RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – July 9, 2008

090708.jpgTODAY: Russia unhappy over missile base in Czech Republic; British security forces ramp up work against Russian spies, are accused of undermining Russian government’s efforts to improve relations; Medvedev adds name to G8 statement on Zimbabwe; Albright criticizes McCain’s Russia stance. Russia has not taken kindly to the signing of an agreement between the US and Prague under which a US radar base will be set up in the Czech Republic, threatening to retaliate “not diplomatically, but with military-technical means”. The Pentagon said the comments were “designed to make Europeans nervous about participating” in the plans and criticized its “bellicose rhetoric”, but promising to continue dialogue. And in a move likely to further irritate Russia, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is due to arrive in Tbilisi, just after Russia’s foreign ministry called Georgia a threat to stability in the South Caucasus.

British security service MI5 is building up its counter-espionage arm against Russian spies. An aide to Dmitry Medvedev has responded to the British security services belief that the Russian government was involved in the killing of Alexander Litvinenko, accusing Whitehall of trying to undermine Medvedev’s attempts to restore the relationship between the two countries. But many UK journalists see British prime minister Gordon Brown as having gained no ground in his “bully boy” meeting with Medvedev. Medvedev and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda have agreed to resolve a decades-old territorial row “as soon as possible.” Medvedev has put his name to a G8 statement calling for measures against those responsible for violence in Zimbabwe.A shipment of Russian food aid arrived this week in North Korea. A new holiday, the Day of Family, Love and Fidelity, “is the government’s latest attempt to help halt Russia’s population loss.” On the dangerously polluted Volga River. Authorities in are reportedly trying to silence the local media on the beautification of parts of the city in preparation for a visit from prime minister Vladimir Putin.Madeleine Albright writes in the LA Times today about John McCain’s Russia stance. “McCain favors booting Russia out of the wealthy-democracies forum, but he does not say what this would accomplish other than dramatizing, for a moment, our disappointment with Russia’s domestic policies”.PHOTO: US President George W. Bush talks with Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev and German Chancellor Angela Merkel as World Bank President Robert Zoellick walks past after a family photo session at the Group of Eight Hokkaido Toyako Summit in northern Japan July 9, 2008. REUTERS/Kimimasa Mayama/Pool (JAPAN)