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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Nov. 1, 2007

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Russian-made rocket carrier Kosmos – 3M blasts off a launch pad at the Plesetsk base, in northern Russia with German reconnaissance satellite SAR-Lupe , Nov. 1, 2007. (AP Photo)

The campaign manager for the Union of Right forces has accused United Russia of cheating in an attempt to steal first place on the ballot in next month’s State Duma elections by refrigerating a ballot ball. It has also been alleged that the party has been giving out “gifts” to potential voters. “Russia’s election on December 2 is becoming as lawful as elections in Belarus or Turkmenistan.” The late invitations sent by the Central Elections Commission have limited the size and term of the observer delegation of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, causing angry reactions. “We have never before received an invitation with restrictions.” Russia has repeatedly criticized the OSCE monitoring process, suggesting observers are biased. A Kremlin spokesman said, “No country will accept any attempts from abroad to try to influence it.” The Defense Ministry is planning to move the Navy headquarters from Moscow to St. Petersburg in a decision that is “likely based on political considerations.” A group of retired senior KGB officials have published an open letter in reference to the recent turf wars between competing agencies, warning security services of the consequences of infighting. “Trust us from our experience,” they wrote. “There will be major troubles, and this is unacceptable.” Given Vladimir Putin’s repeated assurances that he does not intend to remain in office at the end of his second term, “what is the purpose of the hysterical propaganda campaigns?” The analytical group of the World Economic Forum has released its Global Competitiveness Report 2007-2008, ranking Russia at 58. “The low grade of corporate management is the key problem of Russia’s economy.” The Higher Economy School of Economic Development Ministry has compiled a report on the potential aftereffects of Russia’s joining the World Trade Organization. Interior Ministry investigators have raided Promsvyazbank, Russia’s thirteenth-largest bank, due to, the bank said, “the activities of one of our clients”. Geneva-based oil trader Gunvor can apparently thank its “top-level Russian contacts” for its success. A Dutch court has ruled that Yukos did not have the right to sell off the firm’s foreign assets in a bankruptcy auction in August, handing back control of Yukos’ Dutch subsidiary to its former managers. “The Russian bankruptcy of Yukos does not align with fundamental legal principles as accepted in the Netherlands.” Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov will arrive this week in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, to discuss bilateral trade and economic cooperation in the energy sphere. Russia and China had been blocking tough UN sanctions against Iran for months, according to a senior US official. Russia’s Foreign Ministry has decided that regional affiliates of the British Council in the country will not enjoy consular immunity, and the British Council has decided to wind up its regional offices. Russia will not halt its supply of weapons to the Middle East, according to Putin. “We cannot and will not take into account any attempts to impose other restrictions based on unilateral or politicized evaluations,” he said. Korea and Russia are to boost cooperation on space exploration. A Russian Cosmos 3M carrier rocket has successfully brought a German SAR-Lupe communications satellite into orbit. Russia has responded “cautiously” to territorial claims by the UK about arctic seabeds. The Russian government is reportedly pouring billions into nanotechnology to make up for not having developed strong high-tech industries in the past. “Nanotechnology will be the driving force of the Russian economy — if it can overcome the legacy of the recent past.