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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – April 29, 2009

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TODAY: meat import ban contested by US; 35,000 army officers face dismissal this year; Lavrov concerned by EU moves towards ex-USSR states; crack down on internet users; Soviet damages; Bolshoi star dies

Russia has extended a ban on importing meats from the US due to fears about swine flu, and has dismissed the US claim that it cannot be transmitted by meat, as Americans ‘protecting the interests of their exporters’, Reuters reports.  The US is optimistic it can persuade Kyrgyzstan to go back on its $2 billion agreement with Russia to close a military base considered important for US operations in Afghanistan.  An accumulation of subsidiary problems between Moscow and Washington may well mar agreements on the principle issues, Amitai Etzioni suggests in the Moscow Times.


As part of reforms aimed at removing 35,000 officers this year, about a fifth of all generals will be fired for failing to pass a proficiency test, the Moscow Times reports.  Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has counseled Europe against interfering in ex-Soviet states.  Tensions have mounted at the Council of Europe, as the Russian delegation’s preferred candidate for secretary-general may not be shortlisted.  EU foreign policy head Javier Solana says that EU relations with Russia are much improved since Obama came to power.  Beating off court marshals and bad loans; how Alexei Kudrin is weathering the financial crisis is the subject of an op-ed piece in the Moscow Times.  A Central Asia summit on the issue of water-sharing ground to a halt as the five countries involved failed to establish any common interests.

Internet domain owners may be obliged to provide a form of identification in an attempt to curtail publication of illegal materials.  NTV will end the political talk show ‘K Baryeru’, host to oppostion politicians, for apparently ‘corporate’ reasons.  The title ‘No to christianization‘ has seen a Russian blogger from the Republic of Tatarstan sentenced to 1.5 years probation.  Ecologist Olga Speranskaya says that Russia is still fighting the effects of toxic contamination stemming from the Soviet era.  Latvia has apparently calculated its damages from Soviet occupation‘ between 1950 and 1990 at $200 bilion.

Leading light of the Bolshoi ballet, Yekaterina Maximova, or Yekaterina the Great, has died suddenly at the age of 70.

PHOTO: Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev shakes hands with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow.  (AFP/POOL/Alexey Nikolsky)