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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – May 27, 2008

270508.jpgTODAY: Medvedev allegedly advises football player on how to dodge police; WTO talks continue to see barriers; Politkovskaya suspect released; UN backs Georgia’s claim that Russia is giving military aid to Abkhazia; EU to begin Russia talks in late June; bloggers respond to Wogan. Russia’s WTO negotiator avoided a concrete timeline for entry into the trade body as “major barriers” promised to hinder talks, even after 14 years of negotiations. Regional Development Minister Dmitry Kozak has proposed the creation of a Residential Construction Fund, which would take land from federal government bodies and give it to the regions to develop housing. Based on video footage, witnesses and radar records, the UN report backs up Georgia’s claim that Russia is giving military aid to Abkhazia. The EU now hopes to begin talks with Russia on a new partnership at a summit in Khanty-Mansiisk in late June. One UK paper thinks a legally binding agreement “could force Russian authorities to extradite” Alexander Lugovoi.

UK newspaper The Telegraph is alleging that, “Despite vowing to fight “legal nihilism”, Mr Medvedev was heard telling the guest how to dodge a charge if he was stopped by police.”Tamerlan Makhmudov, a man suspected of involvement in the 2006 murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, has been released by Russian authorities “because he was not directly involved in the shooting”. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is in Denmark for talks and a ministerial meeting of Arctic states in Greenland. It is thought the visit will focus on visa rules.Comments by Eurovision commentator Terry Wogan have not gone down very well in the Russian blogosphere. “We hope President Dmitry Medvedev will drop visa requirements for Eurovision fans next year. We also hope that these experiments in visa-free travel will convince Russia to lift its visa regime for short-term visitors once and for all”.PHOTO: Footage taken by a drone that Georgia claims was shot down by a Russian plane on April 20. The UN has concluded in a report that a Russian fighter jet shot down an unmanned Georgian spy plane last month, boosting Tbilisi’s claims of Russian military interference on its territory. (Georgian Interior Ministry/Ho)