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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Oct 31, 2008

311008.jpgTODAY: Deripaska denied US visa due to ‘criminal associations’; Lavrov blames Georgia; Russian interests in Latin America provide an arms-export showcase; ‘half’ of Russians satisfied with government; Ingushetian president dismissed. US immigration reportedly denied a visa to oligarch Oleg Deripaska due to suspicions that he was involved in ‘criminal associations and relationships’. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says that Russia is not to blame for the death of a Dutch TV cameraman during the Georgian war. ‘He is one of the victims of the war that the Georgian leadership started,’ Lavrov said. It is widely thought that Russia’s renewed interest in Latin America and, in particular, its military links with Venezuela, ‘are a showcase for arms exports, not an attempt to nurture Latin American allies for a new Cold War with Washington’. Of course Russia wants to recover its sphere of influence, says this columnist, but it can probably only achieve this through force. ‘Russia needs to scale down its geopolitical ambition’ and ‘develop its human capital’. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says that Russia views Kazakhstan as one of its closest allies.

November 5th has been set as the date for President Dmitry Medvedev’s first state nation address. The All-Russia Center for the Study of Public Opinion says that only 5% of the Russian population finds its leadership ‘completely inappropriate’, and estimates that half of Russians are satisfied with current personnel.It was announced yesterday that Murat Zyazikov, the ‘unpopular’ Ingushetian president, made an ‘absolutely voluntary decision’ to resign from his post. In other words, say other sources, he was ‘dismissed’ by the Kremlin.PHOTO: Russian premier Vladimir Putin speaks at a news conference after a summit of prime ministers from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2008. (AP Photo/Alexei Druzhinin, pool)