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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – April 28, 2010

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TODAY: Medvedev orders release of Katyn documents; police wages to double; Vedomosti to sue Gryzlov; Other Russia files complaint with EU against Kremlin; increased risk of military strike in North Caucasus; leaders praise naval base, Yanukovych says Stalin famines are not genocide; Kremlin to return religious items to the church; ‘traumatic gun’ regulations; Barents Sea agreement; ultranationalists banned.
Vedomosti is suing State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov for defamation after he accused the newspaper of ‘stewing in the same juices‘ as the terrorists responsible for the March 30 metro bombings.  The Moscow Times anticipates that the case ‘could prove to be a high-stakes battleground for media freedom‘.  The Other Russia says it has filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights over the government’s repeated denials of its right to free assembly.  A new report from Minority Rights Group International suggests that Russia’s civilians are at increased risk this year from the possibility of a military strike against Islamist militants, thanks to escalated violence in the North Caucasus.  Russia’s Federation Council has ratified its deal with Ukraine to extend the lease on the Sevastopol naval base and leaders of the two countries exchanged congratulations on the deal’s ‘triumph of reason and strategic interests over short-term emotions‘ as brawls broke out in Ukraine’s Rada.  The Times says that Viktor Yanukovych has been positively ‘love-bombed‘ by the Russian leaders ‘as the Kremlin has taken advantage of American indifference and European Union ineptitude to restore its dominance in Kiev‘.  In line with Moscow’s position and in total opposition to that of his predecessor, Yanukovych has apparently announced that the 1930s Stalinist famine that killed millions of Ukrainians should not be considered genocide.
 

Acceding to long-term Polish demands, President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered the release of secret documents pertaining to the Katyn massacre.  12,000 police are to be made redundant and wages could double by the end of next year as part of a bid to combat corruption in the force and ‘attract a better quality of applicant‘.  Rights campaigner Lyudmila Alekseyeva is backing U.S. Senator Benjamin Cardin’s call for a visa ban on officials connected with the death of Sergei Magnitsky.  The Kremlin is preparing a bill that would allow religious items currently held in museums to be transferred to the Orthodox Church, part of a seemingly wider plan to restore religious heritage to the church that is currently being appealed by various museum directors and art historians.  Other new legislation will attempt to make it harder to obtain nonlethal or ‘traumatic guns‘, following an increase in gun-related crimes.  Russia and Norway have reached an agreement on a their Barents Sea border dispute, dividing the territory into equal parts. 
The Moscow City Court has banned the ultranationalist Slavic Union (or SS) group for extremism.  Descendents of Nicholas II aren’t too pleased about plans to hold ‘Tsar’s Marathons‘ starting and finishing on the site of the Tsar’s execution.  Activists and Kremlin critics from Oslo’s Freedom Forum gathering are apparently staying in the same hotel as President Medvedev, which was also the site of anti-Russian human rights demonstrations yesterday, says RFE/RL.  Don’t mess with state officials, particularly where carousel rides are concerned.  
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PHOTO: Mikhail Gorbachev talks with officials of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (GETTY)