RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – March 6, 2008

060308.jpgTODAY: Aleksanyan will not be released from custody. Foreign investment in internet and mass media restricted. Moscow billionaires. Russia “sacrifices growth to curb inflation”. The Kremlin is reportedly spending “tens of millions of dollars” on various forms of public diplomacy, including new media ventures to target international audiences and boost its image. A Russian draft law on limiting foreign investment has been amended to include internet-providers, certain mass media, and fishing. The bill will require current owners of more than 5% in strategic companies to report to the government. Critics are concerned that the amendments may signal “a Kremlin step toward tighter control over the internet.” Cartoon channel 2×2 has yanked two animated programs from its rotation after receiving a warning from the federal media watchdog. The Moscow City Court has refused to release former Yukos vice president Vasily Aleksanyan from custody while he receives treatment for lymphoma. His lawyer said that the ruling means he will likely die before his case comes to trial.

Vladimir Putin has thanked the US Ambassador for the two countries’ past efforts to seek “mutually acceptable decisions, compromises”, despite strained Russia-US relations. http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hCOYweIJt-kh8b4ExcLZyWq4UhWwD8V7F02O2 Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s Ambassador to the UN, is meeting with Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Eremic today to discuss Kosovo’s declaration of independence. http://www.kommersant.com/p-12167/r_528/Kosovo_Churkin_Eremic/ Russia should “brace itself for major health and security consequences” resulting from Afghanistan’s cultivation of opium poppies. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=azGT57Bs.K70Moscow now has 74 billionaires with average wealth of $5.9 bln, according to Forbes Magazine’s annual rich list, which places Russia second only to the US for its number of billionaires. “Unlike many other countries, which readily resort to inflation to boost their sluggish economies, Russia sacrifices growth to curb inflation.” Russia may extend a “prohibitive” duty on wheat exports through June or beginning of July.PHOTO: Members of pro-Kremlin youth movement Nashi march to the U.S. Embassy as they hold the movement’s flag, during a protest in Moscow, Russia, Monday, March 3, 2008. Hundreds of pro-Kremlin youths marched Monday toward the U.S. Embassy in Moscow to protest American foreign policy. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)