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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – May 15, 2008

150508.jpgTODAY: New Cabinet aims to undercut siloviki power, meets for the first time today; photo exhibition celebrates Putin’s Presidential rule; Human Rights Commissioner deems protest ban “unlawful”; cooperation with Europe on moon visits; emphasis on Russia-Germany relationship. Former security insiders say that the set-up of the new Cabinet is “aimed at undercutting the power that political clans within the security services have accumulated in recent years,” and completely reverses the reforms conceived by former Kremlin deputy chief of staff Dmitry Kozak several years ago. Putin will hold the first meeting of his new Cabinet today. Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, was the first foreign official to hold talks with President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin since they took up their new positions. Medvedev will return the visit next month, highlighting Russia’s relationship with Germany as a top priority.

A new exhibition of photography in Moscow portrays highlights Vladimir Putin’s rule. According to one photographer, “the camera loves Putin.” Also recently opened is an exhibition of defense and safety equipment built for security forces.Russia’s Human Rights Commissioner has spoken out against the way Moscow authorities handled a May 6th opposition demonstration, calling the ban on the protest “unlawful.” According to a Georgian minister, French diplomacy recently fended off potentially provocative actions by Russia in Abkhazia. Russia’s past policies in the CIS “reflect [its] abiding belief that neither Ukraine, nor Georgia, nor any other post-Soviet state, is truly sovereign.” Russian Ministry of Interior and their counterparts in the United Arab Emirates have signed a plan “for implementing a co-operative effort to fight organised and transnational crime.”Russia is bullish on reports that it is in early discussions with Europe to build a spaceship which could fly astronauts to the moon. Russia has successfully launched a Progress M-64 cargo spacecraft to deliver fuel, food and other supplies to the International Space Station.PHOTO: Vladimir Putin swimming with dolphins. From a photo display at the Manezh Exhibition Hall in Moscow. Source: Russia Today.