RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Oct 30, 2008

301008.jpgTODAY: Duma votes to station troops in Georgia’s breakaway regions; WWF report pessimistic on Russia’s environmental footprint; Khodorkovsky appeal rejected; judges abusing rights to close trials. Russia’s State Duma has unanimously voted to ratify treaties with Georgia’s breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, allowing Moscow to station 7,600 troops there ‘to protect them from Georgian attacks’. The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan will meet in Moscow to discuss the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi will visit Russia this week to discuss energy and military partnership. Ukraine’s Ukrspetsexport says Russia wants to push it out of the arms market. Did Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak’s release have anything to do with Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin’s support of him, wonders Yulia Latynina in a column on Russia’s debt and potential company seizures by the state. Why has Russia’s financial crisis not drawn more public protests? Perhaps because ‘people think such activists are crazy’? A liberal Russian political alliance blasts the government for the crisis.

The World Wildlife Fund’s new Living Planet energy report says that Russia’s environmental footprint could soon surpass the capacity of its natural resources. The practice of clearing away dead leaves is thought to be killing Moscow’s trees.Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s appeal against investigators for hindering his defense was rejected earlier this week. In some cases, it is fitting to remove a trial from the public eye, but, says one Russian lawyer, ‘judges are abusing their right to close trials’. A Russian journalist has been awarded $1,300 compensation by the European Court of Human Rights over the violation of his right to self-expression regarding an article on drug control.PHOTO: A Russian serviceman in a historical uniform yawns while standing in a line during a military parade training in Moscow October 29, 2008. REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin (RUSSIA)