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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Sept 15, 2008

150908.jpgTODAY: Lavrov in Abkhazia, Nato in Georgia; Moldovan separatists heartened by Moscow’s position on Georgia’s breakaway regions; Aeroflot crash kills all passengers; journalists under scrutiny; refreshing Russia’s contemporary art. Georgia has responded angrily to Russia’s decision to send its Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on a supportive visit to Abkhazia. Lavrov’s visit coincides with the arrival of Nato envoys in Georgia in a similar show of support. Medvedev has described Nato’s invitation of membership to Georgia, extended last April, as ‘unjust’, and compared the Georgian attack on South Ossetia to 9/11. Separatists in Trans-Dniester, a breakaway region in Russia’s Moldova, ‘have taken heart from Moscow’s recognition of Georgia’s rebel regions’. One consequence of the Georgian war is an intensified focus on journalists ‘who work near the boundaries of what the Kremlin tolerates’, including an investigation into radio station Echo Moskvy. The Georgian Security Chief says that Russia has fulfilled its commitment to pull troops from the country.

Did Lavrov use expletives in his conversation with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband? No, says the Russian Federation. Yes, says Lavrov – but only ‘diplomatically’.President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have sent messages of condolence to the families of the 88 people killed in Sunday morning’s Aeroflot crash. Russia says the crash was accidental despite suspicions of a terrorist link.Russia’s real problem is its ‘retreat from democracy’, says one columnist. Is the notion that Russia is engaged in a new Cold War with the West ‘a massive overreaction’? On Dasha Zhukova’s ‘revolutionizing’ of Russia’s contemporary art scene.The Ukrainian and Russian presidents have held talks over bilateral issues, and may hold a summit before the end of the year. Apparently due to the current state of the army, last week’s bomber expeditions to Venezuela have met with indifference from the US State Department.PHOTO: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov answers media questions during his joint press conference with Abkhasian Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba in Sukhumi. Lavrov embarked Sunday on a tour of the Georgian rebel regions at the centre of last month’s war, drawing furious condemnation from Tbilisi. (AFP)