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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – April 14, 2011

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TODAY: Journalists’ union report shows increased attacks; privatization to hit regional media; journalist on hunger strike to protest arrest; Surkov speaks to Nashi; Putin on Presidency; Internet attacks; Finnish ‘Russophobia’; culture ministry finds Voina piece disgusting; very expensive bathtubs; underground migrants.
The Russian Union of Journalists has released a new report on journalist attacks, noting an increasing trend towards journalist attacks, with 55 assaults registered last year and ‘nearly none solved‘.  A human rights commissioner from the Council of Europe has presented his own report on violence against journalists in Russia and elsewhere, issuing some strong words against governments’ failures to bring the attackers to justice.  The Kremlin’s drive to privatize regional state assets could affect regional newspapers, and potentially affect their independent legal status.  Journalist Elkhan Mirzoev has gone on hunger strike to protest his arrest and detention following a Day of Anger protest in Moscow.  Vladislav Surkov met with the Nashi youth group earlier this week, blaming corruption on Russia’s liberal opposition. ‘And now those who’ve created this scheme [and] institutionalized corruption are blaming us and preparing anti-corruption reports.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made various comments regarding the ruling tandem yesterday, suggesting that both he and Medvedev could run in next year’s elections, and explaining that he is refraining from revealing more details in order to ensure that the government continues to run smoothly.  ‘[T]his fuss over the election does not help to organise routine work,‘ he said.  A Reuters analysis piece looks at the latest Internet attacks, proposing that the government may be wanting to crack down on free speech because ‘the price of open dissent on the Internet may be too high ahead of next March’s presidential election‘.  A Pravda piece looks at the ‘Russophobia‘ of the Finnish political elite, tracing it back to the European Parliament.
The ministry of culture called Voina’s phallus bridge piece ‘provocative, hooligan-like and disgusting‘, but says it will not interfere in the Innovation prize that the artwork has been awarded.  The Federal Guard Service’s order for a bathtub costing $11,900 does not mesh well with Audit Chamber complaints about wasting state money.  The Guardian points out that the tub costs ‘more than the country’s average annual wage‘.  Moscow police have uncovered an underground network housing 110 illegal migrant factory workers from Central Asia.
PHOTO: (L-R) India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev, China’s President Hu Jintao, Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff and South African President Jacob Zuma attend a joint news conference at the BRICS Leaders Meeting in Sanya, Hainan province April 14, 2011. REUTERS/How Hwee Young/Pool