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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – April 13, 2010

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TODAY: Leaders declare incomes and assets; Medvedev fed up with questions about Putin; Russia-US adoption to come under scrutiny; tributes to Polish President as ‘language barrier’ blamed for crash; Washington hosts nuclear summit; Dymovsky issues police clean-up deadline, Medvedev pledges to find Chuvashov’s killers.  Sapsan train targeted.
President Dmitry Medvedev and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev led Russian tributes to Polish President Lech Kaczynski in Moscow (video). The Russian air traffic controller Pavel Plusnin, who was speaking to the crew of the Tupolev 154 before it crashed, says that a language barrier exacerbated difficult flight conditions, and the former Polish prime minister suggests that Kaczynski’s insistence that the pilot land the plane was to blame for the crash.  The Times looks at this week’s thaw in Russian-Polish relations and the conspiracy theories surrounding the event, and suggests that Russia ‘should invite Polish experts to take part in, and witness, every aspect of the investigation‘ to dispel suspicion.  Russia’s top leaders (and their wives) have released their income declarations for the second year in a row, meeting disbelief from oppositions politicians and critics – the official records show that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made $134,000 last year against Medvedev’s $113,774, both apparently banking less than Natural Resources Minister Yury Trutnev and Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Khloponin.  In a US interview, Medvedev praised the work of Putin’s premiership, but complained about journalists questioning the relationship between the two. ‘And how does the relationship work between Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden?

A delegation of high-level US State Department officials will visit Moscow to try and forge an agreement and ease tensions over US adoptions of Russians, after the news this week that a 7-year-old boy had been sent back to Russia alone with a note by his adoptive US mother.  The START treaty, despite the ‘hyped-up rhetoric‘ surrounding it, will only reduce nuclear arsenals by 100-200 warheads – ‘the only warheads that will be destroyed under the New START are those that will be decommissioned and were scheduled to be destroyed anyway‘.  Reuters is running a factbox on the major nuclear powers convening at this week’s nuclear summit in Washington, which Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said was an attempt to ‘humiliate human beings‘.
The New Times magazine is in trouble with the authorities after publishing a story on police corruption.  Aleksei Dymovsky, who published his criticisms of the police force on YouTube, has made a new video offering the government a deadline to rectify problems in the police force, threatening an angry rally in Red Square if demands are not met.  Moscow City Court judge Eduard Chuvashov, shot dead this week, ‘was most likely targeted because of his tough verdicts in trials involving ultranationalists‘.  Medvedev has personally backed a call to find his killers.  
The Sapsan train, which runs at high speed between Moscow and St Petersburg and has long been unpopular with locals who throw rocks and ice at it, has been the victim of another act of ‘sabotage‘. 
PHOTO: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signs a book of condolence at Poland’s Embassy in Moscow, Russia, Monday, April 12, 2010. (AP Photo/ Sergei Ilnitsky, pool)