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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Aug 5, 2010

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TODAY: Smog from wildfires chokes Muscovites; Medvedev fires officials and demands new fire safety measures; Putin offers to help blogger in exchange for his address; Khimki campaigner Yevgenia Chirikova detained; journalist Magomed Yevloyev’s killer is shot dead; new anti-corruption training; judge rules on Russia’s failure to return sacred documents.
Wildfires burning across Russia caused an infiltration of thick, ‘lung-aching‘ smog, ‘an acrid, choking haze‘ that swept into Moscow’s buildings and metro stations yesterday, ‘giving rise to talk of an apocalyptic nature‘ and conspiracy theories about ‘climate weapons‘, says RIA Novosti, which is also reporting that the smog had ‘all but cleared‘ this morning.  The Independent also echoes the apocalpytic tone in this piece on fire case studies: ‘It was like descending into hell.‘  Fire death tolls have reached 50, and President Dmitry Medvedev fired five officials in connection with fire damage at the Kolomna aviation base. ‘Everything that happened was the simple nonfulfillment of duties — criminal negligence,‘ he said, calling for a new fire safety program.  Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he would ensure that an angry blogger who criticized him in an entry ‘punctuated by obscene swear-words‘ would receive a fire alarm bell for his village ‘if he passed on his address‘.

Khimki forest campaign leader Yevgenia Chirikova was detained in Moscow ‘in front of dozens of reporters‘ at the Independent Press Center, where she had been speaking.  Police apparently want Chirikova to answer questions about last week’s attack on a Khimki administration building.  The policeman charged with the killing of opposition journalist Magomed Yevloyev has been shot dead by unknown assailants.  Despite the efforts of a public activist, Artyom Kuznetsov, the investigator who jailed lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, will not be investigated for ‘lavish spending‘.
New managers and employees of anti-corruption departments in the government are reportedly set to receive 36 hours of special trainingwhich will focus on curtailing the appearance of new bribe-takers, rather than finding and punishing existing ones‘.  A US judge has ruled against Russia in a case involving its refusal to return of a library of ‘sacred Jewish documents‘ seized during the Bolshevik revolution and the Russian Civil War.  Russia says it is ready to demarcate its border with Ukraine, potentially paving the way for visa-free travel, reports RFE/RL.  Iran says that it has obtained four S-300 surface-to-air missile systems from Belarus, after Russia refused to deliver the systems under its 2007 contract. 
Happy Birthday Barack!  Love, Dmitry.
PHOTO: Women wear masks to protect themselves from smog in Moscow, August 2010. (RIA Novosti, Konstantin Chalabov)