RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – April 8, 2009

08:04:09.jpgTODAY: Response to North Korea should be measured, says Lavrov; Swiss authorities investigate Viktor Vekselberg; Sibir Energy launches lawsuit; Khodorkovsky urges Kremlin to keep promise on judiciary; local activism just a PR stunt?

‘Hasty conclusions’ should be avoided in the response to the North Korea rocket launch, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says, according to ITAR-TASS.  Russian Deputy U.N. Ambassador, Konstantin Dolgov, hopes to achieve a unanimous Security Council proposal concerning the incident, but reiterates, ‘we are not yet there‘.  U.S. negotiator Rose Gottemoeller has hinted that the deadline for Russia and the US to reach a new nuclear arms agreement could be delayed.  Kremlin economic aide, Arkady Dvorkovich, has apparently downplayed the importance of the new reserve currency idea, formerly a Medvedev ‘priority‘, reports the Moscow Times.  According to Reuters, however, Dvorkovich says that Russia will request the IMF to investigate the possibility of a supranational currency. 

Swiss authorities have launched an investigation into Viktor Vekselberg’s investment in Sulzer, a Swiss engineering operation, on the basis that he may have infringed disclosure rules when investing.  Sibir Energy will be filing suit against a former CEO, Henry Cameron, and a core shareholder, Shalva Chigirinsky, for $328 million, but the figure may reportedly reach $400 million.  Mikhail Khodorkovsky has urged President Medvedev to maintain his pledge to establish ‘independent, honest courts‘.  He also commented that the charges against him were in vague and misleading terms’.  The Moscow branch of IKEA will be charged with breaching anti-competition rules by the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service, although at the moment it has not received a ‘clarification of the charges’.

The Moscow Times examines the National Institute for Development of Modern Ideology’s annual report that suggests it fabricated a social organization representing Evenk people for hydropower company RusHydro, to allay local opposition to the building of a dam.  The Human Rights Center in St. Petersburg has asked Interior Minister, Rashid Nurgaliyev, to look into violence perpetrated against demonstrators by police.  According to RIA Novosti, Ekho Moskvy radio has reported that a senior Solidarity politician, Yelena Vasilyeva, has been assaulted on a train.

In Moscow the luxury goods market is in trouble as rich Russians tighten their belts, reports Bloomberg.  Perhaps not a problem for Natural Resources Minister, Yury Trutnev, who, apparently, has declared the largest salary of all government members, earning $11 million in 2008.

PHOTO: Gazprom’s headquarters in Moscow.  (AFP/File/Denis Sinyakov)