TODAY: Medvedev “charms” EU officials at summit; United Russia meeting suggests Putin’s influence will continue; traffic arrest highlights corruption; Duma to create DNA database?; bishop dismissed for criticizing the Kremlin. The first EU-Russia summit with Dmitry Medvedev “was indeed a very good and constructive one”, according to Jose Manuel Barroso. The Russian president’s “charm campaign” reportedly included his bringing gifts for top EU officials. But the summit reportedly uncovered tensions with Estonia and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow is unlikely to make compromises with the EU over a wood tariffs dispute with Finland. At a United Russia meeting, Boris Gryzlov said that the party is opposed to gubernatorial elections, preferring the “vertical of power”. Vladimir Putin implied that the party was willing to begin accepting ideas from other parties, emphasizing “dialogue” and saying that “real political leadership doesn’t mean being isolated with your own ideas and instantly rejecting those of other people.” Putin suggested that he may hold call-in shows with the populace as part of his work as chief of United Russia, just as he did in his previous role as President. Putin insists that next year’s near-doubling of Russia’s minimum wage will not significantly impact inflation. Public sector wages are due to rise 30%, and pensions by 16%.
A reporter for the Sunday Times writes about his involvement in a traffic incident, demonstrating Russia’s “corrupt legal system”. The State Duma has apparently approved the first reading of a law to create a database of citizens’ DNA. Russia will begin creating its first Cyrillic internet addresses next year. One article says abortion is still Russia’s “top birth-control option”. A rebel bishop who criticized Russia’s Orthodox Church for supporting Kremlin policies was “defrocked and dismissed”.“In addition to China, both Russia, also a permanent veto-wielding council member, and elected member South Africa have opposed action on Zimbabwe.” British MPs have written an article on nuclear non-proliferation, pointing out that “the world’s stockpiles of nuclear weapons are overwhelmingly controlled by two nations: the United States and Russia.” US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is in Moscow for economic talks.PHOTO 1: Russian president Dmitry Medvedev (c) with the president of the European council, Janez Janza (l), and European commission president, José Manuel Barroso (r), at the Russia-EU summit in Khanty-Mansiisk. Photograph: Dmitry Astakhov/EPAPHOTO 2: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, speaks at a meeting with lawmakers, members of the United Russia party, outside Moscow, Sunday, June 29, 2008. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti Alexei Nikolsky, Pool)