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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – April 13, 2011

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TODAY: Survey shows apathy on the rise; EU Court of Human Rights rules on Republic Party dissolution; EU Parliament implies sanctions for Russia on free elections; military presence in Armenia extended; Medvedev to announce decision on re-election; Federal Tax Service calls raid illegal; Brian Whitmore on Sechin’s resignation; Voina profile, former Miss Russia on drugs charges.
A new VTsIOM survey shows political apathy on the rise, with 61% of respondents saying they pay no attention to Russian politics, although 80% said they were involved in local community events.  The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the 2007 dissolution of Vladimir Ryzhkov’s Republican Party was unjustified; Ryzhkov says he may use the ruling to register a new party.  Members of the European Parliament have implied that the EU should adopt the same policies for Russia and Belarus regarding the freedom and fairness of elections, implying that sanctions could be imposed against Russian civil servants.  Russia’s military presence in Armenia will be prolonged under a new agreement between the two which extends Russia’s lease on the Gyumri military base until 2044.  The leftist Rot Front party has had its fifth registration attempt rejected over the symbolic ‘extremism‘ of its emblem.

President Dmitry Medvedev says he will decide on whether or not to run for re-election ‘in the near future‘, and issued some ambiguous remarks about the need for change.  The Federal Tax Service says that the searching of its Moscow office was not legal, and has complained to prosecutors accordingly.  Brian Whitmore writes on the resignation of Igor Sechin from his Rosneft post, discussing assumptions that Sergei Shishin, ‘a Sechin ally with a KGB background,‘ will take his place. ‘[T]he Kremlin is hardly divesting itself from the company’s operations. Russia Inc. will remain Russia Inc. — it will just be a little less in-your-face about it.‘ 
The Guardian has a profile piece on radical art group Voina, which is gaining notoriety in the West, at least in part due to British artist Banksy helping to fund some of the group’s legal activities. ‘Banksy is financing the next generation of Russian revolutionaries,‘ says member Oleg Vorotnikov.  Former Miss Russia, Anna Malova, is pleading not guilty to drugs charges in the U.S. 
PHOTO: Fireworks explode over Moscow to mark the 50th anniversary of the first man in space, Russia’s Yuri Gagarin, on Tuesday, April 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)