RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – March 17, 2008

170308.jpgTODAY: Putin assassination attempt foiled; Russia’s “destructive culture of lies; US and Russia to discuss missile defense. “Ladies” vodka fuels alcoholism fears. Security forces are said to have foiled an attempt by a sniper to kill President Vladimir Putin near the Kremlin on the day of the presidential elections, and the FSB announced that it had prevented a number of acts of terrorism due to coincide with the elections. It was claimed that both Putin and Dmitry Medvedev could have been killed by the sniper. Human rights activist Sergei Kovalyov, in an open letter to Putin, emphasized the “corrupting force” of the lies that Russia’s leaders “are incapable of rejecting,” and says that no “remotely literate citizen” believes these lies, including even the staunchest supporters of Putin and the pro-Kremlin Unified Russia party. The Russian mafia have a reportedly major presence on the Costa del Sol, “exploiting lax property laws and lack of police resources to launder millions from arms dealing, drug dealing and prostitution.”

It is feared that a new “Ladies” vodka in Russia will add to the problems of alcoholism in the country.NATO is nearing a deal to use Russian land and airspace to supply its security forces in Afghanistan. In order to calm Moscow’s concerns over a proposed missile-defense system in Europe, the United States would promise not to turn on elements of it until Iran had demonstrated it had a missile capable of reaching Europe, says Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Gates and Condoleezza Rice are in Russia this week for defense talks. The Russian Air Force’s Air Defense units will fire over ten surface-to-air missiles at the Telemba firing range in East Siberia’s Chita Region this week.PHOTO: An employee looks at bottles of Damskaya Vodka or “Ladies” vodka in the office in St. Petersburg March 14, 2008. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk