RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – June 11, 2008

110608.jpgTODAY: Russia plans increased Navy presence in the Arctic; Putin promises military its budget will enable “military readiness”; Russian Press Congress; Shuvalov ‘berated’ by Putin; Medvedev ratifies agreements with Norway and the SCO. The Defense Ministry says it plans to increase Navy presence in the Arctic, an area rich in oil and gas, “in order to protect its national interests”, and four Russian Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers are reportedly conducting patrol flights over the Arctic Ocean. A Russian shipyard begins construction of a new missile warship for the Indian Navy. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has promised the military sufficient funds for the provision of “military readiness”. The tenth World Congress of the Russian Press is being held in Moscow today to “discuss the state of Russian as a language of global information”.

Igor Shuvalov, whose pro-market speech at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum called for a reduction in state control, has been publicly berated by Putin for “swanning off” to the forum rather than dealing with the threat of cheap milk imports. “Mr Shuvalov’s chastisement seemed particularly strange as he was undoubtedly sent to St Petersburg at the prime minister’s instruction.”A long-term cooperation treaty for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has been ratified by President Dmitry Medvedev. The organization, whose other members are China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, is seen as a counterweight to NATO’s influence in Eurasia. Medvedev has also ratified an agreement to introduce an easier visa regime for Russian and Norwegian citizens.PHOTO: Police detain members of the Kremlin-loyal youth organisation Young Russia after they disrupted a protest by human rights activists in Moscow June 10, 2008. Young Russia members turned up topless at the small protest in central Moscow. Letters written on their chests read “Khodorkovsky is a thief”, referring to Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former owner of oil firm YUKOS, who is serving an 8-year prison sentence in Siberia for fraud and tax evasion. REUTERS/Vyacheslav Kochetkov (RUSSIA)