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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – April 19, 2010

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TODAY: Medvedev’s appearance at Kaczynski’s funeral seen as solidarity; volcanic ash cloud could reach Russian Far East; Kyrgyz government answering to Russia?  Nato wants Russia involved in missile defense; Duma passes first reading of police officer bill; adoption status unclear.
President Dmitry Medvedev’s taking to European air space to attend Lech Kaczynski’s funeral in Krakow was seen as ‘a gesture of solidarity‘ with Poland, as many world leaders were prevented from attending the funeral due to volcanic ash, which is continuing to spread and could make its way to Russia’s Far East.  Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Polish archbishop, said that Russia’s response to the crash had gone some way towards healing the wounds of the Katyn massacre, given that so many of those killed had been closely connected to Katyn victims.  Vladimir Frolov calls Russia’s moves in Kyrgyzstan after the revolution ‘a PR coup‘, and The Times reports that the Kyrgyz government has been told that Moscow’s friendliness depends fully on Roza Otunbayeva’s ability to maintain order and deal with social and economic tasks. ‘Russia’s use of so-called soft power mirrored a long policy of American support for civil society in the former Soviet republics,‘ says the New York Times.

The State Duma has approved the first reading of a presidential bill to toughen punishment for crimes committed by police officers.  President Dmitry Medvedev defended the bill’s ‘singling out’ of the police, saying ‘a point in boosting responsibility not only for police but for all other people whose duty is to protect law‘.  Valery Kulish, a lawyer sentenced to 12 years in prison on financially-related charges, has recorded a YouTube video appeal to Medvedev, comparing his situation to that of Sergei Magnitsky.  Nato secretary general Anders Rasmussen wants Russia to play a central role in any missile defense system in Europe, in order to help ease its concerns about the motives for such a system.  
The situation on US-Russia adoptions remains unclear.  This comment piece notes that Eduard Chuvashov ‘is not the only legal professional to have met such a bitter end during Medvedev’s tenure‘, and wonders what happened to the president’s promise to curb legal nihilism.  Reporters Without Borders has condemned Russian authorities’ attempt to seize documents from the editorial offices of the New Times.  ‘Lenin may be irrelevant, and the 140th anniversary of his birth may pass almost unnoticed on April 22, but his embalmed body still occupies the mausoleum.‘  A bomb in Ingushetia has injured the driver of a high-ranking police official.  
PHOTO: Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, leave after the meeting with Polish leadership at Wawel Royal Castle in Krakow, Sunday April 18, 2010. (AP Photo/CIR/Grzegorz Riginski, Pool)