RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – July 29, 2008

290708.jpgTODAY: Russia wants to swap NATO for EATO? Kasparov on Russia and Obama; military desertions drop; scientists attempt to reach bottom of Lake Baikal. Russia wants to form a new bloc, currently being referred to as “EATO” – Euro-Atlantic Treaty Organization – which would replace NATO, “the main irritant in Russia’s relations with the West today.” Russia’s NATO ambassador denies that the country has any intention of undermining the military alliance. “Our ideas are profoundly misunderstood.” Garry Kasparov writes in today’s Wall Street Journal, urging Barack Obama to take a stronger line on Russia, saying “Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Russia’s Dmitri Medvedev both came to power in blatantly fraudulent elections. The hypocrisy of condemning one while embracing the other destroys American and European credibility”.

Annual desertions in the Russian military have dropped from 16,697 in 1999 to 5,501 in the year to date, but human rights groups are questioning the defense ministry’s claims that military living conditions have improved. Scientists are attempting to reach the bottom of Siberia’s Lake Baikal as part of a conservation plan.PHOTO: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin listens to Almaz-Antei CEO Vladislav Menshchikov while touring the consortium producing air defense weapons, Moscow, Monday, July 28, 2008. (AP Photo/Aleksey Nikolskyi, Pool)