TODAY: Kremlin posts letters on corruption message; Putin fêted in France, hopes to conclude EU-Russia talks this year, dismisses human rights concerns; prestigious Russian newspaper could be evicted from its offices. “In the latest sign the Kremlin is focusing its message on the issue of corruption, its web site has posted excerpts from letters written by Russians complaining about the problem and proposing solutions.” Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s trip to France this week saw him “fêted as a head of state”. French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said his country was “determined” to use its EU presidency in the second half of the year to conclude EU-Russia agreement talks. Putin also dined with President Nicholas Sarkozy, causing many observers to see the trip as an upstaging of Dmitry Medvedev, portraying Putin as Russia’s “true leader”. “French presidents do not normally receive visiting prime ministers.” Addressing this week’s human rights concerns by Amnesty International, Putin said, “Concerns about the lack of human rights in Russia are strongly exaggerated”.
Dmitry Medvedev and Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko have agreed to hold their first meeting in early June. Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov has dismissed reports that his party was planning to replace him as leader. A Russian rescue system coupled with a NATO submarine for the first time this week in a joint exercise off Norway. “Having an agreement with Russia would also permit joint work on projects to inhibit the spread of nuclear weapons technology.”Over 50% of Russians see the United States as a “force for evil“, according to this report. The Other Russia is reporting that the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper “could soon be evicted from its central Moscow offices,” speculating that the eviction is due to its critical coverage of the Moscow city government and its criticism of Mayor Yury Luzhkov. “Almost an entire battalion of Russian soldiers committed suicide last year.”Ten of Russia’s richest men have promised more than $14 million in bonuses to Russia’s medal winners at this year’s Beijing Olympics. “When, exactly, did Russia become the new superpower of the art market?”PHOTO: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin takes leave of French President Nicolas Sarkozy following their meeting at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, Thursday, May 29, 2008. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)