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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – April 1, 2010

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TODAY: Human rights veteran attacked; protesters detained in Moscow and Vladivostok; 3,000 gather to remember those killed in Monday’s Moscow attacks for which Chechen rebel leader claims responsibility; United Russia’s clean water program criticized; START treaty is exactly what Russia wants?
82-year-old human rights veteran Lyudmila Alexeyeva was attacked in the Park Kultury metro station as she attended a gathering for bombing victims, by a man who approached her and asked, ‘Are you still alive?‘, before striking her in the head. The incident was captured on video. Meanwhile, between 30 and 50 protesters were detained, and some seriously injured, at an opposition rally in Triumfalnaya Square, held to defend the right to freedom of assembly and to mark this week’s bombings.  20 more were detained at a similar protest in Vladivostok.  Another memorial-style gathering in central Moscow drew a crowd of 3,000.  Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov claimed responsibility for the Moscow explosions, saying that they were carried out in retaliation for an attack made on Ingush and Chechens by Federal Security Service commandos in February (watch a video of Umarov here).  Tbilisi says it will cooperate with Russia to identify the terrorists connected with the bombings.  The United Civil Front has issued a statement in response to the attacks: ‘Regardless of the loud proclamations sounded over the course of the ten years of Vladimir Putin’s rule, neither he nor his team has succeeded in coping with terrorism.‘  88 people are still in hospital with injuries.

United Russia, which is apparently about to receive a new member in the form of supermodel Naomi Campbell, is receiving criticism on grounds that its Clean Water program is focused more on cleaning contaminated water than discovering and eliminating the causes of contamination. ‘The program reduces water issues to the technology of water preparation.‘  A bronze Lenin monument will be reinstated in a St Petersburg railway station after it was vandalized last year. 
The Washington Times comments on the new START treaty: ‘Russia’s nuclear and conventional weapons arsenals are declining faster than ours, due to age and funding, so of course they want to bring our levels down to theirs.‘ 
PHOTO: Mourners gather in central Moscow to remember those killed in Monday’s attacks. (AFP)