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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – August 18, 2009

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TODAY: Violence explodes in Ingushetia; Interior Minister fired. Wall rumored to be built between Georgia and Abkhazia; Georgia to leave CIS.  Russian diplomats expelled.  Dozens missing in hydropower plant disaster.  Ship found.

President Medvedev has dismissed Ingush Interior Minister Ruslan Meiriyev after a suicide bombing in Nazran which killed 20 people and injured 138.  Tatyana Lokshina from Human Rights Watch has described the attack as ‘a big blow to the Kremlin’, which is wrestling with insurgency in all corners of the region.  Ingushetian President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov has said that it is in the interests of ‘the United States, Britain, and Israel’ to destabilize the Caucasus, and ‘to prevent Russia from reviving the former Soviet might’.  A commentator in the Times suggests, ‘the hamfisted attempt by the President of Ingushetia to blame the violence on Britain, the US and Israel illustrates the troubles of the Kremlin, which cannot renounce its recognition of the two statelets’ of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.  There are key facts about Ingushetia on Reuters.


Georgia will officially end its membership in the CIS as of August 18.  According to Bloomberg, Russia intends to build a Berlin Wall-style barrier along the border between Georgia and Abkhazia. 

Two Russian diplomats have been expelled from the Czech Republic on suspicion of spying.  Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called the action ‘a provocation’.  An article in the Guardian examines the long-standing animosity between Ukraine and Russia in the light of Medvedev’s recent letter of recrimination.  ‘The Kremlin’s misunderstanding of Ukrainian politics is based on the fact that, unlike Russia, Ukraine is a democracy’:  Anders Åslund in the Financial Times analyzes why Moscow’s attempts to lord it over the Ukrainian leadership have limited pay-off in reality.  An op-ed piece in the Moscow Times suggests that Medvedev is less adept at establishing a rapport with the Russian people than predecessor Putin.

The Washington Post relays that 12 people are now reported dead and 64 missing in the hydropower plant accident in Sayano-Shushenskaya.  ‘Aging infrastructure has long been regarded as a key obstacle to Russia’s development’, says the New York Times on the accident.  The future of the Muromtsev Dacha is in doubt as Moscow city government is threatening to knock it down and replace it with a parking lot.  The mystery of the Arctic Sea has been resolved by its discovery off the coast of Africa. Or has it?

PHOTO: People looking at destroyed cars at a police station in Nazran on August 17, 2009 after a suicide minivan attack killed at least 20 people and injured 138 others.  (Musa Sadulayev / AP)