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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – May 5, 2008

050508.jpgTODAY: Medvedev to take power this week; visa restrictions to be simplified for UK football fans; harsh words traded over latest from Abkhazia; Russia’s super-rich teenagers. Dmitry Medvedev will arrive at the Kremlin on Wednesday for “the final act in Russia’s highly choreographed transition of power.” How will power be distributed between the offices of President and Prime Minister, and how long will it be before Vladimir Putin regains the presidential role? More on the anti-inflation May Day protests. Lake Baikal is in danger, as it is warming faster than the atmosphere. The Sunday Times this weekend ran a large feature on the excesses of “the offspring of Russia’s super-rich”. Russian football team Zenit, funded by Gazprom, “symbolizes Russia’s transformation from communist backwater to capitalist head-hunter”. Authorities will take “unprecedented measures” to simplify visa procedures for English fans attending the Champions League football final in Moscow, which is reportedly bracing itself for violent outbursts following the match.

The new memorial to Boris Yeltsin has received mixed reactions. “It’s horrible, just horrible.” The UN’s AIDS chief has urged Russia to make some “difficult decisions” in the battle to combat HIV/AIDS, recommending that particular attention be paid to drug addicts. Putin has apparently allocated 10 million rubles of Russia’s Reserve Fund to the rebuilding and restoration of a church in Jerusalem.Russia has responded to news that Abkhazia’s air-defense forces shot down two unmanned Georgian spy planes by accusing Georgia of “intentionally fueling tensions” in the region. What can the European Union do to defuse the dispute? Russia is one of five countries that will offer, collectively, a new package of incentives to Iran in an effort to persuade it to abandon its uranium-enrichment program, and Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, has told Iran’s president that there will be continuity in Russia’s relations with Tehran.PHOTO: Activists of pro-Kremlin youth movement Mestniye (Locals) wave Russian national flags and their movement’s flags during their rally in downtown Moscow on Sunday, May 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)