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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Nov. 6, 2007

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Russia’s President Vladimir Putin meets Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao for talks in the Kremlin in Moscow November 5, 2007. REUTERS/RIA-Novosti/Kremlin (RUSSIA)

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has confirmed that it will monitor the State Duma elections, in spite of the severe restrictions imposed by Moscow. The number of observers will drop from 450 to just 70. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier this year described the OSCE’s election-monitoring body as a “politicized” organization. Vladimir Putin stirred national feeling in his speeches over the weekend, saying that forces outside of Russia sought to plunder the wealth of its resources. “Some say we have too many natural riches, that they have to be split up. They, themselves, have no wish to share their own, by the way.” A special report on the new “Kremlin marketing strategy” can be found here. Putin’s network of contacts will “help him wield power” next year. The Health Ministry is to begin working out a strategy for healthcare development that will run from 2009 to 2019. “The misconception that one party is enough to represent all social groups is currently dividing the majority of Russians.” Russian authorities temporarily lifted a ban on overflights by Lufthansa Cargo after German officials agreed to hold talks on moving the airline’s central Asian transit hub from Kazakhstan to the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. Caterpillar Inc., the world’s largest maker of earthmoving and mining equipment, will increase investment in emerging markets including Russia, in order to drive earnings growth. Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska is “likely” to win the bidding for RTB Bor, Serbia’s largest copper mining and smelting complex. Jonathan Evans, Britain’s chief domestic intelligence official, said that MI5 was being forced to divert resources from antiterrorism work “to defend the UK against unreconstructed attempts by Russia, China and others to spy on us.” He made a particular example of Russia, saying, “Since the end of the cold war we have seen no decrease in the numbers of undeclared Russian intelligence officers in the UK.” Carine Clement, a French citizen working for the NGO the Institute for Collective Action, whose husband is a State Duma deputy, was prevented from leaving Russia after border guards at Sheremetyevo Airport questioned her residency permit. She believed she might have been stopped “to keep her from speaking about Russian housing scams at a conference that opened Monday in Brussels.” A think tank for freedom and democracy proposed by Russia to be set up in one of the European capitals could start work as early as 2008. “We are considering the capitals of Belgium, Germany and France at present,” said presidential aide Sergei Yastrzhembsky. “It has to be a public institution. It must not be a state-run or a commercial body.” Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is in Moscow for the close of the ‘Year of China in Russia’, and the opening of the second Russian-Chinese economic forum. Contracts worth a total of nearly $3bn are expected to be signed at the forum. The countries have apparently been unable as yet to agree on a price for crude oil. A Russian MI-8 Hip Helicopter has been shot down in Liberia, killing its three passengers.