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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – April 4, 2011

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TODAY: St Petersburg march draws officials; Voina activists beaten, says lawyer; vendors on hunger strike; U.N. throws out Georgia case; Medvedev mediates on Investigative Committee / Prosecutor General row; reporter’s book on corruption seized by police.
350 people attended a march in St Petersburg yesterday, which saw high-ranking officials speak to the crowds ‘in an apparent bid to woo voters’, only to be met with ‘boos and shouts‘. Male students from St Petersburg State University have made a spoof calendar for their Mayor, Valentina Matviyenko, touching on some of her actions, including a suggestion that homeless people should be recruited to shovel snow.  Dmitri Dinze, a lawyer for activists in the Voina group, says that his clients were severely beaten by police after being detained at last week’s Strategy 31 protests.  Two Solidarity activists were arrested in Buryatiya for their part in an unsanctioned protest, says RFE/RL.  100 vendors from a closed-down Moscow market are on hunger strike, demanding a meeting with the Mayor over what they say was an illegal closure.  The U.N.’s International Court of Justice has thrown out Georgia’s case against Russia which had accused it of ethnic cleansing in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Putin ally Sergei Mironov received a Medvedev-camp rebuke for suggesting that the presumption of innocence for state officials be abolished.

President Dmitry Medvedev met with the heads of both the Investigative Committee and the Prosecutor General’s Office in a bid to mediate in a row over a case of illegal gambling that has been escalating between the two.  The President has proposed changes to current gambling laws, which would make it a criminal offense to organize illegal operations.  Some shifts have been happening in the police force, with Medvedev dismissing 22 and reappointing 19 generals over the weekend.  A bill designed to get Duma deputies to listen to their citizens would fine them for failing to respond to letters and requests within 30 days. 
A Forbes reporter’s book on the corrupt practices of Moscow’s authorities has been seized by police, after receiving a complaint from a deputy governor; Alexei Navalny pointed out that the books were seized in record time.  Sławomir Sierakowski writes on Poland’s ‘anti-Russian prejudices‘ and the potential relationship between the two.
PHOTO: A man walks by a graffiti-covered fence in Russia’s far eastern city of Vladivostok April 4, 2011. REUTERS/Yuri Maltsev