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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – March 18, 2008

180308.jpgTODAY: Russia’s utopian social experiments…“without poor people”. Talks with US reviewed positively in the press after Putin receives letter from Bush. Lavrov blames Tibet violence on Kosovo. Authorities attempting to discredit Kasyanov? Billionaire Araz Aglarov is thought to be behind the intimidation of villagers in Voronino, where Aglarov is planning to build a “new kind of civilization … a kind of utopian social experiment — but without poor people,” housing hundreds of properties worth $20-30 million each. A similar development, a “super deluxe” gated housing development, is also being planned on the outskirts of Moscow. It is thought that authorities are currently involved in a campaign to discredit former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov following an investigation into signatures gathered by Kasyanov’s movement in support of his application to run for president. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that the recent violence in Tibet is inextricably linked to the recognition of Kosovo’s independence. Metropolitan Laurus, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, has died in New York, aged 80. An increasing number of Russian students are joining study programs at European universities.

A letter allegedly sent from US President George Bush to Vladimir Putin could improve relations between the two countries, with Putin saying “If we manage to agree on its main provisions, we will be able to say that our dialogue is progressing successfully.” It is thought that the letter’s contents could ease Putin’s dealings with Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates in Moscow, which continue today. A survey of 180 in-house counsel working in five European countries identified the US as the jurisdiction they were “keenest to avoid”, attracting almost twice as many votes as Russia. A Russian man paralyzed in an accident with a car carrying a US Diplomat is asking for $10 million in compensation. A demonstration was held outside the US Consulate in Vladivostock this week to support him.PHOTO: US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice look across the table at Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow March 17, 2008. Gates and Rice also met with their Russian counterparts to discuss missile defense, non-proliferation and counterterrorism. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (RUSSIA)