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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Nov. 15, 2007

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People walk past an election poster of the main Kremlin-loyal party, United Russia, near Red Square in Moscow November 14, 2007. The Russian words read “for Putin” and is part of a slogan that runs “Moscow votes for Putin!”. REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov (RUSSIA)

The Union of Right Forces has asked a court to disqualify President Vladimir Putin from a parliamentary vote next month, saying that his job gives him an unfair advantage. Nikita Belykh, leader of the party, said that the grounds for the suit were Putin’s “repeated violations of the law.” The party is planning to take part in a ‘Dissenter’s March’ organized by Other Russia, in response to “what they say is a Kremlin-orchestrated campaign to bring the party down,” and Anton Bakov, an independent State Duma deputy in charge of the party’s election strategy, is quoted as having said, “Vladimir Putin is personally beating us. But we are not scared. We will not be moved. Go to hell, Mr. Putin.” Moscow authorities have banned the Other Russia opposition coalition from organizing marches in the capital on November 24. It is permitted, like the other opposition parties, be allowed to hold rallies, but organizers have vowed to go further, and the ‘Dissenter’s March’ is planned to reach the offices of the Central Elections Commission. According to VTsIOM, the Communist Party is the only opposition party guaranteed a place in the next State Duma, having a stable 7% base of support; Duma representation would “dramatically increase” the party’s significance. The current State Duma is set to squeeze through a controversial bill in its final session this week. The bill, intended to speed up preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The bill, dubbed the “Olympic Law,” has met with opposition from local residents, who say it could lead to thousands of people being moved from their homes without proper compensation. The authorities are still struggling to control inflation – the government could extend its restrictions on grain exports. Russia’s Finance Ministry has warned that forming a state monopoly to produce and sell alcohol could provoke a rise in bootlegging of spirits. The country’s transportation fuels market is facing its biggest crisis in almost 20 years as severe shortages, caused by the rush to export and capital on current prices, are forcing some retailers to close their filling stations. Gedeon Richter, eastern Europe’s biggest drugmaker, will buy 80% of Russia’s Akrihin for $127 million. Russia’s gold and foreign exchange reserves increased by $7.3 billion to a new record high of $455.2 billion. The country’s sovereign wealth fund “will not invest in risky financial assets immediately” next year when it is split into reserve and growth components. Russia is increasing pressure on the European Union over the much-debated US missile defense shield, threatening to site short-range nuclear missiles in a second location on the EU’s border if the US refuses to abandon its plans. “Any discussion of targeting Western Europe with missiles, from any party, is a) anachronistic; b) unwelcome and c) unhelpful,” said one NATO spokesman. Russia has withdrawn all of its troops from Georgia ahead of schedule. Although they are uncomfortable with sanctions on Iran, the “bottom line” for Russia and India is that they will “not support another nuclear weapons state in the region.” The first ship in a new series has been completed for the Russian Navy. “High-tech hunters” are reportedly closing in on a group of cybercriminals known as the Russian Business Network, or RBN. The head of the local transportation police has been killed in the Southern Russian republic of Ingushetia.