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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – May 19, 2008

190508.jpgTODAY: Kasparov’s National Assembly meets for the first time; Khodorkovsky accuses Sechin of plotting his arrest; Putin accused of decorating private residence with state treasures; special report on Russia Today’s english news channel. Georgia reveals Abkhazia footage. Opposition leader Garry Kasparov has formally launched the National Assembly, an alternative parliament aimed at the “restoration of democracy and popular government in Russia.” Its first meeting was held on Saturday. Former Yukos-head Mikhail Khodorkovsky has accused Igor Sechin, one of Vladimir Putin’s most senior aides, of plotting to have him arrested. Sechin, he says, “orchestrated the first case out of greed and the second out of cowardice.” Putin has been accused of using public money and donated art to decorate the St Petersburg palace he used as a private residence. And the UK media’s fascination with Russian wealth continues with an article on Roman Abramovich’s various spending. Russia’s London ambassador expressed optimism that mutual goodwill could easily repair the “limited damage” done to UK-Russia ties by the murder of former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko.

Fishery managers have delivered official letters to the government, urging them to suspend the new decree that would see the winding up of the State Fishery Committee. Vladivostok has elected a United Russia party member as its new mayor. Gay rights activists are hoping to persuade Dmitry Medvedev to lift a city ban on their planned parade.Russia Today’s English-language news channel portrays corruption as “not quite a scourge but a symptom of a developing economy.” Read a BBC overview of Russia’s newspapers.A new round of bilateral and multilateral talks on Russia’s bid to join the World Trade Organization will begin today in Geneva. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov blames Japan and the US for preventing the expansion of the G8 to include larger emerging economies. US Senator John McCain “stands alone” in his rhetorical treatment of Russia as “a new axis of evil”. Georgia has revealed the BBC footage which it says proves Russian troops are deploying heavy military hardware in Abkhazia. Georgia and Abkhazia have reportedly drawn up a plan to resolve their long-running conflict, which would include a mutual agreement not to use force.PHOTO: The fishery reforms of Vladimir Putin make fishermen doubt the future catch. (Photo: AFP, Source: Kommersant)