RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – April 28, 2011


TODAY: Corruption report draws lawsuit threat; entrepreneurs fight corruption; traffic group pressure succeeds; Chernobyl archives reveal Kremlin tactics; Markelov/Baburova murder verdict expected; gay rights march permission revoked? Pro-Medvedev think-tank cut from the Kremlin; Putin puts watchdogs under deputy control; Chaika denies smear campaign; police officials to report on performance; figure skating; fairy tale wars with Ukraine.
A corruption report (available in Russian here) authored by activist Marina Litvinovich, which addresses the business relationships of Kremlin members and their relatives and alleges a direct flow of money from the state to private accounts, could spark a lawsuit from the Audit Chamber.  The Telegraph interviews Yana Yakovleva, an activist whose ‘Business Solidarity‘ organization supports entrepreneurs in fighting corruption.  Pressure from Moscow’s Federation of Car Owners has prompted the traffic police to propose changing regulations at 30 ‘trap‘ locations where police extort bribes from drivers.  Alla Yaroshinskaya says that her archive contains information revealing that the Kremlin ‘was willing to do anything to conceal the extent of the radiation exposure‘ in the fallout from Chernobyl.  Speaking in Sweden, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has expressed concern about the presence of NATO troops near Russian borders.  The trial against the couple accused of the murders of lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova will continue, despite suicide attempts by both suspects, with a verdict expected later today.  Despite news to the contrary, Moscow authorities say they never granted permission for a gay rights march, with one source saying that the organizers ‘are not likely to get it‘.  Another said that the goverment was ‘studying the proposals and will reply in due time‘.

Vladimir Putin has apparently given control of Russia’s federal watchdogs – for borders, mail, infrastructure, sanitation and state control – to his various deputies.  President Dmitry Medvedev has accused Moscow police of hiding dilapidated buildings with fences ahead of his inspection visits.  Starting in June, police officials are to report to the public on their performance.  Gleb Pavlovsky’s Foundation for Effective Politics has had its ties to the Kremlin severed in the wake of his public support for Medvedev to win next year’s presidential elections.  Prosecutor General Yury Chaika denies that his office is engaged in a ‘smear campaign‘ with the Investigative Committee and that the two worked for a common cause, although admitted ‘some difficulties because of a lack of a clear balance of responsibilities‘.  
A human rights group alleges that investigators concealed the beatings of prisoners in a Siberian penitentiary following a fire.  May 17 has been set as the court date for Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s appeal against his conviction.  The New York Times reports on Russia’s attempts to rebuild its figure skating reputation.  As part of their attempts to ‘cash in on folk stories‘, Russia and Ukraine are arguing over the provenance of fairy tale character Kolobok (a cake who is chased through the forest by ‘greedy beasts‘). 
PHOTO: Performers in traditional clothes surround a red circle on the ice symbolizing Japan’s flag during the opening ceremony at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Moscow April 27, 2011. REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov