RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – April 29, 2010


TODAY: U.S. to push Russia’s WTO bid; Katyn documents; Tambov to receive Stalin bust; Chaika highlights rising crime figures, Supreme Court highlights poor judgements; editor violently attacked, new Freedom House report highlights Russia, safety cards for journalists?; Lavrov vs. Moldova; PACE on Holodomor; rights groups granted permission to hold May 1 protests; Putin and polar bears.
The U.S. and Russia have discussed taking steps to work on the latter’s WTO bid more intensely.  ‘Another insurmountable obstacle to the proposed NATO-Russian joint missile defense shield is the incompatibility of their radar and interceptor components.‘  The government’s release of new documents pertaining to the Katyn massacre ‘is painful territory, especially for the younger generation in pro-Kremlin groups such as Nashi who have been raised to express unquestioning patriotism towards the war victory,‘ says The Times.  The BBC reviews some of the documents in question.  Meanwhile Tambov is to have its very own Stalin bust, courtesy of the North Ossetian Communist Party.  A U.S. government panel has included Russia on its ‘watch list‘ of countries that violate religious freedom, says the Washington Post. 

Prosecutor General Yury Chaika says that corruption-related and extremist crimes rose last year and that 1.3 million 2009 crimes remain unsolved, while the Supreme Court has revealed that over 200 court decisions made last year turned out to be wrong, with analysts blaming poor qualification of judges, lack of independence, and intimidation: ‘Too often, judges just do not dare to rule against the prosecutor’s closing arguments.‘  Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned the Moldovan President against making unfavorable comments about Russia, pointing out that Russia is one of the few countries to ‘recognize Moldova as a sovereign and independent state.‘  Lavrov welcomed news that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution saying that Stalin’s regime was responsible for Holodomor, but rejects accusations of genocide
Moscow officials have, for the first time, granted permission to opposition and human rights groups to hold ‘Day of Wrath‘ protests on May 1, says RFE/RL.  Rubtsovsk tractor-plant workers could go on hunger strike to get officials’ attention in the matter of unpaid wages.  American press rights group, the Committee to Protect Journalists, is calling on Russian officials to investigate this week’s violent attack on the editor of Sochi’s independent Mestnaya newspaper.  And U.S.-based Freedom House will release its press freedom report today, which will highlight Russia’s ‘systematically encroaching on what used to be the comparatively free environment of the Internet and news media‘.  Will ‘safety cards‘ help Russian reporters avoid being detained by police at political rallies?  A local newspaper in Tyumen is facing charges for ‘inciting hostility and hatred towards police officers‘. Planned police reforms could triple, not double, current force wages. 
PHOTO: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, center, seen visiting a LUKoil oil platform in the Caspian Sea on Wednesday. At right is Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin. (Alexei Druzhinin / RIA-Novosti / AP)