RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Aug 13, 2010

TODAY: Putin fails to mark 10th anniversary of Kursk submarine disaster; doctors told not to diagnose heatstroke; 35 protesters detained at anti-Luzhkov rally; Levada polls Putin’s failures; reconstruction webcams point to empty fields; space mission with India to rival China’s? Igor Sutyagin.
Protesters gathered to rally against Mayor Yury Luzhkov in an unsanctioned meeting sparked by Moscow’s ‘unpreparedness for the heat wave and the wildfires‘.  A reported 35 of them, carrying black scraps of paper to symbolize mistrust, (including activist Lev Ponomaryov), were detained by police.  The BBC reports that doctors in Moscow are being told not to diagnose heatstroke, as one doctor admits, ‘we were told that the figures for heatstroke in Moscow had gone off the scale‘.  Tornadoes and hurricanes on the cards for next week?  A new poll from the Levada center gave respondents ‘a list of Putin’s possible failures‘ and asked them to choose his biggest, revealing strong feelings about corruption and bribery.  Ceremonies across Russia are being held to mark yesterday’s 10th anniversary of the Kursk submarine disaster in which 118 people died, but the official response was lacking, according to relatives of the dead, with silence from the Defense Ministry, the President, and Prime Minister.  The disaster taught Vladimir Putin a valuable lesson, says this article: ‘When disaster strikes, take control — most importantly of television.‘  

This report compares the ruling tandem’s varied responses to the wildfire crisis.  ‘Putin’s values are Soviet ones. They may be summed up as: ‘We may live badly but we live in a great, powerful state and we should be proud of it’. However, now, people are saying: ‘We don’t live well, nothing is improving and in fact our state is not so great either.’‘  Web cameras set up to monitor construction of the new homes that will replace those destroyed in the fires ‘show empty fields‘ opposite construction sites, rather than the construction sites themselves.  Scientists are playing down previous reports about fires stirring radioactive Chernobyl fallout. ‘I would be much more concerned about the smog in Moscow and the health impacts of that.‘  Georgy Bovt compares the conservative media coverage of the early days of the wildfires to the information withheld at the outset of the Chernobyl disaster. 
Russia and India are working on a robotic space mission together, says the BBC, which will rival the lunar landing of China’s Chang’e-3 spacecraft.  RFE/RL reports on the implications of next week’s anticipated defense and arms supply agreements with Armenia.  The New York Times interviews Igor Sutyagin, currently living in London, who was imprisoned in Russia for eleven years over allegations of espionage. 
PHOTO: Day of Wrath protest against Mayor Yuri Luzhkov’s policies (RIA Novosti, Ilya Pitalev)