RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – March 31, 2008

310308.jpgTODAY: Putin to attend NATO summit this week, wants to build “bridge” between US and Russia, plans to become leader of United Russia. Anglo-Russian investment strong. Anna Politkovskaya’s killer identified, say Russian prosecutors. Between Britain and Russia, poor political relations are not disrupting healthy economic relations, and British tourist numbers are “booming”. Russia believes that the British Foreign Office’s announcement of the retirement of Sir Anthony Brenton, the Moscow ambassador most disliked by the Kremlin, is a “humiliating climb-down”. It is being reported that President Vladimir Putin plans to become the official leader of United Russia and will announce his decision to join the party at its congress next month. According to this report, Putin wants to build a 64-mile tunnel under the Bering Strait between Chukotka, in the Russian far east, and Alaska, to act as “a real bridge” between Russia and the US. The cost is of such a venture is estimated at $66 billion.

This week’s NATO summit, the first attended by Vladimir Putin since 2002, “could mould the West’s relations with Russia for years to come”. Russia sees the alliance’s eastward expansion as “a direct threat to its status as a regional power.” Russia is alarmed that NATO countries sit on its borders, and opposes adding Georgia and Ukraine to the alliance.Russian prosecutors say that the killer of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya has been identified and is being tracked down.The BBC has updated its country profile for Russia.Experts say it is unlikely that Russia and China will allow Iran to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin looks on during a Security Council meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo presidential residence outside Moscow, Saturday, March 29, 2008. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Presidential Press Service, Vladimir Rodionov)