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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Nov. 2, 2007

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A visitor looks at a photo showing Russian President Vladimir Putin with his wife Lyudmila at an exhibition called Russia’s First Ladies in Moscow, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2007. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

At least 72 of the 600 United Russia candidates (12%) have direct links to big or medium-size businesses. If Vladimir Putin becomes the next Prime Minister, the “emasculat[ion of] the elected presidency, which is Russia’s sole source of political legitimacy, would pave the way to chaos.” A profile of Dmitri Medvedev, and speculation on his leadership abilities, can be found here. Putin’s decision to move the Navy from Moscow to St. Petersburg is “another gift for his home city”. A new poll from the Levada Centre (formerly VTsIOM) says that more than a third of Russians believe the country could do without a parliament, and that a quarter favor a return to communist-style central planning. “Almost 50% see the ruling United Russia party as a revived Soviet Communist party and would like it to control all branches of power.” The Federal Energy Agency, the new watchdog for the electricity sector, is to start enforcing investment commitments and breaking up ventures that stifle competition. Uranium producer Cameco has been told by state-run Tenex, its atomic fuel supplier, to “consider a new pricing structure to share in the improved uranium market prices.” Brilliance China Automotive Holdings, a partner of Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, is to begin assembling its own-branded cars in Russia with a local partner to expand overseas sales. Following a sale of global depository receipts, Novorossiysk Commercial Sea Port, which handles a fifth of all Russian cargo shipments, has been valued at $4.9 billion. A mystery investor has proposed buying a 25% stake in Imperial Energy, the UK oil producer operating in Russia’s Tomsk region. A draft agreement on the further activities of VietSovPetro, a joint operation between Russia and Vietnam, is to be submitted to the government at the end of the year. Russia has resumed its import of wine and cognac from Moldova. Deputy foreign ministers of six world powers will meet in London today to discuss a possible third round of sanctions against Iran over its refusal to abandon uranium enrichment. Russia continues to insist on diplomacy and to resist tough sanctions. One Iranian analyst, however, says that “Russia betrayed Iran for its own interests” on the nuclear issue. The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council has proposed to Iran that it create a multinational consortium to provide enriched uranium to the Islamic republic as a way of resolving the standoff. US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns described as “quite negative” Moscow’s proposal to reduce vote monitoring by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and said that it would not be supported, and meanwhile the OSCE says it may not send any observers at all. Germany’s Transport Ministry is considering whether or not to engage the European Union in resolving a dispute with Moscow over the use of Russian airspace. The Federal Air Transportation Agency denies any conflict. “The man accused of murdering Alexander Litvinenko has used the first anniversary of his poisoning to suggest that the dissident spy may have killed himself.” Special report on Norilsk, “Russia’s aluminium heart”. Russian IT professionals have created a computer keyboard “suitable for girls with blonde hair, who are considered to be less smart than girls with other hair colours.”