TODAY: Putin changes journalist rules for the White House and increases Prime Minister’s deputies, denies that Victory Day parade is a threat; Russia and US to sign civilian nuclear cooperation pact; FSB clarifying definition of espionage. Vladimir Putin has changed the rules for journalists in the White House in the run-up to assuming the role of Prime Minister. The building previously gave almost full access to the press, but will now be confined to a single press room. Asked what would happen if one of them strayed from this room, a Cabinet spokeswoman said, “You’d better not do that for your own safety. These are the rules that Putin is used to in the Kremlin.” It is also thought that Putin will have 11 deputies to support him in the Prime Minister’s role which usually only allows for 6.
For the first time since the Soviet collapse, the annual Victory Day military parade in Red Square is to include heavy military equipment including tanks and missiles, but Putin insists that such a bellicose display “isn’t saber-rattling. We are not threatening anyone and are not intending to do so.” Watch a video of Putin’s farewell speech to his cabinet, which includes his comments on the Victory Day parade. The BBC is running an opinion piece on the Bush-Putin legacy. Read an article on how Medvedev’s presidency could impact EU-Russia relations.NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer says missile-defense shields, strongly opposed by Moscow, are a key element for trans-Atlantic security. Russia and the United States will sign a long awaited civilian nuclear cooperation pact today.“Russia is playing a game of cat-and-mouse with neighboring Georgia that, if everyone is not a lot more careful, could quickly turn deadly.” Tbilisi is demanding that the UN investigate the planes shot down over Abkhazia. The Georgian Prime Minister rejected Russian allegations that he wants a conflict with Moscow, saying that it was not in Georgia’s interest to destabilise its booming economy.The Federal Security Service has drafted amendments to the Criminal Code clarifying the definition of espionage, which may help prevent citizens from facing groundless espionage charges, but also could make it easier for the FSB to prosecute scientists and researchers.PHOTO: Russian tanks leave the Red square during the rehearsal general for the Victory Day military parade in Moscow. (AFP/Dmitry Kostyukov)