RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Nov 28th, 2008

281108.jpgTODAY: Medvedev in Cuba, pleased with US NATO decision; no resolution on missile defense this year; Putin’s presidential term extension intensions. Athletes dispute doping punishments.

The meeting between President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and President Dmitri Medvedev yesterday was ‘heavy on pomp and symbolism‘, although the countries’ newly signed agreements could ‘lead nowhere‘, says the New York Times.  Medvedev was in Cuba yesterday for the final leg of his Latin America trip, which Medvedev has deemed a success

The Washington Post debates Vladimir Putin’s intentions following the extension of the Russian presidential term, reminding us of a 2001 Putin quote: ‘The terms of presidential authority will not be changed under the current president […] Even in the most difficult times and times of crisis, those in power did not succumb to the temptation to correct the constitution for themselves. In the end, this was for the good.

The Czech Parliament is voting on a deal to accept a US missile defense installation.  The second half of the vote will not pass until next year, but the parliament’s upper chamber has thus far approved the plan.  Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is not optimistic about a resolution of the missile defense issue with the US this year, but Medvedev has mustered something almost like praise in light of the US’ decision not to push for a fast-tracking of Ukrainian and Georgian NATO membership at next week’s summit. ‘I am pleased that common sense has prevailed, regrettably at the end of the present administration’s work.  The most important thing is that this idea is not being pushed forward relentlessly and absurdly – as it has been for the past several years.

Islamist militants have claimed responsibility for the assassination of the mayor of the North Ossetian capital, Vladikavkaz, saying that the mayor had ordered a crackdown on women wearing traditional Muslim garb due to a female suicide bomber attack earlier this month.  Human Rights Watch says that Russia must take steps to stop South Ossetian militias that are ‘running wild‘.  Has Transdniestra, the Russian-backed breakaway strip of Moldova, become ‘a prize in the contest for influence between Russia and Europe‘?  The All-Russia Athletic Federation and the International Association of Athletics Federations are locked in a dispute over doping punishments for Russian athletes, with the latter pressing for stronger penalties.

PHOTO: Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev and Cuba’s President Raul Castro adjust a ribbon during a wreath-laying ceremony at the Jose Marti monument in Havana November 27, 2008. REUTERS/RIA Novosti/Mikhail Klimentyev/Pool (CUBA)