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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – August 14, 2009

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TODAY: US will continue to train Georgian army; EU and Washington comment on Putin’s Abkhazia trip; Merkel expected to address human rights at meeting about Opel; Kadyrov to sue Memorial chief.  Yushchenko ‘disappointed’ with Medvedev’s stance; new novel about crime and corruption by the master plotter Vladislav Surkov?

The EU has criticized Prime Minister Putin’s trip to Abkhazia as being incompatible with the ‘principle of territorial integrity’.  The trip prompted a US State Department spokesman to comment that Russia should respect the ‘sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia’.  The US will resume the training of Georgian soldiers to prepare troops for deployment to Afghanistan.  Despite Washington’s assertion that the exercises have nothing to do with ‘internal defenses’, it is expected that the move may rile the Kremlin.  A ‘security vacuum’ has been left by war in the Caucasus, says an article in the New York Times, which offers a bleak prognosis of the future for the troubled zone.   ‘Russia’s “victory” in the Chechen wars is deceptive. The entire north Caucasus remains a battleground, where people die daily’, says the Economist.  


Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has sued Memorial chief Oleg Orlov for $314,800 for alleging he was involved in the murder of Natalya Estemirova. It is expected that Chancellor Merkel will raise the issue of human rights abuses when she meets today with President Medvedev, despite ‘little to show for speaking out on human rights’ in the past.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has hit back at Medvedev’s verbal assult: ‘I cannot disagree that there are serious problems in relations between our countries, but it is surprising that the Russian president completely shrugs off Russia’s responsibility for this’.  What exactly prompted the unexpected tirade against Kiev, wonders a commentator in the Moscow Times, and could Yushchenko stand to benefit?

The New York Times reports on the scourge of alcoholism among the indigenous people of the remote region of Chukotka.   Was there a secret cargo in Russia’s modern day Marie-Celeste, missing ship the Arctic Sea?  Reports are emerging that the Kremlin’s first deputy chief of staff Vladislav Surkov has used a nom de plume to pen a novel, ‘Close to Zero’, about a Russian publisher struggling to exist in a world rife with crime and political corruption.  The Kremlin apparently says ‘he definitely didn’t write it’.  Surkov’s prior lyrical endeavours include songs for the rock band ‘Agata Kristi’.  The plot thickens. 

PHOTO: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev speaks with Sochi Olympics construction chief Taimuraz Bolloyev aboard a helicopter while visiting Olympics construction sites at the Black Sea resort of Sochi, southern Russia, August 13, 2009.  President Dmitry Medvedev visited on Thursday the construction site of a combined motor and rail road which will connect Adler and Alpine ski routes in Krasnaya Polyana. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Dmitry Medvedev, Presidential Press Service)