RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Nov. 18, 2008

181108.jpgTODAY: Putin says decision to go ahead with tariffs does not conflict with the G20 Summit decision to hold off on tariffs; Politkovskaya trial to be open to journalists; Bakhmina to file petition for pardon; Obama supports Georgia, all sides denounced by Amnesty International; cultural relations with Germany and UK.

Vladimir Putin is wary of commitments made at the G20 Summit to avoid new trade barriers, hinting that Russia may delay some of the decisions promised in the summit’s declaration, signed by Medvedev.  Putin insists that the plan to raise tariffs on automobile imports will not conflict with the G20 declaration, but investors were not convinced, with this report suggesting that falling stocks are due to suspicions that the G20 will not help the financial crisis. 

The family of Anna Politkovskaya was ‘surprised and happy with the ruling that the journalist’s murder trial would be open to the public.  The BBC notes that Russia’s state-run media says the trial proves that the justice system works, but that the case is much more complex.  The Times is optimisticon the trial as a test of Russia’s commitment to an independentjudiciary.  Former Yukos lawyer Svetlana Bakhmina, who has beentransferred from prison to a maternity ward, is reportedlyintending to file a petition for a presidential pardon.  MikhailBeketov, the newspaper editor and anti-deforestation activist who wasbadly beaten last week, has been moved to a different hospital afterreceiving threatening phone calls.

Forget the blame wars, Russia, Georgia and South Ossetia all should have done more to protect civilians, says Amnesty International in a new report.  In a phone call to Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili, US president-elect Barack Obama expressed his support for Georgia’s territorial integrity.  EU ministers are planning to appeal to Obama to initiate a change in relations with Russia and move away from Cold War dialogue.

A Germany church has welcomed Russia’s returning of six fourteenth-century stained glass windows, seized by Soviet troops during WWII.  A Turner exhibition in Moscow marks renewed cultural ties between Russia and the UK. 

PHOTO: Former FSB agent Pavel Ryaguzov (L) and Sergei Khadzhikurbanov (R), suspects in the murder case of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, sit in the defendents’ cage in a Moscow court. (AFP)