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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Sept 22, 2008

220908.jpgTODAY: Putin ‘defiant’ on troops in breakaway regions, signs new agreements with France; Medvedev responds to Condoleezza Rice; EU struggling on human rights issues against Russia. Aslamazyan to pay fine and go free; cartoons banned. Yushchenko on Russia. Russia’s decisions on troop numbers in the former Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia will be taken ‘defiantly’, without consulting the West, which has urged Russia to withdraw completely from the areas. Russia and France strengthened their cooperation over the weekend, signing agreements on education, renewable energy and Kyoto protocol. France’s Prime Minister, François Fillon, who met with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Sochi, said that EU-Russia talks could resume next month. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has played down the image of Russia as a threat, balancing out some of Condoleezza Rice’s more incendiary statements. President Dmitry Medvedev has responded mockingly to Rice’s comments on Russia’s legal system.

A new report suggests that the EU is struggling to overcome major global human rights issues at the UN due to China and Russia’s votes of no interference. An airport customs office says that NGO worker Manana Aslamazyan will face no further charges if she pays a $40 fine for failing to declare excess cash at Sheremetyevo Airport last year. The 2×2 television channel is set to bar a number of children’s cartoons following complaints from religious fundamentalists.Read an interview with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko on Russia.PHOTO: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon are seen during a news conference, following a meeting of a Russian-French inter government commission in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 20, 2008. (AP Photo/Alexei Nikolsky, Pool)