RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – June 9, 2008

090608iii.jpgTODAY: St Petersburg International Economic Forum held over the weekend; increased censorship of journalists; new nationalist coalition to improve ideology’s image; Russia to withdraw some soldiers from Abkhazia; environmentalists says Olympics threaten Sochi’s wildlife; Kudrin says NATO should be “consigned to history”. The weekend’s St Petersburg International Economic Forum, which hosted a powerful lineup of international business heavyweights, was an extravagant spectacle of “drinks, magic and a flying pig,” with many of the participants reportedly arriving on their own yachts. “Equally insidious as government censorship is the growing self-censorship among Russian journalists. […] News about Chechnya or Georgia or Iran now follows the government line.

A new coalition formed by a group of leading nationalist organizations “will seek to give a positive spin to nationalist ideology among voters and boost the popularity ratings of nationalist groups”, and ban radical activists from public demonstrations. The government is to step up the fight against corruption by streamlining a special electronic property database that allows officials to review ownership more thoroughly.The Russian Defense Ministry says it will withdraw the 400 soldiers sent to repair damaged railroad lines in Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia within the next two months. Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin has proclaimed that the NATO alliance should be consigned to history.Environmentalists claim that the Sochi 2014 Winter Games “threaten to destroy one of the world’s last untouched eco-systems – home to more than 6,000 types of flora and fauna, more than 100 of which are on the “red list” of threatened species.PHOTO: Russia’s economic minister, Elvira S. Nabiullina, on stage Sunday at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. (Itar-Tass)