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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – August 12, 2009

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TODAY: Shock reverberates around Chechyna NGO worker murder; Kadryov reacts with attack on Estemirova.  NATO-Russia relations warming up; new kind of space race? Medvedev pulls no punches on Ukraine leadership. ‘Merchant of Death’ won’t be extradited. Art attack.

We thought that after Natalya’s [Estermirova]
death there would at least be a lull’,
says the deputy director of Human Rights Watch in Russia on the murder of Save the Generation director Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband.  The organization’s former director was also murdered in 2005, the Washington Post reports.  ‘Is a death squad roaming Grozny under official sanction or are these horrible but unrelated killings?’ asks the Times.  ‘Why aren’t Western governments doing more to hold Moscow accountable?’ demands the New York Times.  Ramzan Kadyrov has called it ‘a cynical, inhuman and demonstrative murder’.  The Chechen President praised Sadulayeva as someone who ‘was helping people in organizing their medical treatment’, unlike, to his mind, the other recent victim of a slaying, Natalya Estemirova, who ‘was misleading society and writing lies’.  A local newspaper journalist has been shot dead in Dagestan as has the region’s construction minister.


The first meeting between Russia’s ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, and its new secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen was apparently, friendly’ and ‘very positive’, as Rasmussen hopes to see a true strategic partnership’ develop.  Rogozin apparently sees confirmation of the secretary-general’s ‘pledge to end the dark chapter in our relations‘.  Air Force Commander Alexander Zelin has suggested that by 2030 the US will be able to target any part of Russia from space, and that Russia will design a defense system to counter the threat.  Viktor Bout, ex-Russian air force officer and arms dealer extraordinaire will not be extradited to the US from Thailand.

The Moscow Times suggests that Medvedev’s diatribe against Ukraine implies approval of a change in the country’s leadership: ‘I hope that a new Ukrainian leadership will be ready for this’.  ‘We will sign it if we can benefit from it’, says Belarussian President Lukashenko on the security deal proposed by Medvedev for the ex-Soviet bloc.  Is Medvedev attempting to build up a network of ‘civiliki’ in office to offset Putin’s siloviki?

Gaining French citizenship proves as mystifying as the Mona Lisa’s smile: a Russian woman driven to desperation by her failed naturalization attempts has thrown a cup at the Louvre’s pride and joy.

PHOTO:  People look on as the body of slain human rights activist Zarema Sadulayeva is being prepared for the burial in her native village of Shalazhi, south of Grozny, Chechnya, August 11, 2009. The bullet-riddled bodies of Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband, Alik Dzhabrailov, were found in the trunk of their car Tuesday, a day after they were kidnapped, police and Russian rights groups said. (AP Photo/Musa Sadulayev