RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Nov. 17, 2008

171108.jpgTODAY: G20 summit sees Russian optimism over Obama and a tentative offer to back down on missile defense; pro-Kremlin liberal party formed; Georgia-Russia PR war continues; Svetlana Bakhmina transferred to maternity ward.

President Dmitry Medvedev, with urging from French President Nicolas Sarkozy, says he will back down on his original threat to deploy missiles in Eastern Europe if Barack Obama joins next year’s EU energy security discussions.  The Czech Republic and Poland said Sarkozy had no mandate to urge a freeze in missile deployments by Russia and the US until next year.  Medvedev says that, despite current grievances, Russia is ready to team up with NATO, and has made conciliatory noises in relation to high expectations for US foreign policy under Obama.  Belarus insists that it isn’t planning to deploy Iksander missiles on its territory.

A lawyer for Svetlana Bakhmina says that the former Yukos executive has been transferred from prison to a maternity clinic.  The Washington Post has published a special in-depth article on Bakhmina’s case and the ‘unprecedented‘ number of signatures gathered at her online petition.  Carine Clement, the French head of Moscow-based, non-profit organization the Institute of Collective Action, has been attacked for the second time.  Colleagues of anti-deforestation activist Mikhail Beketo believe that the attack that left him in hospital was related to his activism.  The trial of Anna Politkovskaya opens today.

Is a pro-Kremlin liberal party a political oxymoron?  ‘This is a shame, I know,‘ says the head of the new pro-business Right Cause party, whose founding document advocates ‘capitalism for all‘.

The Russia-Georgia PR war continues.  Vladimir Putin’s spokesman has responded to reports of Putin’s violent views on Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili, saying they inaccurately implied that Putin, rather than Medvedev, was in charge of Russia’s military operations in Georgia.  EU observers say they were shot at near the border of Abkhazia over the weekend. The Moscow Times is all over the Latin American analogies today.  ‘The only difference between [Putin’s] junta and the one in Latin American is that Putin is taking pre-emptive steps now to avoid a military coup later.‘  And Medvedev’s missile threats to the US ‘make him sound like President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

PHOTO: President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, left, greeted President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia in Nice, France, on Friday, before a meeting with officials from the European Union nations. (Bruno Bebert/European Pressphoto Agency)