TODAY: Medvedev emphasizes need for new personnel. NATO to resolve differences with Russia soon, Clinton wants Russia dialogue in light of Iranian threat; Russian scholar predicts US demise…again and again. Khodorkovsky judge will not step down; Bakhmina ruling delayed; China arms sale scam.
President Dmitry Medvedev is concerned that his new Golden 1,000 recruitment drive will create a new Soviet nomenklatura, but insists that new people are needed in top Kremlin positions, blaming eroded government efficiency on the failure to regularly rotate top officials. He also urged his government to recruit more women, apparently after receiving a reproach from Spain. NATO will aim for a high-level meeting with Russia soon if alliance ministers agree to resume formal ties at today’s meeting. Russia’s NATO ambassador, Dmitry Rogozin, said that the ‘period of estrangement’ was ‘largely behind us‘. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has insisted on the importance of dialogue on missile defense with Russia, emphasizing what the US perceives as a serious threat from Iran. Russian scholar Igor Panarin predicts imminent US collapse. ‘He also noted he had been predicting the demise of the world’s wealthiest country for more than a decade now.’
The judge in the current trial of former Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky has refused requests to step down. A Moscow court is to consider the parole request of jailed Yukos lawyer Svetlana Bakhmina, effectively delaying the process as the request had originally been in the hands of a court in Mordovia. Boris Kagarlitsky on the authorities’ unwillingness to bring criminal charges against the hunters of endangered sheep that were involved in a helicopter crash earlier this year: ‘Now the discussion has shifted from saving endangered species to universal accountability before the law. If the wrongdoers are not punished, it will be one more proof that in Russia there exists a privileged class of people who stand above the law and the Constitution.’
Russia’s chief military prosecutor is investigating an apparent multi-million-dollar scam, in which it is alleged that top Russian Navy officers had been involved in smuggling $18 million of arms via Tajikistan for sale to China. ‘A Russian tank officer was today facing criminal charges after allowing two rich businessmen to go for a ride in his T-80 tank, leading to the death of a young soldier.’
PHOTO: Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin listens to explanations beside Sergei Kirienko, head of Russia’s nuclear energy organization, during a visit to a plant producing atomic energy equipment in the city of Podolsk, about 43 km (27 miles) south of Moscow, March 4, 2009. REUTERS/RIA Novosti/Pool/Alexei Druzhinin (RUSSIA)