RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – June 27, 2008

270608.jpgTODAY: EU-Russia summit begins amid row over wood tariffs with Finland; Russia’s “image problem”; Georgia suggests splitting Abkhazia; Kremlin funding pro-government movies? First reports from the EU-Russia summit say Dmitry Medvedev is “striking a softer pose” than predecessor Vladimir Putin, although the summit is already seen as being “overshadowed” by energy disputes and a wood trade dispute with Finland over “crippling” tariffs. A group of UK politicians have written an open letter criticizing Russia’s “bilateral hostility towards the UK”. The Moscow Times today writes on Russia’s image problem, quoting an analyst at a Kremlin-backed think tank: “Whatever Russia is doing is reported in a stereotypical way.

Georgia has proposed carving Abkhazia into zones of Georgian and Russian influence. Dmitry Medvedev meanwhile has urged Georgia and Abkhazia to honor terms of a 1994 ceasefire deal, and has met with Abkhazia’s leader. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says he is looking forward to meeting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Moscow.“The Russian government is trying to revive the Soviet film tradition, helping to produce movies and miniseries that push the Kremlin’s political views, vilify its critics and glorify the military and intelligence services.Garry Kasparov writes in today’s Wall Street Journal about media freedom in Russia and a new documentary about Anna Politkovskaya. The Russian parliament has voted down a widely criticized bill by Robert Shlegel that would have allowed authorities to close media outlets for libel.Spain defeated Russia in last night’s Euro 2008 semi-final. Maria Sharapova is out of Wimbledon after being beaten by a fellow Russian, who said she was motivated to win because she didn’t like Sharapova’s outfit.PHOTO: Javier Solana, EU foreign policy chief, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, and Slovenian Prime Minister and current EU president Janez Jansa, from left, walk during the Russia-EU summit in Khanty-Mansiisk, Russia, Friday, June 27, 2008. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)