RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – May 16, 2008

160508.jpgTODAY: Putin creates inner cabinet; public calls for balanced foreign policy; police prepare for British football fans amid fears of violence; Medvedev to fund nuclear forces; Georgia and Russia in talks. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says the government’s executive body is “clumsy and over-bureaucratic”, and will accordingly create an inner cabinet, or “presidium”, comprising key ministers that will meet once a week. Dmitry Medvedev has appointed Viktor Ivanov, a former aide to the Russian president, to head the Federal Service for Control over the Circulation of Narcotics. In response to the newly appointed Cabinet, the Communist opposition party said, “Old People, Old Policies, Old Problems.” “[…] mutual suspicions and intrigues between Medvedev’s Kremlin and Putin’s White House are inevitable”. Will Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin will retain his longtime influence over the country’s fiscal policy? A VTsIOM poll reveals that the public sees a need for “greater balance” in Russia’s relations with the West.

A ban on public drinking and a lack of outdoor television screens, combined with an “unprecedented police presence” have been planned to prevent violent outbursts next week following the Champions League football final in Moscow. Extra measures are being put in place over concerns of a “revenge attack” following the stabbing of a Russian football fan in Manchester this week. The BBC reports that Moscow is “pushing the boat out” to welcome British fans.Russia and the United States are reportedly in agreement over the need to take urgent measures to ease the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict. Georgia’s reintegration minister is in Moscow to discuss a resolution. The chief of the Russian Armed Forces’ General Staff has denied reports of Moscow’s plans to open an air force base in Abkhazia. Meanwhile Russia’s FSB security service says it has intercepted a spy working for Georgia and prevented him from helping rebels in southern Russia.Medvedev has promised to provide funding for nuclear forces. “Our task for the next few years is to make sure that the Strategic Missile Forces receive the necessary funding to respond to modern threats and the current situation on the planet.” Russia’s hosting of an economic and political alliance of Bric nations in Yekaterinburg shows “political clout”. Twelve former Russian soldiers have complained to the European Court of Human Rights about violations of their right to judicial protection.PHOTO: Protesters wearing masks stand near a banner reading, “Are You on the List of Extremists?” during a protest in central Moscow May 15, 2008. Demonstrators gathered to protest against what they said was the police’s extreme and violent actions against peaceful demonstrations. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin (RUSSIA)