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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – March 25, 2008

250308.jpgTODAY: Medvedev warns against Nato expansion; his campaign workers are “strongly allied with Putin”; Gorbachev says US missile defense is aimed against Russia. Russian polar bears to be protected. National Bolshevik activists sentenced. In an interview with the Financial Times, Dmitry Medvedev has warned that granting Nato membership to the former Soviet republics of Ukraine and Georgia could threaten European security. The interview has received the majority of today’s press attention, with other journalists focusing on the Nato question, and Medvedev’s comments on the British Council, indicating he is “open to repairing relations with Britain.” Most of the people who worked on Medvedev’s campaign are “more strongly allied with Putin than with the new president.” In an interview on Czech public television, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev sais that a proposed missile defense system Washington wants to place in eastern Europe is aimed against Russia and China. “Do you believe that that the whole thing is meant against Iran? That’s complete nonsense,” he said.

General Yury Baluyevsky, the chief of the General Staff, has asked to be relieved of his post as a result of his opposition to Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov’s plans for reforming the armed forces. First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov has suggested lengthening the time between parliamentary and presidential elections by lengthening the presidential term.A new poll by All-Russia’s Center for Public Opinion Studies shows that 21% of Russians see protest rallies in their districts as a possibility – down from 47% in 2005. Seven activists from the banned National Bolshevik Party have been handed “relatively lightsentences for their role in a 2006 protest.President Vladimir Putin and Serzh Sargsyan have pledged continuity in bilateral relations. Leonid Rozhetskin, millionaire backer of London newspaper City AM, is now “feared dead”. The World Wildlife Fund has begun an operation to protect endangered polar bears in Russia’s northeast Chukotka region from poachers.PHOTO: Russia’s president-elect Dmitry Medvedev speaks during an interview with the Financial Times in the Kremlin in Moscow March 25, 2008. (RIA Novosti/Dmitry Astakhov/Reuters)