RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – May 12, 2008

120508.jpgTODAY: Lithuania gives way on EU-Russia negotiations; Russia continues to threaten Georgia with more Abkhazia troops; football final could mend diplomatic relations; concern over greenhouse gas emissions and Sochi preparations; Alexander Lebedev. Lithuania has agreed to drop its objections to European Union talks with Russia on a new strategic partnership after the EU agreed to include Lithuania’s concerns in the mandate for negotiations. The news follows comments from a senior EU official calling for EU unity in dealing with Russia. Last week, the number of Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia rose to 2,542, up from 1,997 the previous week, and the Defense Ministry continues to suggest that it could increase its forces to the maximum 3,000 allowed. The official in charge of preparations for the Champions League football final in Moscow suggests that the event could “help to unfreeze diplomatic relations between our two countries.

Russia may decide to hold onto its greenhouse gas emissions rights under the Kyoto Protocol, “at least until the details of a successor treaty are clearer.” It may have more than 800 million tonnes of carbon dioxide rights, “more than the estimated demand of every other Kyoto signatory country combined.” The Times has published an interview with former KGB colonel Alexander Lebedev, as well as a piece on the recent influx of wealthy Russians witnessed by the UK’s home counties.Russia’s “primitive” isolationist approach to the West “is doomed to fail in today’s world.” Critics are concerned that the Sochi Olympic site, currently experiencing infrastructure problems with sewage and waste disposal, will not be finished in time. “With the clock ticking and the Kremlin’s prestige on the line, none of the competition sites have been built.”Prisoners at a penal colony went on a mass hunger strike to protest “abject” conditions, with “promising” results. Medvedev: a sex symbol? http://www.moscowtimes.ru/article/600/42/362622.htm The US and Russian navies held a sandwich-making competition to celebrate Victory Day.PHOTO: Sailors stand at attention near a warship during celebrations marking the 225th anniversary of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in the Ukrainian city of Sevastopol May 11, 2008. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin (UKRAINE)