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

240608.jpgTODAY: Amendments to pretrial detention could see prisoners released; “financial attacks” on successful companies; pastor’s sentence suspended; EU summit this week to focus on Georgia; Russian army to be cut to 1 million by 2013. Vedomosti has reported on new amendments to pretrial detention put forward by the chairman of the legislative committee that, if approved, could see Mikhail Khodorkovsky freed within a year. The amendments would count pretrial detention as part of a prisoner’s sentence, and could see the release of 50,000 prisoners. An article from the UK’s Guardian newspaper looks at the “financial attacks” made on successful companies in Russia. Yabloko’s new leadership could make it “more open to the idea of uniting all the liberal democratic forces into one potent force capable of capturing the 10% to 15% of voters who share their values.” The Moscow City Court has suspended the sentence of Phillip Miles, the US pastor convicted of smuggling rifle ammunition into the country.

A multilateral agreement that will open the way for Russia to join the World Trade Organization will be completed later this year. The European Union will take a “robust line” with Russia regarding Georgia’s “territorial integrity” at a summit this week. Human Rights Watch has pressed for the summit to focus on “harassment of civil society” in Russia and human rights abuses in Chechnya. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has announced that Russia will spend $5 billion by 2011 on rebuilding Chechnya. One article says that the current conflict in Georgia is due to Russia “badly” wanting it to stay out of NATO.Russia plans to cut its army to 1 million people by 2013. The military is reportedly training its forces for combat in the Arctic to protect its claims to resources on the continental shelf, because “modern wars are won and lost long before they start.PHOTO: Russian servicemen wearing historic Red Army uniforms march in Moscow’s Red Square during a World War II victory parade in this May 9, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool