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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – April 8, 2010

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TODAY: Putin attends Katyn ceremony, fails to apologize, prepares new gas agreements; terrorist attacks dock his popularity. Kyrgyz uprising nothing to do with Russia; Medvedev in Slovakia, due to sign treaty with Obama in Prague later today; Russia fueling nuclear arms race?  Kremlin for kids. 
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited Poland’s Smolensk region yesterday to pay tribute with his Polish counterpart, Donald Tusk, at a 70th anniversary memorial for the Katyn massacres, speaking of ‘common memories and grief‘ in response to Tusk’s challenge that ‘the eye sockets of those killed here by a shot to the back of the head are looking at us today‘.  Russia’s Communist Party apparently chastised Putin for ‘going to Katyn to apologize‘, but many reports note that Putin did not actually apologize for the massacres or declare them as war crimes, as many Poles had hoped he would.  He in fact weighed the blame on Stalin’s rule: ‘With decades of cynical lies, they tried to blot out the truth about the Katyn shootings. It would be a similar kind of falsehood to … place the blame for these crimes on the Russian people.‘  Apologies aside, Putin spoke strongly against the massacres (‘This crime cannot be justified in any way.‘) and called for the two countries to mend relations, paving the way for a new agreement on long-term gas supplies.  The Prime Minister’s approval rating reportedly fell slightly in light of the recent suicide attacks.  YouTube pulled a posting of a Chechen rebel claiming responsibility for the attacks after a parliament deputy attacked Google Inc: ‘If Google is not supporting terrorists, it needs to pull the video.‘  RFE/RL writes on the still unanswered questions surrounding the attacks.

Putin spoke from Katyn to call on the Kyrgyz government and opposition to avoid violence after riots and outbreaks saw the government toppled there yesterday, and denied that Russia had any role in the unrest.  President Dmitry Medvedev also urged an end to the clashes, which he called ‘an extreme level of public outrage‘.  Medvedev was on his first trip to Slovakia, which voiced support for his plan to create a new European security architecture that allows countries to act out of national interests rather than allegiances to military blocs – only the second country after Germany to do so thus far.  
The Other Russia catches Moscow Mayor Yury Lukhkov out on a contradiction.  Medvedev and US President Barack Obama are due to sign their much-discussed nuclear weapons reduction treaty in Prague today, as reports emerge that the issue of an American missile defense shield in Europe has been threatening the signing of the treaty as recently as last night.  The Washington Post wonders whether or not Moscow ‘has conceded too much in the deal‘.  Will Russia’s recent $5 billion arms deal with Venezuela exacerbate conditions for a Latin American arms race
 
The Kremlin is working on a version of its website for children, with interactive lessons on ‘President’, ‘State’, ‘Studying Democracy’ and ‘The Kremlin’.  
PHOTO: Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, left, and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, right, visit the Polish memorial for 22,000 Polish prisoners of war killed by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s secret police in 1940 in Katyn, Russia, Smolensk region, some 400 kilometers west from Moscow, Wednesday, April 7, 2010. (RIA Novosti)