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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Aug 25, 2010

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TODAY: No conviction for Nemtsov; Putin immersed in wildlife; motorists protest zero-tolerance alcohol policy; local leaders protest Barnaul mayor’s dismissal; Russia’s Armenian defense deal ‘is not in Armenia’s interests’, says opposition; mystery military deaths; Bout’s extradition delayed; Plushchenko banned; inflatable missiles. 
Boris Nemtsov says that the authorities’ response to his attempt to march through Moscow with a Russian flag shows that they ‘hate freedom, despise dignity, and consider democracy the biggest threat to their power‘.  His case has been sent back to the police after a court ruled that there was not enough evidence to convict him of insubordination, says The Economist.  This article notes one positive outcome of the wildfires – that Russian people showed strong support for fire-damaged areas, both through donating supplies and volunteering.  Russia and the US are apparently planning to revive a decades-old idea to launch the Beringia National Park, which shares borders with Chukotka and Alaska.  Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, ‘who portrays himself as an environmentally concerned leader‘, has been pledging his support for Russia’s bear population, and will join the International Fund for Animal Welfare this week to assist with their research on the western gray whale.  Activists gathered on Saturday to protest the zero-tolerance alcohol policy for drivers, under which, they say, even non-alcoholic fermented milk drinks could register incriminating levels of alcohol in the blood.

Local leaders and residents say that the suspension of Barnaul city Mayor Vladimir Kolganov for ‘not fulfilling his responsibilities‘ is illegal, and a Liberal Democrat party member says that the suspension could ‘bring together local politicians and the masses‘.  RFE/RL says that Russia’s new defense deal with Armenia ‘capitaliz[es] on the pause in the NATO enlargement process‘ and amounts to the creation of ‘a security system around its perimeter‘.  The Armenian opposition is not happy about the deal, saying that it gives no indication that Russia would side with Armenia in the event of conflict with Azerbaijan.  Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych says that his close relationship with Moscow is a positive contribution to his country’s relations with the EU. 
The Moscow Times reports on Alma Bukharbayeva’s ongoing efforts to solve the mystery of her son’s death in the military seven years ago.  Viktor Bout’s extradition to the US has been delayed, supposedly due to extra legal charges of money laundering and fraud.  Yulia Latynina says that Bout’s ‘delivery of 100 Russian anti-aircraft missiles appears to be a government-sponsored program‘, and compares it with US support of Afghanistan’s mujahedin.  Olympic skater Yevgeny Plushenko has been banned indefinitely by the International Skating Union for competing without permission.
Vladimir Rhyzkov writes on the severe lifestyle and idyllic surroundings of the Altai region.  Russia is making inflatable imitations of its military hardware to fool enemy satellite reconaissance (?). 
PHOTO: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin looks at a bear while visiting the South Kamchatka Federal Sanctuary at Russia’s Pacific Kamchatka peninsula, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)