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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – April 7, 2011

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TODAY: Livejournal hacked; police department praises latest reforms; Whitmore & FT on the tandem; Posner fails to deliver on promise; Albright on nuclear risk; Minsk needs Moscow; Federal Tax Service under investigation; Soyuz docks; history on Gagarin and Rasputin.
Livejournal, the company that hosts the President’s blog, was cyber-attacked yesterday, leading to speculation that the attack was a ‘field exercise aimed at preventing public unrest during the State Duma elections in December and the presidential vote in March‘.  The police department is praising the recent reforms for already showing ‘tangible‘ improvements: the Interior Minister says that citizens rights and freedoms have already changed for the better, ‘without providing any factual evidence‘.  Dmitry Medvedev’s recent spate of assertive actions is no surprise, says Brian Whitmore: his ‘current hyperactive assertiveness has actually been building for months‘.  The FT focuses on waning support for both elements of the tandem.  What happened to Vladimir Posner’s promise to invite opposition leaders onto his television talk show?  Russia is not happy about Poland’s apparent failure to respond to requests for information on the Smolensk plane crash.

Madeleine Albright writes in today’s New York Times on ways for Russia and the U.S. to reduce nuclear risk.  Belarus is ‘running out of cash,‘ leaving Russia ‘a free hand‘ in setting the terms under which it will supply Minsk with a $3 billion cash injection.  ‘Russia has long been pushing Minsk to sell off key state assets including oil refineries, chemical plants, oil and gas pipelines, and machinery plants.‘  On the 9 émigres whose Russian citizenships ‘vanished from Foreign Ministry computers.  President Dmitry Medvedev is pleased about Syria’s plans for reform
The Federal Tax Service has been searched by investigators in relation to an embezzlement case, which could implicate officials also under suspicion in the case of Sergei Magnitsky, although officials say there is no connection
The Soyuz spacecraft, adorned with an image of Yuri Gagarin, has docked at the International Space Station 50 years after Gagarin’s first flight into space.  Some history today: the Guardian writes on the near-grounding of Gagarin’s original spaceflight, and the Telegraph writes about Grigory Rasputin, ahead of the making of a Franco-Russian film.  
PHOTO: Russia’s First Lady Svetlana Medvedeva (R) and Belgium’s Princess Mathilde walk in Moscow’s Kremlin, April 5, 2011. REUTERS/Dmitry Astakhov/RIA Novosti