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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – April 20, 2010

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TODAY: Russia-US adoptions freeze could continue for months; court to uphold ban on jury trials for terrorists; Uzbek President meets with Medvedev; Kyrgyzstan dealing with riots; United Russia conferences show ’empty rhetoric’, Prokhorov under fire for criticizing labor legislation; scientist flees after Sochi criticisms; Air China resumes flights to Moscow.
A new agreement on US-Russia adoptions could take ‘up to two months‘ to negotiate, leaving the current freeze in place.  The Constitutional Court will uphold a ban on jury trials for terrorism suspects, which was initially set up in 2008 as a measure to curb frequent acquittals granted by juries in terrorism cases.  Uzbek President Islam Karimov met with President Dmitry Medvedev yesterday for informal talks pertaining to the uprising in Kyrgyzstan.  Both leaders declined to comment on the meeting, but it is thought that Uzbekistan’s leader is not in danger of losing his position.  Meanwhile the new Kyrgyz government is struggling to contain riots in the capital.  Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has begun a series of United Russia conferences in Novosibirsk.  Nikolai Petrov says that Putin’s new plans for the region are ‘neither an analysis of their problems nor a proposal for solving them‘, and sound like ‘empty rhetoric‘.  Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, head of the labor committee of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, has angered United Russia by proposing ‘immoral‘ reforms for Russia’s labor legislation, saying that the current system, capping overtime and preventing arbitrary dismissals, hampers innovation.

Senior Russian scientist, Dr. Sergei Volkov, has reportedly fled Russia fearing that he could be arrested for adding his voice to the many criticisms of construction work for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, saying that various projects including the road and railway link could lead to a series of geological disasters.  Meanwhile, analysts debate the likelihood that Sochi will be targeted by terrorists. ‘Sochi’s geographical proximity to these regions means that it will be potentially easier for [insurgents] to travel to this area and the high-profile nature of the event itself means it’s a tempting target.
 
Flight cancellations caused by the volcanic ash cloud have left 38,800 passengers stranded in Moscow’s three main airports.  505 flights out of Russia have been cancelled today, although Air China has reportedly resumed flights to Moscow.  More than 20,000 retired military officers have been left without apartments due to ‘paralyzing bureaucratic procedures‘ and poor quality housing. 
PHOTO: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, left, listens to Director of a fish processing plant Valery Zimnitsky, second left, while visiting the plant in Murmansk, 1,450 km (906 miles) north of Moscow, Saturday, April 17, 2010. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Pool)