RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – April 11, 2011


TODAY: Polish memorial shunned by former President’s twin brother, blaming Russia, plaque causes further row; Day of Wrath arrests; Russia wants joint role in missile defense; FSB suggestion to limit Skype and Gmail dismissed; Novaya Gazeta web attack; Kasparov on Bukovsky; Voina wins art prize; snow delays flights.
Poland held a memorial yesterday to mark the plane crash last year that killed President Lech Kaczynski (RFE/RL has details and speech soundbites, and the BBC has some video footage), as the former President’s twin brother shunned the event, blaming Moscow and Prime Minister Donald Tusk for the crash. ‘A recent poll shows that a majority of Poles feel there has still not been an adequate explanation of what happened.‘  President Bronislaw Komorowski is in Russia today for a further commemoration event.  A new row has emerged after Moscow apparently changed a plaque marking the event in Smolensk to remove a reference to the Katyn massacre (‘Moscow’s efforts to cover up responsibility for the massacre have long been a major irritant in relations between Poland and Russia‘).  Day of Wrath protests in Moscow saw 250 protesters gathering (click for video), with ‘about a dozen‘ of them detained.  Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov says that Russia will join the U.S.’ planned missile shield in exchange for a joint, ‘red-button push to start‘ role in operating it.

An FSB official suggested that Skype, Gmail and Hotmail be banned in Russia over the weekend, calling them a potential threat to security, but quickly backed down. Although it’s worth noting that, according to a Google spokesperson, ‘the FSB has never filed a request for information about users. By contrast, U.S. security services filed more than 4,200 data requests last year, and 83 percent of them were granted.‘  Novaya Gazeta’s website suffered a denial-of-service attack last week, similar to the one that took down LiveJournal days prior, with the newspaper’s editor linking the attack with its ‘alternative points of view‘.  A U.S. State Department survey counted Russia in the top three E.U. countries with the worst human rights record.  Garry Kasparov comments on the peculiar attempt by rights advocate Vladimir Bukovsky that Mikhail Gorbachev be arrested for suppressing protests in Tbilisi, Baku and Vilnius in 1989. 
A Dick Held Prisoner at the FSB‘, Voina’s June painting of a gigantic phallus on a drawbridge facing an FSB building, has won a state art innovation award worth $14,000.  Heavy snow has delayed at least 30 flights from Domodedovo already today.  Previously secret material about Yuri Gagarin has been released ahead of the April 12 anniversary of his spaceflight.  On the disappearing art-form of Palekh’s varnished story-boxes
PHOTO: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s wife Svetlana, left, takes part in a flower-laying ceremony outside the Polish embassy to mark the one-year anniversary of the Polish presidential plane crash in Moscow, Sunday, April 10, 2011. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Dmitry Astakhov, Presidential Press Service)