RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – March 11th, 2009

110309.jpgTODAY: Medvedev outlines further anti-corruption measures, positive on Obama meeting; Russia may abandon plans to supply missile system to Iran; European Court of Human Rights rules against Kremlin; heroin, disappearing ink.

As part of his drive against corruption, which ‘has become the most complicated and sensitive of issues’ thanks to the economic crisis, President Dmitry Medvedev has signed a decree to reform the civil service system in 2009-2013.  Reforms include a new management system, modernized technology, and the intention to increase the ‘professionalism’ of employees.  Medvedev is making optimistic predictions for a preliminary meeting with his US counterpart. ‘The signals we are receiving today from the US – I mean most of all the signals I am receiving from President Obama – seem to me quite positive,’ he said, following a meeting of former US senators focused on the need for improved relations.  Russia has not excluded the possibility of abandoning plans to deliver its advanced S-300 air defense missile system to Iran.

The European Court of Human Rights has ordered the Russian government to pay Anatoly Bykov €1,000 for emotional distress and €25,000 in legal fees, after ruling that Russian police illegally detained the former aluminum tycoon.  On Moscow’s suspicion of the EU’s role and relevance’Yulia Latynina on the Mikhail Khodorkovsky trial: ‘In 2003, Putin and Khodorkovsky personified two possible paths for Russia’s development. One fought for a more democratic Russia driven by a transparent government because this increased the value of his assets The other wanted a submissive population because this increased his power.’

A spokesmen for Murtaza Rakhimov, the leader of the oil-producing Bashkortostan Republic, has denied reports that he was about to resign from his post, sparking speculation that the initial rumor was the result of the Kremlin’s nervousness about social unrest.  Following reports earlier this week about Russia’s heroin consumption, the story has been picked up by the UK press‘The Russian strategy is to stifle serious debate about the problem and demonize drug users,’ suggests one analyst.

Extreme opposition accusation of the week: election ballots filled in with disappearing ink?

PHOTO: Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin speaks during a joint news conference with his Hungarian counterpart Ferenc Gyurcsany in Moscow March 10, 2009. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin