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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Oct 1, 2008

011008.jpgTODAY: Anti-corruption legislation marks renewed Medvedev campaign; stand-off in Brussels over Russia’s call to limit EU observers in South Ossetia; ties with Bolivia to be strengthened; the ongoing pro-Stalin trend. A new package of anti-corruption legislation is to be introduced in the State Duma this week, says President Dmitry Medvedev. Under a new constitutional law, all state officials and their family members will have to declare their incomes and assets. The legislation comes just one week after Transparency International noted that corruption in the country is at its worst level for eight years. The Federal Security Service says it has terminated 120 terrorist organizations this year. Europe is ready to send its two hundred observers into Georgia to oversee the withdrawal of Russian troops, but is Russia ready to let them in? A military spokesman says that the monitors will have to steer clear of a buffer zone around South Ossetia, causing a ‘stand-offwith Brussels. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the US has done nothing to ease Russian concerns over the planned missile shield in eastern Europe. Russia and Ukraine, despite recent tensions, have renewed their ten-year friendship agreement – or at least, have not declined to renew it…

Medvedev has been noticeably active in Russian regions this week, notes one newspaper, and seemed particularly dissatisfied with ‘extremely undeveloped economic systems’ there. In an assertive sign of military power, a Russian submarine has completed a month-long mission under the Arctic. Bolivia is to purchase five Russian civil defense helicopters, and Russia’s Bolivian Ambassador says this is only a first step in building up a relationship between the two countries.Why are Russians so fond of Stalin? Work is good for Stalin lookalikes in Georgia, says the New York Times. This Russian reporter suggests that such admiration is driving an increasingly aggressive foreign policy. Russian bloggers are nervous that the authorities want to keep them quiet, says one report.PHOTO: Jamil Ziyadaliev, a Stalin impersonator in Georgia, with his wife, Fakizar. He says his resemblance to the most famous Georgian gets him many free meals. (Justyna Mielnikiewicz for The New York Times)