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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – April 12, 2011

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TODAY: Foreign Ministry raps U.S. for criticizing human rights; Medvedev offers support to Minsk after bombing; restrictions on encryption technology on the horizon? Issue of visa-free travel with Europe ‘not political’; Khodorkovsky on Putin and Europe; Perm Governor donates to Navalny; prose writers and fashion designers.
The Foreign Ministry has responded to the U.S. State Department’s report on its human rights record, accusing it of ‘double standards‘ and noting that ‘Americans prefer not to recall their own record‘, citing Guantanamo and Bagram prisons, human trafficking and child pornography.  President Dmitry Medvedev offered support to Belarus in investigating the Minsk subway bomb blast which killed seven people yesterday.  It has been established that Russia has no plans to cut off Skype, Gmail or Hotmail, but it is thought that the state will begin to impose more restrictions on encryption technology (bringing Russia in line with many other countries including India and UAE).  ‘Neither Putin nor Medvedev is likely to support any ban on encrypted websites,‘ says this FT blog.  If visa-free travel between Russia and Europe is taking its time to be approved, it’s because of technical, not political issues, says an E.U. lawmaker, as two E.U. Parliament members in Moscow call for free and fair elections this year.

In an interview with German magazine Die Welt, Mikhail Khodorkovsky criticizes Europe’s ‘realpolitik‘ in its dealings with Vladimir Putin, saying that it casts doubt on the sincerity of Western values.  The governor of Perm is the first senior official to give public, financial support to Alexei Navalny’s anti-corruption efforts.  President Dmitry Medvedev has created a working group to improve the official handling of public complaints
Russia’s young prose writers ‘are free of the Soviet legacy,‘ says Booker Prize winner Olga Slavnikova.  A senior prosecutor and a United Russia Deputy’s son exchange blows over a ‘posh‘ shower stall (?).  Russia’s young fashion designers bemoan a lack of funding and opportunities. 
PHOTO: Students hold a portrait of first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin during a meeting to commemorate his first flight in the city of Barnaul in Russia’s Altai region, April 12, 2011. REUTERS/Andrei Kasprishin