RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Oct 15, 2008

151008.jpgTODAY: Russian armed forces to be halved; Russia-Georgia talks begin amid pessimism; China and Russia solve border dispute; nepotism case sees sixteen notaries fired; Russia supplying arms to Darfur, says human rights group. Politkovskaya hearings begin. Prospects for a breakthrough at today’s UN-EU-Russia-Georgia talks are ‘negligible,’ says one journalist, ‘as western leaders continue to avoid confronting awkward issues.’ Russia itself is pessimistic on its outlook for the talks, saying that progress is impossible without input from officials from South Ossetia and Abkhazia. In the aftermath of the talks, the International Court of Justice will rule on whether to order Russia to take immediate steps to prevent further ‘ethnic cleansing’. This journalist sees Russia’s withdrawal from Georgia as ‘make-believe’. China believes that its successful resolution of a border dispute with Russia, unveiled yesterday, ‘sets an example for the international community.’ Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov has announced that he is to cut the number of generals and officers ‘in a drive to streamline the bloated armed forces’, and re-establish its position as a global power. The total number of staff is to be more than halved by 2012. A Moscow court will begin preliminary hearings of Anna Polikovskaya’s murder case, a day after reports emerged that Karinna Moskalenko, the former lawyer of the journalist, found deadly mercury in her car.

The president of a Moscow think-tank says Dmitry Medvedev’s anti-corruption plan has charged ‘some of the country’s most corrupt institutions with [the task of] carrying out the battle against corruption.’ As a result of the nepotism case brought against a legal commission by Inna Yermoshkina, who said she was targeted by authorities after filing a nepotism case, sixteen Moscow notaries have lost their jobs. ‘I would be happy if I could change the system, but I’m afraid that these people will be given their jobs back.’US-based rights group Human Rights First says that Russia is one of eleven states now directly supplying weapons to Darfur. The Duma may change the law on flying the Russian flag – which, for ordinary citizens, is currently prohibited. The Kremlin has shifted its cabinet in order to appoint Dmitry Kozak deputy prime minister in charge of the ‘troubled’ preparations for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.PHOTO: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev listens to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during a meeting at the Gorky presidential residence outside Moscow on Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2008. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Mikhail Klimentyev, Presidential Press Service)