RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – April 12, 2010


TODAY: Russian response to fatal Polish crash praised as thousands gather to meet bodies in Warsaw; Bastrykin rules out technical failure, conspiracy theories inevitable; Russia pledges aid to Kyrgystan; police awarded for refusing bribe offer; Moscow judge shot; tension over Moscow city plans. 
Thousands gathered to witness the arrival of the body of Polish President Lech Kaczynski, which is to lie in state in Warsaw as Russia observes a day of mourning on what would usually be a national holiday in celebration of Yury Gagarin.  Prime Minister Vladimir Putin promised that the State Commission would do its best to support the relatives of those who died in the crash. ‘This, above all, is a tragedy for Poland and the Polish people. But it’s also our tragedy. We are grieving together with you,‘ Putin said.  Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski praised Russian authorities’ ‘exemplary‘ response to the crash, saying  that it would help improve relations between the two countries, for whom ‘tensions and mutual mistrust go back centuries‘, says The Telegraph.  Putin’s ‘personal involvement‘, in particular, has been praised.  Russia’s chief investigator Aleksandr Bastrykin has ruled out technical problems as the cause of the crash, focusing instead on the pilot’s decision to attempt a landing despite repeated weather warnings.  ‘Even if it is confirmed that pilot error caused the crash, there will inevitably be those who say it was the KGB that killed Kaczynski,‘ noted a Russian editor.

This Washington Post piece notes that Russian television stations were scathing about former Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, and argues that this media campaign ‘played a critical role in fanning public anger against Bakiyev and bringing people into the streets for the demonstrations that forced him to flee‘.  The interim government is seeking over $150 million in aid from Russia, basing its figures on last year’s peacetime grant, and its deputy head says an agreement has been reached on a solid grant of an unconfirmed amount. 
The Internal Ministry in the Siberian Republic of Khakassia is awarding two traffic police for turning down a bribe from an offending driver, as part of a regional initiative to cut corruption, reports The Other Russia.  Top Moscow city court judge Eduard Chuvashov has been shot dead at his apartment building in Moscow.  Two government officials stormed out of Moscow’s Public Chamber over criticisms of Mayor Yury Luzhkov’s GenPlan, a development project that ‘envisions 200 million square meters of construction over the next 15 years‘. 
PHOTO: Mourners hold candles for the victims of the Polish presidential plane crash on Saturday in Smolensk, Russia, in front of the Presidential palace in Warsaw, Sunday, April 11, 2010. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)