TODAY: Lavrov unhappy with US sanctions on arms; EU to restructure Russian relations; Kremlin keeping tags on bloggers?; Lukhkov accused of influencing foreign policy under Vladimir Putin; UK’s Peter Mandelson under scrutiny for ties with Oleg Deripaska. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has condemned sanctions imposed on Rosoboronexport by the US State Department for selling arms to Iran as having ‘no international legal foundation whatsoever’. A new EU policy document suggests that Europe should restructure its discussions with Russia to solve ‘numerous difficulties’ affecting relations. Nguyen Minh Triet, the president of Vietnam, has arrived in Russia for talks on cooperation, closely following a visit by the Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko aimed at strengthening financial ties. Over 50% of Lithuanians see Russia as a threat to the security of Balkan countries, says a public opinion poll. The New York Times investigates Moscow’s Mayor Yuri Luzhkov’s influence on former President Vladimir Putin’s ‘aggressive’ Russian foreign policy, and receives a divided response from its Russian readers. One Russian television station is so worried about boring its viewers with ‘tame’ financial news that it has introduced a roundup of ‘crazy news’ to attract viewers. Is the Kremlin using ‘soft power’ to keep tabs on Russian bloggers without drawing attention to itself? The shooting of the owner of the opposition web site Ingushetiya.ru has been ruled an accident. Five members of the Young Russia movement were detained at an opposition rally held in Moscow over the weekend.
The British press are focusing in on the relationship between the UK business secretary, Peter Mandelson, and oligarch Oleg Deripaska, with the latter insisting that the publicity would not put him off further meetings. Despite some conflicting reports about their initial meetings, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article5020064.ece Mandelson denies that he gave Deripaska special treatment in his previous capacity as EU trade commissioner. Deripaska’s links with the wealthy Rothschild family are also the subject of speculation.PHOTO: Challenger Vladimir Kramnik of Russia thinks over his next move against defending Chess World Champion Viswanathan Anand of India during their 9th game at the Chess World Championships in Bonn October 26, 2008. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay (GERMANY)