RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Oct 7, 2008

071008.jpgTODAY: Switzerland to represent Russia in Georgia? NATO wants to draw up defense plan for Russia’s neighbours. Storchak sentenced; political and cultural figures call for Politkovskaya justice. Russia strengthening ties with Belarus; Israel concerned over Russian weapons in the Middle East. Georgia’s Foreign Ministry says it has no objections to Switzerland representing Russia’s diplomatic interests in Georgia, which were severed following the war. Due to concerns stemming from the war, a NATO commander wants the authority to draw up detailed military plans to defend former Soviet bloc members, and has reportedly drawn up a military risk assessment for Estonia. Almost 2,000 South Ossetian applications complaining of illegal treatment by Georgia have been submitted to the European Court of Human Rights. Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak has been charged with attempted fraud and abuse of office, and if convicted, could face up to ten years in prison. His lawyer questions the validity of the case. Over 100 prominent figures of western culture and politics have called for Russia to bring justice to the case of Anna Politkovskaya.

Putin is currently in talks with Belarusian prime minister Sergei Sidorsky on strengthening ties. He says Russia is in favor of creating a currency pool with Belarus and expanding the use of the Russian ruble in bilateral trade. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says he isn’t flattered to have had a Chechen street named after him, wishes officials wouldn’t erect statues of him, and ‘would prefer it if this did not happen,’ according to his spokesperson.Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert expressed concern about Russia’s plans for the sale of advanced weaponry and technology to both Syria and Iran, and asked Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to work against the traffic of weapons in the Middle East. Arms export monopoly Rosoboronexport denies having any information about missile deliveries to the region. Lavrov, meanwhile, has reiterated his accusation that the US is upsetting the nuclear arms balance by neglecting to renew the START treaty. Lavrov says that his country’s strengthening of ties with Venezuela is not aimed at any other country, including the US.PHOTO: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin looks at his First Deputy Igor Shuvalov as they attend extended Russian-Belarusian talks in the Belarus’ capital Minsk, Monday, Oct. 6, 2008. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Pool)