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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – June 16, 2008

160608.jpgTODAY: Russia’s military “poorly equipped”; scientists focus on nanotechnology; Russian mafia arrested in Spain; OSCE makes veiled accusations about Russian elections. Military officials openly hype the notion of a resurgent Russian power, but in reality, says one Russian journalist, “the Russian military remains underfunded and poorly equipped.” Scientists across Russia are turning to new inventions in order to net some of the billions of state dollars being poured into the field of nanotechnology. Police have reportedly arrested 20 members of the Russian mafia in Spain. The barriers to Russian tourism are lifting and numbers of Russian tourists have almost quadrupled in the last decade. The head of the Russian region of Tatarstan has called for the removal of the president’s right to name governors and a return to the election of regional leaders.

Diplomats say the head of the OSCE’s comments about the crisis in election standards in Europe refer to Russia. In another Russian bid to dissuade Ukraine from joining NATO, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov says Ukraine would lose defense industry ties with Russia and suffer reduced trade cooperation and tightened visa regulations if it joined. World Bank President Robert Zoellick is in Russia today to lay out the World Bank’s initiatives for overcoming the consequences of food price growth.PHOTO: This April 2007 photo shows Mikhail Kovalchuk (R), director of Kurchatov Institute Nuclear Research Center, talking to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a visit to the Cinchrotron Radiation and Nanotechnology Center in Moscow. Scientists across Russia are setting their minds to new inventions to net some of the billions of state dollars being poured into the field of nanotechnology. (AFP/Pool/File/Sergei Chirikov)