RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – March 13th, 2009

130309.jpgTODAY: Protesters mark Day of Dissent; Russia opposed to G20 fiscal stimulus level; US-Russia relations. Putin PR in Novokuznetsk, Khodorkovksy lawyers want indictment redrawn; Boris Nemstov to run for Mayor in Sochi.

Several Russian cities saw opposition protests marking the ‘Day of Dissent’ last night in Russia, to protest government handling of the financial crisis. A handful of protesters were detained by police, and AP reports that a group of protesters escaped a police chase in Moscow’s transport system.  Russia intends to oppose UK proposals for all G20 members to set a mandatory minimum fiscal stimulus level at 2% of gross domestic product and cut interest rates, saying that the delegation should remember ‘to take into account opinions of BRIC countries’.  Both The Economist and The Moscow Times have bleak outlooks on an accord between Russia and the US.  According to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Russia wants to extend its lease of a Soviet-built military radar in Azerbaijan after the current agreement ends, and is proposing that the US do the same, as an alternative to its plans to place a missile defense system in Poland.  Poland, on the other hand, says it hopes to complete technical talks on stationing parts of the shield next month.

Vladimir Putin’s latest PR trip was to the industrial town of Novokuznetsk where he held a question-and-answer session with miners, and explained the causes of the financial crisis ‘using relatively simple language’.  Chechnya’s Federal Migration Service says that Rustam Makhudov, suspected of killing Anna Politkovskaya, fled the country with a false passport. Lawyers for Mikhail Khodorkovsky are trying to have the indictment redrawn on grounds that it was composed ‘illegitimately and incorrectly’.

Opposition leader Boris Nemtsov is intending to run for mayor in his native Sochi, using a cash deposit instead of supporting signatures in order to avoid the ‘common ploy’ of being prevented from running by official allegations that such signatures are fake.  If he succeeds, he may have to run against Andrei Lugovoi, the main suspect in the Alexander Litvinenko murder case.  Meanwhile the son of State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov has decided to join United Russia.  Russia’s Vladimir Romanov is set to stand in the upcoming Lithuanian presidential elections.

‘Tycoons’, a new Russian drama series, tells the story of a businessman who made a fortune in the 1990s, looking back on his life from a pretrial detention center. ‘So far, so topical,’ notes the Moscow Times.  Activists from a pro-Kremlin youth group have admitted launching a major internet attack on Estonia two years ago.

PHOTO: Russian opposition protesters carry flares, wave flags and shout slogans as they march along a central street in Moscow, March 12, 2009. Protesters shouted ‘Russia without Putin (Russia’s Prime Minister)!’ on the way to Moscow’s centre. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin (RUSSIA POLITICS CONFLICT)