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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Sept 19, 2008

190908.jpgTODAY: Russia could block Nato from using its airspace; Robert Gates’ statement on Russia harshly interpreted, Condoleezza Rice tries a violent verbal attack although even US commentators are unimpressed; new military assertiveness; corruption; allies. Russia has threatened to block NATO from using its airspace for operations in Afghanistan, citing member states’ ‘hostile’ policies toward Moscow. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates most recent statement on Russia has not been taken kindly by this Russian newspaper, although the New York Times portrays his position as cautious about provoking hostilities. Condoleezza Rice’s strong rhetoric on Russia this week, which was critical on a range of issues, marks a ‘one-way ticket to insignificance’. Mikhail Gorbachev sees her stance as reckless. Russia is refusing to allow OSCE observers to patrol in South Ossetia.

A VTsIOM poll reveals that most Russians are unimpressed with President Dmitry Medvedev’s efforts in terms of corruption, considering Russia to be ‘highly’ or ‘very highly’ corrupt. The Health Ministry is taking steps to tackle the problem of alcoholism.Founders of a Russia-US program to secure weapons of mass destruction in and around Russia fear that relations between the two may disintegrate, causing the weapons fall into the wrong hands. Russia has tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile from a submarine. On Russia’s new military assertiveness.Russia has eased customs procedures to simplify its import process with Turkey, and is seeking space carrier agreements with France. Britain’s beleaguered ambassador to Russia, Tony Brenton, will leave his post this month and begin writing a book about Alexander Menshikov, who ruled Russia after the death of Peter the Great.PHOTO: Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev chairs a session of the State Security Council in Moscow’s Kremlin September 17, 2008. (RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Dmitry Astakhov/Reuters)