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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – August 17, 2009

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TODAY: Merkel condemns activist murder; explosive violence in Caucasus; South Ossetians encouraged to disarm.  Medvedev merciless on Yushchenko; Venezuela and Russia tighten relations; military may scrap underperforming missile. 

Absolutely unacceptable’ is how Chancellor Angela Merkel described the recent murders of NGO worker Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband  and instructed Medvedev that ‘actions must also follow’.  Medvedev has ordered Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov to punish those responsible for the slayings.  The end of last week andthr beginning of this week are particularly bloody in the Caucasus, with over twenty people killed in different shootouts.  The New York Times reports that South Ossetian citizens, for whom ‘a weapon is an essential part of daily life’, are being asked to hand in their arms voluntarily, whilst inhabitants of the war-torn region ask – is it really safe enough?  South Ossetia and Abkhazia will spend $30,000 per month on a US public relations firm hired to improve their image in the West.


Medvedev has said that Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has ‘radically worsened’ bilateral relations between Kiev and Moscow which will remain strained as long as he retains the Presidency.  A trip to Belarus by a senior Washington official could represent the thawing of relations with the West, to the possible irritation of Moscow.  Was Obama’s trip to Moscow a covert operation to identify which of Russia’s two leaders would be more amenable to Washington’s influence?
 
Russia and NATO are reportedly in permanent contact regarding the Arctic Sea situation about which they have exhaustive information’.  The Kremlin may jettison the test-failing Baluva missile if future trials do not reap positive results and seek alternative defense such as the Sineva missile.  The Washington Post reports on the bitter disappointment of Russia’s soldiers who find themselves the victims of military reforms.  Russia will modernize Libya’s aging tank fleet.   Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is a ‘big friend of Russia’ according to Vice Prime Minister Igor Sechin who says Russia may provide the country with a large number of tanks.

Reuters has a feature on the 70th birthday of ex-Gulag town Magadan.  The Washington Post reports on the illegal 3,500 kilometer bus journey organized by ‘recruiters’ who profit from dispatching Uzbek workers in search of employment to Russia.  Censureship has hit rock’roll say St Petersburg’s punks.

PHOTO: A flag bearing the logo of German carmaker Opel flutters at the company’s plant in the western German city of Bochum. The leaders of Russia and Germany met to discuss carmaker Opel and other industrial projects ahead of elections set to keep German Chancellor Angela Merkel in charge of Europe’s largest economy. (AFP/DDP/File/Philipp Guelland)