RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – May 8, 2008

080508.jpgTODAY: US optimistic on future relations with Russia, remains critical on Georgia situation; Medvedev orders new government to begin redistributing federal lands; art market faces crisis over discovery of fakes.Medved’ is the Russian word for ‘bear’. President Dmitry Medvedev’s inauguration ceremony was a far cry from that of Boris Yeltsin in 1991. US President George Bush expects to have a good relationship with Medvedev, despite foreign policy disagreements. “He looks forward to working with him and wishes him the best on his new position,” said Dana Perino. A Pentagon spokesman commented on the Victory Day military display: “If they wish to take out their old equipment and take it for a spin, and check it out, they’re more than welcome to do so.” The White House wants Russia to “back down” in the escalating fight with neighboring Georgia over the breakaway province of Abkhazia, and Russian newspaper Kommersant notes that this is “the only support Georgia has drummed up in its latest showdown with Moscow,” although the EU has also criticized Russia’s stance. Two Russian airplanes will deliver humanitarian aid to Myanmar today.

Medvedev’s first task on becoming President was to sign an order directing Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s government to begin a large-scale redistribution of federal lands. Medvedev’s inauguration speech mentioned the need to bring more Russians into the middle class. “Less and less people think of themselves as middle class because the division between rich and poor is widening,” says one analyst. Russia’s booming art market is facing the worst crisis of confidence in the post-Soviet era as roughly 800 paintings have been identified as fakes, with the possibility of there being “thousands more”. One article looks at the new London Mayor’s views on Russia.A pensioner’s view: “Putin and Medvedev are like marionettes in the hands of the siloviki. It doesn’t matter which one of them is in charge. If the siloviki don’t like what they are doing they’ll chuck them out.” The Moscow Times comments on Putin’s legacy. “We have been told repeatedly that Putin rules the country with a “strong hand,” but, in reality, his orders are routinely ignored.PHOTO: A man stands in showroom in Moscow, as Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev is seen on TV screens May 7, 2008, during the inauguration ceremony in Kremlin. (Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters)