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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – March 21, 2008

210308.jpgTODAY: Medvedev needs to create parliamentary independence; TNK-BP arrests made on grounds of “industrial espionage”. Russian TV journalist found dead. Russia “less hostile” towards US missile defense plans. If Medvedev intends to widen the discussion on decision-making, he also needs to “create conditions in which the parliament and courts can become both independent and efficient.” The lower house of the Russian Parliament is set to discuss a draft policy statement concerning the breakaway republics of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transdnistria. A timeline of Anglo-Russian relations has been compiled here. Two brothers arrested by Russia’s Federal Security Service, one employed by TNK-BP and the other the head of the British Council’s British Alumni Club, were, according to the FSB, “illegally collecting classified commercial information for a number of foreign oil and gas companies to gain advantages over Russian competitors, including in CIS countries.” They have both been charged with “industrial espionage”. Alexei Frenkel, the banker on trial for the murder of Central Bank first deputy chairman Andrei Kozlov, says he believes another deputy chairman could be behind the killing.

Ilyas Shurpayev, a Russian television journalist who worked for Russia’s state-run Channel 1 has been found dead in his apartment in the northeast of Moscow. Police in Latvia are searching for Leonid Rozhetskin, the Russian-born backer of London’s free financial newspaper City AM, after he mysteriously went missing from his home last week.Following this week’s talks between the United States and Russia, the Kremlin “appears to be expressing somewhat less hostility toward the Bush administration’s plan for a missile-defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic.” Moscow will meet NATO to discuss Washington’s authorization for arms supplies to Kosovo: “How can you fight terrorism, supplying weapons to former terrorists?” asked the Russian ambassador. The final leg of Sergei Lavrov’s tour of the Middle East finds him in Palestine for talks wtih Mahmoud Abbas. Russia is preparing to host a Middle East peace conference this year that will try to restart talks between Israel and Syria about the occupied Golan Heights.A British journalist reviews The New Cold War: How the Kremlin Menaces both Russia and the West and The Age of Assassins: the Rise and Rise of Vladimir Putin. A building designed by British architect Norman Foster, in the shape of a giant orange, is the latest proposed addition to Moscow’s skyline.PHOTO: A miniature figurine called “Easter Egg” by Russian artist Vladimir Aniskin is on display at the Museum of Microminiature in St Petersburg March 6, 2008. The figurine is made of birch bark and stands 11 mm high. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk (RUSSIA)