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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – April 19, 2011

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TODAY: Zyuganov will run for President; no one paying attention to tandem rows?  Medvedev goes after drugs issues; protesters wait for Kremlin aides in Irkutsk; Stepanova details released by Browder; drop in reported tax crimes; anti-immigration group banned; Pulitzer Prize commends Russia correspondents; Bout’s lawyers to appeal
Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov has become the first politician to announce that he will run for President next year, if nominated by his party, and said that he did not have a preference between President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as candidates because he views them as ‘members of one team‘.  Nobody (except journalists) pays any attention to the ruling tandem debate, says Alexei Pankin.  United Russia says that Putin’s position on the elections ‘will be a priority for us‘.  Medvedev is setting his sights on combating increased drug use, proposing measures that could include testing in schools. A State Duma deputy argued that, although the topic is urgent, raising it ‘six months before the elections […] does look like populism.‘  Medvedev made a surprise visit to an apartment building in Irkutsk, criticizing local authorities for its disrepair.  30 individual activists standing 100 meters apart and holding signs mentioning high utility prices and difficulties faced by public sector workers staged protests on Irkutsk’s main streets yesterday to mark the visit by the Kremlin’s advisory body.

Information regarding Olga Stepanova’s personal fortune released earlier this week was apparently disclosed by anti-Russia campaigner William Browder.  A drop in reported tax crimes suggests ‘a reduction in fabricated cases‘.  Nationalist group the Movement Against Illegal Immigration has been banned by a Moscow court for extremist activities
This year’s Pulitzer Prize winners include two New York Times reporters, who were commended for their writings on Russia’s ‘faltering justice system‘.  Lawyers for alleged Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout are appealing the case on the illegality of Bout’s being prosecuted in the U.S. 
PHOTO: Russian Police academy female cadets march during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade at Dvortsovaya (Palace) Square in St.Petersburg, Russia, Monday, April 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)