RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – May 7, 2008

070508.jpgTODAY: Vladimir Putin’s last day as President; Other Russia dissent march cancelled; millions budgeted for road repairs following Medvedev’s inauguration parade; Gorbachev accuses US of pushing for new Cold War; Rogozin threatens bloodshed over Abkhazia. Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s NATO envoy, has contributed to mounting tensions over Georgia, warning that interference in Abkhazia could result in ““serious bloodshed”, and saying that Georgia is “really extremely close to a war.” Mikhail Gorbachev has accused the United States of mounting an imperialist conspiracy against Russia that could push the world into a new Cold War. Putin “is said to consult Mr Gorbachev on foreign policy matters.” Viktor Zubkov has stepped down as “placeholder” Prime Minister. One Russian newspaper reviews his 237-day appointment.

Today is Vladimir Putin’s last day as President, and today’s news accordingly is dominated by speculation about Russia’s future. The Other Russia opposition had planned a March of Dissent to mark the occasion, but cancelled it at the last minute out of concern that it would put participants in danger due to opposition from authorities. Dmitry Medvedev will become the third Russian President tomorrow, in a ceremony to be broadcast on television and the internet, that will “mix Soviet nostalgia, czarist symbols and a Russian strut reflecting a renewed national pride”. City Hall has earmarked more than $40 million for road repairs in the wake of Friday’s Victory Day parade, amid concerns that road surfaces will be damaged by the tanks.Some think Medvedev will soften the threatening image promoted by Putin. Many take the “puppet President” angle. “Like its national symbol, the double-headed eagle, the ceremony will be intended to demonstrate that Russia has two leaders. Nothing could be further from the truth.” Others are optimistic that Medvedev could eventually tackle corruption.Russia’s “Merchant of Death” has been charged in the US.PHOTO: Matreshkas, traditional Russian wooden dolls, depicting President Vladimir Putin and President-elect Dmitry Medvedev, are on sale with other souvenirs near Red Square in Moscow, Tuesday, May 6, 2008. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)