RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – April 22, 2009

PH2009042101668.jpgTODAY: Russia to delay NATO council meeting; Ryabko critical on US missile defense; ex-Yukos lawyer released on parole; Medvedev starts Internet discussion group; Lenin’s birthday suit

Russia has notified NATO of its postponing of the May 7 chief of staff meeting, citing a desire to resume political contact before discussing military issues.  In an interview with the BBC’s Russian service, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that NATO is employing the ‘confrontational logic of the Cold War’.  Kazakhstan has refused to engage in the NATO-organized military exercises in Georgia in a show of support for Russia.  Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabko has voiced concerns regarding US missile defense, saying he believes the US will not change its policy, and that it has in fact ‘intensified’.  South Ossetian authorities have released two OSCE observers it had detained for apparent illegal border crossing.  An article in the Washington Post reports that there are Russian troops just 25 miles from the Georgian capital.

President Medvedev is the latest high-profile Russian to create an Internet discussion forum on the Livejournal site, to maximize contact with Internet users, the Moscow Times reports.  The largest news portal in the Urals region could be closed down, because of extremist comments being posted.  The Russian Foreign Ministry has criticized the harsh and unbalancedstatements made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the UN World Conference Against Racism in Geneva.  The Federal Security Bureau has reportedly exposed a Georgian spy ring in Sochi, led by a man running an Internet cafe, the Moscow Times reports.

Ex-Yukos lawyer, Svetlana Bakhmina, has been granted parole by a Moscow Court.  The Other Russia features an expert commentary on this event.  Mikhail Khodorkovsky and business partner Platon Lebedev have pleaded not guilty to four charges of embezzlement according to the Moscow Times.  The Prosecutor General’s Office has complained that employees of the State Housing and Utilities Reform Fund are receiving higher salaries than some of Russia’s senior officials.  According to a poll, nearly 75% of Russians think that agriculture is the sector most in need of government help.  Marketing and retail, telecommunications and the banking sector were deemed the least worthy. 

Today marks 139th anniversary of the birth of Lenin; no presents for him though; despite being due for a change of suit, straightened economic circumstances mean his embalmed body will have to make do with the old one.

PHOTO: Local police chief Timur Burduli looks around from the Georgiancheckpoint near the village of Akhmaji on the boundary line withRussian-controlled South Ossetia.  Photo taken on April 13, 2009.  (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)