve Russia’s demographic crisis”. The group is said to be losing focus now that Medvedev is president, and organizers are “struggling to find a new purpose”. The Kremlin may pass a new bill aimed at curbingdangerous teen trends” – such as goth fashion.

Russia’s veto of sanctions on Zimbabwe was “a strategic blunder”, says one reporter. Russia’s UN Ambassador has urged the UN Security Council to consider suspending a war crimes indictment of Sudan’s president. Russia has denied reports that it is selling arms to Sudan, with a defense industry source saying, “no Russian arms were sold to this country after the UN imposed its sanctions.”Officials and state company bosses are apparently confused over whose portrait they are to hang in their offices – Medvedev’s, or Putin’s? And if both, in what arrangement? Roman Abramovich is funding a retrospective of Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, “Russia’s most expensive postwar artists”. Authorities have reportedly begun pressuring Jehovah’s Witness groups amid concerns that they are an “extremist” group. Read an interview with the US deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs on Georgia and Abkhazia. Russia has an estimated 3-6 million heroin addicts, but the subject of methadone is “all but taboo”.PHOTO: Members of the pro-Kremlin Nashi youth movement on Lake Seliger. (AFP/Natalia Kolesnikova)