RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – March 25, 2009

250309.jpgTODAY: Communist Party main opposition to United Russia? Lugovoi will not join Sochi race; British-Russian relations improving, says ambassador; Medvedev to declare earnings; China’s rise good for Russia?  Parents in Abkhazia protest Russian-language textbooks.

The crisis is helping the Communist Party – ‘widely seen as the country’s biggest opposition movement’ – to win public support, but some analysts suggest that the party is ‘a ‘systemic’ opposition force, verging on Kremlin-friendly.’  United Russia has announced that its candidate for the April 26 Sochi mayoral election will be the current Sochi Mayor, Anatoly Pakhomov.  The Liberal Democratic Party has announced that it will not put Andrei Lugovoi forward to run in Sochi, as he is ‘with all due respect, an outsider’.  Boris Nemtsov suggested that the Kremlin would not want a man wanted by Britain on murder charges running for mayor of an Olympic city.  Reports say that British relations with Russia have been ‘quietly’ rebuilt, with the leaders of the two countries scheduled to meet in London next week; the British Ambassador to Moscow said, ‘Russia is not a threat to the West. You have to distinguish between image projection, power projection and rhetoric versus reality.’  The New York Times notes that ‘two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Russia and the United States together still have more than 20,000 nuclear weapons.’

President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will fully declare their income and property holdings as part of an anti-corruption drive.  The rise of China’s economic and military might should be seen by Russia as an opportunity for fruitful cooperation, not as a threat, says one Moscow Times contributor.  Another suggests that ‘Moscow’s one problem is that it can neither beat the West nor join it. An additional issue is that it both seeks to be part of Europe and stay apart from it. Another sign of its schizophrenia is that Russia tries to imitate the United States even as it publicly reviles the very things it imitates.’

Ethnic Georgians in Abkhazia are protesting that schoolteachers are reportedly being ‘put under pressure’ to use Russian-language textbooks.  The Federal Consumer Protection Service has revealed that around 25,000 Russians die from tuberculosis – a treatable disease – every year.

PHOTO: A protester holds a picture of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, during a rally to mark the 10th anniversary of the NATO bombing campaign in Belgrade, Serbia, Tuesday, March 24, 2009. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)