RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – March 4, 2008

040308.jpgTODAY: Opposition protesters detained; pro-Medvedev march permitted. Monitors concede that Medvedev would have “won anyway.” World leaders comment on the result. Moscow authorities have “repeatedly refused to authorize opposition marches on the grounds that they would snarl traffic and inconvenience people.” But thousands of pro-Kremlin youths were permitted to march across central Moscow to celebrate the election of Dmitry Medvedev as president, “paralyzing” the traffic. Riot police “roughly detained” dozens of opposition protesters, including Union of Right Forces leader Nikita Belykh, for marching in central Moscow. And in St Petersburg, an opposition march was given authorisation after the organizers agreed to change the route. Monitors of the weekend’s elections felt that Medvedev “would have won the election anyway.” Andreas Gross, the head of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) observer mission, which was one of the few international monitoring groups on hand for the March 2 vote, has questioned the nature of the election process and called the vote a “plebiscite”. Watch the video here.

Who is the shortest world leader?US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has given her opinion on the elections, as has US State Department spokesman Tom Casey. Chinese President Hu Jintao invited Dmitry Medvedev to visit China during a telephone call in which he congratulated him on his victory. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said he was confident that the EU-Russia “strategic partnership” would develop. “The more boring the outcome, the better as far as business is concerned,” according to the director of the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce, voicing the broad investor response to the elections.One article in the UK press today compares the new economy of Russia’s bigger cities with the “colourless Soviet world” of its provincial cities. “Everywhere you look in Moscow there is a physical reminder of the grandeur and cruelty of this country’s history.” http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7274798.stmPHOTO: Russian opposition party activists take part in an authorized march to protest the presidential election in St. Petersburg, Russia, Monday, March 3, 2008. As many as 3,000 people took part in an authorized march to protest the results of the presidential election, which was won resoundingly by outgoing President Vladimir Putin’s protege, Dmitry Medvedev. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)