RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – March 30, 2009

300309.jpgTODAY: Medvedev gives BBC interview; Nemtsov registered to run for mayor of Sochi; Duma passes pro-opposition bill readings; Medvedev and Obama to meet this week; Kremlin blocks European Court of Human Rights.

President Dmitry Medvedev was interviewed by the BBC over the weekend, speaking about the economic crisis; missile defense – ‘is it an order to make us nervous, or an order to really prevent some threats?’; Iran – ‘its nuclear program should be peaceful’; military modernization – ‘completely normal work’; and Vladimir Putin  – ‘I believe we are both good cops.  He also said that the current climate of relations between the UK and Russia is ‘springlike – like the weather outside’, and said of the Mikhail Khodorkovsky case, ‘let’s wait and see […] this will be decided by the court’.  Seemingly in connection with his military refurbishment drive, Medvedev also made a 30-minute flight on Sukhoi-34 fighter-bomber this weekend.  Time Magazine writes on young Russians who want to evade military service as the country approaches a peacetime draft.

Opposition politician Boris Nemtsov has been registered to run for mayor of Sochi, in spite of a mysterious donation from a Russian speaker in New York which Nemtsov called ‘a Kremlin provocation’.  New bills passed by the State Duma in their preliminary form could benefit opposition political parties, by lowering the percentage of winning votes required in parliamentary elections to receive seats in the Duma.  Given the choice, young Russians say they would work at the Kremlin or the Interior Ministry.

The Kremlin is reportedly blocking an overhaul of the European Court of Human Rights that is intended to reduce a backlog of cases — many of them from Russia.  The Supreme Court has upheld the dismissal of Moscow’s top investigator Anatoly Bagmet, the head of the Investigative Committee’s Moscow branch, overturning decisions by two lower courts.

President Dmitry Medvedev will meet with US President Barack Obama at the end of the week – Russian officials say that the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty will be a priority during their talks.  What are the major issues for the future of such a deal?  ‘The Russian view seems to be that the resetting has to come primarily from the Americans.’  The US’ inability to correctly translate the word ‘reset’ for its meeting with Russia revealed that no one among Clinton’s advisers knows Russian’.

PHOTO: Supporters of the opposition party United Civil Front leave their signatures to call for the resignation of current Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow March 29, 2009. The words on the strip of paper read “I Vote for Putin’s Resignation”. REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin (RUSSIA POLITICS CONFLICT)