RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – July 24, 2008

240708.pngTODAY: Venezuela says media distorted Chávez comments; Russian bomber crews land in Cuba, defying US; Medvedev admits that government posts are up for sale; Putin delegates to federal structures; international elections monitors are spies, says Russia’s CEC; Storchak makes public appeal; Nashi “hates” Estonia. Venezuela says the media, in reports like this one, distorted President Hugo Chávez’s words on his trip to Russia this week, and that his potential “welcoming” of Russian warships related to “a possible friendly visit” as opposed to a permanent deployment. Analysts say that a Russian military base in Venezuela is, in any case, “highly improbable”. Russian bomber crews have landed in Cuba to prepare for stationing nuclear bombers there, defying a US Air Force general’s warning that doing so would cross a “red line”. The Cuban President Raul Castro has kept silent on the matter. President Dmitry Medvedev has publicly acknowledged the “outrageous” practice of selling government posts, and intends to tackle the problem by handpicking bureaucrats and senior officials. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has implemented a new decision-making structure for the government under which more than 400 responsibilities have been transferred from the government to lower-level federal structures – to “save time”.

A member of the Central Electoral Commission has reportedly alleged, in a radio interview, that some international elections monitors from the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe are Western spies. Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak has made a public appeal, saying that even after eight months of custody he has not been properly questioned. Prosecutors are demanding life imprisonment for former Yukos co-owner Leonid Nevzlin on “baseless and politically motivated” charges.The New York Times implies that Russia may be behind recent attacks on Lithuanian websites. The two countries have just signed an agreement on the status of Soviet military burial grounds. More on youth group Nashi, its summer camp, and its apparent “hatred” for Estonia. The head of the Russian Academy of Science discusses the country’s reasons for seeking an end to the International Criminal Tribunal’s work. Why did the Russian Orthodox Church call on government authorities this month to condemn the Soviet communist regime?A group of starving bears have eaten two men at a platinum mine in the Kamchatka region.PHOTO: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin are seen during their meeting in the Gorki residence outside Moscow, Wednesday, July 23, 2008. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Vladimir Rodionov, Presidential Press Service)