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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – April 5, 2011

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TODAY: Soyuz spaceship blasts off; police official fired for assault on female journalist; Russia wants U.S. guarantees; Kashin sued by alleged attacker; army will continue to use conscripts; wildfires in Siberia; Fashion Week.
The Soyuz spaceship, decorated with a picture of Yury Gagarin’s face, blasted off from Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome this morning.  A police official has been fired for allegedly punching Natalya Seybil, a female journalist, in the face after she rejected his attempts to strike up a conversation. ‘Officers took up the matter only after the precinct began receiving calls from the media and film crews started arriving at the scene.‘  A communications officer with the police department has issued an apology.  A former deputy prosecutor in the Komi republic is fearing for his life after whistleblowing what he called the false arrest of two people charged with arson back in 2009.  Is United Russia lawmaker Konstantin Zatulin being demoted because he publicly criticized Medvedev?  Russia says it wants ‘legal guarantees‘ that the U.S. isn’t intending to use its planned European missile shield against it, demanding that Russia’s strategic forces be ‘off-limits for the system‘.

Alexei Pankin writes on ‘the current behavior of journalists in the blogosphere‘ where, he says, they begin behaving like ‘street punks‘.  The New York Times reviews ‘Is Journalism Worth Dying For?‘, a collection of Anna Politkovskaya’s essays.  ‘Th[e] failure to convict [the killers of Russian journalists] is feeding the popular opinion that the Kremlin is behind the murders.‘  The man accused by journalist Oleg Kashin of involvement in his brutal attack has filed a $3,500 defamation lawsuit against him. 
Dmitry Medvedev says that the armed forces will continue to use conscripts and contracted recruits for the next decade at least.  Medvedev congratulated Kazakhstan’s longtime President Nursultan Nazarbayev on his re-election, as international observers criticized the fairness of the vote.  Vladimir Putin will chair a conference on improving the methods of forecasting dangerous natural calamities today, as wildfires break out in Siberia. The visa registration process for foreigners arriving in Russia has been eased ‘in record time‘ due to complaints from the international business community, with visitors staying for less than seven days no longer being required to register
Reuters says Russian Fashion Week this year is taking its inspiration from ‘the motherland‘. 
PHOTO: The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz TMA-21 space ship carrying new crew members to the International Space Station, ISS, blasts off from the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Tuesday, April 5, 2011. The launch took place just a few days before the 50th anniversary of Yury Gagarin’s April 12, 1961 space flight, the world’s first manned mission in space. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)