The ‘very successful‘ meeting between Nouri al-Maliki and Prime Minister Putin saw the Iraqi Prime Minister guarantee the protection of investments in Iraq. Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, says the Kremlin is feeling a ‘cautious optimism’ about renewed relations with the US, although Russian pressure on Iran is by no means a foregone conclusion. Lavrov has also voiced concerns about NATO, saying last year’s ‘Caucasus crisis showed how dangerous the automatic eastward expansion of NATO is.’ NATO divisions over how to deal with Russia are the subject of an article in the New York Times. Despite mass protests against his leadership, according to the Telegraph, Georgian President, Mikheil Saakashvili, has claimed he retains Western support, and welcomes the US-Russia ‘reset’. Russia will buy Israeli drones, following the disappointing results of their own weapons in last summer’s incursion, reports the BBC.
Moldova’s Constitutional Court has agreed to a recount of votes in last week’s election, as requested by President Vladimir Voronin. An analysis by Reuters of the Kremlin’s reaction to protests in Moldova raises the question of whether Moscow fears similar unrest in Russia, prompted by the economic crisis. Prison terms are to increase for those caught with fake money, even unknowingly, as the result of a new law passed in the Duma. Economic Development Minister, Elvira Nabiullina, has said that food prices will not be regulated, and that an export development agency may be created to stimulate enterprise. Russia’s government presidium will discuss reforms in housing and public utilities, analyzing the results of the autumn-winter heating period. Guest workers from former Soviet states are bearing the brunt of the recession, says an article in the Observer.
Novaya Gazeta is allowed to exist because it remains a ‘crucial source’ for the siloviki themselves, says an article in the Guardian,analyzing how the newspaper survives among the threats to its journalists. Russian-Ukrainian rivalry over Gogol may be reignited with therelease of a film adaptation of Taras Bulba, says the New York Times.
Anti-Kremlin demonstrations in Vladivostok saw protesters opposing military reforms and increased tariffs on imported cars. In keeping with the official April 12 celebration of Cosmonauts Day, demonstrators suggested exile in space for Medvedev and Putin.
PHOTO: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin shaking hands with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Moscow on April 10, 2009. (Alexei Nikolsky / AP)