RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – June 3, 2008

030608.jpgTODAY: UN environmental concerns over Sochi; Medvedev moves to withdraw bill on press restrictions; Kremlin’s “stop-list” sees public figures airbrushed off of television; Kudrin in WTO talks with Saudi Arabia; Yuri Ushakov to take senior government post; scrap missile defense and win Russia’s support on Iran? A new summary report from the United National Environmental Program expresses concern that construction for the 2014 winter Olympic games in Sochi could have a devastating effect on the local environment, and has asked Russia to seek alternative sites. President Dmitry Medvedev has recommended the withdrawal of a bill, previously approved by parliament, that would allow courts to close media outlets for publishing libelous material. “Political humor in general has been exiled from TV”, according to this article, which focuses on the digital erasing of public figures from television shows by the Kremlin, who supposedly keep a “so-called stop list, a roster of political opponents and other critics of the government who have been barred from TV news and political talk shows”.

Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin will join the second day of negotiations with Saudi Arabia today on Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization. Yuri Ushakov, Russia’s ambassador to the United States has been recalled from his position to take up a senior job in the government of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Georgia has demanded that Russia withdraw additional peacekeeping troops and a unit of the Russian Army railway force that was been sent to the breakaway region of Abkhazia.This opinion piece suggests possible methods of persuading Russia to oppose Iran on nuclear energy, including dismantling the proposed US missile defense system.PHOTO: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is seen in his Gorki residence just outside Moscow on Thursday, May 29, 2008. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Presidential Press Service, Dmitry Astakhov)