TODAY: Chávez receives warm welcome in Moscow, offers Russia a military base in Venezuela; Sochi residents clash with police; Putin has new United Russia office; Karadzic arrest is “internal matter”, says Russia; McCain weighs in on Czech energy. Dmitry Medvedev is optimistic about the prospects for Russia’s relationship with Venezuela. “Our cooperation is developing well enough and we’ve made a very serious move forwards,” he said. It is thought that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez would sign a $2bn arms deal with Russia for new missile defence systems and diesel-powered submarines. Chávez also extended a personal invitation to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to visit Caracas, and said that Russia would be “warmly welcomed” if it wanted to deploy a military base in his country. Sochi residents set to lose their houses to Olympic facilities have clashed with police, “armed with sticks and bottles of incendiary mixture”.
Vladimir Putin has a new United Russia office in Nizhny Novgorod and will begin work there this week. New proposals to reform Duma elections “might help return the Federation Council to its intended function of balancing regional interests.” The Russian government is to reconstruct the former residence of Czar Nicholas II, destroyed in World War II. Voting for the Name of Russia “shows how Russia is divided and confused over its 20th Century history,” says the BBC. Read a special report on the radical Russian artists’ group, Voina, whose aim is to “mock the establishment”.Russia’s foreign ministry says that the arrest of Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader wanted by the UN on charges of genocide, is an “exclusively internal matter for Serbia.” Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has arrived in Singapore to participate in meetings at an annual forum of southeast Asian nations (ASEAN), and for six-nation talks on the North Korean nuclear problem.“As a prosperous bloc of nearly 500 million citizens, the EU ought to find it relatively easy to maintain balanced and healthy relations with a neighbour of 130 million.” US presidential candidate John McCain has reiterated concern about Russia with regard to recent Czech energy disruptions. Georgian and Russian diplomats have clashed in a recent debate over the alleged Russian violation of Georgian airspace.PHOTO: President Hugo Chávez met President Dmitri A. Medvedev and called for a strategic partnership against the United States. (Alexander Nemenov, source: New York Times)